Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What to See Right Now

What to see, what to see?

There's a lot of good stuff out right now, starting with the box office behemoth "Furious 7" and the exceptional value for money it provides with its death-defying stunts, vertiginous thrills and comedy both intentional and (intentionally) unintentional. This most accessible and best installment yet - of the best action franchise going - leaves a tear in your eye with the elegant simplicity of its tribute to the late Paul Walker and a beautifully chosen final visual metaphor. I also heartily recommend (and everyone I've sent has thanked me) Dan Fogelman's "Danny Collins," a study of slow, hard-won redemption featuring Al Pacino (in his best performance since "Glengarry Glen Ross") as a rock legend jolted out of complacency by a never-delivered letter written to him by John Lennon. His interplay with Annette Bening - as the manager of the nondescript New Jersey Hilton he checks into to find the son (from a one-night stand) he's never met - kept me smiling without sacrificing the truth of the characters. Christopher Plummer shines as Danny's agent, who knows he only gets to level with him once in a dozen times and picks his spots with precision. New this week is Victor Levin's charming, Manhattan-set "5 to 7," with Anton Yelchin as a 24-year-old aspiring novelist and the breathtaking Bérénice Marlohe as a 33-year-old married Frenchwoman with children who brings him into her family and meets him for trysts at the St. Regis only during the "happy hours" of 5 to 7 p.m. Glenn Close and especially Frank Langella merit special mention as his initially disapproving parents. The cinematography makes the city look beautiful and the breezy, jazzy score enhances the spell. Still playing is Dave Boyle's playful neo-noir "Man from Reno," a triumph of tone that opens with the densest fog I've ever seen in a movie and sustains its mood of mystery, menace and mirth from Tokyo to San Francisco and on south. It's as up for anything as its police procedural-writing heroine. A few theatres are still showing "Focus," one of the most entertaining major-studio movies in a coon's age, with a richly textured comeback performance from Will Smith as the world's greatest grifter and the heaven-sent Margot Robbie, wearing the comedy as easily as her sex appeal, as the watch booster who aspires to play at higher-limit tables and whom Smith takes under his wing. The cons alone are worth the price of admission; they're the kind you'd construct if you had a $50 million budget to blow to score $25 million. For kids, there's Kenneth Branagh's "Cinderella," mercifully modernized in only the slightest and most becoming of ways. With some work, you can also still find the joyous session-musician documentary "The Wrecking Crew" or the delicious history "Deli Man" - just don't go on an empty stomach.

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