By Larry Ratliff
The Ides of Cinematic March don’t necessarily signal impending doom or, perhaps worse, boredom at the movies.
At least Academy Awards season, particularly prickly this year due to the diversity debate, is finally behind us. It’s true that summer’s bombastic blockbuster hopefuls are over a month away. Yet, from this aisle seat, hope springs eternal that this year’s crop of, shall we say, between-season cinematic segues, will fill the gap with a solid dose of comedy, drama and intrigue.
If you like Tina Fey, the former Saturday Night Live standout-turned-movie star, you could be in for a good time at the movie house with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a war comedy scheduled to open March 4.
Based on journalist Kim Barker’s memoir titled The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot stars Fey as Barker, rising star Margot Robbie (Focus, The Wolf of Wall Street) and Billy Bob Thornton.
Look for gallows humor, common among journalists on the silver screen and in real life, amid the ravages of war. If anyone can find comic relief in what is usually very tough dramatic territory, Fey and Thornton are a pretty solid bet.
Speaking of the dramatic approach, Eye in the Sky, scheduled to open March 11, takes a potential terrorist situation very seriously. Talented filmmaker Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) guides Helen Mirren, a best actress Oscar winner for The Queen (2006), through her role as a British military officer in charge of a top secret drone operation in Kenya.
Eye in the Sky is also significant for another reason. Sadly, it’s the final live action big-screen performance for the late, great British actor Alan Rickman, who portrays Lt. Gen. Frank Benson.
Those with cabin fever might squirm a little during 10 Cloverfield Lane, a mystery-thriller opening March 11. This one features Mary Elizabeth Winstead (A Good Day to Die Hard), John Goodman (Trumbo) and John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom on TV) as an uneasy trio living in an underground shelter while something makes some strange, ominous noises above. It sounds like something’s out there. But what?
Also look for: Terrence Malick’s romantic-drama Knight of Cups, with A-list actors Cate Blanchett (Carol, Blue Jasmine), Christian Bale (The Big Short) and Natalie Portman (Black Swan) on March 4, as well as the drama Miracles from Heaven with Jennifer Garner out front on March 18.