Capsule reviews for March 3

Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe

The venerable style of dance revue is alive and well according to this documentary, which chronicles a handful of performers both on and off the stage who use their provocative moves as an outlet — either for the sake of creativity, or fashion sense, or personal growth or self-confidence. While the film — through, ahem, revealing interviews — has fun capturing the personalities that help to perpetuate this subculture, it doesn’t put their stories into broader context or offer insight into the contemporary appeal of the shows. It aspires to clear up misconceptions and portray burlesque as an art form, yet doesn’t provide sufficient depth toward that goal. (Not rated, 76 minutes).

 

Headshot

The title might accurately describe the impact to moviegoers of this relentlessly violent action saga from Indonesia, which stars Iko Uwais (The Raid) as a stranger who arrives in an island village with amnesia, and is nursed back to health at a local hospital. Not long afterward, however, he becomes the target of ruthless gangsters and assassins while still uncertain about his own identity, let alone why these guys want him dead. Yet while his memory is still fuzzy, his fighting skills remain sharp, leading to a barrage of visually dazzling martial-arts sequences. Genre aficionados might enjoy the ultraviolent intensity, even if the result feels repetitive. (Not rated, 118 minutes).

 

The Last Word

A powerhouse performance by Shirley MacLaine is the only reason to get anywhere near this otherwise sappy and predictable vehicle about aging and redemption from director Mark Pellington (Arlington Road). MacLaine portrays Harriet, a retired advertising executive whose sour attitude has turned her into a pathetic loner. After rifling through the obituaries, she commissions a journalist (Amanda Seyfried) to pen her own obit — except there’s nothing nice to say. So the duo sets out to change that. The scenery-chewing star might not generate sympathy for her cantankerous character, but she makes an otherwise heavy-handed comedy more watchable with sheer charisma. Still, the result is hardly life-affirming. (Rated R, 108 minutes).

 

Lavender

Style trumps substance in this atmospheric and mildly creepy low-budget thriller, which follows a photographer (Abbie Cornish) who is diagnosed with mild amnesia following a car accident, which causes her to experience hallucinations tied to past trauma in her life. She has a particular fondness for pictures of old houses, which prompts her to visit the family farm where she grew up, now operated by her uncle (Dermot Mulroney), to sort things out. Unfortunately, some stylish visuals from director Ed Gass-Donnelly (The Last Exorcism Part II) support a screenplay that bogs down in contrivances and fails to build consistent suspense. It’s more build-up than payoff. (Not rated, 92 minutes).