‘Youth’ a vis­ually lux­u­ri­ous, yet puz­zling tale

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MOVIE LISTINGS - By John Bei­fuss

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.

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