Welcome to the trailer round-up, where we do a quick run-down of each nationwide release hitting theaters and jump to ill-founded conclusions based entirely on their trailers, production news, and cast/crew! Always remember that trailers lie and are rarely indicative of a film's quality, so don't let anything said here stop you from seeing a movie - I certainly won't!

It's the start of Oscar season so you bet your ninny we've got novel adaptations and biopics! This month we have twelve films to preview.

In Theaters October 7

The Girl on the Train

At a Glance: Rachel Watson, life shattered by a messy divorce, finds comfort in alcohol and fantasies about a couple she sees from the train. After a night of heavy drinking, Rachel awakens to learn that the mystery woman has gone missing and that she is the prime suspect.

Why I'm Excited: This is basically "Gone Girl, Gone Harder" right? I liked that movie back in 2014, maybe I'll still like it in 2016! But seriously, reviews have started to come in and this movie is splitting critics with audiences reacting a little more favorably. I've avoided most of the new trailers and all reviews so I can give this a fair shake.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

At a Glance: Another adaptation! Rafe is the new kid in school, and quickly finds that his imagination and personality clash with the rigid, rules-oriented principal. After his cherished sketch book is destroyed, Rafe and friends plan an operation to break every school rule and get back at the overbearing faculty.

Why I'm (Not) Excited: Maybe it's the way the trailer is cut, but this seems like a C-tier Disney Channel Original movie. I freely admit that as a former middle school teacher I may be biased.

The Birth of a Nation

At a Glance: "The Birth of a Nation" is based on the true story of Nat Turner, an enslaved Baptist preacher who became the leader of an armed slave rebellion in 1831.

Why I'm (Conflicted-ly) Excited: I've had this on my radar since it wowed the Sundance Film Festival in January. "The Birth of a Nation" grapples with a dark and powerful chapter of America's history, but at this point is impossible to see without consideration of director and star Nate Parker's own past. His recent inartful response to questions about a resurfaced 1999 rape charge (of which he was acquitted) has sparked backlash and put a cloud over the film's portrayal of a violent sexual assault. Co-star Gabrielle Union, herself a victim of sexual assault, wrote a thoughtful column in which she discusses the allegations but describes the film and the conversation around it as important. In that spirit, I'd like to see it, but it will be harder than usual to separate art from artist.

In Theaters October 14

The Accountant

At a Glance: There's not much plot to be gleaned from the trailer, so here's what IMDB says: "As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise."

Why I'm Excited: The cast, mostly. The trailer avoids spelling the story out, so let's turn to IMDB to make some educated guesses. The director has made some great movies, but the writer has two previous writing credits, both duds, one of which was described by a critic as "obvious Oscar bait" (maybe not his fault; a terrible movie could have a great script). Still, it is the start of Oscar fishing season. I'm holding out hope that this is more.

Max Steel

At a Glance: The first in a coming flood of post-"Lego Movie" toy-to-film adaptations, "Max Steel" follows the adventures of ordinary teen Max as he learns to use his amazing powers with the help of his robot friend Steel.

Why I'm (Not) Excited: You watched the trailer, right? This is a phase one Marvel movie if those were dull, colorless, and lacked a beloved franchise anchor. Uninspired. Generic. Boring. Were the people really clamoring for this?


At a Glance: A group of migrants illegally crossing the United States border are hunted by a murderous vigilante.

Por Eso Que Estoy Excitado: This is nakedly political horror and I love it. The trailer is really well cut, though the movie itself has gotten mixed reviews over its international run. Please note, this is a Mexican film and may only be available in limited release.

In Theaters October 21

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

At a Glance: Jack Reacher returns to unravel a conspiracy inside the government after this former unit leader is charged with treason.

Why I'm Excited:  Reacher is the clear second stringer to Tom Cruise's other, bigger, better franchise, "Mission: Impossible," but still could deliver enough to be worth the price of admission. Cruise may be bat-shit crazy but he's also America's Action Star, undeniably talented and a blast to watch on screen.

Keeping  Up With the Joneses

At a Glance: Jeff and Karen Gaffney are an average suburban couple thrown into the middle of a battle of spies when their new neighbors, the Joneses, turn out to be more than they seem.

