FILM NEWS: NOV. 21-27 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

FILM NEWS: NOV. 21-27 

New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Releases

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NEW THIS WEEK

21 Bridges
[not yet reviewed]
A New York detective (Chadwick Boseman) shuts down all access to and from Manhattan to locate a pair of cop killers. Opens Nov. 22 at theaters valleywide. (R)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood 2.5 Stars
Fred Rogers, by every possible account, was one of the most genuinely decent public figures in recent American history, and this fact-based story only partly succeeds at the tricky job of making genuine decency dramatically interesting. Rather than providing a simple biopic of Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks), director Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) tells the story of Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), the fictionalized stand-in for a real Esquire journalist whose assignment to profile the revered children's show host in 1998 collides with his own unresolved childhood traumas. Heller takes a fanciful approach to her visual storytelling, using scale models for her establishing shots and placing Lloyd in the middle of an elaborate dream sequence. But while the intention here is clearly to humanize the "living saint" notion of Fred Rogers—and Hanks' performance is grounded in a kind of intense paying attention that one point even turns toward those in the audience—he's still more like a magical guardian angel helping Lloyd deal with his daddy issues. As solid as Rhys' performance is, Lloyd's friendship with Mr. Rogers remains too ethereal to latch on to. Opens Nov. 22 at theaters valleywide. (PG)—Scott Renshaw

Frozen II 3.5 Stars
With its second chapter, the Frozen franchise remains an interesting outlier in the Disney animation canon: A story centering the love between sisters, while still nodding to an old-school "be true to yourself" moral. Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) return, forced to investigate the history of an enchanted forest when Arendelle is threatened by elemental spirits. The entire creative team returns from the original—co-writers/co-directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, and songwriters Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—so they're smart enough not to mess too much with the musical formula that created a blockbuster five years ago: a funny song for Olaf (Josh Gad), show-stoppers for Elsa, etc. And like the original, you'll find an intriguing subversion of the idea of who you can trust, plus a little political allegory. It's all very operatically entertaining, finding the right mix of impressively fanciful animation and a willingness to ground the story in emotion. There's no reason to expect anything groundbreaking—unless Kristoff's hilarious homage to vintage power ballads counts—but "more of the same" feels like an easily justifiable choice. Opens Nov. 22 at theaters valleywide. (PG)—SR

The Irishman 4 Stars
See review on p. 37. Opens Nov. 22 at Broadway Centre Cinemas and Megaplex Jordan Commons. (R)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

Judy
At Park City Film Series, Nov. 22-23, 8 p.m. & Nov. 24, 6 p.m. (PG-13)

Warrior Women
At Main Library, Nov. 26, 7 p.m. (NR)

Ye Olde Destruction
At Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Nov. 22, 7 p.m. (NR)

CURRENT RELEASES

Charlie's Angels 3.5 Stars
Elizabeth Banks writes, directs and co-stars in this latest reboot—and proves that women are far too often underestimated in both real and fictional worlds. Set in an Angels-verse that ties into the television show and both McG movies from the early 2000s, this new reiteration starts a little heavy-handed. Yes, women are belittled and can do anything, but leading with the #timesup foot forward causes an opening act stumble. Afterward, however, Charlie's Angels finds its groove while weaving in several cameos, plot twists and surprising performances. Kristen Stewart lets loose and has fun for once; Patrick Stewart as Bosley No. 1 is sincere with a sharp edge. Even a new Creepy Thin Man is there! Throw in a soundtrack executive produced by Ariana Grande, and you'll leave wanting to find your own training outpost with unlimited wardrobe changes. (PG-13)—Rebecca Frost

Doctor Sleep 3 Stars
Mike Flanagan adapts Stephen King's sequel to The Shining, with a now-grown Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) dealing with the legacy of his traumatic childhood, and helping defend a fellow psychic from a group of vampire-like supernatural creatures. There's an impressive level of simmering menace in the story, which doesn't generally lean into jump scares. Flanagan gets a great performance from Rebecca Ferguson as his cruelly arrogant primary villain, even if she pulls the focus from McGregor's more restrained work. The real focus, though, comes in the final half-hour, which heads back to the Overlook Hotel to deal not just with Dan's own legacy, but the legacy of the relationship between King's The Shining and Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. It becomes a story of finally watching someone bury the things from his past that he couldn't previously let go. (R)—SR

