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by Sarah Payne
Free State of Jones – June 24th With the disturbing state of U.S. politics, the release of Free State of Jones couldn’t be timelier. Starring Matthew McConaughy, it’s based on the true story of Newton Knight, an American farmer who led a group of deserters during the Civil War in an attempt to create the Free State of Jones. “No man ought to tell another man what he’s got to live for, or what he’s got to die for,” McConaughy recites in the trailer. Knight is a controversial historical figure, so it will be interesting to see which story the film chooses to tell.
The Shallows – June 29th In between having her first and what will be her second child with Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively managed to film The Shallows about a surfer who is attacked by a great white shark only 200 yards from the shore of a secluded Australian beach. I really enjoyed seeing Lively take on a starring role in the Age of Adeline last year, and this film looks like it will also show more of her serious acting chops. There’s not much online as far as reviews go, but you really can’t go wrong with a thriller about a shark attack right before beach season in Rhode Island!
Money Monster These last few months have been extremely disappointing on the movie front. It seems as though every new, big-budget film is about a superhero—or worse, a superhero versus another superhero. Thankfully, Money Monster is one of the rare ones that has nothing to do with superheroes (sorry comic fans). George Clooney plays the host of a daily TV show about money, with Julia Roberts starring as his producer. During a live taping of the show, a disgruntled investor takes Clooney’s character hostage, demanding answers for his lost investment in IBIS Global Capital. The storyline is a bit far fetched. I find it hard to believe that a live hostage situation would carry on for as long as it does in Money Monster, which is almost the entire movie. But the idea of the show itself is an interesting commentary on contemporary America culture. As an introduction to each show, which is likely broadcast on a 24-hour news station, Clooney gyrates and raps with scantily clad dancers. It seems goofy because it’s George Clooney dancing, but turn on any station today and you’ll see similar nonsense labeled as “news.” The film also highlights the fact that there’s no real journalism or investigative news anymore. Roberts’ character admits that as she’s producing the show in the control room. Rather than questioning the ambiguous reasoning for IBIS Global Capital losing millions of dollars, the network is ready to accept a canned public relations statement. While it’s not the most well-written or expertly acted, Money Monster is good for what it is—a fast-paced thriller with two of the most beloved actors in Hollywood.
Room I’ll admit that when Room first came out last year, I was afraid to see it. Sure, Brie Larson got incredible reviews and an Academy Award for her performance. I just wasn’t sure I would be able to handle the subject—a girl abducted as a teenager and then locked in a room? Sounds uplifting! But thankfully, there is no abuse shown on camera. The focus of the film is on her relationship with her son, who she conceived with her captor. For me—spoiler here— the highlight of Room is when the son manages to escape. It’s an intense scene—one that literally made me jump out of my seat in anticipation to get closer to the TV. I was surprised by how much of the film then takes place after the escape, following their integration back into society. It’s certainly not a feel-good film, but one that makes you appreciate a deeply moving performance.