1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Warner Brothers, 4,144 Theaters, 133 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some fantasy action violence, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 77% Fresh [148 Reviews]): The Harry Potter franchise has been a gold mine for every company that touches it. Seriously, it has made money hand over fist for everyone involved in it. So, naturally, once the Potter books had run their course and the corresponding films were done, people would find a new way to tap into the concept to make new money off of it.
This film is the result. Adapted from an in-continuity textbook that became an in-real-life tie-in pseudo textbook, this film takes the beasts listed in the book and builds a narrative around it. Yep, it’s gone that far.
Newt Scamander has just circled the globe cataloging all of the world’s magical creatures for the purpose of writing a book on them. Unfortunately, a stop in New York City ends up with a lot of his sample creatures being released and a race against time to get them back.
2. The Edge of Seventeen (STX Entertainment, 1,945 Theaters, 114 Minutes, Rated R for sexual content, language and some drinking – all involving teens, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 95% Fresh [73 Reviews]): The teenage experience is wide and expansive that there is room enough for just about any aspect of it to be examined for a film. Not that all examinations are good ones, but there is room for excellent films and this one looks like a great films.
Hailee Steinfeld plays an awkward teen whose life gets even more awkward when her best friend starts dating her brother. This new reality throws her into a tailspin, and she doesn’t seem to be getting any support from the adults in her life. Luckily, there is someone who comes along to give her a new lease on life.
I found the trailer hilarious and there are a lot of talented actors in the cast. Should be at least worth a look.
3. Bleed For This (Open Road Films, 1, 549 Theaters, 116 Minutes, Rated R for language, sexuality/nudity and some accident images, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 63% Fresh [52 Reviews]): Tis’ the season when the first of the Oscar bait films start hitting theaters. And this one qualifies if only for Miles Teller’s performance.
Teller plays Vinny Pazienza, a real-life boxing champion whose promising career was threatened after he broke his neck in a car accident. While facing the real prospect of not being able to walk again, he fought his way back into the boxing ring.
The role is something quite unlike anything Teller has ever done before. Reviews aren’t that great for the movie itself, but Teller might get an Oscar nod out of the film.
4. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Opening Wide, TriStar, 1,176 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated R for language throughout, some war violence, sexual content, and brief drug use, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 45% Fresh [73 Reviews]): This was a film I had high hopes for. The trailer looked interesting, the cast is first rate and Ang Lee is one heck of a director.
The film details a soldier being honored at halftime of a nationally televised football game for heroism in Iraq. As he walks out on the field, we flashback to what really happened to bring him to this point.
It seemed like the type of film that would explain the experience of being a veteran to a world that really doesn’t know what it’s like. However, the reviews show that it does that job badly.