FILM NEWS: NOV. 7-13 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City Weekly


New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Releases

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Doctor Sleep 3 Stars
See review on p. 37. Opens Nov. 8 at theaters valleywide. (R)

Last Christmas
[not yet reviewed]
A fatalistic young woman (Emilia Clarke) deals with the unexpected prospect of a holiday romance. Opens Nov. 8 at theaters valleywide. (PG-13)

[not yet reviewed]
Director Roland Emmerich takes on the story of the pivotal Pacific Theater battle of World War II. Opens Nov. 8 at theaters valleywide. (PG-13)

Pain and Glory 3.5 Stars
Neither one of Pedro Almodóvar's lusty candy-colored romps or one of his edgy psychodramas, this semi-autobiographical tale finds him operating in a more contemplative register that he wears beautifully. Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a once-celebrated filmmaker now mostly retired as he deals with chronic pain after a back surgery. A reunion with the leading man from one of Salvador's beloved films (Asier Etxeandia) after a long estrangement introduces Salvador to the numbing possibilities of heroin, even as he faces other unfinished business from his past. That stuff includes his relationship with his mother (played in flashback by Penélope Cruz), and Almodóvar crafts lovely scenes 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. Opens Nov. 8 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—Scott Renshaw


Chained for Life
At Rose Wagner Center, Nov. 13, 7 p.m. (NR)

Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins
At Park City Film Series, Nov. 8-9, 8 p.m. & Nov. 10, 6 p.m. (NR)

Right to Harm
At Main Library, Nov. 12, 7 p.m. (NR)


Countdown 2 Stars
In this mildly stupid teen horror flick about a phone app that tells you how long you have to live, it's not the app that kills you; it's just conveying information. But if your remaining time is too short for your liking and you try to cheat death, you still die as scheduled, only now you get harassed by a demon beforehand. It's like Final Destination without the cleverness, or The Ring without the scariness. The heroine, a young nurse (Elizabeth Lail), is duly spunky, and there's an excitable priest (P.J. Byrne) and a needlessly snarky tech guy (Tom Segura) who add a little humor. The basic problem with the premise—just don't download the app, dummy—is not addressed. It's while wasting 90 minutes on mediocrities like this that you start to appreciate how short life really is. (PG-13)—Eric D. Snider

Harriet 3.5 Stars
Harriet Tubman was badass by any measure: rescuing herself from slavery with a treacherous journey north, risking her liberty and her life sneaking back into the South to bring others to freedom, working as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War. Director/co-writer Kasi Lemmons has found a deeply satisfying balance among the contradictory currents of her story. This is an entertaining movie-movie experience that does not deny the horrific facts of slavery, one that acknowledges Tubman as a vulnerable, flawed human while also embracing her legend and the profound power of what she symbolizes. As Tubman, Cynthia Erivo is an immense presence, deeply engaging and incredibly empathetic. My one complaint: not enough spy stuff! Maybe we—movie lovers and proud Americans alike—will be lucky enough to get a sequel. (PG-13)—MaryAnn Johanson

Jojo Rabbit 2 Stars
It's a risky business in 2019 telling a story that treats Nazis as ridiculous, exploring the origins of bigotry as a kind of fairy tale. Writer-director Taika Waititi's story, set in Berlin near the close of World War II, follows a 10-year-old aspiring Hitler Youth named Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) as he discovers that his mother is hiding 17-year-old Jewish girl Elsa (Thomasin Mackenzie). There's plenty of material showcasing Waititi's oddball sense of humor, and an earnest approach to the central relationship. Ultimately, though, Waititi can't get the balance of "goofy" and "deadly serious" right. Jojo is such a gentle soul from the outset, there's little sense of a genuine darkness his friendship with Elsa can eradicate. By erasing the grim from this fairy tale, we're left with a movie that still has a lot of growing up to do. (PG-13)—SR

The Lighthouse 3 Stars
If you've got an appetite for weirdness, there's a lot of it on writer-director Robert Eggers' menu. In the late 19th century, lighthouse keeper Thomas (Willem Dafoe) and his new assistant, Ephraim (Robert Pattinson), take a scheduled four-week shift on a remote island, developing a contentious relationship that grows more strained when a storm threatens to extend their stay. Every component of the physical production builds the simmering menace and claustrophobia, from the boxy Academy ratio to the sound design featuring foghorn blasts that sound like a kaiju's roar. The counterpoint to that atmosphere of dread comes from two central performances where tensions are frequently defused in bizarre, even silly ways. Plenty of other unexpected stuff goes on, so if you're a movie-goer who needs "what happened" to be obvious once the credits roll, you might be in the wrong place. (R)—SR

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 2.5 Stars
Like 2014's Maleficent, this sequel makes a similar semblance of effort toward subtext, as the impending wedding of Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Prince Philip leads to Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) being framed for a heinous act by Philip's mother (Michelle Pfeiffer). Thus begins a tale about a nation's leader manipulating fear of The Other, promoting ethnocentrism that gives the thumbs up to genocide. The script isn't exactly subtle about its underlying ideas, but they do provide a spark of interest. Unfortunately, they don't make up for Maleficent herself being relegated to the background for long stretches, building to a grand battle that lasts nearly the entire final hour of the movie. That certainly helps Mistress of Evil deliver on the promise of being fantasy spectacle, while all but abandoning the ideas that made it seem more intriguing at the outset. (PG)—SR

Motherless Brooklyn 3 Stars
Edward Norton adapts the 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem about a Tourette's-afflicted P.I. (Norton) trying to solve the murder of his boss (Bruce Willis). Set in Norton's adaptation in the 1950s and infused with noir tropes like a non-mourning widow (Leslie Mann), smoky jazz clubs and clues hidden in plain sight, it's a satisfyingly twisty Chinatown-esque story that goes out of its way to seem contemporary, like with a racist New York land developer played by Alec Baldwin. Perhaps for that reason, the look of the film is anachronistically bright and digital, but attitudes about race, gender and disability are very much of the period. For his part, Norton portrays Tourette's respectfully, though its significance to the story remains murky. Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones and other recognizables add support. (R)—EDS

Terminator: Dark Fate 3 Stars
Once again, a homicidal machine (Gabriel Luna) is sent back from a post-apocalyptic future to kill a human (Natalia Reyes), with another entity (Mackenzie Davis) also sent back to protect that same human; they ultimately connect with Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), now a roaming self-appointed terminator of Terminators, as well as an aging T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger). It's hard to ignore that nostalgia is a crucial component, including Brad Fiedel's iconic score, but Hamilton transcends that with a performance full of haunted history in her raspy line readings. As action spectacle it's solid, with director Tim Miller crafting a couple of nifty set pieces. But even if there's not much juice in the relationship between Davis and Reyes, plus the usual head-scratching causality logic, it's still a nice reminder of when "I'll be back" was a welcome promise, not a threat. (R)—SR

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About The Author

Scott Renshaw

Scott Renshaw

Scott Renshaw has been a City Weekly staff member since 1999, including assuming the role of primary film critic in 2001 and Arts & Entertainment Editor in 2003. Scott has covered the Sundance Film Festival for 25 years, and provided coverage of local arts including theater, pop-culture conventions, comedy, literature,... more

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