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T H E A U S T I N C H R O N I C L E
JULY 25, 2014
a u s t
i n c h r o n
i c
l e
. c om
J
dAWn oF the PlAnet
oF the APeS
D: Matt Reeves; with Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman,
Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Nick Thurston, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk
Acevedo, Terry Notary, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer. (PG-13, 130 min.)
Ten years after the ape-ocalypse witnessed in
2011’s
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
, we revisit
these apes as they lay the groundwork for their new
society among the California redwoods. Now fully
bipedal, the apes live in Anasazi-like dwellings, where
English-language skills and philosophical teachings
(“Ape not kill ape”) are scratched onto the rock walls,
under the leadership of Caesar (a combined marvel
of computer imaging and motion-capture acting by
Andy Serkis). With mankind decimated by a simian flu
epidemic, a few inexplicably immune survivors – led
by Malcolm (Clarke) and his wife Ellie (Russell) – are
deep in the apes’ territory when a gun goes off,
an ape dies, and rapprochement between the two
species falls to Caesar and Malcolm. Director Matt
Reeves (
Cloverfield
,
Let Me In
) – an expert at eking
pathos from CGI – is perfect for this engaging story
about the beasts that lie within.
(07/11/2014)
HHHH
n
– Marjorie Baumgarten
Alamo Ritz, Alamo Lakeline, Alamo Slaughter Lane,
Alamo Village, CM Cedar Park, Hill Country Galleria, CM
Round Rock, Southpark Meadows, CM Stone Hill Town
Center, Flix Brewhouse, Highland, Gateway, Lakeline,
Tinseltown North, Tinseltown South, Westgate
delIver uS FroM evIl
D: Scott Derrickson; with Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn,
Joel McHale, Chris Coy, Sean Harris, Olivia Horton, Dorian Missick,
Mike Houston. (R, 118 min.)
A baby tossed into a lion’s den by his mother. A
mummified cat nailed to a crucifix. A swarm of insects
crawling out of a mottled corpse’s eyes. Disturbing
imagery, no doubt, but to what end? The horror in the
lazy, confounding
Deliver Us From Evil
is an abstrac-
tion at best. ”Inspired from actual events” experi-
enced by real-life Bronx cop, Ralph Sarchie, the film
begins with three American soldiers stumbling upon a
cryptic Latin inscription written on the wall of an Iraqi
cave – an encounter which apparently opens a portal
to hell that remains ajar when the men return home
to New York City. Enter Sarchie (Bana) and a chain-
smoking, hard-drinking Latin street priest (do they
even make those anymore?), who must cast out the
demons in this piece of grisly hokum. When will cin-
ema’s obsession with this rarely performed religious
practice ever wane? God only knows.
(07/11/2014)
H
– Steve Davis
Tinseltown North, Tinseltown South
Lake Creek 7
dIverGent
D: Neil Burger; with Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai
Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn,
Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Kate Winslet. (PG-13, 140 min.)
Neil Burger’s film adaptation of yet another dys-
topic young adult series, Veronica Roth’s
Divergent
,
faithfully reproduces the engrossing-yet-flimsy nature
of that bestseller. Shailene Woodley plays an average-
seeming girl, Beatrice Prior, living in a futuristic, post-
war Chicago – now a walled-off republic split into five
temperamentally determined factions: Dauntless pro-
tects the republic, Abnegation feeds the poor, Erudite
advances technology, Amity does the farming, and
Candor supplies the judicators. At age 16, teenagers
take a test to determine their faction aptitude; when
Beatrice is tapped for three different factions – hence
the title’s “divergent” – her decision to join Dauntless
necessitates a painful break from her Abnegation-
rank parents (Judd and Goldwyn). It doesn’t take long
for the viewer to deflate: This is not a first-rate pro-
duction. And that’s okay. In the absence of high art,
middle-of-the-road enjoyments – the occasional comic-
relief aside, a hard-working cast, and some interest-
ing hand-to-hand combat – will suffice.
(03/21/2014)
HHH
n
– Kimberley Jones
Movies 8, Lake Creek 7
J
eArth to echo
D: Dave Green; with Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley, Teo Halm, Reese Hartwig,
Ella Wahlestedt, Jason Gray-Stanford. (PG, 91 min.)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A trio of
suburban kids befriend an alien entity and must avoid
parents and authorities alike in their mission to send
it back home.
Earth to Echo
makes no secret of its
foremost influence:
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
. Despite
its oft-distracting, handheld shaky-cam aesthetic, Dave
Linklater). From the get-go, we’re placed on a course
to observe a child’s ongoing experience with making
sense of the world he’s inherited.
Boyhood
’s original-
ity clearly extends beyond the screen, and it’s this
film – even more so than
Slacker
or the
Before
trilogy
– that will earn Linklater a place in the history books.
