MOVIE BUFF-ET: An eclectic selection of films greet film fans this weekend


Five films open at local theaters this weekend, and each one is crafted to chase a different demographic.

With it being Friday the 13th and Halloween being just around the corner, there has to be a new horror film opening, right?

New In Local Theaters

  • The Foreigner (R) 1 hr. 53 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdall Cinema Grill, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Happy Death Day (PG-13) 1 hr. 36 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale Cinema Grill, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Marshall (PG-13) 1 hr. 58 min.
    (Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne)
    » Watch trailer
  • Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (R) 1 hr., 48 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback)
    » Watch trailer
  • Victoria abd Abdul (PG-13) 1 hr. 52 min.
    (Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne)
    » Watch trailer
  • Brave (PG-13) (PG) 1 hr. 41 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square)
    » Watch trailer

Of course, and this weekend it’s “Happy Death Day.” From the trailers, the movie appears to be a twist on “Groundhog Day,” but with a female college student seeking to find her murderer each time she awakens to the same day.

Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan headline “The Foreigner,” a father-revenge flick in which Chan is far more capable and deadly than he appears. This 1980s’ throwback seems right up my alley.

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” is a decidedly different take on the comic-book movie fad, telling the origin of Wonder Woman’s creator rather than that of the super hero herself. Who knew that Marston not only created an early prototype of the polygraph, but also lived with two women?

“Marshall” could be the class of the quintet of films opening this weekend. It stars Chadwick Bosman as a young Thurgood Marshall taking on a difficult case as a NAACP lawyer, where he must defend an African-American chauffeur who has been accused of raping his white socialite employer. Marshall, of course, became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

“Victoria & Abdul” stars Judy Dench as Queen Victoria of England who develops a friendship with Abdul Karim (Ali Faxal), a young clerk from India, late in her life. He becomes like a son to her, but still faces racism within the Queen’s court.

Battle of the Sexes

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

If you’re looking for a by-the-book sports movie, then “Battle of the Sexes” might not be the film for you. However, if you are looking for an unconventional romance set against a sports backdrop, then it might be a movie you’d want to check out.

The title of the movie refers to the 1972 exhibition tennis match between former men’s Grand Slam champion Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) and the best female tennis player in the world at the time Billie Jean King (Emma Stone). The film does cover the ins and outs of the match and the deal that made it a TV sports spectacle to rival any up to that point.

However, what the film is actually about at its core the relationship King had with a woman named Marilyn Barnett that moved the tennis star closer to accepting that she was a homosexual around the same time frame as the match.

The film is well made and Stone gives a performance that is likely to land her a second Academy Awards Best Actress nomination and quite possibly her second Oscar after landing her first last year for “La La Land.”

Carell is nearly as strong as Riggs, who was known as much for his gambling and self-promotion during mid-life as he was for his tennis. Carell morphs into the role changing his gate to mimic Riggs and his devil-may-care performance sells him in the part. However, Riggs’ story is the B or C plot of the film.

The movie belongs to Stone as jus portrays the savvy, tough, spirited and inspiring King, who became a leader in the Women’s Rights movement by standing up and standing down the good ol’ boys network in professional tennis.

Co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris craft an interesting film that touches all the bases of the story, and then using a combination of recreated shots of the match intermingled with actual footage that is quite compelling in the final eighth of the movie.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 2 min.
Grade: B+

Classic Corner

The Princess Bride

The Malco Razorback Theater in conjunction with Fathom Events will have two showings of Rob Reiner’s classic 1987 comedy/adventure “The Princess Bride” at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday.

It’s inconceivable “The Princess Bride” is 30 years old, but the film is just as witty, charming, exciting, romantic, and adventurous today as it was when it opened. The film stars Carey Elwes and Robin Wright as paramours Westley and Princess Buttercup, but the true stars of the production are William Goldman’s script based on his own 1973 novel and Reiner’s direction.

Reiner filled the film with one-liners, finely crafted comedy bits, and action scenes, and then added just enough romance to tie the whole package together with a big boisterous red bow.

Billy Crystal as the wizard Miracle Max and Wallace Shawn as the shyster Vizzini steal their scenes, but credit must be given to Elwes for playing the charming and daring straight man to their comical antics and others.

Mandy Patinkin’s revenge-seeking Inigo Montoya adds heart to the affair, while Chris Sarandon and Christopher Guest provide a copious amount of villainy as the six-dighted Prince Humperdinck and Count Tyrone Rugen. Even wrestling great Andre the Giant fills his bits admirably as the lovable giant Fezzik.

Compared to her cast mates, Wright’s performance is a bit stiff, but she’s so lovely you can understand why Westley would go to so much trouble to be reunited with and save her.

The sequences starring Peter Falk as a Grandpa reading the story to his grandson Fred Savage perfectly frames the movie and ranks among the best of such sequences ever committed to film.

Horror of Dracula

Turner Classic Movies continues its rundown of Dracula films on Sunday with a blood-curdling double feature starring Christopher Lee as the Prince of Darkness in “The Horror of Dracula,” which was Hammer first vampire movie by Hammer Films in 1958.

While Lugosi is the icon, many fans count Lee’s performances as the scariest and most intimidating ever committed to film. Lee’s Dracula is about power and control. While his performance does have a certain magnetism, his Dracula is a predator without any hint of romance. which later characterizations by the likes of Frank Langella and Gary Oldman centered.

Peter Cushing, who partnered with Lee in Hammer’s “Curse of Frankenstein,” mad his debut as the vampire hunter Doctor Van Helsing.

The second leg of the double feature is 1960’s “The Brides of Dracula,” the sequel to “The Horror of Dracula.” In this film Dracula’s dead, but vampires continue to stalk and Cushing is back as Van Helsing to attempt to vanquish them.