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Now Playing: Argo, Sinister, Seven Psychopaths and More

Taken 2 showed off some major box office muscles last weekend, but it faces a lot of competition for the top spot in its second week. Will Sinister be the next low-budget horror surprise, or will Neeson be duking it out with Ben Affleck for first place?

PICK OF THE WEEK


Seven Psychopaths

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko
Distributor: CBS Films
Theater Count: 1,480

What’s it about? In a neat meta-textual twist, Farrell plays a struggling screenwriter (working on a movie called Seven Psychopaths) who winds up in a tight spot when his two con-men friends kidnap a gangster’s pet dog.

Early reaction: Plenty of praise for McDonagh’s witty, post-modern script, and just about universal acclaim for the acting ensemble, who all look at the height of their comedic abilities.

Metacritic: 66
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Player Affinity: 9/10

Why it’s our pick of the week: McDonagh’s debut film “In Bruges” was gleefully violent, fiendishly clever and downright hilarious. If he can manage even two out of three in his follow-up (and every indication is that he knocked it out of the park again), Seven Psychopaths will be a gem.

 

WIDE RELEASE


Argo

Directing: Ben Affleck
Writing: Chris Terrio (screenplay), Joshuah Bearman (article)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Theater Count: 3,232

What’s it about? When the American embassy was seized during the Iranian Revolution, six diplomats avoided being taken hostage by hiding in the home of the Canadian ambassador. A CIA infiltration specialist tasked with extracting the six Americans comes up with a risky plan to impersonate a Hollywood film crew. Based on a true story.

Early reaction: Off the charts. After playing the fall festivals, Argo has a horde of glowing reviews and tons of Oscar buzz.

Metacritic: 86
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

What to watch for: The continued rise of Affleck as one of the best directors of savvy, engaging thrillers around. Gone Baby Gone and The Town were great, but has Affleck outdone himself with this historical drama?

Here Comes the Boom

Directing:  Frank Coraci
Writing: Kevin James, Allan Loeb, Rock Reuben
Starring : Kevin James, Salma Hayek
Distributor: Sony/Columbia
Theater Count: 3,014

What’s it about? A high school biology teacher looks to become a successful mixed-martial arts fighter in an effort to raise money to prevent extra-curricular activities from being axed at his cash-strapped school.

Early reaction: Mostly indifferent to negative. James seems to be sticking to his brand of safe, harmless comedy.

Metacritic: 41
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%

What to watch for: Was Paul Blart: Mall Cop a box-office anomaly back in the day, or does James actually have some box office clout?

 

Sinister

Directing: Scott Derrickson
Writing: Scott Derrickson (screenplay), C. Robert Cargill
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Theater Count: 2,527

What’s it about? True-crime novelist Ellison Oswalt (Hawke) and his family moves into a new home with a violent history. A batch of home movies found by Oswalt in the attic puts them all in danger from a horrific supernatural being.

Early reaction: Similar to Insidious a couple years back, Sinister is getting some praise for being a well-crafted, genuinely terrifying shocker.

Metacritic: 55
Rotten Tomatoes: 61%

What to watch for: How far up can Sinister land at the box office? The horror film crowd made The Possession a double chart-topper a little while back (in an admittedly weak stretch of releases), but the building buzz for Paranormal Activity 4 has distracted attention away from Sinister lately.

 

Atlas Shrugged: Part II

Directing: John Putch
Writing: Duke Sandefur, Brian Patrick O’Toole (co-writer), Duncan Scott (co-writer) and Ayn Rand (novel)
Starring: Samantha Mathis, Jason Beghe
Distributor: Atlas Distribution/Rocky Mountain Pictures
Theater Count: 1,012

What’s it about? Covering the second half of Rand’s (in)famous novel, in which railroad executive Dagny Taggart discovers the answer to a mounting world energy crisis and must prevent the motor of the World from being stopped for good.

Early reaction: Atlas Shrugged: Part II was not screened early for critics. As of this writing it has two “rotten” reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

What to watch for: Considering Part I went completely unnoticed and was a massive flop last year, no one would’ve been surprised if this bizarre project had simply been abandoned. Yet here is Part II arriving with an unexpectedly large nationwide release. Presumably the filmmakers are hoping to capitalize on election season to give their politically-charged movie a boost, but will any viewers bite?

 

LIMITED RELEASES

3, 2, 1… Frankie Go Boom – Writer/director Jordan Roberts got some attention for his debut Around the Bend in 2004, but his follow-up has been plagued by dropouts and financial issues. A raunchy comedy about a young man whose newly sober brother (Chris O’Dowd) films him failing to have sex with the daughter of a big-time producer, Frankie Go Boom probably wasn’t worth the wait — though Ron Perlman as a cross-dresser is in there somewhere. (Metacritic: 52/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 38%) – Variance Films

Middle of Nowhere –  This tiny indie film, about a bright medical student who sets aside her dreams and suspends her career when her husband is incarcerated, appropriately came out of nowhere and is scoring some surprisingly great reviews. (Metacritic: 78/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%) – AFFRM

War of the Buttons – In occupied France, Lebrac leads a play war between two rival kid gangs, but his feelings for Violette, a Jewish girl in danger of being discovered by the Nazis, encourage Lebrac to face the reality of what’s happening around him. Featuring French superstar Guillaume Canet. (Metacritic: 35/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 25%) – The Weinstein Company

Least Among Saints – A haunted soldier just back from war and a boy who has never known peace in his home life embark on a life-changing journey as they become unlikely friends – and one another’s last shot at redemption. (Metacritic: 32/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 0%) – Brainstorm Media

Gayby – Jenn (straight) and Matt (gay) are best friends from college who are now in their thirties. Single by choice, they decide to fulfill a youthful promise to have a child together… the old fashioned way. (Metacritic: 62/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 89%) –  The Film Collaborative

Simon and the Oaks – Two boys come of age in Sweden during World War II. Based on the novel by Marianne Fredriksson. (Rotten Tomatoes: 50%) – The Film Arcade

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