FILM NEWS: AUG. 29 - SEPT. 4 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

FILM NEWS: AUG. 29 - SEPT. 4 

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

After the Wedding 2.5 Stars
Every Michelle Williams lead role inspires the thought "Michelle Williams should get more lead roles." She makes for a pretty solid distaff Mads Mikkelsen in Bart Freundlich's gender-swapped English-language remake of Susanne Bier's 2006 drama, starring as Isabelle, manager of an orphanage in India who is summoned to New York by millionaire media tycoon Theresa (Julianne Moore) to be considered for a sizable donation. There are secrets to be uncovered—involving Theresa's husband, Oscar (Billy Crudup) and their newlywed daughter Grace (Abby Quinn)—but a lot of the angst behind those secrets is more distracting than enriching, and it's disappointing to see a reference to a character's mental-health issues brought up only to be immediately discarded. But Williams' performance is beautifully tangled in knots of uncertainty; she does as much with a cluck of the tongue when she senses she's being shamed as Moore does with some Capital-A Acting involving drunken rants and ugly-crying. Like Bier, Freundlich stumbles when trying to make the premise's inherent melodrama feel deathly serious; it's still worth watching Williams, a performer who simply doesn't know how to take a single on-screen moment for granted. Opens Aug. 30 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (PG-13)—Scott Renshaw

Cold Case Hammarskjold 3.5 Stars
The provocateur showmanship of director Mads Brügger gets tied up in our collective fascination with conspiracy theories in a film so tenuously on the edge of "documentary" that Brügger pre-emptively apologizes for its potential craziness. His ostensible subject is an investigation into the 1961 death of U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld in a plane crash, one that has long been the subject of speculation that it involved foul play. Along the way, Brügger digs up information—at times literally—about a mysterious man named Keith Maxwell and his shadowy paramilitary organization, using dramatic ambush tactics to try to get people to talk. But as undeniably entertaining as it is watching him rake this particular muck, and potentially land a first-hand witness to events built on white supremacy and secret government operations, it's also clear that Brügger is concerned with the dramatic presentation of his material—like arbitrarily deciding to use two different secretaries to transcribe his exposition—as much as he is with the truth of it. It's a weirdly satisfying cautionary tale about taking a story at face value just because it's coming from a talented storyteller. Opens Aug. 30 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (NR)—SR

Don't Let Go 2 Stars
David Oyelowo, the soulful actor who played Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma a few years ago, deserves mainstream success if he wants it, and tossing off a few crowd-pleasing potboilers might seem like the way to get it. But while Don't Let Go—retitled since it's 2019 Sundance premiere as Relive starts with a perfectly good premise—it soon turns into a formulaic police procedural with the most obvious, easily-guessed resolution. The hook is irresistible, though: LAPD detective Jack Radcliff (Oyelowo) is surprised to get a phone call from his recently-murdered niece, Ashley (Storm Reid), calling from three days before she and her parents were killed. Uncle Jack eventually takes advantage of the time warp to try to prevent the murders, but not before spending a combined seven or eight minutes (or so it feels) staring agape at the caller ID. Writer-director Jacob Estes (Mean Creek, The Details) quickly loses interest in his sci-fi/fantasy conceit and defaults to disappointingly mundane dirty-cop, this-conspiracy-goes-all-the-way-to-the-top detective tropes that don't do anyone any favors. Oyelowo is magnetic, though, even when stumbling around panicked and dumbfounded. Opens Aug. 30 at theaters valleywide. (R)—Eric D. Snider

Lake's 7 and the Golden Gun
[not yet reviewed]
Heist comedy-drama ensues when a security technician is blackmailed into stealing a valuable video-game controller. Opens Aug. 30 at Megaplex Theaters. (PG)

The Nightingale 3 Stars
The Babadook writer-director Jennifer Kent crafts a different kind of horror narrative out of a different kind of trauma. In early 19th-century Australia, Irish-born convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi) suffers unfathomable loss at the hands of the local army commander Hawkins (Sam Claflin), then enlists the aid of aboriginal tracker Billy (Byakali Ganambarr) to lead her on her quest for vengeance. At its core, this is a vigilante justice narrative, leading off with graphic, trigger-warning-worthy sexual violence. But this isn't so much a #MeToo narrative as it is a monster movie where the creature is rapacious colonialism, exploring the many kinds of victims who experience pain and loss as a result of its twisted sense of entitlement. Franciosi makes for a ferocious heroine, while Claflin and his fellow soldiers become one-dimensional villains in a way that oversimplifies the legacy of an entire philosophy of domination. The powerful, graphic moments—and the unexpected friendship between Clare and Billy—cut through an overlong, sometimes grueling running time to tell a tale of longing for what has been taken away by force. Opens Aug. 30 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—SR

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

Cannibal: The Musical
At Tower Theater, Aug. 30-31, 11 p.m. & Sept. 1, noon. (R)

Dykes, Camera, Action
At Main Library, Sept. 3, 7 p.m. (NR)

CURRENT RELEASES

Angel Has Fallen 2.5 Stars
The ... Has Fallen movies have been so resolute in their throwback patriotic machismo that it's disorienting to get a whiff of the red meat-less meal this installment serves up as Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is implicated in an assassination attempt on the president (Morgan Freeman), and goes into hiding to clear his name. There are more than a few whiffs of The Fugitive, and the action is simple and straightforward while serving up a fairly obvious conspiracy. The story also leans into the physical and psychological costs of becoming a human weapon, emphasized by Nick Nolte's solid role as Banning's survivalist/Vietnam vet dad. Plenty of things—and people—get blown up or shot up real good, but instead of making Banning's antagonist some non-American extremist, here the threat is America's own history of endless warfare. (R)—SR

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 

Good Boys 3 Stars
A decade-plus on from the distasteful celebration of toxic male teenhood that was Superbad, here's a supergood, 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)—MaryAnn Johanson

David Crosby: Remember My Name 3 Stars
A lot of music history swirls through director A.J. Eaton's documentary, but it truly comes into focus when its subject speaks in the present tense. Producer Cameron Crowe serves as the behind-the-camera interviewer asking David Crosby to reflect on his life and career, juxtaposed with 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. (R)—SR

Luce 4 Stars
Ten years ago, a wealthy white American couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) adopted a former African child soldier; 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 opportunity he and his adoptive parents have worked hard to build—and if so, why? Family drama morphs 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. Director Julius Onah, working from J.C. Lee's play, surreptitiously elides the biases of his characters with our own. This challenging film is as much about viewer response as it is about where the story goes—a provocative litmus test that lets no one off the hook. (R)—MAJ

Ready or Not 3 Stars
Samara Weaving plays Grace, a young woman who has married the heir (Mark O'Brien) of a board- and parlor-game empire, only to learn that she's expected to play a wedding-night "initiation" game—one that if you lose, you die. Co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have stylish fun with their spooky house setting and Weaving's appropriately freaked-out heroine, and display an effectively dark sense of humor. But at its core, this is an unapologetic smack in the face of one-percenters, painting their gains as earned entirely from their willingness to destroy others; even platitudes about "family" and "tradition" become hollow excuses for self-preservation. Some opportunities for tension-building are sacrificed for expository chatter, and tension sags in the final half-hour. But what Ready or Not lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in a gleefully grotesque middle finger at homicidal rapacity. (R)—SR

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