Memorial Day, the traditional start to the summer blockbuster season, is finally here, but the biggest movie ever opened back in April. Still, Disney, owner of said biggest movie ever, hopes to rule the holiday weekend with a live-action adaptation of the now-classic 1992 hit Aladdin. Guy Ritchie directs, and Will Smith replaces the late Robin Williams as the Genie. A classic case of counterprogramming can be found in Booksmart, Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut about two honor students (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) going wild before they graduate. It’s about time girls got to be as superbad as the boys. Memorial Day may not feature any superheroes, but Brightburn asks an age-old question: What if Superman were bad? Adoptive parents Elizabeth Banks and David Denman must confront their alien son after he starts using his powers to do some very bad things.
Ciné offers several other cinematic options if magic lamps, teens gone wild and superheroes gone bad are not your bag. Check out Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock ‘N Roll on May 22 for the story of the city that birthed the Boss. The screening features a bonus concert with Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven Van Zandt and some 11-year-old rockers who represent the future of the Jersey Shore sound. On May 23, learn about the legendary, reclusive yogi B.K.S. Iyengar in Iyengar: The Man, Yoga, and the Student’s Journey. A brief audience discussion and Q&A will accompany the screening. The HEAR Film Series continues May 25 with Life, Animated, a documentary recounting how one family used classic Disney movies to communicate with their suddenly, inexplicably silent member. Licensed professional counselor Cynthia White will participate in a post-film Q&A.
The Flicker Film Society’s month of Star Wars ripoffs continues May 27 with 1980’s Forbidden Zone. Hervé Villechaize of “Fantasy Island,” original Maniac Joe Spinell and popular composer Danny Elfman (as Satan) all appear in the fantastical musical comedy co-written and directed by Elfman’s brother, Richard. On May 28, celebrate Count Zapula’s birthday with a double feature of 1984’s Ice Pirates and 1994’s Oblivion. The former stars Robert Urich as a space pirate named Jason and Mary “I Shot J.R.” Crosby; the sci-fi comedy was a pay cable mainstay of my youth. The latter does not star Tom Cruise, but does bill itself as “The Cult Sci-Fi Classic.” It also was written by legendary comics writer Peter David.
On to last week’s releases…
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3—PARABELLUM (R) With a third entry as creatively fresh as the previous two, John Wick has quickly ascended to the top of the action movie pantheon, and with an ever-deepening labyrinth of assassin mythology, the John Wicks are way-better-in-spirit Assassin’s Creed movies than Assassin’s Creed. John Wick 3 picks up right after John Wick 2, with the titular bogeyman’s hour of respite almost up. We learn more about Wick’s past, present and future as he visits old allies played by Angelica Huston and a dog-loving Halle Berry.
While graceful, innovative, artistic action choreography—John Wick 3 is essentially a very violent dance movie—remains at its heart, the third Wick increases its predecessors’ prioritization of art direction and even story, if not dialogue, which works to its star’s benefit. The electrifying franchise’s third film manufactures a perception of non-existing agency that continues to make moot the idea that video-game aesthetics fail on the big screen due to a lack of interactivity. Simultaneously, it is also gorgeous, a hell of a lot of fun and one of the year’s best so far.
THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE (NR) Nearly 30 years in the making, Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote should please the filmmaker’s fans without winning him any new ones. Toby (Adam Driver), a disillusioned ad man, runs off with Javier (Jonathan Pryce), the Spanish shoemaker he turned into Quixote for his student film. After a series of meandering quests, this knight errant and his Sancho Panza run into Angelica (Joana Ribeiro), the young Spanish villager Toby left with starry-eyed dreams and the abusive reality of a Russian vodka magnate (Jordi Molla). Like the chivalric literary hero himself, Toby sees Angelica as his Dulcinea waiting to be rescued.
Even with 30 years to work on the script, Gilliam’s film feels like an unearthed relic from the ’90s, despite its post-9/11 critique of Europe’s current and historical relationship with Muslim immigrants, as well as a Trump joke. Ultimately, the film’s famously troubled production makes seeing the final product after years in development hell more monumental than its predictable plotting, no matter how well Driver and Pryce pull off what can only be called minor Gilliam quirkiness. If nothing else, at least the delay saved us from Johnny Depp’s Toby.
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