“Patriots Day,” “Live By Night,” “Monster Trucks,” “Paterson” and “The Bye Bye Man” are being released in the Seattle area the week of Jan. 13.
Five movies open in Seattle-area theaters this week. Here are capsules of what our movie reviewers thought of them. For full reviews, click on the titles:
★★★ “Patriots Day” (R): April 15, 2013 … Is it too soon for a movie about the terrorist bombing that took place on that date during the Boston Marathon? The question lingers, though in a more positive way than you might imagine. For all of its rough edges and gruesome touches, “Patriots Day’’ is a heartfelt and ambitious attempt to turn mayhem into something that’s emotionally valid. It’s the latest collaboration between director Peter Berg and his star, Mark Wahlberg, who grew up in Boston and felt an impulse to tell the story his way. Like their earlier films, “Lone Survivor” (2013) and “Deepwater Horizon” (2016), it gives a mostly factual account, with a few fictional touches and a cast (including Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons and Michelle Monaghan) that shines.
— John Hartl
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★★ “Live By Night” (R): Say hello to the Great Stone Face. That would be Ben Affleck, playing a gangster named Joe. His grim expression barely changes during the picture’s two-hours-plus running time. It’s Prohibition time in dirty old Boston, where he joins the Mafia and gets dispatched to Tampa, Fla., to oversee its rum-running operations. There, Tommy-gun battles liven up what is otherwise a pretty leaden picture. It’s a curious failing. Affleck — who directed and wrote the script, which is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane — has, in his past directorial efforts (“Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town,” “Argo”), gotten fully dimensional performances from his various casts. But here everyone plays their roles in a manner that suggests waxwork figures barely brought to life. They seem like mannequins but very well-dressed ones.
— Soren Andersen
★★★ “Paterson” (R): The new film by Jim Jarmusch is a quiet look at the life of a writer (played by Adam Driver) getting through his ordinary days with a mix of passion and poetry. Driver’s performance is exquisite. Jarmusch and cinematographer Frederick Elmes, following the man on his daily walk to and from work, moving through alleys full of old, high walls of fading red brick, suggest a poet’s life that — like a city — can find its greatness in the long view of time.
— Tom Keogh
★★½ “The Bye Bye Man” (R): The tale comes from the chapter titled “The Bridge to Body Island” in Robert Damon Schneck’s book “The President’s Vampire,” adapted for the screen by Jonathan Penner. So who is the Bye Bye Man and what does he want? That’s neither here nor there, but if you so much as utter his name, your worst, most paranoid, violent fantasies seemingly become real. In a prologue set in 1969, we see what senseless violence the Bye Bye Man can inspire. Since then he’s been mostly dormant. Until now, when a trio of college kids rent a spooky old house, complete with ancient furniture, including a nightstand inscribed with the warning, “don’t say it, don’t think it,” and then, the ghoul’s name. Bad things happen when they discover it. “The Bye Bye Man” is cheesy, but it feels knowingly cheesy.
— Katie Walsh
★½ “Monster Trucks” (PG): There are monsters. There are trucks. There are monsters inside trucks. Ta-dah! We give you “Monster Trucks.” A simple concept. Simple-minded, that is. What we’ve got is a lower-rent variation on the Transformers template. A sentient vehicle bonds with a rebellious teen (Lucas Till), and away they go on a series of high-speed CG-enabled chases involving lots of squealing tires and catapulting trucks. The main monster — which slides its way into the engine compartment of the Till character’s junker pickup and transforms the heap into a wall-climbing, rooftop-running super vehicle — communicates in noises that sound like belches. Appropriate for a picture that’s the equivalent of a cinematic burp: gassy and inconsequential.
— Soren Andersen