FILM NEWS: MAR. 14-20 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

FILM NEWS: MAR. 14-20 

New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Realeases

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NEW THIS WEEK

Captive State
[not yet reviewed]
Sci-fi drama set in Chicago, 10 years after an alien race has occupied earth. Opens March 15 at theaters valleywide. (PG-13)

Five Feet Apart
[not yet reviewed]
A romance between two teens (Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse) with cystic fibrosis is complicated by their illness. Opens March 15 at theaters valleywide. (PG-13)

Ruben Brandt, Collector BBB
See review on p. 43. Opens March 15 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)

Wonder ParK
[not yet reviewed]
A young girl's imagination comes to life at a fanciful amusement park. Opens March 15 at theaters valleywide. (PG)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

Primas
At Main Library, March 19, 7 p.m. (NR)

Stan & Ollie
At Park City Film Series, March 15-16, 8 p.m.; March 17, 6 p.m. (PG-13)

CURRENT RELEASES

Apollo 11 3.5 Stars
Every frame of Todd Douglas Miller's documentary about the NASA mission that took man to the moon is archival, finding astonishing you-are-there intensity in a 50-year-old event. Strewn throughout are wonderfully humanizing tidbits, from the crew's quips to photo montages reminding us that these three pioneers had childhoods, careers and families. And there are reminders of how monumental an undertaking this was, as we watch ground technicians sitting behind bank after bank of massive computers. There are certainly moments when the rapid-fire technical jargon becomes a lot to process. But it's a terrific achievement to make the countdown to ignition feel as fraught with consequence as if you didn't know the outcome. (G)—SR

Birds of Passage 2.5 Stars
Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego (2015's Embrace of the Serpent) again take on the corruption of indigenous peoples resulting from contact with the outside world—including, apparently, being too strongly influenced by that world's cinematic genres. Rapayet (José Acosta), an indigenous Wayúu of Colombia, finances the dowry for his wife by beginning a marijuana distribution operation. Unsurprisingly, drug dealing has consequences, and the story attempts to focus on how greed leads the Wayúu to violate cherished traditions. But while the narrative rarely lingers on mere cultural anthropology, it's too immersed in gangland drama clichés instead of giving Rapayet a distinctive personality. Guerra and Gallego do offer vivid imagery, which at least provides a specificity of place that the story can't always manage. (NR)—SR

Captain Marvel 2 Stars
Indie drama/episodic TV veterans Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck attempt to humanize a cosmic-level Marvel hero: a powerful woman called Vers (Brie Larson) who lost her memory and is now serving as a soldier for the intergalactic Kree empire, fighting shape-shifting Skrulls. Initially, there's an impressive efficiency to the structure the story as a mystery of identity, allowing us to dive right into the action. Unfortunately, Boden and Fleck aren't up to the task of the action sequences, and even their theoretical strength as directors of actors comes up short. Larson generally seems adrift between grinning self-confidence nd the stolidness of a warrior lost in space and time. She's a powerful, resilient role model in a movie that wrestles unsuccessfully with the tension between basic humanity and cosmic laserblasts. (PG-13)—SR

Everybody Knows 2 Stars
In Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's first Spanish-language film, Laura (Penélope Cruz) visits her small Spanish village for her sister's wedding, encountering extended family and friends, including local winemaker Paco (Javier Bardem). It's a bit tricky keeping track of how everyone is related, but we do see that deep interconnections between all these people make them reliant on one another for favors big and small in unquestioning ways. But after the wedding sequence early on, Everybody Knows takes a turn it never recovers from. Farhadi indulges in more "plot" this time around than he has before, but he flounders with the stuff of a melodramatic thriller. He attempts to meld potboiler with his usual slow-burning humanistic drama, but there's little space for either cinematic impulse to be satisfied. His mystery undermines the humanity, and his humanity undermines the mystery. (R)—MaryAnn Johanson

Greta 2 Stars
This throwback to mid-1990s "from hell" thrillers reminds us what made those genre entries work on a rudimentary level. Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds a lost purse on a subway and returns it to widowed Greta (Isabelle Huppert), beginning a friendship that curdles when Greta becomes obsessed with Frances. Rather than providing a slow burn of Greta's breakdown, Greta has her go off the rails too soon for anyone to doubt there's something bad going down. That early turn allows Huppert to go impressively bonkers, yet director Neil Jordan doesn't take full advantage of that whacked-out performance. The script winds up too obvious and lacking in detail, making it easy to see Greta become a monster—a surrogate mom from hell—while the movie around her is barely from heck. (R)—SR

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 2.5 Stars
An animated franchise that had been a glorious exploration of reason over violence and human partnership with the natural world comes to a disappointing conclusion. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), now leader of his Viking village, attempts to save dragonkind from cruel hunter Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) by finding a legendary sanctuary for the beasts. Yet not only is The Hidden World not about this hidden world, it's not about much of anything else, either. Everything Hiccup has been working toward over the previous movies is threatened, yet the stakes feel low. Sure, the world of Hiccup and Toothless still looks touchably gorgeous, and there's nothing offensive here. Indeed, Hiccup remains a great example of non-toxic heroic masculinity. But his final adventure is sadly forgettable. (PG)—MAJ

Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral 1 Star
The Madea franchise remains excruciating and baffling, offering viewers occasional flecks of bemusement at how misguided it is. Sassy grandma Madea, straight-man nephew Brian and raunchy brothers Joe and Heathrow—all played by Perry—are irrelevant observers to a family gathering at which infidelities are revealed. Most of the plot elements, which would be traumatic if played seriously, are treated as farce, but not the funny kind of farce (though Perry clearly believes he's hilarious). The dialogue sounds like it's being made up by actors who didn't know they'd be asked to improvise. I kept wanting to take a red pen to the screenplay and cross out unnecessary lines—or entire scenes. The result would still have been bad, but at least it would have been shorter. (PG-13)—Eric D. Snider

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