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What’s in a name?

Naming names in this week’s new releases: Paterson, Toni Erdmann, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and more

Paterson’s public-transport poetry: The wheels on the bus / go ’round and ’round...
Paterson’s public-transport poetry: The wheels on the bus / go ’round and ’round...
Movie

Paterson *****

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The title refers both to the film’s New Jersey locale and lead character (Adam Driver), a married bus driver who fancies himself a poet. We spend a week in the company of Driver’s driver and his onscreen wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). The couple starts in love and stays in love with little more than an occasional bruised ego to set them at odds. This time, Jarmusch’s desire for abstraction finds its roots (and beauty) through recurring displays of mundanity. Life surrounds us with poetry, a fact Jarmusch and cinematographer Frederick Elmes (Blue Velvet) vivaciously bring attention to with every move of the camera. There’s not much in the way of action or negative emotions to drive the narrative, something bound to force off the mainstream. So what’s it all about? A filmmaker telling his story in pictures and the limitlessness of control he brings to his art. What more can one ask of cinema?

Find showtimes

Adam Driver is a bus driver named Paterson in Paterson, New Jersey in Paterson, the new Jim Jarmusch film that earned a whopping five stars from Scott this week. Me, I’m holding out for Miles Teller as a cheerful bank teller named Happy Accident in Accident, Maryland who gets his hand caught in the bill sorter and then falls in love with his physical therapist in the heartwarming rom-com Happy Accident. No sense in half-measures.

Movie

Toni Erdmann **

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When asked to apologize for a rude comment, Toni Erdmann’s immediate response should be, “Which one?” Erdmann is the alter ego of Winfried Conradi (Peter Simonischek). Together he embarks on a trip to Bucharest looking to patch things up with an estranged, and no doubt embarrassed-to-tears daughter, Ines (Sandra Hüller). Showing up unannounced at her place of employment — and with Toni’s trademark Prince Valiant fright wig and buck-toothed Nutty Professor dentifrice firmly in place — dad displays all the charm of a 600-lb. mosquito. The off-putting character being such as it is, caused me to scrawl the name “Tony Clifton” across my notepad. Sure enough, Andy Kaufman’s prankster and premeditatedly abrasive second-self was the impetus behind this epic one-joke comedy from German writer-director Maren Ade. Clifton’s caustic exchanges were as short-lived as they were amusing. Even more disagreeable than Toni’s overbearing and resoundingly unfunny gabble is the film’s hefty 162 minute running time.

Find showtimes

In other news, Winfried Conradi’s Toni Erdmann in Toni Erdmann is no Tony Clifton. (If that doesn’t signify, here’s a clip of Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman as Tony Clifton in Man on the Moon to further confuse the issue.) But Scott didn’t hate it, so that’s something. Just like I didn’t hate Gold, even if for every sharp moment, there was another featuring hammer-force dullness. Half-right, half-right half-right, amirite?

What I did hate was A Dog’s Purpose. And I love dogs.

Movie

Autopsy of Jane Doe **

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For at least the first 50 of its 100 minutes, Andre Øvredal’s coroner horror story is nearly flawless, starting with the opening camera crawl around a bloody crime scene that comes to rest on the partially buried, fully nude body of a beautiful young woman. (Yes, “beautiful” sounds creepy here, but Øvredal intends the effect: his Jane Doe is lovely and pristine, if a little pale — our first sign that something is amiss.) From there, we move on to the easy rapport of Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch as the operators of a family mortuary, and the equally easy intimacy of Hirsch and his girlfriend (Ophelia Lovibond). Her curiosity about her boyfriend’s job provides a fine setup for the dread to come — and oh, that toe bell for making sure the dead are gone. Then Jane gets wheeled in and the autopsy begins, <em>and did they have to open her eyes and leave them that way?</em> (Yes, of course they did.) Until tonight, Dad has been a firm believer in sticking to the physical cause of death and leaving questions of circumstance and motive to others. But the increasingly disturbing discoveries he makes inside the girl on the slab shake his conviction even as they strain his (and his son’s) nerves. It’s only after the pieces start to fall into place and the supernatural action ramps up that the the actors’ tensed curiosity gives way to genre expectations.

Find showtimes

Finally, I want to speak a word of encouragement to Hollywood to stop yelling about Donald Trump and get down to the business of making movies about him. Alchemizing pain and rage into art is what you people are so very, very good at, and I’m betting that more people will pay attention that way. I was not at all surprised to see that someone already mashed him up with Dune’s Baron Harkonnen. How about working that into the upcoming remake? And speaking of body horror, I rather liked The Autopsy of Jane Doe, at least until they figured everything out and stopped being quietly terrified.

That’ll do for now. Scott’s off at the final Resident Evil film; look for his review sooner than later. (In the meantime, here’s his interview with the director.)

