Film Reviews: The Teachers' Lounge and Suncoast | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City Weekly

Film Reviews: The Teachers' Lounge and Suncoast 

Plus special screenings for February

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Teachers Lounge - SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
  • Sony Pictures Classics
  • Teachers Lounge
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The Teachers' Lounge
At times, co-writer/director Ilker Çatak's drama—and Best International Feature Oscar nominee—feels like a thoughtful character study, and at times it feels like a piece of social criticism; it's good enough at the former to make one wish there was less of the latter. Carla Nowak (Leonie Benesch) is a new mathematics and gym teacher at a German secondary school, but not surprisingly, she's immediately forced to deal with things besides teaching, including the investigation into a series of thefts at the school. Then Carla takes it upon herself to do collect some evidence, which inadvertently sets off conflicts between her and an office administrator (Eva Löbau), her teaching colleagues and her students. Initially, it looks like Çatak wants to make Carla a bit of a cautionary tale about setting oneself up as an arbiter of moral behavior, as her unwavering conviction in her own sense of right and wrong begins to look like it might be her undoing. Yet there's also plenty of material percolating here about the school as an institution with all of the usual problems of an institution: falling victim to societal prejudices; appearing more interested in protecting its own structures than protecting others; a progressive wing a bit too smug about its own righteousness. Benesch's delivers a great performance as Carla realizes how deeply she's gotten in over her head, and The Teachers' Lounge only gets frustrating when the story keeps finding other things to be about. Available Feb. 9 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (PG-13)

Suncoast - HULU
  • Hulu
  • Suncoast
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Suncoast
The semi-autobiographical specificity connecting writer/director Laura Chinn's story to real-world, highly-publicized events certainly gives writer/director a unique perspective, but it's also the one thing that makes this otherwise lovely film feel a bit overstuffed. Set in early 2005 Clearwater, Florida, it deals with 17-year-old Doris (Nico Parker) and her mother (Laura Linney) as they move Doris's terminally-ill, unresponsive older brother into hospice care—the same hospice, it turns out, that is housing Terri Schiavo, whose case involving end-of-life choices became a national lightning-rod for right-to-life protesters. That component is a relatively small part of the narrative, except for providing the opportunity for Doris to meet and befriend one of the protesters (Wood Harrelson), and it certainly underlines the way Chinn wants to explore the difference between ethics and grieving as abstract concepts, vs. the way we actually experience events in the moment. It's much stronger, though, as a simple character drama, exploring Doris's tense relationship with a mother who's so much more focused on her dying son than her confused, lonely daughter, as well as Doris dipping her toes into having real friendships after years focused on being a co-caretaker for her brother. Parker, Linney and Harrelson are all wonderful at capturing differing manifestations of pain over loss, with Parker particularly deft at showing how easy it is for living one's own life can inspire guilt when someone you love can't live that life. Available Feb. 9 via Hulu. (R)

FEBRUARY SPECIAL SCREENINGS
Salt Lake Film Society: Presenting Black Cinema. The Broadway Centre hosts a series of features focusing on the Black American experience. Upcoming screenings include the Oscar-nominated 2020 documentary Time (2/11, 7 p.m.), Love and Basketball (2/18, 7 p.m.) and Ganja & Hess (2/25, 7 p.m.) slfs.org

Salt Lake Film Society: I'm Just Ryan. Ken-ough isn't enough, as this month-long festival celebrating Ryan Gosling's filmography demonstrates. Selections include Only God Forgives (2/9, 9 p.m.), Drive (2/10, 9 p.m.), Blue Valentine (2/16, 9 p.m.), Lars and the Real Girl (2/17, 9 p.m.), Blade Runner 2049 (2/23, 9 p.m.) and, yes, Barbie (2/24, 9 p.m.). slfs.org

Megaplex Theatres: Made in Utah. Our state's rich history as a setting for classic movies gets a big-screen showcase. Scheduled titles include The Searchers (2/9), Jeremiah Johnson (2/16) and Can't Help Singing (2/23), with more titles coming in March. megaplextheatres.com

Utah Film Center: The Eternal Memory. The freshly-Oscar-nominated documentary feature addresses a relationship impacted by the diagnosis of one member—veteran Chilean journalist Augusto Góngora—with Alzheimer's. Doug Fabrizio hosts a post-screening Q&A, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. utahfilmcenter.org

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Scott Renshaw

Scott Renshaw

Bio:
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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