I'm so glad we moved from Cloverfield Lane.
So you aren’t excited about Jordan Peele’s Get Out follow-up, Us? As hard to fathom as that is, Athens offers some major cinematic alternatives this week. Taking off with a Mar. 20 screening of Damien Chazelle’s excellent Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man, as part of Ciné’s Science on Screen film series, the space theme continues Mar. 22, when the acclaimed documentary Apollo 11 opens at the same theater.
Also on Mar. 20, those more inclined to the outdoors than outer space can catch the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Morton Theatre. On Mar. 23–24, the Morton has even more movies. First, the ACC Water Conservation Office hosts the Ripple Effect Blue Carpet Premiere, showcasing the best from a competition to create water conservation shorts. Then, photographer RaMell Ross presents his documentary, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, as part of the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers.
The big cinema event of the week starts at Tate on Mar. 21, when the Athens Jewish Film Festival kicks off with a free screening of The Last Exodus, recounting the struggle of Ethiopian Jews in Israel. The AJFF officially begins on Mar. 23 when The Exception, featuring Christopher Plummer as Kaiser Wilhelm II, concludes the opening night gala at Ciné. Eight-time Ophir (Israel’s Oscar) nominee Shoelaces (2 p.m.), Promise at Dawn (4 p.m.) and The Cakemaker (7 p.m.) follow on Mar. 24; Fog in August (5 p.m.) and Shelter (7:30 p.m.) on Mar. 25; and Above the Drowning Sea (5 p.m.) and The Interpreter (7 p.m.) on Mar. 26. The AJFF concludes on Mar. 27 with a screening and awards for the shorts competition (5 p.m.), followed by Act of Defiance (7 p.m.), about the trial of 10 South African political activists, including Nelson Mandela.
Pachinko Pop Cinema presents Watari, Ninja Boy at Flicker on Mar. 21. Also at Flicker, Ghastly Horror Society offers trivia and 1955’s Tarantula on Mar. 25. On Mar. 22, Southern Brewing Company’s Movies on Tap continues with Space Jam. Maybe you weren’t too old for this Michael Jordan/Looney Tunes team-up in 1996. I was.
If you missed Tom Cruise running through one of the year’s most exciting blockbusters, Mission: Impossible—Fallout, Movies at Tate has you covered on Mar. 22–24. They are also offering a second chance for the meh Spider-Man spinoff Venom. The UGA Women’s History Month Film Series continues Mar. 25 with Dolores, a documentary about the co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association. The Georgia Museum of Art celebrates up-and-coming Spanish filmmakers with España en Corto: Spanish Short Film Festival on Mar. 26–27.
Now, on to last week’s new releases:
YARDIE (NR) The attraction of Yardie for first-time director Idris Elba is clear. The actor clearly loves DJing—he is starring in a new Netflix show, “Turn Up Charlie,” where he plays a DJ-cum-manny. For a little while, it seems Yardie, which starts as a Jamaican City of God, may actually be more interested in the music than the drugs, crime or revenge. But D (Aml Ameen), a Jamaican transplant living in London, still carries the trauma of watching his older brother, Jerry Dread, killed in the middle of a gang war. D is so troubled he often sees Jerry’s ghost haunting him.
Elba pulls off a stylish coming-of-age crime drama and keeps it compelling despite the familiarity of the plotting. However, the film is steeped in a Jamaican culture that feels fresh as well as foreign—the island slang requires subtitles. The rare glimpse into this unfamiliar cultural territory makes Yardie far more noteworthy than similar tales set in the U.S. and England that often star blokes like Stephen Graham, aka D’s cokehead nemesis, Rico. In his directorial debut, Elba smartly uses his distinct filmmaking voice to speak about those whom society often forgets.
CAPTIVE STATE (PG-13) In the future, it is not hard to imagine the vociferous cult following that will argue for Captive State’s allegorical virility. Independent cells of humanity, tired of a decade-long global occupation by a mostly unseen alien race, seek to break its stranglehold on the planet. After a laborious opening, Captive State focuses on the Chicago cell plotting to strike at the aliens, as well as the collaborators, like police commander William Mulligan (John Goodman), assigned to stop them.
The terror act itself is staged with intensity. Unfortunately, its aftermath requires director and co-writer Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) to do way too much hand-holding to unravel the various threads tangled in its narrative ball of string. Captive State suffers from too much world-building and franchise envy without quite delivering the goods needed to start a new one.
WONDER PARK (PG) My 3-year-old liked it. I found the hyperactive flick more sweet and creative than expected.