Film
Emerald City
Emerald City

At the Movies

by / Jun. 20, 2017 12pm EST

 OPENING THIS WEEK 

BEATRIZ AT DINNER—An elegant dinner party brings together two people who would never otherwise have met: a Mexican immigrant who practices holistic medicine (Salma Hayek), and a billionaire (John Lithgow) who feels that anything is justified in the pursuit of his success. With Chloë Sevigny, Connie Britton, and Jay Duplass. Directed by Miguel Arteta (Chuck and Buck). Reviewed this issue. Dipson Amherst, Dipson Eastern Hills

LIKE CRAZY—From Italy, a comedy-drama about a society woman and an ex-stripper who have only one thing in common: the psychiatric group home in Tuscany to which they have both been committed. Starring Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Morandini Valdirana, and Valentina Carnelutti. Directed by Paolo Virzì (Human Capital). Reviewed this issue. Dipson Eastern Hills

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHTSequel. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, and Laura Haddock. Directed, as usual, by Michael Bay. AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In

 

 ALTERNATIVE CINEMA 

BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (1989)—As comedies about dimwitted buds go, it’s better than Dumb and Dumber, though not by much. But Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are appealing in the title roles; it’s a shame that Reeves turned his back on comedy, which was clearly his strength as a performer. With George Carlin; look for Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Weidlin as Joan of Arc. Directed by Stephen Herek (Mr. Holland’s Opus). Sat-Sun 11:30 am. North Park

EMERALD CITYDrama about Irish emigres doing construction work in Manhattan and struggling with addiction, unemployment and the demands of adulthood they’ve spent their lives trying to avoid. Writer-director Colin Broderick and star John Duddy will be present for the screening. Sat 4:30pm. North Park

I CALLED HIM MORGAN—Lee Morgan was a star trumpet player, on the comeback after battling drug addiction in 1972, when he was shot in a Manhattan club by a woman identified as his wife. Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin, who investigated the mysterious death of another jazz legend in My Name Is Albert Ayler, recounts Morgan’s life as well as that of his killer, and her story may be the more compelling one. He has the help of her voice from a tape-recorded interview she gave shortly before her death in 1996. While the movie sends you away with more questions than you began with, those questions are better ones, providing a glimpse into corners of 20th-century American life that have been little explored. –MF Wed 5pm. Thu 8pm, Fri 9:30pm. Screening Room

ROBOCOP: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT (1987)—Remastered version of Paul Verhoeven’s pitch black dystopian satire included the minute’s worth of cuts involving the title character’s murder that were made to prevent the film from getting an “X” rating. Starring Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, and Miguel Ferrer. Tue-Thu 9:30pm. North Park

SPACEBALLS (1987)—Like all of his genre parodies, Mel Brooks’s prodding of Star Wars  works best if you’re a fan of what he’s making fun of. Starring Bill Pullman, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Daphne Zuniga, and Brooks himself as the wizened “Yogurt.” Fri, Sat, Tue 7:30pm. Screening Room

YOUR NAME—Acclaimed anime drama about two high school students, unknown to each other, who one morning wake up in each other’s bodies. Directed by Makoto Shinkai. Fri-Mon 9:30pm. North Park

 CONTINUING 

ALIEN: COVENANT—The latest chapter in director Ridley Scott’s ongoing effort to turn the Alien franchise into an auteur project, ignoring that the original 1979 film was a model of collaborative effort. It’ immediate predecessor, Prometheus, was as visually striking as any of Scott’s best films (Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down), but also one of the dumbest and most illogical big studio sci-fi films ever produced. Here, the screenplay Scott ordered at the takeout window recycles ideas and scenes from most of the preceding entries, including his own, as if he is competing with all of those other directors as well as his younger self. His craftsman is undeniable, but we’ve seen these people and situations before. —Gregory Lamberson Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, and Demián Bichir.  Dipson McKinley, Four Seasons