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Paterson’s public-transport poetry: The wheels on the bus / go ’round and ’round...
Paterson’s public-transport poetry: The wheels on the bus / go ’round and ’round...
Movie

Paterson *****

thumbnail

The title refers both to the film’s New Jersey locale and lead character (Adam Driver), a married bus driver who fancies himself a poet. We spend a week in the company of Driver’s driver and his onscreen wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). The couple starts in love and stays in love with little more than an occasional bruised ego to set them at odds. This time, Jarmusch’s desire for abstraction finds its roots (and beauty) through recurring displays of mundanity. Life surrounds us with poetry, a fact Jarmusch and cinematographer Frederick Elmes (Blue Velvet) vivaciously bring attention to with every move of the camera. There’s not much in the way of action or negative emotions to drive the narrative, something bound to force off the mainstream. So what’s it all about? A filmmaker telling his story in pictures and the limitlessness of control he brings to his art. What more can one ask of cinema?

Find showtimes

Adam Driver is a bus driver named Paterson in Paterson, New Jersey in Paterson, the new Jim Jarmusch film that earned a whopping five stars from Scott this week. Me, I’m holding out for Miles Teller as a cheerful bank teller named Happy Accident in Accident, Maryland who gets his hand caught in the bill sorter and then falls in love with his physical therapist in the heartwarming rom-com Happy Accident. No sense in half-measures.

Movie

Toni Erdmann **

thumbnail

When asked to apologize for a rude comment, Toni Erdmann’s immediate response should be, “Which one?” Erdmann is the alter ego of Winfried Conradi (Peter Simonischek). Together he embarks on a trip to Bucharest looking to patch things up with an estranged, and no doubt embarrassed-to-tears daughter, Ines (Sandra Hüller). Showing up unannounced at her place of employment — and with Toni’s trademark Prince Valiant fright wig and buck-toothed Nutty Professor dentifrice firmly in place — dad displays all the charm of a 600-lb. mosquito. The off-putting character being such as it is, caused me to scrawl the name “Tony Clifton” across my notepad. Sure enough, Andy Kaufman’s prankster and premeditatedly abrasive second-self was the impetus behind this epic one-joke comedy from German writer-director Maren Ade. Clifton’s caustic exchanges were as short-lived as they were amusing. Even more disagreeable than Toni’s overbearing and resoundingly unfunny gabble is the film’s hefty 162 minute running time.

Find showtimes

In other news, Winfried Conradi’s Toni Erdmann in Toni Erdmann is no Tony Clifton. (If that doesn’t signify, here’s a clip of Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman as Tony Clifton in Man on the Moon to further confuse the issue.) But Scott didn’t hate it, so that’s something. Just like I didn’t hate Gold, even if for every sharp moment, there was another featuring hammer-force dullness. Half-right, half-right half-right, amirite?

What I did hate was A Dog’s Purpose. And I love dogs.

Movie

Autopsy of Jane Doe **

thumbnail

For at least the first 50 of its 100 minutes, Andre Øvredal’s coroner horror story is nearly flawless, starting with the opening camera crawl around a bloody crime scene that comes to rest on the partially buried, fully nude body of a beautiful young woman. (Yes, “beautiful” sounds creepy here, but Øvredal intends the effect: his Jane Doe is lovely and pristine, if a little pale — our first sign that something is amiss.) From there, we move on to the easy rapport of Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch as the operators of a family mortuary, and the equally easy intimacy of Hirsch and his girlfriend (Ophelia Lovibond). Her curiosity about her boyfriend’s job provides a fine setup for the dread to come — and oh, that toe bell for making sure the dead are gone. Then Jane gets wheeled in and the autopsy begins, <em>and did they have to open her eyes and leave them that way?</em> (Yes, of course they did.) Until tonight, Dad has been a firm believer in sticking to the physical cause of death and leaving questions of circumstance and motive to others. But the increasingly disturbing discoveries he makes inside the girl on the slab shake his conviction even as they strain his (and his son’s) nerves. It’s only after the pieces start to fall into place and the supernatural action ramps up that the the actors’ tensed curiosity gives way to genre expectations.

Find showtimes

Finally, I want to speak a word of encouragement to Hollywood to stop yelling about Donald Trump and get down to the business of making movies about him. Alchemizing pain and rage into art is what you people are so very, very good at, and I’m betting that more people will pay attention that way. I was not at all surprised to see that someone already mashed him up with Dune’s Baron Harkonnen. How about working that into the upcoming remake? And speaking of body horror, I rather liked The Autopsy of Jane Doe, at least until they figured everything out and stopped being quietly terrified.

That’ll do for now. Scott’s off at the final Resident Evil film; look for his review sooner than later. (In the meantime, here’s his interview with the director.)

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