Miami New Times 05-05-2016 : Page 23

miaminewtimes.com miaminewtimes.com ▼ Film Clash of the Trademarks Captain America: Civil War is comic-book cinema without the wonder. Things get personal, and the heroes take sides. | | Contents Metro | | night+day | stage art | | FILM Film | | CAFE Cafe | | MUSIC MusiC | | CONTENTS | | Letters LETTERS | | riptide RIPTIDE | | METRO NIGHT+DAY | FILM | | ART © Marvel 2016 I BY BILGE EBIRI f nothing else, Captain America: Civil War stands as something of a corrective to this spring’s other superheroes-bludgeoning-one-another opus, Bat-man v Superman . While that film was severe and downcast, Civil War is expansive, at times even light. BvS strove to redefine its superheroes to fit newer, darker, borderline-sociopathic molds; Civil War finds conflict in its characters’ more ennobling qualities: Captain America’s idealism, Iron Man’s pragmatism, Black Widow’s resourceful-ness. Zack Snyder’s flick was stylized to a fault, with its slo-mo shots and pirouetting camera moves; the Russo Brothers’ film is functional and un-showy — maybe even a little drab. Batman v Superman was larded with ominous aphorisms and loaded dia-logue about power and humanity and guilt and loyalty and duty; Civil War is — well, OK, it’s got a ton of those things too. The story feels similar as well. After a big fight in Lagos leaves civilians dead, the Avengers are left to mull the consequences and collateral damage of their world-saving. Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), confronted by a mother who lost her son during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron , tries to get his superhero cohort to join him in signing the Sokovia Accords, which will bring our heroes under the control of an outside governing body. Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America (Chris Evans), an earnest believer in American individualism and lib-erty, bristles at the idea. The heroes begin to take sides — Black Widow (Scarlett Johans-son) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) cast their lot with Iron Man, while Falcon (An-thony Mackie) goes with Captain America. The situation becomes more personal with the bombing of the ceremonial sign-ing of those accords. The culprit appears to be the Winter Soldier, AKA Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who was Steve Rogers’ best friend back in the 1940s but was re-vealed in the last Captain America movie to be a brainwashed supersoldier working for the bad guys. But the Winter Soldier had begun to regain his identity by the finale of that film, and Cap isn’t convinced his bud Bucky would do something like this — and Bucky claims innocence. The bombing also kills the king of the small African na-tion Wakanda, prompting a vow of revenge from his son, T’Challa, AKA Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). Cap believes his pal, Iron Man believes the government, Black Panther doesn’t believe anybody, and as other heroes join the fight (most notably, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and newly christened Spider-Man Tom Holland), the movie be-comes Avengers 3: Avengers v. Avengers . Civil War treats the idea of internecine superhero combat as some kind of amazing novelty, when in fact that’s what they do in so many of the other movies too. (Remember Hulk versus Thor in Avengers ? Ant-Man versus Falcon in Ant-Man ?) Still, the climac-tic battle in Leipzig Airport is Civil War ’s high point: fast, inventive, and funny. It also finds suspense, and even some pathos, in the idea of superhumans pulling their punches; they’re explicitly trying not to kill one another, and it turns out that’s sort of hard. That airport face-off also highlights the film’s most compelling elements, the newer heroes: Black Panther, with his drive for revenge; Spider-Man, with his eager-beaver witticisms; Ant-Man, with his aw-shucks ordinariness; Falcon, with his jaded sarcasm. At times, I wondered if Civil War might have worked better if it had played out strictly from the perspective of one of them. But Marvel’s schedule calls for a Captain America movie, this one about the collective guilt of the Avengers across all the earlier films. Maybe that’s the problem here: For these characters, this sense of responsibility for the consequences of their actions feels both overdue and out of place. The filmmak-ers want to bring these costumed fictions into the real world, but it’s all happening in a universe that’s already too invested in the supernatural and the galactic. This is where style might have helped. Though the ornate, overbearing aestheticism of Batman v Superman was maybe too much, super-hero movies should have visual panache, some sense of otherworldly wonder. Winter Soldier , also dir e cted by the Russo Brothers, managed that by giving us a po-litical thriller that wasn’t afraid to escalate into the realm of exotic childhood fantasy — vast, decades-old conspiracies and sur-real images of ginormous heli-carriers doing battle in the skies over Washington, D.C. In trying to ground its characters in some-thing resembling the ordinary, Civil War overcorrects. Gone are the wide-eyed sense of derring-do that characterized the first Captain America movie and the paranoid tension that defined Winter Soldier ; there isn’t even the slapstick of Ant-Man or the witty abandon of the better Iron Man films. But we watch anyway. Why? I’m not sure. Call it the confident caress of cor-porate continuity. It’s odd to think that a generation of viewers may not remember a time when interlocking superhero epics didn’t command such swathes of the main-stream moviegoing firmament. These films no longer have to delight and surprise us; no, their job now is to manage the brand, not screw anything up too royally, and keep us hooked for the next installment. Civil War pulls all of that off mostly well. It skips around the world (Siberia! Lagos! Vienna! London! Leipzig! Queens!), eagerly maneuvering plot points into place, and audiences know to trust that it’ll all add up to something, because these things usu-ally do. But I never found myself genuinely wondering what would happen next; the moves are too familiar. Even the big fight, as entertaining as it is, feels like it’s there not because of dramatic inevitability but because somebody behind a desk decided it had to be. It’s just a bunch of stuff. Film@MiamiNewTimes.com Captain America: Civil War Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, and Paul Rudd. Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. 147 minutes. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday, May 6. MiaMi NEW New TIMES TiMes MIAMI ▼ ARTHAUS Sky STARRING DIANE KRUGER, NORMAN REEDUS, AND GILLES LELLOUCHE. DIRECTED BY FABIENNE BERTHAUD. WRITTEN BY PASCAL ARNOLD AND FABIENNE BERTHAUD. 100 MINUTES. NOT RATED. OPENS FRIDAY, MAY 6, AT BILL COSFORD CINEMA, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI CAMPUS, 1111 MEMORIAL DR., CORAL GABLES; 305-284-4861; COSFORDCINEMA.COM. F abienne Berthaud’s Sky is a road movie that never quite makes the right turns. French national Romy (Diane Kruger) is on a vacation in the American Southwest with her boorish, philandering husband of eight years, Richard (Gilles Lellouche). After he attempts to rape her, Romy bashes him over the head with a lamp and hits the road on her own. Not unlike a traveler making things up as she goes along, Sky keeps shifting gears from there: It flirts with being a crime movie in the aftermath of the Richard incident (including Joshua Jackson making an all-too-brief cameo as a sympathetic cop) and then rests for a spell in Las Vegas, where Romy is befriended by veteran showgirl Charlene (Laurene Landon). That relationship has potential to be the film’s most interesting, but it ends abruptly so Romy can pursue hunky Vegas sex tourist Diego (Norman Reedus at his most mumbly, which is saying a lot), though that subplot does give us the joy of watching Lena Dunham chew the scenery as his fertile but dentally challenged sister-in-law. (It’s the little things.) A note to whoever made the primary im-age on the film’s poster an unflattering closeup of Kruger’s face in the garish makeup and wig she briefly wears in Las Vegas: That was a bad deci-sion, and you should feel bad. SHERILYN CONNELLY 23 23 M XX–M ay 5-M ay 11, XX, 2016 M ONTH ONTH 2008

