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Weekend Preview: Affleck’s Crowd-Pleasing ‘Argo,’ A Breath of Fresh Air in the ‘Middle of Nowhere’

Weekend Preview: Affleck's Crowd-Pleasing 'Argo,' A Breath of Fresh Air in the 'Middle of Nowhere'

Ben Affleck’s “Argo” leads the pack of new movies out this weekend. The crowd-pleaser, which premiered at Telluride, will please fans of Affleck’s “The Town” and rack up awards attention– but some of us are left wanting more. Martin McDonagh’s “Seven Psychopaths” and Ava DuVernay’s “Middle of Nowhere” boast enthusiastic reviews, the former delivering the director’s twisted breed of comedy and the latter cementing Sundance Best Director winner and PR maven DuVernay an assured indie talent (even Oprah has tweeted about it).

Ry Russo-Young’s infidelity drama “Nobody Walks,”written by it-girl Lena Dunham, boasts strong acting (Olivia Thirlby’s under-developed lead stands out) but no soul. James Ponsoldt’s gritty Sundance hit “Smashed” fares better, but despite commited performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) and Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”), it fails to ring entirely true.

More details, reviews and trailers for these films and more below:

“Seven Psychopaths” CBS Films, UK | DIR: Martin McDonagh CAST: Woody Harrelson, Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Gabourey Sidibe, Tom Waits, Kevin Corrigan | EW: “An energetically demented psycho-killer comedy set in faux-noir L.A., Seven Psychopaths rollicks along to the unique narrative beat and language stylings of Anglo-Irish writer-director Martin McDonagh, channeling Quentin Tarantino.” | 94% Fresh.

“Argo” Warner Bros. US | DIR: Ben Affleck CAST: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Chris Messina, Clea DuVall, Alan Arkin, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan | Variety:  “White-knuckle tense and less self-congratulatory than it sounds, Ben Affleck’s unexpectedly comedic third feature has the vital elements to delight adult auds.” | Arkin talks to TOH | 90% Fresh.

“Middle Of Nowhere” AFFRM, US | DIR: Ava DuVernay CAST: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissant, Edwina Findley | Village Voice: “The remarkably self-assured,..The filmmaker’s stolid, unblinking eye serves as a sharp contrast to Ruby’s impatience to claim the life she has been fantasizing about,..[DuVernay has the] ability to conjure drama that at once takes place in a character’s head and in a recognizable real world. It’s beautifully nuanced and confidently ambiguous—and so is the movie.” | 88% Fresh.

“Smashed” Sony Pictures Classics, US | DIR: James Ponsoldt CAST: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally | Kirk Honeycutt: “The painfully thin story makes its characters all types, fails to examine them in any manner beyond their addiction and wraps things up in a thoroughly unconvincing fashion.” | 81% Fresh.

“Sinister” Summit, US | DIR: Scott Derrickson CAST: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone | New Yorker: “Sinister is a joyless ride, and its frights are too contrived to be surprising, yet somewhere, stashed in the attic, is a much less foolish film with Hawke at its heart.” | 72% Fresh.

“Simon and the Oaks” The Film Arcade, SWE | DIR: Lisa Ohlin CAST: Bill Skarsgård, Helen Sjöholm, Jan Josef Liefers | Village Voice: “[It] has all the superficial elements of compelling drama but none of the interiority; it looks like a good movie without ever actually feeling like one.” | 67% Fresh.

“3, 2, 1…Frankie Go Boom” Variance, US | DIR: Jordan Roberts CAST: Lizzy Caplan, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam, Chris O’Dowd, Whitney Cummings, Chris Noth | Time Out NY: “No matter how many jokes about impotence, vomiting pigs, deviant movie stars and underground adult-entertainment you shove into a gross-out flick, there are few things worse than strained outrageousness.” | 50% Rotten.

“Nobody Walks” Magnolia, US | DIR: Ry Russo-Young CAST: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, Justin Kirk, India Ennenga | AV Club: “[It] rambles, jumping from vignette to vignette with nothing in the way of narrative drive or sparkling dialogue to justify its existence.” | 40% Rotten.

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