Local & Repertory Limited Partnership Discussion follows this new documentary on marriage

  • Tuesday, May 12, 2015 11:54am
  • Film

Local & Repertory

Limited Partnership Discussion follows this new documentary on marriage equality, which premieres June 15 on PBS. (NR)

Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., 622-9250, fryemuseum.org. Free. Noon. Sat.

Never Too Young to Die From 1986, a young John Stamos stars in some sort of VHS-era thriller, pitted against Gene Simmons of Kiss. (R)

Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, grandillusioncinema.org. $5-$9. 9 p.m. Sat.

Noir de France Isabelle Adjani stars in the 1983 revenge tale One Deadly Summer, directed by Jean Becker. In it, her sexy Elaine searches for a trio who brutally attacked her mother. (NR)

Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, seattleartmuseum.org. $63–$68 series, $8 individual. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through May 21.

Out Of Print Director Julia Marchese will introduce her doc about L.A.’s beloved New Beverly Cinema, where repertory screening attract the likes of Kevin Smith, Patton Oswalt, and Joe Dante. (NR)

Grand Illusion, $5-$9. 7 p.m. Wed.

Pootie Tang Given the pants-peeing audacity of Pootie Tang’s inspired prologue, it’s a shame to report how thuddingly inept and unfunny the remainder of this 2001 comedy is. At the onset, producer Chris Rock and cronies from his non-watered-down HBO days give us a blaxploitation banana split: inarticulate, crime-fighting celebrity Pootie Tang (think Bean for the playa set) takes on a smorgasbord of gimmicky, Dick Tracy-style baddies…with his dead poppa’s ass-whupping magic belt. It’s as dead-on and breezy as Boogie Nights’ Dirk Diggler documentary. Then writer-director Louis C.K.’s well goes entirely dry. Pootie Tang (Lance Crouther) crusades to dissuade kids from devouring the malt liquor and cigarettes marketed by a despicable WASP corporation, which could’ve been hilarious—even important—social commentary, but C.K. paints his one-joke hero into a corner that a feature-length film cruelly magnifies. As he lingers on Pootie Tang’s bizarre, nebulous image, the coolness drips away like custard, revealing merely an uninteresting freak. (PG-13) ANDREW BONAZELLI Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684, central-cinema.com. $7-$9. 9:30 p.m. Fri.-Tue.

Princess Angeline Directors Sandy and Yasu Osawa will be on hand to discuss their recent hour-long doc about the Duwamish tribal princess, daughter of Chief Sealth, who refused to live outside the new city borders—as was required by a shameful 1865 law. In her later life, the defiant woman (who lived circa 1816-1896) was famously photographed by Edward S. Curtis. (NR)

Keystone Church, 5019 Keystone Pl. N., 632-6021, meaningfulmovies.org. Free. 7 p.m. Fri.

Trailer Apocalypse Editor Bob Murawski has compiled this 100-minute reel of grindhouse faves dating back to the drive-in era and ’70s-era Times Square. (NR)

Grand Illusion, $5-$9. 7 p.m. Thurs.

John Wiese The L.A. musician and filmmaker shows shorts and performs live. (NR)

Grand Illusion, $14. 8 p.m. Fri.

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Working Girl Sure, Harrison Ford is too old to be playing a junior executive in Mike Nichols’ 1988 female-empowerment comedy, and the Wall Street mechanics don’t hold up in retrospect. (The market crashed that very same year; perhaps no one understood the M&A bubble.) But the inevitable rise of Melanie Griffith’s Staten Island secretary—while Carly Simon sets her pipes to “Let the River Run”—is entirely irresistible. Griffith and Ford never let you feel they’re stooping to formula, while Nichols directs that bald rom-com formula to genre perfection. The supporting cast is tops: Sigourney Weaver as boardroom villainess; Joan Cusack as big-haired gal-pal; and the hairy young Alec Baldwin as the heel who cheats on our indefatigable heroine. Caught in flagrante delicto with a naked woman straddling him, he protests to Griffith, “It’s not what it looks like!” (R) BRIAN MILLER Central Cinema, $7-$9. 7 p.m. Fri.-Mon. & 3 p.m. Sat.

