NOW IN THE­ATERS

Pasatiempo - - MOVING IMAGES -

BEL CANTO

Paul Weitz’s film adap­ta­tion of the Ann Patch­ett best­seller opens with a lav­ish din­ner party in an un­named South Amer­i­can coun­try. The af­ter-din­ner en­ter­tain­ment is Rox­ane Coss (Ju­lianne Moore), a cel­e­brated op­er­atic so­prano (think Renée Flem­ing, who sup­plies the voice). The guests are a glit­ter­ing as­sem­bly of politi­cians, diplo­mats, and busi­ness heav­ies, in­clud­ing Kat­sumi Hosokawa (Ken Watan­abe), a wealthy Ja­panese in­dus­tri­al­ist. As Rox­ane is singing, gun­wield­ing guer­ril­las break into the man­sion and take ev­ery­body hostage. The cri­sis goes on for weeks and ro­mances blos­som, in­clud­ing one be­tween Coss and Hosokawa. We come to see the strengths and weak­nesses of cap­tors and cap­tives and we are shown the un­der­ly­ing hu­man­ity of these gun-tot­ing ter­ror­ists, though we can never for­get that their up­per hand is based on their will­ing­ness to slaugh­ter in­no­cent peo­ple to achieve their goals. The more hu­man and friendly and sym­pa­thetic ev­ery­one gets, the more cer­tain we be­come that this is a stand­off that can­not end well. Not rated. 102 min­utes. In English, Span­ish, French, and Ja­panese with sub­ti­tles. Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

BLACKKKLANS­MAN

Direc­tor Spike Lee’s ca­reer is full of peaks and val­leys, and his lat­est film finds him reach­ing crowd-pleas­ing heights once more. It’s a dram­edy based on the true story of Ron Stall­worth (John David Washington), an African-Amer­i­can de­tec­tive in 1970s Colorado Springs who goes un­der­cover to in­fil­trate the Ku Klux Klan. Us­ing the phone most of the time — and send­ing a proxy (Adam Driver) when face time is re­quired — Stall­worth does such a good job that he be­comes close with na­tional Grand Wiz­ard David Duke (an oddly cast To­pher Grace). Be­cause it’s a Spike Lee joint, all of the film­maker’s strengths and weak­nesses are on dis­play. There are bold cre­ative choices and ex­cel­lent work by sup­port­ing cast mem­bers (watch for Harry Be­la­fonte’s pow­er­house turn), yet an ex­ces­sive amount of cuts make even sim­ple scenes feel busy. Lee’s tool­box is full of noth­ing but blunt ob­jects, so don’t go in ex­pect­ing sub­tlety; how­ever, it’s re­fresh­ing to see racial di­vi­sions in Amer­ica ad­dressed so di­rectly. The plot is grip­ping and there are funny jokes, but brace your­self for the gut-punch con­nec­tion to mod­ern times that closes the film. Rated R. 135 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

BLAZE

Un­like most mu­si­cian biopics you’ve seen, direc­tor Ethan Hawke’s movie about singer/ song­writer Blaze Fo­ley is not about a suc­cess­ful, well-known hit­maker. The songs of Fo­ley, who died nearly 30 years ago, have been recorded by Merle Hag­gard, Wil­lie Nel­son, John Prine, and Lyle Lovett, and Lucinda Wil­liams and his friend Townes Van Zandt paid trib­ute to him in orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions. But, like so many rough-hewn ge­niuses, his life was a mess. A self-de­struc­tive al­co­holic, he was es­sen­tially home­less dur­ing the last months of his life, sleep­ing un­der pool tables at bars. He died vir­tu­ally pen­ni­less. Fo­ley is por­trayed by Ben Dickey, an ac­tor who, at least up to now, prob­a­bly is even less fa­mous than Fo­ley him­self. He cap­tures Fo­ley’s lum­ber­ing pres­ence, his men­ac­ing scowl, his mum­ble, and his vul­ner­a­bil­ity un­der­neath a thick beard and over­sized cow­boy hat. Also no­table are Texas gui­tar slinger Charlie Sex­ton as Van Zandt and Alia Shawkat as Fo­ley’s long-suf­fer­ing girl­friend Sy­bil Rosen. Rated R. 129 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Steve Ter­rell)

