TOP CHOICE OF THE WEEK
The unbearable weight of massive talent
**** Nicolas Cage is a rare acting legend whose filmography has grown into a fluid library of cult classic genres. It’s a unique cinematic achievement that spans generations – and that’s what makes The unbearable weight of massive talent work. In the film, Cage plays such a meta version of himself that it becomes difficult to determine what is satire and what is autobiography. Here, “Nick Cage” is in a career slump, plagued by financial troubles and rumors about his eccentric spending habits (in one scene, he offers to pay $20,000 for a statue of himself wielding a gun inspired by john woo Front/Off). This forces him to accept a humiliating gig from wealthy superfan Javi (Pedro Pascal): to appear as a guest at his birthday party for $1 million. The action kicks off when the CIA recruits the actor to spy on his host, channel his inner “Cage” and complete a mission. This results in a fun bromance with Javi based on their shared love of filmmaking (the true heart of the film). Moments of absurdity happen rarely enough to lift the comedic tone without defining it – and co-writer and director Tom Gormican knows his audience, giving viewers what they want without caring what others think. It’s an attitude any Nicolas Cage fan can relate to and happily revel in. R RAY GILL JR. Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Laurelhurst, Lloyd Center, Living Room, Mill Plain, Pioneer Place, Studio One, St. Johns Twin, Tigard, Vancouver Plaza.
***Michael Bay’s Ambulance is stupid beyond belief, but it’s also thrilling, terrifying and impressively brutal. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Danny, a career criminal who enlists his adoptive brother Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) to help him steal $32 million from a Los Angeles bank in broad daylight. It’s an insulting and unlikely setup – even if Will needs the money for his wife’s “experimental surgery”, why would he go along with Danny’s delusional plan in minutes? But once they steal an ambulance to escape the army of police on their trail, the film gets into a choppy pace. By trapping a bleeding cop (Jackson White) and a hardened EMT named Cam (Eiza González) in the ambulance with the brothers, Bay creates countless possibilities for triumphant tension. When Cam has to use a hair clip to perform surgery, your heart skips a beat – and when the snipers prepare to fire shots that could kill everyone in the ambulance, it stops. almost. Hyper-editing and swooping camera movements make the action too frenetically blurry, but there’s no denying Bay’s control over the exhilarating currents of fear that run through your mind and body as you watch. Based on a 2005 Danish film, Ambulance hits its share of false notes, but unlike most modern action films, it understands the difference between bombast and suspense. R BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. AMC Vancouver, Bridgeport, Cascade, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Fox Tower, Movies on TV, Progress Ridge, Tigard, Vancouver Plaza.
Everything everywhere all at once
*** A sci-fi/martial arts (kung fusion?) hyperkinetic fever dream grounded in Asian American family dynamics, Everything everywhere all at once will be absolutely adored by some moviegoers from its first moments. It’s a movie made to be loved and, given the jaw-dropping technical magic at play throughout, nearly impossible to hate. Michelle Yeoh is usually dazzling as Evelyn Wong, a misanthropic laundromat owner called upon to save the multiverse from her daughter’s worst self (Stephanie Hsu, in a role intended for Awkwafina). Evelyn is an underwritten character, but Yeoh brings a welcome authenticity to the film, even if a performance of such finely nuanced nuance isn’t the best fit for the DayGlo sensationalism of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the filmmaking duo known as the name of Daniels (Swiss army man). As with Terry Gilliam, Edgar Wright or any other avant-garde sentimentalist pressing restless rhythms and visual inventiveness in the service of a totally unworthy story, the directors effortlessly energize the slow parts and the paper on the holes of the plot, but when the pacing calms down and the fireworks go down for an emotional climax, the film moves chillingly. Inevitable? Maybe, but it’s still disappointing Everything everywhere all at once is less than the sum of its dazzling parts. R JAY HORTON. Academy, Bridgeport, Cinema 21, City Center, Clackamas, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Hollywood, Joy Cinema Laurelhurst, Lake Theatre, Living Room, Lloyd Center, Roseway, Studio One, Tigard.
