Michael Bergeron
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Film Facts 10.13.16

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There’s something to be said for a monster with a lot of personality. Likewise there’s worthiness to a company that knows how to make a great monster film.

Toho, the Japanese film company, has made their twenty-ninth edition of the world’s most famous giant lizard. Shin Godzilla (シンゴジラ), also titled Godzilla Resurgence, stomps into theaters this week.

Great balls of fire, this is the new millennium and Godzilla no longer looks like a dude in a rubber suit because CGI has become the dominant force in movie effects. There are some miniatures at one point, but they fit in nicely with Godzilla’s new tailored look.

This outing is a kind of reboot to the franchise. Don’t confuse this with the American version from 2014. That was more star driven and set in a different movie universe. Our new improved Japanese Godzilla starts out crawling out of the ocean and looking like a giant toad with fake eyes. Rapidly the previous radiation exposure allows Godzilla to mutate into the giant fire breathing lizard that we know and love. As monster movies go, Shin Godzilla rocks.

In an unblinking look at white trash American style, the latest film by British filmmaker Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank) takes the audience on a perilous journey through the heartland of the country. It’s not pretty, but it is profound.

“Godzilla Resurgence” opened wide this week.

American Honey follows a crew of youth who travel like gypsies from town to town selling magazine subscriptions. No lie is too big to tell a potential customer (“My father died in Iraq and I’m making money for college”) and no drug is too deleterious to consume. Shia LeBeouf, Riley Keough and Sasha Lane give devastatingly good performances. We live in the moment with the kids and feel their pain, sorrow and reckless abandon. Lane, in particular, embodies the soul of disaffected youth. LeBeouf has rarely been this effective in a movie turn, and Keough plays mean and dirty so well it’s hard to believe she’s the granddaughter of an American legend.

“American Honey” opens exclusively at the Sundance Cinemas Houston.

The Cuarón family has great filmmaking chops. Jonás Cuarón follows his father Alfonso’s footsteps with his sophomore film Desierto. (Alfonso and Jonás shared writing credit on the amazing sci-fier Gravity).

A group of people illegally crossing the border from Mexico into America must walk most of the way when their vehicle breaks down. Gael García Bernal heads what appears to be an ensemble cast. Before long a person who could be best described as a racist with deadly aim (Jeffrey Dean Morgan at his best) starts picking off the group with a high-powered rifle.

By the exciting conclusion of Desierto, a trio of survivors are fighting hand and tooth and Morgan’s gun. Cuarón keeps the action tight and the suspense clinching. Cuarón has given us as pure a cat and mouse thriller as can be imagined.

“Desierto” unwinds at the Edwards Marq*E Theater.

Ben Affleck is a current actor/director for Warner Brothers. He’s got a 1930s crime drama coming out in January (Live by Night from a novel by Dennis Lahane), he plays Batman for the WB Justice League franchise and is helming the next stand alone Batman film (The Batman).

Affleck seems perfectly cast as an autistic mathematician with a background in military training in the Gavin O’Connor directed The Accountant. Anna Kendrick, John Lithgow, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal and Cynthia Addai-Robinson co-star.

Afflect lives under the radar and operates multiple businesses at a strip center (laundromat, restaurant, CPA service) where he launders the money he makes from cooking the books for worldwide cartels and gangs. When he has to bust some moves, Affleck is more John Wick than Rainman.

There’s some great action sequences in The Accountant, but there’s also some clever plot turns and big reveals that keep the audience guessing. Parts of the narrative contain twists that stretch credulity but when the shooting starts that’s all that matters.

“The Accountant” opens wide on Friday.