SHARE
RBG. Image courtesy of CNN Films.

 

OPENING

 

Rebel-Smoke-300x25018

Akira (R) A movie set in 2019 but released in 1988, Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s anime classic receives a re-release, with voices by Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Tesshô Genda, and Yuriko Fuchizaki. (Re-opens Friday)

Ava (R) Jessica Chastain stars in this thriller as a contract killer whose rogue behavior makes her into a target of other hit men. Also with Colin Farrell, John Malkovich, Common, Jess Weixler, Ioan Gruffudd, Diana Silvers, Joan Chen, and Geena Davis. (Opens Friday)

Break the Silence: The Movie (NR) Not to be confused with last year’s Bring the Soul or 2018’s Burn the Stage, this documentary follows K-pop boy band BTS on their 2019 Love Yourself: Speak Yourself tour. (Opens Friday)

Draupadi Unleashed (NR) Based on Nisha Sabharwal’s novel, this Indian film stars Salena Qureshi as a woman in the 1930s who rejects her arranged marriage. Also with Dominic Rains, Cas Anvar, Anna George, Azita Ghanizada, Melanie Chandra, and Pooja Batra. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Foster Boy (NR) This socially conscious drama is about a lawyer (Matthew Modine) and a young Black prison inmate (Shane Paul McGhie) who team up to expose the injustices of the foster care system. Also with Michael Hyatt, Michael Beach, Lex Scott Davis, Julie Benz, Evan Handler, Amy Brenneman, and Louis Gossett, Jr. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President (NR) Mary Wharton’s documentary profiles the recent life of the former president of the United States and his musical tastes. Also with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bono, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Jimmy Buffett, Roseanne Cash, Larry Gatlin, and Willie Nelson. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theatre) 

The Last Shift (R) Richard Jenkins stars in this comedy as a fast-food worker on his last shift before he leaves his job to move to Florida. Also with Allison Tolman, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Shane Paul McGhie, and Ed O’Neill. (Opens Friday)

Misbehaviour (NR) Keira Knightley stars in this film about the real-life feminist protests surrounding the 1970 Miss World competition in London. Also with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley, Keeley Hawes, Rhys Ifans, Lesley Manville, Suki Waterhouse, and Greg Kinnear. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

On the Basis of Sex (PG-13) Mimi Leder turns this 2018 biography of Ruth Bader GInsburg into a shallow exercise in rah-rah feminism. Felicity Jones stars as the Harvard Law graduate-turned-Rutgers professor who, in 1971, takes up a sex discrimination case on behalf of a man (Chris Mulkey) who tries to become a caregiver for his mother. The director and writer Daniel Stiepleman reduce their main character to a one-dimensional heroine whom we’re meant to cheer for against a bevy of ogre-like white guys, with the notable exception of Ruth’s husband (Armie Hammer). Not a shred of insight comes about the discrimination faced by women in the legal profession or male power. You’re better off watching the documentary RBG again. Also with Justin Theroux, Cailee Spaeny, Jack Reynor, Stephen Root, Kathy Bates, and Sam Waterston. (Re-opens Friday)

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles (NR) This documentary by Laura Gabbert (City of Gold) follows chef Yotam Ottolenghi and five pastry chefs as they try to create an extravagant meal for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Visitors to Versailles exhibit. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

RBG (PG) This blandly conventional 2018 documentary portrait of the late Supreme Court justice is best when its subject hints at the more jagged and less conventional person at its center. Directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West do an acceptable job of chronicling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s rise to the country’s highest court, and their rush to portray their subject as a feminist hero glosses over some of the complicated bits in Ginsburg’s legal career. Ginsburg herself does much to inject complexity into the film, coming across in the interviews as a short-statured Jewish grandmother who just happens to be one of the most formidable legal minds of her time. If you aren’t aware of the loss our country has suffered with her death, here’s where to start. Also with Bill Clinton, Nina Totenberg, Orrin Hatch, Harry Edwards, Ted Olson, and Gloria Steinem. (Re-opens Friday)