Ongoing

Avengers: Age of Ultron Writer/director Joss Whedon balances comedy and derring-do with dexterity, and this sequel to 2012’s top grosser doesn’t stall the franchise. Plus it’s got new characters to geek out about, villains especially. Ultron is an artificial-intelligence “murderbot” inadvertently created by billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.)—also known as Iron Man, of course—and scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), aka the Hulk. Ultron changes robotic shape during the film, but his voice is provided by James Spader, who sounds like a tiger mellowed out on expensive brandy. He’s fun, if perhaps overly humorous for a creature who seeks to end mankind’s dominance on Earth. But Whedon, an encyclopedia of pop culture, can’t help himself—earnestness about this nonsense is for 20th-century suckers. It’s not easy to out-irony Downey, but Spader succeeds; Ultron wouldn’t be out of place as a campy Austin Powers villain. “I’m glad you asked that,” says Ultron in response to one of Stark’s questions. “Because I wanted to take this time to explain my evil plan.” He then destroys everything in sight. (PG-13) ROBERT HORTON Cinerama, Sundance, Ark Lodge, Majestic Bay, Kirkland, Bainbridge, Admiral, Vashon, others

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Clouds of Sils Maria Like the clouds that garland the titular valley, Olivier Assayas’ drama of three woman laboring in showbiz has an odd, evanescent quality: Now you see it, now you don’t. Film star Maria (Juliette Binoche) arrives in Zurich to pay tribute to the eminent old playwright who launched her career. Inconveniently, he kills himself, but a rising stage director then proposes a new adaptation of that signature project. But here’s the catch: Maria originally played the pert young seductress; now she’s being offered the role of the tragic older woman. It’s a dilemma she discusses fitfully with her personal assistant, a very competent yet unformed young woman named Valentine (Kristen Stewart, excellent). Their conversations wind along Alpine roads and hiking trails, continuing through cigarette smoke and too much late-night wine. Running lines for the play, the two drop in and out of those scenes to comment on the material. The line between art and life becomes increasingly blurred (sometimes frustrating the viewer). Youth is represented by the Lohanesque tabloid troublemaker cast as Sigrid: Jo-Ann (Chloe Grace Moretz, arriving steely and late), who fascinates Maria with her volatile TMZ meltdowns. Though Clouds has a few welcome laughs, it’s a film about time and a woman’s passages through time—and how aging forces new roles on women, despite their wishes. (R) B.R.M. Seven Gables, Lynwood (Bainbridge)

Danny Collins As related in this simultaneously hackneyed and likable rock-’n’-roll redemption tale, there really was a guy who, 40 years after the fact, discovered that John Lennon had written him a letter telling him to stay true to his art. Al Pacino plays Danny as a music celebrity living high on his legacy, doing what looks like a lounge-act version of Mick Jagger on the casino circuit. He’s on showbiz autopilot, performing his greatest hits for the AARP demo. The belated arrival of the Lennon letter sends Danny to a sleepy New Jersey Hilton. From there, he hopes to finally connect with his neglected son Tom (Bobby Cannavale), born from a backstage hookup. It’s hard to get worked up over the emotional journey of a spoiled celeb who’s milked a bubblegum pop anthem into a fortune. What exactly happened to the earnest young folk singer of the prologue? We never learn. Yet such questions fade as Danny becomes part of Tom’s family. Pacino’s chemistry with Cannavale and Annette Bening (as his not-quite-but-getting-closer-to-age-appropriate love interest) overrides the plot contrivances. Like Danny, Pacino has also been a showman verging on—if not spilling over into—self-parody in recent decades, but he turns Danny’s showmanship into a character trait, a reflexive instinct to connect with and charm everyone he meets, whether a sold-out concert hall or a gobsmacked parking valet. Even in a momentary bit of banter, Pacino makes that moment feel genuine. (R) SEAN AXMAKER Bainbridge

Far From the Madding Crowd Thomas Vinterberg’s new version of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel collapses the action so the movie can trot in at 118 minutes. We’ve just established the impossible relationship between prideful-but-poor Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) and sensible Gabriel Oak (Belgian rising star Matthias Schoenaerts) when she inherits her uncle’s estate, flirts with neighboring landowner William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), and falls under the spell of caddish soldier Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge). The melodrama that has room to breathe in the 170-minute 1967 adaptation of the story is so rushed here that it looks faintly ridiculous. Maybe that was Vinterberg’s purpose; he was one of the Danish filmmakers whose Dogma credo—as embodied in The Celebration—was supposedly against this kind of old-fashioned material. The movie’s clumsiness is so desperate that Bathsheba is given a one-time-only burst of voiceover at the beginning of the film in order to plead ignorance about her supposedly mystifying name (no one has told her the Biblical reference?), as though preparing a 21st-century audience for something unfamiliar. (PG-13) R.H. Meridian, Sundance, Lincoln Square

