In the mood for Nineties nostalgia? A docudrama retelling of a dark moment in American race history? Yet another women-behaving-badly comedy? Or how about the single most boring Stephen King film in ages? The Chronicle film team guides you through the week’s new releases and standout revival screenings.
Jenny Slate reunites with her Obvious Child director Gillian Robespierre for this sweet Nineties nostalgia dramedy. In his 3.5 star review, Steve Davis writes, “Landline is a time capsule of the last decade of the 20th century: Mad About You, slam poetry, California Raisins, Blockbuster, cassette tapes, Hillary Clinton fashions, and Stacey Q’s ‘Two of Hearts,’ as well as the ubiquitous landline telephones that appear throughout the film. It’s enough to make you wish for a Snapple.”
Also in this week’s issue, Jessi Cape speaks with Robespierre and Slate about their collaborative relationship. “I always say that talent should always be sourced before gender, but I love a set with a lot of women on it,” says Robespierre. “I feel like I'm at home.”
The Dark Tower: This long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s sprawling metaphysical horror/sci-fi/Western series arrives in theatres with a thud. Marc Savlov cuts to the chase: “I’d watch a VHS copy of 1986’s Maximum Overdrive on rewind/repeat at least a dozen times before venturing anywhere near a tower not already occupied by Sauron before hitting The Dark Tower again.” 1.5 stars
Detroit: Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) misses the mark with her latest docudrama. Writes Marjorie Baumgarten: “Rarely has a movie been more urgently needed than Detroit, yet after delivering on its promise for nearly the entire first half, Detroit goes down in flames before it’s over. The film loses its way and its macrocosmic vision when it narrows its focus to tell a specific, factually based story about the hideous events that occurred at the Algiers Motel during the height of the Detroit riots in July 1967.” 2.5 stars
Fun Mom Dinner: Hollywood continues its love affair with women behaving badly. Marjorie Baumgarten: “Fun Mom Dinner is the latest contestant out of the chute in the transgressive women-on-film sweepstakes. It’s actually a sweet comedy about women bonding and loosening up their maternal identities for one night, although the fact that its jokes aren’t as rude and risqué … may hurt its potential at the box office.” 2.5 stars
The Emoji Movie: Danielle White on this smartphone-inspired pretty dumb movie: “Sure, at the heart, there’s the obligatory feel-good message that it’s best to embrace your ‘weirdness’ early on, but forgive me if I’m hesitant to take life advice from a film that features an actual turd as a supporting character (Poop, voiced by – gasp, horror, dead face, skull & bones – Patrick Stewart). Is ‘meh’ the sound the world will make when it finally sputters out? It doesn’t matter because we are clearly #sooverit.” .5 star
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power: Al Gore reminds us (once again) that climate change is real.
Kidnap: Perhaps the presence of Halle Berry can elevate this seemingly boilerplate tale of a mother desperately searching for her abducted child.
Some Freaks: Two high school misfits fall in love, but when one of them moves after graduation to go to college, their relationship is tested in a number of ways.
Kimberley Jones previews the Austin Film Society’s new series devoted to the musicals of a legendary choreographer and director: “Bob Fosse was barely a teenager when he first started performing at grimy burlesque halls around Chicago, where he got an early education from the strippers he met backstage. That experience would ignite parallel obsessions – sex and show business – that steered not just his wildly successful career and cocksmanship but also the dark musicals he brought to the screen.”
The series kicks off with Friday and Sunday screenings of Sweet Charity, the 1969 musical about the dashed romantic hopes of a down-at-the-heels dance hall girl, played by Shirley MacLaine. Cabaret and All That Jazz round out the series.
Also at AFS Cinema: The Bette & Joan series tucks into the filmographies of these notoriously squabbling silver-screen stars (the subject of FX’s recent Feud), including Bette Davis’ pre-Code comedy Ex-Lady (screening Saturday) and the MGM spectacular Grand Hotel, co-starring Joan Crawford (screening Thursday).[image-8-right]
Tales of the Obsessed at Drafthouse Ritz. Hal Ashby’s classic Being There (1979) stars Peter Sellers as a sheltered and simpleminded gardener who is mistaken for a learned and insightful man, although almost everything he knows comes from television. Screens Sunday.
Summer in Paris at the Violet Crown. This eight-film series continues its cinematic exploration of crimes of passion on Tuesday with Panique, a long-unseen murder saga from 1946, and Diva, a colorfully zingy chase thriller. (Read Marjorie Baumgarten’s overview of the series.)
Paramount Summer Film Classics. What’s black & white & better than ever? Friday night’s double feature exploring the seedier side of the newspaper business: Citizen Kane at 7pm and Sweet Smell of Success at 9:15pm. Saturday and Sunday boasts two screenings – matinees, appropriately – of that matinee throwback (and still one of the best adventure movies ever made), Raiders of the Lost Ark.
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