Political strategist/lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), a D.C. heavyweight known for her chess-master skills, foresight, and ruthless cunning finds herself in the line of fire when she takes on her largest opponent, her former employer and the gun lobby. To win this battle will mean commitment and sacrifice, but to what extent? Directed by John Madden and Written by Jonathan Perera this procedural thriller serves as an interesting mirror of American History at a time when much of the country is questioning the U.S. political system and how it operates, one might say the subtext isn’t obscured at all. And, for those seeking for retribution, as the pieces of this twisting but methodical puzzle are locked together the sweet taste of revenge will be on the menu this evening. For Chastain, another impeccable performance rings throughout, and, even when the overall scripting feels exceedingly too convenient or too smart for it’s own good, the end result is still engaging and interesting. Worth your while, Miss Sloane is rated R.
Under order of his big sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston), Clay Vanstone (T.J. Miller), branch manager of a major tech company in Chicago is in danger of losing his job and subsequently shutting down the office if he can’t land the next big client, Walter Davis (Courtney Vance). Supported by his friends and co-workers Josh and Tracy (Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn) Clay is going to need all the help he can get, perhaps this year’s Office Christmas Party will give him the edge he needs to succeed; unless of course Mary (Kate McKinnon) from H.R. has anything to say about the matter. The fates of all hang in the balance. Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, Office Christmas Party is very much like an actual office party, starting out with the best intentions but inevitably winding up deeply flawed from the core out. Specifically, with the firepower of the ensemble alone one would think the hit count on the laugh-o-meter would be significantly higher; instead, earning only a few out loud guffaws the intended field goals remain many yards short of the uprights. On the positive McKinnon’s thick headed H.R. character turns out to be a scene stealer so there is some hope. Regardless, probably best to hold that entertainment dollar and wait for rental on this one. Office Christmas Party is rated R.
Drifting between a post-apocalyptic America, military battle in the Middle East, and events leading up to deployment, soldier Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) re-traces his steps through a haze of PTSD in a visit to Counselor Peyton’s (Gary Oldman) office. Waiting at home, wife Natalie (Kate Mara), and his young son Jon (Charlie Shotwell) stand by for Gabriel’s return; meanwhile, the loss of best friend Devin (Jai Courtney) has a whole new set of ramifications. Directed by Dito Montiel and written by Adam G. Simon, this gimmicky analeptic film delivers its political message with little tact or precision opting for more of an eye rolling bludgeoning. Attempting to be mysterious in an easily decrypted manner Montiel falls short of the goal and sadly isn’t given a tremendous amount of story to work with at the same time, challenging. On the flip side, the ensemble manages to deliver a solid performance all round; sadly, the sum of all cinematic elements still fails to add up to a victory. Maybe worthy of a rental later when you’ve exhausted other options, Man Down is rated R.