What to See in Movie Theatres This Weekend

The New Yorker’s film critics offer quick takes on current theatrical
releases.

I Do . . . Until I Don’t

Lake Bell’s impressively personalized rom-com—she wrote it, directed it, and stars in it—delivers a warmly satisfying resolution without showing how it gets there. She plays Alice, a thirty-five-year-old woman in Vero Beach who longs for city life. Her marriage to Noah (Ed Helms), her college sweetheart and a small businessman, is foundering as they struggle with fertility, sex, and finances. A British documentary filmmaker (Dolly Wells) comes to town in search of unhappy couples whose stories would support her thesis that marriage should be for renewable seven-year terms, not for life. Among her recruits is a real-estate agent named Cybil (Mary Steenburgen), whose thirty-year marriage to Harvey (Paul Reiser) has devolved into an emotional slugfest; Alice wants into the film as well. As secrets bubble to the surface, new lies are born; Bell is hard-nosed and clear-eyed on the link between love and money, but she’s vague on pain and emotional effort. Festering family resentments flip from calamity to cheer with a wave of the hand. The film’s genial scenes for the cast of gifted comedians (which also includes Wyatt Cenac, Amber Heard, and Connie Shin) play more like showcases than like pieces in a drama.—Richard Brody

“Marjorie Prime”

Michael Almereyda has long been eager to probe the dramatic potential of
new technologies; in his “Hamlet” (2000), the ghost of the king appears
to the grieving prince via CCTV. In Almereyda’s new film, the whole plot
is founded on a digital innovation of the near future. The dead, we
learn, will be resurrected as computer-programmed holograms known as
Primes, which allow the bereaved to converse with—and take some comfort
from—near-flawless 3-D facsimiles of their loved ones. In an elegant
beach house, Marjorie (Lois Smith) enjoys the company of Walter (Jon
Hamm), a Prime of her late husband at his peak, in handsome middle age.
Their reborn relationship (if that is what it is) causes understandable
disquiet to Marjorie’s daughter, Tess (Geena Davis), and Tess’s
husband, Jon (Tim Robbins), though it seems unlikely that they, in turn,
will reject the chance to summon forth those they have lost. The movie,
adapted from a play by Jordan Harrison, stays close to the sea, and the
action—mostly talking—is confined to a few quiet rooms. But the moods
change as swiftly as the weather, and the performers derive full value,
and a surprising tension, from their uneasy dealings with the living
dead.—Anthony Lane

Nocturama

Arriving in the wake of terrorist incidents in France, Bertrand
Bonello’s new film risks—or maybe courts—controversy. A group of young
men and women, hailing from varying classes and races, and linked only
by their disaffection with society, carry out coördinated attacks across
Paris on a single day. That evening, they take refuge in a department
store, after hours, and have time to savor some of the finer fruits of
capitalism: designer clothes, televisions, food and wine. Mustering
outside, meanwhile, are the forces of the law. The approach throughout
is hyper-controlled, fending off any hint of the reckless; both the
editing and the cinematography keep careful pace with the tightly
plotted crimes, and many of the performers patrol the scenes in an
under-reactive daze. Bonello, like John Carpenter, provides his own
electronic score, and, in the end, you are less likely to be outraged by
the movie’s political provocation than numbed by its hypnotizing style.
In French.—Anthony Lane

Beach Rats

Eliza Hittman’s second feature, like her 2013 début, “It Felt Like
Love,” is set in southern Brooklyn, centered on an adolescent’s sexual
conflicts, and directed with a vigorous and tremulous intimacy. This
time, the landscape is broader, the action rowdier. The
story concerns Frankie (Harris Dickinson), a brash and smart-mouthed
Sheepshead Bay teen-ager dissipating the summer with drugs, handball,
and vaping, mostly in the company of three cronies he won’t deign to
call friends. He gets picked up at a Coney Island fireworks show by a
girl named Simone (Madeline Weinstein), but he pursues the relationship
with a callous halfheartedness. Frankie is secretly gay; he connects
with men online and sneaks off to desolate roadside areas for furtive
sexual encounters. But, when his pals detect hints of his secret life,
he considers drastic and ugly action to keep it covered up. Hittman,
working with the cinematographer Hélène Louvart, conjures a palpable
sense of heat, both physical and emotional, pressing close to faces and
bodies in brazen sunlight, humid shadows, and neon haze. Her vision of a
homogeneous enclave’s crushing insularity is as richly textured as her
tactile sense of the allure and the danger of youthful
energy.—Richard Brody

Good Time

A headlong new movie from Josh and Benny
Safdie
.
The latter also stars as Nick, a shy soul with learning difficulties,
who is dragged into crime by his brother, Connie (Robert
Pattinson). They rob a bank; Nick is arrested, and Connie spends the rest of the
film trying to spring him from custody, or to raise enough money—by any
means, fair or foul—to bail him out. Much of the story unrolls in the
course of one night. Though Connie’s adventures border on farce, as he
hatches a plan to smuggle a patient out of the hospital and blunders
around an amusement park, the mood remains sleepless and crazed,
compounded by a nagging neon glow and the throb of the soundtrack. Forthe Safdies, restlessness comes with the territory, often to scattershot
effect; this, however, is their most coherent work to date, largely
because of Pattinson, whose energy drives the tale along. Connie is a
thief, a sponger, and sometimes a real jerk, but you can’t get him out
of your head. With Jennifer Jason Leigh, as a weary friend who’s seen it
all before.—Anthony Lane

Logan Lucky

The new Steven Soderbergh film stars Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as Jimmy and Clyde—the Logan boys, from
West Virginia, who, together with their sister, Mellie (Riley Keough),
hatch a plan to rob a bank vault under Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Tatum
savors the name as if he were sipping rye.) Also on the team are Joe
Bang (Daniel Craig) and his brainless brothers (Jack Quaid and Brian
Gleeson). Joe is an expert bank robber, though clearly not that expert,
given that he is in jail; Craig delivers, in the truest sense, a
breakout performance, springing manically free from the bondage of 007.
Soderbergh likewise brushes off the glamour that he conjured for
“Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) and its sequels, and revels in the rough and
compromised lives of his protagonists, as he did in “Erin Brockovich”
(2000) and “Magic Mike” (2012). The movie, part of which takes place
during a Nascar race, can’t always resist the temptation to patronize,
but, as the story proceeds, it builds up both a head of steam and an
atmosphere of reckless good will. With brief but striking contributions
from Katherine Waterston, as a medic, and Katie Holmes, as Jimmy’s
ex.—Anthony Lane

Dunkirk

The new Christopher Nolan movie is set in 1940, during the mass
evacuation of British and French troops from northern France to the
relative safety of England. The saga, an essential chapter in the
British wartime narrative, is not widely known elsewhere, and what Nolan
delivers is neither a history lesson nor even much of a war film. A good
deal of it strikes the senses, not to mention the nerves, as an exercise
in high tension and near-abstraction, as men (there are almost no women
to be seen) are perilously poised between land and water, water and air,
darkness and light. Mark Rylance, dourly determined, plays the skipper
of the Moonstone, one of the innumerable “Little Ships” that went to the
aid of those who were trapped on the beaches. Overhead, Tom Hardy is in
typically phlegmatic form as a Spitfire pilot who must protect the naval
vessels from German bombers. The movie feels old-fashioned whenever it
seeks to stir up British pride; as a fable of survival, though, with its
quicksilver editing and an anxious score by Hans Zimmer, it amazes and
exhausts in equal measure. With Kenneth Branagh, Fionn Whitehead, and
Harry Styles.—Anthony Lane