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Movies With Sean Means for the week of August 19, 2015

Artsies:

 – Best of Enemies (R) 87 Min. – 3 stars

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In the summer of 1968, television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. William F. Buckley, Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement. A Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult-cementing their opposing political positions. Their explosive exchanges devolved into vitriolic name-calling. It was unlike anything TV had ever broadcast, and all the more shocking because it was live and unscripted. Viewers were riveted. ABC News’ ratings skyrocketed. And a new era in public discourse was born – a highbrow blood sport that marked the dawn of pundit television as we know it today.

Director: Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville

Starring: Gore Vidal, William F. Buckley, Dick Cavett

 – The End of the Tour (R) 106 Min.- 3.5 stars

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THE END OF THE TOUR tells the story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter (and novelist) David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel), which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, Infinite Jest. As the days go on, a tenuous yet intense relationship seems to develop between journalist and subject. The two men bob and weave around each other, sharing laughs and also possibly revealing hidden frailties – but it’s never clear how truthful they are being with each other. Ironically, the interview was never published, and five days of audio tapes were packed away in Lipsky’s closet. The two men did not meet again. The film is based on Lipsky’s critically acclaimed memoir about this unforgettable encounter, written following Wallace’s 2008 suicide. Both Segel and Eisenberg reveal great depths of emotion in their performances and the film is directed with humor and tenderness by Sundance vet James Ponsoldt from Pulitzer-Prize winner Donald Margulies’ insightful and heartbreaking screenplay.

Director: James Ponsoldt

Starring: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Anna Chlumsky

 – Sundance shorts (Not Rated) 83 Minutes – 4 stars

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Showcasing a wide variety of story and style, the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour is an 83-minute theatrical program of six short films that won awards at this year’s Festival, which over the course of its more than 30-year history has been widely considered the premier showcase for short films and the launchpad for many now-prominent independent filmmakers. Including fiction, documentary and animation from around the world, the distinct 2015 program traverses vibrant styles from wild comedy to quiet poetry. Each breaks through its limited timeframe with a high level of artistry and story that will resonate with audiences long after it ends.

Directors: Don Hertzfeldt, Frankie Shaw, Atsuko Hirayanagi, Kitty Green, Paul Cabon, Paulina Skibinska

 

Fartsies:

 – Sinister 2 (R) 97 Min. – not screened

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The sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit horror movie. In the aftermath of the shocking events in “Sinister,” a protective mother (Shannyn Sossamon of “Wayward Pines”) and her 9-year-old twin sons (real-life twins Robert and Dartanian Sloan) find themselves in a rural house marked for death.

Director: Ciarán Foy

Starring: James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan

 – Hitman: Agent 47 (R) 96 Minutes- 2 stars

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HITMAN: AGENT 47 centers on an elite assassin who was genetically engineered from conception to be the perfect killing machine, and is known only by the last two digits on the barcode tattooed on the back of his neck. He is the culmination of decades of research – and forty-six earlier Agent clones — endowing him with unprecedented strength, speed, stamina and intelligence. His latest target is a mega-corporation that plans to unlock the secret of Agent 47’s past to create an army of killers whose powers surpass even his own. Teaming up with a young woman who may hold the secret to overcoming their powerful and clandestine enemies, 47 confronts stunning revelations about his own origins and squares off in an epic battle with his deadliest foe.

Director: Aleksander Bach

Starring: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto

 – American Ultra (R) 95 Min. – 2.5 stars

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American Ultra is a fast-paced action comedy about Mike (Eisenberg), a seemingly hapless and unmotivated stoner whose small-town life with his live-in girlfriend, Phoebe (Stewart), is suddenly turned upside down. Unbeknownst to him, Mike is actually a highly trained, lethal sleeper agent. In the blink of an eye, as his secret past comes back to haunt him, Mike is thrust into the middle of a deadly government operation and is forced to summon his inner action-hero in order to survive.

Director: Nima Nourizadeh

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton

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Next week:

– The Diary of a Teenage Girl

– Meru

– Mistress America

– No Escape

– We Are Your Friends

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Pick of the week:

– The Internet Cat Video Festival, a compilation of great cat videos from the web, presented by the Utah Film Center next Tuesday at 7 at the Salt Lake City Library main branch


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