Bradley Cooper Burnt

Some Movies to See This Weekend: October 30, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015 Rob Samuelson

After weeks of seeing Hollywood flirt with it, we have finally reached a weekend where every new movie is an Oscar hopeful. That, of course, does not signify quality, but these are the types of films that campaign in the industry hard for nominations and votes when it comes time for the golden guy. Let's see what's lobbying for our rooting interest at the awards ceremonies that will take place a few months from now. But you can always wait until after you celebrate Halloween.

Director: John Wells
Writers: Steven Knight, Michael Kalesniko
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl

Bradley Cooper plays a chef who is cracking under the pressure of his ambition to open the “best restaurant in the world.” This is something Cooper excels at, portraying the stressed-out handsome fella. Hopefully the movie, from former ER showrunner John Wells, takes things to their logical conclusions and Cooper is allowed to give himself a panic attack on screen.

The one thing that is majorly conspicuous in the trailer, at least, is a seeming threat from Daniel Brühl's character that people will try to kill Cooper for opening a restaurant. There is enough drama in the unraveling of someone's dream. There is no need for a weird mafia subplot in something that could be simple and elegant as it is. Maybe Brühl is referring to the people who will try to beat Cooper in the business? Right? Maybe?

Our Brand is Crisis
Director: David Gordon Green
Writer: Peter Straughan
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie

Based on a 2005 documentary of the same name, Our Brand is Crisis has director David Gordon Green continuing his bizarre career trajectory – lyrical indie dramas like George Washington to mainstream stoner comedies like Pineapple Express and back again with Joe – with what looks to be a crowd-pleasing picture for adults. A knockout cast portrays the Americans who were hired as campaign consultants during a South American election during a time of great turmoil.

All this sounds fascinating, but the movie has not gotten good buzz so far. There's something of a “white knight” quality to the story, with a handful of brave white people from abroad coming to “save” the people of this poor country. If the context works, then that can theoretically be all right, but this seems like one of those films where everything is in the trailer, and the arc does not look particularly smooth for these characters – it's all “I'm in this for the money, but oh, look at that sad person, let's be nice and help them be better.”

Director: Sarah Gavron
Writer: Abi Morgan
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep

One that is getting a better, but still mild, reception is Suffragette, about the push for women's right to vote in England in the early 20th century. Carey Mulligan plays a fictional/composite character among a bunch of real figures of the movement, including two played by the ever-watchable Helena Bonham Carter (who blows stuff up!) and Meryl Streep.

Maybe I'm neglecting my duties in writing this preview, but I'm not sure why this one is getting such lukewarm reviews. I just see that they are lukewarm (thanks, Rotten Tomatoes). Don't let that stop you from catching this wonderful cast tell an important story, though.

Director: James Vanderbilt
Writer: James Vanderbilt
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid

You know what sucks? Being wrong. You know what sucks even more? Being wrong in a way that all the world knows about it. That's the basic story behind the CBS News team, including former anchor Dan Rather (played by Robert Redford), who got into hot water about a decade ago for reporting on a story involving former President George W. Bush's military records. People resigned, bad blood continues to this day, etc., etc., so on and so forth.

Truth covers the story being the kerfuffle that led to the ouster of Rather and some of the producers behind CBS at the time, including Cate Blanchett's Mary Mapes. There's a sense that maybe the journalists were right all along and did the right thing. The reality is probably a little trickier than that, but, you know, this is the movies so “print the legend” and all that.

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