Film Clips 8.18
This fifth adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel stars Jack Huston as Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, Messala (Toby Kebbell). Sentenced to slavery in Rome, Ben-Hur encounters Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro) and converts to Christianity. Morgan Freeman portrays a wealthy Nubian sheik who trains Ben-Hur as a charioteer, thus providing the slave with a means of revenge when he challenges Messala to a perilous chariot race. Director Timur Bekmambetov initially offered Huston the role of Messala but, impressed by the actor’s sympathetic manner, grit and horsemanship, the director wound up casting him in the titular role. (Lisa Miller)
Florence Foster Jenkins PG-13
Florence Foster Jenkins is the year’s first serious Oscar contender, featuring an unforgettable performance by Meryl Streep in the title role and a superb supporting cast headed by Hugh Grant as her husband, the expatriate English thespian St. Clair Bayfield; and Simon Helberg as Cosmé McMoon, the aspiring concert pianist who became her accompanist in a supreme act of folly. Madame Florence (as everyone habitually calls her) has no discernable potential as an opera singer, but places herself on the way to a recital at Carnegie Hall. The cacophonous creak of her fluty voice is enough to send alley cats scurrying for cover. (David Luhrssen)
For a full review, search shepherdexpress.com.
Writer-Director James Schamus adapted Indignation from one of novelist Philip Roth’s bitter evocations of the era when he came of age. The doomed protagonist, Marcus (Logan Lerman), is a New Jersey kid who earned a scholarship to a third-tier Ivy League school in faraway Ohio, safe from the Korean War if he maintains his grades. At odds with his heritage and his increasingly unhinged father, he is a minority within a minority—a Jew refusing to join the college’s tiny Jewish fraternity. Sex is an unsettling mystery with the radiant but troubled blonde he falls for. Marcus isn’t aided by his Holden Caulfield attitude toward the hypocrisy surrounding him. Indignation is an enigmatic story about chains of cause and effect forged in part by the choices people make. (D.L.)
Kubo and the Two Strings PG
Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson) lives humbly in a remote seaside village where he earns spare change by telling captivating stories that he illustrates using magical, self-folding origami paper. Then Kubo’s hardworking mom dies protecting her son from angry spirits. He flees the spirits’ wrath while also vowing to defeat them some day. Kubo accepts help from Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), whose wisdom helps Kubo stand up to evil supernatural forces. Director Travis Knight uses stop-motion animation along with CGI to produce a beguiling adventure with a look and a feel uniquely its own. (L.M.)
Milwaukee Women’s Film Festival
After seeing her colleagues’ success with the Milwaukee Twisted Dreams Film Festival—a horror-themed festival held this past April—local film critic Andrea Thompson set out to create an event to “celebrate the good things to come from women in film.” The opening night film, The Ultimate No-Show, was uniquely shot on an iPhone 6 as writer-director Laura Workman details her experience with a con man. Thompson wanted to make the festival inclusive for filmmakers, so she selected male-directed films as well, but made sure they still had interesting female protagonists to stick with the event’s theme of putting women in the spotlight. (Stephanie Harte)
Held Aug. 19-21 at the Underground Collective in the lower level of Grand Avenue Mall, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave. Visit milwaukeewomensfilmfestival.com to view the full schedule and purchase tickets.
War Dogs R
Based on a true story that was originally explored in Rolling Stone magazine, this War on Terror tale follows two friends in their early 20s, Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz (Jonah Hill and Miles Teller). Looking for a way to make real money, the pair becomes part of a government initiative allowing small businesses to bid on U.S. military contracts. They earn a $300 million contract to arm the Afghan military. Excitement soon turns to paranoia as the friends learn that surviving the deal requires loads of strategy and even more luck. This irony isn’t lost on director Todd Phillips, who wrote the script as a comedy. (L.M.)