This Week at the Movies: ‘Fantastic Four,’ ‘Ricki and the Flash’


This week’s biggest new theatrical release is also one of the summer’s most controversial, a comic book reboot whose troubled production is already legendary. But if that’s not your particular brand of vodka—and increasingly, it’s not—the savvy counter-programmers at rival studios and indie distributors have provided plenty of other options.

  • Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking more about the awkward press tour for the rebooted Fantastic Four than about the movie itself. This week, we found out why: we saw the movie.
  • The Jonathan Demme-directed, Diablo Cody-scripted, Meryl Streep-fronted Ricki and the Flash has problems of its own, but they don’t sink it—in fact, the picture’s messiness is part of its charm. It’s certainly better than that terrible trailer.
  • Also out this week in wide release: the dark thriller The Gift, starring Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, and Joel Edgerton, who also writes and directs. It’s a nasty bit of work that’s surprisingly effective until its horrifyingly tone-deaf ending, which we’ll write about on Monday, after/if you’ve seen it.
  • Speaking of unwanted superhero reboots, Cop Car, the movie that got director Jon Watts the rather unenviable gig of helming the next Spider-Man series, is out today in limited release. It’s a sharp-edged, ruthless little B-movie, with some clever storytelling, a grizzled Kevin Bacon turn, and a brief but unforgettable appearance by the great Shea Whigham. Read more about it in this month’s indie guide.
  • Also starting a limited run today is the excellent documentary Call Me Lucky, in which comic-turned-filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait (World’s Greatest Dad, God Bless America) tries his hand at non-fiction, profiling groundbreaking Boston stand-up Barry Crimmins. Goldthwait—who’s also proven himself this week to be a sensible guy in general—is just as adept a documentarian as a fiction storyteller, and he admirably showcases a comic whose name you probably don’t know, but should. More here.
  • And finally, the week’s best new release is the astonishing Diary of a Teenage Girl, the story of a young cartoonist’s sexual awakening in San Francisco, circa 1976. Keenly observed performances by Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, and Kristen Wiig, Marielle Heller’s astute writing and direction (she adapted Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel) and a view of female teenage sexuality that’s seldom seen in movies big or small make this one of the most impressive and important pictures of the year.