This Week at the Movies
What to watch: Wavering faith and war on the big screen in Austin
We're lucky to live in a town where a weekly feature like this makes sense. As we exit summer and dive straight into "awards season", it's business as usual around these parts. There's no dearth of indie, art house and foreign content at any time of the year in Austin. From a mature look at spirituality with an Oscar nominee making her directorial debut to a mixed Martial Arts drama certain to gain Oscar attention and an action heavy war drama from a five time Razzie nominee, let's take a look at what Austin screens have to offer this week.
This Weekend at Violet Crown
Vera Farmiga makes her directorial debut and stars in Higher Ground, opening Friday at Violet Crown. Based on the book This Dark World, a memoir by author Carolyn S. Briggs, the film follows Connie (Farmiga) on her spiritual journey from her teen years into her adult life, as she becomes involved with an evangelical church based on the Jesus People, and then to a period of wavering faith. Praised for it's uncondescending tone and mature look at Christianity, Higher Ground promises to be a film accessible to believers and non-believers alike and one that will spark much discussion amongst them. (Higher Ground also opens Friday at Regal Arbor Cinemas)
This Weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse
Tom Hardy continues his rocket ride to international superstardom with his latest film, Warrior, which opens at the Alamo Village on Friday. In it, Hardy plays Tommy Conlon an ex-Marine who returns home to train for an MMA tournament, enlisting the help of his recovered alcoholic father (Nick Nolte). Meanwhile, Tommy's brother Brendan (Australian actor Joel Edgerton who was most recently seen in The Square and in trailers for the upcoming remake of The Thing), long estranged from the family, enters the amateur circuit in order to support his family. His rise there lands him in a pro tournament pitted against his brother. Look for nuance and depth to the characters in Warrior, something sorely lacking in last year's Oscar bait picture The Fighter to which it already being compared.
This Weekend at Regal Arbor Cinemas
The name Renny Harlin has never been a consistent stamp of quality but he has churned out some memorable popcorn entertainment in his day from Cliffhanger to The Long Kiss Goodnight and even the surprisingly fun shark flick Deep Blue Sea. And, really, if one is being honest (and is prone to handing out faint praise), Harlin's was the better of the two Exorcist prequels. Harlin returns to the big screen with 5 Days of War, an action-drama centered around the brief Russian-Georgian conflict in 2008. A reporter and his photographer assume great personal risks to alert the world to what is going on in Georgia. Of course, with Harlin at the helm, don't expect anything other than pulpy drama and wild action (he used Georgian owned military equipment to stage the action scenes) with a decent probability of unintentional laughs. It's a film recommended as much on its potential for failure as success.
Beyond the Weekend
On Monday (9/12), Fantastic Fest in conjunction with The Criterion Collection and Janus Films presents a special screening of Hideo Gosha's 1964 samurai actioner Three Outlaw Samurai about the bloodshed that ensues when three skilled warriors reach conflict in a small town with big problems. The film will be playing at the Alamo Drafthouse's Ritz location.