Hearts Beat Loud
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for drug references, brief coarse language
The theme of longing fulfilled and denied again comes to the fore in writer-director Brett Haley’s deeply satisfying drama. The movie centers on Frank (Nick Offerman), a widower and former musician who is coming to terms with the decline of both his livelihood — a struggling, vinyl-only record store that he runs — and his mother (Blythe Danner).
Frank is forced to confront whether it’s time to have Mom move in with him and his teenage daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons). It’s father and daughter, not mother and son, whose relationship is the central driver of this charming and multilayered tale. The movie zeros in on the bittersweet nature of Frank’s special bond with Sam, who has inherited his love of, and affinity for, music.
The two, on a whim, manage — much to their own surprise — to write a half-decent song. This leads Frank to rekindle his aspirations of rock stardom, and Sam, who is preparing to begin pre-med studies, to question whether she has the heart to crush her father’s dreams as she pursues her own.
Michael O’Sullivan Washington Post
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated but aimed at adults.
It’s hard to watch this character study without taking sides, even if the movie scrupulously abstains from doing so. The title character (Andrea Riseborough) is an aspiring writer and a practiced liar, weaving fiction on and off the page. The lies are easy to discern. The deeper mystery concerns her motivation. It’s not clear what she hopes to get, exactly, from all the falsehoods.
Looking pale and wide-eyed beneath a stringy mass of black-dyed hair, Riseborough, a gifted British chameleon, tamps down the natural radiance she has evinced in movies such as “Battle of the Sexes.”
The key to this tricky, sometimes boldly alienating performance is that Nancy doesn’t seem to know why she does what she does. Her inventions flow, curiously, from a poverty of imagination rather than an excess of it. She’s feeling her way through, one lie at a time, in the slim hope that one of them might open a window onto a richer, fuller or at least more interesting life.
Early on, you might find yourself thinking the same about writer-director Christina Choe’s movie. Eventually, however, the frame widens in a dramatic shift from the studiously dour to the quietly affecting.
Justin Chang Los Angeles Times
⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for violence, language, sexuality, nudity and drug content
The 1972 super cool blaxploitation picture “Super Fly” was a groundbreaking entry into the gangster genre, a bold depiction lionizing the life of a drug dealer, Youngblood Priest (played by Ron O’Neal). It became a cultural icon. But can the story be adapted to the world of 2018?
Music video director Director X gives it his best effort in his Hollywood studio debut. The film is interesting as a means of examining how the genre updates itself. But lacking the grit and shock factor of the original, this version is just corny and dated.
Part of that is a leading man problem. Hot, young Trevor Jackson is just too pretty to be Priest. He’s lacking the gravitas O’Neal brought to the role.
The filmmakers flirt with cultural commentary, but they seem far more interested in money, clothes, cars, jiggling female flesh and copious, jarring amounts of violence. The aggressive sexual objectification and other misogynistic depictions of women make Priest feel out of touch. This is not cool at all.
Katie Walsh Tribune News Service
Back to Burgundy
⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Unrated but includes obscenity, brief nudity, sexual situations. In English and subtitled French and Spanish.
Theater: St. Anthony Main
This lushly photographed family drama set in the famous French wine region dwells, pleasantly, on the winemaking process as the capable ensemble cast navigates domestic tensions. But the film’s central metaphor — life is like wine — is an overripe one.
Jean (Pio Marmaï), the eldest of three siblings from a winemaking family, left Burgundy 10 years ago for Australia, where he produces wine with his girlfriend. As the film opens, Jean has returned home to visit his dying father and reconnect with his sister and brother (Ana Girardot and François Civil). After their father dies, they must make a difficult choice: Keep making wine, as the family has for generations, or — the more lucrative option — sell off the land. This conflict between tradition and change, between family and money, exposes old resentments.
The film reinforces the notion that a fine wine can reveal itself only after a slow process of aging. Unfortunately, director Cédric Klapisch ignores his own advice. If “Back to Burgundy” were a wine, I’d say it was served before its time.
Pat Padua Washington Post