Two of the year’s best documentaries open today, along with one of the biggest Oscar contenders. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
“Antiviral“: Brandon Cronenberg’s exercise in bio-horror is so derivative of his father’s work — however unconsciously — that it almost feels mean to point it out. But it is what it is, and what is is isn’t very good.
“Argo“: In a solid recovery from the overblown action of “The Town”, Ben Affleck turns a clandestine CIA operation into a zippy heist movie with a bonus layer of Hollywood satire. And don’t worry about the Canadian angle; that’s just a ginned-up controversy meant to score web hits during TIFF.
“Here Comes the Boom”: If this is the best of the “unlikely MMA fighter” pitches that crossed Kevin James’ script, American cinema is in serious trouble. At least that’s Rad‘s take.
“Herman’s House“: Angad Singh Bhalla’s documentary tells a strong story but can’t find a way to work around the unavailability of its central character. I know, I know, no one else seemed to mind. But I’m right.
“The Imposter“: Bart Layton’s sinewy documentary reconstructs a missing-persons case that became an international labyrinth of deception. See it knowing as little as possible.
“Keep the Lights On”: It sounds like “Forty Shades of Blue” director Ira Sachs has rebounded after the airless “Married Life” with something a little more potent — and, says Glenn, more honest. Looking forward to seeing it.
“Nobody Walks“: Ry Russo-Young’s insufferable tale of well-to-do white folks dicking each other around stars Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Krasinski, all of whom I quite like. And who names a teenage girl Kolt? Oh, right, Lena Dunham.
“Seven Psychopaths“: I thought Martin McDonough’s “In Bruges” was a hair precious, so I was one of the few critics who wasn’t disappointed by this enjoyable post-Tarantino trifle. Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken are knockouts, but Colin Farrell does a fine job of holding the center.
“Sinister”: A hidden cache of footage leads a true-crime author (Ethan Hawke) down a black hole of horror in the latest slow-burn scary movie. Glenn is unimpressed.
“Stories We Tell“: Sarah Polley’s third film feels like the movie she’s been trying to make all along — a simple marital study packing an outsized emotional wallop. It just happens to be her own family she’s dramatizing.
(Also, don’t compose blog posts at three in the morning, kids.)