‘Youth’ a visually luxurious, yet puzzling tale
I didn’t watch the Miss Universe pageant on television this week, but if the winner or runner-up looked anything like the Miss Universe played by Romanian actress/ model Madalina Ghenea in “Youth,” it’s no wonder host Steve Harvey was tongue-tied. When this undraped wonder of anatomical harmony steps unhurriedly into a swimming pool near the end of the film, she provides not just a human complement to the beauty of the landscape and architecture but a reminder that even the most annoying movies usually contain a grace note or two.
Resplendent and fraudulent, “Youth” is the latest gusher of opulence from Italy’s Paolo Sorrentino, who won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for his previous movie, 2013’s “The Great Beauty,” the story of a celebrated writer drinking deep
vision of America, stick to “Anchorman” or “Ricky Bobby.” Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Olive Branch Cinema, Paradiso. Brooklyn (PG-13, 111 min.) ★★★★ Former child actress Saoirse Ronan emerges here as the quietest spellbinder in movies. She is in every scene of this simple, direct and emotionally overwhelming film, and she is so appealing that she becomes every viewer’s ideal: an ideal daughter, sister, employee, girlfriend and confidante. She’s also an ideal immigrant: a smart, modest, diligent young Irish woman who abandons from the decadent fountain of nightlife in Rome. If “Beauty” evoked Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” (1960), “Youth” takes its cue from the maestro’s “8 ½” (1963), about a director struggling with creative block. “Youth” divides this artist protagonist into two longtime friends, both pushing 80, who have reunited at a luxury spa in the Swiss Alps. The first is Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine), his collar tickled by the silver mane that identifies him as a classical music “longhair.” A past conductor of orchestras in London, New York and Vienna, “maestro” Ballinger is being coaxed out of retirement to play his beloved composition, “Simple Songs,” at a Buckingham Palace birthday concert for Prince Philip.
The other artist is film director Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel), who is preparing a final project titled “Life’s Last Day” that he says will be “my sentimental, intellectual and moral testament.”
what she later recognizes as her “calm and civilized and charming” homeland for the greener economic pastures, grayer vistas and melting-pot challenges of 1952 New York. Directed with remarkable focus and consistency of tone by John Crowley, working from a script by Nick Hornby, the movie makes virtues out of nostalgia and sentiment, and it’s old-fashioned enough to be un-cynical. Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Creed (PG-13, 132 min.) ★★★ ½ This movie — the seventh in the saga of Rocky Balboa, and the first to make Rocky a supporting player — scores a victory For the lead, he is wooing a Hollywood legend, played by Jane Fonda in a blond wig and garish makeup. (Fonda’s brief turn has inspired much misplaced talk about a Supporting Actress nomination.)
Sharing the hotel with our artists are various eccentrics, grotesques, celebrities and Buddhist monks. There’s an obese former soccer star with a tattoo portrait of Karl Marx covering his back; a skinny masseuse with braces and Alfred E. Neuman ears; an old couple who never speak to each
for commercial American filmmaking. Reuniting two years after the remarkable, fact-based “Fruitvale Station,” writer-director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan tell another story about an earnest young AfricanAmerican asserting his identity in a society eager to dismiss or stereotype him. A foster-care orphan ultimately raised in luxury by Apollo’s widow (Phylicia Rashad), Adonis rejects the silver spoon for the padded gloves: He travels to Philadelphia, to recruit the aging Rocky to be his trainer. Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Holly- other; a young method actor (Paul Dano) groomed to resemble the “Easy Rider”-era Dennis Hopper. The film reaches its flabbergasting nadir when this unhappy movie star appears in full Hitler costume, moaning that he wants to make movies that promote “desire,” not “horror.” Also present is Rachel Weisz as Fred’s aggrieved daughter, whose presence spurs the film’s copious talk of memory, family failure, and so on.
