FILM NEWS: OCT. 24-30 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Culture » Cinema Clips

FILM NEWS: OCT. 24-30

New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Releases

by

comment
cinema-clips.png

NEW THIS WEEK

Black and Blue
[not yet reviewed]
A rookie African-American police officer (Naomie Harris) confronts racist violence within her police force. Opens Oct. 25 at theaters valleywide. (R)

Countdown
[not yet reviewed]
Supernatural horror about a phone app that tells you the exact moment of your death. Opens Oct. 25 at theaters valleywide. (R)

The Current War 3.5 Stars
Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse! In the fact-based story of the industrial, technical and capitalist battle to light up our world in the late 19th century! This isn't going to be to everyone's taste, even as director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon sidesteps typical costume-drama stodginess with an (ahem) electrifying visual style and a decidedly modern flavor to the storytelling. But those intrigued by the intersections between science and culture might find this a grand geek adventure with plenty of resonance for today's world, almost 150 years later. From how quickly new technology can reach a saturation point so that we can barely remember life before it, to the unforeseen side effects such advancements can spin off, this is a grippingly-told tale of how two wildly different personalities—and the competitive clash between them—had an enormous influence on the world as we know it. There's more than enough drama and character here to keep a prestige-television series going for years; we need more Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla, for one. In the meantime, this will more than suffice. Opens Oct. 25 at theaters valleywide. (PG-13)—MaryAnn Johanson

Dolemite Is My Name 3 Stars
Maybe the biggest complement this middle-aged white boy can pay is saying that Rudy Ray Moore's campy 1975 blaxploitation film Dolemite snapped into focus as a result of this movie. When Moore (Eddie Murphy) in this movie gets dressed down by a club owner with words to the effect of, "Vaudeville is dead"—mocking a guy who has tried singing, dancing, comedy and eventually making his own independent film just to be in show biz—it's a failure to recognize the appeal of an art form that just wants to entertain you. Murphy is great here, conveying the notion that Moore is an entertainer down to his soul, even if the motivation sketched into the script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski ("I'll show you, abusive stepdad!") feels almost oh-by-the-way. Alexander and Karaszewski (Ed Wood) are clearly the perfect choice for this story, which ultimately focuses on the micro-budget making of Dolemite itself, though it might have benefited from a bit more attention to Moore's makeshift creative family including Tituss Burgess, Keegan-Michael Key and Wesley Snipes. But no sense nit-picking. After all, isn't the point entertaining people? Opens Oct. 25 at Tower Theatre. (R)—Scott Renshaw

The Lighthouse 3 Stars
See review on p. 37. Opens Oct. 25 at theaters valleywide. (R)

Paradise Hills 2 Stars
Allegorical science-fiction is hard enough to pull off without confusion as to what you're being allegorical about. Emma Roberts plays Uma, a young woman involuntarily committed by her mother to an idyllic "center for emotional healing" where she and other young women are trained to be what other people want them to be. That's sort of the extent of it for most of the running time, as Uma and her fellow "students"—including Awkwafina, Danielle Macdonald and Eiza González—resist the various treatments implemented by Paradise Hills' headmistress (a gleefully sinister Milla Jovovich). Director Alice Waddington designs an imaginative physical production for this feminist mash-up of The Prisoner and A Clockwork Orange, but doesn't offer much variation on her theme. Then, out of nowhere, the third act finds her and her co-screenwriters heading off into a completely different direction about the purpose of Paradise Hills—in some ways a more interesting direction, but also one that makes it hard to understand exactly who the villains are. The generous way to describe it would be "intersectional," although that presumes that the multiple thematic notions are informing one another, rather than merely colliding. Opens Oct. 25 at theaters valleywide. (NR)—SR

Where's My Roy Cohn? 2.5 Stars
The shadow of Donald Trump hangs heavily over director Matt Tyrnauer's profile of the notorious attorney, and not entirely in ways that the filmmaker might have expected. Tyrnauer explores the entirety of Cohn's public life, from his role as right-hand-man to Joseph McCarthy, through his private law practice defending mob figures, and ultimately how his ruthlessness and ability to manipulate the media influenced American politics, up to and including our current POTUS as his de facto protégé. It's a thorough and often fascinating collection of details, though Tyrnauer's visual style leans into overly dramatic bits like putting a hallucinatory blur around a segment addressing Cohn as a closeted gay man in 1970s New York. But as much as the filmmaker is underlining that "power in the hands of someone who is that reckless and that arrogant is a very dangerous thing" (nudge, nudge), he's also bringing into focus the challenge of profiling a narcissistic sociopath trained by a similarly amoral parent to deny responsibility for anything: At a certain point, all you're doing is cataloguing sins, with a gaping hole where any sort of insight could be. Opens Oct. 25 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (PG-13)—SR

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

Brittany Runs a Marathon
At Park City Film Series, Oct. 25-26, 8 p.m. & Oct. 27, 6 p.m. (R)

Cracked Up
At Rose Wagner Center, Oct. 30, 7 p.m. (NR)

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower
At Main Library, Oct. 29, 7 p.m. (NR)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
At Tower Theatre, Oct. 25-26, 8 p.m. & midnight. (R)

CURRENT RELEASES

The Addams Family 2.5 Stars
The animated reboot, set in the present day, has everyone's favorite spooky Goth family in conflict with a nearby new neighborhood called Assimilation, in which sameness is celebrated over individuality. Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), perky host of popular TV home-makeover show Design Intervention (which is a pretty great title), is worried the ghastly Addams mansion will make it hard to sell the houses—which are already occupied. The gang's all here—Gomez (Oscar Isaac), Morticia (Charlize Theron), Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz), Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll)—and there are a few chuckles along the way. As usual, Wednesday is the funniest character, attending public school for the first time and experimenting with normal tween girl behavior, much to Morticia's chagrin. But the main story, while harmless enough, is bland, warmed-over "be yourself" pabulum you've seen a thousand times. (PG)—Eric D. Snider

Gemini Man [zero stars]
It's the high concept this movie has been selling in all its trailers and advertising—50-something badass military sniper Will Smith versus cloned younger Will Smith!—yet director Ang Lee treads water with tedious, tension-free spy action for more than half of his run time before he "reveals" what we knew going in. We never get any clone-related sci-fi speculation, with a nature/nurture dichotomy that remains an unfired gun on the mantlepiece. The supporting cast (including the excellent Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is wasted, with nary a single plausible human relationship developed. All that's left is Lee's goofing around with a super-high-def format that delivers (in some cinematic presentations) an empty story in a visually razor-sharp Imax that is pointlessly ultra-realistic. It's like looking through a window beyond which there is nothing worth seeing. (PG-13)—MAJ

Joker 2 Stars
Co-writer/director Todd Phillips' determinedly grim portrait of burgeoning psychosis is neither as lunkheadedly reactionary as early reports suggested, nor as richly layered as it's trying to be. Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a professional party clown with mental health issues who's just a nudge away from full-fledged homicidal crazy. It's deeply awkward whenever Joker waves its hand to remind you that it's part of the DC Comics universe, while still posing at being very Serious-Minded. Then, when Joker does try to serve up some subtext, it bounces all over the place in search of a real idea. At least there's Phoenix's magnetic performance, as we see him doing homework to approximate "normal" behavior. You don't have to work hard as a viewer to accept that you're watching a kind of madness in Joker. The question is, what kind of madness. (R)—SR

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 2.5 Stars
Like 2014's Maleficent, this sequel makes a similar semblance of effort toward subtext, as the impending wedding of Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Prince Philip leads to Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) being framed for a heinous act by Philip's mother (Michelle Pfeiffer). Thus begins a tale about a nation's leader manipulating fear of The Other, promoting ethnocentrism that gives the thumbs up to genocide. The script isn't exactly subtle about its underlying ideas, but they do provide a spark of interest. Unfortunately, they don't make up for Maleficent herself being relegated to the background for long stretches, building to a grand battle that lasts nearly the entire final hour of the movie. That certainly helps Mistress of Evil deliver on the promise of being fantasy spectacle, while all but abandoning the ideas that made it seem more intriguing at the outset. (PG)—SR

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool 3 Stars
Director Stanley Nelson goes cradle-to-grave on the legendary jazz musician, laying out a career full of innovations and re-inventions. The film's subtitle seems a bit misleading, in that Nelson underplays Davis' "cool" in favor of his uniquely instinctual approach to creating music and re-creating himself. Along the way, we get all of the key life mileposts, with no attempt to hide Davis' well-documented history of substance abuse and domestic violence; Cal Lumbly narrates Davis' own words from his autobiography with a perfect impersonation of the musician's sassy rasp. You still get stuff like the rapid-fire "highlights of the year" montages that accompany shifts in time period, and the inevitable challenge of having people explain why a groundbreaking artist was so unique. There's great music, some interesting insights and a filmmaker who mostly gets out of the way of his subject. (NR)—SR

Zombieland: Double Tap 2 Stars
It's a hit-or-miss follow-up to the perfectly good 2009 comedy that brings back the original cast of post-zombie-apocalypse survivors—Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin—and has them cross paths with others on their way to a rumored safe haven. Too much of the bantering and bickering has a sitcom vibe to it, Harrelson's tantrums about having to drive a minivan being the worst; I had Tim Allen flashbacks, which is not good. But Zoey Deutch is a hilarious scene-stealer as an airhead they find hiding in a mall who complicates Eisenberg and Stone's relationship—a great and necessary addition, because so much of the movie otherwise is just a rehash of jokes and themes from the first one. Like with zombies, two shots of this should be more than enough to kill it for good. (R)—EDS

Add a comment