Shortcut (NR) Alessio Liguori’s fantasy-horror film is about five classmates trapped in a school bus while mysterious creatures lurk outside. Starring Jack Kane, Andrei Claude, Zak Sutcliffe, Sophie Jane Oliver, Terence Anderson, and David Keyes. (Opens Friday)

Tulsa (PG-13) Scott Pryor co-directs, co-writes, and stars in this drama about a marine biker who discovers the existence of a 9-year-old daughter (Livi Birch). Also with John Schneider, Nicole Marie Johnson, Cameron Arnett, Cedric Greenway, and Kristin Brock. (Opens Friday at Harkins Southlake)

NOW PLAYING

 

Alone (R) Slightly better than the similar and starrier Unhinged. Jules Willcox stars as a recent widow who drives her U-Haul on a long-distance move when she’s set upon by a serial killer (Marc Menchaca) who targets women traveling alone through the Pacific Northwest forest. The whole thing is done with a modicum of competence, but there isn’t enough to distinguish it from the herd of “killer pursues woman in remote wilderness” thrillers. You’d think that with so few characters here, there’d be more attention paid to characterization. Director John Hyams and writer Mattias Olsson make a stab at it with the protagonist’s residual feelings of grief. It doesn’t work. Also with Anthony Heald. 

The Broken Hearts Gallery (PG-13) Chalk up another romantic comedy where the main character is meant to be lovably quirky but instead comes across as needing serious psychiatric help. Geraldine Viswanathan plays a New Yorker who is fired from her art gallery job and dumped by her boyfriend (Utkarsh Ambudkar) on the same day. She bounces back after meeting an entrepreneur (Dacre Montgomery) who’s renovating an old hotel and setting up her own gallery in the establishment, soliciting donations of objects from other people’s past relationships. The Australian star of Blockers, Viswanathan looks like a star in the making, and writer-director Natalie Krinsky includes some interesting reasons why the protagonist is obsessed with keeping things. Even so, the whimsy is forced, the complications are easy to see coming, and the heroine’s character is blatantly written from the outside in. Your average Netflix romcom is better crafted than this. Also with Phillipa Soo, Molly Gordon, Nathan Dales, Suki Waterhouse, Ego Nwodim, Sheila McCarthy, and Bernadette Peters. 

Cut Throat City (R) The rapper RZA directs this crime thriller about a group of New Orleansians who decide to pull off a heist in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Starring Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, Terrence Howard, Eiza González, Kat Graham, Keean Johnson, Joel David Moore, Shameik Moore, Rob Morgan, Denzel Whitaker, Isaiah Washington, and T.I. 

The Dark Divide (NR) David Cross stars in this drama as Robert Pyle, the real-life butterfly expert who walked through America’s unprotected wildlands in 1995. Also with Debra Messing, David Koechner, Gary Farmer, Cameron Esposito, and Kimberly Guerrero.

Fatima (PG-13) Marco Pontecorvo’s Christian drama is about the three 19th century Portuguese children (Stephanie Gil, Jorge Lamelas, and Alejandra Howard) who see a vision of the Virgin Mary. Also with Harvey Keitel, Goran Visnjic, Joaquim de Almeida, Joana Ribeiro, and Sônia Braga.

Infidel (R) Jim Caviezel stars in this thriller as an American journalist kidnapped by Iranian extremists during a trip to Cairo. Also with Claudia Karvan, Hal Ozsan, Aly Kassem, Bijan Daneshmand, Isabelle Adriani, Stelio Savante, and J.R. Cacia. 

Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul (NR) Masayuki Kojima’s sequel to his 2017 anime film features the characters venturing further into the mysterious trench. Voices by Miyu Tomita, Mariya Ise, Shiori Izawa, Inori Manase, Sayaka Ôhara, and Tetsu Inada.