Clash Of The Trademarks

Bilge Ebiri

Captain America: Civil War is comic-book cinema without the wonde

If nothing else, Captain America: Civil War stands as something of a corrective to this spring’s other superheroes-bludgeoning- one-another opus, Batman v Superman. While that film was severe and downcast, Civil War is expansive, at times even light. BvS strove to redefine its superheroes to fit newer, darker, borderline-sociopathic molds; Civil War finds conflict in its characters’ more ennobling qualities: Captain America’s idealism, Iron Man’s pragmatism, Black Widow’s resourcefulness. Zack Snyder’s flick was stylized to a fault, with its slo-mo shots and pirouetting camera moves; the Russo Brothers’ film is functional and un-showy — maybe even a little drab. Batman v Superman was larded with ominous aphorisms and loaded dialogue about power and humanity and guilt and loyalty and duty; Civil War is — well, OK, it’s got a ton of those things too.

The story feels similar as well. After a big fight in Lagos leaves civilians dead, the Avengers are left to mull the consequences and collateral damage of their world-saving. Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), confronted by a mother who lost her son during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, tries to get his superhero cohort to join him in signing the Sokovia Accords, which will bring our heroes under the control of an outside governing body. Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America (Chris Evans), an earnest believer in American individualism and liberty, bristles at the idea. The heroes begin to take sides — Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) cast their lot with Iron Man, while Falcon (Anthony Mackie) goes with Captain America.

