Honey Boy ***
Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson and Adam Driver in Marriage Story
Next to Kristen Stewart, there hasn’t been an actor with a wackier career trajectory—from smart-ass kid star to rising matinee idol to scandal-attracting bad boy to fascinating indie player—than Shia LaBeouf. He goes semi-autobiographical for his latest project, which he also wrote. Lucas Hedges plays his stand-in, a rage-filled actor who gets sent to rehab and tries to rebel against the therapy that might take him back to his younger years, when he was just a kid Noah Jupe) working in Hollywood, getting pushed too hard by his recovering-addict, ex-clown dad (played by LaBeouf). With help from director Alma Har’el, LaBeouf uses this lyrical, engaging film to virtually purge the demons that made him such an erratic, unpredictable public figure over the years. And while it goes to the surrealism well a bit too often—you could make a lengthy YouTube compilation of all the times Hedges wakes up from a bad dream—you sense that LaBeouf had to make this, so he could finally be at peace, and get back to being the captivating performer he’s becoming quite good at. Opens Nov. 29 at Broadway Centre Cinemas.
(R)—Craig D. Lindsey
Knives Out ***1/2
See feature review
. Opens Nov. 27 at theaters valleywide.
Marriage Story ***
Important disclaimer: I’ve got a natural aversion to “theater of recriminations.” Writer/director Noah Baumbach’s drama—focusing on the pathway to divorce for theater director Charlie (Adam Driver) and actor Nicole (Scarlett Johansson)—doesn’t lean into the shouting matches, observing the slow build-up of tensions that turns a separation that both parties insist will be amicable into warfare. And it’s an interesting choice for Baumbach not to “both sides” the responsibility for the disintegration of the relationship, with Charlie clearly the one most in the wrong, and Driver nailing the great scenes he gets as his obliviousness gives way to understanding; the flip-side is a relative lack of similar moments for Johansson. It’s a bit too tidy, however, to make the escalating conflict all about their respective lawyers (Laura Dern for Nicole; Alan Alda and then Ray Liotta for Charlie), though it’s undeniably tragic to watch them become passive participants in the attorneys’ wrangling. As is true in most of Baumbach’s movies, this one is better when its funnier or more gently observational, rather than when he builds too much angst into his characters’ confrontations. Opens Nov. 29 at Broadway Centre Cinemas and Megaplex Jordan Commons.
Queen & Slim
A couple (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) find their first date taking a startling turn after they're pulled over by a police officer. Opens Nov. 27 at theaters valleywide.