5 Flights Up Completely reliant on the warmth and goodwill generated by its stars (rather than, say, its writing), this AARP-oriented dramedy strikes all the familiar chords. Retired schoolteacher Ruth (Diane Keaton) and non-selling painter Alex (Morgan Freeman) are finding it a chore to huff up the stairs of their sprawling, sun-washed corner Brooklyn apartment. Nor can their beloved old dog—the Carvers are childless—easily make the climb. The place could be worth a million after 40 years in a now-gentrified hood (Williamsburg, from the look of it). It’s time for an elevator building; time to ask, as Ruth does, “What about later?” With a niece (Cynthia Nixon, from Sex and the City) acting as their broker, they put their place on the market. The sick dog, real-estate haggling, and specious subplot about a fugitive Muslim terrorist—unless he’s not—all turn out to be tremendously mundane. It’s hard to see why we need a feature film about this—but for the welcome chance to enjoy Keaton and Freeman coasting in what’s essentially a TV movie. (PG-13) B.R.M. Sundance

Hot Pursuit The new buddy cop flick starring Reese Witherspoon as an uptight ding-dong police officer and Sofia Vergara as a sexy drug-cartel wife is by no means capital-G good, but it’s undeniably funny. Officer Cooper (Witherspoon) jumps at the chance to leave her desk in the evidence department to escort Mrs. Riva (Vergara) and her drug-dealing husband from San Antonio to Dallas to testify against the kingpin. After realizing the errand was a set-up, Cooper and Riva flee from all kinds of undesirables in a shiny red convertible. Anne Fletcher (Step Up, 27 Dresses, The Proposal) directs this outlandish everything-that-can-go-wrong-will comedy with a very refreshing undercurrent of female friendship. Witherspoon and Vergara exude onscreen chemistry in this flimsy but fun chase vehicle, so I definitely wouldn’t say no to a sequel. (PG-13) DIANA M. LE Guild 45th, Meridian, Lincoln Square, Oak Tree, Cinebarre Mountlake, Cinnebarre Issaquah, others

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Iris Among the final projects of documentary giant Albert Maysles, who died in March, was this somewhat unexpected but very entertaining film. It’s a profile of Iris Apfel, a nonagenarian fashion legend and colorful collector (and wearer) of baubles, bangles, and beads. (The soundtrack of the movie is accompanied by the clacking of Iris’ Bundt-cake-sized bracelets.) If this seems a fluffy subject for Maysles, recall Grey Gardens: zany ladies, full of opinions, dressed to kill. Iris is resplendent with common sense (so absent in Grey Gardens). She goes to thrift stores and haggles over already-inexpensive merchandise; she shrugs at the idea of criticizing the fashion choices of others. (“Who am I to tell them how to look?”) She’s had a happy marriage—hubby Carl turns 100 during filming—and the Apfels ran a successful business for decades, manufacturing classic textile designs for clients including the White House. Yes, Iris and Carl are eccentric, but they’re also brimming with self-possession. (PG-13) R.H. Sundance, Admiral

McFarland, USA Kevin Costner plays Jim White, who provides our perspective into McFarland, a largely Mexican-American town in the California desert. There White soon loses his football coaching position and creates a cross-country team. His prejudices and assumptions are mirrored right back at him by a glib coach from an affluent school, a nice moment that Costner handles with a mix of shame and self-reflection. As a coach, White sees the untapped speed and endurance of his Cougars; as a person, he’s got no idea of their real lives. This is, after all, a town where the prison is across the street from the high school to remind kids that it’s pretty much their only alternative to working the fields. Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) stirs Southwestern spices through the usual scrappy-little-team-that-could ingredients. The kids are types rather than characters with agency or aspirations. Otherwise the film favors easy sentiment over sociology. All these kids needed was someone who believed in them—preferably a flinty but compassionate white guy who can overcome his preconceptions in the process. Go, Cougs! (PG) S.A. Crest