Why I'm (Not) Excited:  The trailer covers a lot of ground, none of which feels particularly new or inspired; I've seen it called a cross between "Date Night" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." The cast is good and director Greg Motolla's previous work has been solid ("Superbad," "Adventureland"). Still, comedies are very hit-or-miss and keeping expectations low has historically served me well.

Ouija: Origin of Evil

At a Glance: ::holding a flashlight to face:: A long time ago, in 2014, a film called "Ouija" terrified audiences everywhere with it's shocking twist ending: the realization that they had spent real money to see bad garbage. Two years and $100 million dollars later, it returns to again steal cash from unsuspecting movie-goers who should really know better! OooooOOOOOoooOOOoooohhh!!!

Why I'm (Twist Incoming) Excited: Okay I'm not actually excited, but "Ouija: Origin of Evil" has had a much more stable production history than it's predecessor. The original suffered from problems with its financing, production studios backing out and then rejoining, and the original cut of the film screened so poorly that according to star Olivia Cooke more than half the film was completely re-written and re-shot. There's zero chance this is nearly as bad as that mess.

Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween

At a Glance: Tyler Perry's Madea 9: Ninety Minutes of References to Other, Better Movies

Why I'm (Spookily Not) Excited: Trailers are often guilty of showing a movie's funniest moments. Is this the best of "Boo?" What a depressing thought. They show the same joke twice (punching the clown) and I groaned aloud at the "Saw" reference. But hey, these movies are cheap to make and easily make at least $50 million a pop, so what do I know?

In Theaters October 28


At a Glance: The third film adaptation of Dan Brown's Langdon series, "Inferno" stars Tom Hanks as symbologist Robert Langdon, who awakens in a hospital with no memories of a heist he appears to have carried out. As Langdon hunts for clues to unlock the truth, he finds himself on the heels of a global threat.

Why I'm Ambivalent: These movies are popular but I haven't seen any of them. Trailer looks silly in a goofy fun, "National Treasure" sort of way.

American Pastoral

At a Glance: A middle class family is torn apart as their daughter embraces violent political radicalism in the 1960s. This is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Philip Roth and is star Ewan McGregor's directorial debut.

Why I'm Excited: Of all the trailers in this month's round-up, this is probably my favorite. It's very well put together. I hadn't heard of this before and now I'm definitely intrigued. That said, early reviews have not been great; the film has a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes with 8 reviews. But as always, we end our round-up with optimism! Only 8 reviews means there's room for that score to go up, up, UP!

Thanks for checking out this month's movie preview! What are you most looking forward to seeing this October? Sound off in the comments!

There is a character in "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" who can bring toys to life and reanimate the dead. The effect is temporary and a crude imitation of life, magical puppetry by which a shell can serve a purpose before disappearing without consequence. I enjoyed my time with Miss Peregrine and her students, but I can't shake the feeling that they (and because so the film itself) are similarly superficial - fantastical and weird but singularly defined by peculiarity to the point of having no meaningful character at all. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Jake, a perfectly ordinary (or is he?) teen who once dreamt of exploring the world but now stocks shelves in a bland Floridian suburb is thrown into emotional crisis after the sudden, violent death of his grandfather, whose stories about a Miss Peregrine's home for incredible children and the monsters that hunted them seem to be wrecking havoc on his psyche. His psychiatrist suggests that a trip to the children's home may help Jack separate fact from fiction and give him closure, so it's off to Wales with Jake and his distant dad, who sees in Jake's journey an opportunity for a vacation of his own.

There Jake is disappointed to find Miss Peregrine's children's home destroyed, the victim of Nazi bombs dropped long ago. But as he explores the ruins, he finds himself being watched by none other than the supposedly long-dead children from his grandfather's stories. These are the peculiars, children with gifts that range from the amazing (starting fire with a touch) and the bizarre (a boy with bees living inside him) to the useless (one boy can project his dreams through his eye for others to see). Think of them as an assortment of the X-Men's C-team backbenchers. They haven't aged a day - and can't - because they live in a time loop courtesy of Miss Peregrine, the pipe-smoking, no-nonsense matron whose powers of time manipulation have safely sealed them away in a single, endlessly repeating day in 1943, a necessary precaution to protect them from the monstrous hollows, grotesque science experiments gone wrong who prey on the eyes of peculiars.

