Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Movie planner: 'X-Men: Apocalypse,' 'Alice Through the Looking Glass,' 'A Bigger Splash' and more

OPENING THURSDAY: X-Men: Apocalypse

Twentieth Century Fox allowed reviews of X-Men: Apocalypse (PG-13) to be posted two weeks ago, much earlier than usual for a reported $234 million blockbuster. Or any movie, for that matter.

Fox may have guessed (correctly) that critics wouldn't be kind, hoping moviegoers would have short memories. Just in case, here's an excerpt from my grade C+ review, available at tbtim.es/10lb:

"Despite epic intentions, X-Men: Apocalypse reveals a franchise running in place, its levitation twist on destruction — things fall up rather than down — now a tired visual cliche. It feels like a finale no one has the courage to admit … (with) a steadily unimpressive supervillain. Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, encased like Tut) is ridiculously beatable, considering he's the first mutant and has been soaking up powers from others for thousands of years."

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

On the other hand reaching for your wallet, Disney kept local critics away from Alice Through the Looking Glass (PG) until too late for Weekend to review.

In 2010, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland opened a new revenue stream for Disney, turning animated favorites like The Jungle Book and Cinderella into quasi-live action fantasies. Burton turned over the sequel's directing chores to James Bobin (The Muppets).

Mia Wasikowska returns as Alice Kingsleigh, called back to Wonderland when the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is threatened by the clockwork villain Time (Sasha Baron Cohen).

Alice Through the Looking Glass marks the final screen performance — albeit in voice only — by the late Alan Rickman, as the hookah-smoking caterpillar Absolem.

INDIE FLICKS: A Bigger Splash

The erotically cryptic A Bigger Splash (R) stars Tilda Swinton as Marianne, a Bowie-esque rock star recuperating from throat surgery at a seaside Italian villa with her soulmate Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts). Their sensual respite is interrupted by Marianne's former lover and producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his recently discovered daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). Suspicion leads to temptation and murder, as flashbacks reveal twists in the elder trio's relationship.

Fiennes' performance is the chief attraction here, a bolt of kinky bonhomie that's darkly unhinged, dabbed with regret. Harry's omnisexual appetites make anything possible in this foursome, more so when they entertain guests. A Bigger Splash is boldly sexual, making its shallow mystery of intentions tolerable until it must be solved and isn't. Swinton and Schoenaerts radiate jaded hedonism; Johnson plays the Lolita card well. The fewer clothes anyone wears, the better. A Bigger Splash opens Friday at select theaters. B

Love & Friendship

Writer-director Whit Stillman reunites his The Last Days of Disco stars Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny in Love & Friendship (PG), adapted from Jane Austen's short novel Lady Susan.

Variety reviewer Justin Chang deemed Love & Friendship "a supremely elegant and delicately filigreed adaptation. … With his love of fine clothes and finer diction, Stillman proves an unsurprisingly intuitive fit for Austen, but he also knows just how to give her pointed social satire an extra stab of wink-wink postmodern drollery without breaking the spell."

Love & Friendship opens Friday at select theaters.

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Ta

1 Sing Street: Dublin lads form an '80s pop band, from the creator of Once.

2 Captain America: Civil War: Marvel's superhero family in smart disarray.

3 Money Monster: George Clooney leverages his star power in a Dog Day Afternoon-ish thriller.

4 The Nice Guys: Russell Crowe is the brawn, Ryan Gosling the birdbrain.

5 A Bigger Splash: Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton play erotic head games.

UPCOMING RELEASES

(dates subject to change)

June 3: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping; The Lobster; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows; Me Before You

June 10: Warcraft; Now You See Me 2; The Conjuring 2: The Endfield Experiment

June 17: Finding Dory; Central Intelligence

June 24: Independence Day: Resurgence; Free State of Jones

June 29: The Shallows

July 1: The BFG; The Legend of Tarzan; Swiss Army Man

     
 
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