PICK OF THIS WEEK’S FILMS

The Herald Magazine - - Arts CINEMA -

SEARCH­ING (12A) THE MISE­D­U­CA­TION OF CAMERON POST (15)

A fa­ther’s quest to track down his miss­ing daugh­ter un­folds in over­lap­ping win­dows on a desk­top com­puter screen in this smartly ex­e­cuted thriller. Tap­ping into timely con­cerns about cy­ber­bul­ly­ing and so­cial me­dia peer pres­sure, Search­ing em­ploys the same stylis­tic con­ceit as 2014 su­per­nat­u­ral hor­ror Un­friended and its se­quel to test the bond be­tween a par­ent (John Cho) and 16-year-old child (Michelle La) in a 24-hour dig­i­tal age where ap­pear­ances can be dan­ger­ously de­cep­tive. Aneesh Cha­ganty’s script, co-writ­ten by Sev Oha­nian, in­vites us to piece to­gether ev­i­dence by fol­low­ing the dis­traught pa­ter fa­mil­ias’ cur­sor as he clicks on video files, ini­ti­ates a video con­fer­ence call or makes sev­eral wrong guesses at his daugh­ter’s pass­words. Ev­ery sec­ond could mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween the clos­ing shot of a funeral or a tear-filled re­union.

Based on a novel by Emily M Dan­forth, The Mise­d­u­ca­tion of Cameron Post chron­i­cles the dam­age wrought by a gay con­ver­sion ther­apy camp through the eyes of one girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), who wages a war of at­tri­tion against coun­sel­lors and dis­cov­ers her great­est weapons are her com­pas­sion and wit. The script skips nim­bly though an emo­tional mine­field of rag­ing hor­mones and ado­les­cent angst as tor­tured teenagers – known as dis­ci­ples – root out the source of their sup­posed im­per­fec­tion.

YARDIE (15)

Viewed against a dispir­it­ing back­drop of vi­o­lent crime across Lon­don, gritty com­ing-of-age story Yardie is the wrong film in the right place at the right time. Sadly. Adapted from a novel by Victor Headley, Idris Elba’s fea­ture di­rec­to­rial de­but is an un­even and emo­tion­ally un­sat­is­fy­ing drama set in 1970s Ja­maica and 1980s Lon­don.

The cast’s thick, melodic ac­cents ren­der some of the leaden di­a­logue in Brock Norman Brock and Martin Stell­man’s script un­in­tel­li­gi­ble and con­trib­ute to a lack of emo­tional in­vest­ment in char­ac­ters as they wres­tle with their de­sires.

THE HAP­PY­TIME MUR­DERS (15)

In 2003, Tony Award-win­ning mu­si­cal Av­enue Q imag­ined an al­ter­nate re­al­ity in which hu­mans and pup­pets co-ex­ist and two hand-op­er­ated felt char­ac­ters en­gage in vig­or­ous on-stage coitus. The Hap­py­time Mur­ders ar­rives woe­fully late to the same rau­cous, ex­ple­tive-laden party with­out the up­roar­i­ous laugh­ter. Di­rected by Brian Hen­son, whose fa­ther cre­ated The Mup­pets, this filthy-minded who­dunit dan­gles loosely on a cou­ple of out­landish sex scenes and a homage to Ba­sic In­stinct that ul­ti­mately serves a nar­ra­tive pur­pose. At one of the film’s ini­tial crime scenes, a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor is drawn to a curlicued cap­i­tal let­ter on a ran­som note and growls, “This mys­tery was brought to you by the let­ter P”.

The gumshoe is cor­rect: Hen­son’s film is puerile, piti­ful, potty mouthed, pre­dictable, pre­pos­ter­ous and po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect to the point of te­dium.

John David Washington and Laura Har­rier in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlans­man

LUIS AND THE ALIENS (U)

First con­tact with kooky ex­tra-ter­res­trial vis­i­tors is sec­ond-rate fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment in the com­puter-an­i­mated yarn, Luis and the Aliens. A 12-year-old boy flees a lonely ex­is­tence on Earth to live among the stars with a shape-shift­ing oth­er­worldly race. An emo­tion­ally mal­nour­ished script doesn’t earn the tears it wants us to shed as a grief-stricken son rec­on­ciles with his fa­ther and feud­ing neigh­bours unite to van­quish a mon­strous threat, side by side. Jeop­ardy and jest are in short order and vo­cal per­for­mances are one-note, to match the qual­ity of the writ­ing, which lan­guishes in the nar­ra­tive trac­tor beams of ET: The Ex­tra-Ter­res­trial and Home.

BLACKKKLANS­MAN (15)

Re­leased al­most ex­actly one year af­ter the Unite the Right rally in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, BlacKkKlans­man hand­cuffs racial di­vi­sions in present-day Amer­ica to the out­landish true story of a black po­lice de­tec­tive who in­fil­trated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. Di­rec­tor Spike Lee’s con­science-prick­ing satire on cor­rup­tion and big­otry is based on a mem­oir by re­tired Colorado Springs of­fi­cer Ron Stall­worth and walks a tightrope be­tween fact and stranger-than-fiction, seiz­ing ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to echo bat­tle­cries of the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Lee book­ends his call to arms with sick­en­ing footage from Char­lottesville of a car be­ing driven at speed into counter-pro­test­ers, which left one woman dead and others in­jured. The di­rec­tor oc­ca­sion­ally overeggs his de­li­ciously tart pud­ding, such as his choice to jux­ta­pose cli­mac­tic scenes of char­ac­ters chant­ing “Black Power” and “White Power”.

Scots Out­lander star Sam Heughan is used to find­ing him­self in odd spots, but play­ing an

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