What should I see this weekend?, 2/3-2/5

ScreenerBlog

February gets off to a less-than-stellar start with new wide releases The Space Between Us and Rings.

(SR)=Specialty Release

The Good

Mr. Gaga (SR): “This weighty, masterfully crafted documentary investigates the life of acclaimed Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company and inventor of Gaga, a groundbreaking, sensation-based approach to modern-dance training.”

War on Everyone (SR): “Even when it strains too hard to be offensive, this buddy-cop comedy delivers its fair share of pitch-black laughs.”

Oklahoma City (SR): “Instead of telling a single feature-length story about one of the worst terrorist attacks in American history, this clear-eyed, ‘Frontline’-ish documentary sketches out the latticework of paranoia and hate that led up to it.”

Saigon Bodyguards (SR): “Bodyguards battle crooks to rescue a Saigon business in a breezy, lightweight comedy.”

Chapter & Verse (SR): “The utter realness of this story and the way it has been handled is the resonating strength of Jamal Joseph’s gripping, affecting study of survival in today’s Harlem.”

The Blah

The Space Between Us: “This sci-fi action-adventure-romance has fine performances and real comic potential but is laden down with excess.”

I Am Not Your Negro (SR): “Intelligent but sometimes discursive documentary about African-American author James Baldwin.”

Growing Up Smith (SR): “A flawed but likeable fish-out-of-water tale.”

A Good American (SR): “Throws powerful punches but never quite lands the knockout.”

The Lure (SR): “Enticing, but not entirely satisfying.”

Dark Night (SR): “Cinematic craft outweighs dramatic impact.”

Youth in Oregon (SR): “The dysfunctional-family road trip plays out in a decidedly minor key in Youth in Oregon, a drama that struggles to breathe life into its death-themed narrative. As the ailing and deeply unhappy octogenarian who sets his sites on assisted suicide, Frank Langella finds nuance in material that ranges from on-the-nose to clumsy, and Christina Applegate’s performance as his daughter hits true notes beneath the cacophonous surface. But mainly the fractured clan at the center of the feature is not great cross-country company.”

Wheeler (SR): “Vanity project by Stephen Dorff showcases the talented star/co-writer as undercover musician, playing to Nashville audiences under makeup and prosthetics as the fictional Wheeler Bryson. Great art project. Bafflingly egotistical drama.”

In the Steps of Trisha Brown (SR): “Ardent fans of the revolutionary postmodern choreographer Trisha Brown may love this documentary, but most viewers, dance cognoscenti included, will probably find In the Steps of Trisha Brown only mildly interesting.”

This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous (SR): “She is her own dream come true—a vision of manmade loveliness—but is that all there is, to warrant a Barbara Kopple doc?”

The Grace of Jake (SR): "Still waters run not that deep in this passably pleasant, gospel-driven heartland drama."

The Ugly

Rings: “Rings does little to improve upon a tired horror idea that’s been done better by other filmmakers, making it aggravatingly redundant.”

The Comedian (SR): “A wit-free comedy that defies classification (and not in a good way).”

The Trouble with Terkel (SR): “So abysmal that its existence almost defies logic, The Trouble with Terkel is not only destined to be 2017’s worst film, but it also stands as one of the most singularly awful and incompetent productions in cinema history.”

Don’t Knock Twice (SR): “Another generic haunted-house framework where characters ignore the very thing a movie title warns about. Stale, without chills, and not the demonic game of ding-dong-ditch we’d hope for.”