Gone Baby Gone (2007) – Ben Affleck made his feature directorial debut with this adaptation of the novel by acclaimed mystery writer Dennis Lehane. The novel is the fourth in a series focusing on a pair of detectives, Boston friends Patrick Kenzie and Angie Genarro (played in the film by Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan). What begins as a simple missing child case quickly becomes far more complex. Affleck shows a facility for not only building the necessary tension of the mystery, but capturing the blue-collar neighborhood in Boston that Lehane details in his novels.
Payback (1999) – Based on the 1962 novel The Hunter by Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark), the film centers on Parker (Mel Gibson), a cold, career criminal out for, well, payback. He wants his cut of the last job he did, and he wants revenge against his wife Lynn (Deborah Unger) and partner Val Resnick (Gregg Henry) for shooting him and leaving him for dead. He’s soon brought into conflict with “the Outfit” protecting Resnick. Brian Helgeland wrote and directed the adaptation, with a cast that includes Maria Bello, Lucy Liu, and James Colburn.
Justified (Seasons 1-6) – The third and final adaptation (this one of Michigan-native Elmore Leonard’s character U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens from the novella Fire in the Hole) aired on FX from 2010 – 2015. It stars Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) as Givens and Walton Goggins (The Shield) as Boyd Crowder, the constant thorn in his side. The series is essentially a modern western, set in Harlan County, Kentucky, where everyone knows everyone, and family rivalries (and criminal empires) go back generations. The series is the perfect blend of strong episodic storytelling that builds a season-long arc, and surrounds the two leads with a phenomenal cast of characters and actors, including Margo Martindale, Jeremy Davies, Jere Burns, Mykelti Williamson, Michael Rapaport, Mary Steenburgen, and Sam Elliot.
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) - Given the recent oversaturation of zombie films, I've been avoiding the new ones probably since 2009's Zombieland; although I still enjoy the classics, I've just been burnt out on new zombie films, which seem to crop up every few months. I made an exception for this film mainly because it was written by Mike Carey, one of my all-time favorite comic book creators (Lucifer and The Unwritten being two of my favorite series). I'm glad that I did. The Girl with all the Gifts manages to bring new life to the undead, and Sennie Nanua is perfect as Melanie, a second generation "hungry" (aka "zombie") who fights to prove her inherent humanity before ultimately determining that maybe being human isn't so great after all.
Saw (2004) - Before the name Saw became associated with a very lucrative, but totally unnecessary franchise, the original 2004 film did something relatively new and exciting for horror fans: it combines psychological suspense and gore. Rather than allowing the viewer to vicariously experience the thrill and fear of becoming a victim to a monster like Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), it also forced the audience to consider how they would react in a 'kill or be killed' scenario, and just how far they'd go to preserve their own life.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 40th Anniversary (2014) - Tobe Hooper's horror classic has been digitally remastered and includes new surround-sound mixing, which creates an even more immersive experience. And although, at this point, 43 years have passed since the original release of the film, the scares still feel as fresh and as real as ever.
New in Theaters This Week...
[Click the posters for more information]