CRAZY RICH ASIANS

Based on the best­selling novel by Kevin Kwan,

Crazy Rich Asians crosses a clas­sic fish-out-ofwa­ter ro­man­tic com­edy with a fun mil­len­nial sen­si­bil­ity. NYU eco­nomics pro­fes­sor Rachel Chu (Con­stance Wu) is head over heels in love with her dashing boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Gold­ing), who has been hid­ing a very big se­cret — he’s the filthy rich scion of a Sin­ga­pore real es­tate dy­nasty. When Nick in­vites her to ac­com­pany him to the lav­ish wed­ding of his best friend in Sin­ga­pore, Chu is thrust into a glar­ing spot­light, scru­ti­nized by Nick’s snobby mother (Michelle Yeoh), grand­mother (Lisa Lu), and a pas­sel of jeal­ous on­look­ers, none of whom think an or­di­nary Asian-Amer­i­can girl is good enough for the Prince Harry of Sin­ga­pore. Us­ing all her charm and wit — as well as the sup­port of her wise­crack­ing col­lege room­mate (Awk­wa­fina) — Rachel does her best to win over Nick’s fam­ily and friends, with mostly dis­as­trous and hi­lar­i­ous re­sults. Chock­ablock with break­out per­for­mances, the film is a dizzy­ing, mad­cap cul­tural im­mer­sion. It should serve as a re­minder to Hol­ly­wood that when it’s ex­e­cuted with a sense of in­ge­nu­ity and an em­pha­sis on di­ver­sity, the old-school rom-com mar­riage plot al­ways makes for a damn fine movie. Rated PG-13. 120 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Molly Boyle)

FAHREN­HEIT 11/9

With a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent in the White House af­ter eight years of Obama, it’s time for Michael Moore to sur­face with a doc­u­men­tary that pokes and prods him. His lat­est doc­u­men­tary ref­er­ences sev­eral of Moore’s pet top­ics: He calls back to

Fahren­heit 9/11 with the ti­tle (taken for 11/9/16, the day Trump’s elec­toral col­lege vic­tory was an­nounced), re­vis­its the gun con­trol de­bate of Bowl­ing for Columbine by track­ing the school­shoot­ing sur­vivors-turned-ac­tivists David Hogg and Emma González, and re­turns to his Michi­gan home­town set­ting of

Roger & Me by ex­plor­ing Flint’s cur­rent water cri­sis. Rated R. 125 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Not re­viewed)

HELL FEST

In this hor­ror movie, young peo­ple pour into a themed amuse­ment park known as Hell Fest, which comes com­plete with rides, fun­houses, thrills, and chills. Un­for­tu­nately, on this evening, it also comes with an ac­tual masked killer who picks the park-go­ers off one by one, and they can’t tell if he’s part of the at­trac­tion or a mur­derer un­til it’s too late. Rated R. 120 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Not re­viewed)

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS

Film­maker Eli Roth rose to promi­nence with pun­ish­ing hor­ror movies such as Hos­tel. Here, he tries his hand at catering to the Goosebumps crowd, adapt­ing the 1973 novel by John Bel­lairs into a movie about a young or­phan named Lewis (Owen Vac­caro) who moves in with his un­cle Jonathan (Jack Black), only to find that his un­cle is a war­lock and his house has a tick­ing clock in its walls. When it counts down to zero, some­thing wicked this way comes. Un­sur­pris­ingly, Roth has a good feel for the frights, even with the PG rat­ing. He has less of a han­dle on the hu­mor and scenes that con­vey the char­ac­ters’ emo­tional arcs. What hurts mat­ters is that while Vac­caro ex­cels and Cate Blanchett is re­li­ably ex­quis­ite as the witch who lives next door, Black is oddly cast and never quite hits the right chord be­tween whimsy and grav­ity. Rated PG. 104 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

