Impractical Jokers: The Movie
Big-screen road-trip version of the reality TV series, with four buddies challenging one another to perform ridiculous stunts. Opens Feb. 28 at theaters valleywide.
The Invisible Man ***1/2
It’s one thing for a horror film to deliver a solid metaphorical exploration of a hot-button issue, but if it doesn’t also deliver the genre goods, it’s hard to imagine anyone paying attention. Writer/director Leigh Whannell (Upgrade) transforms the classic H.G. Wells story into the tale of Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss), who flees in the middle of the night from her abusive boyfriend, optics technology entrepreneur Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and is told that he subsequently committed suicide—but she begins to believe that he’s stalking her invisibly. There’s potent material here exploring the post-traumatic stress on survivors of domestic abuse, as well as the gaslighting and victim-blaming that can be part of such scenarios, and Moss makes it all resonate with a ferocious performance. But it never feels like a lecture thanks to Whannell’s thrilling direction, which makes remarkable use of the empty parts of his framing, ominous off-screen space and a willingness to take tension-packed silences just a few moments farther than you’re expecting. If the final act’s overt violence proves less engrossing than the slow build-up, it nonetheless asks you to look the horror of such abuse right in its very-visible face. Opens Feb. 28 at theaters valleywide.
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band ***
Director Daniel Roher certainly doesn’t engage in false advertising with his documentary’s title: This might be a documentary about The Band, but it’s always first and foremost from Robbie Robertson’s perspective. The film tracks Robertson from his youth in Canada to becoming a teen musical prodigy, joining up with the backup band for rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins that would eventually also include Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson. All of the key pieces of The Band’s story are included, leading up to the mysterious alchemy of a group of mostly Canadian guys transforming delta blues and roots music into something that would effectively become the birth of “Americana.” There are just some unnecessary flourishes in Roher’s approach—do we really need Bruce Springsteen opining about how the birth of rock and roll was a big deal?—and the constant reminders that all of the personal and interpersonal problems with The Band are from only one guy’s point of view. Still, Robertson strikes the right melancholy tone to accompany a lot of great music and rare footage about an outfit that was a true original. Opens Feb. 28 at Tower Theatre.
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. Opens Feb. 28 at theaters valleywide.