This weekend includes the remake of the Disney animated hit, a family's struggles with poverty in Ireland and a look at the life of musician David Crosby.
This week, the remake of the 1994 Disney classic The Lion King hits theaters. Featuring the voices of Beyonce, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen and more, the new version uses "virtual cinematography," meaning that the African backdrops and animals depicted in the film are based on the real thing, as if shot on location. Compared to the original 88-minute pic, the remake is a little over two hours.
In contrast to Disney's movie, writer-director Stephane Briz depicts the hardships of a factory strike in the south of France in At War. With a cast of mostly workers themselves and a mix of news clips throughout, the film has the feel of a documentary.
Music lovers have David Crosby: Remember My Name to see this weekend, where the musician recounts his life, career, drug addiction and more. He opens up about the challenges he's faced and his terrible treatment of past bandmates, none of whom talk to him now.
Luz is an eerie retro film centered around the interrogation of a Chilean cabbie driver set in Germany after an accident. The investigation involves hypnosis and leaving the woman with a more frightening path ahead.
Rosie is the story of poverty for an Irish family living out of their car. With a 36-hour time span, the mother, Rosie, struggles to find a place for the family to spend the night, revealing the complicated nature of poverty and ethics.
From the husband-and-wife team behind the Oscar-nominated 1984 film Streetwise, TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell follows one of the homeless teens prostituting herself at age 13 whom the two centered on in their first movie. The film follows where life has taken her since.
With a range of films coming out this weekend, here’s what The Hollywood Reporter's critics thought of the new releases.
This docu-style movie from the mind of writer-director Stephane Brize shows the plight of workers during a factory strike in the southwest of France. Vincent Lindon, the winner of Cannes' top acting prize for Brize’s previous film Man, stars as Laurent Amedeo, a worker at an auto parts manufacturer where empty promises from bosses in earlier years have led the factory to the brink of closure and the employees grasping for employment. The fight between labor and management is led by Laurent and Melanie (Melanie Rover, an actual worker. like most of the cast).
In THR’s review, Jordan Mintzer says “the viewer is thrown into the action alongside the film’s weary protagonists, who are fighting for jobs that seem to be already lost" where compared to Brize’s early work, “he’s more interested here in workplace politics than in characterization, and we hardly learn much about Laurent except that he’s divorced and his daughter is expecting a child.” Mintzer later discusses the authenticity of the movie: “Along with the supporting nonpro cast and all the news footage, this makes At War feel much closer to documentary than fiction — and the movie itself less like a workplace drama than the chronicle of a soldier in the heat of battle.”
In this documentary, produced by Almost Famous director Cameron Crowe and helmed by newcomer A.J. Eaton, David Crosby reflects on his career, his many loves and life. The musician, a member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash (and later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), discusses his drug addiction, his contentious relationship with his former bandmates (none of whom is currently talking to him) and the way he hurt women in the past throughout the film, with archival footage and interviews weaved together.
Leslie Felperin wrote in THR’s review that the doc is "a touching, nostalgia-infused portrait that’s imbued with affection for its horny, ornery but consistently charismatic subject" and viewers do not need an "an interest in Crosby’s music and position in history" to enhance their viewing.
Felperin notes Crosby discussing his many loves and the stories that come with them, like his relationship with singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, "of whom he speaks with great admiration, even if he likens falling in love with her to 'falling into a cement mixer.'"
"On that note, a considerable chunk of screen time is spent on the subject of Crosby’s many love affairs with many, many different women, most of whom he confesses to having hurt emotionally and/or physically as well by drawing them into drug abuse," Felperin adds.
The only flaw she sees is that “the film doesn’t allocate a little more time to discuss the musical nitty gritty of Crosby’s work, such as the 'weird tunings' he alludes to that he developed as early as his days with The Byrds and which make his sound so distinctive."