KUSAMA: IN­FIN­ITY

Direc­tor Heather Lenz’s doc­u­men­tary on Ja­pan­born artist Kusama grap­ples with a mul­ti­tude of top­ics in its ex­pert telling of the sculp­tor and in­stal­la­tion artist’s life and works. The film chron­i­cles Kusama’s abuse at the hands of her mother, her de­ter­mi­na­tion to make a name for her­self in New York’s thriv­ing art scene, her em­brace of the ’60s coun­ter­cul­ture and the happenings she staged in op­po­si­tion to the Viet­nam War, her glo­ri­ous, ex­u­ber­antly-col­ored installations filled with her sig­na­ture polka dots, and her rise to promi­nence in a male-dom­i­nated art world, which in­cluded her ideas be­ing ap­pro­pri­ated by other artists. Filmed when the artist was ap­proach­ing ninety, Kusama: In­fin­ity is a story of bold de­ter­mi­na­tion de­spite the odds. Kusama suf­fered de­bil­i­tat­ing men­tal ill­ness, made sev­eral at­tempts at sui­cide, and was in and out of hos­pi­tals through­out her life, only to emerge tri­umphant. Lenz pre­sents the ma­te­rial in a straight­for­ward man­ner. The por­trait that emerges is one of in­ner tur­moil coun­tered by out­ward ex­u­ber­ance. Not rated. 80 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)

LIT­TLE WOMEN

On the 150th an­niver­sary of the pub­li­ca­tion of the first vol­ume of Louisa May Al­cott’s 1868 novel, direc­tor Clare Nieder­pruem of­fers a mod­ern up­date on the sprawl­ing drama of the March sis­ters, who come of age, fall in love, face tragedy, and at­tempt to sup­port their fam­ily with their fa­ther away in the Civil War. Sarah Davenport plays Jo, the as­pir­ing writer and cen­tral pro­tag­o­nist; Me­lanie Stone is Meg, the teacher who mar­ries and be­comes a mother. Amy and Beth, the younger two, are played by Elise Jones and Al­lie Jen­nings, re­spec­tively. Lea Thompson por­trays their mother. Rated PG-13. 112 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Not re­viewed)

LOVE, GILDA

Gilda Rad­ner al­ways seemed to be hav­ing so much fun. That was the se­cret to her me­te­oric rise as one of the first break­out stars of Sat­ur­day Night Live. Her ex­u­ber­ant silli­ness was con­ta­gious and ir­re­sistible. Lisa D’Apolito’s Love, Gilda cap­tures some of this spirit while sketch­ing in a brief bi­og­ra­phy of the woman who set the bar for fe­male comics in the ’70s, and then left the world a poorer place when she suc­cumbed to can­cer in 1989, at the age of forty-two. There are the SNL years, where Gilda was the first cast mem­ber cho­sen. There’s her foray onto Broadway with a one-woman show and her name in lights. And her brief movie ca­reer was dis­tin­guished mainly by meet­ing and fall­ing in love with Gene Wilder, whom she mar­ried. We also get a glimpse of what it’s like to main­tain that in­spired ex­u­ber­ance when the anonymity is gone, the child­hood dreams have been reached and sur­passed, and there’s the rest of your life to deal with. For Gilda, it was all too short. Not rated. 89 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)

NIGHT SCHOOL

Tif­fany Had­dish re­unites with Girls Trip direc­tor Mal­colm D. Lee for an­other com­edy, this time set in school. When a gifted sales­man (Kevin Hart) is courted for a job as a stock­bro­ker, pro­vided he gets his GED, he en­rolls in night school. He and the scoundrels and trou­ble­mak­ers in the class butt heads with the teacher (Had­dish), and chaos en­sues. Rated PG-13. 111 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Not re­viewed)

