What’s New In Movie Theaters?

By Chris Narloch

After the surprise success of the recent, female-driven “Book Club,” it’s nice to see another “chick flick” succeed at the box office, with the $40+ million dollar opening weekend for “Ocean’s 8.”

After you see those two entertaining movies, I have several smaller titles I can recommend that deserve to be seen on the big screen before they vanish from theaters.

Ocean’s 8

I am not surprised that movie fans embraced this high-gloss, all-star heist comedy, which features entertaining work by Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Cate Blanchett, and especially Sandra Bullock.

Set against the backdrop of The Met Ball in NYC (Anna Wintour’s annual orgy of fashion and celebrity), “Ocean’s 8” gives this franchise a gender flip that isn’t much more than skin deep but gets by on style and attitude.

Hathaway does a clever spoof of her own public image, playing a vain actress whose necklace is the target, and Bullock gives George Clooney a run for his money as the charming head of the heist.

Hereditary

In the 25 years since first seeing Toni Collette in her hilarious 1994 film “Muriel’s Wedding,” I have marveled at her ability to bounce from crazy comedy to intense drama in projects such as “United States of Tara,” “The Sixth Sense,” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Nothing prepared me for her wild work in the new horror classic “Hereditary,” however. As a grieving mother in a uniquely dysfunctional family, Collette is so committed to her role that you completely buy into the movie’s shocks and surprises.

The less I say about the film the better, and don’t let anybody describe the plot of “Hereditary” before you see the movie. Just go. The Academy rarely nominates actors for horror, but Toni Collette could be one of the exceptions when Oscar nominees are chosen next year.

Adrift

Shailene Woodley’s latest big-screen venture is a different kind of horror story from “Hereditary.” Adrift tells the true-life tale of a couple who fell in love on the water and then sailed in to one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history.

Tami Oldham (Woodley) awakens after the big storm to find her boyfriend injured and her boat sinking; she must fight to save their boat and their lives.

“Adrift” is another film with twists and turns that you don’t want spoiled before you see the movie for yourself. The back and forth structure of its script is sometimes awkward, but Woodley and handsome Sam Claflin make a lovely screen couple.

First Reformed

If, like me, you are a fan of the great writer/director Paul Schrader (“Taxi Driver,” “Mishima,” “Raging Bull”), then you must see his latest film, “First Reformed,” a dark drama that features a superb performance by Ethan Hawke.

Hawke plays the pastor of a small church in upstate New York who experiences a crisis of faith after he counsels a pregnant parishioner and her depressed husband.

Again, I don’t want to give away too much except to say that “First Reformed” is one of the best, most intense dramas of the year, and Hawke’s performance is something to see. (This title is playing at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre through at least June 21.)

Hotel Artemis

If you want to see a very odd little futuristic thriller with a terrific performance from Jodie Foster, check out “Hotel Artemis,” which may not be in theaters for long thanks to its disappointing box office performance.

I have been a Foster fan since childhood, and she challenges herself once again in this wild, violent story, playing the “Nurse,” a high-tech healer who runs a 13-story, members-only hospital for criminals in Los Angeles circa 2028.

The actress is surrounded by a diverse cast, including Dave Bautista, Sterling K. Brown, and Charlie Day, in this claustrophobic action flick, which takes place over one crazy night inside the hospital while riots rage outside.

The movie has an unusual, set-bound design -- with only a few exterior shots -- that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed the film, and especially Foster.

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