The Salt of the Earth This is an unwieldy documentary portrait of the great Brazilian humanist photographer Sebastiao Salgado, made by two authors: Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, etc.), a professed fan who provides voiceover praise; and Juliano Salgado, the artist’s elder son, who’s part of the family enterprise. Stacked with stunning images (almost like a pedestal), this overlong doc can feel like a promo reel for Salgado’s ongoing Genesis photo series. No outside voices or critics dare interrupt the master or his tribute. Acclaim came in the ’70s and ’80s, as Salgado began haunting war zones, sites of famine and displacement, and scenes of brutal, back-breaking labor in the Third World. I have to say now that such stoic scenes of human misery and endurance have become commonplace, but that’s the legacy of Salgado’s success. Salgado himself speaks in contented aphorisms—sometimes sounding like Bono, so secure in his compassion for the world’s poor and downtrodden, all of whom remain voiceless within his expensive, expressive frames. (PG-13) B.R.M. Ark Lodge

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel The plot devices in this sequel are so stale that the movie itself loses interest in them halfway through its dawdling 122 minutes—and this is a good thing. By that time the contrivances of Ol Parker’s script have done their duty, and we can get to the element that turned the film’s 2011 predecessor into a surprise hit: hanging around with a group of witty old pros in a pleasant location. There are many worse reasons for enjoying movies. Director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) mostly allows Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, and Penelope Wilton to float around on many years’ worth of accrued goodwill. (New to the expat ensemble is Richard Gere.) Especially fine is the spindly Bill Nighy, whose shy Douglas is a hesitant suitor to Dench’s Evelyn, a still-active buyer of fabrics. Even when the story has him fulfilling sitcom ideas, Nighy maintains his tottering dignity and sense of fun. Second Best will be a hit with its original audience, and maybe then some. The languid mood is laced with an appreciation for getting to the End of Things, especially as Smith’s formerly snappish Muriel mellows into a melancholy leave-taking. (PG) R.H. Crest

The Water Diviner Part of Russell Crowe’s immense credibility as an actor is how grounded he is—woo-woo stuff is really not for him. Yet in his directorial debut, he plays Joshua Connor, a dowser who’ll use that a talent to search for the bodies of his three sons, all lost on the same day in the disastrous World War I battle of Gallipoli. Yet in 1919 Turkey (the Ottoman Empire having collapsed), Crowe’s convincing depiction of grief morphs into melodrama. Connor strikes up a friendship with hotelkeeper Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) and her impish son, escapes from a train ambush on horseback, and runs afoul of political unrest. As a director, Crowe is earnest and old-fashioned, and there are movie-watching pleasures to be had here. Lord of the Rings cinematographer Andrew Leslie knows how to look at big open spaces so you sense the bones beneath the surface. The film gets bogged down in its many flashbacks and sidebar dramas, and finally uncorks one too many unlikely coincidences. The sacrifice of thousands of soldiers from Australia and New Zealand was vividly told in Peter Weir’s 1981 film Gallipoli. Three decades later, The Water Diviner feels almost too careful in its desire to hit all the right notes and do justice to all sides. Which makes it more of a war memorial than a living, breathing movie. (R) R.H. Kirkland, Bainbridge

Welcome to Me Kristen Wiig’s ability to slip from broad humor to quietly devastating insight is already well documented. Here she plays an unfortunate soul named Alice Klieg, whose borderline-personality disorder has cast her into the margins of society—until, that is, she wins the lottery, which means she can bankroll her own cable-TV talk show. The show gives her a chance to air her grievances—she has many—prepare recipes, and sing. It’s a trainwreck, but she keeps throwing money at the production company and they keep pocketing it. (James Marsden, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Wes Bentley play her befuddled coworkers.) Director Shira Piven has a great cast and she handles it well, although it would be nice to find out more about Alice’s best friend and ex-husband, especially with ready-to-roll Linda Cardellini and Alan Tudyk playing the roles. The idea of Alice as an avatar for a collective fantasy about getting rich and famous keeps the movie interesting, but there’s something a bit off about the delivery. (R) R.H. Varsity

