On the Launching Pad

interstellar-01Well, it’s November and here come the big studio releases built to fight for box-office prominence through the Thanksgiving long weekend. And some really good documentaries, too.

Big Hero 6: It’s based on a Marvel property, but there’s a heavy strain of Astro Boy running through Disney’s latest CG adventure. This is a very good thing.

Citizenfour: Laura Poitras’ document of that time she put Glenn Greenwald with Edward Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room is, quite simply, one of the most important documentaries you’ll see this year. Also, your laptop is probably spying on you as you read this.

Dear White People: Justin Siemen’s campus satire takes stock of the state of racial tensions in America, finds there are still a few hot buttons left to press. Plus, Better Off Ted‘s Malcolm Barrett is now a dead ringer for Dave Chappelle.

Don’t Get Killed in Alaska: Despite some conceptual limitations, Rad thinks Bill Taylor’s no-budget Canadian family drama is worth a watch.

Interstellar: Okay, so the large format release started on Wednesday, but as of today Christopher Nolan’s gargantuan space odyssey is playing megaplexes everywhere. It is awfully hokey, but awfully beautiful too.

Kung Fu Elliot: Andy has been championing Matthew Bauckman and Jarrett Belliveau’s documentary about delusional filmmakers and their would-be action star since Hot Docs. I still haven’t caught up with the damn thing, and now I feel bad.

Life’s a Breeze: Rad is underwhelmed by this Irish caper comedy, which is apparently very much like Waking Ned Devine only with money in a mattress.

The Overnighters: Jesse Moss brings his camera to Williston, North Dakota, where a pastor unwittingly offends his flock by helping the less fortunate in his community. You know, like that Jesus guy said.

Richard Linklater: 21 Years: Linklater is a genuine American artist, and I hope this movie does justice to his amazing career — especially in the same year that saw Boyhood arrive. But no one repped it in Toronto, so it’s opening cold.

The Secret Trial 5: I agree with Susan on the solemn urgency of Amar Wala’s look at the Canadian government’s use of security certificates to incarcerate five immigrants to the country without explanation or justification. Just wish it was arriving in a week when Citizenfour wasn’t competing for the same audience.

Slums: Cities of Tomorrow: Rad takes a look at Jean-Nicolas Orhon’s urban-studies doc — about impoverished neighborhoods in cities around the world — and  finds it disappointingly superficial.

The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking is the latest historical figure to be put through the Weinstein Oscar Process in this shameless awards-bait weeper, directed at maximum twinkle by James Marsh. But Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are pretty damn great, just the same.

… and that’s it. Oh, except for the 70mm reissue of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Lightbox. Which, come to think of it, is really the best possible use of your time.

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