Freeze frame by freeze frame, “Youth” is something of a wow, like the photography in a Condé Nast magazine: Such mountains! Such furniture! Such cows! But set these pictures in motion, accompanied by Sorrentino’s dialogue (“We’re all just extras,” Mick observes of humankind’s role on the stage of life), and the result is tedium
wood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Olive Branch Cinema, Paradiso, Summer Quartet Drive-in, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Diwale (Not rated, 158 min.) A musical and romantic Hindi-language actioncomedy. Collierville Towne 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema. The Good Dinosaur (PG, 100 min.) ★★★ ½ Set in a world of talking agrarian dinosaurs (the ones we meet are farmers, ranchers and rovers), this deceptively simple coming-of-age adventure may be Pixar’s oddest film. Motivated by the archetypal Disney trauma (the death of a parent), it’s part frontier survival saga, — an exhausted gorgeousness (with Felliniesque intrusions of the surreal) that suggests Sorrentino would be the dullest yet most selfabsorbed dinner guest imaginable.
The movie ends with an extended orchestra performance of Fred’s so-called “Simple Songs,” but Sorrentino doesn’t let us observe and listen, even though the entire movie has been leading to this moment. Instead, he uses the symphony footage as a backdrop for the slowly parceled out final credits, which are timed to appear in such a way that we wonder if Sorrentino imagines the audience will give each name its own standing ovation.
“Youth” is exclusively at the Malco Ridgeway Cinema Grill, Jane Fonda is a Hollywood legend in “Youth”, donning a blond wig and garish makeup.
part vision quest and part “Born Free,” as a clumsy young Brontosaurus-like sauropod named Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) struggles to return to his family farm, accompanied by a tagalong “pet”: a snarling but faithful young feral human (or “critter”) that Arlo dubs “Spot.” Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Olive Branch Cinema, Paradiso, Summer Quartet Drive-in, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Goosebumps (PG, 103 min.) HHH The idea that books are full of life is literalized to funny-scary effect in this kid-oriented specialeffects adventure in which the original manuscripts of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series of children’s horror best-sellers spring open like so many paperbound Pandora’s boxes, releasing the Abominable Snowman of Peoria, the Werewolf of Fever Swamp, a giant praying mantis, mischievous lawn gnomes and — best of all — Slappy, the living ventriloquist’s dummy.
Bartlett 10. Hotel Transylvania 2 (PG, 89 min.) Drac (voiced by Adam Sandler) is back. Bartlett 10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 (PG-13, 136 min.) HHH The finale of the overlong but impressive “Hunger Games” saga (expanded to four films from Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of books) affirms Katniss Everdeen’s status as probably the most significant of the reluctant teen heroes who have battled adult tyranny in the fantasy and sciencefiction movie series of the past several decades (and no, I’m not forgetting Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter). As forcefully embodied by statuesque Jennifer Lawrence, he poor girl turned exploited “victor” turned celebrity freedom fighter has been an intense symbol of the revolutionary impulse in general and female power in particular, her signature bow and arrow recalling both Robin Hood (champion of the oppressed) and Diana (goddess of the hunt). Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Olive Branch Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema. The Intern (PG-13, 121 min.) HHH A 70-yearold widower (Robert De Niro) becomes “senior intern” to the workaholic founder (Anne Hathaway) of an e-commerce fashion business in this typically unchallenging yet surprisingly effective comedy-drama of intergenerational cooperation.
Bartlett 10. In the Heart of the Sea (PG-13, 122 min.) The reallife whale tale that inspired “Moby Dick” becomes an action-spectacle from director Ron Howard. Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Krampus (PG-13, 98 min.) A Christmas demon turns ho-ho-ho into ho-ho-horror. Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Olive Branch Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Summer Quartet Drive-in, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. The Last Witch Hunter (PG-13, 106 min.) HH As nonchalant, confident and (not coincidentally) muscled as ever, Vin Diesel is an immortal warrior charged with enforcing the ancient truce between humans and witches in this dull and derivative franchise nonstarter, directed, like traffic, by Breck Eisner (“Sahara”). Bartlett 10. The Martian (PG-13, 141 min.) HHH Matt Damon struggles to survive.