You might wonder at how these children would handle such isolating conditions or the prospect of an unchanging, futureless eternity. I certainly did; it's a necessary but steep sacrifice for basic safety. But aside from one or two lines, "Miss Peregrine's" backs away from this entirely. This may seem a nit-picky complaint about a children's movie, but the film consistently puts interesting or difficult issues on the table and then ignores them completely. Take as another example the strained relationship between Jake and his father (perhaps mirroring that shared by his father and grandfather), highlighted throughout the first half of the film and then abruptly discarded when his father simply disappears from the movie. No growth. No lessons learned. Just gone. The film is ripe for some (any) emotional development, and especially as a PG-13 it's fair to expect exploration of some (or any) of the issues it puts on the table.

But as I said, I did enjoy the movie. At least on its surface, "Miss Peregrine's" is a colorful and fun adventure. I smiled more than a few times and found myself chuckling each time Bronwyn, the diminutive strong-girl of the group, pushed the bigger boys out of the way to get a job done right. It won't matter to kids that most of these characters are paper thin, or that relationships develop not organically on-screen but because the script demands it. But it could have meant more, and that's frustrating.

I'd be remiss not to mention a few stand-out performances. Eva Green as Miss Peregrine is a delight; the character's brilliantly realized, from her costume and wild blue-streaked hair to the quiet fury in any one of Green's glares; this is not a lady to mess with. Asa Butterfield's resolutely boring Jake is clearly batting above his average next to Elle Purnell, who ironically imbues light-as-air Emma Bloom with the most weighty performance of any character. And of course, the always wonderful Samuel L. Jackson, whose villainous Dr. Barron has a blast as he chews through scenery, although there is something a icky about the only black character playing the role of threatening menace to a group of innocent white children, especially in light of director Tim Burton's incredibly tone deaf comments on the subject.

All in all, "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" is a perfectly entertaining family adventure well-timed for the Halloween season. Younger viewers will love the fantastic world as imagined by Burton (he's very much in his wheelhouse) and there are enough thrills to keep older viewers engaged. It isn't deep or moving, but sometimes all you need is fun.

Score: 3.5/5

October is hands down my favorite month. Everything is better once it arrives. It's nicer outside; here in South Carolina, the blistering heat of the south-eastern summer fades into comfortable, crisp cool. Trees blaze with color as they go dormant. The grass crunches under your step; it's a good sound. There's better entertainment, too. On television, your favorite shows are back for new seasons and football is in full swing. In theaters, the forgettable grey smear of the summer dump months gives way to fun, big-budget blockbusters and Oscar contenders. October owns, plain and simple.

Such an excellent month, especially one that ends with a holiday as excellent as Halloween, deserves celebration. I'm sure many of you have pre-Halloween traditions. This year, I'd like to invite you to join our family in ours: Shocktober! Shocktober is a 31-day marathon of spooky (and not so spooky but thematically appropriate) movies, carefully curated to offer a selection that spans decades and cuts across genres to deliver something for everyone. This is our third Shocktober. Even if we don't quite make it to 31 movies, we always have a blast doing this.

Below you'll find our 2016 schedule, complete with notes on where you can stream most of the titles. Details on where you can find digital rentals of each title are available on my super OCD Shocktober spreadsheet, linked here. If you want to participate but are looking to avoid spending any dollars, you can always use sites like Just Watch to find streaming substitutes. Have fun and make this your own!

