FILM NEWS: MAY 2-8 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

FILM NEWS: MAY 2-8 

New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Realeases

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NEW THIS WEEK

Ask Dr. Ruth 3 Stars
The famed sex therapist with the much-caricatured persona becomes a flesh-and-blood person in this documentary profile by Ryan White (The Case Against 8). White follows Dr. Ruth Westheimer eading up to her 90th birthday, exploring how the diminutive German-born Jew and Holocaust survivor became America's most trusted dispenser of sexual advice. Much of the running time is spent on Westheimer's history, with animated segments bringing to life her years in a Swiss orphanage during World War II and pre-celebrity life. It's straightforward and respectful, much like last year's Mr. Rogers documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor?, though White draws clear connections between Westheimer's biography and her role as advocate for not "other-ing" gay Americans during the peak of the AIDS crisis. Mostly, it's a portrait of resilience, and a good explanation for why someone who endured so much turned into a cheerleader for enjoying life's pleasures. Opens May 3 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—Scott Renshaw

The Brink 3.5 Stars
See review on p. 41. Opens May 3 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)

El Chicano
[not yet reviewed]
Twin brothers from East L.A. wind up on opposite sides of the law. Opens May 3 at theaters valleywide. (R)

Knife+Heart 2.5 Stars
If you're trying to grab an audience's attention, one option certainly is to intercut vintage gay porn with a fatal stabbing by a masked assailant hiding a knife in a dildo. Thus begins Yann Gonzalez's feature, set in 1979 Paris, where the producer of the aforementioned gay porn, Anne (Vanessa Paradis), gets caught up in the investigation of that murder—which involved one of her actors, and subsequently becomes a string of serial killings. Gonzalez evokes the milieu effectively enough, combining Anne's makeshift filmmaking family with the violent material in a way that suggests Boogie Nights as directed by Brian De Palma, with occasional detours into David Lynch-ian dream sequences. It's weird, lurid entertainment, except there's also an attempt at centering Anne's obsession with her editor and ex-lover (Kate Moran), as though there's somehow a real emotional resonance to all the craziness. Paradis' performance doesn't evoke anything much more than dissolute chaos from her thinly written character, so you're left with some stylish mayhem—which, admittedly, is at least something. Opens May 3 at Tower Theatre. (NR)—SR

The Intruder
[not yet reviewed]
A young couple find that their new house's previous owner (Dennis Quaid) is creepily resistant to giving up the old homestead. Opens May 3 at theaters valleywide. (PG-13)

Long Shot 3.5 Stars
Long Shot is not what you're expecting: Another rom-com about a doofus pursuing a goddess because he's deluded enough to think he has a chance with her—and then getting rewarded by being right about that. No, this is a politics-meets-pop-culture satire about a smart, principled journalist (Seth Rogen)—who isn't a doofus, but probably could use some Queer Eye help with his fashion sense—getting hired by an Amazonian goddess (Charlize Theron) to be her [checks notes] speechwriter as she attempts to move up from her current job as [checks notes again] the U.S. Secretary of State to the big chair in the Oval Office. And then they embark on an unlikely but-really-not-that-unlikely romance. Because they are both really cool and have a lot in common, like wanting to save the world from our terrible, terrible leaders. Bonus: This sweet, angry-but-gentle movie features perhaps the funniest, most realistic, most human sex scene ever. It's truly a romantic comedy for our horrible-but-let's-stay-hopeful times. Opens May 3 at theaters valleywide. (R)—MaryAnn Johanson

Sunset 3.5 Stars
László Nemes (Son of Saul) certainly has a distinctive visual sensibility, but thus far he's paired it with stories where that sensibility feels perfectly, disturbingly fitting. In 1913 Budapest, 20-year-old Irisz Leiter (Juli Jakab)—orphaned at the age of 2—returns home to the hat shop founded by her father, and discovers a mystery involving a brother she never knew she had. The unfolding of that mystery takes virtually the entire 142 minutes of Sunset, with a constantly shifting sense of whose perspective on events can be trusted. Nemes builds the tension in Irisz's pursuit much as he did in Son of Saul, with a camera that often stalks behind Irisz or leaves potential threats just out-of-focus enough for them to seem even more threatening. Jakab's performance provides a restrained kind of ferocity as she pushes past everyone standing in the way of her determination to understand the secrets being kept from her, and while Sunset's final scene hits an unnecessarily literal note, the road to that moment is thrillingly unsettling. Opens May 3 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—SR

UglyDolls
[not yet reviewed]
Animated tale bringing to life the aesthetically unpleasant toys. Opens May 3 at theaters valleywide. (PG)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

Gloria Bell
At Park City Film Series, May 3-4, 8 p.m.; May 5, 6 p.m. (R)

Napoleon Dynamite: 15th Anniversary Celebration
See p. 19. At East High School, May 3, 7 p.m. (PG)

The War At Home
At Main Library, May 7, 7 p.m. (NR)

CURRENT RELEASES

Avengers: Endgame 3 Stars
Joe and Anthony Russo get to deliver what no other Marvel film has been able to offer: an actual ending. In the aftermath of Thanos' (Josh Brolin) big snap that erased half of all creation, the surviving Avengers—including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans)—are left to pick up the pieces and maybe even try to set things right. The first act shows an impressive willingness to let an elegiac tone settle in, before it's time for the big action stuff. It's an awfully busy center section, bouncing between characters and locations in a way that isn't always graceful. Yes, there's a climactic battle, but it's really about what happens after that battle. Those satisfying epilogues are for viewers who have stuck with the franchise for 11 years. (PG-13)—SR

The Curse of La Llorona 2.5 Stars
Horror filmmaking can be so sloppy and predictable that it's tempting to mistake competence for quality. In 1973 Los Angeles, widowed social worker Anna (Linda Cardellini) discovers that a centuries-old homicidal spirit has attached itself to her two children. The screenplay hints at a metaphor for the pressure on single mothers after an emotional trauma, but it's quickly discarded. Fortunately, first-time feature director Michael Chaves handles his creepy set pieces with a great sense for drawing out audience tension past where you'd typically expect a jump scare. The third act turns into one extended supernatural siege, with a spiritual healer (Raymond Cruz) trying to protect Anna's family. Your mileage might vary depending on whether you expect more from horror than a solid dose of booga-booga. (R)—SR

Her Smell 4 Stars
Alex Ross Perry creates a jagged, uncomfortable portrait of the artist spinning out of control in his story of Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss), frontwoman for a once-successful punk band called Something She that's barely hanging together thanks to Becky's erratic behavior. Perry structures the narrative as five vignettes spanning approximately seven years, and that device allows for a perfect focus on pivotal moments in Becky's descent and (perhaps) redemption. What's astonishing about Moss's performance is that she creates both the manic, unpredictable Becky and her chastened, almost hollowed-out counterpart with a clarity that makes it obvious they are the same person. It's far from a one-woman show—Agyness Deyn and Gayle Rankin are both terrific as Becky's bandmates—but the power comes from watching Becky evolve an identity that isn't about hiding behind a persona and find faith in other people. (R)—SR

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