A trio of new multiplex releases all skitter in with late or absent press screenings, while art house fare includes a Daniel Clowes adaptation, new Terrence Malick and cannibal coming-of-age horror. Life offers a few tense, unsettling moments in its "alien on the International Space Station" premise, but can't make its CGI threat threatening enough.
The Lure, My Life as a Zucchini, Daughters of the Dust
While Disney's 300-pound beast in the room might dominate the box office, Utah theaters include a restored cinematic landmark, killer mermaids and an animated Oscar nominee. Julie Dash's 1991 Daughters of the Dust—the first film by an African-American woman director to receive U.S. distribution—gets a 25th anniversary restoration showcasing both its significance and its flaws.
All possible multiplex challengers run to get out of the way of King Kong, while art house offerings profile a Chilean poet and Turkish cats. Director Pablo Larraín (Jackie) offers up another unconventional biopic in Neruda (pictured), and once again stumbles a bit down his unique path.
A full slate of new multiplex releases includes religious melodrama, wedding farce and teen dramatic fantasy, in addition to one big mutant headliner. The Shack (pictured) adapts a Christian best-seller on The Problem of Suffering into soft-serve spirituality for the faith-based audience.
Ahead of this weekend's Academy Awards, one more Oscar-nominated animated feature comes to town, along with an odd assortment of multiplex offerings for a traditional box-office dead zone. The Oscar-nominated animated feature The Red Turtle (pictured) might come from Studio Ghibli, but brings a unique style to its emotional, nearly-wordless story.
Two Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominees and the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts come to town, along with a trio of multiplex releases featuring broad comedy, rampaging monsters and eels (not all in the same movie). Maren Ade's sweet, weirdly hilarious Toni Erdmann (pictured) takes a familiar What Really Matters premise and crafts a unique portrait of a father/daughter relationship.
The post-Sundance week reveals delayed-from-2016 leftovers, DeNiro again trying to be a king of comedy and Pedro Almodóvar taking on Alice Munro. In The Comedian, Robert DeNiro (pictured) plays an ex-sitcom star in a premise that's like BoJack Horseman, only without the wit or pathos.
A Ghost Story (NEXT) ****
The idea that a person in a sheet with two eyeholes could represent something transcendently mournful about humanity seems ridiculous, but that's exactly what writer/director David Lowery pulls off in this breathtaking work. It's best to go in mostly blind regarding plot details; suffice it to say that a married couple (Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara) is involved, along with the aforementioned linens-clad spectre haunting their home.
Previewing the signups and awards showcase happening at the U.
We literally just came out of the film festival mayhem today, and already there are local organizations working to create new film festivals and exhibitions. A brand-new showcase called the Faultline Film Awards was launched by the University of Utah students who help run the Daily Chronicle and Wasatch Magazine.