Magazine article The New Yorker

Movies

Magazine article The New Yorker

Movies

Article excerpt

MOVIES

OPENING

Central Intelligence In this action comedy, an accountant (Kevin Hart) joins a C.I.A. agent (Dwayne Johnson) on a dangerous mission. Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber; co-starring Amy Ryan and Aaron Paul. Opening June 17. (In wide release.)

NOW PLAYING

De Palma

This new documentary, co-directed by Jake Paltrow and Noah Baumbach, is alluringly smooth and uncluttered, as if taking its cue from one of the tracking shots so beloved by its subject. The film consists of Brian De Palma--now aged seventy-five, and merrily expansive in his mood as in his girth--recounting his life and times. Even as he guides us through the mansion of his movies, he emphasizes that, when it comes to directors' careers, "We don't plan them out." There are bountiful clips, ranging from the rough energy of his apprenticeship to the florid choreography of his grander studio projects; if you seek a link between those phases, consider Robert De Niro, who starred both in "Greetings" (1968) and, as Al Capone, in "The Untouchables" (1987). There are moments when one craves more talking heads--a female voice, in particular, that might challenge the blithe assurance of De Palma's attitude toward women. Yet his gifts as a raconteur and the precision of his memory keep the film flowing. (So worried was Cliff Robertson, we hear, that Genevieve Bujold was stealing his thunder, in "Obsession," that he kept leaning over to throw her off balance. Nice guy.) It may seem perverse for Paltrow and Baumbach to start their tribute with a scene from "Vertigo," but, then again, who has been more devout than De Palma in paying homage to the glory of movies past?--Anthony Lane (In limited release.)

The Fits

Anna Rose Holmer's first feature is the apotheosis of the after-school special, in the best way. Most of the action takes place after school, in and near a Cincinnati youth center where the lean and muscular Toni (Royalty Hightower), who's about ten years old, trains as a boxer, mainly with her older brother, Jermaine (Da'Sean Minor). But all the other girls in the center are members of the Lionesses, an award-winning dance troupe, and Toni, admiring and envying their sense of belonging as they rehearse in the gym and exult in the hallway, decides to trade boxing for dancing. (The hard work of practice and the desire to excel are at the core of the action.) Soon after she joins the group, it's thrown into turmoil: one by one, the young dancers endure a seizurelike episode, and these fits--which have no discernible medical cause--become a sort of rite of passage, an experience of wonder as well as of fear. Holmer pares down the story to conjure contemplative moods; she films the children with poised observational tenderness and pushes, calmly but decisively, through practicalities to unfold fantasies and dreams. The movie's natural sweetness vibrates with mysteries.--Richard Brody (In limited release.)

Genius

This thin and staid drama is based on the true story of Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth), Scribner's editor, and his relationship with the young novelist Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law). Arriving at Perkins's Fifth Avenue office one day in 1929, the volatile Southerner is delighted to learn that his novel will be published, but then confronts the editor's plan to reshape the lengthy text. Meanwhile, Perkins, living in Connecticut with his wife, Louise (Laura Linney), a former actress whose talent he belittles, and their five daughters, lets his work with Wolfe interfere with his home life. When the book finally comes out, Wolfe's success goes to his head, leading to a break with his lover, Aline Bernstein (Nicole Kidman), a wealthy older woman who supported him in the lean years. Soon, Perkins's own time of reckoning comes. F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce), Zelda Fitzgerald (Vanessa Kirby), and Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West) make appearances, and--with the exception of Linney--all the actors are miscast. John Logan's script is a jigsaw puzzle of cliches, and Michael Grandage's direction is antiseptic, but a few moments--showing Perkins aboard a commuter train, exulting at the literary voice in his head--conjure the editor's forceful devotion. …

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