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Reviews round-up: You Now See Me 2, Weiner, Maggie’s Plan, The Legend of Tarzan

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Reviews round-up: You Now See Me 2, Weiner, Maggie’s Plan, The Legend of Tarzan

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Now You See Me 2 (12A)

Two Stars

Dir: Jon M Chu, 129 mins, starring: Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woodsy Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Radcliffe, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

This follow up starts breezily enough. The magicians in the first movie (the “four horsemen”, as they’re known as) have returned, minus Isla Fisherman but with a brand new recruit, Lula (Lizzy Caplan), who appears from nowhere in Jesse Eisenberg’s apartment. Remarkable ability to experience card methods, pull pigeons from people’s under garments and bunnies from under area rugs is undimmed. With the aid of their FBI agent accomplice and mentor Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo), they will use their sleight of hands to reveal a corrupt Plastic Valley type magnate who’s doing dirty deeds with people’s personal information. Their gambit backfires. They’re whisked off and away to Macau and uncover that they’ve been performed for fools by shadowy but very urbane financier Walter Mabry (a contented Daniel Radcliffe.)

The video includes a strong cast. Eisenberg is really as sardonic and obnoxious because he was at the very first movie. Harrelson likes themself inside a dual role because the hypnotherapist and trickster – so that as his character’s much more slippery and sleazy twin brother. Ruffalo plays his character together with his familiar serious intensity.

Morgan Freeman has returned – and thus, late on, is Michael Caine. Why is the video solve is its sheer tricksiness. Everybody is conning everybody else. Carpets are drawn from underneath the ft so frequently that no stability remains for anybody. The convoluted sub-plot about Ruffalo’s beloved father, a Houdini-type conjurer and escapologist last observed in the eighties, doesn’t help. Nor will it boost the swing from the story the magicians spend such a long time backtracking and explaining precisely how they carried out their methods. In “real” existence and real-time, these methods could be a lot more impressive however when they’re staged with the aid of editing and CGI, it normally won’t appear stand out.

 

Weiner (15)

Four Stars

Dir: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg, 96 mins, featuring: Anthony, Weiner, Huma Abedin, Sydney Leathers

In 1960, Robert Came revolutionised political documentary together with his film Primary, by which he adopted John F Kennedy fly-on-the-wall style as Kennedy campaigned for that US presidential nomination. This startling new documentary shows precisely how far Drew’s make of direct cinema has developed.

The film’s subject is Anthony Weiner, a pugnacious and charismatic seven-term Democrat congressman standing to become Mayor of recent You are able to. Weiner has two related issues that collide in spectacular fashion. The first is his name, that is slang for any waitress or or perhaps a penis. (The filmmakers begin the video having a quote from Marshall McLuhan: “The name assertive is really a mind-numbing blow that he never rebounds.”) Another is his strange practice of using social networking to transmit other people intimate images of his anatomy. He’s a repeat offender, one good reason why, getting brought the polls in early stages, his ratings rapidly droop.

The filmmakers happen to be granted remarkable access. This can be a portrait of the marriage around it’s a record of the political campaign. Over and over, within the campaign room or perhaps in Weiner’s home, your camera will tilt to exhibit Weiner’s lengthy-suffering wife Huma, sitting on the sidelines, searching absolutely forlorn in the mess her husband has contrived. She’s a formidable political figure in their right, a vital aide to Hillary Clinton. Dignified, intelligent and glamorous, she does her better to support her husband because he leaves havoc in the wake.

Like his fellow New You are able to politician Eliot Spitzer (whose career was derailed with a scandal concerning call women), Weiner turns into a cartoon estimate the web pages of recent York’s tabloids, which relish posting headlines about him “sticking it out”. It’s difficult to feel an excessive amount of sympathy for any candidate who, in the own words, includes a “virtually limitless capability to fuck some misconception from day-to day”.

Weiner doesn’t attempt to push the filmmakers away when the scandal breaks. They respond by dealing with their subject within an even-handed way. He’s greater than at the receiving end of TV chat show hosts’ endless jokes. You cannot help but admire the way in which he continues to try and discuss housing problems in Brooklyn even if all his hiring managers wish to question about is his “weiner” and why he can’t ensure that it stays under systems.