The photorealistic computer-animated remake of the 1994 Disney feature includes the voices of A-list castmembers Donald Glover, Beyonce, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen and John Oliver. The "virtual cinematography," meaning that the animals and African settings are based on the real ones, as if shot on location, was overseen by Caleb Deschanel and visual effects supervisors Robert Legato and Adam Valdez, who previously collaborated on The Jungle Book.
In Todd McCarthy’s review for THR, he writes that while the movie is “nearly a scene-by-scene remake of the original, albeit a half-hour longer, it serves up the expected goods, which will be duly gobbled up by audiences everywhere like the perfectly prepared corporate meal it is." He also notes that “the film's aesthetic caution and predictability begin to wear down on the entire enterprise in the second half — the original animated Lion King ran 88 minutes, while this one lasts two hours. You can feel the difference.”
McCarthy credits director Jon Favreau with the attention to detail, though: “All the images look real, which they really do; there's even one shot with pretend camera glare.” Regardless, though, “very few remakes, other than Gus Van Sant's shot-by-shot reproduction of Psycho, have adhered as closely to their original versions as this one does.”
German screenwriter-director Tilman Singer presents an eerie retro mood on demonic possession in an unnamed German city in an ambiguous era. Luana Velis plays a Chilean who works as a cabbie in Germany, who gets interrogated by detectives for an accident she’s involved in. Having to relive the night through the investigation, most of the movie takes play in white rooms where the outside world hardly exists.
THR film critic John DeFore calls the movie a “slow-burner that will alienate some," adding that the picture's quiet stretches serve its purposes, turning what might've been just one act of a more conventional horror pic into a tantalizing short feature.” DeFore continues by saying the police investigation is “no ordinary interrogation: Hypnosis plays a part, as does, well, not exorcism, but some kind of transfer of spirits that viewers will have to make sense of for themselves.”
He lastly remarks that “the film is too ambiguous to be spoiled by synopsis, but it's clear that the action before us has something to do with Luz's childhood interest in the occult” and “seems only at the beginning of her frightening path.”
Irish novelist-screenwriter Roddy Doyle and director Paddy Breathnach tell the story of a family coping collectively with homelessness. Sarah Greene plays Rosie, a mother of four, who each day struggles to find a place for the family to sleep that night.
THR critic Leslie Felperin writes of the film: “Anchored by a finely grained, beautifully modulated performance from Sarah Greene as the title character, a mother effectively living out of her car while she struggles to find temporary accommodation each night for herself, partner and four kids, the film is an empathy generator, an antidote to compassion fatigue.”
She adds: “Doyle's screenplay doesn't go in for big political grandstanding, to its credit, but it's hard not to watch this film and wonder why the system is so broken in a country whose economic prosperity has grown exponentially over the last 20 years.” By avoiding “making the characters into modern martyrs at the mercy of bureaucracy, Doyle suggests that the situation is even more complicated than it looks at first,” continues Felperin, and by looking at the complicated relationship of Rosie with her own mother, who although could house her family refuses due to past disagreements, “the story becomes not just one about bad luck and hard times, but also about personal ethics as well.”
From the team behind the 1984 Oscar-nominated documentary Streetwise, TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell follows one of the homeless Seattle teens from the earlier movie. Erin Blackwell, who was energetic and spunky as a teen, was continually followed by photographer Mary Ellen Mark and her husband, Martin Bell, who put together the first documentary and this one as well. Blackwell, an impoverished teen who was a prostitute by the age of 13, later in life became obese, a drug addict and mother to 10 children. Some of her kids she raised herself, and left others to foster care, all ranging in stability with drug addictions.
THR's review from John DeFore says that “if this is a survivor's story, it's of those who've survived to this point in a disaster that is still in progress.” The “common ingredient in this film and Streetwise is the inclusion of voiceover in which teenage subjects talk of ambitious hopes for the future,” which shows how far Blackwell was from her ambitions. DeFore gives credit to the husband-and-wife duo, who “though sympathetic to a woman they have known for over 30 years, Mark and Bell make no positive or negative judgments about her life.”