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Thumbnails May 16

by Tony Medley

A Bigger Splash (8/10): This stylish, atmospheric remake of 1969ís ďLa PiscineĒ about a rock singer Tilda Swinton, her boyfriend, Matthias Schoenaerts, her former lover, Ralph Feinnes, and his femme fatale daughter, Dakota Johnson, is highlighted by fine acting and exceptional cinematography. There is a lot of talk and the least erotic nudity (and lots of it) ever seen in a movie, but itís underlined by disturbing rising tension. (Opens May 4).

Criminal (7/10): As long as you can accept the premise, which I was able to do, the pressure never lets up in this high octane, edge of your seat thriller. Despite a close-your-eyes scene of torture at the beginning that did not need to be so graphic it is a relatively believable sci-fi chase film not unduly overloaded with special effects.

The Huntsman: Winterís War (7/10): Although Iím fantasied out, for what this is, itís entertaining. Who knew there was a sequel to the story of Snow White (told in Hollywood style in 2012 in ďSnow White and The HuntsmanĒ)? Like most fantasies this is, well, fantastic, so forget that thereís anything here that is even close to being credible or realistic. But itís sometimes humorous, has beautiful women (Charlize Thereon and Emily Blunt), a good-looking guy (Chris Hemsworth), and some nice special effects, especially of enchanted forests.

The Family Fang (5/10): Slow as molasses with lots of shots of people thinking, this strange story of a married couple (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett) devoted to performance art and their two children (Nicole Kidman and director Jason Bateman) who are not so devoted, is exacerbated by Kidmanís constant whispering of many if not most of her lines. It didnít bother me much because I didnít care what she was saying, or what anyone else was saying either, for that matter.

The Boss (1/10): This crude, profane monstrosity threatens to give nepotism a bad name. Melissa McCarthy gave her husband, Ben Falcone, his first directing gig with the deplorable Tammy (2014) that was worse than awful. The so-called humor in this film is basically limited to frank discussions of men performing sex acts on other men. F-bombs and tawdry language are neither funny nor humorous and are inadequate substitutes for actual humor. But when you can neither write nor direct with wit and style, thatís what youíre left with, a gift from Judd Apatow, the patriarch of todayís vulgarians.

Demolition (0/10): About a guy (Jake Gyllenhaal) who emotionally destructs after losing his wife, this nonsense isnít just one of the worst movies of this year, itís one of the worst movies Iíve seen, ever. Wasted along with Jake are Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper.

The Meddler (0/10): The good news is that this chick flick starring Susan Sarandon in virtually every scene as a wife who has lost her husband and is running around trying to do good deeds for others, does, in fact, end. While you might feel that you are trapped inside one of the new lasers on a 20 year trip to our nearest star, Alpha Centauri, and that there is no end in sight, that is an illusion created by a contrived, politically correct story and some really dismal acting and directing. But, contrary to what you might feel as you are sitting there entombed with this film in a darkened theater, you will not die of boredom. I am living, breathing evidence that survival is possible. On the plus side, Juice Newton sings ďAngel of the MorningĒ near the end, and J.K. Simmons gives his usual good performance, but heís only in it for about 10 minutes.