FILM NEWS: AUG. 22-28 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

FILM NEWS: AUG. 22-28 

New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Releases

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NEW THIS WEEK

Film release schedules are subject to change. Reviews online at cityweekly.net

Angel Has Fallen 2.5 Stars
Opens Aug. 23 at theaters valleywide. (R)

David Crosby: Remember My Name 3 Stars
There's a lot of history—both the personal history of the film's subject, and the history of an entire era in American popular music history—swirling through director A.J. Eaton's documentary, but it truly comes into focus when it lets that subject speak in the present tense. Producer Cameron Crowe serves as the behind-the-camera interviewer asking David Crosby to reflect on his life and career, from his days as founding member of The Byrds to his long-time association with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young. We get a chance to see the then-72-year-old Crosby on tour, his voice still strong and resonant despite battles with drug abuse and health scares that should have had him in the ground years ago. Yet the real resonance here comes when Crosby gets brutally honest in his self-reflection, contemplating how many people his behavior over the years has alienated. As interesting as it is to reflect on the half-century in the public eye that led up to this film, it's kind of heartbreaking to watch a compulsive screw-up face the twilight of his life with such a profound sense of regret. Opens Aug. 23 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—Scott Renshaw

Luce 4 Stars
Ten years ago, a wealthy white American couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) adopted a former child soldier from an African war zone. Today, Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a high-school star athlete and soon-to-be valedictorian. But is one of his teachers (Octavia Spencer) trying to scupper the life of promise and opportunity he and his adoptive parents have worked so hard to build—and if so, why? Before you realize it, family drama has morphed into psychological suspense as we struggle to determine where the truth lies among secondhand accounts of disturbing adolescent wrongdoing and warring notions of racial and cultural identity, acceptance and assimilation, among Luce and his friends, as well as the adults around them. Director Julius Onah, working from J.C. Lee's play, announces himself as a major new talent with this, his third feature, as he surreptitiously elides the biases, preconceptions and delusions of his characters with our own. This challenging film is as much about us as we digest it as it is about where the story goes. It's a provocative litmus test that lets no one off the hook. Opens Aug. 23 at theaters valleywide. (R)—MaryAnn Johanson

One Child Nation 3.5 Stars
Inspired by her own role as a new mother, Chinese-American director Nanfu Wang explores the era of her childhood in China—the time in the 1980s and 1990s when the government enforced a strict "one child per family" population-control policy. What she finds is deeply disturbing—tales of forced abortions and sterilizations—and she isn't reluctant to use unsettling images to drive the terrible events home. But that's practically just the prologue, as Wang finds herself down a rabbit hole of how Chinese state orphanages turned mandatory family-size austerity into a for-profit enterprise, selling babies—mostly girls—to overseas adoptions. There are fascinating moments of cultural observation, from the unsurprising results when every family wants their one child to be a boy to the kinds of propaganda employed by the Chinese government to drive its policy home. But One Child Family finds its emotional hook in the consequences of a government controlling reproductive freedom, including separating twins and punishing uncooperative parents. While one Utah family works at creating a database that might potentially reunite children with birth families, there's still the disturbing reality of what divided them in the first place. Opens Aug. 23 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—SR

Overcomer
[not yet reviewed]
Faith-based drama of a high school coach facing personal and professional upheaval. Opens Aug. 23 at theaters valleywide. (PG)

Ready or Not
[not yet reviewed]
A prospective bride (Samara Weaving) faces a terrifying initiation "game" at the hands of her future in-laws. Opens Aug. 21 at theaters valleywide. (R)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

A Quest for Meaning
At Main Library, Aug. 27, 7 p.m. (NR)

Tank Girl
At Tower Theater, Aug. 23-24, 11 p.m. & Aug. 25, noon. (R)

