comedy fall movies

Some Movies to See this Weekend, December 5, 2014

Friday, December 05, 2014 Rob Samuelson

It's a slow week again, with only one or two wide releases before the full court press of Oscar releases hits over the last few weeks of December. No big family pictures, no action-adventure smorgasbords, just a few interesting options to spend a bit of time with in a theater.

Life Partners
Director: Susanna Fogel
Writers: Susanna Fogel, Joni Lefkowitz
Starring: Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Adam Brody

Two best friends, one gay (Meester), and one straight (Jacobs), come to terms with their changing relationship as Jacobs meets the man she will marry. Tensions – comedic and dramatic – follow.

Jacobs is a fine actor, one of the funniest parts of TV's Community, and it's interesting to see her going in a slightly more dramatic direction here, or at least one where she isn't Britta-ing everything. Brody's been strong in things like Thank You For Smoking and I'm interested to see his smarmy charm at work here. Meester's the wild card as I've never seen her in anything, but the trailer shows promise.

The Pyramid
Director: Grégory Levasseur
Writers: Daniel Meersand, Nick Simon
Starring: Ashley Hinshaw, James Buckley, Denis O'Hare

A found footage horror-thriller about a bunch of attractive archaeologists uncovering a new Egyptian pyramid with dark secrets inside. Traps are set, spirits awaken, and a certain something stalks them from the shadows.

We can debate all day about the merits of the found footage genre, but at the very least, from the short look I've had at it, The Pyramid seems to take things like atmosphere and mise en scene seriously. It's not just a cheapie scare-picture. There looks to be some meat to it from a filmmaking perspective, likely helped along by producer Alexandre Aja, whose The Hills Have Eyes remake was full of deeply disturbing imagery and more than a little flash.

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writers: Nick Hornby, Cheryl Strayed (from her memoir)
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann

Reese Witherspoon stars as Cheryl Strayed, an addict who tries to set her life straight by hiking vast distances, alone and contemplating her choices.

Vallée directed last year's Dallas Buyers Club, a so-so movie with great performances that swept the male acting categories at the Oscars, but it looks like he has exploded his style into a grandiose, meditative scope with the well-worn “nature as cleanser” theme everywhere. This got a great reception at the Chicago International Film Festival a couple months back, so I'm excited to see it. If you can only see one movie this weekend, this would be my pick.

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