A clever parody of getting old, this tongue-in-cheek study of various clients in a posh Swiss spa features a superb Michael Caine and a mellowed Harvey Keitel. It is by Paolo Sorrentino, who last made La Grande Bellezza, with its multiple awards including an Oscar and BAFTA for best foreign film. With its ironic look at a retired conductor, a film director in decline and a young actor, among a slew of weird characters, it filters the world into this unique retreat in the Swiss countryside. Jane Fonda’s caustic cameo is especially delicious, as is the dialogue. Cosmopolitan and amusing, the film should have gotten Michael Caine the best actor award at the Cannes film fest.
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON **1/2
If you’re into “gangsta rap”, this is your film. By F. Gary Gray of The Italian Job, this based-on- reality tale of the emergence of a group of rap artists on the West Coast in the early 1980s is a mirror of the black frustration vs. police injustice in today’s headlines. The likes of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Snoop Dog were part of this gang who used music to illustrate their rage at society. Gray tells it as it was and is, with violence, vile language, rivalries and the excess which was part of their culture, but also their hunger to be heard. Not quite for the bridge and tea crowd…
LE CHALLAT DE TUNIS **1/2 (vo Arabic)
Kaouther Ben Hania, the young Tunisian director of this investigative film about the infamous “Challat”, has taken up quite a task for herself. The mysterious Challat, who became a sort of glorified outlaw for macho Tunisian youngsters in the early 2000s, slashed women whom he felt were not behaving or dressing appropriately. He was never found nor tried. This quasi- documentary is a courageous expose of the ignorance and arrogance of religious customs that have not yet come out of the dark ages.
BOY CHOIR *1/2
This clichéd poor-kid-makes-good story has been done countless times before, and far better. Dustin Hoffman is miscast as a musicologist in this dormitory tale that is too pat for its own good. See it on TV.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars