This Week at the Movies: ‘Blair Witch,’ ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby,’ ‘Snowden’

New installments from long-dormant franchises, the latest from Oliver Stone, and this week's art-house picks and pans.

  • The most likely box-office champ of the weekend is Blair Witch, the new sequel from the writer/director team of Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) – because wide-release horror movies always do well and this one has a built-in brand that mixes genuine affection and ’90s nostalgia. Unfortunately, it’s not terribly good; the filmmakers spend most of the movie literally and figuratively retracing the steps of the original, and their expanded creepy-house climax doesn’t land with the punch it needs to. Read more about it in our TIFF coverage.
  • Of course, you should never underestimate the drawing power of Bridget Jones + Colin Firth + McDreamy (he was McDreamy, right?), and Bridget Jones’s Baby is, our Jones-loving editors agree, a charming return to form after the unfortunate Edge of Reason. Here’s their discussion of the movie, and its charms.
  • Oliver Stone makes another play for cinematic and political relevance with Snowden, his story of the political awakening and whistle-blowing of Edward Snowden – much of which we already saw in Citizenfour, but hey, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley! It’s Stone’s best movie in a while, faint praise though that may be; more on that here.
  • Quietly releasing in select cities today is Mr. Church, the new period drama from Bruce Beresford that bears an awfully strong resemblance to his biggest hit, Driving Miss Daisy. And it mostly feels like a second-hand retread, thanks to its obvious script and predictable conflicts, but it boasts a genuinely effective dramatic turn by Eddie Murphy that reminds us what a strong screen presence he can be, when he’s not wasting his time in bad movies. More on that one from its Tribeca Film Festival premiere.
  • Operation Avalanche is an ingenious little indie that imagines everyone’s favorite bullshit conspiracy theory – the faking of the moon landing – through an utterly convincing found footage lens. It’s better than it sounds, and offers more than you’d think. Here’s our review from this month’s indie guide.
  • The tech doc Silicon Cowboys may sound too inside-baseball – it’s an account of the first decade of COMPAQ, and how they changed the industry – but it’s more a history of personal computing itself, and how our view of it changed over those formative early years. Here’s what we said about it at SXSW.
  • And Ron Howard’s The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years opens in select theaters today and debuts on Hulu tomorrow. We’ll have a full write-up next week, but here’s the short version: Not much new, shoddily made, and totally worth fans seeing in theaters for the lengthy performance clips and the full film of their Shea Stadium set that runs after it (though, again, only in theaters). More next week.