What to See This Weekend: March 6, 2015

This week, see robots old and new, check out a highly inessential Vince Vaughn comedy, or revisit the excellent ensemble cast of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in the Second Best sequel.


What's it about? A Robocop-style mechanized police force is tasked with taming crime-ridden Johannesburg, South Africa, but the sensitive, empathetic robot prototype Chappie is a lost soul among cyber-warriors. Don't miss the members of South African rap group Die Antwoord in supporting roles. Who the devil made it? Director Neill Blomkamp (District 9Elysium) delivers another sci-fi allegory with his regular DP, Trent Opaloch, and editor Julian Clarke, who is credited along with Mark Goldblatt. What are the tech specs? The primary camera was the Red Epic with Panavision C, E and G lenses. According to IMDb, the Sony PMW-EX3 made some appearances on set, as well. Since this is a Sony Pictures release, theaters will be screening a 4K (4096×1716 scope) DCP. Is it any good? Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 42/100. Where's it playing? 3,000+ theaters. Will it make any money? Look for an opening weekend anywhere between $15 million and $20 million—not too bad for a reported $49 million budget, assuming it plays well oversees.

Unfinished Business

What's it about? Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco embark on a European business trip that goes awry in R-rated fashion. Who the devil made it? Director Ken Scott's last film was the 2013 Vaughn vehicle Delivery Man. Writer Steve Conrad is known for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Pursuit of Happyness. DP Oliver Stapleton, BSC, and editors Jon Poll and Michael Tronick are all highly experienced pros. What are the tech specs? Stapleton shot on Kodak motion picture film; the release is a 2K DCP. Is it any good? Rotten Tomatoes: 9%. Metacritic: 32/100. Where's it playing? Around 2800 theaters nationwide. Will it make any money? Nope. The studio is looking at an opening of around $5 to $7 million on a reported budget of, ouch, $35 million.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


What's it about? In this sequel, entrepreneur Sonny (Dev Patel) considers expanding his lively retirement hotel to a second establishment. Returning cast members include Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith. Who the devil made it? Director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) and screenwriter Ol Parker return to the franchise. Ben Smithard (Belle) is the DP and Victoria Boydell (also Belle) edited. What are the tech specs? It was shot with the Sony F65. ("I kind of like to use something everybody else isn't using," Smithard said last year.) Release is a 2K scope DCP. Is it any good? Apparently it's not bad. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 51/100. Where's it playing? Some 1,500 theaters. Will it make any money? Analysts are expecting $7 or $8 million, giving this story a much happier ending than those above, thanks to a thrifty budget.


L.A. Repertory and Offbeat: The American Cinematheque has you covered. If you're in the mood to see a masterpiece, check out Marcel Carné's Children of Paradise tonight or tomorrow night's Powell-Pressburger double-feature of A Matter of Life and Death and Black Narcissus at the Aero in Santa Monica. If not, head to the Egyptian in Hollywood tomorrow night for a special ’80s-animation program of The Transformers: The Movie and G.I. Joe: The Movie (be warned: the latter film is screening on Blu-ray) with filmmakers and voice actors attending in person.


New York Repertory and Offbeat: The Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual Rendezvous with French Cinema series is a great way to keep up with French film, including many titles you won't see in theatrical release. This year's series kicks off with 3 Hearts at Alice Tully Hall. Director Benoît Jacquot and star Charlotte Gainsbourg will give a free talk in advance of the screening.