KCRW gets reviews of the latest film releases from Tim Grierson, senior U.S. critic for Screen International and the author of “This Is How You Make a Movie,” plus Christy Lemire, film critic for Roger Ebert dot com and co-host of the podcast “Breakfast All Day.”
This psychological thriller is about billionaires and con artists. It has a star-studded cast, including Julianne Moore, John Lithgow, and Sabastian Stan. The A24 film is in limited release and will be available to stream next week on Apple TV+.
Grierson: “The way the film actually plays out is that it's told in chapters, and each chapter is devoted to a specific character in the movie. And once one chapter is over, you will then get another chapter of a different character that was in the previous sequence. But you're gonna learn a different angle or perspective on that character.
… I almost found the movie too exhausting in terms of the amount of twists. … I think ‘Sharper’ becomes so preposterous in certain ways, that I don't think it holds together once the movie is actually over. That being said, Julianne Moore … plays somebody who we don't often see Julianne Moore playing in a movie, and that's very, very fun.”
Lemire: “I totally dug this movie. It feels like a really well-made pulpy 90s noir thriller. … I want to shout out the cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen, who brings this beautiful, lush, dramatic noir lighting quite frequently.”
“Somebody I Used to Know”
Directed by Dave Franco and starring Allison Brie (who is also a co-writer), this romantic comedy follows a workaholic TV producer who reconnects with her ex, but he’s getting married. It starts streaming on Amazon Prime on Friday.
Grierson: “The characters start to do things that are not particularly smart in the movie, just because the rom-com conventions require it. I also wish that the Alison Brie character who is unlikeable — was actually more unlikeable.”
Lemire: “[Alison Brie has] created a character here who is really unlikeable and inherently quite selfish and manipulative. And yet she brings a perkiness and a sweetness and a vulnerability to it, so that she's not totally despicable. I really liked this a lot. It's more than it appears on its face.”
“The Blue Caftan”
This Moroccan film was on the Oscars shortlist for Best International Feature. It features a love story about a closeted dress shop owner, his wife, and their young apprentice. It’s in limited theatrical release starting Friday.
Grierson: “This is not a movie in which you're rooting for one over the other. You understand all three characters. You really like all three characters and you understand all three characters' positions in the world where this movie is set.
A gay romance is something that has to be kept very, very, very quiet. And we have such sensitivity to telling that story. But he is a closeted gay man. And she understands that and that's been part of the relationship, but he still does love her. But when this apprentice comes along, it complicates that relationship.”
“Magic Mike's Last Dance”
The latest in the “Magic Mike” franchise stars Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the film follows Mike Lane (Tatum) as he travels to London. It’s in wide, theatrical release starting Friday.
Lemire: “It's an interesting hybrid between the first ‘Magic Mike,’ which looked like it was going to be sexy but was actually about the recession, and the second ‘Magic Mike,’ which was a full-on romp and it was a blast of a movie. This splits the difference, and it has a bit of melancholy to it and a bit of an innocence and a sweetness to it in the romance between Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault.
… I dug this, not everyone's gonna like it. But the whole put-on-a-show energy is fun. The whole auditioning dancers part is fun. There's a great sequence on a city bus in London that is very inspired in its use of space. And then there are some fantastic elements to the final dance.”
Grierson: “The movie is mostly muted and melancholy in terms of this idea of Mike coming to understand that as he's turning 40, that his time in the spotlight is over. A lot of it is him being hired by this socialite to be a dancer, director, choreographer for younger dancers to perform in this stage show.
… In some ways, this movie is about [Mike] passing the baton on. If people are just going for a sexy, fun time, they'll get a little bit of that. But it's more of a grown-up love story and also a story about a guy who himself has to grow up a little bit.”