Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.
The Disappointments Room
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Lucas Till, and Gerald McRaney
Synopsis: We never run out of low-budget horror films, especially this time of year. This one from director D.J. Caruso ("Eagle Eye," "Disturbia") is more of a ghost story, and nets a bigger named star in Beckinsale. Beckinsale plays a woman who recently lost her child and moves with her husband and remaining child to a creepy house in upstate New York. Lots of strange things happen and she begins to explore the history of her new house only to discover — surprise — that it has a haunted history. Needless to say this is beyond predictable. They throw almost every cliche of the genre into this production, and most of it doesn't work. It's not that the film is bad, it's fine, but it's incredibly predictable and dull. The most confounding thing was Beckinsale's blond hair. If you're on the fence, this is one you can skip.
Rating: R for violent content, bloody images, some sexuality and language.
Verdict: Two stars out of four.
Starring: Jane Levy and Stephen Lang
Synopsis: Speaking of low-budget horror, here's another! This one is about a trio of robbers — led by Levy — who decide to break into the home of a blind veteran — Lang — to grab the cash he's hoarding there. Of course, they get more than they bargain for, and Lang's blind veteran is more than he seems. This is a tight 88 minutes, and it's based on a simple premise. It also takes place in a nearly deserted neighborhood in Detroit, which creates its own kind of haunting imagery after what's happened to that once great American city. As for the film, it's sometimes gross, sometimes creepy, generally well acted and about what you'd expect. It's not revolutionary, but it's one of the better entries into this familiar genre. Director Fede Alvarez — who previously worked with Levy on the re-make of "Evil Dead" — does a nice job crafting the story here. If you're looking for a decent thriller, this fits the bill.
Rating: R for terror, violence, disturbing content, and language including sexual references.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Mike O'Malley, Anna Gunn, and Laura Linney
Synopsis: Most of us make hundreds of decisions a day. Even the smallest decision can have big ripples, but it’s hard to think about that at the time. And many things become routine — especially after years of doing the same thing. That was probably true of Capt. Chesley Sullenberger as he climbed into the cockpit on January 14, 2009. But then everything changed. By now, most everyone has heard of Sullenberger, better known as “Sully,” and the Miracle on the Hudson. The new movie, “Sully,” doesn’t so much chronicle that short flight, but rather the investigation that followed. The most compelling moment, among many, was when Sully tells his co-pilot wearily that he’s delivered more than 1 million passengers safely, but his career will be judged on 208 seconds. It’s a sobering thought, one of many we get in the film as director Clint Eastwood and star Tom Hanks seek to dive deep into the mind of the man. While everyone hailed him a hero, the NTSB had questions and Sully couldn’t help but have doubts. A career as a pilot and safety expert hinged on the decisions he had to make in a split second. We’re all familiar with this basic story. The Miracle on the Hudson made news for months, and nearly everyone hailed Sully a hero. But few probably understand what went on behind the scenes, and how difficult it was for Sully himself in that time following the crash. Based in part on Sullenberger’s own book, “Sully” seeks to be a profile of the man during the aftermath rather than merely a recounting of the famous event. To be sure, the crash is a big part of the film. Plenty of time is spent showing what happened from different perspectives, hailing the many people involved in the event as heroes. In some ways it’s a celebration of the people of New York, too, especially the ferry boat personnel and first responders who quickly scooped the plane’s occupants from the icy waters. That made it the ideal release for 9/11 weekend. It’s also the kind of introspective story of an unexpected hero that allows Eastwood to thrive as a director. It’s a crisp 96 minutes, and completely riveting. Eastwood had a great run of films in the first decade of the 21st Century, but had been hit-or-miss recently. I think “Sully” is his best, most satisfying film in a couple years. That’s largely thanks to Hanks as well. Hanks, a two-time Academy Award winner, is one of the finest actors of his generation. He’s performed brilliantly in a wide variety of roles and films, and he seems the perfect choice for this role. He sinks into the character so completely — and has such a different look — you sometimes forget it’s Tom Hanks you’re watching. That’s a credit to the actor and his craft in this role. The rest of the support cast performs well, too. There’s plenty of talented actors in the film, many appearing in small roles, who help round out the presentation and storytelling. September has started off with some powerful films, and “Sully” certainly fits the bill. It’s a compelling story that’s beautifully told. It’s worth seeing for the work of Hanks alone.
Rating: PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language.
Verdict: Four stars out of four.
Friday, September 16 — "Hill Song: Let Hope Rise," "Snowden," "Bridget Jones' Baby," "Blair Witch"
Friday, September 23 — "The Magnificent Seven," "Queen of Katwe," "Storks"
Friday, September 30 — "Deepwater Horizon," "Masterminds," "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children"