The situation becomes more personal with the bombing of the ceremonial signing of those accords. The culprit appears to be the Winter Soldier, AKA Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who was Steve Rogers’ best friend back in the 1940s but was revealed in the last Captain America movie to be a brainwashed supersoldier working for the bad guys. But the Winter Soldier had begun to regain his identity by the finale of that film, and Cap isn’t convinced his bud Bucky would do something like this — and Bucky claims innocence. The bombing also kills the king of the small African nation Wakanda, prompting a vow of revenge from his son, T’Challa, AKA Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). Cap believes his pal, Iron Man believes the government, Black Panther doesn’t believe anybody, and as other heroes join the fight (most notably, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and newly christened Spider-Man Tom Holland), the movie becomes Avengers 3: Avengers v. Avengers.

Civil War treats the idea of internecine superhero combat as some kind of amazing novelty, when in fact that’s what they do in so many of the other movies too. (Remember Hulk versus Thor in Avengers? Ant-Man versus Falcon in Ant-Man?) Still, the climactic battle in Leipzig Airport is Civil War’s high point: fast, inventive, and funny. It also finds suspense, and even some pathos, in the idea of superhumans pulling their punches; they’re explicitly trying not to kill one another, and it turns out that’s sort of hard. That airport face-off also highlights the film’s most compelling elements, the newer heroes: Black Panther, with his drive for revenge; Spider-Man, with his eagerbeaver witticisms; Ant-Man, with his awshucks ordinariness; Falcon, with his jaded sarcasm. At times, I wondered if Civil War might have worked better if it had played out strictly from the perspective of one of them.

But Marvel’s schedule calls for a Captain America movie, this one about the collective guilt of the Avengers across all the earlier films. Maybe that’s the problem here: For these characters, this sense of responsibility for the consequences of their actions feels both overdue and out of place. The filmmakers want to bring these costumed fictions into the real world, but it’s all happening in a universe that’s already too invested in the supernatural and the galactic. This is where style might have helped. Though the ornate, overbearing aestheticism of Batman v Superman was maybe too much, superhero movies should have visual panache, some sense of otherworldly wonder.

Winter Soldier, also dir e cted by the Russo Brothers, managed that by giving us a political thriller that wasn’t afraid to escalate into the realm of exotic childhood fantasy — vast, decades-old conspiracies and surreal images of ginormous heli-carriers doing battle in the skies over Washington, D.C. In trying to ground its characters in something resembling the ordinary, Civil War overcorrects. Gone are the wide-eyed sense of derring-do that characterized the first Captain America movie and the paranoid tension that defined Winter Soldier; there isn’t even the slapstick of Ant-Man or the witty abandon of the better Iron Man films.

But we watch anyway. Why? I’m not sure. Call it the confident caress of corporate continuity. It’s odd to think that a generation of viewers may not remember a time when interlocking superhero epics didn’t command such swathes of the mainstream moviegoing firmament. These films no longer have to delight and surprise us; no, their job now is to manage the brand, not screw anything up too royally, and keep us hooked for the next installment. Civil War pulls all of that off mostly well. It skips around the world (Siberia! Lagos! Vienna! London! Leipzig! Queens!), eagerly maneuvering plot points into place, and audiences know to trust that it’ll all add up to something, because these things usually do. But I never found myself genuinely wondering what would happen next; the moves are too familiar. Even the big fight, as entertaining as it is, feels like it’s there not because of dramatic inevitability but because somebody behind a desk decided it had to be. It’s just a bunch of stuff.

Film@MiamiNewTimes.com

Captain America: Civil War

Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, and Paul Rudd. Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. 147 minutes. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday, May 6.

ARTHAUS

Sky

STARRING DIANE KRUGER, NORMAN REEDUS, AND GILLES LELLOUCHE. DIRECTED BY FABIENNE BERTHAUD. WRITTEN BY PASCAL ARNOLD AND FABIENNE BERTHAUD. 100 MINUTES. NOT RATED. OPENS FRIDAY, MAY 6, AT BILL COSFORD CINEMA, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI CAMPUS, 1111 MEMORIAL DR., CORAL GABLES; 305-284-4861; COSFORDCINEMA.COM.

