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Now screening: Entourage, Love & Mercy, Insidious

On Hollywood excess and charting the Beach Boys, plus two docs on daredevils and fractured families

From a village in Bengal, India to the glitter and excess of Hollywood. That’s the range this week with stops along the way to watch people base-jumping off mountains or standing up to ghosts.

Here’s the list:

Entourage:  2 ½ stars

Love & Mercy:  4

The Apu Trilogy:  --

Sunshine Superman: 3 ½

Some Kind of Love: 3 ½

Insidious Chapter 3:  2

Spy:  not reviewed 

 

ENTOURAGE: What is it doing here? Ari Gold himself might ask that. He’s the powerhouse Hollywood agent in the show that ran for eight seasons on HBO and now, four years after signing off there, jumps to the big screen doing more of the same. The story just continues on and the film plays like one more, but longer, episode. Ari (Jeremy Piven), now that he’s a studio head, offers his main client Vincent  (Adrian Grenier) the lead in a blockbuster version of Jekyll and Hyde. Vince insists on directing too and runs over budget. Much fretting ensues notably regarding the Texan who’s put up the money (Billy Bob Thornton) and sends his not-too-bright son (Haley Joel Osment) to see what’s going on.


 

Vincent’s boys meanwhile (the entourage of old friends) both party on and face their own issues. Drama (Kevin Dillon) fears he’ll be cut out of the film and feels humiliated when a sex tape is leaked.  E (Kevin Connolly) has a pregnant ex-girlfriend and two recent hook-ups to deal with. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) pursues UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, also hoping for a hook-up and Ari agrees to couple’s counselling with his wife. But nobody changes. They all carry on as they always have, including talking and doing a lot of sex. The series was popular for its camaraderie and accurate glimpse inside Hollywood. I see something else. With people like this in the industry, it’s no wonder there are so many mediocre movies. This one has snappy writing and funny lines but not much insight or satire about the excesses, neuroses and celebrity culture it depicts. 

 

Although there are many inside references for the fans (catch the long-talked-about Mentos commercial, for instance) you don’t have to know what came before if you’re new to this.  It’s an easy story to get into and Piers Morgan has a handy re-cap in a mock news feature. He’s one of dozens of cameo celebrities. There are football players, industry insiders and porn stars;  Kelsey Grammer, Jessica Alba, Warren Buffett, Pharrell, Liam Neeson (leading to a Shindler’s joke) and Mark Wahlberg, who’s own entourage inspired the series. Fun, sunny and shallow. (International Village and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5 

LOVE & MERCY: Little did you know all those times when you listened to Good Vibrations what was really going on with the Beach Boys. Two TV movies didn’t tell us but recent books and now this movie do. Brian Wilson was hearing voices in his head as well as music. (“I saw God and he showed me the future.”)  Out goes the surf sound, in comes a richly-textured sound of the Pet Sounds album (Wouldn’t It Be Nice, God Only Knows, etc.) and then Smile, the masterpiece he imagined but ditched because he cracked up under the pressure. His dad hated it and band member Mike Love said even the happy songs sound sad. This film by Bill Pohlad tells the story by cutting back and forth between two time periods.

 Paul Dano is the younger Wilson of the 1960s; John Cusack is the older one of the 1980s, although he doesn’t look at all like him. Both capture an entirely believable and eerie image of him: Dano as the driven artist; Cusack as the spaced-out paranoid submitting to the tyranny of his doctor, played with crazy relish by Paul Giamatti. Elizabeth Banks as Wilson’s second wife (we see them meet in a car showroom where she sold Cadillacs) worked to free him from his shrink’s control. We don’t get the whole story but we get enough to feel the emotional turmoil. And we get great studio scenes of a damaged genius at work. (International Village) 4 out of 5

 

THE APU TRILOGY: One of the most celebrated series of films ever has returned.

 

More in New Movies

Reviews of an unexpected charmer, a really red wedding and a local boy who shines in a mediocre movie

Also: documentaries about Toni Morrison and the power of water and an action thriller with Gerard Butler

Local kid gets potty mouth in Good Boys, British teen is musically Blinded by the Light and a stunning history is uncovered

And in other films: Octavia Spencer accuses, Cate Blanchett breaks down, Julianne Moore manipulates, Leslie Jones faces the Angry Birds and four teen girls attract sharks

Women mobsters in The Kitchen, country ways in Honeyland and TV journalism as Mike Wallace did it

Also: stardom as David Crosby endured it, a dystopian tale and a wise dog yarn, both filmed in Vancouver, and two more that I haven’t seen
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