Maggie’s Plan (15)

Three Stars 

Dir: Rebecca Miller, 99 mins, starring: Greta Gerwig, Julianne Moore, Ethan Hawke, Bill Hader

Early on, writer-director Rebecca Miller’s comedy drama is utterly delightful – an acutely observed, very witty drama with another of Greta Gerwig’s winning performances as a New York everywoman trying to make sense of her private life. She plays Maggie, single but yearning to become a mother. To achieve her goal, she looks for a sperm donor. The candidate for father is Guy (Travis Fimmel), an old high-school acquaintance who was once a maths prodigy and now runs his own business making pickles. Her exhaustively detailed plans for single motherhood are sabotaged when she falls in love with John (Ethan Hawke) an academic and would be novelist who already has an overbearing and very brilliant professor wife (Julianne Moore in imperious, scene-stealing from.) Multiple romantic complications ensue.

One of Miller’s references is A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the film also plays like a superior Woody Allen-style farce (minus the chauvinism) or like one of Richard Linklater’s relationship dramas. Sadly, the magic here eventually begins to fade. As Maggie becomes increasingly exasperated with John’s self-centred neediness, so do we. The pressures of Maggie’s new domestic routine dull the sparkiness which made the film seem so special.

 

The Legend Of Tarzan (12A)

Three Stars

Dir: David Yates, 110 mins, starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L Jackson, Margot Robbie

Tarzan is back, customised for a contemporary audience in a visually impressive but strangely contorted new adaptation that doesn’t quite know in which direction it wants to swing. The film strives both to be a riproaring matinee adventure and a parable about colonialism. John Clayton/Tarzan (Skarsgård) is first encountered as an enlightened and well mannered Victorian aristocrat, his jungle days seemingly far behind him. He is asked back to the Congo on the invitation of King Leopold of Belgium, who wants to show off all the good works he has accomplished in Africa. In fact, as his travel companion George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson) makes clear, the Belgians are slave trading, diamond smuggling mercenaries.

John’s American wife Jane (Margot Robbie) accompanies him on his African journey. Little do the travellers realise that their trip has been engineered by the ruthless Leon Rom (Christopher Waltz), who plans to betray Tarzan. In the course of the journey, there are several flashbacks sketching in the formative years of Tarzan. We learn how his parents were stranded in the jungle and how the apes took him in as baby. His unconventional jungle courtship of Jane (on first meeting her, he sniffs her all over) is also shown.

David Yates has directed several Harry Potter films and has an obvious flair for handling films on an epic scale without neglecting the human factor or the humour. There is lots of swirling camerawork here as we are whisked across spectacular landscapes and caught in the middle of ostrich stampedes or of angry apes. The European colonialists in their white suits and panama hats have no respect at all for the animals, the people or the environment.

For all the background historical information and exhaustive production design, the film eventually turns into a very primal tale about Tarzan rescuing Jane. We don’t get to see him beat his chest but we do hear that familiar roar, rather hoarser and more intimidating than when Johnny Weissmuller used to make it.

Skarsgard plays Tarzan as an all-round good egg whose selfless and heroic behaviour doesn’t change, whatever company he finds himself in, ape or human. It’s a likeable but bland interpretation of the role, lacking much in the way of rage or darkness. Robbie’s Jane is like a younger, more glamorous version of Katharine Hepburn’s character in The African Queen, fiery, imperious and always ready to roll with the punches. Waltz reprises his urbane villain routine, familiar from Tarantino and Bond movies but enjoyable all the same. Samuel L Jackson isn’t very well served by a script that lacks many of the zinging one-liners he puts across better than anyone.

The action sequences are staged with plenty of elan but there are times when so much CGI is used that it seems as if we are watching an animated movie. This is a perfectly serviceable stab at updating the Tarzan story. What it lacks is any real attitude, oomph or new perspective on the characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

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