Mother’s Day Movies & The Avengers On The Big Screen

By Chris Narloch

It’s probably a coincidence that Sacramento’s Tower Theatre has three powerful, woman-centric films playing this weekend, as we prepare to celebrate the mothers in our lives.

In fact, that theater is currently showing “Tully,” a cinematic salute to motherhood starring Charlize Theron as a stressed-out mom of three who bonds with her free-spirited nanny.
The Tower is also now showing “RBG,” a powerful documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 85-year-old rock of the United States Supreme Court.

The third female-driven movie playing at Tower is “Disobedience,” which is a must-see for LGBTQ movie fans (and especially lesbians). It stars Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz as two women in an Orthodox Jewish community whose passion for one another is forbidden.

But wait there’s more. The multiplexes are also filled with powerful women, including funny ladies Melissa McCarthy and Amy Schumer, who both have new movies out.

And if your mom is a fan of the Avengers and/or Joaquin Phoenix, I have you covered with reviews of their new films. (There is also “Breaking In,” a new movie that I did not have a chance to see yet, which stars Gabrielle Union as a maniacal mama bear hell-bent on saving her kids from burglars.)

So take your mom to a movie this weekend and give thanks for good mothers and good movies.

Avengers: Infinity War

Fans are split about the ending of this film, which is uncharacteristically downbeat as Marvel movie conclusions go. I won’t spoil it for those one or two of you who haven’t yet rushed out to see the film, but something happens in the final scenes that changes the tone and direction of the “Avengers” franchise in a weird way.

Since I tend to like “weird,” that ending was my favorite part of the entire movie, which is otherwise a business-as-usual superhero sequel: long and loud, with lots of explosions and people getting thrown around and beaten to a pulp and then getting right back up again like in a Road Runner cartoon.

I was impressed by the CGI in “Infinity War,” and I also admired the way the filmmakers brought together so many characters and subplots pretty seamlessly, which had to be no small feat.

It’s very difficult to review this movie without discussing its conclusion, however, so I will just say that Marvel fans will be anxiously awaiting the second part of “Infinity War.”

I am not usually fond of unresolved films that don’t have complete conclusions, and this new “Avengers” really leaves viewers on the edge of their seats.

It seems to me that however the next installment explains that ending, many fans are not going to be happy with the outcome, which is an interesting gamble on the filmmakers’ part, considering how much money is at stake with these movies.

No matter what you make of “Infinity War,” the best place to see the film is at Sacramento’s Esquire IMAX Theatre on K Street, where the movie is playing through May 17. (It is reportedly the first feature film ever to be shot entirely using IMAX cameras, and you will see more of the image in one of their theaters.)

For tickets and other information, visit https://www.imax.com/imax-esquire-oo.

Tully

I’m a guy so I will never know what it is like to carry a baby inside your body and then give birth and raise the kid, but it seems to me that the messy, crazy, stressful job of mothering a child has never been more realistically and movingly portrayed than in “Tully,” the new film starring Charlize Theron as a mother of three.

The “Juno” team of director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody collaborate again on “Tully,” and the result is a uniquely odd concoction that is part drama, part comedy and part fantasy.

To say any more would spoil the twisty tale in “Tully,” which is about what happens when the brother of Theron’s character gifts her a night nurse after the already-stressed out mom gives birth to her third child.

Mackenzie Davis, a lovely young actress who goes toe to toe with the always-riveting Theron, plays the nanny.

This is a small film that probably cost less than the catering budget of “Avengers,” but for any moviegoer weary of superheroes, “Tully” is a rewarding (and entertaining) movie about the real world.

“Tully,” which is perfect for Mother’s Day, is currently playing at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre.

Disobedience

Rachel McAdams and especially Rachel Weisz are acting up a storm in “Disobedience,” a very intense and moving portrait of two women whose passion causes problems in a London Orthodox Jewish community since one of the women (McAdams) is married to a man.

Weisz is superb as a single photographer who returns to her former community (after her father dies) and reignites her relationship with a now-married woman.

I didn’t care for the ending of the film, which is otherwise well written (and very well directed by Sebastian Lelio, who also helmed “A Fantastic Woman”), but “Disobedience” is still a must-see for its powerful performances and realistic depiction of lesbian love.

“Disobedience” opened on May 11 at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre.

RBG

At the age of 84, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon.

But without a definitive Ginsburg biography, the unique personal journey of this diminutive, quiet warrior's rise to the nation's highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans - until now.

This is a fascinating documentary exploring Ginsburg 's exceptional life and career. “RBG” opened on May 11 at the Tower.

Life of the Party

Like “Tully,” this is another ultimate Mother’s Day movie, if only for its premise, which has Melissa McCarthy going back to college at the same university her daughter attends, after mom’s husband dumps her for another woman.

At first, the daughter isn’t thrilled with the idea, but before long, mom wins over the sorority sisters and learns to party like it’s 1999.

There is an unfortunate and clichéd subplot involving two mean girls that pick on our plucky, middle-aged heroine, but despite its derivative elements and predictability, this is a very entertaining, PG-13 film.

Even Grandma could probably handle “Life of the Party,” which is blessedly free of raunchy, “Deadpool”-style jokes.

This is one of McCarthy’s funniest films since her career took off in “Bridesmaids,” and it benefits greatly from her sympathetic sense of humor and that of her “Bridesmaids” costar, Maya Rudolph. In wide release.  

I Feel Pretty

Amy Schumer got some undeserved flack for this movie’s trailer, which did not accurately reflect the film’s message that confidence is what makes a woman (or anybody for that matter) sexy. Why do online trolls feel justified in picking apart movies that they haven’t even seen yet?

Mind you, I’m not saying that “I Feel Pretty” is even close to a classic comedy, but it does deserve points for attempting to tackle some tough subjects including body positivity and the ways in which our culture objectifies women.

Unfortunately, the film’s plot mechanics are not as positive or progressive as its message. Despite Schumer’s energetic and funny performance, the character she plays is subjected to the usual Rom-Com clichés, including a sitcom premise that involves her character believing she is gorgeous after a blow to the head.

Still, “I Feel Pretty” is worth seeing, if only for the hilarious scene in which Schumer enters a boardwalk bar bikini contest and wins the crowd over not with her body but with her self-assurance and her wildly funny dance moves. In wide release.

You Were Never Really Here

If, like me, you are a fan of the eccentric actor Joaquin Phoenix, then you will want to drive over to the Varsity Theatre in Davis to see this gritty thriller about a combat veteran with PTSD who is hired to rescue trafficked girls, using any means possible.

Phoenix is riveting as Joe, who cares for his elderly mother in his childhood home in New York City, when he isn’t tracking down predators.

Our hero gets in over his head after he rescues the underage daughter of a Senator and uncovers a far-reaching conspiracy that threatens his life and the lives of everyone around him.

Featuring intense and suspenseful direction by Lynne Ramsay, “You Were Never Really Here” is a gripping dramatic thriller. The movie is not currently playing in Sacramento and is receiving a limited release -- probably due to its dark subject matter -- but it is well worth a drive over to Davis.







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