(07/18/2014)
HHHHH
n
– Marjorie Baumgarten
Alamo Slaughter Lane, Arbor, Violet Crown
J
cAPtAIn AMerIcA:
the WInter SoldIer
D: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo; with Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson,
Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie,
Cobie Smulders, Toby Jones, Jenny Agutter. (PG-13, 136 min.)
”Captain America: now more than ever” is what
the tagline for this second (or third, if you count
The
Avengers
) entry in the Marvel Universe franchise
should read, seeing as how it pointedly comments
on real-world political and military fear-mongering
in our new age of uncertainty. Joe Simon and Jack
Kirby’s 97-pound weakling-turned-supersoldier
with the red-white-and-blue heart returns – along-
side Marvel stalwarts Black Widow (Johansson),
Jackson’s Nick Fury, and newcomer Falcon (Mackie)
– to thwart not only the free world’s longtime neme-
sis Hydra, but also the internal strife amongst good
guys at S.H.I.E.L.D. There is, to be sure, a heckuva
lot of plot going on here, in addition to a bound-
less supply of deep-core references and spot gags.
And while it doesn’t deliver quite as much giddy
fun as 2011’s origin story (fewer Nazis to smash),
The Winter Soldier
is a top-flight entry in Marvel’s
increasingly complex multimedia omniverse.
(04/04/2014)
HHH
– Marc Savlov
Movies 8, Lake Creek 7
J
cheF
D: Jon Favreau; with Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Emjay
Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, Bobby
Cannavale, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr., Jose C.
“Perico” Hernández. (R, 115 min.)
Chef
is filled to the brim with the kind of heart and
vivacity that makes up for the film’s familiar storyline,
in which a man returns to basics in order to rediscov-
er his passion, reclaim his soul, and reconnect with
his 10-year-old son. Carl Casper (Favreau) – hailed,
10 years ago in Miami, as one of the best chefs in
the U.S. – lives in the Los Angeles area now, as do
his amicably divorced ex-wife Inez (Vergara) and son
Percy (Anthony). But, after coming into possession of
a beaten-up food truck on a trip to Miami, Carl begins
life anew, driving the truck back to L.A. – via memo-
rable stops in New Orleans and Austin – with his son,
and kitchen underling Martin (Leguizamo), in tow.
Favreau serves up a tasty dish with
Chef
. So what if
all the ingredients are familiar, when the result tastes
fresh and handmade.
(05/23/2014)
HHHH
n
– Marjorie Baumgarten
Arbor, Metropolitan
AMerIcA: IMAGIne the
World WIthout her
D: Dinesh D’Souza, John Sullivan. (PG-13, 95 min.)
Essentially this “documentary” by noted right-wing
pundit Dinesh D’Souza is review-proof. Its purpose
is not to inform but rather to reinforce viewers’ exist-
ing prejudices. This is an unusually odious effort
because it is so hugely hypocritical and self-serving.
Presenting itself as a vigorous defense of America’s
greatness, it targets the enemy as dissenting voices
within the country, and, in doing so, attacks the very
core constitutional vision of America as a melting pot
of disparate ideologies. Rather than deal with the
complexity of mainstream dissent and the country’s
long history of charged political discussion, D’Souza
sets it up as bad guys and good guys – just one
example of the film’s brazen manipulation. Ignoring
any arguments or logic, D’Souza paints himself as
ennobled, even as he attacks the very dialogues that
have and continue to make this country great. As for
a star rating: your call, based on your political beliefs.
(07/04/2014)
– Louis Black
Hill Country Galleria, Gateway, Metropolitan
BeGIn AGAIn
D: John Carney; with Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld,
Adam Levine, James Corden, CeeLo Green, Catherine Keener.
(R, 104 min.)
For writer/director John Carney, at least one
story is tried and true: A pair of unlikely partners
are drawn together by the promise of making music.
If his perfectly romantic
Once
was raw sugar, then
Begin Again
– which sees scorned songwriter Gretta
(Knightley) and washed-up record company exec
Dan (Ruffalo) reluctantly collaborating – is Splenda
in comparison. Increasing the star power and mov-
ing from the streets of Dublin to New York City, the
film also sees a proportional increase in agreeable
phoniness. Gretta’s just left Dave (Levine, of Maroon
5). Dan has just lost his job at a Grammy-winning
hip-hop label. In a last-ditch attempt to jump-start
her musical career and rescue his, the pair decide
to record an entire album live on the streets. It’s
no
Once
, but there are enough lovely little moments
and catchy ditties to effectively combat the conven-
tion which threatens to swallow the story whole.
(07/04/2014)
HHH
– William Goss
Arbor, Hill Country Galleria, CM Round Rock, iPic,
Metropolitan, Moviehouse
J
Boyhood
D: Richard Linklater; with Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette,
Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater. (R, 164 min.)