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What We Do in the Shadows The premise is ’90s-stale: basically MTV’s The Real World cast with vampires, presented as direct-address documentary. This droll comedy comes from the brain trust behind 2007’s Eagle Vs. Shark: Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi, who play neck-biters Vladislav and Viago, respectively. Our three main vamps are a hapless lot. They can’t get invited into any of the good clubs or discos—ending up forlorn in an all-night Chinese diner instead. After all the aestheticized languor of Only Lovers Left Alive (and the earnest teen soap opera of Twilight), the silly deadpan tone is quite welcome. Clement and Waititi know this is a sketch writ large (forget about plot), so they never pause long between sneaky gags. The amsuing and essential conflict here is between age-old vampire traditions and today’s hook-up customs. These neck-biters have been at it so long that they’re only imitating old vampire stereotypes. Things have gotten to the point, Vladislav admits, where they’re even cribbing from The Lost Boys. (NR) B.R.M. Crest

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While We’re Young In outline, this is a routine Gen-X midlife-crisis movie: documentary filmmaker Josh (Ben Stiller) and producer wife Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are stalled in careers and marriage. He can’t complete his weighty, unwatchable opus (something to do with geopolitics and a disheveled Chomskyian scholar; together they’ve IVF’d once for kids, failed, and are settling into a staid, childless rut. They need a shakeup, and it arrives in the form of a spontaneous, fun-loving Brooklyn couple half their age: would-be documentarian Jamie (Adam Driver) and wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried). Noah Baumbach’s lively, career-best comedy sends cynical Josh into unexpected bromance, and much of the movie’s charm lies in our being swept along, too. Is Josh deluded and ridiculous? Of course he is, and yet that’s not the movie’s real source of laughter and inspiration. In denial about his fading eyesight and arthritis, Josh will discover that being foolish and confounded is good for the system, a tonic. If Jamie is a hustler, he’s also like a personal trainer—pushing his client (who forever picks up the lunch tab) into discomfort. Baumbach’s female characters aren’t so sharply drawn, though he provides nice supporting roles for Adam Horowitz (the Beastie Boys), as the only guy who can speak truth to Josh’s blind infatuation; and for Charles Grodin, who brings welcome, sour appeal as Josh’s disapproving father-in-law. (NR) B.R.M. Sundance

Wild Tales The opening sequence to Damian Szifron’s Argentine anthology movie sets up a Twilight Zone-style series of revelations, compressed into just a few minutes. Passengers riding on a suspiciously underfilled plane begin to realize that there might be a reason for their presence there, beyond the obvious business of getting to a destination. Szifron wants to get his movie started with a bang, and he does—though the rest of Wild Tales doesn’t live up to the wicked curtain-raiser. But there are enough moments of irony and ingenuity to make it worthwhile. In one episode, a lone driver has a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, which allows the slowpoke he antagonized earlier to stop by and exact revenge. In another, an explosives expert becomes enraged by a parking ticket—rage that leads him to lose everything. But there’s a twist. A lot of these segments rely on a twist, a technique that doesn’t quite disguise how in-your-face the lessons are. The twists also can’t disguise the way some of the tales rely on illogical behavior to allow their plots to develop. Wild Tales is a showy exercise (you can see why Pedro Almodovar signed on as a producer), and Szifron has undoubtedly punched his ticket for bigger and better things. (R) R.H. Crest

Woman in Gold The last time Helen Mirren went up against the Nazis, in The Debt, it was really no contest. So you will not be surprised to learn that the Austrian art thieves of the Third Reich fare no better against her Holocaust refugee Maria Altmann. Woman in Gold takes its title from the alternate, Nazi-supplied moniker for Gustav Klimt’s 1907 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Adele was Maria’s beloved aunt, and Maria became the plaintiff in a long-fought art-restitution case, begun in 1998, against the Austrian government. As Maria’s sidekick in this true-life-inspired tale, Ryan Reynolds plays the unseasoned young attorney Randy Schoenberg (forever judged against his genius forebear Arnold Schoenberg). This odd couple is obviously going to prevail against the stubborn, post-Waldheim Austrian establishment. As Maria says, “If they admit to one thing, they have to admit to it all.” Were the writing better, this would’ve made a good courtroom procedural (Elizabeth McGovern and Jonathan Pryce show up as judges), but director Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn) instead chooses to add copious flashbacks to the Anschluss era and Maria’s narrow escape from the Nazis. So while this is a serviceable star vehicle that depends on Mirren’s reliably purring V-12 engine, two other actresses play Maria at different ages—depriving us of the regular pleasure of her smackdowns upon poor Randy. (PG-13) B.R.M. Pacific Place, Kirkland Parkplace, others




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