It’s an interesting week, release-wise, with a number of openings that come awfully close to treading on one another’s metaphorical toes. And then there’s Chappie, which just stomps all over itself for no good reason.
The Babadook: A character study that slides almost imperceptibly into a full-on nightmare, Jennifer Kent’s unnerving first feature finally gets some screen time in Toronto. Glenn is as impressed as I am.
Chappie: In near-future Johannesburg, a sentient robot hangs out with gangsters and a whole mess of people get killed by heavy artillery. I swear you can actually see Neill Blomkamp run out of ideas in real time.
The Intruders: Rad is not impressed with this teenage ghost story, which stars Miranda Cosgrove as a young woman who comes to believe she and her father have moved into a haunted house. And really, in the same week The Babadook opens, why would he be?
Kidnapping Mr. Heineken: Neither did Rad care all that much for Daniel Alfredson’s thriller about the abduction of a Dutch brewing heir (Anthony Hopkins) by a gang of idiots (among them Sam Worthington and Jim Sturgess).
1971: Johanna Hamilton’s documentary about eight Americans who raided an FBI office as and wound up bringing J. Edgar Hoover’s counter-intelligence operations to light is no relation to next week’s Belfast-set thriller ’71. But its Toronto release is bound to confuse a few people.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: In which John Madden demonstrates that yes, you can make a sequel to a movie that tied up every single plot line the first time around. Just make sure Maggie Smith and Judi Dench come back.
Serial (Bad) Weddings: And speaking of strategic release plans, Philippe de Chauveron’s wedding farce seems positioned to lure people who think they’re going to see the similarly marketed Wild Tales. Glenn does his best to warn them away.
Unfinished Business: Poor Rad. He’s really not having a good week.
The Valley Below: Jose finds a lot to appreciate — if not exactly applaud — in Kyle Turner’s Alberta drama, which got lost in the shuffle of Canadian titles at TIFF but finally gets a chance to stand on its own.
Wild Tales: If you see one movie about a disastrous wedding, make sure it’s Damian Szifron’s vivid anthology comedy about vigilante justice, bad tempers and some very unfortunate social boundary-pushing. Because it’s a hoot and a half.
So there you are; some bad stuff, sure, but plenty of good stuff if you want to venture out to the movie house this weekend. Or you could just stay inside and burn your furniture for warmth. I can’t really argue against that.