The Return of Joy

Hey, it’s February! That means the movies don’t suck as much now, right? Right?

Please, pleeeeease, let me be right.

The Choice: I like to joke that I have a rider in my contract that gets me out of reviewing Nicholas Sparks movies; I am also thankful that there’s always someone else willing to take them on. This year it’s Susan.

A Date with Miss Fortune: Ryan K. Scott and Jeanette Sousa seem pretty convinced that they’ve made the next My Big Fat Greek Wedding. They have not.

4th Man Out: Coming-out movies don’t get any safer or dumber than this. Or if they do, they don’t make it to theatres, thank Christ. I hated this when I saw it at Inside Out last spring, and it hasn’t grown any richer with time.

Hail, Caesar!: Now, here, finally is proof that we’ve escaped the pull of January. A classic Joel and Ethan mess-around with a cast of hundreds (or dozens, anyway), in-jokes galore and a glorious streak of theological and moral inquiry. Also, Marxism.

Janis: Little Girl Blue: Susan was a big fan of Amy Berg’s Joplin doc when it premiered at TIFF last year; I have yet to catch up to it, but nothing about Berg’s filmography would lead me to question this. So, good.

The Lady in the Van: Maggie Smith stars in an adaptation of Alan Bennett’s nakedly autobiographical play about the homeless woman who camped in his driveway for a decade and a half. Nicholas Hytner struggles to balance the theatrical fancy with the unpleasant reality, and Susan thinks he does a better job of it than I do.

Mojave: William Monahan, who wrote The Departed and Body of Lies and Edge of Darkness, makes a rare foray into directing with this obnoxiously self-serious thriller about a filmmaker (Garrett Hedlund) who pisses off the wrong sociopath (Oscar Isaac). Not nearly as entertaining as it sounds.

Nice People: A Swedish town encourages its Somali community to form a bandy team and go to the world championships in Siberia. Wackiness does not ensue; instead, documentarians Anders Helgeson and Karin af Klintberg capture some very human moments, even if they don’t always stay with them.

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Jane Austen meets George A. Romero and everybody wins — which is really saying something, because I’d been dreading this ever since it was announced. But Burr Steers finds exactly the right way through it, and Lily James makes a marvelous Miss Bennet. 

What an IdiotA Date with Miss Fortune isn’t the only terrible Canadian movie foisted upon us by a real-life couple convinced they’re totes adorbs — and this one, from Vancouver actors Peter and Julia Benson, is even stupider. But the Bensons have on-screen chemistry, which helps a little.

Anyway, go see Hail, Caesar! this weekend. Give yourself some happy.

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