Pick of the Week: “The Finest Hours” (Netflix) — My full review is here. Before Chris Pine and Ben Foster starred in the excellent Texas crime thriller “Hell or High Water,” they were co-stars in this old-fashioned rescue drama, based on a true-life event in which a Coast Guard crew battled an epic storm to save the crew of a sinking ship. Casey Affleck may be the film’s MVP as the ship’s quietly heroic engineer.
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sundance Cinemas) — Even though Steven Spielberg doesn’t even have a new movie this summer, it just wouldn’t be summer without him. And so, by sheer coincidence, three different venues are showing three different Spielberg classics in the same week. First off is Indiana Jones’ first and indisputably greatest outing, which I saw at Sundance last summer with a sold-out crowd and was a total blast (33 years later, the bit with the swordsman still draws a laugh.)
For some, summer moviegoing means seeing the big blockbusters, the AC in the theater blasting. I’m all for that, but for me, quintessential summer moviegoing means being outside. Maybe it’s just a byproduct of being a Wisconsinite and being cooped up for so many months. But I have got to see something outdoors, whether it’s a cult classic on the Union Terrace or an avant-garde film on the roof of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. In that spirit, I wrote the cover story for 77 Square this week on the different al fresco movie options in Madison this summer, and the appeal of each.
Here’s the rest of what’s going on in Madison movies this week:
“After Earth” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema) — M. Night Shyamalan needs to write a movie set in an alternate Earth where his post-“Signs” movies are considered his best work. In this one, though, he’s been on a precipitous downward slide in the last decade, and the reviews for this Will and Jaden Smith sci-fi action film aren’t kind. Also, weird that this isn’t in 3D, right?
“Now You See Me” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema) — The trailer for this caper film about bank-robbing magicians didn’t work for me at all, but the cast (Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Woody Harrelson) definitely does. It’s certainly something a little different for a summer movie.
“Frances Ha” (Sundance) — Everybody’s favorite movie this year seems to be Noah Baumbach’s collaboration with writer-actress Greta Gerwig in this tale of a New York dancer hitting a quarter-life crisis. Supposed to be funny and sharp, and wise about female friendships in a way that movies usually aren’t. Pick of the week.
“Not Today” (Point) — A different kind of Christian-audience film, a drama aimed at alerting audiences to the horrors of the sex trafficking trade, as a callow young man traveling abroad tries to save the daughter of a homeless man from being sold into slavery.
“Iddarammayilatho” (Star Cinema) — AMC Theatres seem to have really found a niche by showing films aimed at Indian audiences (sometimes without English subtitles). The strength of that audience is evident this week, as the theater books a new Bollywood movie and this one, a Telugu-language romance.
“Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” (Star Cinema) — This is the Bollywood film, a lavish musical about lovers in love and, at 2 hours 48 minutes, rather brisk for Bollywood.
“Spaceballs” (9 p.m., UW Memorial Union Terrace, 800 Langdon St.) — Mel Brooks’ “Star Wars” spoof isn’t one of his top-tier comedies, but it’s perfect for the Terrace crowd, and the “Alien” sequence with John Hurt always has me on the floor. Free!
“Jaws” (1;30 and 6:45 p.m., Sundance) — What’s summer without a nice swim? Sundance kicks off its Summer Classics series with Steven Spielberg’s relentlessly entertaining 1975 film. I wrote an appreciation when it was released on Blu-ray last fall.