Chile Pages

Pasatiempo - - ON THE COVER -

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)

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 school-shoot­ing 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. The Screen; Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (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)

LIFE IT­SELF

In this life­time-span­ning ro­mance, Os­car Isaac and Olivia Wilde play a cou­ple who fall in love, get mar­ried, and have chil­dren. Writer and di­rec­tor Dan Fo­gel­man uses this story to jump back­ward and for­ward in time, and even take view­ers to Spain (for a love story headed by An­to­nio Ban­deras) to show how events echo and re­ver­ber­ate through time and space. Mandy Patinkin, An­nette Ben­ing, and Olivia Cooke also star. Rated R. 118 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Not re­viewed)

THE MEG

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. (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)

PICK OF THE LIT­TER

There’s an omi­nous Or­wellian term for the dogs who wash out of the Guide Dogs for the Blind see­ing-eye pro­gram: “Ca­reer changed.” And the odds are tough. Less than 40 per­cent of the 800 pup­pies born into the pro­gram each year make the fi­nal cut. Di­rec­tors Dana Nach­man and Don Hardy trace the process from whelp­ing to pair­ing with se­lected blind re­cip­i­ents, with more than 1,000 an­nual ap­pli­cants hop­ing to be part­nered with one of the 300 or so dogs who make the grade. It’s not ex­actly “Chopped,” but there is a re­al­ity show sense of sus­pense and ri­valry that ex­tends to the train­ers and the view­ers, if not to the com­peti­tors them­selves. If it were enough to be cute, they would all pass with fly­ing col­ors, but the eval­u­a­tors look for much more. The pro­gram is in­spir­ing, the dogs are re­mark­able, the re­sults are ex­tra­or­di­nary; but as a movie, though Pick of the Lit­ter does its job, it doesn’t rise to the emo­tional level to which it as­pires. Still, there are plenty of “awwww” mo­ments, and dog lovers will find much to melt over. Not rated. 81 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

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)

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)

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. (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. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts; Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

Hold­ing it to­gether: Luc Ches­sel and Sev­er­ine Jon­c­k­eere in Milla, at Jean Cocteau Cin­ema

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