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Some Movies to See This Weekend, September 25, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015 Rob Samuelson

Wow, there's a lot this weekend. There is counter-programming for counter-programming among the six new releases you'll be able to catch. You get animated family “fun,” a movie about cannibals, a lighthearted feel-good comedy about the silly mistakes old people make, a couple awards contenders, and a foreign horror flick that has been wowing people left and right. Let's see the buffet of possible excellence.

Hotel Transylvania 2
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Writers: Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel
Starring: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg

The first Hotel Transylvania was a big hit for the whole family. So it's back. There's a monster baby who might become a vampire like grandpa Adam Sandler, or maybe he won't and Sandler's Dracula will learn to accept the child as he is, flawed and human.

Sandler's regular friends (hangers on?) all return in animated form, but with the co-writer being Robert Smigel (the guy behind Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse and the voice/puppeteer of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog), there's a chance for something special on the edges of this comedic animated sequel.

The Green Inferno
Director: Eli Roth
Writers: Eli Roth, Guillermo Amoedo, Nicolás López
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton

The point of this movie is that bad things happen to “idiots” who want to help the world. Or something like that. It's apparently filled with extreme violence directed at people who are trying to save the rainforest. It comes from Eli Roth, whose work I only know by reputation outside of his appearance as an actor in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. From what my gore hound friends tell me, the guy knows his way around tension and shocking violence. I'll take them at their word for that and get to this one in time, but I'd be lying if I said it was the first thing on my list.

The Intern
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo

Robert De Niro plays a retiree who doesn't know what to do with himself anymore, so he takes an internship at a startup that does something that looks startup-y. Anne Hathaway is the overwhelmed CEO of the company who hires De Niro as her assistant. Generational divides are conquered and feelings are felt. Writer-director Nancy Meyers has made this kind of middlebrow dramedy for a while, sometimes to great effect – The Holiday is evidence to the contrary to anyone who says modern romantic comedies are uniformly terrible. But it's still modern De Niro, who hasn't exactly been giving it his all in the last 15 years or so. It's a wishy washy proposition that could be a nice choice or make you roll your eyes until they fall out.

Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writers: William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy
Starring: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin

A group of burly men attempt to take on nature and things don't go so well for them. This story about scaling Mount Everest has the high stakes, acting talent, and visual spectacle that could make for a serious Oscar contender. A sign of its promise is the fact that the trailer – and theoretically, the film as a whole – makes no bones about the success of reaching Everest's top. It's the way down that provides the biggest, deadliest challenges, as a storm overtakes the climbers.

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro

This is one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Director Denis Villeneuve did last year's Enemy with Jake Gyllenhaal in dual roles in a yellow-drenched Twilight Zone intellectual thriller. It was one of the best movies of 2014, and now Villeneuve has returned to do a crime drama about the drug trade, starring one of the top actresses working today, plus the always bizarre and enjoyable Benicio Del Toro. From all accounts, it is about the messy gray areas of morality involved in drug law enforcement, plus a healthy smattering of masterfully crafted action. Sign me up.

Goodnight Mommy
Directors: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Writers: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala
Starring: Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz

Two twin brothers notice something is off about their mom when she returns home from some sort of operation on her face. She wears bandages and acts “so different.” And then she eats a giant cockroach. This one looks like it goes to some thoroughly unnerving places and seemingly everyone is flipping for it. Is she really different? Is there something supernatural happening? Does it matter? The filmmaking on display in the trailer alone looks superb, subjective, and altogether freaky.  

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