Welcome to L.A. Weekly's brand-new movie guide, your comprehensive look at films playing in Los Angeles area theaters this week — from indie art house gems and classics to popcorn-perfect blockbusters and new movies garnering buzz. Check here every week before you make your bigscreen plans.
Friday, Nov. 30
Warner Bros. responds to the success of Disney's live-action The Jungle Book with its own lavish Kipling adaptation, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. Andy Serkis directed and also plays Baloo, the avuncular bear who teaches the orphaned boy the law of the jungle. The supporting cast includes Christian Bale as Bagheera the panther; Cate Blanchett as a python; Naomi Harris as a wolf; and Benedict Cumberbatch as the velvet-voiced Shere Khan — all of whom submitted themselves to motion capture technology. (Imagine the behind-the-scenes footage possibilities.) The film opens in select theaters before its Netflix release on Friday, Dec. 7.
The Possession of Hannah Grace posits the interesting theory that if an exorcism isn't completed, the invading demonic force could remain within the dead host's body until a suitable living vessel is found. That's what an unlucky cop (Megan Reed) finds out working the graveyard shift at the city morgue one fateful night. Diederik Van Rooijen directed this horror film from Screen Gems, from a screenplay by Brian Sieve.
The Favourite is already a favorite among critics and festivalgoers, having garnered the Grand Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival in September. Yorgos Lanthimos' lacerating farce about the rivalry between two courtiers for the affections of Queen Anne of Great Britain features distorting, fish-eye lensing and a droll screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz play the dueling divas. The film opens wide after playing for a week at the Landmark.
Everybody Knows is the anticipated new drama from Asghar Farhadi, one of Iran's premier auteurs. Set in Madrid, the story involves a woman (Penelope Cruz) who returns to her hometown for a wedding. Tragedy strikes brutally and unexpectedly, and buried secrets from the past inevitably rise to the surface. Farhadi specializes in thrillers in which ordinary decisions have tremendous moral consequences. Javier Bardem co-stars; the film opens at the Landmark for a one-week run before expanding elsewhere.
Nick Nolte plays an aging widower with Alzheimer's disease in Head Full of Honey, an English-language remake of a 2014 German drama. Both versions were directed by Til Schweiger with a large heart and a penchant for bathing the frame in golden, honeyed light. Matt Dillon is the son who takes his ailing dad on a trip to Venice; Emily Mortimer comes along on the trip. The film is being released by Warner Bros. and will open first at the Landmark.
Luchino Visconti's luscious historical pageant Senso gets a limited one-week run at the Nuart. This 1954 romantic melodrama recounts the story of a countess (Alida Valli) during the time of the Italian unification and her tragic love affair with an Austrian lieutenant (Farley Granger). Shot in sumptuous Technicolor, the film recently was treated to a stunning restoration by Film Foundation and the Cineteca di Bologna. Visconti helped to create the idiom of Italian neorealism before moving into more operatic territory; the film, which will be presented digitally (in a DCP), marks the beginning of his celebrated late period. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com; thru Thu., Dec. 6.
Sunday, Dec. 2
Peter Bogdanovich's affectionate documentary, The Great Buster, finished its limited run in early November, but the American Cinematheque brings it back to the Aero for a day to cap off a Buster Keaton retrospective. The film traces Keaton's journey from vaudeville act to silent star and features dazzling archival clips in addition to glowing testimonials from contemporary celebrities. It's a great introduction to one of cinema's most inventive comedic geniuses. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sun., Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.