Spi­der-man: Into the Spi­der-verse

White Boy Rick

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - HILARY A WHITE HILARY A WHITE

Cert: PG; Now show­ing

The plan was this: Avengers: In­fin­ity War was to hold sway over 2018, with ev­ery other caped cru­sade or su­per-pow­ered es­capade doomed to be swept aside by the $2bn-gross­ing awe­some­ness of that be­he­moth.

No one told Sony, how­ever. Just as the year draws to a close, it slips in an an­i­mated of­fer­ing made for a frac­tion of the bud­get that is the most en­ter­tain­ing, dy­namic and in­no­va­tive su­per­hero release in yonks.

We meet young Miles Mo­rales (voiced by Shameik Moore), an Afro-latino teen and science whiz liv­ing in Brooklyn who is bit­ten by your typ­i­cal ra­dioac­tive spi­der. His world is nat­u­rally turned up­side down by the new pow­ers, and fol­low­ing a chance en­counter, he is taken un­der the wing of the real Spi­der-man (whose mojo has de­serted him).

Loom­ing in the un­der­world is hulk­ing crime boss King­pin, whose tam­per­ings with a por­tal zaps in a small and in­trigu­ing va­ri­ety of Spi­derMan equiv­a­lents from other di­men­sions. Miles needs to get up to speed quick on the Spi­derMan game if he is to help them de­feat King­pin and get home.

Nei­ther a spin-off nor a shameless jump­ing-off-point to some fran­chise as­sault, this is that rarest of things — a re­plete, self-con­tained Mar­vel film that daz­zles with wit, in­ge­nu­ity and heart. An all-star voice cast in­cludes Lily Tom­lin, Ma­her­shala Ali and Ni­co­las Cage. Vis­ually, this is a ma­jor spec­ta­cle of 2018 that brings us to new ter­ri­tory.

Cert: 15A; Now show­ing

The dif­fi­culty with any stun­ning de­but is how to fol­low it up. Yann De­mange’s de­but, ’ 71, was widely ac­claimed and de­servedly so. Four years later his sec­ond fea­ture, White Boy Rick, is per­haps suf­fer­ing in com­par­i­son, but I be­lieve it is also pay­ing the price for its sub­ject mat­ter.

Lo­gan and Noah Miller have writ­ten the film based on the true story of Rick Wer­she Jr who was 15 when he was re­cruited by the FBI as an in­for­mant. It was Detroit in 1985 and the height of a crack co­caine epi­demic against which Nancy Rea­gan was spear­head­ing a moral cru­sade. Rick (Richie Mer­ritt) lives with his gun-dealer fa­ther (Matthew Mc­conaughey) and, un­til she runs off, his dru­gad­dicted sis­ter Dawn (Bel Pow­ley). His nick­name comes from be­ing one of the few white kids in the gang led by Johnny Curry (Jonathan Ma­jors). FBI agents (Jen­nifer Ja­son Leigh and Rory Cochrane) re­cruit Rick by threat­en­ing to jail his fa­ther. They later set him up as a dealer and although he gets out, go­ing straight doesn’t of­fer many lu­cra­tive op­tions for blue-col­lar work­ers in de­pressed Detroit.

It is a bit long and the pacing is off in places but the char­ac­ters are re­al­is­tic and the per­for­mances re­ally good. Crit­i­cism of the film’s ap­par­ently am­bigu­ous moral­ity about drugs to me misses the point be­cause the film in­stead looks at how drugs-are-bad moral­is­ing con­ve­niently by­passed all other moral is­sues like class, race and re­cruit­ing chil­dren whose child­hood de­ci­sions would af­fect the rest of their lives.

Sorry To Bother You

Cert: 16; Now show­ing

A Faus­tian tale for the times we live in, with all the prisms of mod­ern racial dy­nam­ics (in the US, it must be stressed) at the fore­front. This is the pitch be­hind this dark satir­i­cal de­but from rap­per-turned-film­maker Boots Ri­ley, who brings some of his ex­pe­ri­ences of work­ing in tele­mar­ket­ing dur­ing his mu­sic/ po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism years.

Lakeith Stan­field ( Get Out) stars as Cas­sius, who fash­ions his own CV to get a crumby job in tele­sales.

There, he’s ad­vised to adopt a “white voice” to snag po­ten­tial cus­tomers. Once he mas­ters this, Cas­sius even­tu­ally be­comes a “pow­er­caller”, and is moved up­stairs to a lav­ish depart­ment pop­u­lated by beau­ti­ful, suc­cess­ful types. His per­for­mance artist girl­friend Detroit (Tessa Thomp­son) fears all this is com­ing at a cost, an ir­refutable fact when faced with Ar­mie Ham­mer’s Mephistophe­lean CEO.

Vis­ually and tonally, Sorry To Bother You is a one-off, and hope­fully her­alds the ar­rival of an un­ortho­dox new tal­ent. The re­lent­less fizz of ab­sur­dism might be too much for some palates, how­ever.

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