The Super Spooky 2016 Shocktober Schedule

1 - The Exorcist, 1973 (Netflix)
2 - Tucker and Dale vs Evil, 2010 (Netflix, Hulu)
3 - The Cabin in the Woods, 2012 (Digital Rental)
4 - Carrie, 1976 (Hulu, Amazon Prime)
5 - An American Werewolf in London, 1981 (Amazon Prime)
6 - Plan 9 From Outer Space, 1959 (Hulu)
7 - 28 Days Later, 2002 (HBO Streaming) 
8 - Spring, 2015 (Amazon Prime)
9 - The Monster Squad, 1987 (Digital Rental)
10 - Poltergeist, 1982 (Digital Rental)
11 - Jaws, 1975 (Netflix)
12 - Fido, 2006 (Amazon Prime, Hulu)
13 - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2007 (Netflix)
14 - Rosemary's Baby, 1968 (Amazon Prime, Hulu)
15 - Let the Right One In, 2008 (Amazon Prime)
16 - Housebound, 2014 (Netflix)
17 - The Birds, 1963 (Digital Rental)
18 - Shaun of the Dead, 2004 (Digital Rental)
19 - The Omen, 1976 (Netflix)
20 - Goosebumps, 2015 (Netflix)
21 - Honeymoon, 2014 (Netflix)
22 - It Follows, 2015 (Digital Rental or Amazon with Showtime 7-Day Trial)
23 - The Amityville Horror, 1979 (Hulu)
24 - The Thing, 1982 (Digital Rental)
25 - The Babadook, 2015 (Netflix)
26 - Silence of the Lambs, 1991 (Amazon Prime, Hulu)
27 - Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975 (Digital Rental)
28 - Friday the 13th Part 2, 1981 (Digital Rental)
29 - The Witch, 2016 (Amazon Prime)
30 - Halloween, 1978 (Digital Rental)
31 - Hocus Pocus, 1993 (9p on Freeform, or HBO Streaming) 

Will you be doing your own Shocktober? Do you have any fun Halloween movie traditions? Share in the comments below!
As I've fallen in love with film over the past few years, I've found my theatrical viewing history increasingly the subject of scrutiny and a source of controversy by the proverbial workplace water cooler. When you have the misfortune of being the designated "movie guy" in a circle, there's an apparent expectation that you've seen most of everyone else's favorite movies, which can make things awkward when an obvious reference goes sailing over your head. As an example, a coworker chastised me daily for nearly two years after learning I hadn't seen "Office Space" (I still haven't!).

For reasons I can't fully explain, I just didn't watch a lot of movies until a few years ago, so there's a lot I've missed. In fact, I started this blog to chronicle my "continuing adventure...to watch every movie," a tagline which implies there's a lot I haven't seen. Even so, I admit that my big-screen transgressions are particularly egregious. I dread the question "have you seen...?" The answer is inevitably no, leading to a lengthy sermon on how serious my sin is and how and when to make amends.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem: I have many. And so, gentle reader, I present to you before the eyes of God and Man my first film confession: the thirteen movies I'm most embarrassed to admit having missed, presented in no particular order. Forgive me Father, for I have sinned...


The Godfather
Not really the father I had in mind, but beggars can't be choosers. I've never seen any of the films in this Oscar-winning franchise, but that doesn't stop me from referencing them on a regular basis! I wonder which is the greater sin: missing this or pretending I didn't?


The Breakfast Club
I assume this is a movie about students who learn to respect their differences by discussing their very different morning meal choices. At the end, they share some bacon that is so delicious one kid fist pumps.


This is a symbolic entry that represents the total void that is my horror movie education. Other contenders for this list: Hitchcock's "Psycho" and "The Exorcist." If it's spooky, it was probably 2spooky4me until very recently.


Saving Private Ryan
It's Spielberg, so I'm sure nothing bad happens to anyone in this feel-good flick about a group of plucky soldiers in World War 2. I'm thinking M.A.S.H. but in France. But seriously, when this came out teenage-me was turned off by the hyper-realistic gore that seemed at the time to be its most popular characteristic. It went on to win a ton of awards, but I've never gotten around to revisiting that initial impression.


The NeverEnding Story
I'm not afraid of commitment, but I've never heard anyone describe an enjoyable experience as "never-ending."


Terminator 2: Judgement Day
One of two James Cameron action flicks I could have included (the other being "Aliens"), this is supposed to be one of the greatest action movies of all time. I wouldn't know!


The Shawshank Redemption
I know nothing about this movie, so based on this picture: A little league coach goes to jail after trying to bribe county officials to benefit his team. He befriends the warden and leads the prison softball team, the Shawshanks, to victory.


My wife loves "Clueless," but every time it's on I walk in when some girl is trying to hook up with her step-brother. Maybe it's an indie/art-house film that I just don't get.


Die Hard
Dissertations can be written over whether this is a great Christmas movie or just a great action movie. Those papers will not be written by me. Yippee ki wha..?


