Feature film

Some Movies to See This Weekend, November 20, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015 Rob Samuelson

The holiday movies are here, and they are exciting. This week we get an awards hopeful, the grand finale to what could very well be the franchise that defines this era of filmmaking even more than the Marvel films, and a comedic romp. Lots of balance to go around, Halfstackers. Let's take a look at what's in store for us at the multiplex.

Secret in Their Eyes
Director: Billy Ray
Writer: Billy Ray
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris

This one is expected to leave you not feeling super great about the world. Sure, the search for justice is involved, but when it involves the murder of a young girl and her mother's – and her mother's coworkers' – descent into near-madness to find her killer, things can get a little heavy.

Luckily, Secret in Their Eyes has the perfect cast on hand to take this into exciting directions. There are Oscar nominees galore, from 12 Years a Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor (also great in last month's The Martian) to Julia Roberts, who hasn't been as high-profile lately. Hopefully this will change things for her, because, even when she goes dark like this, she brings an innate drive to be the best to her characters.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writers: Peter Craig, Danny Strong, Suzanne Collins
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland

Here it is, the one we all know will be the talk of Thanksgiving with our families [author's note: I will not have this one reviewed until after Thanksgiving due to a promise I made to see it with my girlfriend and her sister during our holiday trip to St. Louis]. The Hunger Games films have latched onto the cultural fears of our country at a moment of ever-expanding surveillance and paranoia, and it has made an already great actress, Jennifer Lawrence, into an icon – in 30 years' time, she could be like Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes. And now, it's all coming to a conclusion, with Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen leading the final push to overthrow the despotic government that has for decades forced the youth of the country to compete to the death as punishment for a former uprising. These are good movies, all about finding the strength to do what's right in the face of all that's wrong in the world. It'll be a shame if it can't stick the landing, but after the last two installments – seriously, Catching Fire is some Empire Strikes Back stuff – especially, I think it will.

The Night Before
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writers: Jonathan Levine, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Evan Goldberg
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie

And now for the kooky fun one. The Night Before centers on three friends entering their mid-30s and putting their raucous holiday traditions behind them, with the onset of marriage and babies changing things in their lives. Gordon-Levitt, Rogen, and Mackie have, per the trailer, gotten together for a holiday-themed night of unhinged debauchery every year since Gordon-Levitt's character's parents died. That's some dramatic heft to something that could easily be a lighthearted goof, but that's the calling card of co-writer and director Jonathan Levine, who also worked with Gordon-Levitt and Rogen on 50/50, another funny one that nonetheless went for the heart. This one is probably more 70-30 on the comedy-sadness scale, though, and there appear to be plenty of laughs.  

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