This Week at the Movies: A Lotta Infernos

New films from Ron Howard, Werner Herzog, and Jim Jarmusch hit screens big and small this weekend.

  • People have kids to feed and staff to employ and mortgages to pay, and you’ll never convince me of any other reason for the participation of otherwise intelligent people like Tom Hanks and Ron Howard in their adaptations of those terrible Dan Brown books. The latest is Inferno, which is out this week and isn’t just cripplingly stupid — it’s suffused with the overwhelming sensation that absolutely nobody gave a shit. (And I challenge you to tell me otherwise when they reveal whose suit Tom Hanks is wearing.) I’m sure its certain box office success will allow its director and stars to keep doing other, more interesting pictures, but halfway through this thing, I expected Hanks to lean into the camera and quote Groucho Marx in Horse Feathers: “I’ve got to stay here, but there’s no reason why you folks shouldn’t go out into the lobby until this thing blows over.” Read our full review here.
  • And as is (rather clumsily) noted in that review, Netflix has also chosen to release the very similarly titled Into the Inferno in a few theaters and online today. The latest documentary from the great Werner Herzog, it’s an exploration of active volcanoes around the world; being a Herzog movie, it’s also about quite a bit more, like cultural identity and religious ritual and how different peoples deal with certain death. Here’s what we wrote about it at TIFF.
  • It’s a busy fall for Jim Jarmusch; his latest drama, the low-key and wonderful Paterson, hits theaters at the end of the year, and in the meantime we’ve got his documentary celebration of Iggy and the Stooges, Gimme Danger. It’s a lot of fun, especially for fans – great music, killer archival clips, and Iggy spinning many an entertaining yarn – though its conventional, music bio-doc approach is a touch disappointing for a filmmaker as unconventional as Jarmusch. More about it, from TIFF, here.
  • And finally, New York theaters start their limited run of By Sidney Lumet, a wonderful profile of the late, great filmmaker (Network, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, many more) in the De Palma style – drawn entirely from a previously unseen interview with the man himself, illustrated with copious clips from his marvelous filmography. A must-see for film fans of all stripes, it opens next week in L.A. and hits American Masters next year. Here’s what we wrote about it at Tribeca.