This Week at the Movies: ‘War Dogs,’ ‘Kubo and the Two Strings,’ ‘Morris From America’

The week’s biggest new release is the remake of Ben-Hur, and we didn’t get invited to the press screening, but it’s cool, it’s cool Paramount, WE DIDN’T WANNA SEE YOUR DUMB BEN-HUR REMAKE ANYWAY. Here’s what we did see:

  • It’s been a mighty grim summer at the multiplex, but a handful of terrific family movies are trying to save the season. This week’s is Kubo and the Two Strings, the latest from the LAIKA factory (Coraline, Paranorman), a gorgeous bit of folk storytelling; here’s our review.
  • Todd Phillips’s War Dogs is his best film since the first Hangover, though that’s not saying much; it tells a fascinating story and features a wonderfully unhinged Jonah Hill performance, but Phillips can’t quite juggle its shifting tones (or write a female character worth a damn – continuing problem, that). And his music cues are sometimes comically on the nose; more on that here.
  • After tip-toeing into limited release last week, David McKenzie’s Hell or High Water goes wide today, and it’s easily one of the best films of the summer – a sharp-edged contemporary Western with tension galore and a lot on its mind. Read our rave review here.
  • In limited release this week, Daniel Radcliffe continues to flex his versatility as an FBI agent going undercover in the “White Genocide” movement in Imperium. As a deep-cover thriller, it’s so-so; as a look at the complexities of those movements, and the different types who populate them, it’s recommended. More on that here.
  • The great Werner Herzog is back with Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, a free-form documentary essay on the rise of the Internet and the connectivity it creates (and, in some cases, restricts). It’s not top-shelf Herzog, but it’s still Herzog, and thus worth seeing; here’s what we wrote about it at Sundance.
  • And last, but certainly not least, is Morris From America, writer/director Chad Hartigan’s warm and funny story of an African-American kid living in Germany and trying to fit in. It’s a real charmer, with a clock-stopping performance by Craig Robinson; more on it in this month’s indie guide.

And there’s still plenty of good stuff from last week too. Happy viewing!