Blair Witch Bridget Jones's Baby

Recent Politics, Scarier Than Witches and Babies? September 16's New Movies

Friday, September 16, 2016 Rob Samuelson

This weekend at the movies potentially will stress you out. There’s espionage-style intrigue, there’s trapped-in-a-terrible-situation terror, and there’s a case of who’s-the-father comedy, too. Let’s get to it.

Photo credit: Snowden/Facebook

Director: Oliver Stone
Writers: Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Shailene Woodley

Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK) is back in the political biopic sandbox, this time profiling former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who leaked details about the NSA’s multiple programs used to spy on American citizens in 2013 to journalists like The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto). The real-life Snowden currently resides in Russia as a political exile, making the case for President Barack Obama to pardon him before Obama’s term ends in January.

It’s a fascinating story about a whistleblower who threw away a pretty cozy life in Hawaii with a nice salary in order to do what he saw as the right thing. The question here, cinematically speaking, is whether Snowden will be able to add new wrinkles to the near-perfection of documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras’s (played here by Melissa Leo) 2014 movie, Citizenfour. Stone can get cloying in his purely political films -- hello, W. -- but he’s still the guy who made the great Platoon. Here’s hoping this one follows in that Vietnam War drama’s footsteps.

Blair Witch
Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid

In 1994, a group of three would-be documentarians got lost in the Maryland woods and were never seen again. In 1999, their footage was “found” and released to become the most profitable movie in American history. It was all fiction, to be clear. The Blair Witch Project was ahead of the curve with guerilla marketing, with an ad campaign that duped tons of people into thinking the lo-fi horror picture about the search for a folklore witch was a real thing. In 2016, we get a sequel to it, about a sibling of one of the lost documentarians heading back to the woods to find out what happened.

Playing off the first film’s mysterious marketing campaign, 2016’s Blair Witch was known as The Woods for months until it was revealed to actually be a sequel to the seminal horror flick at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con. Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett, who have collaborated on two of the decade’s best horror thrillers, You’re Next and The Guest, kept this one under wraps. Now it’s time to find out if they were able to make a worthy sequel. Given their excellent track record, I’m hopeful.

Bridget Jones’s Baby
Director: Sharon Maguire
Writers: Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, Emma Thompson
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey

It sure is nice to see Renée Zellweger back in the spotlight. She’s fallen out of the public consciousness these last several years, with a six-year gap between 2010’s My Own Love Song and this year’s twofer of The Whole Truth and now Bridget Jones’s Baby. I, personally, have missed the Jerry Maguire actress. Even though I’ve never seen either of the previous Bridget Jones movies, I’m glad this one exists. Let’s get Zellweger on a comeback similar to the one Michael Keaton’s been on in recent years.

In the movie itself, Zellweger’s hapless Bridget Jones character gets pregnant. The baby’s father can be one of two men, so hijinks follow. It looks like a breezy, fun romp.

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