Weekend Movies: Deus Ex Cinema

A few very promising new movies are finally hitting the big screen this weekend. Unfortunately, they’re opening opposite a cinematic atrocity that just so happens to be the solitary wide release.

The only movie with the grit stand against the powerhouse ‘Furious 7’ is yet another Nicholas Sparks adaptation. From the director of the terrible action movie ‘Faster‘ comes the romantic flick ‘The Longest Ride‘. Clint Eastwood’s son Scott only lasted a few minutes in ‘Fury’ before getting blown up, but he’s leading this melodrama as a past-his-prime bull rider attempting a comeback. The story follows his unfitting relationship with an art major played by Britt Robertson (from the upcoming blockbuster ‘Tomorrowland’). Somewhere in there is a love story between two older people, one of which is played by Alan Alda. Being a Nicholas Sparks story, my money is on Alda dying at some point.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the cooler prospects offered up this weekend.

The release that I’m anticipating the most is writer-turned-director Alex Garland’s ‘Ex Machina‘. The mind behind ‘28 Days Later‘ and ‘Sunshine‘ has put out a science fiction thriller about a promising programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) who is brought to the hidden home/research facility of a reclusive genius (Oscar Isaac) to evaluate his latest creation – a radical piece of artificial intelligence. His think-for-itself computer comes in the form of a semi-flesh-covered robot with the looks of a provocative and gorgeous female (Alicia Vikander). Although distributor A24 is only placing it on a limited number of screens this weekend, strong tracking and pre-release word-of-mouth have already locked the film for a decent expansion over the next two weeks.

IFC has a three-screen release with ‘Clouds of Sils Maria‘. Juliette Binoche stars as seasoned actress who agrees to appear in a revival of the stage play that placed her on the map twenty years earlier. The play focuses on a young woman who manipulates her boss into committing suicide. Now too old to play the same conniving role, she’s the boss character and has to endure the now close-to-home production with a young starlet (Chloe Grace Moretz) playing opposite. Kristen Stewart also co-stars. The tension created by the characters is said to be delightfully unbearable.

Simon Pegg is back on the big screen with ‘Kill Me Three Times‘, which can also be viewed from home via paid streaming services. In the action-thriller, Pegg plays a hitman whose failed job places him in the middle of a deadly and dangerous scenario that he had better get out of quickly. Teresa Palmer, Alice Braga and lesser-known Hemsworth brother Luke co-star.

Courtesy of Warner Bros., Ryan Gosling’s ‘Lost River‘ debuts at three locations. The actor-turned-writer/director’s first feature is getting raked over the coals by critics, but sounds interesting nonetheless. Christina Hendricks stars as a single mother who’s lured into a mysterious underworld with the hopes of saving her small family. The supporting cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Ben Medelsohn and Eva Mendes.

Expanding nationwide are ‘While We’re Young’ and ‘Woman in Gold’.

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