It seems Jeff Nichols loves to write and direct movies about outsiders. It can be the family isolation of 2007’s “Shotgun Stories” or the father with apocalyptic visions in 2011’s “Take Shelter” or a good-intentioned criminal in 2012’s “Mud.” This time, it’s a boy (Jaeden Lieberher) with special powers. Anyone with special powers is bound to be pursued by the government, and let’s throw in a religious cult for good measure. Michael Shannon plays the boy’s father, joining Nichols for a fourth collaboration. The rest of the cast are nothing to shrug at – Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver and Sam Shepard. Shannon is always a powerhouse, and this performance gives out a tonal resonance that rings amongst the rest of the performers. It’s a shame the script devolves in messy and unclear ways. There are some good aspects to be found, but it’s far from special – barely worth a watch.
“Hello, My Name is Doris”
This is one of those easily missed movies. Who notices the new film starring Sally Field and that guy from Fox’s “New Girl” (Max Greenfield)? It’s a low budget affair about a sixty-something infatuated with a younger coworker, and after being inspired at a self-help seminar, she believes she can win his love. Field doesn’t play a cougar. She plays a kook, on the fringe of crazy, but she infuses the character with so much heart that you’ll root for her from opening until end credits. Greenfield has charisma and gives a nice back and forth with Field. Writer/director Michael Showalter stuffs these characters into a lot of awkward situations with natural positioning and timing. Showalter has spent a lot of time learning the art of the awkward situation, spending most of his career as a member of the alternative-comedy troupe Stella. You should introduce yourself to this quirky comedy because it’s worth a watch.
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“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”
It’s been 14 years since Nia Vardalos broke on the scene, writing and starring the surprise hit “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” It was a small, sweet movie that encapsulated romance and family and immigration and how learning about our cultural differences makes us stronger. In the sequel, we get a lot more of these same affirmations, but add in a few lines of dialogue about coming of age in a domineering family and keeping romance fresh in a marriage and female empowerment. The cast is all back to throw down on some social stereotyping, but the script is very aware of these tropes – owning them in some cases and turning a few of them around. John Stamos and Rita Wilson pop up in cameos, making the cast a who’s who in the Greek-American acting community. All of the big jokes from the first film also make a cameo. So if you were already a fan, go ahead and RSVP, because you’ll think this one is worth a watch.