THE LOST CITY: 2 ½ STARS
“The Lost City,” a new action-adventure in theaters now, brings together goofy and handsome actors Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in a film about a romance writer, a kidnapping, and a secret treasure in a satire of love stories that is actually a romance.
Bullock plays Loretta Sage, an out-of-print author of 20 romance novels featuring a Fabio-esque hero named Dash McMahon. Still grieving the loss of her husband, she took years to deliver the manuscript for ‘The Lost City of D’, an epic adventure that mixes her true loves: archeology and history, with a romance angle. exploiter she has come to hate.
On the front of all the novels, Dash is “played” by the world’s sexiest cover model, Alan Caprison (Tatum), a handsome guy with flowing hair and a sculpted chest, who will accompany Loretta on an upcoming tour. promotional. He’s dumb as a stump, more Chippendales than Chaucer, but underneath the long, flowing blonde wig, he’s a good guy.
When the author is kidnapped by billionaire Abigail (“That’s a gender-neutral name,” he says.) Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who believes Loretta’s books contain real clues to the existence of the legendary crown of fire, Alan springs into action. “I’ll save her,” he said. “I want her to think of me as more than just a cover model.”
He enlists the help of Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), a mercenary with special skills, to crack the secret island of Fairfax. “Why are you so beautiful,” Loretta asks him. “My father was a meteorologist.” Jack is the real deal, the kind of hero Loretta always imagined Dash would be, but this isn’t Loretta and Jack’s story, it’s all about the author and her goofy cover model. “It’s so much better than your books,” Alan says of their real-life adventure.
Not funny enough to be a comedy with a bit of action, and not action-packed enough to be an action-comedy, “The Lost City” falls somewhere in the middle of the soft dough. The likeable cast is a game, and we get the rare chance to see Radcliffe in villainous mode, but the movie never quite gels. Too many jokes go south, and aside from the leads, no characters really make a big impression.
The romantic angle is a little more successful. Big-hearted Alan loves Loretta. The chemistry between Bullock and Tatum is warm, witty, and welcoming, but that’s not enough to save a film that tries hard but feels neglected.
Brad Pitt slips in for an extended cameo that packs some live-action adventure and some laughs, but it’s not his movie. It’s just an added bonus.
“The Lost City” doesn’t take itself seriously, and neither do you. It aims to entertain, but, despite a few laughs, just misses the mark.
WOMEN’S RACE: 3 ½ STARS
On the surface, “Run Woman Run,” a new comedy-drama starring Dakota Ray Hebert and now playing in theaters, is about running, but it succeeds because of larger themes examining dissatisfaction, respect, ambition and family.
Hebert stars as Beck, an Indigenous single mother at a crossroads. Unambitious, when she’s not snacking, she hops in the car to check the mail…from the mailbox at the end of her driveway.
She is at odds with her sister and son, but when she falls into a diabetic coma, her life comes into sharp focus. She finds her motivation in conversations with Tom Longboat (Asivak Koostachin), an Iroquois icon and distance runner who won the Boston Marathon in 1907 and died 50 years before Beck was born.
Whether Longboat is a spirit or a hallucination, he provides her with the inspiration she needs to turn her life around and try something new, like running a marathon.
“Run Woman Run” does a great job of blending comedy and drama, the spiritual and the physical, into a story specific in its setting, yet universal in its themes of embracing change and making better life choices.
Director Zoe Leigh Hopkins creates a living, small-town world for her characters. It’s a place where Beck’s dreams went to die, but it’s also a community that will ultimately support her as she begins a new chapter in her life.
Filled with heart and hope, “Run Woman Run” might not have worked so well if the cast weren’t so strong. Hebert is relatable and wonderful, and brings Beck’s arc to life. I don’t know anyone who would drive to the end of the driveway to get the mail, but she made me believe that people like that exist.
“Run Woman Run” is a lighthearted film with serious messages of recovery from residential school trauma, self-discovery, and the erasure of Indigenous languages. It doesn’t shy away from big topics, but at its heart, it’s an underdog story about overcoming obstacles and believing in yourself.
LEARN TO SWIM: 3 ½ STARS
In “Learning to Swim,” a new film about memories and music, now in theaters, first-time filmmaker Thyrone Tommy tells the story as if creating a jazz riff. The love story may be familiar, but it bends the notes just enough to create something new.
The story of talented saxophonist Dezi (Thomas Antony Olajide) is told over a broken timeline. His past affair with singer Selma (Emma Ferreira) is shot in warm, welcoming colors as the two create music and fall in love. Interspersed with colder, harsher scenes from Dezi’s current era. Bitter and lonely, he is isolated from the world, unable to play music due to a jaw infection.
This is a study of Dezi’s relationships – with Selma, other people around him and his connection to music. As in real life, these relationships are often messy and chaotic, but even as the disparate parts of Dezi’s story threaten to become obtuse, Tommy brings the story back to center stage as the saxophonist’s pain becomes a common thread between the two chronologies.
“Learn to Swim” is a simple story told in a way that adds depth and complexity. Dezi is an interesting, talented and troubled character, but still likeable. Olajide brings her to life in a quietly powerful performance that emphasizes not only the character’s talent, but also the love and loss that shaped her creativity.
Ferreira is an effective foil, but never loses sight of what makes Selma tick.
However, the real star here is Tommy. He and co-writer Marni Van Dyk create a palette of stories to paint a portrait of love, loss and beautiful music. It’s a very promising debut feature, deftly balancing performance and feel, just like the best jazz.