Film reviews: new for April 1


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  • Sony Pictures
  • Jared Leto in Morbius

Apollo 10-1/2: A Childhood in the Space Age **1/2

See feature review. Available April 1 via Netflix. (PG-13)

Barbarians ***
Oftentimes, I’m not quite sure what to do with a movie that starts out brilliantly, gropes for an opportunity to give that debut some good value, but has so many good bits along the way that it still feels like a hit. Writer/director Charles Dorfman serves up what seems for most of its time like it’s a darkly comedic four-handed chamber drama. Frustrated business manager and aspiring filmmaker Adam (Iwan Rheon) is about to buy a house with his artist girlfriend Eva (Catalina Sandino Moreno); the house is part payment for Eva creating a sculpture for the housing estate created by Adam Lucas’ pal (Tom Cullen) in the shadow of sacred Stonehenge-like ground. Much of the action revolves around Lucas and his girlfriend Chloe (Ines Spiridonov) having dinner at Adam and Eva’s for Adam’s birthday, as Rheon does a magnificent job capturing the helpless rage of Adam. ‘Adam to be perpetually emasculated and infantilized. And there’s also some hilarious stuff involving Lucas’ mastery of social media to combine his hucksterism with performative emotion. Then the story pivots right after the midpoint, in a way that rarely feels like it ties up previous threads. It’s not bad when it turns into a thriller; it’s just more exciting when it’s a less overtly genre-based portrayal of the mismatch turning into something darker. Available April 1 in theaters and on VOD. (NR)

Best Nate ever ***
If you didn’t know better, you could swear it was something Disney set up to combat bad publicity over its commitment to supporting LTBTQ rights; it might be the most overtly weird thing ever released under the Disney banner. Writer/director Tim Federle’s adaptation of his own young adult novel follows the adventures of Nate Foster (Rueby Wood), a 13-year-old Pittsburgh native with big childhood dreams of theater that never cease to be upset when he is never chosen as a director of school shows. When her best friend Libby (Aria Brooks) learns there’s an open casting call for a new Broadway musical version of Lilo & Stitch, the two sneak into the Big Apple to try their luck. Along the way, Nate connects with his family’s black sheep aunt (Lisa Kudrow), and Federle tries to work in material about family outcasts that connects to Nate’s strained relationship with his older jock brother ( Joshua Bassett). The story in general isn’t quite sure what to make of these more serious matters, as it’s mostly a lighthearted comedy with a few musical numbers, but doesn’t fully commit to being a full-fledged musical. The appeal comes mostly from newcomer Wood, which leans into the big personality of a gay teenager trying to find his place in the world. Like Nate himself, the film is clunky, but its heart is in the right place – and that heart is something Disney could be emphasizing right now. Available April 1 via Disney+. (PG)

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The bubble **

Judd Apatow has plenty of comedic gifts, but being a prankster – which requires lightness of touch and efficiency of pacing – just isn’t one of them. Directing and co-writing (with South Park veteran Pam Brady), Apatow tells the concept story behind the decision to shoot the sixth installment of the long-running action franchise. Cliff Beasts during the early months of the COVID pandemic, which meant isolating the cast and crew on a UK estate for the duration of filming. Karen Gillan leads the cast as a prodigal Cliff Beasts returning veteran after missing part 5, trapped with a bunch of potentially interesting guys: a married couple (Leslie Mann and David Duchovny) breaking up and perpetually getting together; an actor from Method (Pablo Pascal) doing the slumming genre; the Sundance director (Fred Armisen) directing his first big-budget film; a TikTok star (Apatow’s younger daughter, Iris) was brought in to increase youth appeal. The clash of personalities in a claustrophobic environment could have made for great comedy, and sometimes The bubble achieved its goals of pampering celebrities in the face of pandemic upheaval. Apatow simply has no idea when to dial things back, overloading the film with video chat cameos and dragging sequences past their reasonable end point. And the script generally seems more determined to make all the characters the same – crazy and excited – than to tell them apart. The result lacks a necessary nimbleness, feeling just as frenetic, eager to please and overloaded as the kind of blockbuster it theoretically satirizes. Available April 1 via Netflix. (R)

*1/2
A lot of criticism can rightly be leveled at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but even when it clearly serves the interests of perpetuating a franchise, at least it’s generally amusing. Here, however, is a deeply joyless affair from Sony’s Spider-man-centric installment of Marvel: Jared Leto as Michael Morbius, a brilliant scientist with a debilitating genetic blood disorder, whose attempted cure includes splicing genes with bats turns him into a bloodthirsty superhuman. The fast-paced story features an old friend (Matt Smith) who inevitably becomes an enemy, and a lover/colleague (Adria Arjona) who inevitably becomes a damsel in distress, all surrounded by special effects that highlight the characters in super – rapid movement represented by wisps of smoke. These wisps are more substantial than anything in this story, which should involve the psychological turmoil of being both healed and cursed, but which even Leto, in his sincerest method, cannot turn into something. important thing. Meanwhile, director Daniel Espinosa’s action sequences are practically incomprehensible, consisting of CGI blurs shattering into other CGI blurs. Only Smith’s performance seems to embrace any sort of silliness, while the rest of what’s left becomes an ordeal to endure, and the mid-credits tease for an ongoing franchise vaguely feels like a threat. Available April 1 in theaters. (PG-13)

Nameless Days **1/2
An overall atmosphere of dread and a cool monster can take a horror movie reasonably far, but there are enough flaws in the execution here that it ends up being frustrating. In a Texas border town, teenager Nicole (Ally Ioannides) gets tangled up in goosebumps when a Mexican demon known as Coaxoch (Ambyr Mishelle) is condemned to hunt a baby to replace his own and… kill those who get in his way. with a wicked claw resembling a velociraptor – sets its sights on the newborn baby of a lost migrant (Ashley Marian Ramos). The creature’s “rules” dictate a short period of days that it can occupy our world, which should be one of the key clocks for our heroes. So it’s a big deal that they never really know where they are in this period and seem to be operating out of sheer hope and luck. It’s just one place where the things that should dictate character behavior – how fast the Coaxoch moves, how it can detect the presence of a child – come and go seemingly at random. The performances are all pretty solid, with Ioannides making a spunky “final daughter”, and her complicated relationship with her single father (Charles Halford) puts at least some meat on the bones of the story. It just feels like a script requiring more focus, so any limitations of a low-budget production can be overcome by its intelligence. Available April 1 in theaters. (NR)

You will not be alone ***
Picture an A24 supernatural horror-thriller directed by Terrence Malick, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of ​​what to expect from writer/director Goran Stolevski’s feature debut – and you have to know if that notion seems intriguing or disconcerting. In rural Macedonia, a mother hides her newborn from the threat of a witch known as Old Maid Maria, the “wolf eater” (Anamaria Marinca); several years later, now-teenaged child Nevena (Sara Klimoska), raised in a near-savage state, finds herself transformed into a witch and begins her experiment in understanding what it is to be human. Contemplative voice-over narration, much in Nevena’s stilted understanding of language, and an often stream-of-consciousness editing pace make for a Malick-esque approach to the familiar sci-fi/fantasy trope of the alien. Among Us learning our ways, with Nevena herself played by several actors, including Noomi Rapace and Alice Englert, as she transforms into different lives. It’s a unique approach, one that finds an undercurrent of even more pathos once Old Maid Maria’s tragic origin story is revealed. It feels like a weird mismatch at times where bloody deaths make their way into what is ultimately a serious drama about things like gender roles and the search for love, but give Stolevski credit for having took two very particular flavors and found a way for them (mostly ) to taste great together. Available April 1 in theaters. (R)

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