FILM NEWS: MAY 23-29 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Culture » Cinema Clips


New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Releases




Film release schedules are subject to change. Reviews online at

Aladdin 1.5 Stars
Disney's current chore of mounting live-action remakes of all of its animated films continues to prove mostly an exercise in pointlessness and frustration with this second of its redos of the 1990s Disney Renaissance musicals. This new Aladdin lacks the charm of the original animated version, and—worse than 2017's Beauty and the Beast—it cannot even seem to decide if it's a musical or not, with characters awkwardly breaking into stilted snippets of song at random intervals in a way seemingly designed to ensure that there's no melodic flow. The shoehorned-in new song, de rigueur if one hopes for an Oscar nomination, is an embarrassing sub-par go-girl ballad for Princess Jasmine. The story is lifted intact from the 1992 movie, with the street urchin Aladdin (Mena Massoud) wooing Jasmine (Naomi Scott), daughter of the sultan of the city-state of Agrabah, with the help of a Genie (CGI'd Will Smith). The leads have no chemistry, and the villain—Marwan Kenzari's Jafar, vizier to the sultan—lacks all bite. It's just watered-down pastiche, on ice, set at Epcot. Opens May 24 at theaters valleywide. (PG)—MaryAnn Johanson

The Biggest Little Farm 2.5 Stars
John and Molly Chester give up city jobs and buy a dilapidated farm with the goal of a) keeping a promise to their dog, and b) making a farm that's completely natural. Fascinating idea, right? Plus, director John (a veteran TV director before buying the farm with his wife, Molly, a food blogger) knows a good image, and aptly shows the perils and rewards of building from nothing a farm that is one with the world surrounding it. There's also a compelling pro-eco-farming message. However, John the producer should have fired John the voiceover artist, because as narrator, he comes off as sanctimonious and officious, and I'm betting that's not the intention. Plus, as good as some of the footage looks, John the director makes John the character occasionally look like a jerk to his employees and volunteers. The film works best during its first half-hour, as the Chesters learn farming the hard way and their hippie agricultural expert Alan York has a bunch of screen time. It's a worthwhile and important story, but there's too much vanity and not enough agitprop. Opens May 24 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (PG)—David Riedel

Booksmart 3.5 Stars
Opens May 24 at theaters valleywide. (R)

[not yet reviewed]
It's the Superman myth as horror, when an alien child with strange abilities grows up to be a threat to humanity. Opens May 24 at theaters valleywide. (R)

Photograph 3 Stars
It's a familiar farcical set-up: Mumbai tourist photographer Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), in order to placate the insistence of his grandmother (Farrukh Jaffar) that he should get married, persuades shy accounting student Miloni (Sanya Malhotra) to pose as his fiancée. But writer-director Ritesh Batra takes a considerably more low-key approach to the time-worn "people who are faking being in love actually fall in love" premise (Can't Buy Me Love, Green Card, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, etc.), resulting in a gently thoughtful character study. Batra doesn't emphasize the cultural particularities of this variation—religious differences, familial expectations—instead allowing for an observation of how Rafi and Miloni's feigned relationship allows them an oasis of genuineness from the frustrations of their daily lives; Miloni in particular gets to do some of the acting that is her real calling. The narrative is almost too restrained, and could frustrate viewers expecting a conventional payoff to the long buildup. The simple pleasures come from suggesting that two people finding something real together isn't just a laughing matter. Opens May 24 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (PG-13)—Scott Renshaw

The White Crow 2 Stars
In Paris ca. 1961, while on tour with the Kirov Ballet, Soviet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defected to the West. This elegant but dull endeavor—the third film from director Ralph Fiennes (he also appears briefly)—wants to be all about what led to this signal moment of the Cold War, except it's not terribly enlightening. The film springs to passionate life in its last few minutes, in the tense defection sequence; the gripping jockeying of KGB agents and French police at Paris' Le Bourget airport is worthy of a spy thriller. Mostly, though, the anemic script sees Nureyev (Oleg Ivenko) wandering prettily around Paris, eating at cafés, befriending the locals—primarily socialite Clara Saint (Adèle Exarchopoulos)—and generally being a generic arrogant jerk the likes of which we're used to seeing male artists depicted as. If you don't already know much about Nureyev, you'll learn little here. There's barely even any dancing, which is ... bizarre, given the film's insistence that that's all Nureyev is interested in, never mind his reputation as one of the greatest dancers ever. This is a film so subtle it's downright diffuse. Opens May 24 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—MAJ


At Main Library, May 28, 7 p.m. (NR)

At Park City Film Series, May 24-24, 8 p.m.; May 26, 6 p.m. (R)


John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum 3.5 Stars
The franchise isn't entirely about brilliantly-choreographed action sequences, but also the rich mythology of its contract-killer subculture. Chapter 3 picks up mere minutes after Chapter 2 ends, as John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finds a $14 million bounty on his head for violating the revered rules of his one-time superiors. What follows is largely a gleeful series of set pieces involving John assassinating his would-be assassins, including the hilariously violent consequences of everyone finding themselves in a room full of knives. Yet the details of this underworld are still terrifically realized, including an Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) meting out punishments to violators, and the wonderful realization that there are John Wick fanboys among his fellow killers. While our taciturn hero's motivations aren't particularly engaging this time around, it's always a delight to watch him kick ass in this weird world. (R)—SR

The Sun Is Also a Star 2.5 Stars
Fair warning: This adaptation of a young-adult romance by Nicola Yoon announces its intentions when high-school seniors Natasha (Yara Shahidi) and Daniel (Charles Melton) are brought together by the phrase "Deus Ex Machina." On the day that they meet cute in New York, Jamaica-born Natasha faces deportation with her family, and first-generation Korean-American Daniel is scheduled for a college interview directing him to a future his parents expect of him. There's an interesting tension in Ry Russo-Young's direction between twinkly New York-set rom-coms and darker undertones, but while the background of the two leads provides depth, this still works primarily because of old-fashioned chemistry between Shahidi and Melton. A superficial treatment of the parents as tradition-bound impediments dampens the spirit of a story about the hope that love offers in a messed-up world. (PG-13)—SR