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Going Where the Fun Is 

Antlers and Last Night in Soho

click to enlarge Sharing my meeting notes with the group.

Antlers

Sharing my meeting notes with the group.

ANTLERS. If it feels like this movie has been a long time coming, you are not alone. When an actual release date appeared on the calendar, I assumed my eyes deceived me, believing it came out months, if not years ago. This is partially down to COVID fatigue, as are so many of my recent disappointments and shortcomings (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). In reality, it was probably only a couple of years ago that I began seeing the trailer, even if it feels like a decade — back to the impossible inertial acceleration of that year that was and was not. Whether due to my truncated sense of time passing or the unknowable mysteries of physics, Antlers is upon us. Do we care? Should we? Must we? I honestly don't know.

And yet, as I have done for every Scott Cooper picture since Out of the Furnace (2013), I have been anticipating it. I went to see it in a theater and now I'm going to bitch and moan about how close to good it is. Some cycles of violence can only be blamed upon the self.

I've elaborated on my semi-conflicted feelings about Cooper's work enough that, were one to read it all in one sitting (as I've ill-advisedly just done), one might think I've got it out for the guy. But I don't, not really. At least I don't think I do. We'd be hard-pressed to make a list of 10 working American writer-directors who can do the job, at least in objective terms, better than (or as well as) Scott Cooper. He assembles unassailable casts and creative teams, he's got big enough budgets to mount truly impressive productions and a strong sense of atmosphere and visual texture. Plus he's mining the mythic American Experience for stories of stoicism, violence, suffering and loss; the stuff's just never tough enough.

Perhaps against my better judgement, I harbored some dim hope that this, his foray into horror, might produce something less beholden to authenticity, more likely to succeed on its own merits and style. Never happened.

Something's not right in the dying Oregon coal-town (*raised eyebrow emoji*) young Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas) calls home. (Nothing's really right about it but maybe I'm just being bitchy.) Lucas' meth-cook father and younger brother have been locked in the attic of the house ever since ... something happened to them down in the abandoned mine. Lucas is clearly a troubled kid — malnourished, filthy and prone to creating exquisite art-naif narrative drawings that may or may not be allegorical to his situation at home. (They are.) His teacher Julia (Keri Russell) is the only who has noticed, or at least the only one who cares, so she takes a special interest in Lucas, simultaneously struggling to survive the legacy of her own childhood abuses. As a troubling number of mutilated human corpses (I guess one is troubling enough) begin to accumulate, her sheriff brother Paul (Jesse Plemons) attempts to keep his cool and convince Julia that all the violent deaths are coincidental and couldn't possibly have anything to do with Lucas.

No surprise: This is every inch a Cooper, complete with gorgeous cinematography, stellar acting (if by occasionally miscast players) and atmosphere to spare, but not much fun and not enough scares. And that's about it, leaving aside the possibly problematic appropriation of Indigenous mythology. R. 99M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO. I've found myself standing in line for Edgar Wright movies just as often as for those of Scott Cooper, which might prove that I am not entirely a masochist. Because even Wright's maybe-slightly-less memorable outings (2013's The World's End) are still more fun, more entertaining, better made but less pretentious than the majority of the rest of the dross. And that may be why we don't whisper his name with the same reverence of some of our, ahem, important auteurs: His sensibility skews pop, he's a little unassuming (in life and in his work) and seems to have a lot of fun at work, which shows up on screen. Last Night, a psychedelia of fashion and music and murder bridging the ocean of time between the London of the swingin' '60s and today, is no exception.

With the death of her mother still fresh upon her (and made more immediate by a possible supernatural connection), Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) leaves her Cornwall village for fashion college in London. Shy, unworldly and a little sad, Eloise is ill-equipped for her brassy, pub-to-club classmates. Seeking some quiet, she rents a room in a little old house on a little old street, where she is immediately caught up in too-realistic visions of a girl of similar age to hers (Anya Taylor-Joy) taking on a bygone London with dreams of her own. Things get deliciously weird.

This is Wright's most "grown-up" work to date, but that doesn't mean it's dour or formal; it is as gleeful and cheeky as Shaun of the Dead (2004), and as propulsive and confident as Baby Driver (2017). But it has also crowded in a matured sense of emotional realism that pairs surprisingly well with its nods to '60s horror. McKenzie's performance is revelatory; I don't say that often. R. 116M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

John J. Bennett (he/him) is a movie nerd who loves a good car chase.

NOW PLAYING

CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG. Live-action and CG adaptation of the children's story. Starring Darby Camp, Jack Whitehall and Izaac Wang. PG. 97M. BROADWAY.

DUNE. This screen adaptation of the sci-fi tome by Director Denis Villenueve spices it up with Zendaya, Timotheé Chalamet, Oscar Isaac and Jason Momoa. PG13. 155M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

ETERNALS. Director Chloé Zhao's take on the superhero saga. Starring Gemma Chan, Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden. PG13. 157M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

THE FRENCH DISPATCH. Expat journalists get the West Anderson treatment, with Tilda Swinton, Benicio Del Toro and Adrien Brody. R. 103M. MINOR.

HALLOWEEN KILLS. Jamie Lee Curtis came to eat probiotic yogurt and kill Michael Myers, and she's all outta yogurt. R. 106M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

NO TIME TO DIE. Daniel Craig dusts off the tux one last time to do spy stuff with Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas and Rami Malek. PG13. 203M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

RED NOTICE. Wisecracking action about a Fed (Dwayne Johnson) and a crook (Ryan Reynolds) on the trail of an art thief (Gal Gadot). PG13. 115M. BROADWAY.

RON'S GONE WRONG. Animated adventure about an awkward kid (Jack Dylan Grazer) and his malfunctioning robot (Zach Galifianakis). PG. 106M. BROADWAY.

VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE. Tom Hardy returns in the sequel to the dark Marvel movie about a man and his symbiotic frenemy. PG13. 90M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

For showtimes call: Broadway Cinema 443-3456; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Minor Theatre 822-3456.

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