Movie reviews: new releases for May 21

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  • Bleecker Street Films
  • Toni Collette in Dream horse

Dream Horse ***

It would be hard to beat Louise Osmond’s 2015 documentary on this same true story for the charm of the characters and the crowd-pleasing drama, but a fictional version could have done a lot worse than this one. Toni Collette plays Jan Vokes, the part-time bartender / part-time supermarket worker in a small Welsh community who becomes the leader of a union in which many local residents invest in a racehorse, which they call the Dream Alliance . There is obviously a basic “underdog sports movie” structure to the narrative, as the common people find themselves entangled with the sacred elite of the racing world. And while the two central depictions and arcs of the plot – Collette and Damian Lewis, as an accountant whose previous flirtation with horse ownership threatened her marriage – both work to bring the spark that Dream Alliance provides to lives. banal, Dream horse precariously flirts with excessive exaggeration of its supporting cast in a way that felt much more organic when we saw real people as talking heads in the documentary. All of the unlikely twists ultimately sound like fairy tales when dramatized, but thanks to Collette in particular, there is still a recognizable human side to this feel-good tale. Available May 21 in theaters. (PG)

Drunk Bus **
It doesn’t particularly look like an advancement when you see that the “Magic Negro” trope is simply applied to a different race or ethnicity. In a story the filmmakers tell us at the start is “inspired by some real shit,” recent college graduate Michael (Charlie Tahan) is stuck in a loop both, literally, as a bus driver on the way to end. evening around his alma mater from Ohio, and metaphorically, as he finds himself unable to get over being dumped by his longtime girlfriend. Enter Pineapple (Pineapple Tangaroa), a Pacific Islander assigned as a bodyguard / bouncer for Michael’s often rowdy shift, and who begins to impart the wisdom of life. Co-directors John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke create a grim winter landscape for Michael’s boredom, and a few memorable fun episodes conveying his perpetually emphasized status. But Chris Molinaro’s script is overloaded with overly eccentric characters with overly eccentric names: a fan of the local Ohio band Devo called Devo Ted; a young woman who cries in her sleep nicknamed Night Tara; etc. Most of the time there is the pineapple problem existing in this universe seemingly with no other purpose than to share whatever the Samoan translation of Carpe Diem could be. A white dude’s quarter-life crisis is hard enough to empathize with before even making it the center of attention of a less privileged person of color. Available May 21 via (NR)

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Eric Bana in The Dry - IFC FILMS

  • IFC Films
  • Eric Bana in The dry

The dry ** 1/2

A great atmosphere can only carry a movie so far, especially if it’s structured like a thriller and the resolution turns out to be unsatisfactory. Co-Writer / Director Robert Connolly adapts Jane Harper’s novel about Aaron Falk (Eric Bana), a Melbourne Federal Police officer who returns to his drought-ravaged rural hometown for the funeral of a childhood friend , who appears to have killed his family in a murder-suicide. This investigation is complicated by an unsolved 20-year-old case involving a deceased teenager (BeBe Bettencourt), with numerous flashbacks revealing Aaron’s connection to the girl. There is an overall familiar vibe to the notion of a small town full of secrets and locked up skeletons, but Connolly provides specificity with shots of the barren landscape, cracked river beds, and dust devils conveying a particular sense of hopelessness throughout. this place. Bana’s internalized performance provides a solid foundation through the introduction and narrative exoneration of various potential suspects, all leading to the revealing of the truth behind the two storylines. The frustration comes from how little these gains feel tied to larger thematic ideas, or even really to each other. It’s a story that kind of ends, an evocative cinematic page turner that barely lingers for a moment after you’ve put it down. Available May 21 in theaters and on VOD. (R)

Final Account ***
While it’s easy to sense that there is no new ground to cover in Holocaust documentaries, Luke Holland finds an angle that seems disturbingly topical. From 2008 he set out to interview Germans alive during WWII – some were just children at the time, others members of the SS and other official entities – for their thoughts and their memories of the stages of their country from the initial persecution of the Jews to the final solution. Many of the details of the indoctrination suffered by young Germans are disturbing, including a field trip to see the ashes of a burning synagogue after Kristallnacht, making it easier to understand the path from the innocent to the aggressor. The range of views from the subjects of the interview is very diverse – some are deeply ashamed, others are in deep denial – as Holland probes for the camera to try to understand how much they feel responsible for. what happened. But the strongest segment finds former SS officer Hans Werk addressing a group of students and challenging an obviously ultra-nationalist young man about his attitudes. It’s too easy, we see, for people to let horrible things happen; as Werk notes at another point, “Those heroes that you’d expect to find… there aren’t many.” Available May 21 in theaters. (PG-13)

New order ***
Deep cynicism lies at the heart of scriptwriter / director Michel Franco’s dark speculative political thriller, which is above all enough to bring it to fruition in the absence of any human connection. On her wedding day in Mexico City, Marianne Novelo (Naian González Norvind) is caught up in a class revolution that arrives directly at the home of her wealthy family and ultimately finds her a prisoner of the revolutionaries. Franco spends a lot of time on the procedural details of the ensuing chaos and “new normal”, shifting the focus between Marianne, the surviving members of her family, and a family of former employees of the Novelo family. But while the characters are rarely developed as larger types, New order commits to how this uprising, theoretically on behalf of the working class, ends up kicking their ass as much, if not more, than the rich. With a meager 86 minutes, the film does not shrink from the brutality experienced by Marianne and her fellow prisoners; it’s also brutally honest about a just cause that quickly descends into cruelty and corruption, and how those who were supposed to be “first up against the wall” always end up doing just fine. Available May 21 in theaters. (R)

Stop filming us *** 1/2
Dutch director Joris Postema attempts here a kind of self-criticism that is sure to become a white liberal self-flagellation for many, but continues to turn in so many interesting directions that it still remains fascinating. The central notion is the image of Africa regularly portrayed to the West through photos, films and other media, and how a Western lens might distort the image to emphasize conflict and poverty. This means that Postema – during his documentary filmed primarily in Goma, Congo – is essentially wondering if he should make this film. The director captures in-depth conversations involving himself and his African team, which oscillate between examining Postema’s own biases, and attitudes that might exist among Africans who have internalized a colonial mindset (such as the hypothesis according to which it was the white director who chose a specific location for a local screening of his film). And there is cutting edge material on the obstacles faced by aspiring African filmmaker Bernadette Vivuya as she attempts to present her point of view to the world. At the most basic level, it’s a story about “who’s to tell this story”, but the answers are always more complicated than you might think. Available May 21 via (NR)

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