There’s something inspiring about a story of emergence, an origin story, if you will, even if it’s not a story that you’d necessarily want to live through. Maybe it’s the idea of such narratives offering an explanation, or equation, for why people are the way they are. Whether you want to celebrate heroics or villainy, all of this week’s new releases offer a glimpse of someone on the come-up. Sometimes, that also means showing downfalls as a seemingly inevitable flipside, as if the world of the movie must balance the scales. That’s all pretty fitting for films coming out during Libra season, eh? Here’s what’s in theaters starting this weekend:

Venom

Alien symbiotes are tricky. Sometimes, they’ll make you inexplicably both good at jazz and terminally uncool. Other times, they’ll make you call a stranger “a turd” in a convenience store. In either case, it’s a great excuse for well-meaning and often fairly mild-mannered (white, as if we even needed to say it) men to do bad things, and kind of enjoy it, but also still get to claim victimhood afterwards. Must be nice! While in theory, a supervillain movie is a delicious break from the onslaught of do-goodery in universes both DC and Marvel, you’ve got to admit that it’s kind of weird to have a Venom without a Spider-Man. Luckily, Tom Hardy, the apotheosis of “aw shucks” as the ill-fated, hard-boiled journalist Eddie Brock, is easy to like, and with a supporting cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed, Venom has the odds stacked for it. It would take something really epic, like cutting over half an hour of Hardy’s favorite footage, for the film to flop. Oh, wait... 

A Star Is Born

How can a tale as old as time (okay, 1937, technically) get an update that will resonate in 2018? By making it country (which rhymes with “bun tray”), that’s how. Somehow, Bradley “dude brah” Cooper and Stefani “Gaga” Germanotta have both intense chemistry and an ability to convincingly perform the music of pain. It’s nice to know that Germanotta hasn’t forgotten her scrappy roots in New York’s underground clubs, and can still channel the raw ambition, hope, and uncertainty of a talent on the rise. At the same time, it’s hard to believe that this is the same other-wordly “Mother Monster” who rocked those Alexander McQueen armadillo boots in the video for “Bad Romance.” Is this her heterosexual crossover? As for Cooper, well, he’s giving  Ethan Hawke and Ben Dickey, the director and star of Blaze, respectively, a fair challenge in the race to rock bottom for self-destructive-yet-charismatic sad-sacks who have soured on showbiz. But no matter who ultimately wins, we’re the real winners. 

Watch NowA Star Is Born (1937) here on Fandor. 

The Hate U Give

Promising to join Assassination Nation and Fahrenheit 11/9 on the list of the year’s most urgent and contemporaneous cinema, The Hate U Give also cements Amandla Stenberg as one of young Hollywood’s most exciting rising stars. The trailer alone is... well, pretty stressful, unless you’re heartless. Tackling code-switching, systemic racism, radicalization, police violence, protest, and other depressing aspects of current coming-of-age narratives, The Hate U Give is based on the YA novel of same name by Angie Thomas, who in turn was inspired by the fatal 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant III in Oakland. Insecure’s Issa Rae, Grimm’s Russell Hornsby, and Detroit’s Algee Smith round out the cast, and Common stars as a police officer (and the protagonist’s uncle), which makes this his third movie currently in theaters. That means he’s in a movie geared toward every audience, from children to teens to adults!

Loving Pablo

All we seem to hear lately is El Chapo this, El Chapo that — well, in case you forgot about the heyday of cocaine “trade,” Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are here to remind you. Playing infamous narco Pablo Escobar and his lover Virginia Vallejo, real-life spouses Bardem and Cruz are a match made in heaven, by which we mean, Medellín. We can’t think of a better casting choice. Virginia Vallejo has had political asylum in the U.S. since 2010, mostly because her testimony has been getting powerful men in trouble, and this movie is based on her memoir Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar. Gosh, the opioid crisis just doesn’t have the same glamour.

Do you have some processing to do before your next trip to the movies? Then don’t miss our reviews of “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “I Am Not a Witch,” “Assassination Nation,” and “The Sisters Brothers.” And of course, this week we published plenty of articles and videos on less recent, but no less enjoyable releases like “Innocence,” “The Big Chill,” “Metropolis,” “Gamer,” and “Lars and the Real Girl.” Enjoy, and we’ll see you next week for another rundown of everything that’s new in theaters.