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Reviews for October 14th, 2016

The Accountant

Directed by Gavin O'Connor

      There's more to Chris Wolff (Ben Affleck), a CPA, than meets the eye. He's autistic, but functions normally. He even offers his accounting services for criminal organizations. While Ray King (J.K. Simmons), head of the Treasury Department's Crime Enforcement Division, and chief investigator Marybeth (Cynthia Addal-Robinson) investigate him, he starts working as an accountant for a robotics company owned by Lamar Black (John Lithgow) to try to figure out, with the help of Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), why $61 million has gone missing from the company. The deeper Chris examines the company, the more he ends up putting his very own life at risk.

      If that plot synopsis above sounds convoluted to you, just wait until you find out the rest of it because that's just the beginning. The real problem with The Accountant is its overstuffed, uneven screenplay by Bill Dubuque who also wrote the equally messy, contrived courtroom drama, The Judge. Does this film want to be more of a character study or more of a thriller? With a more intellectually woven screenplay, it could been effective at both, but, as the plot progresses with more and more backstories/exposition, it becomes increasingly preposterous and dull. Once the action scenes set in, that's when The Accountant officially starts to lose its momentum and plausibility. Perhaps it wouldn't have been that big of an attraction at the box office if it were merely a dramatic character study with some brainy thriller elements thrown in---brainy (a.k.a. cerebral) films are hardly made in Hollywood nowadays. Let's face it: a warm, tender and thought-provoking drama like Good Will Hunting would probably never be able to get made easily today. By contrast, The Accountant is cold, shallow and silly. It's a squandered opportunity to tell a rich, engrossing and sophisticated character-driven story for adults.

      A better screenwriter could have integrated the action sequences and twists more organically without sacrificing any intelligence and plausibility. The third act in particular feels very lazy---you can actually feel the wheels of the screenplay turning---when characters make lengthy speeches to try to explain things and spoon-feed the audience. Even so, the third-act twists sink the film even further into implausibility and confusion---not that there's anything inherently wrong with being confused, but it doesn't have to come with more holes in the plot than there is in swiss cheese. To top it all off, The Accountant feels overlong at a running time of 2 hours and 8 minutes, which feels more like 3 hours.

Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Opens nationwide.


Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Vitagraph Films.
Opens at Angelika Film Center.

Certain Women

Directed by Kelly Reichardt


Number of times I checked my watch: 5
Released by IFC Films.
Opens at IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

Coming Through the Rye

Directed by James Steven Sadwith


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Opens at Village East Cinema.

The David Dance

Directed by Aprill Winney


Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Brave Lad Films.
Opens at Cinepolis Chelsea.

La Layenda Del Chupacabras

Directed by Alberto Rodriguez

      On his way back to Puebla, Leo San Juan (voice Benny Emmanuel) gets sent to prison by the royalist army after they mistake him for being a rebel. The army plans to destroy the prison, an abandoned convent, but there's a more imminent, menacing danger: a creature called El Chupacrabras. Evaristo (voice of Eduardo España), Alebrije (voice of Herman Lopez), along with the hippie Teodora (voice of Mayte Cordero) and shallow Juanita (voice of Laura G) have their own reasons for searching for El Chupacabras before it destroys everyone in sight including the prison guards.

      Witty, fast-paced and zany, La Layenda del Chupacabras will delight audience both young and old. What makes it rise above mediocrity is its lively characters with interesting backstories and idiosyncratic personalities. Even the main villain, El Chupacabras, has more to it than meets the eye; it's more of a victim than a villain once you learn about the reasons why it became so aggressive. Juanita has memory problems and confuses Chupacabras with Chewbacca. She's also obsessed with her phone and consumerism---in other words, she's relatable for most youngsters nowadays. Teodora seems like Juanita's polar opposite. There's one particular scene where she debates with Juanita about the definition of happiness, and her perspective is quite wise and profound. She's a truly great role model.

      Writer/director Alberto Rodriguez and co-writer Acán Cohen also include some funny one-liners every now and then. When the film gets dark, it's not dark in a way that would scare kids too much--even Disney films from the first Golden Age of Animation, i.e. Bambi had scary scenes. We're currently in a new Golden Age of Animation, so, although it doesn't reach the level of Pixar (nor does it try to, to be fair), La Leyenda del Chupacabras has just the right balance of action and comedy to make it a fun and amusing adventure. The fact that its running time is only 1 hour and 21 minutes means that it doesn't overstay its welcome. You don't have to have watched the other films in the series, La Leyenda de las Momias de Guanajuato and La Leyenda de la Llorona, to enjoy this one.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Pantelion Films.
Opens in select theaters.


Directed by Ben Smallbone


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Roadside Attractions.
Opens in select theaters.
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