Storytelling highs, exploitative lows of ‘Disobedience’

Images courtesy Bleeker Street.

5/10 In a rural England synagogue, Rabbi Rav Krushka (Anton Lesser) speaks about the creation of the angels and man and our freedom to choose our own destiny before collapsing, succumbing to his pneumonia in front of his congregation.

In New York City, Krushka’s only child, Ronit (Rachel Weisz, who also produces), learns of his death and races home. She was cast out of the arch-conservative Orthodox Jewish community some years earlier for her relationship with another young woman as an adolescent, and is not welcomed back. Though she came primarily for her inheritance, she finds that the Rav wrote her completely out of his will, and the local newspaper explicitly mentions he had no children.

In addition to quickly finding she is unwanted and has no real reason to be there, Ronit learns her adoptive brother and the Rav’s closest student Dovid Kuperman (Alessandro Nivola) and her childhood lover Esti (Rachel McAdams) have married.

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Strong performances, lazy production leave ‘Infinity War’ uneven

The mad titan, death incarnate, scrotumface. Images courtesy Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios.

7/10 It’s upper-echelon for the MCU, but for half a billion dollars, does it have to be so ugly?

In Avengers: Infinity War, Earth’s mightiest heroes are once again called to action to protect it from an unstoppable alien threat. This time it’s Thanos (Josh Brolin), a mad god who has decided that the only way to save the universe from its inevitable heat death is to murder exactly half the population. To make this easier on himself, he is seeking the six infinity stones, artifacts from the dawn of time that, once collected, will allow him to accomplish his goals with a literal snap of his fingers.

Infinity War has a lot of effective moments and a lot that falls flat. Part of the trouble with creating crowd-pleasers that are supposed to be everything to everyone is you almost always end up with something uneven with some scenes far less interesting than others.

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A less chaotic state: 2008’s Iron Man

Images courtesy Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios.

Wow, the first Iron Man. It’s been a while.

It’s been 10 years.

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‘Isle of Dogs’ another wonderful Wes Anderson movie

Dog snouts as leading lines adding dynamism to an image. Images courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.

8/10 Isle of Dogs, the latest from iconic #indie filmmaker Wes Anderson, does little to set itself apart from a body of work that’s starting to become a little too homogeneous — and creates unnecessary problems for itself with the way it uses Japanese culture.

In the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki 20 years from now, an outbreak of dog flu — and a government with an ancient preference toward cats — has led to dogs being outlawed, with animal control instructed to transfer all dogs to Trash Island off the cost. The governor’s dog, Spots (Liev Schreiber) was the first to be given up. Months later, the governor’s ward, Atari Kobyashi (Koyu Rankin) takes a makeshift plane to the island to recover his beloved guardian. A pack of strays (Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum), long-since gone feral, help him navigate the desolate island.

Wes Anderson movies are kind of past the point of talking about them. They’ve been accurately described as their own genre several times. His shots, stories, and design tendencies are not only distinctive, but so similar across his career that it’s tough to distinguish his films from each other — that style and story is delightful, of course, but that almost goes without saying at this point.

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First good video game movie? First good video game movie!

Images courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

9/10 Rampage has The Rock fist-bumping an albino gorilla. It’s fucking awesome!

In low orbit, a lab rat that has received Energyne’s secret gene mutation formula breaks free and barrels through a satellite testing facility. As the shuttle disintegrates, three remaining vials scatter across North America, including one that lands in the San Diego wildlife preserve where  Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) watches over George (Jason Liles), one of the last albino lowland gorillas in the world. Normally peaceful, if a bit of a pottymouth, George swells to twice his size overnight and begins recklessly destroying everything around him. As George berserks through San Diego and a similarly afflicted grey wolf thunders through the Wyoming mountains, killing for sport, Energyne’s evil CEO Claire Wyden (Malin Âkerman) activates a sub-sonic broadcast to summon her creations to headquarters. George and Ralph stampede to Chicago and just trash the place — all while a previously unknown monster, Lizzie the crocodile, storms up the Illinois river.

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