Davis: Some smaller biopics to note

A few biopics to view before the blockbuster tidal waves consume them.

  • Jul. 22, 2015 10:00 a.m.

Rachel McAdams (left) and Jake Gyllenhaal star in Southpaw.

This weekend’s box office winner will likely be Pixels, Adam Sandler’s newest about the invasion of Earth by classic videogames. However, I thought I would start with some other new releases that might get lost in the glut of the Hollywood heavyweights.

Last week saw Landmark Cinemas Paramount Theatre open the critically acclaimed Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy.  This week, the Paramount opens the Amy Winehouse documentary simply titled Amy. Although she had released only two albums before her death, Winehouse is considered one of the biggest British music icons.  This critically acclaimed documentary looks at her rise to fame through her music, and how her chaotic personal life and addictions contributed to her untimely death.

In Southpaw, Jake Gyllenhaal transforms himself into Billy “The Great” Hope, a Junior Middleweight Boxing Champion who seemingly has it all including a loving wife (Rachel McAdams) and an adorable daughter. However, when tragedy strikes, he hits rock bottom and has nowhere to turn except to Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker), a retired fighter and trainer to the city’s toughest amateur boxers. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), expect Gyllenhaal to get rave reviews for his performance.  It opens exclusively at Landmark Cinemas Grand 10.

Also opening at the Grand 10 is what looks like a charming and moving British dramedy called What We Did on our Holiday.  Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and David Tennant (Dr. Who) star as a divorcing couple who are taking their three children on a trip to Scotland for a big family gathering but ask their kids to keep it a secret from their extended family.  But when the inevitable dysfunction sets in, hilarious and emotional repercussions set in and the family are forced to put aside their differences and work together or risk losing what they hold most dear.  This is a must-see for fans of British cinema and of the multi-talented Billy Connolly, who looks like he gives another standout performance.

Paper Towns is based upon another young adult book from author John Green, who also penned The Fault in Our Stars.  This road trip movie is the story of a young man named Quentin who goes on an all-night adventure with his neighbour Margo, who loves mysteries. However, after their adventure, she suddenly disappears, leaving only cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher.  The search leads Quentin and his friends on yet another adventure that is both funny and moving that gives him a better understanding of true friendship and love. Although it does not have the star power of The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns does feature Nat Wolff, one of the stars of that movie, and model-singer Cara Delevingne (Anna Karenina).

And of course, there’s Pixels. Adam Sandler leads an ensemble cast which includes Kevin James (Paul Blart), Josh Gad (Frozen) and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) against aliens that have taken the form of Pac Man, Galaga, Q’bert, Donkey Kong and of course, Space Invaders.  Emmy-award nominee Dinklage supposedly steals the movie away from the other stars but what I find most interesting is who is directing it.  Christopher Columbus, best known for Home Alone and the first two Harry Potter movies, will likely balance Sandler’s silly humour with impressive special effects.


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