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Photos by Warner Bros., Universal, and IFC Films.
FILMSLIDESHOW

Ryan Coogler's Knockout-Caliber CREED, Police Brutality Exposed, David Lynch's DUNE, and More

The best new movies and repertory screenings for you to check out in NYC over the weekend.

Good news: Your weekend moviegoing needs have been simplified. Every Thursday morning, our What To See guide will highlight the new releases opening in New York City and NYC repertory screenings that are most worth your time.

Here's your guide for November 27 – November 29, a.k.a. Thanksgiving weekend.

The best reason to cry this holiday weekend that doesn't involve missing out on heated-up leftovers...
Creed (2015)
Director: Ryan Coogler
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Tony Bellew, Graham McTavish

The Rocky franchise is, of course, Sylvester Stallone's, but Creed is unquestionably a Ryan Coogler film.

For Stallone, that's to be greatly commended—the seventh entry into the popular boxing drama franchise, Creed is the first one without Sly’s name in the writing credits, meaning the veteran actor relinquished creative control to director/co-writer Coogler, who approached Stallone with his pitch while riding the momentum of his 2013 indie hit Fruitvale Station. And that's Creed's biggest strength: it's undeniably a Rocky movie, but with a modernized authenticity. Look no further than its prerequisite training montage: Rocky Balboa (Stallone, duh) whips his new protégé, Adonis Johnson, a.k.a. Apollo Creed's illegitimate son (Michael B. Jordan) into fighting shape as Nas' "Bridging the Gap" provides the soundtrack, complete with the opening narration of Nas’ dad, Olu Dara. The music choice is cheekily on-the-nose and pitch-perfect.

Coogler, only 29 (!), knows what made Stallone's original film, Rocky (1976), such a timeless classic, and he retains all of that emotionally powerful luster in the wonderfully crowd-pleasing Creed. And in Jordan, who was also his Fruitvale Station leading man, Coogler has an actor more than capable of honoring ’70s-era Stallone's then-formidable screen presence. The plot is straightforward sports flick material: Adonis, or "Donnie," is determined to prove himself as a pugilist and also as his own man in the ever-looming shadow of his late father's championship legacy. He finds the aged Balboa in Philly, pulls the solemn widower and restaurateur out of retirement, and gets Rocky to show him the ropes, pun intended. Concurrently, though, Coogler and Jordan revive Stallone's older flair for dramatic greatness—the elder Creed star gives his best performance in a long time. He'll probably move longtime Rocky fans to tears here.

Coogler will provoke similar emotions from the franchise's loyalists, who've longed to see Balboa restore his cinematic excellence in the wake of those Tommy Gunn and Mason Dixon missteps. Who knew the young filmmaker who made the action-free Fruitvale Station had such a gift for kinetic in-ring fight sequences? Creed's matches are impeccably staged, but one of the film's earlier bouts is a filmmaking clinic, with Coogler capturing Donnie's two-round brawl in one awesomely visceral single take.

Outside of the ring, though, is where Creed really takes the belt, and where Coogler's youthfulness reenergizes Stallone's previously stale brand. It's all there in the film's answer to Rocky II's infamous training-via-running scene: Adonis sprints down a North Philly street flanked by youngsters on dirt bikes and ATVs—a nod to the city's youth-driven and controversial subculture—as Philly rapper Meek Mill's "Lord Knows" plays in the background. The sequence's cumulative effect is both triumphant and fresher than anything Stallone could've ever dreamt of sans Coogler.

Where to see it: Opening in wide release


Take an in-depth look at the side of police brutality that's been mostly overlooked—until now...
Killing Them Safely (2015)
Director: Nick Berardini

Though they're the ones who've been pulling the triggers lately, police officers are currently under fire. The scrutiny began in the summer of 2014 when two unarmed black men were wrongfully murdered by cops: Eric Garner, 43, in Staten Island, New York, and 18-year-old Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. In the months since the latter’s death in August, peaceful protests have been held throughout the country, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter took over Twitter, and the nationwide conversation has centered around the rampant police brutality and how to handle those in law enforcement who've abused their powers.

The time couldn't be better for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival world premiere of Killing Them Safely, the provocative and timely documentary from first-time director Nick Berardini. The film investigates one specific aspect of this epidemic: tasers, those little stun-guns that have been used by officers since 1999 and caused 500 deaths between 2001 and 2012. Killing Them Safely examines the police-sanctioned weapon through the story of Stanley Harlan, a 23-year-old who was killed by a cop's taser in August 2008, in Moberly, Missouri, in front of his family's home. Expanding the narrative's scope, Berardini delves into the history of TASER International, the company that manufactures tasers and has inadvertently been responsible for the device's casualties.

Where to see it: IFC Center


Because, believe it or not, nothing soothes turkey-filled stomachs quite like cinematic failure...
Sorcerer (1984) and Dune (1977)
Directors: William Friedkin (Sorcerer), David Lynch (Dune)

Last weekend, BAM's "Turkeys for Thanksgiving" series kicked off with a four-headed beast of financially disastrous proportion: the misunderstood wartime comedy Ishtar, Steven Spielberg's slept-on WWII farce 1941, the lovably trashy Showgirls, and the hard-to-believe-it-was-once-a-disappointment fantasy The Wizard of Oz. Talk about diversity, right? The program's closing weekend, though, is specially designed for hardcore genre enthusiasts, the kind who'll openly embrace master directors' weirdest and most overlooked films. They're in for an excellent double feature on Saturday.

First up is William Friedkin's Sorcerer (1977), an existentialist thriller disguised as a showy action flick. The film, which has gradually evolved into a cult classic, was Friedkin's follow-up to 1973's The Exorcist, an unexpected blockbuster that turned the Oscar-winning director of 1971's The French Connection into a box office dynamo. Roy Scheider, who previously starred in Steven Spielberg's Jaws juggernaut, leads a group of grizzled expatriates tasked with transporting a batch of highly explosive chemicals across an exceedingly bumpy South American terrain. Sorcerer's technical excellence was overshadowed in June '77 by George Lucas' Star Wars, which opened at the same time and swiftly knocked Sorcerer out the box.

After Sorcerer, BAM will show love to the iconic cinematic madman David Lynch's troubled big-screen translation of Frank Herbert's seminal 1965 sci-fi novel Dune. Lynch's best films, such as Blue Velvet (1986) and Mulholland Drive (2001), are known for their head-trip bizarreness, but Dune is about as far removed from something like Lost Highway as possible. It's closer to a George-Lucas-like space opera, and Lynch, who was hamstrung by the powers that be during production, has publicly decried it for that reason. Nonetheless, Dune is a must-see for both Lynchian completists and general lovers of flawed ambition.

Where to see them: Brooklyn Academy of Music

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