FILM NEWS: MAR. 28-APR. 3 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City Weekly


New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Realeases

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The Aftermath 1.5 Stars
Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) arrives in war-ravaged Hamburg in 1946 to join her occupying British army officer husband (Jason Clarke) living in the stately manor of architect Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård). The house is fetishized by the film in precisely the same way the suffering of survivors in the city is all but ignored; postwar upheaval is merely a cheap backdrop to two beautiful people getting it on. It's not even a matter of suspense that the movie is just waiting to get to sexytimes between Rachael and Stephen—yet their putatively illicit affair is disappointingly unerotic. The film disappoints even as pure melodrama. Rachael is a passive character, more pushed around by others, and by events, than a woman who must make a choice—between the husband who isn't a bad guy but from whom she has become estranged over the course of the war, and the exotic, socially dangerous new lover. A legitimately romantic, tragic movie about Knightley and Skarsgård enjoying steamy unapproved bedplay would be very welcome. This ain't it. Opens March 29 at theaters valleywide. (R)—MaryAnn Johanson

The Beach Bum
[not yet reviewed]
The misadventures of a rebellious aging stoner (Matthew McConaughey). Opens March 29 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)

[not yet reviewed]
Live-action remake of Disney's tale of the baby elephant with special earborne talents. Opens March 29 at theaters valleywide. (PG)

Hotel Mumbai 2.5 Stars
Movies built around real-life tragedy flirt dangerously with exploitation; this one's visceral effectiveness too rarely translates into genuine emotional connection to the victims. On Nov. 26, 2008, Pakistani terrorists launched a multi-venue campaign of violence in India, including at the upscale Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. The narrative here focuses on those who survived the initial assault, as employees like Sikh waiter Arjun (Dev Patel) try to keep guests alive and hidden from the gunmen. Director Anthony Maras spends a lot of time on the mechanics of the terrorists' plans, occasionally suggesting the extent to which they were patsies of their ringleader. There's strong material surrounding Arjun's calm under pressure, and the simple—if grossly manipulative—tension of someone trying to remain undiscovered while silencing a crying baby. Yet most attempts at generating sympathy for individuals—a married couple (Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi), or Arjun's anxious wife at home—come off feeling superficial. By the end, it's hard to see the narrative conveying much more than "Well, that was terrifying." Opens March 29 at theaters valleywide. (R)—Scott Renshaw

The Mustang 3 Stars
Matthias Schoenaerts brings the same coiled, damaged masculinity that sparked his performance in Bullhead to another story about a man trying to control his violent nature. He plays Roman, a Nevada convict whose comment to a prison therapist that "I'm not good with people" is a gross understatement. He finds himself drawn to the prison's program of taming and training wild mustangs so they can be sold, rather than euthanized, as a way to cull the herds. The metaphor isn't exactly subtle, and director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre struggles at times through a clunky narrative that also involves Roman's contentious relationship with his daughter (Gideon Adlon) and the forced smuggling of ketamine. It's much better when the focus is on Roman's relationship with his horse and the coaching he receives from the program's grizzled supervisor (Bruce Dern). Schoenaerts has a gift for conveying pent-up rage while completely silent—and as obvious as it might be that he identifies with a horse that can't easily be tamed, watching him try proves surprisingly emotional. Opens March 29 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—SR

[not yet reviewed]
Fact-based story of a Planned Parenthood clinic director who becomes an anti-abortion activist. Opens March 29 at theaters valleywide. (R)


At Park City Film Series, March 29-30, 8 p.m.; April 1, 6 p.m. (R)

The wild bunch
At Main Library, April 2, 7 p.m. (R)


Gloria Bell 3 Stars
Sebastián Lelio remakes his own 2013 Chilean feature Gloria, about a 50-something empty-nester divorcée (Julianne Moore) who begins a new relationship. Lelio builds rich thematic material into the narrative, as Gloria feels the pressure not to be alone. Moore brings to that character a different quality than Paulina García did in the original—softer, more genuinely uncertain of what kind of life she wants for herself—which makes this Gloria a bit less complicated, as does the decision to be less explicit than the original about showing less-than-perfect bodies being sexual. As satisfying as this story is in centering the emotional journey of a woman "of a certain age," it's also interesting to see a variation in which that woman isn't letting loose quite as much frustration. (R)—SR

Us 2.5 Stars
Jordan Peele can't quite re-create Get Out's improbable alchemy of comedy, deft allegorical writing and effective horror filmmaking. The story follows a family—Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o), Gabe (Winston Duke) and their two children—on a vacation where they find themselves tormented by a quartet that looks exactly like them. Superficial pleasures abound, from Nyong'o's alternately terrifying and terrified dual performance, to set pieces that inspire both laughs and gasps. But there's a frustrating hole where the thematic center should be, particularly after Peele spins off into a climax that undercuts everything he might be trying to say about the chickens of America's ignored underclass coming home to roost. The filmmaker gets so ambitious about building a mythology for his jokes and scares that he appears unable to settle on one idea to pull them all together. (R)—SR

The Wedding Guest 2 Stars
Dev Patel nails the slow burn in writer/director Michael Winterbottom's thriller; the rest of the movie around him burns too slowly. Patel plays a mysterious character named Jay, who travels from England to Pakistan to abduct bride-to-be Samira (Radhika Apte). The details behind that abduction unfold gradually, with the relationship between Jay and Samira complicating in a variety of ways. Those ways just aren't interesting enough to justify a narrative that gets stuck in a loop of "drive somewhere, check in at hotel under assumed name, make a phone call, maybe obtain new false ID, drive to next place." It's especially frustrating when Winterbottom seems to be building toward a shift in the dynamic between his two main characters that never comes. The enigmatic intensity Patel brings to his character deserves a payoff more substantial than this wispy story can support. (R)—SR

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