March 6, 2019

Foreign Faves, a WWI Doc, Madea and More

Movie Dope

I just set the record for being multiple characters in a single movie. Take that, Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers!

So you did not get tickets for Marvel’s next event, Captain Marvel, which opens Mar. 8? Head over to Ciné for Everybody Knows, the latest film from Asghar Farhadi. Two of his last three films, A Separation and The Salesman, went on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. His latest is a thriller starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz as former lovers whose lives are complicated when she returns for her sister’s wedding. Bad things happen, and secrets are unearthed, according to the logline and tense trailer.

If you have yet to watch Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma on Netflix, the movie I picked as the best of 2018 can still be seen on the big screen through Thursday, thanks to an encore run at Ciné. Roma is fresh off three Academy Award wins for Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography. I believe it should have won Best Picture, but if Steven Spielberg has his way, the Academy will not honor similar films with such non-traditional release patterns. According to him, Roma is a TV movie, though anyone who has seen it can confirm Cuaron, who served as his own DP, shot this film for the big screen.

Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old is also still at Ciné, at least through Thursday. Jackson uses never-before-seen footage to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Great War that did not end all wars. They Shall Not Grow Old marks the Academy Award winner’s first foray into documentary directing—he did serve as producer on West of Memphis—and the technical whiz modernizes the footage through colorization, sound effects and voice acting.

On Monday, Mar. 11, Showdown at the Equator presents Angelfist at Flicker. It sounds like your typical early-’90s kickboxing rollick. An LAPD detective fights her way through a martial arts tournament to avenge the death of her sister. Catya Sassoon is the Cynthia Rothrock proxy. You already know whether you are dying to check out this flick.

Just in time for spring break, Movies at Tate invites you to the “throwback” Camp Rock on Thursday, Mar. 7. The 2008 Disney Channel original movie featured songs by the Jonas Brothers and introduced Demi Lovato. On Friday, Mar. 8, Southern Brewing Company is showing James Cameron’s classic Aliens, where Sigourney Weaver gets to kick the butt of way more than one Xenomorph, including the alien queen. The actress received her first Academy Award nomination for the role. What’s better than craft beer, space marines and facehuggers?

Read on for my thoughts on last week’s wide releases:


GRETA (R) Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) returns with his first feature since 2012’s Byzantium. The stalker thriller chills through a strong Hitchcockian heritage that melds well with its ’90s forebears like Single White Female. It may have been a year since Frances “Frankie” McCullen (Chloe Grace Moretz) lost her mother, but the twentysomething continues to struggle with her grief. When she meets a lonely older woman named Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert), the younger woman thinks she has found what she needed. However, circumstances quickly escalate when Greta turns out to be exactly what Frankie’s wilier roommate, Erica (Maika Monroe, It Follows), suspected.

I do not want to ruin any of the twists—even if nothing should surprise you too much—for those brave enough to knock on Greta’s door with Frankie. Just know the film is far tenser than expected—Jordan shoots everything ominously. Once the villain is revealed, nowhere feels safe. Besides some narrative nitpicking, Greta accomplishes its unnerving task with precision and grace. You might find yourself checking your backseat twice when you leave the theater.   

A MADEA FAMILY FUNERAL (PG-13) Tyler Perry’s purported swan song for his matronly onscreen alter ego does not end with her in a casket. Why anyone would have suspected as much is beyond me. Instead, Madea winds up in charge of the titular funeral, despite her lack of religion and any other skills required for leading such a solemn occasion. Of course, solemn is the last adjective to use for Perry’s 11th Madea movie. More heretofore unknown family members are introduced, and I spent far too much of the movie puzzling over who was related to whom by blood or marriage.

Depending on one’s perspective, Madea’s latest shenanigans are either funny or offensive. Perry introduces a lecherous new relative who has no legs and speaks via an electrolarynx. The funeral is required because another lecher dies tied to a hotel bed with an erection (another central gag). If those descriptions made you cringe, skip this funeral. Otherwise, be prepared to laugh often, even when you should not—the terrible melodramatics are sometimes funnier than the gags.