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Sean Means Reviews Movies for May 9th, 2019

Artsies:

The Chaperone – not screened

Louise Brooks the 1920s silver screen sensation who never met a rule she didn’t break, epitomized the restless, reckless spirit of the Jazz Age. But, just a few years earlier, she was a 15 year-old student in Wichita, Kansas for whom fame and fortune were only dreams. When the opportunity arises for her to go to New York to study with a leading dance troupe, her mother (Victoria Hill) insists there be a chaperone. Norma Carlisle (Elizabeth McGovern), a local society matron who never broke a rule in her life, impulsively volunteers to accompany Louise (Haley Lu Richardson) to New York for the summer. Why does this utterly conventional woman do this? What happens to her when she lands in Manhattan with an unusually rebellious teenager as her ward? And, which of the two women is stronger, the uptight wife-and-mother or the irrepressible free spirit? It’s a story full of surprises–about who these women really are, and who they eventually become.

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Director: Michael Engler

Starring:  Miranda Otto, Haley Lu Richardson, Elizabeth McGovern

 

Red Joan – 2 stars

In a picturesque village in England, Joan Stanley (Academy Award (R) winner Dame Judi Dench), lives in contented retirement. Then suddenly her tranquil existence is shattered as she’s shockingly arrested by MI5. For Joan has been hiding an incredible past; she is one of the most influential spies in living history… Cambridge University in the 1930s, and the young Joan (Sophie Cookson), a demure physics student, falls intensely in love with a seductively attractive Russian saboteur, Leo. Through him, she begins to see that the world is on a knife-edge and perhaps must be saved from itself in the race to military supremacy. Post-war and now working at a top secret nuclear research facility, Joan is confronted with the impossible: Would you betray your country and your loved ones, if it meant saving them? What price would you pay for peace? Inspired by an extraordinary true story, Red Joan is the taut and emotional discovery of one woman’s sacrifice in the face of incredible circumstances. A woman to whom we perhaps all owe our freedom.     Read More

Director: Trevor Nunn

Starring: Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Stephen Campbell Moore

 

Tolkien – 2 1/2 stars

TOLKIEN explores the formative years of the renowned author’s life as he finds friendship, courage and inspiration among a fellow group of writers and artists at school. Their brotherhood strengthens as they grow up and weather love and loss together, including Tolkien’s tumultuous courtship of his beloved Edith Bratt, until the outbreak of the First World War which threatens to tear their fellowship apart. All of these experiences would later inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-earth novels.     Read More

Director: Dome Karukoski

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney

 

Ash Is Purest White – 3 stars

A tragicomedy initially set in the jianghu-criminal underworld-setting, ASH IS PUREST WHITE is less a gangster movie than a melodrama. With a three-part structure, it begins by following the quick-witted Qiao (Tao Zhao) and her mobster boyfriend Bin (Fan Liao) as they stake out their turf against rivals and upstarts in 2001 postindustrial Datong before expanding out into an epic narrative of how abstract forces shape individual lives, and continues Jia Zhangke’s body of work as a record of 21st-century China and its warp-speed transformations.     Read More

Director: Zhangke Jia

Starring: Tao Zhao, Fan Liao, Yi’nan Diao

 

Hail Satan? – 3 1/2 stars

Chronicling the extraordinary rise of one of the most colorful and controversial religious movements in American history, Hail Satan? is an inspiring and entertaining new feature documentary from acclaimed director Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon). When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. As charming and funny as it is thought-provoking, Hail Satan? offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world.     Read More

Director: Penny Lane

Starring: Jex Blackmore, Nicholas Crowe, Lucien Greaves

 

Fartsies:

Poms – not screened by me

POMS is an uplifting comedy about Martha (played by Diane Keaton), a woman who moves into a retirement community and starts a cheerleading squad with her fellow residents, Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), Olive (Pam Grier) and Alice (Rhea Perlman), proving that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.     Read more

Director: Zara Hayes

Starring: Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier

 

Resilience and the Last Spike – not screened

11-year-old adventurer Resilience “Rizzy” O’Neil and her family are camping and exploring the remote Utah desert. While Rizzy is trying to discover for herself the mystery of the lost Chinese workers, she is violently separated from her family, and must now face the wild expanse of the desert in order to find help. She faces intense heat, thirst, hunger, treacherous terrain, deadly creatures, turbulent weather, all in a land designed to crush the living. Rizzy must call on all her wits, strength, skill, and faith to beat the clock and save her family, and just maybe, a piece of history too.     Read More

Director: Brian Finn

Starring: Don Shanks, Adam Johnson, Brian Finn

 

The Hustle – TBD (screening Wednesday night)

Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway have winning chemistry as a pair of con artists plying their trade in a stunning seaside town in the south of France. Josephine Chesterfield (Hathaway) is a glamorous, seductive Brit with a sprawling home in Beaumont-sur-Mer and a penchant for defrauding gullible wealthy men from all corners of the world. Into her well-ordered, meticulously moneyed world bursts Penny Rust (Wilson), an Aussie who is as free-form and fun-loving as Josephine is calculated and cunning. Where Penny amasses wads of cash by ripping off her marks in neighborhood bars, Josephine fills her safe with massive diamonds after ensnaring her prey in glitzy casinos. Despite their different methods, both are masters of the art of the fleece so they con the men that have wronged women. Wilson’s talent for physicality and Hathaway’s withering wit are a combustible combination as the pair of scammers pull out all the stops to swindle a naïve tech billionaire (Alex Sharp).     Read More

Director: Chris Addison

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Tim Blake Nelson

 

Pokemon Detective Pikachu – 3 stars

The story begins when ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City – a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world – they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.     Read More

Director: Rob Letterman

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton

 

Opening next week:

A Dog’s Journey

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Sauvage / Wild

The Sun Is Also a Star

Trial By Fire

Wild Nights With Emily


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