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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)

THE MEG 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) You’re go­ing to need a big­ger boat to land the lat­est shark to stalk sum­mer cin­ema: It’s the Car­char­o­don Mega­lodon, a 75-foot-long be­he­moth that was long thought to be ex­tinct. This mon­ster is so mas­sive and dan­ger­ous that a hero no less rugged than Ja­son Statham is re­quired to stop it. Statham is Jonas Tay­lor, a res­cue diver who at­tempts to save the trapped crew of an un­der­sea ob­ser­va­tory when he en­coun­ters the shark. Li Bing­bing plays his young daugh­ter, and Rainn Wil­son plays the bil­lion­aire who ac­ci­den­tally un­leashes the Mega­lodon with his am­bi­tious un­der­wa­ter ob­ser­va­tion pro­gram. Rated PG-13. 113 min­utes. Screens in 2D only at Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (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; Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

PEP­PER­MINT

In 2008, Taken rein­vig­o­rated the ac­tion genre by ap­ply­ing a well­known 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 mil­tary 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; Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

SEARCH­ING

When teenage Margot Kim (Michelle La) dis­ap­pears, her fa­ther (John Cho) en­lists the help of a de­tec­tive (De­bra Mess­ing) and goes through Margot’s lap­top to fig­ure out what hap­pened to her. As he slowly con­tacts ev­ery­one in her so­cial me­dia con­tact lists, he dis­cov­ers that his daugh­ter is not who he thought she was. Co-writer and di­rec­tor Aneesh Cha­ganty shot the film en­tirely from the per­spec­tive of com­puter, tablet, and smart­phone screens. Rated PG-13. 102 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Not re­viewed) A SIM­PLE FA­VOR Di­rec­tor Paul Feig (Brides­maids) turns his lens from his usual comedic fare 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. The two women hit it off, and 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) WHITE BOY RICK In 1980s Detroit, Richard Wer­she Jr. (Richie Merritt) be­came the youngest FBI in­for­mant ever at age four­teen. He also traf­ficked drugs and be­came an in­flu­en­tial drug dealer be­fore get­ting ar­rested in 1987, while still a teenager. This movie tells the story of those busy years, with Matthew McConaughey play­ing his fa­ther, who was a hustler him­self. Jen­nifer Ja­son Leigh, Piper Lau­rie, Bruce Dern, and a few peo­ple from the rap com­mu­nity (in­clud­ing YG and Danny Brown) also star. Rated R. 110 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (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 self­pi­ty­ing 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. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts; Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

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