Movie DopeMovies

Seasonal Sequels, a Murder Mystery and More to See This Week

With Thanksgiving over, the trees can be trimmed and the 24/7 Christmas music can begin. Nonetheless, this week’s wide releases are neither seasonal nor exciting. The Theory of Everything’s duo, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, reunite for The Aeronauts, a biographical adventure about hot air balloonists from Wild Rose’s Tom Harper. Remember when Transformers knock-offs the GoBots got their own movie? My mom does with little fondness. Well, LEGO “rival” PLAYMOBIL is trying to cash in on The LEGO Movie success, rather belatedly, with a movie featuring the voices of Daniel Radcliffe and, uh, Jim Gaffigan. 

Ciné has The Irishman and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood through at least Thursday before being joined by Shia LaBeouf’s shot at an Oscar nomination, Honey Boy. Lucas Hedges and Noah Jupe both play Otis, who is trying to recover from his childhood stardom and rodeo clown father (LaBeouf). 

Flicker counters my claim that Die Hard is the best Christmas movie, outside of Gremlins, with several other questionable holiday movies. On Dec. 4, Sylvester Stallone stars as one of his most iconic—though not as popular—characters, tough street cop Marion Cobretti, in 1986’s Cobra. On Dec. 5, it’s a Die Hard Rip-offs Double Feature! First, a group of boarding school delinquents led by Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton and Keith Coogan battle terrorists in 1991’s Toy Soldiers. Next, Jean-Claude Van Damme attempts to save the VPOTUS from terrorists during the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1995’s Sudden Death; at least he has to face off against Powers Boothe. On Dec. 9, Flicker’s Showdown at the Equator presents Shogun Assassin

Several local libraries have upcoming screenings. Enjoy a Christmas Movie and Hot Chocolate at the Madison County Library Dec. 7. (Hopefully, the movie selection is more inspired than A Christmas Story.) The Oglethorpe County Library will be screening a (hopefully) holiday-themed classic for their Seniors’ Monday Matinee Dec. 9. Beechwood’s Flashback Cinema continues its traditional holiday fare with Home Alone’s second screening Dec. 4 and Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye’s VistaVision team-up, White Christmas, Dec. 8. Maybe I will finally catch a Met Opera offering with the encore presentation of Julie Taymor’s production of The Magic Flute on Dec. 7. 

KNIVES OUT (PG-13) A local theater company is going to have a lot of fun with Knives Out one of these days. To think of Rian Johnson’s follow-up to his unfairly criticized Star Wars entry, The Last Jedi, as local theater writ large is far from a criticism. Johnson takes the building blocks often used by Agatha Christie to craft a satisfying, original murder mystery starring one of the year’s best casts. 

Daniel Craig shows his charm extends beyond 007 as renowned-ish detective Benoit Blanc, who is investigating the Thrombey clan after the suicide of its patriarch, bestselling mystery writer Harlan Thrombey. Blanc suspects foul play, and anyone could have done it. A non-exhaustive list of suspects includes Harlan’s oldest daughter, Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis); her husband, Richard (Don Johnson); their son, Ransom (Chris Evans); Harlan’s oldest son, Walt (Michael Shannon); his daughter-in-law, Joni (Toni Collette); and his nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas). 

The unseen star is Johnson’s screenplay, which supplies Blanc with several hilarious nuggets of folksy wisdom and surprises galore. Knives Out is one of those mysteries where the clues may lead a crafty viewer to the right answer to the wrong question. Sit back and enjoy the show.

FROZEN II (PG) “Let it go” may be what viewers need to do with the first Frozen in order to give its sequel a fair chance, which is probably why Disney favored the low expectations of direct-to-video sequels for so long. Within 35 minutes, 2013’s Frozen had given audiences three classic songs better than the showstopper, Elsa’s “Into the Unknown,” proffered by the sequel. Personally, I dug Kristoff’s Peter Cetera-influenced ballad, “Lost in the Woods.” 

So, the songs are not as catchy, but what about the rest of the movie? Frozen II offers a more mature plot that deepens the mythology surrounding Elsa’s ice powers and the magical world in which they exist. A mysterious voice leads Elsa (Idina Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (v. Josh Gad) and Sven the reindeer into the enchanted forest where her father and grandfather fought a magical race years before. However, Olaf is filled with existential angst about aging, which, while leading to one of the movie’s stronger numbers, “When I Am Older,” weighs down the silly snowman enough to make the movie’s most humorous running gag come from the romantic struggles faced as Kristoff woos Anna. 

The more substantial, inventive narrative should age better than its predecessor’s familiar fairy tale; will the soundtrack increase in infectiousness during those inestimable future viewings?