FILM NEWS: SEPT. 12-18 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly


New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Releases

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Film release schedules are subject to change. Reviews online at

Brittany Runs a Marathon 3 Stars
Body image collides with self-worth in a way that's both funny and surprisingly emotional thanks to the script by Paul Downs Colaizzo and a terrific central performance by Jillian Bell. She plays Brittany Forgler, an under-employed, hard-partying New Yorker who gets a warning from her doctor to address her weight and overall health. So Brittany decides to start running—one reluctant block at first, then gradually becoming determined to run in the New York Marathon. Colaizzo assembles a winning cast of supporting charters—Michaela Watkins as Brittany's running buddy; Utkarsh Ambudkar as an unmotivated pet-sitter—but most of what works here revolves around Bell's work as a woman convinced she needs to be the "funny fat girl" to put others at ease, and look a different way in order to deserve love. The thesis-point speeches are kept to a minimum, allowing the focus to remain on how self-loathing thwarts Brittany's chances at happiness. Attempts to weave family history into Brittany's psychology fall short, and the climactic run drags a bit. It's all worth it, though, for a payoff that emphasizes Brittany's triumph as coming to believe she's worth cheering for. Opens Sept. 13 at theaters valleywide. (R)—Scott Renshaw

The Goldfinch
[not yet reviewed]
A young man (Ansel Algort) deals with the aftermath of surviving a bombing at an art museum as a child. Opens Sept. 13 at theaters valleywide. (R)

[not yet reviewed]
A group of former strip club employees prepare to turn the tables on their high-roller clients. Opens Sept. 13 at theaters valleywide. (R)

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice 2.5 Stars
I'd love to go behind the scenes to understand how Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein managed to get access to present-day interviews for a documentary about Linda Ronstadt, yet end up learning almost nothing about who she is as a person. The veteran filmmakers cover the breadth of the singer's life, from her arrival in California as a teenager, her early success in the burgeoning 1960s folk scene, and the ensuing career that saw her finding success in pop, rock, Great American Songbook standards and even mariachi. To Friedman and Epstein's credit, they devote a lot of time to full song performances, allowing for a real appreciation of Ronstadt's powerful voice and her gifts as a song stylist. Yet she remains frustratingly enigmatic as a person; even when the now-72-year-old Ronstadt speaks in voice-over—and it's pretty much only in voice-over, her present-day life retired from performing left basically unexplored—it's generally for historical rather than psychological purposes. What made for a personality willing to venture from areas where she had become a star into such varied genres? Your guess is as good as mine. Opens Sept. 13 at Broadway Centre Cinemas and Megaplex Jordan Commons. (PG-13)—SR

Out of Liberty
[not yet reviewed]
In 1830s Missouri, a lawman tries to protect jailed men from citizens seeking vigilante justice. Opens Sept. 13 at Megaplex Theatres. (PG)

Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! 2.5 Stars
Morgan Spurlock—after a two-year release delay in the wake of his admission of inappropriate behavior toward women—returns with a documentary about opening his own fast-food restaurant, one that would represent the antithesis of everything he found while making Super Size Me in 2003. Not surprisingly, Spurlock employs wry humor as he begins his business venture, discovering how attempting to sell fast food that's actually healthy is a no-win proposition—which makes the goal delivering the perception of healthy food; things get less whimsical when Spurlock focuses on the predatory practices of the poultry industry itself. But Super Size Me 2 doesn't come with the kind of instantly accessible hook that drove its predecessor, as the topics here are more wide-ranging. And yes, Spurlock's confessed indiscretions complicate some of his attempts at humor here. Would it be easier if Spurlock were strictly a behind-the-camera filmmaker, and his movies not so predicated on his own likeability? When it comes to selling a movie about pointing at bad behavior, you can't entirely dismiss the reality that the face those three other fingers are pointing back at is one we all recognize. Opens Sept. 13 at Megaplex Gateway. (PG-13)—SR


Cooked: Survival by ZIP Code
At Main Library, Sept. 17, 7 p.m. (NR)

At Park City Film Series, Sept. 13-14, 8 p.m. & Sept. 15, 6 p.m. (PG)


