American Animals, a fine heist movie, Sicario 2, evil on the Mexican border, and Hearts Beat Loud, amiable

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Nick Offerman stars as a music fan who runs a store selling vinyl records in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. He’s so into music that he can describe an obscure guitar solo and explain its importance. He wants his daughter (a charming Kiersey Clemons) to make music too but she only wants to study for her pre-med exams. (Quite a reversal of a common plotline). She needs to win a scholarship because he can’t afford her tuition. He’s also getting tired of running a store. Out of that set up, without a hint of melodrama, overdone or contrived, we get a warm and friendly story with much more love than disagreement in it. He wants to form a band with her, sends a song to Spotify and soon hears it playing in a coffee shop. The film still doesn’t go where you expect though and feels fresh and authentic because of it. There are several very good songs, most by Kiersey, one by Toni Collette, and a triumphant feel-good show to a small crowd in the record store. Ted Danson is also around, as a bartender no less, with an ample supply of aphorisms. It’s a small film but immensely affecting.  (International Village) 4 out of 5 

WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST:  Apparently she’s responsible for bringing punk and new wave fashion into the mainstream. I don’t know much about that but I was fascinated to meet her as a person through this documentary. She’s feisty, wily and self-critical. She starts by demanding to be allowed to talk and not be distracted by questions, the better to just “get it over with.” It’s all boring anyway, she says. It’s not profound, but hardly boring.


She’s a fashion rebel who grew a very successful business. She was once in favor of destroying British values, but was later awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth and named British Designer of the Year three times. She’s often mentioned along with her former-partner, Malcolm McLaren, who managed the Sex Pistols. But they broke up, he tried to sabotage her business and she doesn’t want to be defined through him. Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell speak her praises in the film and Pamela Anderson declares: “She’s on this planet for a reason, to stir it up a little bit”. That includes a variety of political causes over the years. Currently she’s a fervent campaigner on the issue of climate change. Filmmaker Lorna Tucker has included fine archival footage, clips from two sons and her current husband Andreas Kornthaler (splendidly vague and rambling in one) and a sharp bit of introspection from her. The punks’ attack on the system, that she was part of, was just a “distraction”, she now realizes. “It was being marketed.” It’s not a full portrait, but a start. (VanCity) 3 out of 5

BYE BYE GERMANY: No, not referring to the World Cup exit but much earlier, to a more dangerous time. Just after the Holocaust, when some Jews who survived the camps returned to Germany. This film raises the question “Why?” It doesn’t answer particularly well and in the final line is somewhat flippant but the film on the way there is enlightening. And possibly controversial: with familiar stereotypes, for one, and with its tendency to present such a grim subject by using humor. It has a lot of that early on; less when the situation turns more serious.

More in New Movies

Conflicting toy movies and two films to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day

Also: Anna, the assassin with a slight feminist bent and a Fakir’s international wanderings

Two comedies about women at work and a stunning documentary about an Aboriginal artist lead this week

And they’re joined by a musical look back, a fashion industry success story that didn’t last and the hipster zombie film that opened Cannes this year

Two giant sequels and several worthy smaller films reviewed

Including new appreciations of Emily Dickinson and Pavarotti, the real story of auto builder John DeLorean, a British filmmaker inspired to draw on her own life and two oddball seniors falling in love
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