Racer and the Jailbird is what happens when you take an excellent foreign film and change the title to let American audiences know that they must be grouped together by a common simple denominator.
The French title Le fidèle or “the faithful” speaks volumes, whereas Racer and the Jailbird sounds like a pair of misfits such as The Falcon and the Snowman or even worse Harley Davidson and The Marlboro Man.
Racer and the Jailbird stars two of Europe’s most exciting stars in a tale that constantly transcends cinema. Is it a caper film? Is it a breakout-of-prison movie? Or even a tender love story with a bizarre twisteroonie?
Matthias Schoenaerts (although Belgium and known for Bullhead, he appears in more domestic films than most recent Euro stars such as recent appearances in Red Sparrow and A Bigger Splash) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color) meet cute at a formula car racetrack. She’s aristocratic in a sense and a damn good driver; he’s a getaway driver who jokingly tells her on their first date that he robs banks.
Director Michaël R. Roskam (whose credits include Bullhead and the Tom Hardy starrer The Drop) shows a penchant for ratcheting up suspense as well as laying down left field plot-twists with precision.
One armored car robbery takes place on a highway where the bad guys have released a semi-truck’s load from an overpass to block the money car and its police escort on the lane beneath. Only things go south when people are killed and the whole romantic relation central to the story gets spun on its head.
Racer and the Jailbird unwinds exclusively at the AlamoDrafthouse this weekend.
The documentary RGB explores the life and legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While the film occasionally lapses into being a hagiography, it’s hard to believe this judicial mover and shaker has actually ever done anything even remotely bad. Many of the crew heads (camera, editing, music) as well as the two directors are women, making the movie a go-to destination for Mother’s Day.
RBG as an acronym plays off the rapper Notorious B.I.G. except that Ginsburg is Notorious RBG. As one commenter notes “there is no truth without Ruth.”
In a comprehensive manner we find out that even after graduating law school in 1960 Ginsburg can’t find a single position in New York City despite having honor credentials. It’s only when her Columbia law professor threatens to never recommend another one of his students to a judge in the Southern District of New York that she’s hired.
Eventually Ginsburg would win cases before the Supreme Court that revolved around equal rights based on gender for both men and women. Salient facts cover important legal victories, Ginsburg’s appointment to SCOTUS by President Clinton and even her friendship with conservative Justice Scalia. They rarely agreed on the law but found a mutual love for opera, even appearing in small roles together in one production.
Ginsburg shows how illuminated her sense of humor is when the directors show her footage of Kate McKinnon imitating her on SNL and she cracks up.
RBG plays exclusively at the River Oaks Theater starting this weekend.
Revenge attempts to take empowerment in a positive direction with clumsy attempts at blood and gore. In French, with a couple of English sequences, the film obviously apes Haute tension a much better horror thriller that shocked audiences in 2003 with effective moments although perhaps tame by surrealists standards like a killer giving himself a blow-job with his latest victim’s severed head in his truck cab, whereafter he tosses said head out the window after being satisfied.
Revenge doesn’t even come close with what it thinks are shocking moments. One of the players walks around bleeding naked, literally, for a whole reel stalking and being stalked like it’s a big deal. It was original when Tobe Hooper did it in Lifeforce (1985).
The mistress of a rich married man finds herself in peril when his friends show up at his country retreat a day early for a macho hunting trip. She’s sexually assaulted and left for dead with her sugar daddy now fearful of his wife discovering his secret.
Sadly, our heroine Jen (Matilda Lutz) never shows any more emotion whether she’s being raped or when she recovers from her wounds and becomes an apathetic killing machine.
The deaths of Jen’s four antagonists mount in levels of gore and blood. Even the last part where so much blood lays in ponds on the floors of a house that you cannot imagine the participants even having the blood pressure to continue on pales in comparison to a part a little bit after the halfway mark where the actual rapist pulls more than one piece of broken glass out of the sole of his foot.
Revenge would benefit from better acting. Lutz has less charisma as an actress than Jean-Claude Van Damme in an early 1990s leg karate movie. The blood and gore effects are worthy however there’s no continuity to the last sanguinary sequence. It’s just the last two people, both bleeding profusely incidentally, chasing each other down circular hallways with no continuity. So thus there’s no suspense in the editing, or the film.
Revenge appears exclusively at the AlamoDrafthouse Mason Park.
Same sex love in the movies makes a wave when the film has strong acting and not surprisingly a combo of sexual indulgence and identities in the story.
Brokeback Mountain (2005) had more hetero than gay sex but it’s remembered for its opening tent scene between the two male leads. Call Me By Your Name (2017) had some scenes of female and male flirtation but was really about the two guys most of the time.
Disobedience divides its time between devotional love, as in a marriage, and total abandoned love as in a sybaritically hedonistic femme relationship.
There are two major love scenes and while both are to various degrees erotic, each one demands a different operating system. Disobedience reveals its cards in a timely manner. Meanwhile you’re left filling in the blanks, and thinking that maybe you’re right.
Rachel Weisz burns both sides of the candle, as Ronit Krushka, an in-demand photographer in New York City who finds her thrills with random encounters in nightclubs. When her father, a prominent Rabbi dies she travels back to London, and a life she’d left behind.
Esti (Rachel McAdams) a former lover of Ronit has married the protégé of her father.
Alessandro Nivola as Esti’s spouse disappears into his part so much you don’t even recognize him. And Nivola was totally on display in the still in theaters You Were Never Really There. Maybe it’s the beard and the attitude.
Esti herself wears a wig as part of her commitment to orthodox life and has sex with feeling for her husband. Yet it’s a rote ceremony that takes place at a certain time on a certain day of the week.
When Ronit shows up for her father’s funeral – and there’s a lot of ritual since he was the head rabbi of his congregation – Ronit finds herself unwelcome.
There’s a lot of flipping back and forth as to whether Esti or Ronit was the dominant person in their previously dormant but now reignited relationship. Suffice it to say they get a hotel room.
There are some good character arc payoffs but there’s also a lot of drama that seems left behind after the final payoff.
Disobedience opens this weekend at the Edwards Grand Palace and the Woodlands Cinemark.