My Brothers’ Crossing (NR) Ricky Borba directs and co-stars in this Christian drama based on the true story of an African-American motorist who accidentally kills a white couple on a motorcycle. Also with James Black, Daniel Roebuck, Joe Estevez, Eliza Roberts, Marsha Dietlein, and Tyree Brown. 

The Nest (R) Along the same lines as Uncut Gems, this entry by Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) is a quieter and better entry. Jude Law stars as a 1980s British commodities broker who moves his American family to the U.K., ostensibly because he sees moneymaking opportunities there, but really so that he can show off the baronial estate in Surrey that he’s rented to his friends from back home. The problems with the move are illustrated too neatly in a metaphoric subplot with our main character buying a show horse for his equestrian wife (Carrie Coon). Durkin does much better at dissecting this family dynamic that comes under strain because Dad has a hole in his soul that no amount of money will ever fill. The well-heeled malaise here feels like it was adapted from a novel by John Cheever or Richard Yates, and makes it worth a trip to the theaters. Also with Anne Reid, Charlie Shotwell, Oona Roche, Adeel Akhtar, and Michael Culkin. 

The New Mutants (PG-13) It really exists! It’s also the gayest X-Men film ever, which is saying something. Even so, it’s still kinda meh. Blu Hunt plays a teen of Cheyenne extraction whose discovery of her powers destroys her reservation. She’s brought to a facility for other mutant kids controlled by a sinister doctor (Alice Braga), where she falls for a gay Scottish girl (Maisie Williams). Director/co-writer Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) tries to play this for horror, but neither the hallucinations that the kids have nor the discovery that our protagonist is causing them manages to raise the hair on the back of one’s neck. The romance gets lost amid all the substandard CGI, and the finale with a demon bear is too dopey to work. Anya Taylor-Joy walks off with the acting honors as a Russian mean girl who bullies the new arrival. Also with Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, and Adam Beach.

Padre no hay más que uno 2 (NR) This Spanish comedy stars Santiago Segura as a tech entrepreneur who learns that his wife (Toni Acosta) is pregnant with their sixth child. Also with Luna Fulgencio, Martina Valeria de Antioquia, Calma Segura, Carlos González Morollón, Wendy Ramos, Silvia Abreu, and Loles León. 

Peninsula (NR) This sequel to the Korean zombie film Train to Busan winds up as a pallid knockoff of Mad Max: Fury Road. Gang Dong-won stars as an ex-soldier who returns to the zombie-ravaged Korean peninsula with some other mercenaries to recover a stash of unguarded cash without alerting the revenants. There’s a well-executed climactic car chase and some interesting business with a colony of survivors staging gladiator matches between their prisoners and captured zombies, but returning director Yeon Sang-ho remains clumsy with the human emotions in the story and can’t find any new notes in the zombie saga. This series probably should have died after the first film. Also with Lee Jung-hyun, Kim Min-jae, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Ye-won, Lee Re, Kwon Hae-hyo, Koo Kyo-hwan, and Bella Rahim. 

