As the advance publicity and trailers for mother! were deliberately vague, it was impossible to know quite what to expect from Aronofsky's follow-up to his Ark-etypal epic Noah, and I presume that a lot of people, like myself, imagined it was going to be some kind of updated Rosemary's Baby with Jennifer Lawrence doing a Mia Farrow and Michelle Pfeiffer in the Ruth Gordon role. And I'd still pay big bucks to see that movie.

Muschietti's achievement is most assuredly a great time, and succeeds as well as it does primarily because the film pulls off a high-risk trick that precious few works in this genre ever do: It manages to be just as funny as it is scary. It may even be funnier than it is scary, and It is awfully freakin' scary.

This past Labor Day weekend might be the new standard-bearer in the annals of cinematic renunciation, because here were our only new – or rather, “new” – cineplex options: the 40th-anniversary release of Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (a magnificent work, to be sure, but a 1977 one); Marvel's Inhumans (the pilot for a TV series); and Tulip Fever, a period drama shot in the summer of 2014 originally scheduled for release in November of 2015. Since then, the latter title – one boasting a quartet of Oscars winners in Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Judi Dench, and co-screenwriter Tom Stoppard – has had its release postponed an additional four times before being blithely tossed at the masses on Hollywood's least-favorite weekend of the year. You'd actually feel terrible for director Justin Chadwick's abused outing if the movie itself weren't quite so stupid.

Written and directed by Hell or High Water author Taylor Sheridan, Wind River is another regionally specific crime saga – this one set in a Native American reservation in Wyoming – and it stars Jeremy Renner as a federal wildlife officer and Elizabeth Olsen as an FBI agent. The casting alone makes Sheridan's latest, like, one-tenth of an Avengers movie. But this fantastically smart, supremely entertaining thriller proves that Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch can perform super-heroics even without the benefit of colorful monikers, otherworldly abilities, and CGI. Sheridan clearly can, too.

I hope I'll be forgiven for not wanting to review the movie so much as hug it, because this thing absolutely made my month. Ceaselessly engaging, subtly hilarious, unexpectedly exciting, and, in the end, almost embarrassingly moving, Soderbergh's latest is just what I needed – and maybe what we all need – in the wake of so much recent, national horribleness.

Produced by the local non-profit Heritage Documentaries, director Julie Wine Johnston's 51-minute documentary tells the story behind the bridge that first connected Rock Island to Davenport in 1856, with details including Abraham Lincoln's successful defense of railroad's right to cross the river in the trial that followed the bridge's completion.

David F. Sandberg's horror prequel isn't terrible. In truth, it's considerably better than the creepy-porcelain-doll antics of 2014's dreadful Annabelle. It's even an improvement over last summer's The Conjuring 2, whose 2013 precursor gave us our first look at the franchise's titular “character”: a house-dressed Chucky with dead eyes and blond braids. But while it would be easy to over-praise this genre outing merely for not sucking, Annabelle: Creation still emerges as only moderately effective at best – a late-summer chiller that finds a demonically possessed plaything the only truly believable thing about it.

While I’m generally averse to movies whose only apparent goal is to make audiences feel like crap, I’d almost make an exception for Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, a relentless bummer so well-executed that I found myself riveted even when I was aching to flee.

Domestic box office may be comparatively down and aging franchises (and franchise stars) may be showing their whiskers, but if 2017’s movie summer is remembered for anything else, it may be for its habit of turning showcase action sequences into retro music videos.

At an hour and 46 minutes, Christopher Nolan’s World War II thriller Dunkirk is the director’s shortest feature film since his 69-minute 1998 debut Following. It may also be his most wholly satisfying. I’d suggest that maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here, but who gives a damn about lessons when confronted with a work this masterful, powerful, and emotionally overwhelming?

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