This Week at the Movies: ‘The Intern,’ ’99 Homes’

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It’s a very busy week for new movies—though most of the wide releases (Before I Wake, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Intern) are, to put it charitably, forgettable. The indies are, as usual, your saviors; here’s our weekly round-up of what to seek out and what to run away from:

  • Even resident Nancy Meyers fan Sarah Seltzer couldn’t find much to love in the filmmaker/catalog photographer’s latest, The Intern, which scrambles her usual display of impeccable kitchens with some seriously confusing gender politics. Check out her review here. (In wide release.)
  • Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Mississippi Grind is a lovable-losers-gambling comedy/drama firmly in the mold of California Split and The Gambler, and while it doesn’t quite go all the way with its ‘70s downbeat vibe in the home stretch, it still has some terrific moments and yet another masterful performance by Ben Mendelsohn. And Ryan Reynolds is pretty great as well. We place it within the gambling movie tradition here. (In limited release.)
  • Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno has been sitting on the shelf for over a year now, and in the interest of boosting up its sagging profile, Mr. Roth apparently decided to reposition it as an anti-“SJW” screed. That campaign doesn’t really match what’s on screen, and the wisdom of targeting #GamerGaters as your primary demo is questionable—none of which would matter if the movie were more than mediocre. It isn’t. More here. (In limited release.)
  • The feminist Western The Keeping Room isn’t an easy movie to watch, on a visceral or psychological level, but it’s a powerful story of three women left behind in the Civil War, and the lengths they must go to in order to keep themselves safe. Read more in this month’s indie guide. (In limited release.)
  • If Finders Keepers weren’t a documentary, you’d say it wasn’t believable. But here it is: a man buys an abandoned storage unit, finds a grill inside, finds a human foot inside that grill, and decides it’s his ticket to success, resulting in a giant, public battle with the foot’s former owner. What begins as a wacky-character doc-comedy becomes an unexpectedly heartbreaking tale with something to say about the American dream of fame and fortune. More in the indie guide. (In limited release; out next week on demand.)
  • Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon spotlights the history and legacy of the world-famous humor magazine, and the generation of comic geniuses who started there. It’s not the most probing piece of work—director Douglas Tirola lets the magazine’s questionable material off the hook pretty easily—but there are enough rare gems here that comedy nerds won’t much mind. More in the indie guide. (In limited release and on demand.)
  • And this week’s best movie is probably 99 Homes, a scorching social drama from director Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart) that’s like a housing bubble polemic crossed with a gangster picture. It’s full of good performances (Andrew Garfield makes a strong leading man, something you might need remind of after those Spiderman movies), but the best of the bunch is Michael Shannon, who is terrifying and terrific as the kingpin of the Florida foreclosure market. Read about it in the indie guide here. (In limited release.)