ALL EYEZ ON ME—Biopic of rapper Tupac Shakur. Starring Demetrius Shipp Jr, Danai Gurira, and Kat Graham. Directed by Benny Boom (Next Day Air). AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

BAYWATCHBecause Hollywood doesn’t think you’ll buy $250 million worth of tickets for a movie starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron unless it has a title you already recognize. With Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, and guest appearances by David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. Directed by Seth Gordon (Identity Thief). Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In

THE BOOK OF HENRYAn 11-year-old genius enlists his mother in a plan to rescue the abused girl who lives next door to them. Starring Jacob Tremblay, Lee Pace, Naomi Watts, and Sarah Silverman. Directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World). Dipson Amherst, Regal Elmwood, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit

THE BOSS BABY—Animated feature with Alec Baldwin as the voice of a power-hungry infant. It only sounds like an SNL skit. Other voices by Tobey Maguire, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow, and Jimmy Kimmel. Directed by Tom McGrath (Madagascar). Dipson McKinley, Four Seasons

CHURCHILL—Brian Cox adds his name to the list of notable actors who have played Winston Churchill, by any standard one of the greatest men of the 20th century, though one whose full life has oddly never been covered in a film biography. This one concentrates on the few days leading up to D-Day, the operation that turned the tide of World War II to the Allies, but one that the aged Churchill opposed as a potential waste of thousands of young lives. Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man), Churchill presents an unexpected portrait of its subject, passive and indecisive. It offers a lot for an actor willing to seize the bit and gnaw on it, as Cox is more than capable of, most theatrically in a scene in which Churchill seeks help in prayer. But it’s a portrait in a fuzzy context, with other significant characters like Dwight Eisenhower (John Slattery) and Clementine Churchill (Miranda Richardson) reduced to supporting functions. —MF Dipson Eastern Hills ENDS THURS

47 METERS DOWN provides a new variation on the ever-popular shark summer thriller. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt play two sisters vacationing Mexico (really the Dominican Republic) coaxed by local romantic interests to descend into shark infested waters in a protective cage just like the one that failed Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws. The women spend the rest of the film on the ocean floor, trapped in the cage and surrounded by a school of Great Whites as their oxygen runs out. It’s primarily a two-character thriller, a souped-up version of Open Water that manages to be claustrophobic even in the expansive ocean. The dialogue lacks the bite of Spielberg’s classic, and is so shallow that whenever Matthew Modine (collecting a paycheck and a vacation) warns of some hypothetical danger, that scenario becomes fait accompli, but the direction and cinematography yield stunning visuals and the promised scares. Visual effects have come a long way since an uncooperative Bruce the shark forced Spielberg to fashion a more Hitchcockian thriller than he had planned, and these sharks are entirely convincing. A film like this succeeds only if its audience is willing to go along with the increasingly preposterous situations the heroes face, and director Johannes Roberts, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ernest Riera, pushes all the right buttons. –Greg Lamberson Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal TransitAMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In

GIFTED—A young math prodigy becomes the object of a struggle between her uncle, who promised her late mother that he would give her a “normal” childhood, and her grandmother, who wants to develop her talents. Starring Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, and Octavia Spencer. Directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). Dipson McKinley

GOING IN STYLE lacks almost all of what was memorable about the original, Martin Brest’s 1979 film about three bored and broke oldsters who decide to rob a bank. Screenwriter Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) reduces the aspects of aging to generic financial problems. That the film has any charm is entirely due to stars Alan Arkin, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman, but they’re given precious little to work with. The same goes for a wasted supporting cast that includes Ann-Margret, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, and Peter Serafinowicz. Blandly directed by Zach Braff (Garden State). —MF Dipson McKinley, Four Seasons

