Set out to discover and document the mysterious disappearance of his sister 15 years previously, James (James Allen McCune) and girlfriend Lisa (Callie Hernandez) along with friends Peter and Ashley (Brandon Scott and Corbin Reid) head into the rumored demonic Black Hills woods of Maryland in search of the truth. Accompanied by locals Lane and Talia (Wes Robinson and Valorie Curry) the group quickly find themselves in for more than they bargained for, could it be the Blair Witch is slowly sealing their fate? Written by Simon Barrett and Directed by Adam Wingard, this incredibly tense dark ride achieves maximum effectiveness as its haunting sound design builds its strength in a perfect orchestration and example of how our fears are often best heard and not seen. Meanwhile, forced acting from the ensemble in act one does seem to give way to better form by acts two and three. And, while the found footage concept does seem a bit played out and lacking the punch felt behind the Blair Witch Project from 1999, Wingard’s management and use of varied media sources keeps the film fresh enough in its brisk 89 minute runtime to not overstay its welcome. Looking for a refresher in things that go bump in the night, stop, go no further, this one’s a good solid thump! Blair Witch is rated R.
Based on the scant minutes Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) had to land U.S. Airways flight 1549 after multiple bird strikes disabled their Airbus A320 shortly after takeoff, ultimately landing them in the Hudson river and saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew; this is their story, and the NTSB investigation that followed. Directed by none other than Clint Eastwood, this surprisingly brief 95 minutes(amazingly short as far as Eastwood film runtimes go) recounting of history, breaks a part the pieces of what could be an incredibly droll procedural to instead present a heartfelt and emotional look at the good humanity can do; and, how or why many times true heroes don’t seek accolades for their achievements. Delicately handled by Hanks and Eckhart this solid and endearing performance works to expose the men behind the hero label, displaying their abilities, intelligence, weaknesses, and bravery in an event that under any other circumstances would have turned tragic. Naturally, Eastwood does employ a few schmaltzy moves to create a forced empathy or sense of relatability in several characters but this can almost be overlooked in the face of the rest of the story being told. Strong but brief performances from Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, and Mike O’Malley bring further gravity to this recounting, and, all but for the almost emergency brake ending, this film has all the markings of something to keep your eye on come awards season. Sully is rated PG-13.
Already contemplating a move across the country for his wife’s (Azita Ghanizada) graduate program, already successful Tom (Micheal Shannon), is grilled by family and friends during his own birthday party when mysterious party attendee, Alice (Rachel Weisz), manages to catch his attention. As conversation continues Tom’s understanding of Alice grows in new and unusual ways, yet as her history is retold more and more questions arise. Just who is Alice and who is Tom? Directed and partially written by Joshua Marston this twist on lost love and the urge to run off and join the circus successfully examines the human psyche from both the male and female perspective, but in unexpected and somewhat role reversed methodology. Artfully and painfully portrayed by Shannon and Weisz this melodramatic powerhouse will almost beg a second watching to catch all the nuance, even then, the haunting but attractive notions within will still seduce the viewer with the potential of what if? All but for the final scripting device, which feels like a cop out, this is one gem not to miss. Complete Unknown is rated R.