Capsule reviews for Aug. 18

Gook

Although it’s rough around the edges, the expected low-budget trappings work mostly to the benefit of this gritty and evocative drama from director Justin Chon, who also stars as a young Korean-American man who has inherited — along with his slacker brother (David So) — his late father’s fledgling Los Angeles shoe store in 1992. The siblings form a surrogate family for a streetwise young black girl (Simone Baker) just as the Rodney King verdict sets off the L.A. riots, turning the city into racially charged chaos. The black-and-white film is uneven in its narrative structure, but passionate about its message of inclusion without turning heavy-handed. (Not rated, 94 minutes).

 

Lemon

This oddball lark is more off-putting than endearing as it explores the often sophomoric absurdities surrounding Isaac (Brett Gelman), a fledgling actor and theater director whose life goes into a downward spiral after his relationship with his longtime girlfriend (Judy Greer) crumbles. The screenplay by Gelman and rookie director Janicza Bravo is overloaded with quirks at the expense of much charm or authentic emotional grounding. Although there are some scattered deadpan laughs, the film prefers to mock rather than offer a shred of sympathy to Isaac over his painfully awkward romantic travails. The eclectic ensemble cast includes Michael Cera, Megan Mullally and Nia Long. (Not rated, 83 minutes).

 

Marjorie Prime

While it benefits from a rich ensemble cast and a provocative science-fiction premise, this muddled adaptation of the acclaimed play struggles to break free from its stagebound roots. Marjorie (Lois Smith) is a widow suffering from dementia whose family has hired a hologram (Jon Hamm) to be her companion. That interaction causes a rift with her daughter (Geena Davis), whose own relationship with Marjorie is already strained. There are some powerful moments, including a terrific opening sequence. However, the deliberately paced screenplay by director Michael Almereyda (Experimenter) is a low-key meditation on grief and the power of memories that winds up feeling more manipulative than sincere. (Not rated, 98 minutes).

 

Shot Caller

Despite a committed performance by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) in the lead role, this ultraviolent thriller from director Ric Roman Waugh (Snitch) is more familiar than fresh. Coster-Waldau plays a former Los Angeles businessman sent to prison for causing a car accident that killed a passenger. After enduring a brutal 10-year sentence, he emerges to find himself unable to get his life back on track, as the film illustrates through flashbacks to his former life, instead becoming a gangster caught up in a criminal lifestyle. Some compelling sequences chronicling brutal prison life can’t compensate for the film’s logically dubious premise and subsequently lazy plotting. (Rated R, 121 minutes).

 

6 Days

The lack of sociopolitical context and even-handed perspective minimizes the contemporary relevance of this straightforward thriller chronicling an armed standoff involving hostages at the Iranian embassy in London. Primarily, it tells the story through the eyes of a soldier (Jamie Bell) preparing to lead a potential raid, a BBC reporter (Abbie Cornish) stationed outside, and a government negotiator (Mark Strong) negotiating bureaucratic hurdles. The film manages some tense moments and mild intrigue though its intimate approach to the material, yet it never allows much room for character development along the way. Perhaps a documentary would have provided deeper insight into its true-life subject. (Rated R, 94 minutes).

  • TheJailbirdGamer

    In my opinion, after being a large admirer of the SAS and the work they do. It’s safe to say that this film can only be enjoyed by the people who wish to see what it was like during the raid. It is based off of Rusty Firmin’s book (This was the soldier that Jamie Bell played) and he was part of that raid along with the recently deceased John McAleesse. The film does a brilliant job of portraying what happened that is easier to understand for someone who has taken a passion in the subject than to someone who hasn’t and just watched the film without knowing what actually happened.