Mixed bag of movies opens locally this weekend

Lashana Lynch and Thuso Mbedu in The Woman King (TriStar Pictures)

September can be a fallow period at the movies, but several promising films open this weekend that might pique filmgoers’ interests as the seasons begin to shift gears.

While there are no blockbusters on tap, here’s a brief preview of five new movies opening today in local theaters.

The Woman King

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love and Basketball” and “The Old Guard’) delivers an action-packed historical epic about a female African general name Nanisca, played ferociously by Viola Davis. Nanisca leads an army of female warriors — that coincidentally were the inspiration of the Dora Milage troops that protect the nation of Wakanda in Marvel’s films and streaming shows — for a West African nation that is under attack in 1823. Davis is always wonderful in whatever role she chooses, and she is capably supported by John Boyega and Lashana Lynch in this film that packs a wallop with its action and social message.

See How They Run

Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan co-star in this tongue-in-cheek romp through who-done-it tropes. The film functions well as a satire and a mystery that’s fun and satisfying. Ronan is quite funny in her role as Rockwell’s mystery-solving second, and Rockwell is as deft as ever at making the lead detective an interesting take on the stereotypical gum-shoe type. Adrien Brody and David Oyelowo give hilarious supporting performances along with Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, and Harris Dickinson.


Mia Goth returns as the titular serial-killer in the prequel of this spring’s “X,” and this film is just as bloody and nutty, in retracing how Pearl became the psycho we met earlier this year. Goth co-wrote the screenplay with director Ty West. If you’ve not seen “X,” the movie should still work as a standalone movie. If satirical splatter is your thing, this movie should work for you. Evidently a third film in the series is already in the works.

God’s Country

A minor case of trespassing by two good ol’ boys leads to harrowing suspense for the audience and danger for star Thandiwe Newton in “God’s Country,” a layered Western thriller directed by Julian Higgens. Newton is grieving after the death of her mother when a seemingly small incident festers into a feud that no one can win.

Running the Bases

Luke Brooks is a high school baseball coach whose religious beliefs, faith, and actions around his team creates a conflict with the school board and other administrators. Co-directors Marty Roberts and Jimmy Womble also collaborated on the script of this faith-based movie, inspired by similar real-world events.

New in Local Theaters

The Woman King (PG-13) 2 hr. 15 min. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Towne, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Skylight

See How They Run (PG-13) 1 hr. 38 min. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills

Pearl (R) 1 hr. 42 min. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills

God’s Country (R) 1 hr. 43 min. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square

Running the Bases (PG) 2 hr. 7 min. (trailer)
Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills

Classic Corner – When Harry Met Sally

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (Castle Rock Entertainment)

I have to admit, “When Harry Met Sally” is one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s easily one of my top three comedies, and at the right moment, is a part of my ever-shifting Top 10.

Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally are perfectly and adorably cast in the movie that was directed by Rob Reiner from a wonderful script by Nora Ephron. Crystal and the late Carrie Fisher, who plays Sally’s pal Marie, also took turns at punching up the dialogue.

The story takes place over a 12-year period when Harry and Sally meet and re-meet each other at different points in their lives. There’s an immediate spark between the two even though they can’t stand each other after their first encounter on a road trip of convenience to New York.

On that trip, Harry drops his classic bit of wisdom that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

With each meeting, Harry and Sally’s relationship grows and matures. They do actually become friends, and yes, the sex part does get in the way before the two ultimately realize that friendship is at the heart of the best relationships.

The movie contains many great scenes, but the showstopper, of course, is when Ryan fakes an orgasm in a deli to prove a point to Harry. The kicker comes when an older lady quips to her waitress that, “I’ll have whatever she’s having.”

Fisher is great in what was perhaps her best role as Sally’s friend, Marie, who falls for Harry’s best bud Jess (Bruno Kirby) on a double date.

I don’t know of a movie that portrays male and female friendships better, while also nailing the bond of truly finding your soul mate.

The interludes where couples sit together on a sofa and reminisce with short stories of how they fell in love are perfectly woven throughout the narrative of film until the we finally get Harry and Sally on the sofa together at the end of the film.

The soundtrack of the film is also one of my all-time favorites, featuring Harry Connick Jr.’s jazzy take on a number of standards, including his now classic rendition of “It Had to be You.” The song garnered him is first Grammy for Best Male Jazz Performance.

Other artists’ voices featured in the movie include Louis Armstrong Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Ray Charles, and Frank Sinatra.

The movie is a love letter to New York, showing the city at its best during all the seasons of the year, but the film just has a cozy, fall feel to me even though it was originally released in July and ends on New Year’s Eve.

Honestly a movie this well-crafted is an anytime movie. It truly is a delight that set a high bar for romantic-comedies that in my estimation has yet to be equaled.

“When Harry Met Sally” is streaming on Netflix and HBO Max.