A mixed bag of movies opens locally this weekend

Lashana Lynch and Thuso Mbedu in The Woman King (Pictures TriStar)

September may be a fallow time at the movies, but several up-and-coming films are opening this weekend that could pique the interest of moviegoers as the seasons begin to shift gears.

While there aren’t any blockbusters playing, here’s a quick look at five new movies hitting local theaters today.

The female king

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love and Basketball” and “The Old Guard”) delivers an action-packed historical epic about an African female general named Nanisca, played fiercely by Viola Davis. Nanisca leads an army of female warriors — who coincidentally inspired Dora Milage’s troops that protect the nation of Wakanda in Marvel movies and streaming shows — for a West African nation under attack in 1823. Davis is still wonderful in any role she chooses, and she’s ably supported by John Boyega and Lashana Lynch in this movie that packs a big punch with its action and social message.

See how they work

Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan co-star in this tongue-in-cheek adventure through the tropes of Who Made It. The film works well as a fun and satisfying satire and mystery. Ronan is pretty funny in his role as Rockwell’s second-in-command to solve mysteries, and Rockwell is as adept as ever at making the lead detective an interesting take on the stereotypical gumboot guy. Adrien Brody and David Oyelowo give hilarious supporting performances alongside Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith and Harris Dickinson.

pearl

Mia Goth returns as the titular serial killer in this spring’s “X” prequel, and this film is just as gory and crazy, tracing how Pearl became the psychopath we met earlier this year. Goth co-wrote the screenplay with director Ty West. If you haven’t seen “X”, the movie should still work as a standalone movie. If satirical splatters are your thing, this movie should work for you. Obviously, a third film in the series is already in the works.

God’s country

A minor case of trespassing by two good old boys leads to harrowing suspense for audiences and danger for star Thandiwe Newton in ‘God’s Country,’ a multi-layered western thriller directed by Julian Higgens. Newton is grieving over the death of his mother when a seemingly minor incident turns into a feud no one can win.

Make the basics work

Luke Brooks is a high school baseball coach whose religious beliefs, faith, and actions around his team create conflict with the school board and other administrators. Co-directors Marty Roberts and Jimmy Womble also collaborated on the screenplay for this faith-based film, inspired by similar real-world events.

New to local theaters

The female king (PG-13) 2 hrs. 15 minutes. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Towne, Malco Pinnacle Hills, skylights

See how they work (PG-13) 1 hr. 38 mins. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills

pearl (R) 1 hr. 42 mins. (trailer)
AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills

God’s country (R) 1 hr. 43 mins. (trailer)
AMC Party Square

Make the basics work (PG) 2 hrs. 7 mins. (trailer)
Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills

Classic Corner – When Harry Met Sally

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (Castle Rock Entertainment)

I have to admit, “When Harry Met Sally” is one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s easily one of my top three comedies and, at the right time, makes it into my ever-growing Top 10.

Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally are cast perfectly and adorably in the film directed by Rob Reiner from a wonderful screenplay by Nora Ephron. Crystal and the late Carrie Fisher, who plays Sally’s girlfriend Marie, also took turns to speed up the dialogue.

The story takes place over a period of 12 years when Harry and Sally meet and reunite at different times in their lives. There’s an immediate spark between the two, even though they can’t stand each other after they first meet on a convenience road trip in New York.

On this trip, Harry drops his classic wisdom that men and women can’t be friends because the sexual part always gets in the way.

With each encounter, the relationship between Harry and Sally grows and matures. They actually become friends, and yes, the sexual part gets in the way before the two finally realize that friendship is at the heart of the best relationships.

There are plenty of great scenes in the movie, but the highlight, of course, is when Ryan fakes an orgasm in a deli to prove a point to Harry. The kick comes when an older lady tells her waitress, “I’ll take whatever she gets.”

Fisher is excellent in what was perhaps her best role as Sally’s friend Marie, who falls for Harry’s best friend Jess (Bruno Kirby) while on a double date.

I don’t know of a movie that better portrays male and female friendships, while nailing the bond of truly finding your soul mate.

The interludes where the couples sit together on a sofa and reminisce with short stories about how they fell in love are woven perfectly throughout the film’s narrative until we finally get Harry and Sally together on the sofa at the end of the movie.

The film’s soundtrack is also one of my all-time favorites, featuring Harry Connick Jr.’s jazzy take on a number of standards, including his now-classic rendition of “It Had to be You.” The song earned him the first Grammy for Best Male Jazz Performance.

Other voice artists featured in the film include Louis Armstrong Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Ray Charles, and Frank Sinatra.

The movie is a love letter to New York, showing the city at its best through all seasons of the year, but the movie just has a cozy, autumnal feel to me, even though it was originally released. in July and ends on New Year’s Eve.

Honestly, a movie this well crafted is an anytime movie. It’s truly a delight that sets the bar high for romantic comedies that, in my opinion, have yet to be matched.

“When Harry Met Sally” is streaming on Netflix and HBO Max.


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