Reviewed in brief: 'They Came Together,' A Coffee in Berlin,' 'Supermensch'

  • Updated: June 26, 2014 - 2:29 PM
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Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler star in “They Came Together.”

Photo: JoJo Whilden • Lionsgate,

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Redwood Highway
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements including a scene of menace.
Theater: Mall of America.

 

Shirley Knight, a two-time Academy Award nominee, never got the career she deserved. Here she gets a role good enough to be considered a consolation prize. Knight creates a nicely shaded yet vividly direct character as Marie, a proud, indomitably independent scold restless in her Oregon retirement home. With a rebuke for everyone, she provokes exasperation in all who know her, not least her own family. When Marie’s granddaughter disinvites her from her wedding, Marie slips off to walk the 80 miles to the seaside location. Marching into places welcoming and menacing, she’s impelled to confront her own flawed decisions. Knight spins tension, pangs of pain and wily fun out of her tottering but strangely durable character’s adventures. The mostly gentle drama has integrity without feeling caught up in its own nobility. (Edina native James Twyman, who co-wrote and co-produced the film, will host a Q&A following the 7:35 p.m. showing Friday and the 2:45 and 7:35 p.m. showings on Saturday and Sunday.)

COLIN COVERT

 

Ai Weiwei — The Fake Case
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated: Art nudity, profanity. In English and subtitled Mandarin.
Theater: St. Anthony Main.

 

If you want to provoke an artist, try to stifle him. Andreas Johnsen’s documentary shows the strategies used by dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to mock the government for jailing, harassing and spying on him. He’s no sooner released from an 80-day solitary prison term than he finds himself under house arrest, facing a kangaroo court tax-evasion trial. The Kafkaesque prosecution pushes him to ever greater international prominence. It also rouses a huge wave of popular support, as thousands of everyday Beijing residents fold currency into paper planes and sail them over the wall of his studio, to pay his fines. The film focuses more on Ai’s quixotic political courage than his artistic output. He’s a pro-democracy anti-Communist with scant faith in Western capitalism. When he suggests a project to give away a fortune in gold, his American art adviser is flummoxed. The film ends on an optimistic note with Nina Simone’s “It’s a New Day” at the fadeout. As Ai says of the current regime, “One day it will completely collapse. I’m trying to figure out which day. It’s very hard.”

C. C.

 

A COFFEE IN BERLIN
⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated: In subtitled German.
Theater: Lagoon.

 

The cheerful Dixieland soundtrack implies “A Coffee in Berlin” is a comedy, but the story line smears the screen with melancholy. The black-and-white indie follows Niko (Tom Schilling), a rudderless German law-school dropout with hair flopping lankly over a sharp fox’s nose. After a sunrise breakup, our put-upon antihero packs a mountain of discontent into a single day. Officious authority figures dog his every step, and the women he encounters are judgmental or unstable, more often funny-odd than funny-ha ha. Some vignettes resurrect the city’s dark history, as when an old barfly reminisces about smashing Jewish shopkeepers’ windows. Others predict a dubious future, with teenage louts commandeering the nighttime streets. Niko’s daisy chain of misfortune feels more random than cleverly unresolved.

C. C.

 

RIGOR MORTIS
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated: Violence. In subtitled Cantonese.
Theater: St. Anthony Main, 10 p.m. Sat.

 

In this gory, uproarious, ultra-stylish Hong Kong ghoul-a-thon, a penniless former movie star hitting rock bottom moves into a haunted apartment building. The rent is cheap, and besides, he expects to hang himself straightaway. Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. Next thing, he’s in the midst of a vampires vs. exorcist battle royale, with creepy corpse kids, long-haired spooks, martial arts mayhem and blood that splatters like an uncapped blender. Eerie, hypnotic, visually stunning and ridiculous all at the same time. With visuals this gruesome and flashy, who needs seamless storytelling?

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