THE NUN

The pop­u­lar Con­jur­ing fran­chise hasn’t pro­duced a clas­sic hor­ror film, but sev­eral of its en­tries have of­fered some reliable scares and solid film­mak­ing. The Nun, a pre­quel based around the creepy nun who has pe­ri­od­i­cally ap­peared in other in­stall­ments, is not one of those films. It takes us back to a con­vent in 1950s Ro­ma­nia, where Fa­ther Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sis­ter Irene (Taissa Farmiga, sis­ter of se­ries star Vera Farmiga) travel to in­ves­ti­gate the ap­par­ent sui­cide of a young nun. They don’t find many peo­ple there, but soon discover that some­thing evil is afoot and the de­mon Valak is re­spon­si­ble. Direc­tor Corin Hardy tries to pack the movie with scares for the full run­ning time, whereas most good hor­ror movies let view­ers spend much of the time in the nor­mal world while slowly in­tro­duc­ing the aw­ful into the ev­ery­day. A whole film of two peo­ple wan­der­ing a dark, empty monastery with a jump scare thrown in ev­ery cou­ple of min­utes gets bor­ing very quickly. Rated R. 96 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Robert Ker)

PEP­PER­MINT

In 2008, Taken rein­vig­o­rated the ac­tion genre by ap­ply­ing a well-known mid­dle-aged ac­tor (Liam Nee­son) to a hard­core ac­tion movie. This for­mula has since been repli­cated many times, but rarely by the Taken direc­tor, Pierre Morel, him­self. Here, Morel tells a re­venge story about a woman (Jen­nifer Garner) whose fam­ily is mur­dered by gang mem­bers. When a cor­rupt le­gal sys­tem re­fuses to give her jus­tice, she takes it into her own hands, dis­ap­pear­ing for years and re-emerg­ing as a highly trained killing force. Rated R. 102 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Not re­viewed)

THE PREDA­TOR

Film­maker Shane Black re­turns to his roots with the

Preda­tor fran­chise (he got one of his big breaks play­ing a role in the orig­i­nal 1987 film), co-writ­ing and di­rect­ing a story about a mil­i­tary sniper (Boyd Hol­brook) who en­coun­ters a space­ship with a preda­tor alien. When he mails some of the ex­trater­res­trial tech back to his kid (Ja­cob Trem­blay), the two discover that more preda­tors are com­ing, and that they’ve evolved to be­come even more dan­ger­ous. De­spite the fact that Black’s trade­mark hu­mor and devil-may-care char­ac­ters are all in place, his plot tries to do far too much, at­tempt­ing to ex­pand the hokey mythol­ogy about the Preda­tor aliens and giv­ing the play­ers so much to do that their mo­ti­va­tions aren’t clear. The fran­chise’s whole con­cept is in the ti­tle: Aliens try to kill hu­mans, and hu­mans try to sur­vive. The more thought you put into a Preda­tor movie, the worse it will end up. Black put a lot of thought into this movie. Rated R. 107 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Robert Ker)

A SIM­PLE FA­VOR

Direc­tor Paul Feig (Brides­maids) turns his lens from com­edy to this thriller based on Darcey Bell’s novel. When Stephanie (Anna Ken­drick), a wid­owed mommy vlog­ger, meets Emily (Blake Lively) at their sons’ ele­men­tary school in the Con­necti­cut sub­urbs, sparks of in­sta-friend­ship fly. To Stephanie, Emily seems to have it all — a top job as PR head for a Tom Ford-es­que de­signer, a best­selling novelist hus­band, Sean (Henry Gold­ing), and a beau­ti­ful home. When Emily sud­denly goes miss­ing, Stephanie plays de­tec­tive, sus­pect­ing Sean of foul play even as she finds her­self be­com­ing in­ti­mate with him. There’s plenty to like about this campy and byzantine plot, and both ac­tresses clearly have a ball, with Lively mostly repris­ing her “Gos­sip Girl” role as a rich bitch with a black heart and Ken­drick over­play­ing the role of the seem­ingly mousy best friend. But the movie has a genre iden­tity cri­sis, never fully com­mit­ting to ei­ther dark com­edy or semi-cheesy psy­cho­log­i­cal thrills. As we delve deeper into the ques­tion of just who Emily ac­tu­ally is, the film be­gins to feel dum­ber than it should, given the com­pelling ma­te­rial and the cast’s tal­ents. It’s a fun ride, to be sure, and never dull, but A Sim­ple Fa­vor feels over­shad­owed by missed op­por­tu­ni­ties. Rated R. 117 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Molly Boyle)

