⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated: Contains drug use.
Things are getting rather stale at Nat Dayan’s kosher bakery. The old Jewish pastry maker (played with the ideal balance of drama and humor by Jonathan Pryce) is losing clients, he’s still mourning the passing of his wife, and is in danger of losing the shop’s location to a developer who wants to give the neighborhood a grotesque parking ramp. But then he signs on a teenage Muslim immigrant from Darfur as his kitchen apprentice. It’s an odd-couple partnership that raises each one’s luck. When the new chef accidentally drops his marijuana stash into the challah bread dough, the store’s profits zoom higher, as do the customers. Lines form down the street for the shop’s pot-stuffed delicacies, and Nat’s assistant gives his family business more appreciation and commitment than does his own son. Director John Goldschmidt’s low-key delight is tied more to tradition and culture than religion, but it’s a sweet peace accord between observant Jews and Muslims, and across generations.
⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for language and suggestive material.
It seems there’s no stopping Garry Marshall’s terrifying cinematic rampage on our nation’s treasured holidays. Having ruined both “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve” with his star-packed omnibus projects, the director has burned his way through the calendar, landing on “Mother’s Day” as his next victim. This time around, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, Timothy Olyphant and many others are subjected to the interconnected, fake heartwarming holiday-themed story. It claims to be a tribute to the idea of maternal love, but it’s not even heartwarming or about mothers so much. Your mom deserves better this Mother’s Day.
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
Rio, I Love You
⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: R for strong language, sexual situations and nudity.
There are more than 6 million potential love stories in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, none of the 10 that have been assembled in this anthology film are any good. Ten directors (including John Turturro and Fernando Meirelles) have created interwoven vignettes that, for nearly two hours, provide moments of mild amusement, tepid melodrama and, for relief, great music. With so many directors, incoherence is a concern. But shifting tones are not the problem here. The film’s editors weave the strands of this scattered tapestry as well as can be expected, and the film is wonderful to look at. It’s just that the writing is consistently terrible. And let’s not even get into the vampire story. “Rio” is the third film in the “Cities of Love” series, after “Paris, Je t’Aime” and “New York, I Love You.” If this latest installment is any indication, all that jet-setting should be avoided.
Pat Padua, Washington Post
Ratchet & Clank
⋆ out of four stars
Looking at the history of movies based on video games, there are a few basic rules for filmmakers to follow. The producers of this film ignore the first rule (“Don’t make movies based on video games”), before disregarding rule No. 2 (“Forget that it was originally a video game”) and rule No. 3 (“Cast a major role for Milla Jovovich”). Does that sound cynical? Then you haven’t spent years watching dozens of good game franchises consistently fail to translate on the big screen. The film is about Ratchet, a cat-like alien and spaceship mechanic who wants to be an elite Galactic Ranger. He teams with acerbic droid Clank to fight endless waves of robotic soldiers, while exchanging one-liners with bad guy Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti). All of the above worked fantastically in the innovative early 2000s video games. Here? Not so much.
Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
Papa: Hemingway in Cuba
⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for language, nudity, sexual situations, violence.
Theater: Coon Rapids, Lagoon.
This is the first American feature shot entirely on location in Havana since 1959. The movie makes a good argument for reinstating the American travel ban to the island, at least for Hollywood productions. Shot in 2014 with the assistance of the Cuban Film Institute, on a budget low enough to skate by the U.S. trade embargo policy, this dramatization of the real-life friendship between a former Miami Herald reporter and the legendary author during the late 1950s is as engaging and authentic as a junior high school production of “Death of a Salesman.” “Papa: Hemingway in Cuba” is best enjoyed as a travelogue that allows the viewer a good look inside Finca Vigia (a popular tourist attraction in real life) and lots of shots of cool vintage cars and beautiful beaches. But there isn’t a single honest moment in this colossally misguided movie.
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald