The term “biopic” has turned into a dirty word for a lot of moviegoers and critics alike. The assumption, of course, is that the story at hand will follow the tropes of the genre so closely that the resulting tale will end up leaving audiences with a sense of déjà vu and ultimately the inability to distinguish the film they’ve just seen from many other just like it. That stigma may be even stronger for releases covering the lives of popular musical artists, as Oscar-winning films like Ray and Walk the Line – both solid in their own right – have demonstrated a certain template of personal struggle set against the creation of indelible music. Somehow, Straight Outta Compton both conforms to these standards and transcends them into something perhaps greater than moviegoers might expect.
In this brand-new weekly section, we’ll offer three short reviews of recent films that just might be worth a look. This time around, we look at the latest Denzel Washington action thriller, an Oscar-winning Julianne Moore performance and the third stop-motion adventure from Laika Entertainment (Coraline, Paranorman).
Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart are two performers who have such well-established onscreen personas – thanks to films like The Social Network and the Twilight saga – that it’s hard sometimes not to take that baggage into the theater with you whenever either actor appears in a film. Perhaps it’s fitting then that the duo who shared the screen in 2009 comedy Adventureland are back together in American Ultra, a film which allows each of them to stretch their acting muscles (if only slightly).