Don't Breathe film
Blind Horror, Boxing, and Obamas: August 26's New MoviesFriday, August 26, 2016 Rob Samuelson
It’s a packed weekend for new movies. The genres of the four main new releases are all over the map. There’s a horror-thriller, a boxing biopic, a grimy action flick, and a look at the early days of America’s most famous couple. Let’s take a look.
Director: Fede Alvarez
Writers: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici
People can be cruel. Specifically, they can be cruel to the disadvantaged. That’s the premise of new thriller Don’t Breathe, which involves a group of teenagers and/or twentysomethings going to rob the home of an unnervingly buff blind man (Stephen Lang, Avatar). Joke’s on them, though, ‘cause Mr. Blind Man is also a sadistic potential murderer whose house turns into an inescapable fortress when the intruders enter the premises.
Director and co-writer Fede Alvarez, who did the 2013 remake of Evil Dead, has been tipped for big things for the better part of a decade, ever since his terrific alien invasion short Panic Attack! In 2009. Based on the trailer, it appears Alvarez had a blast with the technical elements of filmmaking. He really seems to be going for it with the theme of blindness, including heightened sound design and the use of night vision photography. This one could be really freaky.
Hands of Stone
Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz
Writer: Jonathan Jakubowicz
Starring: Edgar Ramírez, Usher Raymond, Robert De Niro
The boxing picture came back with a bang with last year’s terrific Creed. This time around, another former onscreen boxer, Robert De Niro (Raging Bull), heads back to the ring as a trainer for an upstart, played by Edgar Ramírez (Zero Dark Thirty, Point Break). This isn’t a fictional tale, though, because De Niro’s character, Ray Arcel, and Ramírez’s character, Roberto Durán, were real figures in the sports world. Durán had one of the longest boxing careers in history, retiring at the age of 50 in 2002. That longevity will make its way into Venezuelan writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz’s first major American film. If it turns out well, this could be talked about at the end of the year.
Director: Dennis Gansel
Writers: Philip Shelby, Tony Mosher, Rachel Long, Brian Pittman
Starring: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh
Jason Statham does his thing and it is wonderful. He doesn’t really have range as a performer, but what he does, he does well. He can kill people onscreen with the best of ‘em. One of the best examples of his gruff assassin film persona was in 2011’s The Mechanic, which gets a sequel this weekend. Statham’s character, Arthur Bishop, is forced back into the contract killing game when his girlfriend (Jessica Alba) is kidnapped -- the kidnappers want Bishop to murder for her ransom. Things blow up, Statham gets to hang from buildings on a wire, and he gets to growl his way through another movie. What else could you possibly want?
Southside with You
Director: Richard Tanne
Writer: Richard Tanne
Starring: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Phillip Edward Van Lear
The Obamas will soon be out of the White House. Before they go, though, we get to find out what set them on the path to the height of world politics. Writer-director Richard Tanne’s feature debut looks at the eventual president and first lady on the night of their first date. Barack Obama asked Michelle Robinson out multiple times when they both worked for a Chicago law firm and she eventually gave in. And we get to see an adaptation of their trip to see Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and their chats about the world. This is the second time in a row that a major biopic has come out in the final months of a president’s term, following Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush film, W. in 2008 -- hopefully this one is better.