In Popdust's new column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about have your pants scared off? Maybe just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have it.
Take a peek at our top picks for this week...
Welcome to 1930s Europe where train travel is chic, the clothes a bit dull, and the cigarettes endlessly smoked. Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is taking a break between cases to travel on the most famed train, the Orient Express. Here, he meets a wide array of characters played by a stellar cast, including the curious Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp), who is fearful of what may happen to him. When his predictions turn true and he's found stabbed to death the next morning, all passengers on the train become suspects. Get ready for Detective Poirot's hardest case yet in this suspenseful thriller beyond belief. If you didn't get your fill for Halloween, now is the time to indulge in a little fear once more. Based on the beloved mystery tale of Agatha Christie, this one is sure to twist your brain into a knot in order to discover "who done it," or at the very least give you the urge to play Clue with your friends.
PG-13 | 1hr 54m | 20th Century Fox | Director: Kenneth Branagh | Starring Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Paapa Essiedu | Purchase Tickets for Murder on the Orient Express
Most twentysomethings are working to find themselves. Few find their paths redirected in the way that Vicki (Victoria Negri) does, her route changing from one of a lost, music school dropout in New York City to being the primary caretaker for her elderly father, Carmine (Robert Vaughn), in Connecticut following a stroke. The intimate look at the way we take care of family members and how we resist allowing ourselves to connect with others is deep, dark, and beautiful, albeit absolutely heartbreaking. Through the battles of dealing with her father's ailing care and the support of a new friend, Vicki changes her perspective on the world and what really matters in life. Negri wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film loosely based on her actual experience with her father prior to his death. While the film mirrors the pain Negri suffered with her family, it also tracks the weakening of Vaughn in his last stages of cancer and is his last film role.
NR | Running Time N/A | Director: Victoria Negri | Starring: Robert Vaughn, Catherine Curtin, Jacob Heimer, Victoria Negri | Purchase Tickets for New York, Boston, and Los Angeles screenings, or watch on Amazon VOD
A lesbian romance, science fiction horror film? Yes, this flick really is that many things all at once. We meet Thelma (Eili Harboe) as a young student who's recently moved to Oslo from her small, quiet, and most importantly religious town on the Western side of Norway. One day in the library she meets and instantly becomes attracted to a young woman named Anja (Kaya Wilkins), and her feelings only increase over the course of the semester. But midterms aren't the terrifying part of this story. The more intense Thelma's feelings grow for Anja, the more intensely she experiences seizures that hint toward some sort of supernatural powers that she possesses. Confused yet? We might be a little, too, but it's certainly unlike any premise you've heard before, and there's a dark past behind how Thelma obtained these powers. Prepared to be unnerved but engaged when this one hits your local art house theatre.
NR | Running Time 1hr 56m | The Orchard | Director: Joachim Trier | Starring: Eili Harboe, Kaya Wilkins, Henrik Rafaelsen, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Grethe Eltervag | Purchase Tickets for Thelma
More family drama and even more thrilling suspense is available in this selection from this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Two brothers, Stan (Richard Gere) and Paul (Steve Coogan) have been at odds for years. Stan's a successful politician, a congressman running for governor, while Paul is a retired history teacher. Their values don't meld, so having them brings their wives to dinner and try to get along is a recipe for disaster. While these brothers are at odds, their sons are friends and have been forever. The conversation turns dark around the boys when it is revealed they've committed a horrible crime, and now it's the job of the parents to unravel the details and try to save their children's future as best they can. All of this conversation, of course, takes place over the dinner table at one of the finest restaurants in town. The truth will be revealed about all long before the dessert menu comes into play.
NR | Running Time 2hr | The Orchard | Director: Oren Moverman | Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Chloë Sevigny | Watch On Demand Now
Equal parts dramatic and comedic, this film is a winner from premise to execution. Seven months have gone by since Mildred Hayes's (Frances McDormand) daughter was murdered and the police have yet to find her killer, supposedly occupied with other tasks. This doesn't cut it for Mildred, who decides to commission billboards in the town shaming the actions of the town's chief of police, William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). A full out battle between the law enforcement and a concerned mother breaks out, which is as amusing as it is violent. Supporting cast members make this an even stronger story. It's won major awards at every film festival it's participated in and seems to be coming at a time in American life when the actions of all government workers are being challenged. Even if you care nothing about the political side of the plot, the jokes and vulgar language will have you wishing you had the audacity to say what was on your mind when things go horribly wrong.
R | Running Time 1hr 52m | Fox Searchlight | Director: Martin McDonagh | Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Lucas Hedges, Clarke Peters, and more! | Purchase Tickets for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Rachel A.G. Gilman is a writer, a radio producer, and probably the girl wearing the Kinks shirt. Visit her website for more.
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