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Movie Review Roundup: What You Should See This Weekend

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    Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate.

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    Few things bring cinephiles joy quite like spending the weekend holed up in a movie theater, devouring the latest big-screen debuts. But how does one choose what to see? Well, that's where we come in.

    Obviously, there will be certain movies throughout the year that feel like must-sees just because everyone is talking about them (Swiss Army Man is about an actual farting corpse; The BFG is Steven Spielberg's return to making delightfully magical kids movies). But if you want to be a more discerning moviegoer, you can visit this cheat sheet. Here we'll give you the lowdown on new releases — and the critics' verdicts on them. Then you'll be able to determine which one is right for you.

    This post will be continually updated, so don't forget to check back!


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    Nerve
    Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Juliette Lewis
    Rated: PG-13
    Tomatometer: 60%
    Synopsis: Teens Vee and Ian get sucked into a dangerous and high-stakes internet game.

    What’s the Word: It’s fine — a bit preachy — but a fun reminder that Emma Roberts needs to break out of the YA world and that Dave Franco is more charming than his big brother. “Though Roberts is miscast as a wallflower… Nerve taps into the rush of realizing strangers think you’re cool,” wrote Amy Nicholson for MTV News. Though the freewheeling action never let's up, there's a larger message that doesn't quite stick. “But a moral gray area turns into a sermon, and the movie doesn’t give you enough to think about to keep you from pulling out your phone afterward,” wrote Lauren Chval for RedEye Chicago. At the Boston Globe, Ty Burr was less forgiving of the movie’s multiple plot holes: “You don’t even mind that Roberts (who’s 25) and Franco (who’s 31) are much too old for their roles. Plus, it’s nice to see Samira Wiley — Poussey of Orange Is the New Black — show up like a visitor from Planet Grown-Up as a hacker queen.”

    Released July 29

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    Bad Moms
    Starring: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Jada, Pinkett-Smith
    Rated: R
    Tomatometer: 60%
    Synopsis: A group of stressed-out moms decide to let loose and forgo responsibilities in favor of self-indulgence.

    What’s the Word: Oof. “The dad minds behind Bad Moms don’t seem to understand, or be terribly curious about, the minds of mothers,” suggested Slate’s Dana Stevens. “They’re happy to affirm the apparently bedrock truth that all moms are deep down indefatigable tigresses, neurotically over invested in maximizing both their children’s self-actualization and their Ivy League prospects.” It shouldn’t go undiscussed that this is a movie about moms directed by dudes. “It chills the bone to imagine all the women who can’t get their movies made, while Jon Lucas and Scott Moore… get a healthy budget, a four-star cast, and the chance to not only write but direct a film that aims to give voice to overworked moms the world over. Yes, really,” wrote Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey. At the New York Times, Manohla Dargis had a different take: the movie tries too hard to bank on the middle aged-women-saying-dick genre, but it’s still got female friendship at its core. “It’s the women’s shared, near-orgiastic pleasure in their freedom and friendship... There’s nothing genuinely transgressive about their behavior; they’re just drunk, happy and together.”

    Released July 29

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    The Land
    Starring: Moises Arias, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Erykah Badu, Rafi Gavron, Machine Gun Kelly
    Rated: NR
    Tomatometer: 64%
    Synopsis: A group of teens accidentally become involved with a drug queenpin, risking their lives and friendships.

    What’s the Word: It’s a big summer for Cleveland, and The Land taps into the city’s unique vibe. Steven Caple Jr. is the latest contemporary of Creed director Ryan Coogler to deserve a big studio’s support. “Caple emphasizes the desperation that breeds street crime, and he never tries to puff his kids up into heroes. They're just kids who feel insulted by the few prospects that seem available to them,” wrote Alan Scherstuhl for Village Voice. At Guff.com, Fred Toppel compared the movie to Goodfellas, and I hope he’s not still sore from that reach. He got something right: “The Land is a crime film that is also a love letter to Cleveland culture.” One standout to watch: star and rapper Ezzy, whose voice shines on the track “Goodbye” — a good end of summer song reminiscent of "old Kanye West."

    Released July 29

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    Equity
    Starring: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Alysia Reiner, Craig Bierko
    Rated: R
    Tomatometer: 79%
    Synopsis: An Investment banker’s career is threatened by a Silicon Valley company’s IPO.

    What’s the Word: Some scenes are stunted, but overall it’s nice to see a movie about finance that isn’t about a collapse or playboys. “Equity is bracing, witty and suspenseful, a feminist thriller sharply attuned to the nuances of its chosen milieu,” wrote A.O. Scott for the New York Times. There’s a sense that some scenes aren’t quite working, but that performances are exciting enough. “As a thriller spinning around a high-profile Silicon Valley IPO, the screenplay by Amy Fox is mechanical, the plot more contrived than charged under Meera Menon’s lackluster direction,” wrote Sheri Linden for the Los Angeles Times. “But as a study of endurance and self-preservation in the face of persistent double standards, the movie clicks.” Maybe it shouldn’t be seen as only a movie about finance or billion dollar deals, because it’s real depth comes from its treatment of sexism: “The idea (and intentions) of Equity are spot on—we’ve never really been shown in this type of movie how the everyday sexism in business is brought to bear among women in this particular world. While the film isn’t subtle about what it’s doing, it never quite screams the subtext either,” wrote Splice Today’s Stephen Silver.

    Released July 29

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    Indignation
    Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts
    Rated: R
    Tomatometer: 79%
    Synopsis: Based on the novel by Philip Roth. In 1951, a young Jewish man disillusioned with his identity becomes obsessed with a girl in his class.

    What’s the Word: Don’t expect this to be the truest adaptation of Roth’s book, as director James Schamus adds a heavy layer of romantic thriller, according to Kenji Fujishima. This might finally be the turn to flex Lerman’s significant acting skills, according to A.V. Club’s Esther Zuckerman: “The film’s centerpiece scene is a lengthy face-to-face between Marcus and the school’s Dean Caudwell (Tracy Letts). Letts is solid, doing a variation on a familiar strict administrator, but the moment belongs to Lerman. It’s exhilarating to watch Marcus’ politeness slip away as he grapples with authoritarianism.” The acting is great, wrote Nigel M. Smith for The Guardian, but “unfortunately, on the whole, Schamus’ debut feels too self-aware to fully engage.”

    Released July 29