CURRENT RELEASES

The Angry Birds Movie 2 1 Star
Why Angry Birds 2? Because the first one made some money, and there's built-in name recognition. That's it. This time out, the Birds That Don't Fly (except by catapult) join forces with the enemy green pigs from another remote island to repel an assault by the eagles of yet another island none of them knew about before. This assault is led by Zeta (Leslie Jones), for no apparent reason other than a jilted romance that left her bitter. Just like a woman! Red (Jason Sudeikis) will lead the Angry Birds, only proving that he should have, in fact, left all leadership duties to smart, capable Silver (Rachel Bloom). But never fear! Male-coded animated characters remain resolutely at the center of this faux-woke narrative, which wants to have its male protagonist and its nods to feminism at the same time. (PG)—MAJ

Blinded By the Light 2.5 Stars
Director Gurinder Chadha returns to the crowd-pleasing generational-culture-clash comedy of Bend It Like Beckham, but rarely breaks free of formulaic plot dynamics. In 1987 in the small English town of Luton, Pakistani-British teen Javed (Viveik Kalra), who longs to be a writer, finds a spokesman for his dreams when a friend turns him on to the music of Bruce Springsteen. At times, Chadha appears on the verge of turning the film into a juke-Boss musical, with the best sequences involving exuberant song-and-dance numbers. But while Kalra makes for an endearing protagonist, he's stuck in a movie that hits every obvious beat involving tradition-bound first-generation immigrant parents. Attempts to provide political significance with the inclusion of anti-immigrant sentiment in Thatcher-era Britain never feel fully integrated into the too-familiar rhythms of a kid who's got to get out while he's young. (PG-13)—SR 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw 2.5 stars
Two supporting tough guys from the Fast & Furious franchise get a blithe spinoff that keeps with the F&F aesthetic by disregarding the laws of physics and ultimately declaring itself to be about "family." The CIA recruits government agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and British ex-spy Shaw (Jason Statham) to work together—though they ostensibly hate each other—along with Shaw's sister/rogue MI6 agent (Vanessa Kirby) to stop a deadly virus from falling into the hands of a semi-bionic bad guy (Idris Elba). Shaw used to be a villain, but all is forgiven now, I guess. He and Hobbs squabble amusingly, and director David Leitch carries off well-choreographed fight sequences and chases. But everything in between, especially Hobbs' tacked-on family issues, is tedious, and it overstays its welcome by a good 30 minutes. Like I said, it's a Fast & Furious movie. (PG-13)—Eric D. Snider

Good Boys 3 Stars
A decade-plus on from the distasteful celebration of toxic male teenhood that was Superbad, here's a super good, unexpectedly sweet celebration of modern ascendant malehood. Three sixth-grade boys (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon) spend a day ditching school to vie against older teen girls (Midori Francis and Molly Gordon) in a complicated plot involving drones, the mildest sort of party drugs and trying to reach a grade-school "kissing party." Mostly it's about worrying that, at the tender age of 11, one might become a "social piranha," about securing consent to engage in any physical contact with another kid, and about ensuring that nothing one is doing constitutes bullying. These kids today, with their physical and psychological boundaries! "We're not kids, we're tweens!" they declare, staking a claim on a developmental stage that we adults never even realized existed. (R)—MAJ

Where'd You Go, Bernadette 2.5 Stars
Richard Linklater's adaptation of Maria Semple's novel casts Cate Blanchett as Bernadette Fox—once a rising star as an architect, now a generally anti-social mess adored by her daughter, Bee (Emma Nelson), and a source of confusion to her husband (Billy Crudup). The story provides a gradually unfolding explanation behind Bernadette's neuroses, offering depth to the character but also occasionally indulging Blanchett's predilection for playing to the balcony seats. Eventually, Bernadette vanishes—a development that opens the novel, and turns it into a mystery with Bee trying to understand her mother as a person. It comes as a shock in this much more chronological narrative when Bee says of her mother, "We live for each other;" while this version provides a solid story of stifled creativity, it doesn't center the mother-daughter dynamic in a way that allows for emotional closure. (PG-13)—SR

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