Hitting Screens, Week of
November 7

Three new films open this weekend.

mv5bmty1ndi1nzg4of5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjyxotg4ode-_v1_sy1000_cr006401000_al_The one drawing the most attention is from ground-breaking director Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain, both of which won him Best Director Oscars). It is adapted from the 2012 debut novel by Ben Fountain, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and a finalist for the National Book Awards, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

Not only did Lee challenge himself by choosing as his source a novel many considered unfilmable, but, says Entertainment Weekly he “decided to push the boundaries of technical prowess,” by  dramatically increasing the number of frames shot and employing a higher 3D resolution.

Variety writes the advances have “the potential to be a revolutionary … It opens the door to a new way for movies to be shot, a new way for them to look and feel, a new way for them to be experienced.”

However, writes Entertainment Weekly, “reactions have been mixed, with some calling the technology a distraction.” Lee responds that he is not surprised by the criticism in an interview with USA Today, saying, it’s “a lot to absorb; it’s not a universally pleasing movie. If it doesn’t split [the critics], there’s something wrong with it.”

Starring newcomer Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Chris Tucker, the film opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, and expands nationwide on Nov. 18.

A tie-in came out in September: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain, (HarperCollins/Ecco; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

mv5bmtexmzu0odcxndheqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mde1oti4mzay-_v1_sy1000_cr006401000_al_Arrival is an SF film starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma. It is directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on the short story by Ted Chiang “Story of Your Life” about a linguist (Adams) trying to communicate with aliens.

Reviews are strong thus far. The Verge calls it “a soulful sci-fi instant classic” and “one of the best films of the year.” io9 headlines their review with a “Masterpiece You Won’t Stop Thinking About” and continues “Arrival is the kind of science fiction film we dream of. It’s got big stars, a bigger concept, and the longer it goes, the more it demands of its audience. The pacing is methodical, the story captivating, and filmmaking beautiful. You rarely have a clue where it’s going—but once it gets there, you won’t be able to get it out of your head.”

An updated release of the book the story appears in was published earlier this year, Stories Of Your Life And Others (originally published in 2002 by Macmillan/Tor; re-released by PRH/Vintage in 2016; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample).

mv5bmtc5ndi5mza1of5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtqzntqwmdi-_v1_Elle is a psychological thriller based on the novel Oh… by Philippe Djian (English translation not currently available).

Directed by Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, Showgirls) and starring Isabelle Huppert, it is a story about a woman who stalks and finds her rapist.

Critics are hooked. Variety says “High-risk material yields unexpected rewards in this remarkable rape-revenge drama, a possible career high for Paul Verhoeven … You’ve never seen a rape-revenge fantasy quite like Elle, not least because the rape, revenge and fantasy components of that subgenre have never been quite so fascinatingly disarranged … [it is a] many-layered provocation.”

The Guardian calls it “a dangerous delight … turn off the lights and let the horror begin. Paul Verhoeven’s new film, Elle, is an outrageous black comedy, volatile and deadly … utterly gripping and endlessly disturbing.”

Expect controversy. The LA Times writes “Its politically incorrect portrayal of a rape victim is sure to prompt critical essays and set Activist Twitter ablaze.”

It is the French entry for the Best Foreign Language film for the Academy Awards.

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