Pick of the week: “Short Term 12“ — My full review is here. Writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton drew from his own experiences working in a group home for troubled youth to make this wonderful film, shot through with humor, insight and honesty. The film doesn’t romanticize or trivialize the huge obstacles that some teens have to overcome, but shows that it can happen with a patient, constant application of love from others.
“And the Oscar Goes To . . . ” screens Wednesday at Eastgate and Sundance Cinemas. Not rated, 1:35, two and a half stars out of four.
You know those movie montages that seem to be included in every Academy Award ceremony, those scattershot “We love movies!” clip collections that never seem to have any theme or coherence to them? (The “hero” montage from last month’s Oscars, which shoehorned everyone from Iron Man to Atticus Finch, comes to mind.)
“Cheap Thrills” has a free screening in Madison at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 13 at the Union South Marquee Theatre, 1308 W. Dayton St. Director E.L. Katz and actor Pat Healy will be in attendance. R, 1:25, three and a half stars out of four. This review is based on a report I wrote from the 2013 Wisconsin Film Festival.
“Cheap Thrills” is, first and foremost, a hell of a lot of fun, a raucous pressure cooker that dishes out laughs and shrieks with equal measure. I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to movies like this, but I walked out of a screening feeling like I had just put my tongue on a 9-volt battery. In a good way.
“The Lunchbox” is now playing at Sundance Cinemas. PG, 1:45, three and a half stars out of four.
First of all, I want one of those lunchboxes. Instead of the suitcase-style boxes that Americans are used to, the Indian characters in “The Lunchbox” use an ingenious contraption made up of stacking cylinders, so you can put your vegetables in one cylinder, the rice in a second and the sauce in a third.
“Rob the Mob” is now playing at Sundance Cinemas. R, 1;44, three stars out of four.
From the outside, “Rob the Mob” looks like it’ll be a gritty slice of gangster life. But when you see it’s directed by Raymond De Fellitta, who made some ingratiating Italian-American comedy-dramas in “City Island” and “Two Family House,” you suspect that beneath the gunplay and fuhgettaboutits beats a sentimental heart. The f-bombs are hurled, but lovingly.
Sean Weitner writes about “Visitors,” which played to a packed house at Sundance Cinemas on Tuesday night:
“Visitors” is a mesmeric, meditative film, and those aren’t subjective judgments. Stitched together from long shots of people’s faces, abandoned skyscrapers, decaying statuary, wintry swampland, the moon and a Bronx gorilla, this non-narrative film conjures a mood of ominous ruin.
Enemy” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. R, 1:30, three stars out of four.
It happened to me. It was 1995, and I was backpacking through Europe. At the Czech Consulate in London, while waiting to get a travel visa to go to Prague, I looked across the crowded waiting room. Slouched against the far wall was a man who looked exactly like me.