Each week, we bring you our staff picks for the best movies coming out that you should make a trip to the theater for. Here are our recommendations for the best movies coming out in theaters this week.
1. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
This documentary about late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain has been getting a lot of attention this year and is being hailed as one of the most intimate and informative looks at the enigmatic musician. Part of the reason the film is special is because it’s the first documentary, biography, or, really, project about Cobain of its kind to be produced in cooperation with Cobain’s family, specifically his daughter Frances Bean Cobain.
She gave filmmaker Brett Morgen access to recordings, art work, home videos, and other highly intimate belongings of her father that no one else had seen before, which he proceeded to spend eight years going through in order to make the documentary. At first, Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, was involved with the film, but Morgen decided part ways. Love has given the film her blessing to tell the truth about her late husband and their relationship, as well as delve into painful details surrounding his suicide in 1994.
Springing from press for the film, Frances Cobain has given her first interview about her father to Rolling Stone, as well as maybe patched things up a bit with her long-estranged mother. The film is being lauded for presenting a realistic picture of who Cobain was both as a person and as an artist, rather than resorting to the romanticism and myth that often surrounds him. The never-before-seen footage is a treat for super fans as well. The movie has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Anyone could have crafted a documentary about a band. Morgen’s experimental, road-less-traveled approach does something that’s much deeper: letting you feel as if you’ve pored through someone’s scrapbook. You get the sense that Kurt would have liked this. As for his fans, be prepared to meet the man you admire, warts and all,” said Rolling Stone when the doc premiered at Sundance.
2. Ex Machina
We already recommended this film when it saw a limited release a few weeks ago, but now it’s heading to more theaters this weekend. If you’re into science fiction movies about robots with such advanced artificial intelligence that they seem human and all the ensuing complications, then you won’t want to miss Ex Machina.
The indie, the directorial debut from the writer of 28 Days Later, Alex Garland, has been getting great reviews and benefiting from lots of word-of-mouth praise. The thriller sees Oscar Isaac, who is increasingly winning over critics with his wide variety of powerful roles in indies, playing the egotistical CEO of a huge tech company reminiscent of Google. Domhnall Gleeson plays a programmer at the company who wins a competition to go to the CEO’s creepy fortress-mansion in Alaska for a coding competition to evaluate some artificial intelligence the reclusive genius has developed.
What he discovers is a very life-like robot played by the Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who is earning raves for her performance. The movie has an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising its visuals and the acting in particular. The robot Ava is a particularly dazzling creation, with Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times saying she’s “one of the most impressive CGI/human characters I’ve seen.” Fans of sci-fi movies like Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Her will enjoy this new take on similar themes.
3. Kung Fu Killer
Our third recommendation for the week is a kung fu movie from Teddy Chan. A mean killer with a clubfoot named Feng is going around Hong Kong, killing off all the martial arts masters in the city and leaving an obscure calling card called the Moonshadow. Kung fu expert Hahou Mo (Donnie Yen) hears of this while in prison serving time for manslaughter and offers to help track down Feng in exchange for his freedom.
Once he begins his mission, Mo finds he might be in over his head, as Feng is targeting martial arts masters in chronological order according to a martial code of training. When Mo realizes he’s next on Feng’s list, he refuses to engage in a fight with Feng, until Feng threatens the woman he loves. This is a kung fu movie that embraces the cheesy aspects of the genre without morphing into a B-movie.
It’s chock-full of cameos and expertly choreographed fight scenes. With a title like that, this movie is not about taking itself seriously, but rather having lots of fun. “Here, in this entertaining, preposterous goof of a kung fu movie, are all those values missing from the mainstream of American action filmmaking,” said The A.V. Club. Kung Fu Killer currently has an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS