The Weekend Australian - Review - - Out & About - SR

(MA15+) Amer­i­can Ul­tra be­longs to a cin­e­matic sub­genre that sounds like an oxy­moron: the stoner ac­tion film. Mike How­ell (Jesse Eisen­berg) is the last sur­vivor of a de­funct CIA pro­gram to cre­ate su­per agents. When the agent who cre­ated the pro­gram learns her re­place­ment has or­dered Mike elim­i­nated, she de­cides to save him by ac­ti­vat­ing his pro­gram­ming. Mike doesn’t sud­denly strip to a tight sin­glet to re­veal pumped bi­ceps: he re­mains a doo­fus, al­beit a deadly one. Yet for a while we won­der whether he is in fact an agent marked for death or if it’s the pot mak­ing him para­noid. Eisen­berg is con­vinc­ing as a young man who doesn’t trust his own mind.

Ivanov Belvoir St Theatre presents an early Chekhov com­edy clas­sic in its first Aus­tralian main­stage pro­duc­tion. Niko­lai Ivanov is strug­gling. His life used to be full of pos­si­bil­ity, but now — mon­ey­less on an old farm, in debt to his neigh­bours and look­ing af­ter his dy­ing wife — he is des­per­ate for al­ter­na­tives. In­com­ing artis­tic di­rec­tor Ea­mon Flack di­rects this dark com­edy star­ring John Bell, John Howard and Ewan Les­lie. Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills. Opens tonight, 8pm. Tick­ets: $39-$72. Book­ings: (02) 9699 3444 or online. Un­til Novem­ber 1.

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