Payne’s Picks

By Sarah Payne

Movies coming out

November Criminals – December 8th – Readers who’ve been following my column for the last several years know that I don’t usually highlight blockbusters (we all know Star Wars: The Last Jedi is going to be the biggest one this month). I pick films that you might not know about yet – ones that pique my interest. As I was browsing trailers for December, I happened upon November Criminals, starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Ansel Elgort (who was excellent in this year’s stylish Baby Driver). It follows two teens attempting to solve the murder of their classmate. It’s currently listed as a limited release, which means it probably won’t come to Rhode Island anytime soon. This is a shame, because I immediately recognized a famous Providence coffee shop in the opening scene – Seven Stars! While the plot is set in Washington, D.C., a Providence Journal article from 2015 says filming locations included Providence, Cranston, and Warwick. November Criminals probably won’t be the best movie you see this year, but at least you can test your Rhody knowledge and try to figure out where each scene was filmed.

The Disaster Artist – December 8th – Have you seen The Room? It was an independent film released in 2003, labeled one of the worst movies of all time. Its budget was $6 million and it made just $1,900 in theaters. It’s so bad that it’s become a cult classic. Ten years later, the film’s producer, Tommy Wiseau, wrote a memoir about the making of the film. The Disaster Artist, starring James Franco and Dave Franco is an adaption of that book. James Franco told The Hollywood Reporter, “I love Hollywood stories, and this was unlike any Hollywood story I’d ever heard of or even read about. I read the book and I just thought yeah, this will be so unusual and weird, but at its core it will have this great story about dreamers trying to make it and about friendship.” The film is likely to be quirky, but there are few James Franco or Dave Franco films that have disappointed me, so I’m in!

Movie review – American Made – Tom Cruise might be an easy target in the media for his personal life, but you have to admit that his movies are entertaining. That’s why I decided to see American Made over the more high-profile blockbusters last month – and I was not disappointed! The film is supposedly based on the story of Barry Seal (played by Cruise), an American pilot who became a drug runner for the CIA in the 1980s. If you Google the real story, you’ll learn there were several liberties taken with the plot. Regardless, it’s fun to watch Seal get himself into evermore ridiculous and dangerous situations with the cartel. It’s even more fun to see Cruise flying, knowing he performed most of the stunts himself in the film.

Music review – Reputation, by Taylor Swift – I’ll admit that I haven’t been a Taylor Swift fan from the start of her career. I’ve never been a country music fan and “Tear Drops on My Guitar” made me cringe. Slowly but surely, though, I’ve warmed to her music as she’s transitioned to pop. And I was intrigued by the calculated rollout of her latest album, Reputation. She cleared all of her social media accounts prior to the release, making a statement that this album would be distinctly different than all her others. Her first single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” was an odd choice, so obviously stirring up an old celebrity feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. I thought you were above that, Taylor! But she made up for that song with subsequent singles like “Gorgeous,” and my favorite song on the album, “Call it What You Want.” For someone who is pushing a new brand so forcefully, most of the songs on Reputation are classic Taylor – about falling in love. But this time, she throws in some sexier lyrics and lots of reference to alcohol, perhaps to prove to us she can be just as edgy as any other pop star. She also tries her hand at rapping with some success. As others have written about the album, her acoustic routes are almost entirely gone, save for the last song, “New Years Day.” I would have liked to see more stripped down songs like that, but I appreciate her jumping headfirst into more pop and hip hop and will definitely have this one on repeat in my car for the foreseeable future.