November 2016: Movies Opening This Month

Posted on November 1, 2016 at 3:56 pm

November 2016 films include a Marvel superhero, a sci-fi movie for grown-ups, two animated family movies, and the first of a new five-movie series from J.K. Rowling! (Note: at this time of year release dates may differ from city to city, so check local listings.)

November 4

“Trolls” You already love the Justin Timberlake song that ruled radio all summer. You probably already love those adorably ugly little dolls with the puffs of hair. The movie is as cute as a rainbow unicorn cupcake.

“Doctor Strange” The Marvel superhero, a master of magic, arrives on screen, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, and Rachel McAdams.

“Hacksaw Ridge” Mel Gibson’s first film as a director in a decade is the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a deeply religious man who served as a medic in one of the bloodiest battles of WWII and single-handedly rescued 75 men.

“Loving” Ruth Nagga and Joel Edgerton star in the true story of the couple from Virginia who showed the world what their name, Loving, really meant. Arrested for violating Virginia’s laws prohibiting marriage between people of different races, they took their case to the US Supreme Court.

November 11

“Arrival” When aliens arrive, what kind of experts do you go to for help? In this thoughtful, complex story, it is a linguist played by Amy Adams who is called in to try to find out who they are and what their intentions are.

“Billy Linn’s Long Halftime Walk” Ben Fountain’s acclaimed novel about an Iraqi war American soldier on a “victory tour” through the US has been brought to the screen by Ang Lee, with a revolutionary new process that produces images of stunning focus and clarity.

November 18

fantastic beasts“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” It’s tough to decide which is more exciting — J.K. Rowling’s first screenplay, the first Harry Potter universe story to be set in the past, the first set in the U.S., knowing that there are four more movies ahead featuring these characters, or just the chance to go back into the Potterverse. Oh, and it stars Eddie Redmayne, too.

“Manchester by the Sea” This festival favorite from writer/director Kenneth Lonergan (“You Can Count on Me”) stars Casey Affleck as a loner suddenly appointed guardian of his late brother’s teenage son. The story takes its time, slowly letting the audience get to know the characters and their history and become deeply engaged in its spacious humanity.

November 23

Copyright 2016 Disney
Copyright 2016 Disney

“Moana” Disney’s first Polynesian heroine must save her tribe with the help of a legendary demigod (Dwayne Johnson) and songs from “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda.

November 25

“Lion” Bring a couple of handkerchiefs for this true story about an adopted man searching for his biological family, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.

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October 2016: Coming to Theaters

Posted on October 1, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Happy October! We’ve got some scary movies, of course, but also some possible Oscar contenders, and some family fun, too. Here’s some of what I’m looking forward to this month.


Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

A boy rebels against his tyrannical principal in this warm-hearted comedy featuring “Gilmore Girls'” Lauren Graham, based on the James Patterson YA series.

The Girl On The Train

Emily Blunt stars in this film based on the international thriller by Paula Hawkins.

The Birth of a Nation

Nate Parker wrote, directed, and stars in the story of the bloodiest slave rebellion in the pre-Civil War era, led by Nat Turner, a slave/preacher.

American Honey

This festival favorite about young traveling salesman stars Shia LaBeouf.


Professor Deborah Lipstadt was sued by a self-proclaimed “historian” who insisted that there was no Nazi program to murder Jews, because she called him a “Holocaust denier.” The trial raised the deepest questions about how we can be certain about history. The movie, based on her book, stars Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall.


The Accountant

Ben Affleck stars as a high-functioning person with autism whose extraordinary skill with numbers makes him very valuable to some very dangerous people.


Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Tom Cruise is back as the itinerant veteran with a passion for justice and a knack for trouble.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

An action comedy about an ordinary suburban couple (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) have new neighbors who are impossibly glamorous and possibly spies (John Hamm and Gal Gadot).


American Pastoral

Philip Roth’s novel about the culture clash between the generations in the 1960’s is now a movie directed by and starring Ewan McGregor.


Tom Hanks returns as Harvard professor Robert Langdon, in another race to save the world, based on Dan Brown’s book.

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Coming to Theaters: Fall Preview 2016

Posted on September 6, 2016 at 8:00 am

Happy fall! Here’s some of the most intriguing and exciting of what’s coming to theaters.



Tom Hanks plays “Sully” Sullenberger, the heroic pilot who saved all of his passengers when he made an emergency landing on the Hudson River. Clint Eastwood directed.




Who better than cinema-of-paranoia director Oliver Stone to tell the story of Edward Snowden? Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the NSA contractor-turned leaker, and Zachary Quinto plays journalist Glenn Greenwald.

“Bridget Jones’s Baby”

Renee Zellweger is back as the romantic comedy heroine, here not sure whether her ex (Colin Firth) or a possible new boyfriend (Patrick Dempsey) is the father of her baby.



Jennifer Aniston, Andy Samberg, and Key and Peele provide voices for this animated story about storks who have to make sure a baby is delivered to the right home.

“The Dressmaker”

A woman returns to the town that treated her badly to show them how wrong they were.  Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth star.

“Queen of Katwe” Director Mira Nair brings us the real-life story of a young African girl who became a chess champion.  Lupita NYong’o plays her mother.

“The Magnificent Seven”

First it was “The Seven Samurai.” Then, “The Magnificent Seven” with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen and an unforgettable Elmer Bernstein score. There was also a television series. This remake stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke.


“Deepwater Horizon”

Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, and John Malkovich star in the story of the explosion of a BP oil rig that led to the worst oil spill in US history.

“Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children”

A sort of “Avengers” crossed with “Harry Potter” and a bit of “X-Men,” this film based on the best-selling series of books is about a school for children with special powers.


“Middle School: The Worst Years of Your Life”

A middle schooler who doesn’t like rules end up in a school with way too many of them.  It’s based on the popular series of books by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts.

“Birth of a Nation”

Actor Nate Parker directed and stars in this powerful festival favorite about the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner.

“The Girl on the Train”

The Paula Hawkins best-seller about an alcoholic woman who becomes caught up in the disappearance of a young woman she watched from a commuter train stars Emily Blunt.


“The Accountant”

Ben Affleck stars in a thriller about a man on the autism spectrum who has been cooking the books for gangsters.

“Mr. Church”

Eddie Murphy takes on a serious role as a cook who cares for a dying woman and her daughter in a film from “Driving Miss Daisy” director Bruce Beresford.


“American Pastoral”

Philip Roth’s 1997 novel, set in the political upheavals of the 1960’s, is about a man who embraced and exemplified traditional notions of success only to have his daughter challenge everything he believes and trusts.



Tom Hanks is back as Robert Langdon, once again off to save the world, this time teamed up with “Rogue One’s” Felicity Jones.



Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, John Cleese, Kunal Nayyar, and Gwen Stefani lend their voices to this colorful musical about those cute little creatures with the tufts of hair.

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Opening This Month Trailers, Previews, and Clips

August 2016 — What’s Opening This Month

Posted on August 1, 2016 at 8:00 am

August is usually when the summer movie season slows down, but this month we have some movies that are sure to win at the box office and even a couple that might turn up on some end of the year best lists.

August 5

“Suicide Squad” — think “The Avengers” crossed with “The Dirty Dozen.” This “bad guys have to be the good guys” movie from DC Comics stars Will Smith, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto (as The Joker), and, as Harley Quinn, “Wolf of Wall Street’s” Margot Robbie, my pick for the break-out performance of the summer.

“Don’t Think Twice” Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed, and stars in one of the best movies of the year, the story of an improv troupe, and what happens to the team when one of them gets offered a job on television.

August 12

“Sausage Party” A very R-rated animated story about food in the grocery store that finds out the release of being purchased is not the happy ending they had thought.

“Peter’s Dragon” Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard star in the remake of the Disney fantasy about a boy and his dragon.

“Florence Foster Jenkins” It takes a great actress to play a terrible singer.  Fortunately, we have Meryl Streep, who plays the real-life wealthy woman who loved to sing opera and Hugh Grant as the husband who protected her from finding out that she was awful at it.

“Hell or High Water” Two brothers, one an ex-con (Ben Foster), one who has never broken the law (Chris Pine), rob some banks in Texas.  Two Texas Rangers (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham) go after them in this exceptionally smart, thoughtful crime story.

August 19

“Ben Hur” Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman star in this classic story of the Jewish prince who becomes a slave and wins a chariot race in the time of Jesus.

“Kubo and the Two Strings” An enchantingly beautiful stop-motion animation fantasy set in ancient Japan is a story in some ways about stories and how the stories we tell ourselves and those around us can transform our lives.  Voices include Rooney Mara, Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthew McConaughey.  I’ve seen it.  The ending had me in tears — and then took my breath away.

“War Dogs” Miles Teller and Jonah Hill star in this fact-based black comedy about two guys in their 20’s with no experience who won a $300 million contract to supply weapons to the Pentagon.  It did not go well.

August 26

“Southside With You”  Barack Obama was working at a Chicago law firm the summer after his first year of law school.  Michelle Robinson was his supervisor.  This is the story of their first date.  Even if their names were Smith and Jones it would be one of the most romantic movies of the year; knowing what was ahead of them makes it even more meaningful.


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Opening This Month

Opening This Month: July 2016

Posted on July 1, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Happy July! And welcome to the height of the summer movie season. Today, we kick off the 4th of July weekend with two big movies, Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” based on the book by Roald Dahl and starring Oscar-winner Mark Rylance.

And a new version of the classic story with “The Legend of Tarzan,” starring Alexander Skarsgård, Christoph Waltz, and Margot Robbie.

Some of the other highlights of July 2016 at the movies:

July 8

“The Secret Life of Pets” answers the question we all wonder about. What do our dogs, cats, fish, bunnies, reptiles, and other pets do all day while we’re away from home? Voice talent includes Louis CK, Jenny Slate, Kevin Hart, and Eric Stonestreet.

“Life, Animated” is a heartwarming documentary based on the best-selling book about Owen Suskind, a young man with autism whose love for animated films helped him learn how to communicate with his family.

“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” stars Anna Kendrick, Zac Efron, Adam Devine, and Aubrey Plaza in a wild, raunchy comedy about two brothers who advertise on Craigslist for dates to take to their sister’s wedding.

July 15

“Ghostbusters” Who ya gonna call? In this reboot, it’s Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and Kristen Wiig, with Chris Hemsworth as their administrative assistant.

July 22

“Star Trek Beyond” There are a couple of intriguing new names in the credits of this latest in the beloved series. Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, co-wrote the script. And Justin Linn of the “Fast/Furious” films, takes over as director.

“Ice Age: Collision Course” Pegg stars in this film, too, along with fellow returning cast members Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Keke Palmer, Queen Latifah, and Jennifer Lopez.

July 29

“Jason Bourne” Matt Damon is back as Bourne. I just hope there’s one of those scenes where the CIA boss says he’s in his office and Bourne is all, “No, because then I’d be looking at you.”

“Bad Moms” Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn decide to stop trying to be perfect moms like that meanie Christina Applegate.

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