Being stuck with the family over a long holiday weekend can be one of those cruel tortures that test the tenuous nature of your familial relations. Why not ease the burden with the sweet escapism of a good flick? If you’re interested — and we’re betting you are, poor devil — here are some good possibilities.
Movie Meter: The Theory of Everything Is Ready for Award Season, Dumb and Dumber To Is Ready for the Trash
The Theory of Everything: This biopic concerning the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking, stricken to a wheelchair from ALS as a young man, sagely avoids many of the common melodramatic liberties that so often plague the genre. James Marsh’s film — which stars the phenomenal Eddie Redmayne as Hawking, and the luminescent Felicity Jones as his long-suffering wife — is a shoo-in for Oscar-nom glory. Expect nominations for its two young stars and likely for the film itself, which is a good deal more honest in its warts-and-all depiction of its subject than you might expect. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%
SEE IT NOW
Interstellar: Please consider this a vote based more on the spectacle of the film—which director Christopher Nolan shot in wondrous 70mm—than the film itself. Essentially, a large, well-rounded cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Michael Caine, receive a timely lesson in gravitational physics that involves ripping through space-time in search of a new planet for human beings to populate. Long-winded, stilted, and weirdly unsatisfying, the film’s brilliant effects and all-out audaciousness help save it from Nolan’s more fanciful notions about physics and quantum mechanics. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%
5 Best New Movies to Stream on Netflix in November: Snowpiercer, Nebraska, and An Elisabeth Moss Rom-Com
November is actually a fine time to make the effort to go to the damn movie theater. This month will see the release of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Stephen Hawking bio-pic The Theory of Everything, John Du Pont/Dave Schultz drama Foxcatcher, Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, and the second-to-last installment of The Hunger Games. Be that as it may, we still have some pretty good stuff identified for you on Netflix for those lazy nights when you want to stay in.
Nightcrawler: You have to give Jake Gyllenhaal some credit: Dude is not afraid to go full-creep if a role demands it. In Dan Gilroy’s scathing indictment of mass media and gore-celebrating TV journalism, Gyllenhaal plays a gaunt sociopath who looks as if he’s survived for months on Jolly Ranchers and cigarette ashes. Seeking some kind of direction in his life, he becomes an indispensable freelance cameraman for a desperate local L.A. affiliate. He films the city’s murders, fires, car accidents and other assorted horrors on his all-night shift to bolster their sagging morning ratings. The film is brilliantly unsettling. (Pearl, Rave, UA Main Street, UA Riverview) Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Birdman: Despite the brilliant devastation of his film Biutiful, Alejandro González Iñárritu has not received quite the same level of fame as other Mexican directors of his generation, like Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro. That likely ends now. His new film is a complex allegory concerning the nature of art, fame, and soulful pursuit, but it’s also just a hell of a lot of fun. Michael Keaton plays a former big-star superhero actor who, many years past his prime, yearns to produce something of significance on the Broadway stage. Edward Norton plays the actor just talented and/or uncontrollable enough to ensure his success or failure. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Twenty-nine-year-old writer/director Damien Chazelle has found himself in career overdrive. He made quite a splash at this year’s Sundance festival with Whiplash, his latest work about a maniacally hard-driving jazz teacher and his equally obsessed drum student. (The film took home both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize.) The film, which offers star-making turns for both leads J.K. Simmons and Downingtown native Miles Teller, is an uncompromising exploration of true artistic attainment, and the heavy price of achieving it. It is also a brilliantly executed and savage back-and-forth between pupil and student that leaves the film’s audience shifting allegiances and sympathies—not unlike so many time-signature changes in a Thelonious Monk composition.
Ticket spoke with Chazelle over the phone the evening before his film finally opened outside the festival circuit.
SEE IT NOW
Fury: Somehow, when Brad Pitt stars in a film it takes on a larger, more-important caste. It’s a good thing that David Ayer’s thoughtful WWII picture doesn’t shy away from its own gravitas. Moody, overcast and intense, the film—which follows Pitt as the commanding officer of a tank brigade making its way through bomb-blasted Germany in the last throes of the war—more than earns its stripes. Just a warning, though: It doesn’t spare much on the bloody, gruesome carnage of men killing each other. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
Ticket film critic Piers Marchant combed through the around-100 films playing at this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival to come up with 10 that you absolutely must get a ticket for. His choices comprise flicks he saw at the Toronto International Film Festival, and ones that have generated buzz on the year’s film festival circuit.
Movie Meter: True Stories Win the Weekend with Nas’ Illmatic Doc and a Britain’s Got Talent Underdog
SEE IT NOW
Pride: Yet another uplifting, true story. This film is based on the mid-’80s United Mineworkers strike in England. The Mineworkers were joined in their efforts by unlikely comrades: a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists who saw an opportunity for solidarity in the oppressed, beleaguered miners. United by an opposition to ultra-conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the two parties eventually learn to stand together and support one another in their respective struggles. Pride stars Bill Nighy, Dominic West, and the redoubtable Imelda Staunton. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%