Ford v. Ferrari 3 Stars
Somewhere between popcorn cinema and a gourmet meal, this solidly entertaining drama might be more like well-made fried chicken. Circa 1963, car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and volatile driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) collaborate on an attempt to deliver Ford Motor Co. a winning racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The relationship between Shelby and Miles is the heart of the story; Bale's performance is the richer of the two, largely because Miles gets more character layers. The narrative evolves into a story about the notion of masculinity in its era, with the macho world of auto racing an ideal setting for a tale built on a lot of dick-swinging. Director James Mangold combines those elements in the picture with showy kineticism in the racing scenes, aiming for something as viscerally satisfying as it is thoughtful. (PG-13)—SR

The Good Liar 2 Stars
Directed with blood-drained chilliness by Bill Condon, we get a wily Sir Ian McKellen as a sharp-dressed flim-flam man who sets his sights on a wealthy, naïve widow (Helen Mirren, who—even at age 74—can still get it). Adapting Nicholas Searle's novel, Condon and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher seesaw between black comedy and weighty drama, turning what could've been a nifty, naughty ball of suspense into an unwieldy, obvious slog. (Believe it or not, it does have some things in common with Martin Scorsese's The Irishman; both movies are about dangerous men who realize how little they really have until it's too late.) Thankfully, McKellen and Mirren—two grade-A, literal white knights—keep things entertaining with their sophisticated chemistry. Am I the only one who thinks they would kill it if they starred together in an actual rom-com? (R)—Craig D. Lindsey

Last Christmas 1.5 Stars
Emilia Clarke stars as a mess of a single gal who can't get her shit together after a previous illness seems to have robbed her of self-responsibility; enter Henry Golding as a Perfect Man who gets her to appreciate everything around her. Clarke and Golding do exhibit some cute, charismatic chemistry; if Hollywood ever gets around to a Thin Man remake, you got your Nick and Nora Charles right here. Unfortunately, they are stuck in this embarrassing yuletide yarn (co-written and produced by Emma Thompson, who also shows up with a hammy accent as Clarke's immigrant mom), complete with a Big Twist that you should easily figure out by watching the trailer. Even as light, all-you-need-is-love junk for the holidays—which squeezes in an anti-Brexit message—the only thing this tinsel-covered treacle made me wanna do is smoke angel dust. (PG-13)—CDL

Midway 1.5 Stars
Disaster flick auteur extraordinaire Roland Emmerich tries to present an exciting war-strategy movie that combines gravitas with many, many explosions. Leading man Ed Skrein heads a cast of big names (including Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson) who only have maybe five minutes each of total screen time. Midway wants its audience to watch in awe and horror at the destruction of Pearl Harbor and various other battleships over the course of four years within two hours, but without any substance behind it; as Americans, we're expected to already have a sincere reverence for anything WWII-related. It's a shallow attempt to prey on that reverence with outlandish CGI 'splosions and a troupe of white male lookalikes. You'll learn something about history after about six different rally-the-troops speeches, but all you'll retain is how to aggressively extinguish lit cigarettes. (PG-13)—RF

Pain and Glory 3.5 Stars
Pedro Almodóvar's semi-autobiographical tale finds him operating in a contemplative register that he wears beautifully. Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a once-celebrated, now-semi-retired filmmaker medicating his chronic back pain with heroin and wrestling with unfinished business from his past. That stuff includes his relationship with his mother (played in flashback by Penélope Cruz), and Almodóvar crafts lovely scenes both of 10-year-old Salvador's defining moments and the adult addiction that's underplayed to a surprising and welcome degree. The anchor for it all is Banderas' career-best performance, full of profound melancholy and a sense of being untethered without his creative outlet. Right up to Almodóvar's perfectly-chosen final shot, Banderas conveys the need to make peace with the events that have shaped you, for a character where making art is the only way he knows to do that. (R)—SR

The Report 2.5 Stars
An elegantly-made information dump is still an information dump, and that's what writer/director/longtime Steven Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns offers in his paper-chase political thriller surrounding the investigation into the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" techniques. Adam Driver plays Dan Jones, staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee task force investigating CIA "enhanced interrogation" of prisoners. Burns effectively lays out the politics that drag the process out for years, and Driver makes for an effectively righteous hero, even if Burns isn't much interested in what makes Dan such a dogged fighter. But while the narrative is meant to inspire outrage at both the torture program and the cover-up, it's a shame that Burns too rarely injects either everyday humanity or genuine tension into the story. There are only so many times you can watch someone sit down and explain something that happened. (R)—SR

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