The Lady in the Van – In 1973 London, playwright Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) develops an unlikely friendship with Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith), a homeless woman who lives in a van in his driveway for the next 15 years. It is based on a true story and Smith has previously portrayed Shepherd twice: in the original 1999 theatrical production, and in a 2009 BBC Radio 4 adaptation. Her performance has been praised, and it looks funny and poignant.
Triple 9 – Bullets fly on the Atlanta freeway as armed thieves make their getaway following a bank robbery in broad daylight. Unhappy with the results, ruthless gangster Irina Vlaslov orders the men to pull off another job. One member of the team is Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), a crooked cop who gets saddled with Chris Allen (Casey Affleck), his new but incorruptible police partner. As Belmont and his cohorts lay the groundwork for the heist, they come up with a devious plan to use Allen as their pawn. Has some very tense sequences, but could have been a lot better. Stands in the shadow of many superior heist and crooked cop films. There are some charismatic performances, but the cast is too good for this.
The Finest Hours – On Feb. 18, 1952, a massive storm splits the SS Pendleton in two, trapping more than 30 sailors inside the tanker’s sinking stern. Engineer Ray Sybert bravely takes charge to organize a strategy for his fellow survivors. As word of the disaster reaches the Coast Guard in Chatham, Mass., Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff orders a daring rescue mission. Despite the ferocious weather, coxswain Bernie Webber takes three men on a lifeboat to try and save the crew against seemingly impossible odds. Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster and Eric Bana star in this effects-heavy high-seas rescue thriller. Reviews have been mixed but I get the sense it is the sort of film you’d appreciate only in the cinema.
Weekly Recommendation: Have only see Triple 9, which may please fans of director John Hillcoat and the crime genre, but I am not going to lose sleep about missing the others.