On Adult Beginners and The Rest of This Weekend's New Film Releases.
Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Director: Joss Whedon.
Writer: Joss Whedon.
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, more.
Playing At: Wide.
Marvel sequels have a history of going too big. Seriously: Anyone remember Spider-Man 3? Lucky for us, Joss Whedon only takes things up one notch instead of twelve with his second Avengers take. Sure, there are way too many characters to keep up with and a lot of superfluous subplots. But James Spader absolutely kills it as Ultron, doing that smarmy thing even better than even Robert Downey Jr. himself. As sequels go, this isn't quite on the level of Iron Man 3, but Whedon finds enough room to be creative with all the restrictions Marvel Studios placed on him. In other words, it's better than Iron Man 2. I just wish they'd find a different third act than the one used here. Once again, it comes down to the team having to stop a spaceship from destroying a planet (see also: Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy). Our own Javier Fuentes had similar issues with the film. Check out his in-depth review of the film right here.
Man from Reno.
Director: Dave Boyle.
Writers: Dave Boyle, Joel Clark, Michael Lerman.
Cast: Ayako Fujitani, Pepe Sarna, Kazuki Kitamuno, Hiroshi Watanabe.
Playing At: Angelika Dallas.
I love film noir — think femmes fatales and dashing detectives — because, when it's done well, few cinematic experiences are better. And per our own Javier Fuentes' review, Dave Boyle's foray into the mystery realm is done very well. The film takes place in and around San Francisco, centering around a hit-and-run investigation that hits a snag when the victim up and then vanishes. And he's not the only one who disappears, either. Spooky! Also, this is really cool: Boyle's gonna be on hand at the Angelika for Q&A's at both Friday and Saturday night’s screenings.
Director: Ross Katz.
Writer: Jeff Cox, Liz Flahive.
Cast: Nick Kroll, Rose Byrne, Bobby Canavale, Joel McHale.
Playing At: LOOK Cinemas.
There's a running gag in my family about Paul Newman's Pocket Money. The long and short of it is that my grandfather hated the movie and now we use it as shorthand for any movie that meanders and never really has a point. Seems that's the thing that bogs down this film if our old pal Chase Whale is to be believed. He calls Adult Beginners “unfunny” and mostly forgettable. That's a real shame, too, considering the talented cast here in this career-transition comedy. Oh, well.
Director: John Landis.
Writer: Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Randy Newman.
Cast: Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Patrice Martinez.
Playing At: Alamo Drafthouse.
Showings: Tuesday, May 5.
Quick: Can you tell me what Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates? If you don’t know, well, you're not alone. And, as such, there will be millions of other confused white people drinking overpriced margaritas in solidarity with you next week! For the rest of us, there will be Three Amigos, John Landis' classic comedy of mistaken identity, which finds our reluctant heroes trying to save a Mexican village despite only being skilled in the art of acting. One note, though: This screening's mariachi outfit-optional, although the “My Little Buttercup” sing-a-long required.