After a local boxing champion murders his girlfriend, Rocky punches his way through the ranks in match after match, seeking revenge. After each bout, fueled by bloodlust, he screams her name: "ADRIAN!"

Pulp Fiction
Really, most of Tarantino's films could have gone here. The only ones I've seen are "Kill Bill" and "The Hateful Eight." See those guns? They're pointing at me, and for this, I deserve it.


This might be the original movie people gave me hell for missing. In grade school, this was almost every guy's favorite movie. The idea that anyone hadn't seen it was completely foreign. Well, they may have taken my lunch money, but they never took my freedoooom (to continue not seeing this movie).


Forrest Gump
That's right, I've never seen Forrest run or heard his chocolates-themed philosophy on life.

- - - 

So there you have it, the thirteen most shameful films absent from my movie-watching resumé, bringing this confession to a close. But are you blameless? What movies are you shamed for missing? Confess and seek absolution in the comments below!

Do Donald Trump's sinking poll numbers have you down? Are you a Bernie-or-Buster feeling blue? Are you sick and tired of hearing about her damn e-mails? Why not escape from the partisan bickering of the political theater and settle into the warm, popcorn-scented dark your local film theater to enjoy one or more of these fine* pictures? These are the movies coming soon to a big screen near you!
*Movies not guaranteed to be fine, may in fact thoroughly suck. 

In Theaters August 5

Suicide Squad

At a Glance: Set in the aftermath of "Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice," the third installment in the DC Extended Universe sees the government assemble a team of criminal lunatics and superhuman killers to undertake secret missions of its behalf.

Why I'm Excited (With Eyes Wide Shut): Okay, so the reviews are in and they're bad. But as Levar Burton once said, "You don't have to take my word for it," so I'm going to see it anyway. After the disaster of "Dawn of Justice," I so want DC to right their cinematic ship and produce a good movie with these characters I grew up with. The marketing and trailer has been great; I'll cling to that until the movie breaks my heart this weekend.

Nine Lives

At a Glance: Kevin Spacey plays a bad dad who gets turned into a cat by Christopher Walken and must make amends or be stuck in the furry form forever! Will this family film be fur-ociously funny or cat-astrophe?

Why I'm (Sadistically) Excited: "Nine Lives" looks so terrible I almost have to see it. Sadly for me, my wife won't accompany me (she issued a very stern "we are not wasting money to see that trash") and if I go alone I'll look like a child predator.

The Little Prince

At a Glance: We first previewed "The Little Prince" back in March, when it was set to be released by Paramount Pictures. After a wildly successful European opening, the film was inexplicably dropped  only two weeks before its scheduled US release.  Thanks to Netflix, the mixed-animation adaptation of the classic story is finally reaching audiences this month.

Why I'm Excited: What a strange journey "The Little Prince" has had. This has been one of my most anticipated movies for the year and I'm delighted it's finally here. Critical response has been very positive in the countries, like France, where it saw theatrical release.

In Theaters August 12

Pete's Dragon

At a Glance: In this modern day retelling of Disney's 1977 original, a forest ranger seeks to unravel the mystery of Pete, a boy found after six years living alone in the wilderness, and Elliot, the dragon he claims to have protected him.

Why I'm Excited: This has been an exceptionally strong year for Disney magic. The company's studios have released seven features so far this year; five have received universal acclaim and only one ("Alice Through the Looking Glass") was received negatively. Further, Disney's string of live action remakes have a strong track record themselves. If this history is any indication, "Pete's Dragon" is sure to be a hit.

Sausage Party

At a Glance: Food has feelings in this R-rated animated picture from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. After spending their lives waiting to be chosen by a customer, groceries are thrust into the nightmarish world of the human kitchen. Frank, an uh, frank, sets out to warn his supermarket friends of the horrible truth.

Why I'm (Shamefully) Excited: I must be a thirteen year old at heart, because I laughed like an idiot at the red band trailer for this movie. It's dumb, it's immature, but I'll be damned if sometimes that isn't exactly what the doctor ordered. But is the concept enough for a feature length film or will this feel like a short stretching the joke way too thin?