The Personal History of David Copperfield (PG) The British satirist Armando Iannucci (TV’s Veep) forgoes his obscenities and scathing insults for this adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novels. Dev Patel plays the title character, a 19th-century young man who comes up from poverty to make his name as a writer. The colorblind casting has the unfortunate effect of making Victorian London seem like a more equal place than it was, but Patel is good whether he’s playing David as the dashing hero, the butt of a joke, or the clown doing comic impressions of other people. Iannucci underscores the theatricality of the effort with some postmodern storytelling devices that call attention to themselves, and his supporting cast embraces the Dickensian comic roles: Hugh Laurie underplaying as Mr. Dick, Ben Whishaw cast against type as Uriah Heep, Aneurin Barnard as a self-loathing Steerforth, and Peter Capaldi as the orotund Mr. Micawber. Lightening up does wonders for this Dickens adaptation. Also with Tilda Swinton, Morfydd Clark, Rosalind Eleazar, Benedict Wong, Daisy May Cooper, Paul Whitehouse, Bronagh Gallagher, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Darren Boyd, Anthony Welsh, and Gwendoline Christie.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (PG) Steven Spielberg and George Lucas took their shared love of the 1950s TV adventure serials that they grew up on and turned them into this rip-snorting 1981 adventure film that was easily the biggest box-office hit of its year. Harrison Ford’s natural swagger goes well with his fedora and bullwhip as he plays the world’s most dashing archeology professor trying to prevent the Ark of the Covenant from falling into Nazi hands. The casting of John Rhys-Davies as an Egyptian guide is a piece of whitewashing that wouldn’t fly today, but the film remains a masterclass in action sequences. Also with Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, Wolf Kahler, Denholm Elliott, George Harris, and Alfred Molina.

Ravers (NR) Georgia Hirst stars in this comedy as a journalist reporting on an illegal rave when a contaminated party drug causes the partygoers to go insane. Also with Eve Connolly, Danny Kirrane, Manpreet Bambra, Dave Johns, Orson Chaplin, and Natasha Henstridge.

Rocky (PG) The winner of the Best Picture Oscar for 1976, John G. Avildsen’s drama stars Sylvester Stallone as a Philadelphia boxer looking for a title shot. Also with Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, and Frank Stallone. 

The Secrets We Keep (R) A weak knockoff of Death and the Maiden. Noomi Rapace stars in this thriller as a Romanian Holocaust survivor living in America in 1960 who becomes convinced that a new neighbor (Joel Kinnaman) is the SS guard who raped her and murdered her sister while they were trying to escape from a Nazi prison camp. Director/co-writer Yuval Adler goes about this with a curious lack of urgency and tension, especially after our main character hits the man in the head and ties him up in her basement. This affair needed cleverer play about whether the man really is the person she claims him to be, or whether she and her American husband (Chris Messina) might be caught by either local law enforcement or their young son (Jackson Vincent), and a sense of claustrophobia wouldn’t have hurt, either. Nothing here really pops. Also with Amy Seimetz. 

Sonic the Hedgehog (PG) They delayed this film’s release by three months to make the video-game hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) look less creepy on the big screen. They succeeded; now he just looks boring. The super-fast game hero sees his hiding place on Earth revealed and has to team up with a Montana sheriff (James Marsden) to escape the clutches of Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). The result is a lot of defanged hijinks centering on a dramatically inert CGI-generated presence on the road from Montana to San Francisco. Carrey’s hamming may be old hat by now, but it’s right for the part of a video game villain, and it’s the only thing here that’s within hailing distance of entertaining. This is yet one more video-game adaptation that fails. Also with Tika Sumpter, Adam Pally, Lee Majdoub, and Neal McCullough. 

Spider-Man: Far From Home (PG-13) Underwhelming, obnoxious, goofy, derivative, and bad-looking. After spending 30 seconds on the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, this sequel quickly devolves into repetitive jokes as the resurrected web-slinger (Tom Holland) tries to go on a European vacation with his classmates and winds up dealing with a new superbeing (Jake Gyllenhaal) from another version of Earth. Director Jon Watts tries to keep everything grounded and self-contained, but it doesn’t work with so many superheroes floating in the wind. I wanted to love this film, but it left me feeling uneasy. Also with Zendaya, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori, Martin Starr, Numan Acar, J.B. Smoove, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, and an uncredited J.K. Simmons. — Chase Whale 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13) After a bunch of angst-ridden Spider-Men, Tom Holland headlines this relatively and invigoratingly carefree outing. Director/co-writer Jon Watts (Cop Car) keeps the whole thing from Peter Parker’s teenage perspective, where participating in the academic decathlon looms as large as battling the villain (Michael Keaton), a screwed-over salvage worker now making weapons for the supervillain. The supporting cast is subtly loaded, but the best parts go to Peter’s school friends, and the most rewarding scenes are him interacting with his Star Wars geek pal (Jacob Batalon), the pretty girl he wants to ask out (Laura Harrier), the cool loser chick (Zendaya), and the nerd bully (Tony Revolori). A predictable third-act twist notwithstanding, the web-slinger’s reboot is worthy of him. Also with Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr, Hannibal Buress, Kenneth Choi, Garcelle Beauvais, Michael Chernus, Selenis Leyva, Abraham Attah, Angourie Rice, Tyne Daly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Evans, and Jennifer Connelly.

