train

from Indy Week

Rachel Watson is a mess. Two years after her husband left her (for the real estate agent!), she’s unemployed, deeply depressed, and drinking vodka out of thirty-two-ounce water bottles. Every day, she rides the commuter train into Manhattan, pretending to have a job. She looks wistfully out the window at the passing houses of Westchester and the life she used to have.

To be clear, Rachel, as played by Emily Blunt in the new thriller The Girl on the Train, is literally looking at the life she used to have. As it happens, the train route goes right past her old house, where she regularly spies on her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), and his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Rachel also keeps an eye on another house, a few doors down, where young newlyweds Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott (Luke Evans) live a seemingly idyllic life.

One fateful evening, an extremely drunk Rachel decides to disembark at her old stop. What happens next will be the nexus around which the rest of the movie revolves. The lives of all the principal players intersect, and by the next morning, young newlywed Megan has gone missing.
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deepwater

from Indy Week

Deepwater Horizon, the dramatic thriller based on the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill catastrophe, could have gone wrong in a hundred different ways. By reducing events to a disaster movie template—The Towering Inferno on water—the filmmakers take a conspicuous risk.

But in the hands of director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights), the movie never feels exploitative. In fact, the narrow focus serves the film well. This is a story about the human drama of rig workers who survived the worst oil disaster in U.S. history—and those who didn’t.

It helps tremendously that Berg doesn’t dumb things down. The story’s first half is packed with flat-out fascinating numbers and details, presented both visually and through rat-a-tat dialogue. We learn that the thirty-story-tall rig—not a fixed structure but a ship—operated a drill pipe that went down 5,000 feet to the sea floor, then another 13,000 feet to oil. For comparison, consider that the world’s tallest building is around 2,700 feet tall. Rig workers called it “the well from hell.”

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bridget

from Indy Week

It’s easy to be cynical about a movie like Bridget Jones’s Baby, a sequel that was clearly assembled from the ground up as an entertainment industry product—a guaranteed payday for its stars and studio. This is a movie that’s already been made twice, and the third installment is essentially an exercise in brand awareness, dutifully adherent to a commercially viable blueprint.

It’s also true, however, that Bridget Jones’s Baby is a pretty good time at the movies. It’s got plenty of laughs, a hopelessly lovable central character, and a script that is occasionally smarter than it strictly needs to be. “Occasionally” is the critical term here. For every sharp gag from the writing team, you’ll need to sit through five or six scenes that play like outtakes from a particularly witless Sex and the City episode.

Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger), now a forty-three-year-old London TV producer, is talked into attending an outdoor music festival to get what’s left of her groove back. In an improbably glamorous yurt, she enjoys a one-night stand with Jack (Patrick Dempsey), who turns out to be the billionaire inventor of an online dating app that matches couples via algorithm.
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oceans

from Indy Week

It’s a common lament among those who love old-fashioned Hollywood movies: They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

Except sometimes they do. The period drama The Light Between Oceans is a throwback in all the best ways, with its epic themes, grand cinematography, and tragic story of life, love, and loss. Director Derek Cianfrance made his name with gritty realist dramas—Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines —but here he delivers an old-timey moviegoing experience with deep, mythical rhythms.

The year is 1919, and soldier Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) has returned from the trenches of World War I as a fundamentally broken man. Seeking nothing more than peace and isolation, he applies for a job as a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the western coast of Australia.

He gets the job. “Not a lot of available men these days,” his employer says, and this statement hangs over the film like a shroud. The Great War has killed an entire generation of young men. Death haunts the world. Life has never felt so precious.

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