Bartlett 10. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (PG-13, 131 min.) HH ½ Breathless sci-fi.
Bartlett 10. Minions (PG, 91 min.) HHH Divorced from the be-thankful-for-family message that motivates the “Despicable Me” movies, this first solo outing and origin story for the animation franchise’s lozenge-shaped yellow scene-stealers improves on its predecessors: It’s a Looney Tunes-esque loopde-loop of nonstop funny noises and sight gags, jarred only by the speed bump of “characterization” (Sandra Bullock gives a dull vocal
Theodore, Alvin and Simon go on a wild “road chip” in “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.”
performance as supervillainess Scarlet Overkill, while Jon Hamm tries too hard as Scarlet’s mod Brit husband, Herb). Bartlett 10. Sisters (R, 118 min.) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler offer some “Star Wars” counterprogramming. Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Olive Branch Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Ridgeway Cinema Grill, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square. Spotlight (R, 128 min.) HHH Director Tom Mccarthy’s gripping ensemble drama is the rare movie that depicts the practice of daily newspaper journalism as the dogged and often document-based enterprise it is, without car chases, gunbattles or (excessive) wisecracks; essentially a procedural, the film rarely detours from its reporters’ tracks as it dramatizes The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé of the Catholic Church’s coverup of the sexual abuse of children by priests, described as “a culture of secrecy that tolerates and even protects pedophiles.” Michael Keaton is the investigative team’s “playercoach”; Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Mcadams are lead reporters; Stanley Tucci is the lawyer who becomes a key source. The film is smart and stirring, but unlike its predecessor, “All the President’s Men,” it’s more inspirational than provocative; it never evokes a sense that the journalists have uncovered not just the facts of a conspiracy but a sickness of the national soul.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (PG-13, 136 min.) HHH ½ Director J.J. Abrams’ record-shattering return to George Lucas’ space-opera universe is a canny crowdpleaser of reversals, replays and reveals: Reversals of first-trilogy themes (the villain rather than the hero is being tempted to cross to the opposing side of the Force); replays of almost 40-year-old highlights (another dogfight attack on a Death Star, re-imagined as Starkiller Base); and reveals that defy not audience expectations but series precedent (a storm trooper is black; a Luke-like desert scavenger is female; a masked evildoer proves un-hideous). A diversity that embraces more than special-effects aliens is very welcome in a franchise that shows no signs of relinquishing its hold on the popular imagination, but the movie’s adherence to formula otherwise is a bit of a letdown. Still, Abrams proves a deft juggler of actors both old (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher) and new (Daisy Ridley is Forcefriendly Rey, John Boyega is expat storm trooper Finn), and relieved fans will echo the words uttered by C-3PO when the droid reunites with R2D2: “Oh my dear friend, how I’ve missed you.” Cineplanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), Desoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Olive Branch Cinema (in 3-D), Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-in. The 33 (PG-13, 120 min.)
A drama inspired by the true survival story of the 33 workers trapped by the collapsed of a Chilean mine. Bartlett 10. Trumbo (R, 124 min.) HH ½ Inspired by defiant screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s struggle with the anti-communist crusaders who engineered the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s, this is a somewhat silly movie on a serious subject, with Bryan Cranston as the eloquent, eccentric Trumbo, a “swimming pool Soviet” whose work continued to win Oscars even when credited to various “fronts.” The film’s examination of the motives and impact of the government attempt to police free speech and discourage free thought is facile, but its “Saturday Night Live”-esque parade of improbable celebrity impersonations kept me entertained: You’d probably have to attend a Halloween party hosted by Turner Classic Movies to find a less convincing John Wayne (played by David James Elliott), Kirk Douglas (Dean O’gorman) or Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg, who steals every scene). The film makes all the right speeches, but “Austin Powers” veteran Jay Roach’s cheery direction presents a dark chapter in American history as the glamorous lark of a movie lover’s dreams. Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. The Visit (PG-13, 94 min.) HH ½ Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan gets scary again. Bartlett 10. War Room (PG, 120 min.) A faith film. Bartlett 10.