Tenet (PG-13) Either Christopher Nolan has gone up his own ass, or he’s made an avant-garde masterpiece too intelligent and sophisticated for my puny little brain to comprehend. John David Washington stars as a nameless CIA agent who is assigned to trace objects moving backwards through time to their source before they cause a time crunch that destroys the universe. This movie exists in the future perfect tense; everywhere our protagonist and his investigating partner (Robert Pattinson) look, they find evidence of things that will have happened. The film is structured as a palindrome, with the hero going through the looking glass and moving backwards through the story he just experienced. This leads to some cool action sequences, but there are a suspicious number of loose ends hanging, and the actors are swallowed up by the conceit except for a terrifying Kenneth Branagh as a wife-beating Russian arms dealer. Without the element of human emotion, this thing just sows confusion. Also with Elizabeth Debicki, Himesh Patel, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clémence Poésy, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan, and Michael Caine.

Trolls World Tour (PG) Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return to this animated sequel, as they try to save the other troll kingdoms from being taken over by a hard-rock troll (voiced by Rachel Bloom). Additional voices by James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson .paak, Kenan Thompson, Mary J. Blige, Ester Dean, Jamie Dornan, Ozzy Osbourne, Anthony Ramos, Karan Soni, Charlyne Yi, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Zooey Deschanel, and Sam Rockwell. 

Unhinged (R) Russell Crowe is really fat in this movie, and it’s hard to tell how much of it is padding, weight he gained for the role, or just the way his body is now. The extra pounds work to make him menacing as a murderous motorist who targets a divorcing mother (Caren Pistorius) after an altercation at an intersection. In a better version of this thriller, this would be terrific, but this one can’t overcome the weak performance by Pistorius or the uninventive direction by Derrick Borte (The Joneses). Don’t risk your health for this C-level trash. Also with Gabriel Bateman, Anne Leighton, Austin P. Mackenzie, and Jimmi Simpson. 

Words on Bathroom Walls (PG-13) The acting saves this teen mental illness drama based on Julia Walton’s novel. Charlie Plummer plays a student transferring to a new Catholic high school after suffering a schizophrenic breakdown and runs into trouble after falling for the class valedictorian (Taylor Russell) and going off his meds. Director Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) often renders the main character’s hallucinations in overly cutesy terms, and having three actors personify the voices in his head (AnnaSophia Robb, Devon Bostick, and Lobo Sebastian) is a mistake. Even so, the script holds occasional insights about mental illness, and Plummer is good whether he’s on the pills and suffering from the side effects or off them and raving at his family. His chemistry with Russell means this works better as romance than as drama. 

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

All In: The Fight for Democracy (PG-13) Lisa Cortés and Liz Garbus’ documentary chronicles the history of voter suppression in America. 

No Escape (R) Keegan Allen stars in this horror film as a social media influencer who runs into supernatural horrors in Moscow seeking content for his vlog. Also with Holland Roden, Denzel Whitaker, Ronen Rubinstein, Pasha D. Lychnikoff, and Kimberly Quinn. 

The Way I See It (PG-13) Dawn Porter’s documentary profiles Pete Souza, the former official White House photographer under presidents Reagan and Obama. 

 

LEAVE A REPLY