I, DANIEL BLAKE— Ken Loach, who has been artistically delineating class divisions in Great Britain for over half a century, won the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. While he doesn’t directly address Brexit and the political turmoil around it, in its modest way it help illuminate British currents of a resentful mood. Veteran comedian Dave Johns stars as a 59-year-old master carpenter, ordered by his doctor not to work. His attempts to navigate the British social service system lead him through a maze of Orwellian-esque arbitrary requirements and rejection. This material arguably might be more audience-friendly if presented as satire, but Loach remains an earnest, closely observant humanist trying to dramatize working-class society and the injuries of class. Does he load the dice on occasion? Sure. But the bleak, neo-realist feel of his movie is softened by the subplot involving Daniels’ befriending of a young single mother of two who’s also brutalized by the system (Hayley Squires in a sharp, moving performance). -GS North Park

IT COMES AT NIGHT The high-tension trailer makes this look like a standard issue zombie movie, but that’s not the case at all: though set in an apocalyptic near future, the dead (killed by a plague) are less a problem than the living. Joel Edgerton stars as a father who is struggling to keep his wife and teenaged son safe from the mysterious disease in a secluded farmhouse. He makes the decision to share the house with another family, but can any of them be sure that the others are disease free? It’s a handsome low-budget effort, and cinematographer Drew Daniels squeezes atmosphere from the dim interior of the lantern-lit house. But persistent close-ups on the teenaged son seem to pose questions that the film never gets around to dealing with. –MF Co-starring Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo and Riley Keough. Directed by Trey Edward Shults. Regal Transit, Transit Drive-In

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD—Guy Ritchie’s hopped-up, hit-‘em-where-it-hurts take on the perennially popular Arthurian legends is interested only in impact, and he’ll happily batter his audiences into submission to get it. Familiarity with the stories may not be of much help to the viewer trying to make sense of what happening on screen, as Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) doesn’t seem to care about accessible storylines. He punches out jagged sequences like he’s making a batteringly propulsive music video. Characters come and go with little or no identification. The dialogue is flippantly, if banally, anachronistic. Even the big action set pieces are too uneven, resolved in confounding busyness and overwrought, freakish imagery. —GS Starring Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, and Aidan Gillen.  Four Seasons

KONG: SKULL ISLAND—The best King Kong since the 1933 original owes much to the spirit of professional wrestling. It operates much like a theme park ride, with dazzling special effects delivered at a breathless pace and high decibel level. Set near the end of the Vietnam war, the action is confined to the titular island, when survivors of a fleet of US Army helicopters who made the bad decision to invade Kong’s home turf battle the island’s other monstrosities in a bid to reunite and escape. The motion capture effects are top-notch, superior to those in Peter Jackson’s more ambitious 2005 remake. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, and John Goodman. Gregory Lamberson Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer).   Dipson McKinley

MEGAN LEAVEYDrama based on the true story of a Marine corporal (Kate Mara) trying to adopt the dog she worked with while on duty in Iraq. With Bradley Whitford, Geraldine James, Common, and Edie Falco. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Blackfish).  Dipson Amherst ENDS THURS, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit

THE MUMMY—Hoping to copy the successful Marvel Cinematic Universe formula, Universal Studios launches a new “Dark Universe” featuring its classic monsters with The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise. It is no longer enough to build a tent pole franchise around a single fantastic character; a studio must create a world in which several franchises intersect and support each other. This time around the mummy is female and Tom Cruise (too old for the military grunt he plays) is chosen to serve as the host for an angry god. This gender swap is the smartest move in an overly busy concoction. The spectacular first third of the film, containing the requisite Egyptian flashback and several action sequences with Cruise in Iraq, is its best. Things get silly fast when the action shifts to London, especially in a subplot featuring Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego the Incredible Hulk. There’s an army of zombies, a character appropriated from An American Werewolf in London, and scenes reminiscent of Cruise’s Mission Impossible and Tobe Hooper’s 80s opus Lifeforce. Sofia Boutella is an effective mummy, but her character takes a backseat to an origin for yet another superhero. –Gregory LambersonWith Annabelle Wallis and Courtney B. Vance. Directed by Alex Kurtzman. AMC Maple Ridge, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In