*** The latest from “slow cinema” master Apichatpong Weerasethakul starts with a bang, but only literally. Jessica (Tilda Swinton), an orchid grower living in Medellín, Colombia, is awakened one night by an unidentifiable booming sound. With insomnia, noise becomes an inescapable part of Jessica’s life, heard only by her. In a long-lasting stun, she finally heads for the mountains to the origins of sound. That said, focusing on the plot of a Weerasethakul film distorts its appeal; sensory exploration is the main attraction. In Memory, time slows down, stalls and replenishes itself in minutes of uninterrupted takes of jazz quartets, hospital visits and even deeply poetic siestas. Swinton is more engaged than ever, giving a performance seemingly devoid of desire, charisma, and even makeup. Fans of Weerasethakul stars like Uncle Boonmee who can remember his past lives can be easily swept away in the Thai director’s first (partially) English-language film, but it’s hard to speculate whether the uninitiated will find Memory more transcendent or simply tedious. There is little spiritual enrichment in Jessica’s alienation – rather, the film gradually positions her and the audience as infinitesimal, with identity and logic as mere blips and coincidences in spacetime. . The metaphysical mysteries of the universe explode and then recede. PG. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Cinema 21, April 27-28.
** In its early days as a major studio, DreamWorks Animation was often accused of trying to emulate the output of its main competitor, the House of Mouse. Shark Tale was “The world of Nemo with gangsters. Antz been “The life of an insect with Woody Allen” (although he came out first). Shrek was “any Disney princess movie with Jeffrey Katzenberg’s unreserved bitterness at being ousted from society”. Now 2022 brings us The villainsa.k.a “zootopia but not as good. It’s a shame, because some parts of the movie really work. The animation offers a nice mix of sketchbook textures and 3D models, and the voice actors are up for anything, especially Sam Rockwell and Zazie Beetz (who trade the winning repartee as a pickpocket named Mr. Wolf and a red fox politician named Governor Foxington, respectively). However, the story is paper-thin and flimsy – especially during a third act that takes an unexpected detour from heist movie to sci-fi – and the gags rely heavily on crude jokes, a broad slapstick and the occasional pop culture reference out of nowhere. The villains isn’t terrible or offensive, but it’s well below the standards DreamWorks has set for itself. PG. MORGAN SHAUNET. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Center, Mill Plain, Oak Grove, Pioneer Place, Progress Ridge, Studio One, Tigard, Vancouver Plaza, Wunderland Beaverton.
The man from the north
** If you like your men handsome, violent and full of self-pity, you’ll love it The man from the north, a new take on the Norse legend that inspired Hamlet. It’s a satisfyingly brutal mystical epic directed by Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse, The Witch) and starring Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth, a comically obsessive Viking prince. When Amleth was a boy, his father, King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke), was murdered by his uncle, Fjölnir (Claes Bang), who later married Amleth’s mother, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) . By the time Amleth is old enough to seek revenge, Fjölnir has lost the kingdom to a rival ruler and become a farmer, which is one of the film’s many twisted jokes – Fjölnir can never fall far enough to sate the fury of Amleth. While Amleth’s macho theatrics might have been intolerable, it is undermined by the film’s particular humor. There’s a charming self-amusingness behind the actors’ exaggerated Scandinavian accents – they know they’re in a bonkers movie and they love it. Many audiences probably will be too, but with the exception of Queen Gudrún who pokes fun at her son with a beautifully mad cackle, Eggers is a director of split loyalties – he berates toxic masculinity while reveling in it. Hypocrisy is by no means fatal, but despite a glorious duel climaxing on a lava-flooded volcano, The man from the north leaves a weary familiarity in its wake. Criticize men like Amleth and Fjölnir? Good. Leave them behind? Better. R BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Clackamas, Cinemagic, Cinema 21, City Center, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Hollywood, Lloyd Center, Mill Plain, Studio One, Tigard, Vancouver Plaza.
sonic the hedgehog 2
** Over the past decade, movie studios have chased the earth-shattering impact of the culture of The Avengers with mixed results. Still sonic the hedgehog 2 understands what made Marvel’s superhero mashup so successful in 2012: making no apologies for making a kids’ movie featuring a cast of brilliant action figures that repeatedly collide. Sonic’s latest adventure is unlikely to change the life of anyone over the age of 12, but if Sega Sammy’s silliness is your jam, you’re in for a wild ride. Directed by Jeff Fowler, the sequel is dominated by a sense of exploration, seriousness and, above all, fun. The action is fast and creative, some of the gags are genuinely funny and the cast is game – Idris Elba in particular has a ball voicing the ever stoic Knuckles the echidna, making the character both an unflappable warrior and a child too great trying to convince everyone of his seriousness. Outside of Jim Carrey’s happily maniacal Dr. Robotnik, however, the film struggles to find purpose for its human supporting cast, to the point that you start to wonder why they even bother. Ultimately, sonic the hedgehog 2 is at best a mostly harmless romp that entertains you, or at least distracts you. PG. MORGAN SHAUNET. Academy, AMC Vancouver, Bridgeport, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Center, Mill Plain, Pioneer Place, Progress Ridge, Tigard, Wunderland Milwaukie, Vancouver Plaza.