- Amazon Studios and Universal Pictures and IFC Films
Fellow movie buffs—doesn’t it feel a bit weird that the summer is already here but there are no summer blockbusters? Raise your hand if you can’t wait to get back into a movie theater to see a new release. Until then, there are plenty of new movies hitting VOD and other platforms for your viewing pleasure. Here are a few capsule reviews of some of those movies that opened over the last couple of days.
The dramatic thriller 7500 is basically a one-man exhibition for actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper), and he doesn’t disappoint. Gordon-Levitt plays Tobias Ellis, an airline pilot who is forced to make a series of life or death decisions when the airplane he is co-piloting is hijacked by a group of men armed with weapons made of glass. To make matters more complicated, Tobias’ girlfriend and son’s mother Gökce (Aylin Tezel) is one of the plane’s flight attendants. Directed and co-written by first-time feature filmmaker Patrick Vollrath, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2016 for his short film Everything Will Be Okay, 7500 is anchored by Gordon-Levitt’s intense performance and the tension that Vollrath is able to create inside the cockpit as Tobias weighs his options and realizes how high the stakes are if he makes a wrong move. It’s an admirable attempt by Vollrath, but isn’t executed very well in the third act when one of the panicked terrorists, Vedat (Omid Memar), begins to speak with Tobias, a pivot in the screenplay that is supposed to humanize Vedat, but doesn’t stick the landing. If it wasn’t for the sloppy, predictable final stretch, 7500 might’ve made a deeper impact. 7500 is available on Amazon Prime.
2.5 out of 5 stars (not recommended)
Babyteeth is unlike any dark dramedy centered on a character with cancer that you’ve likely ever seen. Directed by first-time feature filmmaker Shannon Murphy, the film is an odd, imperfect and fascinating journey that manages to avoid hitting too many false notes. Sure, Babyteeth is, at times, undeniably quirky, but not in the same way movies like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl or 50/50 are. For better or worse, it feels like it’s on its own playing field in the cancer dramas sub-genre. The film stars Eliza Scanlen (who played Beth in Greta Gerwig’s version of Little Women last year) as Milla, a teenager suffering from terminal cancer. Her and her parents Anna (Essie Davis) and Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) seem content living out the rest of Milla’s life making it as wonderful and peaceful as they can, but Milla isn’t happy. When she meets 23-year-old druggie and every parent’s nightmare Moses (Toby Wallace) at the train station, she immediately becomes infatuated with him. In any other scenario, Anna and Henry wouldn’t think twice about kicking Moses to the curb, but seeing Milla light up when he is in the room just might be enough for them to look the other way. “This is the worst possible parenting I can imagine,” Anna sighs. Across the board, the performances in Babyteeth are top-notch, which helps keep the drama from idling since it is nearly two hours long (at times, it feels like it’s never going to end). Still, Murphy and first-time screenwriter Rita Kalnejais make some bold choices and give audiences a reason to smile through so much tragedy. Babyteeth is available on VOD platforms.
3.5 out of 5 stars (recommended)
My Darling Vivian
The 2005 film Walk the Line — Hollywood’s portrayal of American music icon Johnny Cash — might have been one of that year’s most acclaimed biopics, but at least one of Cash’s daughters was unhappy with the way it depicted their mother, Cash’s first wife Vivian Liberto. In the new documentary My Darling Vivian, Kathy and her sisters Roseanne, Cindy and Tara share their own memories about their late parents and try to set the record straight about who their mother actually was. Two years after Liberto’s 2005 death, a memoir she’d been working on, I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny, finally saw publication. The book contains several of the more than 1,000 letters the singer sent to Liberto during his time overseas. My Darling Vivian also shares some of those letters. Along with heartfelt and honest interviews with all four daughters, the exchanges paint another image of Liberto. It’s one fans may not be aware of if they’re relying on Hollywood’s depiction of the couple from Walk the Line or 2007’s comedy parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Kathy, Roseanne, Cindy and Tara pull their mother out of that darkness once and for all with My Darling Vivian. It’s an incredibly effective film that unearths a cache of emotions. By the end, Liberto emerges from the pain and inaccuracies to become a sympathetic, elegant and extravagant documentary subject. My Darling Vivian is available on Alamo Drafthouse On Demand.
3.5 out of 5 stars (recommended)
You Should Have Left
You Should Have Left reunites actor Kevin Bacon with writer/director David Koepp for the first time since their 1999 thriller Stir of Echoes. Unfortunately, their latest movie won’t be as memorable for mainstream horror fans who loved Koepp’s storytelling and final twist from 20 years ago. Bacon stars as Theo Conroy, a banker who takes his young actress wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) and daughter Ella (Avery Tiiu Essex) to the Welsh countryside for a vacation. While there, Theo, who has a dark past, begins to experience a mental breakdown that stems from the mysterious house where they are staying. Overall, Koepp’s narrative feels wholly unoriginal. Theo walks aimlessly around the house while some sort of entity occasionally slinks past the camera. Koepp plays with lighting, shadows, shapes, sounds and time with consistency, but none of it adds up to much of anything that you haven’t seen a million times before. A better title would’ve been You Should Have Left It Off Your Queue. You Should Have Left is available on VOD platforms.
2 out of 5 stars (not recommended)
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