Movie Reviews: Her Smell, Avengers: Endgame, The Family, Peterloo | Buzz Blog

Movie Reviews: Her Smell, Avengers: Endgame, The Family, Peterloo

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Elisabeth Moss in Her Smell - GUNPOWDER & SKY RELEASING
  • Gunpowder & Sky Releasing
  • Elisabeth Moss in Her Smell

The grand culmination of a decade of Marvel Cinematic Universe films dominates at the box office, but don't miss one of the year's best films sneaking in under the radar.

Her Smell ****
Tales of artists spinning out of control are nothing new for the movies, but writer/director Alex Ross Perry creates something as jagged and uncomfortable as it is surprisingly emotional, all based on one phenomenally written and performed central character. She’s Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss, who starred in Perry’s Queen of Earth), the frontwoman for a once-successful punk band called Something She—with bassist Marielle Hell (Agyness Deyn) and drummer Ali van der Wolff (Gayle Rankin)—that’s barely hanging together thanks to Becky’s erratic behavior. Perry structures the narrative as five 25-ish-minute vignettes spanning approximately seven years, and that device allows for a perfect focus on pivotal moments in Becky’s descent and attempt at redemption. And what’s astonishing about Moss’s performance is that she creates both the manic, unpredictable Becky and her chastened, almost hollowed-out counterpart with a clarity that makes it clear she’s the same person. It’s far from a one-woman show—Deyn and Rankin are both terrific as their characters try to navigate Hurricane Becky—but the story’s power comes from watching Becky find an identity that isn’t about hiding behind a persona, and finding faith in other people. Opens April 26 at Tower Theatre. (R)—Scott Renshaw

Family ***
Twelve-year-old Maddie (Bryn Vale) has it rough. When she makes the cheerleading squad she’s assigned to the bottom of the pyramid; other kids moo at her as she gets into position. Maddie’s parents don’t understand why other kids don’t like her, but her Aunt Kate (Taylor Schilling) does. Eyeing the cape Maddie has chosen to wear, Kate tells her, “If you want to run around looking like the Burger King, kids are going to make fun of you.” Kate, babysitting Maddie for a few days, is a no-nonsense business-type—single, doesn’t like kids and doesn’t like herself. Naturally, by movie’s end, she undergoes a big personality change. Think of Family as Bad Santa-lite: no anal sex jokes, but plenty of ridicule of the weak and feeble, even as the tough and ruthless realize they hate themselves. What makes Family different from most comedies of its ilk—heartless adult becomes less heartless—is the prevalence of Juggalos and a not-unsympathetic view of their philosophy. I can’t tell you why Juggalos are so plot-centric, but it’s a hoot, and the twist makes Family better than it deserves to be. Opens April 26 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—David Riedel

Peterloo *
On August 16, 1819, in Manchester, England, government troops massacred peaceful protestors at a rally—downtrodden working-class people who, suffering from increasing poverty and deprivation in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars and the disastrous protectionist Corn Laws, were calling for Parliamentary reform and an expansion of voting rights so that their needs would be represented in the halls of power. Unfortunately, there’s more drama and excitement in this simple, factual description of the historical background of Peterloo—which also serves as its plot—than there is in the film itself. The good intentions of legendary filmmaker and rabble-rouser Mike Leigh do not a compelling narrative make, and this isn’t a story. It’s a series of costume-drama cosplay reenactments, dramatized reconstructions of speeches and informal debates among campaigners and—worst of all—stilted infodumps intended to educate viewers about this Very Important Historical Event. Peterloo’s clear destiny is for it to be shown in schools as a special treat, a change of pace from the typical teacher’s lecture. And those kids are going to find this as dull as dirt. Opens April 26 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (PG-13)—MaryAnn Johanson

In this week's feature review, Avengers: Endgame at last gives fans—and the filmmakers—the opportunity for a real conclusion.

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