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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Movie Reviews: New Releases for July 10

Greyhound, The Old Guard, Palm Springs, Relic and more
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets ***1/2 The concept is so simple, it's almost comical: Bill and Turner Ross (Tchoupitoulas, Western) spend 24 hours at a Las Vegas dive bar called Roaring 20s, which also happens to be the last 24 hours before the bar closes its doors for the last time. Except it’s not so simple, because they shot their “documentary” in New Orleans with a non-professional “cast.” With their signature observational style, the Ross brothers introduce us to collection of employees and regulars as indelible as any fictional creation: Shay, the tough bartender who's also trying to keep an eye on her teen son; David, perpetually looking to get someone to fight him; Pam, who's proud enough of her “60-year-old titties” to show them off; and especially Michael, an ex-actor who for all practical purposes lives at the bar.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Movie Reviews: New Releases for July 3

Hamilton, The Truth, John Lewis: Good Trouble, Aviva
Aviva ***1/2 Writer/director Boaz Yakin takes one of storytelling’s simplest setups—"boy meets girl”—and transforms it into something radically fascinating by making it “boy who’s also sometimes a girl meets girl who’s also sometimes a boy.” The more familiar modern spin is that Eden and Aviva fall for one another first as transatlantic email pen pals before beginning a tumultuous romance; Yakin complicates things further by double-casting both roles, with Eden (Tyler Phillips and Bobbi Jene Smith) and Aviva (Zina Zinchenko and Or Schraiber) alternately played by male and female actors (and occasionally the childhood or adolescent versions of themselvess). And that’s only the beginning of the formal hijinks Yakin is up to, as he also includes elaborate dance sequences, a meta-textual awareness by everyone involved that we’re watching a filmed version of their story, and plenty of full frontal nudity and graphic sex.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Movie Reviews: New Releases for June 26

Eurovision Song Contest, My Spy, Irresistible and more
The Audition *** In a character study that walks a precarious tightrope between ambiguous and merely opaque, it’s left to the acting subtlety of Nina Hoss to find safe ground—which she’s more than capable of accomplishing. Hoss plays Nina, a violin teacher at a Berlin conservatory who takes a passionate interest in mentoring scholarship student Alexander (Ilja Monti), even to the detriment of her relationships with her husband (Simon Akbarian) and young son, Jonas (Serafin Mishiev).

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Movie Reviews: New Releases for June 19

7500, Miss Juneteenth, Babyteeth, My Darling Vivian, For They Know Not What They Do
7500 ***1/2 Not gonna lie, folks: It’s a tricky one dealing with a story built around Islamist terrorist hijackers But first-time feature director Patrick Vollrath—who co-wrote the script with Senad Halilbasic—crafts such a profoundly intense experience that it’s hard to shake. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tobias Ellis, the first officer on a Berlin-to-Paris flight left alone and wounded to deal with the aftermath when hijackers attempt to storm the cockpit.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Movie Reviews: New Releases for June 12

Artemis Fowl, King of Staten Island, Da 5 Bloods, Sometimes Always Never
Artemis Fowl *1/2 Those who know Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl YA fantasy book series know the titular 12-year-old protagonist as a “criminal mastermind”—and without that anti-heroic edge, it’s hard to know what the hell was the point of this flaccid movie adaptation. Here, young Artemis (Ferdia Shaw) lives with his widowed antiquities-dealer father (Colin Farrell) in their seaside Irish mansion, and soon learns that Dad’s infatuation with the lore of fairies, dwarves and such is based on their very-real existence when a mysterious figure kidnaps Artemis Sr. and holds him for ransom for a super-powerful magical whatchamacallit.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Movie Reviews: New Releases for June 4

The Hottest August **1/2 I’m not saying director Brett Story came up with a title and an approach for this documentary, then assumed that the result would be something profound; I am saying it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that was the case. The Canadian-born filmmaker takes a wide-ranging journey through New York City in August 2017, stopping along the way to interview a broad demographic and socioeconomic range of people-on-the-street—from underemployed college grads to working-class folks, from single mothers to skater bros—asking them their expectations and concerns about the future.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Movie Reviews: New Releases for May 15

The Vast of Night, Clementine, Up from the Streets and more
Clementine *** “Coming of age” might not be the first descriptor that comes to mind for a story focusing on a woman in her 20s, but the way writer/director Lara Jean Gallagher incorporates that idea into her psychological drama is a lot of what makes it work. Otmara Merrero plays Karen, a 20-something woman unmoored by the breakup of her relationship with an older professional artist.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Movie Reviews: New Streaming Releases for May 8

How to Build a Girl, Spaceship Earth, Clementine and more
Capital in the Twenty-First Century ** The trick behind “lecture documentaries” is not to make them feel like lecture documentaries, but director Justin Pemberton barely even tries. His film is literally a history of capital spanning the past three centuries—from the age of monarchy and colonialism through the World Wars and into the present—as a parade of economists, writers and academics talk about how wealth has been either consolidated or dispersed at various times, depending upon political and sociological factors.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Movie Reviews: New Streaming Releases for May 1

Arkansas, The Infiltrators, Deerskin, The Wretched
Arkansas ** [on demand May 5] Remember the mid-to-late 1990s, when indie cinema was overflowing with Tarantino-copycat crime thrillers? It’s been long enough that one could almost be nostalgic for them.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Review: Trolls World Tour

A candy-colored gumdrop of a movie with just a bit of bite to it
Vague spoiler alert: In the universe of Trolls World Tour, gumdrops play an important role. That feels more than a bit metaphorically appropriate, because the Trolls movies are awash in candy-colored sweetness.

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