5 Movies Worth Seeing and 3 to Avoid During Memorial Day Weekend

With some extra time this Memorial Day Weekend, many will head to the movies to beat the heat and catch up on their favorite films. Here is film critic Rene Rodriguez’s picks for movies to see and those to avoid.

5 Movies Worth Seeing

1. ‘A Bigger Splash’ (R) – 3 stars

The premise is simple: The rock star Marianne (Tilda Swinton) is recuperating from throat surgery and has come to Pantelleria to vacation with her boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts, who looks like Viggo Mortensen’s younger, hunkier brother). Marianne is under doctor’s orders not to speak for two weeks, so the couple spends their time sunbathing nude, having sex and slathering each other’s bodies with sea mud, all things that don’t require much talking. (Read More)

 

 

2. ‘Love and Friendship’ (PG) – 3 stars

“Does this woman always get her way?” demands a character in Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship, a smashing adaptation of Jane Austen’s perky novella Lady Susan. The woman in question is, of course, the unscrupulous Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale). If she were a man, she might be called a rogue or a swine. Being a woman, though, Lady Susan avoids those particular assaults on her character (though not others). She also usually gets her way. (Read More)

 

3. ‘Weiner’ (R) – 3 stars

Anthony Weiner’s 2013 mayoral campaign was supposed to be a comeback, a vindication of the former congressman whose career imploded two years earlier after he accidentally shared a sexually explicit photo on his public Twitter account (he intended to send the picture to a specific woman; oops!). When he launched his run for mayor of New York City in May of 2013, he was polling far ahead of his rivals and he even decided to invite filmmakers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg to shadow him, allowing them uncommon access into his campaign for a documentary that would presumably depict his rise-from-the-ashes victory. Instead, the resulting film ‘Weiner’ tells a different story — a riveting portrait of a man so consumed by hubris and confidence that he is utterly blind to his failings. Five months into his campaign, which was being run by an energetic staff of young, fresh-faced believers passionate about their candidate, Weiner was busted again for the exact same thing — more phone sex antics, this time using the alias “Carlos Danger.” (Read More)

4. ‘Captain America: Civil War ‘ (PG-13) – 3.5 stars

This is a bold move for a superhero movie, because such films are often defined by their villains (the more daunting, the better). But ‘Captain America: Civil War’ isn’t like most superhero movies. The Marvel films are about to get nuttier as the ramp-up to the climactic ‘Infinity War’ begins, and ‘Civil War’ feels like filmmaking brothers Anthony and Joe Russo wanted to hit pause and bring the story back down to a recognizable reality before the action goes cosmic. (Read More)

 

5. ‘The Nice Guys’ (R) – 2.5 stars

The Nice Guys is really a throwback to old-fashioned star vehicles, movies designed to show off the charms of their stars. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling (above) are best known for their dramatic work — they specialize in playing stoic, physical, embattled men — but Gosling has already demonstrated a flair for humor (his Saturday Night Live hosting stint was hilarious) and Crowe, starring in his first full-on comedy, makes the wise choice of treating the material earnestly, as if it were just another serious role. This one just requires him to do an occasional spit take. (Read More)

 

And… 3 Movies to Avoid

1. ‘X-Men Apocalypse’ (PG-13) – 2 stars

I can’t recommend much about this latest X-Men picture without getting into problematic and somewhat embarrassing territory. For example, Olivia Munn (above). She’s barely in it, and she’s barely wearing much of barely anything, yet I spent much of Bryan Singer’s earnest, competently crafted slog texting notes to myself regarding a petition I’d like to circulate that launches Munn’s telepathic ninja warrior mutant Psylocke, into her own franchise. She’s one of A-pock’s “four horsemen,” the woman with the devil in her eyes brandishing a digital lightsaber-y lasso. (Read More)

 

2. ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ (PG) – 1.5 stars

The premise is so thin that it wears out its welcome before the first act is up, and not even the visuals can save it. The art direction and design are uninspiring. The movie is dour and dark, and the days that Alice visits are set in rooms and houses and streets that don’t offer any glimpses of the nonsense world that makes the stories themselves so unique. There isn’t enough whimsy in the world to save this unengaging story. (Read More)

 

3. ‘The Jungle Book’ (PG) – 2 Stars

The Jungle Book is driven by computers. The movie, which has been earnestly directed by Jon Favreau using every conceivable tool in the big-budget special effects arsenal, boasts the most photorealistic grass and trees and skies since James Cameron’s Avatar. There are shots in which the movie could pass for a nature documentary, even though it’s set in a world in which almost every animal speaks perfect English. But the illusion doesn’t gel: Favreau nails the small details but whiffs on the overall picture. The better these talking beasts look, the more the film resembles a gorgeous screen saver. You admire The Jungle Book, but you can’t lose yourself in it. (Read More)

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