Friday, August 17, 2018
Movies

Jodie Foster makes ‘Hotel Artemis’ first-class experience

Hotel Artemis is a shining example of how it isn’t the amount of money spent to make a movie, but how the budget is being spent. Director/writer Drew Pearce has managed to take the money that would be the cape-pressing budget for most superhero movies and create a high-energy, gritty-looking and prophetically scary tale set in the near future that comes across as big as any summer blockbuster but offers far more bang for the bucks in the writing, visuals and acting.

The film looks at "a typical Wednesday night" in the year 2028. The streets of downtown Los Angeles are the location for the most violent riot in the city’s history. All the blue war-painted protestors want is clean water, something that has become a premium in the state because of corporate greed.

Four men wearing skull masks find themselves in the middle of a failed bank heist where one of the robbers gets wounded. Sherman Atkins (Sterling K. Brown) must get his brother, Lev Atkins (Brian Tyree), to the only place criminals can get medical attention, Hotel Artemis, without attracting the attention of the law. The medical care is given by the no-nonsense woman known only as the Nurse (Jodie Foster).

The film is a compelling visual as either Blade Runner movie, from Pearce’s depiction of the riot-filled streets of Los Angeles to the guest rooms for the patients that reflect a passion for the exotic that has faded.

Pearce has created a very believable world that looks to be on the doorstep of being post-apocalyptic. The way the director keeps the action confined to a minimal amount of sets (partly because of budget restrictions) works because it creates a playlike structure with more of an emphasis on the actors than on the action.

And Hotel Artemis is filled with standout performances topped by an Oscar-worthy effort by Foster, who in recent years has been more content to work behind the cameras instead of in front of them.

Foster transforms herself from her world-weary face to a way of shuffling when she walks that suggests a life of pain and suffering ignored to spend more time helping others. This is one of the Oscar-winner’s best and most memorable performances.

That’s because Pearce was so willing to cast against type with her and Brown. His performance as the always-planning thief couldn’t be any more different than his work on This Is Us. It’s a chance for Brown to show his range and in the process create a character who is smart, loyal and just a little dangerous.

The unusual casting continues through Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, Jenny Slate and Zachary Quinto. Hotel Artemis gives Bautista a chance to show he can do more than flex his muscles, while Day plays the most despicable character of his career. One of the biggest surprises is Slate, who is often cast in lighter projects, but this dramatic role pays off.

Every bit of casting works. Pearce is able to bridge the worlds of great acting and superb action through Sofia Boutella, who plays Nice, an assassin for hire. Generally, Boutella plays the role with a scary likability that is at its best in scenes with Brown. She is also involved with one of the best confined space fight sequences in film since Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Getting both a very human and very deadly performance from Boutella is another example of how Pearce has shown great prudence in making the movie. Everything about the movie works, whether it is viewed as just another summer popcorn movie or as a small independent filmdriven by a compelling story and performances.

The film was made on a low budget, but it wasn’t cheaply made. Don’t have any reservations about checking out Hotel Artemis.

Comments
In ‘Mile 22,’ Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg go hog-wild without a real-life basis to hold onto

In ‘Mile 22,’ Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg go hog-wild without a real-life basis to hold onto

How was your latest drive to the airport? Hopefully a lot less complicated and violent than the one Mark Wahlberg undertakes in his latest outing with frequent collaborator Peter Berg in Mile 22. Working from a wordy, wham-bam script by debut screenw...
Published: 08/17/18
5 films to consider for the popular Oscar, from ‘Black Panther’ to ‘Paddington 2’

5 films to consider for the popular Oscar, from ‘Black Panther’ to ‘Paddington 2’

All hell broke loose when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a new category last week to honor "outstanding achievement in popular film."The highly criticized move raised far more questions than it answered. When will the categ...
Published: 08/16/18
What’s in theaters this week: ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ ‘Mile 22,’ ‘Alpha’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ ‘Mile 22,’ ‘Alpha’

NOW PLAYING: CRAZY RICH ASIANSAn Asian-American New Yorker (Constance Wu) on her first trip to Asia finds out her longtime boyfriend (Henry Golding) is one of Singapore’s most desirable bachelors in Crazy Rich Asians. His judgy mother (Michelle Yeoh)...
Published: 08/15/18
Ernest Hooper: Goody Goody stars in latest documentary by Tampa’s video historian

Ernest Hooper: Goody Goody stars in latest documentary by Tampa’s video historian

I don’t know if she can outrace a giant boulder, navigate perilous pitfalls to capture a hidden idol or beat back Nazi soldiers intent on evil.I’m not even sure if she can deftly handle a whip, or fit a fedora over her salt-and-pepper hair.Yet in man...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/15/18
Expectations are crazy high for 'Crazy Rich Asians.' It's a flawed but vital milestone

Expectations are crazy high for 'Crazy Rich Asians.' It's a flawed but vital milestone

Before it whisks you off on the sunniest, most extravagant Singaporean holiday imaginable, Crazy Rich Asians begins on a curiously dark and stormy night. When Eleanor Young (a mesmerizing Michelle Yeoh) arrives dripping wet at an exclusive London ho...
Published: 08/14/18
Long before 'The Meg,' the hunt for megalodon teeth has been on in Florida

Long before 'The Meg,' the hunt for megalodon teeth has been on in Florida

You can find their giant teeth, sometimes worth thousands, in several spots in Florida.
Published: 08/09/18
Oscars add popular film category, set earlier 2020 date

Oscars add popular film category, set earlier 2020 date

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Oscars are adding a new category to honor popular films and promising a brisk three-hour ceremony and a much earlier air date in 2020. John Bailey, the newly re-elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scienc...
Published: 08/08/18
‘BlacKkKlansman’ is Spike Lee’s best, and most necessary, movie in years

‘BlacKkKlansman’ is Spike Lee’s best, and most necessary, movie in years

Washington PostAmong Spike Lee’s prodigious filmmaking talents, opening sequences are perhaps his most distinctive. He creates ambitious, operatic overtures for his films, mini-movies that introduce viewers to the stories and themes they’re about to ...
Published: 08/08/18
In theaters this week: ‘Dog Days,’ ‘The Meg,’ ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ ‘Slender Man’

In theaters this week: ‘Dog Days,’ ‘The Meg,’ ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ ‘Slender Man’

NOW PLAYING: Dog DaysL.A. canines lead their human companions on surprising journeys in Dog Days, an ensemble comedy with Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Michael Cassidy, Thomas Lennon, Tig No...
Published: 08/08/18
‘Little Mermaid’ film made by the Steinbrenner family premieres this month

‘Little Mermaid’ film made by the Steinbrenner family premieres this month

Robert Molloy sees similarities between Major League Baseball teams and movie productions."The actors are the ball players," he said. "Production designers are like those who work in operations." A director is akin to the manager, he added, crew is l...
Published: 08/08/18