SMALL­FOOT

The Big­foot leg­end is turned on its head in this an­i­mated story about a Yeti sci­en­tist (voiced by Chan­ning Ta­tum) who be­comes con­vinced that hu­mans, known to the Yeti clan as the myth­i­cal “Small­foot,” are real. His sus­pi­cions are con­firmed when he en­coun­ters a Small­foot in the form of a for­mer TV per­son­al­ity (James Cor­den), and he at­tempts to present ev­i­dence of his dis­cov­ery to the Small­foot Ev­i­den­tiary So­ci­ety (led by a sci­en­tist voiced by Zen­daya). Danny DeVito, Com­mon, and LeBron James also pro­vide voice­work. Rated PG. 96 min­utes. Screens in 2D and 3D at Re­gal Sta­dium 14; in 2D at Vi­o­let Crown. (Not re­viewed)

THE SUN AT MID­NIGHT

This fa­ble filmed at the Arctic Cir­cle cen­ters on Lia (Dev­ery Ja­cobs), a teenager who is forced to spend the sum­mer with her Gwich’in grand­mother (Sarah Jerome) in a re­mote town in Canada’s North­west Ter­ri­to­ries af­ter her mother’s death. When she tries to flee, she be­comes lost un­til she runs into Al­fred (Duane Howard), a Gwich’in hunter. The two re­luc­tantly bond, and Lia grows closer to her an­ces­tral her­itage — and soon, it is Al­fred who must rely on her to sur­vive. Not rated. 93 min­utes. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Not re­viewed)

THE WIFE

The fam­ily dy­namic is ev­i­dent from the start. Joe Castle­man (Jonathan Pryce), a world-fa­mous novelist who has just won the No­bel Prize, is boy­ish, vain, im­pul­sive. Joan (Glenn Close), his wife of forty years, is ma­ture, self-ef­fac­ing, long-suf­fer­ing, and wise. A lot of this melo­drama, di­rected by Björn Runge, is both heavy of hand and puz­zlingly un­con­vinc­ing as re­gards its in­sights into a writer’s life. Its main thrust is the lack of re­spect and op­por­tu­nity for a woman in the writ­ing field, and Joan’s sub­li­ma­tion of her own tal­ent to the role of the Great Man’s Wife. Its three leads lift this story from a self-pity­ing pot­boiler to a film to be reck­oned with. Pryce, along with Christian Slater as Joe’s would-be bi­og­ra­pher, turn in nu­anced and ex­cel­lent per­for­mances. But it’s Close’s pic­ture, and the close-ups of her face re­veal many-chap­tered nov­els of hid­den emo­tion play­ing out be­neath a care­fully com­posed sur­face as she en­dures her hus­band’s pec­ca­dil­loes and his fawn­ing trib­utes. It’s a ca­reer per­for­mance, and one that’s al­ready gen­er­at­ing Os­car buzz for this six-time nom­i­nee who’s never landed the prize. The film may not be wor­thy of her, but she makes it worth our while. Rated R. 100 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

You las­civ­i­ous mon­ster, you: Tom Hardy in Venom, at Re­gal Sta­dium 14 and Vi­o­let Crown

Shades of Salem: Maggie Mu­lubwa in I Am Not a Witch, at The Screen

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.