Monday, January 25, 2016

Dirty Grandpa, Aferim!, Yosemite, Prescription Thugs

Dirty Grandpa

Prescription Thugs

Another mixed bag:

I spent the first hour of “Dirty Grandpa” shaking my head at its inanity and the damage it does to Robert De Niro’s legacy (or would if he still had one at this point). But then something strange happened: I started laughing, a lot, never more so than during a late sequence between De Niro and Aubrey Plaza, as a collegian with a grandpa fetish. After promising to the whole movie, they finally land in bed, and Plaza asks him to fumble for his glasses. “I can’t find my glasses,” De Niro plays along, waving his hands in the air. “Tell me the buttons on the remote are too small,” she demands. “Tell me this neighborhood used to be safer.” “Tell me things were better under Eisenhower.” By the time they were rutting in rhythm to screams of “We like Ike,” I was inconsolable. Forget the rest of “Dirty Grandpa” and seek out a special comedy from a couple years back called “The To-Do List,” with Plaza as a matriculating senior on a quest to lower her purity test score before hitting campus. It’s delightful… Moderate recommendations for the Romanian director Radu Jude’s Wallachian epic “Aferim!,” with a hilarious leading turn by Teodor Corban as a constable out of whose mouth you never know what vulgar and bigoted aphorism will emanate next; Gabrielle Demeestere’s determinedly low-key “Yosemite,” from short stories by James Franco, about three fifth-grade boys coming of age in Palo Alto, that at each turn insists on only suggesting possibilities, leaving the viewer to draw what inferences he may and doing justice to the openness of youth; and Chris Bell’s candid and revealing documentary “Prescription Thugs,” about Americans’ disproportionate consumption of doctor-prescribed medications that seem to foster dependence rather than healing and cause side effects for which other pills can then be popped.

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