With his newest release
Boyhood
, Richard Linklater
has created the ultimate coming-of-age film, a true
masterwork that transcends the usual constructs
of the genre and delves into the development of
personhood as it is experienced – day by day, year
in and year out. By the very nature of its approach
Boyhood
was filmed a few days at a time over 12
years – the film allows us to witness time’s effects
on the boy of the title, Mason Jr. (Coltrane), as well
as his family: mother Olivia (Arquette), father Mason
Sr. (Hawke), and older sister Samantha (Lorelei
complicated by financial realities. Braff has
an ever-clever eye for observational humor,
but too often the script (written by Braff with
his brother Adam) feels reverse-engineered to
manufacture would-be iconic imagery. Every
conversation comes trick-loaded, so that when
surfing, a swear jar, and a sheitel are name-
checked, it’s preordained each concept will
conclude in a slo-mo, trailer-made shot scored
to an obsessively pruned Spotify playlist. That
swear jar, improbably lugged around in public
places and primed for the shattering, grates
the most; it’s Chekhov’s gun maxim retooled
for maximum twee effect. And while we’re
talking verisimilitude: Those of us without
children, or who are at least ill at ease with
real kid talk, are apt to resort to a special
voice – uncertain, schoolmarmish, inflecting
upward into a question mark, like we’re ner-
vously trying to educate a short-tempered dog
that might lunge at any second – and Braff
uses that exact voice with his screen kids. Of
the ongoing fantasy motif/metaphor that puts
Braff in a spacesuit with an alien/robot side-
kick hovering at his shoulder: I can’t find the
words for the wince. It’s the worst.
Still,
Wish I Was Here
has its moments of
transcendence. They don’t involve Braff, who
starts the film as an unshaved sarcophagus
of bile and glibness – a brittle act he swiftly
drops in favor of a too-cuddly portrait of way-
wardness. But as a writer/director, he’s cherry-
picked the best of his ensemble cast to chew
over the topic of religion – the young actress
Joey King, who plays his observant daughter,
and Mandy Patinkin, as his cancer-riddled,
Orthodox Jewish dad. A theatre-trained actor
with enough film smarts to know you don’t
always have to project to the rafters, Patinkin
owns the movie with a sotto voce bedside
chat with Kate Hudson (as Aidan’s pacific-grin
wife) that is beautifully performed – a scene
that’s especially effective for its restrained
camerawork. Patinkin and King’s characters’
wrangling with spirituality is sincere, and
specific. Everything else in this everything-and-
the-kitchen-sink film feels like too many ideas
stored up over an especially long winter.
HH
– Kimberley Jones
Arbor, Hill Country Galleria
first runs
*Full-length reviews available online at
austinchronicle.com
. Dates at end of reviews
indicate original publication date.
the AMAzInG SPIder-MAn 2
D: Marc Webb; with Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane
DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti. (PG-13, 142 min.)
Like director Marc Webb and actor Andrew
Garfield’s original 2012 offering, this new film is a
good example of how sometimes more can really be
less.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
hits all the marks it’s
supposed to; what’s lacking is inspiration, surprise,
and real wit. Peter Parker (Garfield), aka Spider-Man,
still struggles with the conflict that arises between
his responsibilities as a crime-fighter and being a
good boyfriend to sweetheart Gwen Stacy (Stone)
– especially after the appearance of Peter’s old pal
Harry Osborn (DeHaan), aka Green Goblin, and put-
upon electrical engineer Max Dillon (Foxx), who soon
transforms into the rage-fueled Electro. It’s difficult
to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with
The Amazing
Spider-Man 2
. Lengthy sequences of vertiginous
superhero smackdowns abound, but there are no plot
turns or character developments to keep us glued to
our seats. Although handsomely mounted, this lat-
est star in the Marvel Universe is not a leading light.
(05/02/2014)
HHH
n
– Marjorie Baumgarten
Movies 8, Millennium, Lake Creek 7
D: Arthur Hiller; with James Garner, Julie Andrews,
Melvyn Douglas, James Coburn. (1964, NR, 115
min.)
James Garner Tribute.
With a searing
script by Paddy Chayefsky and brilliant perfor-
mances all around, this anti-war film is a certi-
fied classic. @Alamo Ritz, Saturday, 4:30pm.
The Americanization
of Emily
f i lm
l i s t i n g s
D: Various. (NR, 140
min.)
AFS Arthouse.
This series spotlights
35mm “race” films
from the collection of
the Jones Film and
Video Collection at
Southern Methodist
University. These films
are from the “separate
but unequal” chapter
of America’s his-
tory. Films screening
include “The Vanities”
(1946),
Dirty Gertie
From Harlem U.S.A.
(1946), and
Souls of
Sin
(1949). For more,
see “The Racial Divide
in Movies,” p.37. @
Marchesa Hall &
Theatre, Sunday, 2pm.
The Sepia Screen
Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A.