MY COUSIN RACHEL—As always, Rachel Weisz is reason enough to watch any film she stars in. She has the title role in this adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier novel (previously filmed with Olivia de Haviland and Richard Burton) set in rural England of the early 19th century. Sam Claflin co-stars as Philip, an orphaned boy raised by his cousin Ambrose, a lifetime bachelor until he marries Rachel on a health trip to Italy. When news reaches Philip of Ambrose’s death, he blames Rachel and vows revenge, a vow that falters when she comes to visit and he falls in love with her. Variously evoking Wuthering Heights and du Maurier’s Rebecca, director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) lets the story’s ambiguities get out of control. Still, the coastal scenery and Weisz’s performance make for undemandingly pleasant summer viewing. –MF With Iain Glen and Holliday Grainger. Dipson Amherst, Dipson Eastern Hills ENDS THURS

PARIS CAN WAIT— Take the comedy out of the three The Trip films (the third of which opens in August), substitute Diane Lane for Steve Coogan, and the result might well be this low-key semi-documentary filled with pleasant shots of the south of France and plenty of food porn. Lane’s companion is French actor Arnaud Viard as her husband’s business associate who agrees to chauffeur her to Paris. Whether or not he is actually trying to seduce her is a question left open until the end of the film, and I was as uncertain of the answer as I was indifferent. Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford, makes her dramatic directing debut with a project that runs the gamut from pleasant to bland. –MF Dipson Amherst, Dipson Eastern Hills,

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALESSequel. Because Johnny Depp can apparently spend money faster than he can earn it. With Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Paul McCartney, and Anthony De La Torre, star of the upcoming local production Johnny Gruesome. Directed by Joachim Rønning Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki). Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

RESTLESS CREATURE: WENDY WHELAN—Documentary on the American ballerina. Directed by Linda Saffire and Adam Schlesinger. North Park ENDS THURS

ROUGH NIGHTKate McKinnon’s Australian accent is the only memorable part of this tired “women get raunchy” comedy about a bachelorette party that geos awry after the male stripper they hired is accidentally killed. Any similarity to Very Bad Things is minimal at best in this laughless movie that wants to capture the Bridesmaids audience but has no idea what made that one effective. –MF Starring Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Kate McKinnon, Demi Moore and Jillian Bell. Directed by Lucia Aniello (Broad City). AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In

SNATCHED—It really shouldn’t have been hard to concoct a serviceable summer comedy starting with the casting of Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn (in her first film in 15 years) as a mother-daughter pair of tourists stuck in a South American jungle after a kidnapping. And to give writer Katie Dippold and director Jonathan Levine the benefit of the doubt, it looks like substantial chunks of the movie were hacked away before it got to theater screens. But given the lack of laughs in what remains, it’s hard to believe that more of this would have been an improvement. What few amusing moments the film offers come from the supporting cast: Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Ike Barinholtz, Bashir Salahuddin, and Christopher Meloni. —MF Dipson McKinley, Four Seasons

WONDER WOMAN—Following Zack Snyder’s dreary Man of Steel and dreadful Batman v. Superman, Patty Jenkins, who has been directing episodic TV since Monster, delivers a true crowd pleaser from the DC universe. The film traces the comic book heroine’s origin as an Amazon princess on Themyscira Island to her mission to slay Ares, the god of war, whom she believes is orchestrating World War I. Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot is perfectly cast as the feminist icon, and Chris Pine is charming as her love interest, American spy Steve Trevor. The first half of the film is true to the original comic, and may be the most romantic superhero adaptation since Richard Donner’s Superman. Diana is a relentless warrior, winningly embodying the phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted.” The film only goes awry in its last act, when Jenkins employs the same bleak color scheme as Snyder, and when a poorly cast actor assumes the role of Ares. You are forgiven if you’re unaware that a number of male comic book fans have been decrying “women only” screenings of the film. I saw it with my 11-year-old daughter, who could barely contain her excitement throughout. That’s the perfect antidote to Trumper chauvinism. —Gregory Lamberson Co-starring David Thewlis, Robin Wright, and Chris Pine. Directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster).  AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria, Transit Drive-In


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