A Chiara ***
Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Isabella Sermon and DeWanda Wise in Jurassic World Dominion
Plenty of coming-of-age stories involve a first awareness of your parents’ flawed humanity; writer/director Jonas Carpignano cranks up the stakes on that notion without tumbling over into exploitation or melodrama. Chiara Guerrasio (Swamy Rotolo) is the 15-year-old middle sister in a family in Calabria, Italy, seemingly happy and “average.” Then on the night of her sister’s 18th birthday, the family car is bombed, and Chiara’s father, Claudio (Claudio Rotolo), disappears, leading Chiara on a search for answers. Much of the narrative that follows plays out like a spin on Winter’s Bone
, with a determined young woman facing danger as she refuses to stop poking around in her family’s shady dealings in order to find out what happened to her dad. And while Rotolo may not be a budding Jennifer Lawrence, she provides a solid anchor for Chiara’s dogged pursuit. It all works best, though, because Carpignano lays so much groundwork for the familial relationships, particularly during the extended sequence at the birthday party for Chiara’s sister (Swamy’s own sister, Grecia Rotolo). A Chiara is a story about having to decide whether your best hope for a future comes from separating yourself from a family that you love, and it’s only possible for that tension to exist if the answer isn’t an easy one. Available June 10 at Broadway Centre Cinemas.
See feature review
. Available June 10 at Broadway Centre Cinemas.
First of all, I know this is mostly a “me” problem: As a lover of basketball, I hate how movies have absolutely no idea how to capture the game. It’s long been clear that Adam Sandler loves basketball too, and here plays Stanley Sugerman, a veteran scout for the Philadelphia 76ers who stakes his career on the potential of Bo Cruz (NBA player Juancho Hernangómez), a raw talent he spots playing schoolyard money games in Spain. Director Jeremiah Zagar actually does a great job early on at capturing the routine of Stanley’s existence, bouncing across Europe while subsisting on American junk food, and the screenplay even weaves around the most obvious clichéd conflicts involving Stanley’s perpetual absence from his wife (Queen Latifah) and teen daughter (Jordan Hull). But the obvious surrogate-dad angle between Stanley and Bo never really connects, between Hernangómez’s limited acting chops and the ridiculous amount of time spent on the inevitable “training montage.” More frustrating for hoops fans, all the player cameos in the world—and there are enough to add another three minutes to the closing credits—don’t make up for how everything that’s supposedly great about Bo as a player is reduced to one-on-one play, particularly with a cocky rival (Anthony Edwards). You’d never know from movies like Hustle
that basketball, like filmmaking, is a team effort. Now in theaters; available June 8 via Netflix.
Jurassic World Dominion **1/2
After five movies in which people tried to survive dinosaurs mostly in contained areas like islands, Jurassic World Dominion
finally presents a variation with potential: What if dinosaurs were now literally everywhere
? For not quite half of the movie, director Colin Trevorrow and company have fun with that concept—only to completely abandon it for yet another instance of people trying to survive dinosaurs in a contained area. It also takes way too long to unite the two threads of its story: Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) living off the grid while trying to protect their adopted daughter/human clone Maisie (Isabella Sermon); and original Jurassic Park
trio Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) trying to expose a biotech company’s exploitation of dino DNA. The highlights almost all occur out in the wider world, notably an extended chase through the streets of Malta, while simultaneously exploring ideas like the black market emerging around dinosaurs. And yes, it’s fun seeing Neill, Dern and Malcolm together again, with Goldblum in particular spiking the proceedings with his inimitable Goldblum-iness that also serves to emphasize how utterly boring Pratt and Howard remain as these characters. But the final hour-plus is almost entirely back to run-through-the-jungle formula, while adding nothing to the series’ standard themes of rapacious capitalism. People in the movie keep saying things like “it never gets old” about interacting with prehistoric creatures, but in these movies, it really has. Available June 10 in theaters.