Florence Foster Jenkins

At a Glance: In October 1944, a music-loving socialite capped her amateur performing career by singing a concert to a sold out Carnegie Hall. Florence Foster Jenkins was wildly popular; her public adored her. They didn't seem to care that she was objectively a terrible, terrible singer. This is her story.

Why I'm So Excited I Could Sing: For years, I've loved the real story behind Florence Foster Jenkins. There's something endearing in the woman who threw herself so completely and so blindly into her passions. There's something sincere and sweet in how her husband helped and protected her love of performing. This biopic has won glowing praise in the British press since it's release several months ago. This is a day one watch for me.

In Theaters August 19


At a Glance: A remake of 1959's Charlton Heston classic, Ben-Hur follows a man as he claws his way from slavery to revenge on the brother who wrongly accused him.

Why I'm (Not?) Excited (Maybe?): I don't know what to make of this. The director's filmography highlight appears to be "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" but the screenplay is co-written by John Ridley, the man behind "12 Years a Slave." The cast seems okay (though nothing near Charlton Heston). But the trailer looks terrible, and this is a remake of one of the most iconic movies of the 1950s - no small bit of work. I'm going to stake out a completely non-committal position on this one.

War Dogs

At a Glance: "War Dogs" is a dramatic comedy inspired by the true story of two American twenty-somethings who in 2007 won a high-dollar Pentagon contract to provide arms to US forces in Afghanistan.

Why I'm Excited: Like "Florence Foster Jenkins," this is another story I'm already familiar with; I've been looking forward to this since I learned it was being adapted. Unlike "Florence," this doesn't have an internal release under its belt to get an early gauge of quality. Miles Teller and Jonah Hill are perfectly capable leads, but the director and writers have more mixed records. But hey, there are no major warning signs and the trailer looks good, so I'm optimistic!

Kubo and the Two Strings

At a Glance: Kubo, son of one of the greatest samurai warriors ever to live, is thrown into an adventure when he accidentally summons an evil spirit from his past.

Why I'm Excited: How incredible to see two stop-motion features released in one month! This may well be my most anticipated film of the month. Laika, the production company behind "Kubo," has a strong record in animated features; previous work includes "Coraline," "The Boxtrolls," and "ParaNorman." The cast is phenomenal, featuring Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthew McConaughey among others. If anything gives me pause, it's the relative green-ness of the director (this is his feature debut) and the writers, who have one completed film between them.

Hell or High Water

At a Glance: To save their family farm from foreclosure, two brothers stage a series of high risk bank robberies, racing against two Texas Rangers set to hunt them down.

Why I'm Excited: This film wasn't on my radar at all before sitting down to do this post, but now my interest is piqued. The script, written by Taylor Sheridan ("Sicario") was the winner of the 2012 best Black List script, and the film was very positively received at Cannes earlier this year. I'm glad to say there may be more to "Hell or High Water" than I first granted.

In Theaters August 26

Mechanic: Resurrection

At a Glance: Jason Statham returns as Arthur Bishop in this sequel, threatened into completing three assassinations in order to save the woman of his dreams.

Why I'm Eh: I mean, I'm 100% in favor of anything that keeps Jason Statham working, but was anyone really clamoring for this sequel? Ah well, I suppose there's no harm in dumb excitement every once in a while...but even dumb should be done well.

Don't Breathe

At a Glance: Looking to raise enough money to escape a neglectful family with her sister, Rocky and her friends break into the home of a local blind man rumored to keep a safe in his house only to find themselves trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Why I'm Excited: This looks spooky! Early reviews for "Don't Breathe" have been very positive. I tend to shy away from horror flicks unless the premise has a strong hook and this has one. There's virtually no chance I convince my wife to see this with me in theaters, though. 2spooky4her!

Hands of Stone

At a Glance: The second biopic of the month finds inspiration in the relationship between Roberto Duran, a Panamanian boxer and one of the so called "Fabulous Four," and Ray Arcel, his trainer.

Why I'm Excited: Chalk this up to another movie that was nowhere on my radar until a few hours ago. This is a film produced, written, and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, whose previous foreign language films drew awards from the British Independent Film Awards and the New York Times. "Hands of Stone" features Robert De Niro in his only other film appearance this year aside from the widely panned "Dirty Grandpa." It would be nice to see him close the year out by wiping the stain of that film away with a solid performance here.

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