The opening of Bad Santa 2 feels exactly right The first movie gave its degenerate, safe-cracking mall Santa a glimmer of a happy ending, an absurd outcome for a man who had screwed and robbed and drank and cursed his way across a large swath of the Phoenix metro area. 12 years later, Bad Santa 2 finds its antihero back at rock bottom; alone, drunk, and broke. In a despairing voiceover, Billy Bob Thornton croaks out a treatise on the absence of happy endings in life — or any endings at all. Life, his Willie Soke muses, just goes on and on, consistently sucking forever. Then he writes a suicide note on an old pizza box and sticks his head in an oven.
What if Rutger Hauer’s relatively absurd, visually-impaired martial arts badass from Blind Fury was besieged by a home invasion in his reclusive Early Bird Special years? The answer is — to an extent — Don’t Breathe, a thriller that skews a little more toward The Collector than David Fincher’s underrated Panic Room. The latest effort from director Fede Alvarez (the Evil Dead remake) is a relentlessly intense cat-and-mouse game with a couple of hard lefts thrown into its twisted domestic labyrinth. It’s a nasty little piece of work that needs to be a bit more lean and slightly less mean.
Captain America: Civil War is now in theaters, heralding a new age for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) fighting for the fate of the Avengers on screens all around the world, ScreenCrush Editor-in-Chief Mike Sampson and Film Critic Matt Singer convened to fight about Marvel’s newest blockbuster. (Hopefully there will be less bruising and fewer arrests.) And below, Matt goes through a few questions they didn’t get to in the video.
In ‘Other People,’ the opening night film at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Jesse Plemons (‘Fargo,’ ‘Breaking Bad’) plays a struggling gay comedy writer who travels home to care for his terminally ill mother. If that synopsis doesn’t shout Sundance, nothing
“The way I imagine it, after the fight, he’s riding home in a cab, with the roar of the people chanting ‘Rocky!’ still in his ears. And he just drops over dead. In other words, he has achieved everything possible and he dies when he’s on top. I don’t think people want to see Rocky when he’s 80.”
Spectre is amusing and stylish, but just barely. And its fixation on validating Bond’s worth in 2015 through a Snowden-esque subplot about a worldwide security network feels particularly inappropriate given the fact that so much of the movie is spent looking to Bond’s past, rather than his present or future.
‘Sicario’ is an exercise in prolonged tension like few others. Every moment from the first scene to the last is suspenseful. The opening, a deadly raid on a drug kingpin’s safe house establishes a terrifying precedent: In this film, violence can erupt at any time without any warning, and no one and nothing can be trusted. Having thoroughly unsettled the audience, director Denis Villeneuve keeps viewers on edge with shifty characters, sudden bursts of gunfire, and the careful use of a persistent, pounding score. Remember the scene in Boogie Nights where Alfred Molina is randomly tossing firecrackers at Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly? Sicario is like that scene for two straight hours with no “Sister Christian.” It is intense.
Naomi Watts’ is the second-billed star in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition. On the film’s official Fox Searchlight website, her name appears above the title next to Jake Gyllenhaal’s. But she barely appears in the film’s trailer. She’s onscreen for less than one second. She says just three words. (“You miss her?”) It’s almost like the trailer is trying to hide her.
Everything that goes wrong in Poltergeist stems from an act of desecration; the building of a cookie-cutter housing development on top of an old cemetery. Some might find the sheer act of attempting a remake of Poltergeist similarly disrespectful; the 1982 original is something of a masterpiece of suburban terror. But if viewers can look past the sheer audacity of attempting another Poltergeist, they’ll find a solid modernization, the cinematic equivalent of a decent cover version of a great rock song. It’s totally superfluous, and not nearly as satisfying as the original, but well-performed and effective in its own way. It’s nice (or, in this case, deeply unsettling) to revisit an old classic in a new arrangement.