There's a lot of pop culture to sort through week after week. Times staff writer Chris Barton offers his take on what's up and what's down in music, movies, television and just about anything else out there that is worth considering.
Nicolas Cage: Admittedly, since offering a pantheon-level comic performance in "Raising Arizona" and winning an Oscar for the (overrated) "Leaving Las Vegas," Cage has functioned as more of a scenery-chewing punchline in frequently over-the-top roles involving conspiracies or various forms of swordplay. But with roles in "Snowden" (Sept. 15) and the bonkers-looking Paul Schrader film "Dog Eat Dog" (Nov. 4), let this be the season we welcome Cage, in all his eccentric glory, into an overdue renaissance.
The return of Jared Hess: A satirist in the vein of Todd Solondz (except Hess' movies are actually funny), Hess and his wife broke through with the indie favorite "Napoleon Dynamite" and have ventured into even more fringe-leaning features that includes last year's religion-skewering "Don Verdean." Led by Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wiig, "Masterminds" (Sept. 30) could propel him back toward the mainstream with a story based on a late-'90s North Carolina bank heist that twists toward Hess' absurdist strengths.
Superheroes of the fall: Comic book movies now own summer, do they have to take over fall too? Just when we seemed safe from the franchise machine comes "Doctor Strange," an offshoot of the Avengers universe that if nothing else, could live up to its name with a cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton. Regardless, while counter-programming against what's usually a season of more serious cinema is understandable, we may need our own superhero to fend off our superhero infestation.
Another "Magnificent Seven": All due respect to director Antoine Fuqua and writer Nic Pizzolatto (who needs a hit after "True Detective" flamed out), but for all the potential of seeing Denzel Washington in spurs alongside Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke in an effort to top the collected might of Akira Kurosawa, Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner, it's hard to figure out why we're here. Not only is Quentin Tarantino oddly not involved with a film he was born to remake, but he already paid his respects with "The Hateful Eight."
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