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Thumbnails May 13

by Tony Medley

42 (10/10):  As a baseball fan who saw Jackie Robinson play, I can’t say enough good things about this film. Brilliantly written and directed by Brian Helgeland highlighted by wonderful performances by Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, without being maudlin it captures what Jackie Robinson went through and the courage it took not to fight back.

Erased (10/10): Director Philipp Stölzl gets outstanding performances out of Aaron Eckhart and Liana Liberato, playing his daughter, as both are targeted for assassination by people unknown. Aided by award-quality music by Jeff Danna and captivating cinematography of the Belgium location by Kolja Brandt, Stölzl keeps the pace up for the entire 104 minutes. Opens May 17.

Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s (10/10): The film opens with Joan Rivers meowing, “People who take fashion seriously are idiots.” Director Matthew Miele, however, follows with a parade of people who take fashion very seriously. This is a delightful, informative, educational, and highly entertaining documentary about the 111-year history of the iconic New York department store Bergdorf Goodman. The title is from one of The New Yorker’s classic cartoons by Victoria Roberts. Your jaw will drop when you learn how much money the salespeople make.

Love is All You Need (9/10): Despite the title, this has nothing to do with The Beatles. It’s a tender, sensitive, romantic film with terrific shots of Sorrento. But what makes this film is the spectacular performance by Trine Dryholm, called “the best actress ever” by Alec Baldwin, and this film shows why. But it also contains an equally wonderful performance by Pierce Brosnan who generally hides his talent in junk like the James Bond films and his dismal part of the horribly miscast “Mamma Mia.” This movie has several twists and turns, but it proceeds apace. Like most good films it’s best seen not knowing much about what’s going to happen. 110 minutes might sound like a long time for a film like this, but the time never dragged for me. In English, Danish, and Italian.

Oblivion (9/10): Although no credit is given, this story is strikingly similar to Robert Henlein’s 1950 radio script, “Universe.” It’s a well-paced thriller with fine special effects and good acting by Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman, and Olga Kurylenko.

Disconnect (8/10): “Crash” (2004) started it all and won a Best Picture Oscar® with four separate vignettes, all of which came together at the end. This is the same style, with a fine ensemble cast dealing with some hard issues, like teen-aged cyber bullying. A movie with mounting tension, not an easy one to watch, I thought it ended with a thud. Maybe that’s the way life is. Even so, this isn’t life, it’s a movie! Director Henry-Alex Rubin should have worked to get a better ending after such a fine beginning and middle.

At Any Price (8/10): Ramin Bahrani, who directed and wrote a terrific script (with Hallie Elizabeth Newton), has created a devastating indictment of modern agriculture and genetically modified seeds (GMO), based on an actual incident that he discovered while doing his research. He gets a first class performance from Dennis Quaid, who can flash his fantastic smile at a moment’s notice, regardless of what’s going on inside, expressing a wide range of emotions. Zac Efron contributes a good performance as Quaid’s dissatisfied son. Maika Monroe gives a debut performance playing Zac’s girlfriend that marks her as a real comer.

G.I. Joe Retaliation (5/10): The scenes are nothing if not ludicrous. The fights are ridiculous. What’s really awful about this and others of its ilk is that the scenes and resolutions defy any explanation. The film is mildly entertaining and might be worth seeing for the CGI-created stunts and the 3-D. But I wish they’d stop making frivolous nonsense like this.

To the Wonder (0/10): Writer director Terence Malick is the master of bore, and this nonsensical exercise in directorial egotism is his bête noire.