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The Boss is crass and Everybody Wants Some pleases but Hank Williams gets a bland bio pic

Also a thriller from Argentina, The Clan, a strange form of recovery from grief, Demolition, and a rigorous look at right-wing media, The Brainwashing of My Dad

 

The movies address important issues this week, not always well though. Business greed, right-wing media breeding fear and anger and one dictatorship’s legacy are the tough ones. Profound personal changes are examined in the other films.

Here’s the list:

The Boss:  2 stars

Everybody Wants Some:  3

I Saw the Light: 2 ½

The Brainwashing of My Dad:  3

The Clan:  3 ½

Demolition:  3

Hardcore Henry: --

 

THE BOSS: Only if you’re a super Melissa McCarthy fan. If not, and especially if you’re one of those who can’t stand her, look elsewhere. She struts and she swaggers, insults and trash talks, flashes vulnerability now and then and then feigns a reformation but the movie is full of fake emotions and little likeability.  Worse: there are long gaps in the funny stuff where nobody in the audience laughs. Not good for a comedy.

 

McCarthy plays a bully and a business success who is caught for insider trading, sent to jail and tries to re-build something when she gets out. She forces herself on a former employee (Kristen Bell) and her daughter, moves into their small apartment and disrupts a girl-scout-like cookie-selling operation by starting her own. She hawks brownies by recruiting aggressive girls. “If you want something you gotta take it,” she counsels. At its lowest point it leads to a street fight between two packs of girls. There are also vagina, penis and breast jokes that seem out of step but do draw laughs. Peter Dinklage plays a rival who was once her lover but the comic possibilities there are neglected in favor of more nastiness and an action ending. This is a low-class effort with a vicious streak.  (Scotiabank, Marine Gateway and many suburban theatres) 2 out of 5   

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!: This is unusual. One film that serves as a sequel to not one, but two others. Time wise, Richard Linklater’s new one follows right after Boyhood, where we watched one fellow grow up over some 12 years. Tone wise it’s more like Dazed and Confused, his earlier film about a highschool crowd on the last day before the summer break. Now it’s 1980, and a different batch of characters are off to college, where Jake arrives (as Linklater himself did) with a baseball scholarship and a case of LPs. Through one weekend, we see him meet his teammates, with whom he shares a house, trade and listen to observations on life, indulge in a few hi-jinks and a lot of partying. 

 

You won’t recognize many in the cast. Blake Jenner who plays Jake was on Glee and Wyatt Russell who plays a stoner is Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn’s son. (They lived here for a few years so he could play hockey in Richmond.) The others are new and fresh and that’s pretty well the mood of the whole film. It’s a well-observed depiction of a special stage of life: your entry into a brand new phase. You’re suddenly making friends with characters you’ve never seen before, some unusual (to you); some stock (like the country hick or the sore loser). Glen Powell shines as a know-it-all philosopher. There’s always one in a campus crowd. Zoey Deutch plays a performing-arts major who Jake takes a liking too. There’s no story; just a mosaic of incidents. But together they’re full of life and energy and music and resonate with me. (International Village) 3 out of 5

I SAW THE LIGHT: I had great hopes for this one: a biopic about the iconic Hank Williams, one of the greatest country singers ever. He led a tumultuous life, died early and left a batch of classic songs, many of which spill over with emotion. Others step high with down-home rhythm. It was filmed in Louisiana but produced by a Burnaby company which got Tom Hiddleston from England to star and Sony Pictures Classics to distribute it. Rodney Crowell, the music director, and Colin Escott, who wrote the source biography, both know their stuff. So what could go wrong?

 

Lots, unfortunately. Right from the start, the film fails grab to us. Instead of following a strong story line, it bounces around and leaves us on the sideline uninvolved. Right away too much of his story is about squabbles with his first wife (Elizabeth Olsen) who wanted to sing by his side but didn’t have the talent. Hank drank and stumbled, cheated and strayed, yes, but get us caring about his career first. Hiddleston does well-enough with the songs and he emulates the stage presence and has the skinny stance. But the film is bland and not even his good work can do right by the tormented man who wrote Cold, Cold Heart, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and Move It on Over.  (5th Avenue) 2 ½ out of 5  

More in New Movies

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A vengeful mom, a demonic nun and Michael Caine’s memories of the swinging 60s

Also: a tulips and Mafia fantasy in Italy and the troubling lives of three skateboarders

Opening and closing VIFF films announced along with a high profile line-up

Both The Hummingbird Project and The Front Runner have Canadian connections
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