Exodus fall movies

Some Movies to See This Weekend, December 12, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014 Rob Samuelson

I had planned for this week's preview to be all about Inherent Vice, the latest from writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, The Master), but alas, there is apparently nowhere to see it in Chicago or its surrounding suburbs this weekend. I am cranky about this fact because the movie is my most anticipated of the year, I love the Thomas Pynchon novel on which it's based, and Anderson is probably my favorite working director. But I'll have to wait at least another week. When I see it, you'll get a review. Until then, here are two new releases you can see at theaters this weekend.

Exodus: Gods and Kings
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul

It's been something of a watershed year for Bible stories being adapted into Hollywood tentpoles, first with Darren Aronofsky's Noah in the spring and now Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) brings us Exodus: Gods and Kings, about the Old Testament story of Moses (Bale) getting his adopted brother, Ramses (Edgerton) to “set [his] people free.” You know the drill. Fate versus bonds, doing what you think is right in the face of great opposition, freedom from tyranny, the works.

Exodus certainly looks neat, with a volcanic color palette in the trailers, and the cast is strong. It's getting some rough reviews, but a spectacle is a spectacle, right?

Top Five
Director: Chris Rock
Writer: Chris Rock
Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union

Chris Rock makes his directorial debut here, taking a cue from his friend and sometimes collaborator Louis C.K. He writes a fictional version of himself here, a fading comedy legend who's been phoning it in for years and cashing the easy paychecks of gimmicky kids movies. Dawson plays a journalist doing a feature on him as he tries to reestablish himself as someone relevant and still vibrant. It looks like a love story is afoot, as well.

Sure, it seems conventional, but Rock is a talented, hilarious guy with a fairly gentle worldview. If he can handle the visual side of filmmaking with any skill whatsoever – all the footage released so far looks perfectly competent – who knows, maybe we have another Judd Apatow on our hands. That raunchy-sweet combo has been Apatow's calling card for years, and based on Rock's standup and his Everybody Hates Chris TV show, he might be even better at that balancing act.  

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