In the black-comedy-thriller Bad Times at the El Royale, Jon Hamm plays a Southern vacuum-cleaner salesman who is neither Southern nor a vacuum-cleaner salesman. Jeff Bridges plays a priest who's not a priest. Chris Hemsworth plays a barefoot beachcomber who's not nearly the pacifist he initially appears to be. And writer/director Drew Goddard is doing an impersonation, as well – that of early-to-mid-'90s Quentin Tarantino. Happily, at least until the film's final half hour or so, he pulls off the ruse rather spectacularly.

You know a tearjerker is really working when, in its last 15 minutes, the mere sight of a well-done steak is enough to get viewers weepy. But the latest iteration of A Star Is Born – the third American remake of this timeless show-biz melodrama since 1937's original (itself a sort of remake of 1932's What Price Hollywood?) – is a tearjerker that leaves you less wiped out than electrified.

Friday, September 28, 10:45 a.m.-ish: It used to be said, and maybe still is, that those wanting to sell film scripts during Hollywood pitch meetings were required to describe their potential projects in 25 words or fewer. That always sounded a little restrictive to me. Yet as I headed into my latest quadruple feature, I was pretty sure I could effectively nutshell Friday's lineup using only four words per title: “abominable snowman discovers humans,” “amusement park serial killer,” “Louisa May Alcott – again,” and the day's jump-starter “Haddish schools Hart, bitches!”

Given that his directorial credits have included a couple of Hostels, the gory Cabin Fever, and the unapologetically repellant cannibal shocker The Green Inferno, hiring Eli Roth to helm a kiddie scare comedy seemed, at first, to be a phenomenally terrible idea, like putting Lars von Trier in charge of church camp or asking Tarantino to babysit. Amazingly, however, Roth proves himself the right director for the job of The House with a Clock in Its Walls, a movie no funnier or scarier than, say, 2015's Jack Black vehicle Goosebumps, but one with plenty of charm, sweetness, and child-friendly gross-outs. Roth being Roth, know that you will witness projectile vomiting. But the puke is wholly composed of pumpkin guts, and the face it lands on is Black's, so you know … . No harm, no foul.

“Was it all just a dream?” Those were the first words uttered by an off-screen Michael Moore in his 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore's incensed indictment of George W. Bush's first years in office (and, because it's Moore, a bunch of other things, too). Those same words, not at all coincidentally, open Moore's new Fahrenheit 11/9, the numerically swapped title a reference to the day in 2016 that Donald J. Trump was officially named our nation's president. The difference between those identically worded openers, though, lies in the timbre of Moore's voice. In 9/11, he was recognizably sardonic and faux ingenuous, following the question with snarky references to Ben Affleck and Robert De Niro. In 11/9, however, “Was it all just a dream?” sounds like the lament of a truly sad, incredulous man – one who can't believe that, 14 years later, he's forced to ask the same damned question again, and likely to ever-less-receptive ears.

Described by Artform as “an elegant and patient portrait,” and with Downbeat magazine calling it “as much a visual poem as it is a doumentary,” 2018's Milford Graves Full Mantis will be showcased as the September 27 feature in the Cinema at the Figge series, with hosts Ford Photography and the Figge Art Museum presenting the area debut of this heartfelt ode to a legendary musician.

Even though Hollywood's summer tends to begin in the last days of April and end a couple weekends before Labor Day, it is, you know, still technically summer. Consequently, I feel completely within my rights to decree The Predator perhaps the happiest summer-movie surprise of 2018 – a thrillingly funny, nasty, unpretentious good time that's leagues more entertaining than any deeply unnecessary sequel/reboot of its type should ever be.

Few likely remember it, but back in 1985, Susan Sarandon starred in a movie titled Compromising Positions, an utterly charming mystery-comedy in which a suburban homemaker becomes an amateur sleuth investigating the murder of her dentist. Director Frank Perry's film is a sharp, funny trifle with an astounding supporting cast of Broadway talents – Raul Julia, Judith Ivey, Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen, Edward Herrmann, Mary Beth Hurt – and totally worth a watch on YouTube. (It's easier to sit through if you can ignore the film's rather blatant mid-'80s misogyny.) But I hadn't thought about that movie in years, if not decades – not until director Paul Feig's irresistible mystery-comedy A Simple Favor kept bringing it to mind.

Follow along if you can: Director Corin Hardy's new horror film The Nun is the prequel to last fall's Annabelle: Creation, which was the prequel to 2014's Annabelle, which was the prequel to 2013's The Conjuring. This is what, in franchise terms, is called “universe building.” And if the popular series continues in this chronologically backward vein, I'm pretty sure that several hundred years from now, the final movie in the cycle will be titled Genesis, or perhaps The Mind of God. If only The Nun were similarly divine.

It's almost inconceivable, and a little perverse, that the same actor who was so convincing as a Jewish bookkeeper in Schindler's List, the heroine's father in Anne Frank, and freakin' Moses could also be wholly persuasive as Adolf Eichmann, the chief architect behind Hitler's Final Solution. But considering his additional screen roles have ranged from Mahatma Gandhi to gangster Meyer Lansky to film pioneer Georges Méliès, Ben Kingsley has always demonstrated a virtuosic talent for playing ethnically diverse real-life figures – a skill that's both the chief pleasure and biggest moral hazard in the engaging, slightly infuriating post-war thriller Operation Finale.