After the Wedding2.5 Stars
In Bart Freundlich's gender-swapped English-language remake of Susanne Bier's 2006 drama, Michelle Williams stars as Isabelle, manager of an orphanage in India whose trip to New York for a donation from media tycoon Theresa (Julianne Moore) winds up uncovering secrets involving Theresa's husband (Billy Crudup) and their newlywed daughter Grace (Abby Quinn). A lot of the angst behind those secrets is more distracting than enriching, and it's disappointing to see some sloppy handling of mental health issues. But Williams' performance is beautifully tangled in knots of uncertainty; she does as much with a cluck of the tongue as Moore does with Capital-A Acting involving drunken rants and ugly-crying. Like Bier, Freundlich stumbles when trying to make the premise's inherent melodrama feel deathly serious; it's still worth watching Williams, who simply doesn't know how to take an on-screen moment for granted. (PG-13)—SR

Don't Let Go 2 Stars
David Oyelowo deserves mainstream success if he wants it, but while Don't Let Go starts with a perfectly good premise, it soon turns into a formulaic police procedural with the most obvious, easily-guessed resolution. LAPD detective Jack Radcliff (Oyelowo) is surprised to get a phone call from his recently-murdered niece, Ashley (Storm Reid), calling from three days before she and her parents were killed. Uncle Jack eventually takes advantage of the time warp to try to prevent the murders, but not before spending a combined seven or eight minutes (or so it feels) staring agape at the caller ID. Writer-director Jacob Estes (Mean Creek, The Details) quickly loses interest in his sci-fi/fantasy conceit and defaults to disappointingly mundane dirty-cop, this-conspiracy-goes-all-the-way-to-the-top detective tropes that don't do anyone any favors. Oyelowo is magnetic, though, even when stumbling around panicked and dumbfounded. (PG-13)—Eric D. Snider

Good Boys 3 Stars
A decade-plus on from the distasteful celebration of toxic male teenhood that was Superbad, here's a supergood, unexpectedly sweet celebration of modern ascendant malehood. Three sixth-grade boys (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon) spend a day ditching school to vie against older teen girls (Midori Francis and Molly Gordon) in a complicated plot involving drones, the mildest sort of party drugs and trying to reach a grade-school "kissing party." Mostly it's about worrying that, at the tender age of 11, one might become a "social piranha," about securing consent to engage in any physical contact with another kid, and about ensuring that nothing one is doing constitutes bullying. These kids today, with their physical and psychological boundaries! "We're not kids, we're tweens!" they declare, staking a claim on a developmental stage that we adults never even realized existed. (R)— MaryAnn Johanson

It: Chapter 2 2 Stars
At 169 minutes, It Chapter Two is too long and too short. It's repetitive; the scares are so similar to Chapter One's that they devolve into blah territory. But Chapter Two also drops seemingly important characters and plot threads without explanation. Why is that charming hotel always empty? What happens to Pennywise the Clown's (Bill Skarsgård) victims this go-around? If you're going to explain the clown's origins, screenwriter Gary Dauberman and director Andy Muschietti could have explained a few other things, too—or made a third movie. The casting is spot-on with the exception of Isaiah Mustafa as adult Mike, who's so stiff it's like he wandered in from a different movie. But Mike has the unfortunate task of being the movie's explainer, so maybe the problem is Dauberman's screenplay. Sorry, losers; It Chapter Two just doesn't work. (R)—David Riedel

Luce 4 Stars
Ten years ago, a wealthy white American couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) adopted a former African child soldier; today, Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a high-school star athlete and soon-to-be valedictorian. But is one of his teachers (Octavia Spencer) trying to scupper the life of opportunity he and his adoptive parents have worked hard to build—and if so, why? Family drama morphs into psychological suspense as we struggle to determine where the truth lies among secondhand accounts of disturbing adolescent wrongdoing and warring notions of racial and cultural identity, acceptance and assimilation. Director Julius Onah, working from J.C. Lee's play, surreptitiously elides the biases of his characters with our own. This challenging film is as much about viewer response as it is about where the story goes—a provocative litmus test that lets no one off the hook. (R)—MAJ

Vita & Virginia 2.5 Stars
Director Chanya Button adapts Eileen Atkins' play, based on the correspondence between writers Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) and Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) chronicling their romantic affair in the 1920s. The narrative emphasizes the personality differences between the two women—bohemian, ethereal Woolf and privileged, earthy Sackville-West—in a way that gives Debicki's haunted performance more room to flourish than Arterton's portrayal of a flighty libertine. Yet while there's some rich material in the risk Woolf takes in opening herself up, Button's direction seems more concerned with visual flourishes—hallucinations by Woolf during her breakdowns; turning the women's letters into monologues directly to the camera—and the modernist touch of an electronic score than with plumbing psychological depths. It might not be a rote chronology of biographical events, but that doesn't make it engrossing. (NR)—SR

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