Fabienne Berthaud’s Sky is a road movie that never quite makes the right turns. French national Romy (Diane Kruger) is on a vacation in the American Southwest with her boorish, philandering husband of eight years, Richard (Gilles Lellouche). After he attempts to rape her, Romy bashes him over the head with a lamp and hits the road on her own. Not unlike a traveler making things up as she goes along, Sky keeps shifting gears from there: It flirts with being a crime movie in the aftermath of the Richard incident (including Joshua Jackson making an all-too-brief cameo as a sympathetic cop) and then rests for a spell in Las Vegas, where Romy is befriended by veteran showgirl Charlene (Laurene Landon). That relationship has potential to be the film’s most interesting, but it ends abruptly so Romy can pursue hunky Vegas sex tourist Diego (Norman Reedus at his most mumbly, which is saying a lot), though that subplot does give us the joy of watching Lena Dunham chew the scenery as his fertile but dentally challenged sister-in-law. (It’s the little things.) A note to whoever made the primary image on the film’s poster an unflattering closeup of Kruger’s face in the garish makeup and wig she briefly wears in Las Vegas: That was a bad decision, and you should feel bad. SHERILYN CONNELLY

▼ Film

The Measure of a Man

STARRING VINCENT LINDON, KARINE DE MIRBECK, AND MATTHIEU SCHALLER. DIRECTED BY STÉPHANE BRIZÉ. WRITTEN BY STÉPHANE BRIZÉ AND OLIVIER GORCE. 93 MINUTES. NOT RATED. OPENS FRIDAY, MAY 6, AT TOWER THEATER, 1508 SW EIGHTH ST., MIAMI; 305-642-1264; TOWERTHEATERMIAMI.COM.

The movies promise that, in a crisis, there’s action you can take. It might not work out, especially if the film is European or a true indie, but there are choices to make, selves to actualize, scenes to motivate: Everyone has to do something. Stéphane Brizé’s The Measure of a Man, a feat of workplace naturalism, can’t give its protagonist that much. Out of work in the downturn, Vincent Lindon’s willfully impassive mechanic Thierry slumps along from one humiliation to another, bereft of what the kids in creativewriting classes call “agency.” In a go-nowhere job interview, in consultation with a career adviser, in a bureaucratic world of drab white walls and buzzing fluorescent lights, he can’t even find hopeless actions to take. Between the upsets — each met with the stoic indifference a bulwark exhibits to the tides — Thierry seizes control of the few things he can. Movingly, he throws himself into cleaning the cabinets of the home whose mortgage is breaking him, and he’s a game stiff when taking dance lessons with the wife (Karine de Mirbeck). In technique, that scene is typical of Brizé’s patient, observational film: a long take in a blandly everyday interior, the camera gently bobbing, the performances stripped of artifice. But it’s also joyous, a respite and a reminder that public powerlessness need not, as it so often does in more simple-minded movies, also mean private impotence. ALAN SCHERSTUHL

Our Last Tango

STARRING MARÍA NIEVES REGO, JUAN CARLOS COPES, AND MELINA BRUTMAN. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY GERMAN KRAL. 85 MINUTES. NOT RATED. OPENS FRIDAY, MAY 6, AT CORAL GABLES ART CINEMA, 260 ARAGON AVE., CORAL GABLES; 786-385-9689; GABLESCINEMA.COM.

Juan Carlos Copes and María Nieves Rego, now in their 80s, met as teenagers and spent decades as a celebrated tango couple. They tell their stories in Our Last Tango, a documentary that both celebrates and challenges the passions of dance, and viewers will sense that the history of these compelling figures entails more frustration and complexity than can be examined in a short running time. Juan is dapper and still tries to dance every day, though he seems to have a caddish side, while María, with her short hair and a cigarette in a long holder, radiates hard-won sass. Thankfully, the film does not rely on other talking heads, leaving the exposition to the charismatic protagonists: María evocatively describes growing up in poverty, pretending a bottle was a doll as a child and finding refuge in dance as a young teenager. Describing her frustration with Juan’s betrayals, she says, “You have to use men and throw them away,” a striking statement delivered without apology. María is forthright — she has lived and learned, and we can learn from her. Less effective is the film’s frequent use of scenes of young dancers re-creating Juan and María’s routines and key moments in their lives. Though these vignettes are lovingly, carefully performed and have an aesthetic appeal, they feel a bit too much like the sepia-tinged photos of attractive couples included in picture frames. The little footage of Juan and María shown in the film is far more compelling, and when they talk about seeing Singin’ in the Rain multiple times and feeling inspired by it, the dance reenactments feel unnecessary. ABBEY BENDER

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