FILM NEWS: MAY 30- JUNE 5 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

FILM NEWS: MAY 30- JUNE 5 

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

Godzilla: King of the Monsters
[not yet reviewed]
Oh no! There goes Tokyo!. Opens May 31 at theaters valleywide. (PG-13)

Ma
[not yet reviewed]
A lonely woman (Octavia Spencer) gets just a bit too attached to a group of teenagers. Opens May 31 at theaters valleywide. (R)

Non-Fiction 3 Stars
Built on the armature of conventional bedroom farce, the latest from writer-director Olivier Assayas feels almost as much about fears of artistic obsolescence as his Clouds of Sils Maria. This time, the milieu is the publishing industry, as publishing house editor Alain (Guillaume Canet) and novelist Léonard (Vincent Macaigne) wrestle with radical shifts in what, and how, people read. Much discussion is devoted to the topic, even as Léonard carries on an affair with Alain's actress wife (Juliette Binoche), and Alain has his own affair with his company's "digital transition" hire. Assayas effectively captures the pretensions of his characters, whose fretting over people no longer reading books plays out as mere personal anxiety over becoming irrelevant; one great bit finds Léonard changing the location of a sexual encounter in his book from a movie theater showing The Force Awakens to one showing The White Ribbon. Behind all the high-minded talk, Assayas finds people finding it hard to face a world in which the legacy they want to leave might amount to nothing. Opens May 31 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—Scott Renshaw

Rocketman 3.5 Stars
Opens May 31 at theaters valleywide. (R)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

The Greatest: Documentary Classics
At Broadway Centre Cinemas and Tower Theater, May 31-July 2 (see p. 14)

CURRENT RELEASES

Aladdin 1.5 Stars
Disney's live-action remakes of its animated films continue to prove mostly an exercise in pointlessness. This new Aladdin lacks the charm of the animated version, and cannot even decide if it's a musical or not, with characters awkwardly breaking into stilted snippets of song at random intervals. The shoehorned-in new song is an embarrassing sub-par go-girl ballad for Princess Jasmine. The story is lifted intact from the 1992 movie, with street urchin Aladdin (Mena Massoud) wooing Jasmine (Naomi Scott), daughter of the sultan of the city-state of Agrabah, with the help of a Genie (CGI'd Will Smith). The leads have no chemistry, and the villain—Marwan Kenzari's Jafar, vizier to the sultan—lacks all bite. It's just watered-down pastiche, on ice, set at Epcot. (PG)—MaryAnn Johanson

The Biggest Little Farm 2.5 Stars
John and Molly Chester give up city jobs and buy a dilapidated farm with the goal of making a farm that's completely natural. John (a veteran TV director) knows a good image, and aptly shows the perils and rewards of building from nothing a farm that is one with the surrounding world. However, John the producer should have fired John the voiceover artist, because as narrator, he comes off as sanctimonious and officious. Plus, as good as some of the footage looks, John the director makes John the character occasionally look like a jerk to his employees and volunteers. The film works best during its first half-hour, as the Chesters learn farming the hard way and their hippie agricultural expert Alan York has a bunch of screen time. But there's too much vanity and not enough agitprop. (PG)—David Riedel

Booksmart 3.5 Stars
Female-centric crude comedies aren't so rare now that we can talk about what makes the good ones good. This teen coming-of-age story follows Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), high-school high-achievers who decide on the day before graduation that they want one real party night. Echoes of Superbad's R-rated episodic misadventures are unmistakeable, but the leads carve out distinctive characters as they throw their nerdy selves into an unfamiliar world. What really kicks it into another gear is that first-time feature director Olivia Wilde actually directs it with inventive visual style, rather than just serving up f-bombs and masturbation gags. It's wonderful to reach a point where we expect more than the shock value of women saying "fuck," and can celebrate women making a comedy that's fucking terrific. (R)—SR

Brightburn 2.5 Stars
As horror premises go, "What if Superman were a sociopath?" is a great one. This nasty low-budget effort—produced by James Gunn and written by his brothers Brian and Mark—executes it fairly well, feeding on parental fears about the unpredictability of child-rearing but leaving potentially fruitful layers of horror untouched. In 2006, a Kansas farm couple (David Denman and Elizabeth Banks) adopts a marooned alien baby; now, at the onset of puberty, young Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) starts to show his powers and true nature. The film is deliberately gory at times, low-grade suspenseful throughout, with committed performances by the three principals. But there's much more they could have done with this scenario, which feels like it's setting up a more disturbing sequel—one I'd definitely watch. (R)—Eric D. Snider

A Dog's Journey 2 Stars
This sappy sequel to 2017's A Dog's Purpose is about a boy, Ethan, who grew into Dennis Quaid and was cute-stalked through his life by a perpetually-reincarnating dog called Bailey (the voice of Josh Gad). Here, Ethan commands the latest reincarnation of Bailey—Ethan has sorta caught on to what's happening—to watch over his step-granddaughter, CJ (Kathryn Prescott). Movies don't get more inoffensive than this, in which there isn't anything that a canine friend cannot put right, from grief and trauma to potentially fatal illness, as CJ's bestie Trent (adorable Henry Lau) endures. People might suffer big, profound problems, yet all is put right as long as a dog is by one's side. Is that even inaccurate, though? I'm not crying, you're crying. (PG)—MAJ

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum 3.5 Stars
The franchise isn't just about brilliantly-choreographed action sequences, but also the rich mythology of its contract-killer subculture. Chapter 3 picks up moments after Chapter 2 ends, as John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finds a $14 million bounty on his head for violating the rules of his one-time superiors. What follows is largely a gleeful series of set pieces involving John assassinating his would-be assassins, including the hilariously violent consequences of a room full of knives. Yet the details of this underworld are still terrifically realized, including an Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) meting out punishments to violators, and the revelation that there are John Wick fanboys among his fellow killers. While our taciturn hero's motivations aren't particularly engaging this time around, it's always a delight to watch him kick ass in this weird world. (R)—SR

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