Norman, directed by Joseph Cedar (R, 1 hour, 58 minutes) Norman Oppenheimer is a guy who claims to have more inside information than you figure he can, who only wants a minute of your time to pitch you on a deal that could work out for everyone. He’s a name dropper who tends to exaggerate his importance. Maybe you’ve listened politely to Norman, maybe you’ve brushed him off.
He’s not a bad guy. It’s just that he pushes a little too hard.
We meet Norman doing what he does. He tries to trade on the slightest connection, he ambushes captains of industry in the streets, and he is, sometimes kindly but always firmly, rebuffed.
But then he catches low-level Israeli politician Micha Eshel (Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi) — the deputy of a deputy minister — at a vulnerable time.
Three years later, that politician is elected prime minister of Israel. Norman is in the crowd,
clapping and smiling beatifically. Maybe that vulnerability will pay off for him.
Norman is remarkable for the gentle and precisely calibrated performances of Richard Gere, who plays (once again) against his dashing type as the deferential yet dignified would-be deal maker, and Ashkenazi, who as Eshel displays genuine affection and gratitude for Norman.
Director Cedar has crafted a bright and modest movie about ordinary people running up against their limitations. That might sound like a weak response to the superheroes on the loose this summer, but if you’re looking for something a little more grown up, a little less sweet, have I got a deal for you.
With Charlotte Gainsbourg, Steve Buscemi, Michael Sheen.
Their Finest (R, 1 hour, 57 minutes) This witty, meandering, intelligent comedic drama, set in London in 1940, concerns the hiring of Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) to write female dialogue for morale-boosting propaganda films produced by the British government, which leads her to work on an epic feature based on the Dunkirk rescue starring former matinee idol Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy). With Sam Claflin. Richard E. Grant, Jake Lacy;
directed by Lone Scherfig.
The Fate of the Furious (PG-13, 2 hours, 16 minutes) The kinetic horsepower-fueled franchise returns for the eighth time, predictable as ever, with the classy addition of Charlize Theron as a coolly competent villain named Cipher and a cameo by Helen Mirren. With Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham and Scott Eastwood; directed by F. Gary Gray.
Violet (not rated, 1 hour, 25 minutes) An ambitious, quiet, and tautly focused psychological drama, set in a rural area of Belgium. A vicious attack on a teenager at a mall forces the kid’s 15-year-old friend, Jesse (Cesar De Sutter), to try to come to grips with senseless trauma. Could he have prevented the violence? With Mira Helmer; directed by Bas Devos.
The Lost City of Z (PG13, 2 hours, 21 minutes) A long-winded yet spirited and elegant portrayal of ambitious British 20th-century explorer Percy Fawcett (a fine performance by Charlie Hunnam) who, while exploring remote reaches of the lush Amazon jungle in Bolivia, encounters signs of a previously undiscovered civilization and hears rumors of a city no white man has ever seen. Based on the nonfiction book by David Grann. With Tom Holland, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson; directed by James Gray.