Old guys, touchy-feely teens, and rep-house picks you don't wanna miss: weekend movies!
Outside of the multiplex this week, don't miss Midnites for Maniacs curator (and Guardian contributor) Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' very special tribute to William Lustig at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Exploitation icon Lustig will appear in person to chat about his films, and they're screening the entire Maniac Cop trilogy ... so why haven't you gotten tickets yet?
Meanwhile, Hollywood would like to remind you that age ain't nothing but a number (The Expendables 3), that feelings are important (The Giver), and that not all cops are evil (Let's Be Cops, which technically is about fake cops). Reviews, trailers, and more below!
The Expendables 3 Patrick Hughes — the guy tapped to helm the remake of 2011's The Raid — directs a cast of thousands (more or less) in this third installment of Sylvester Stallone's retro action franchise. By now, the Expendables movies have their formula down, not that it was particularly original to begin with, and all the marks are duly hit in part three: sinister bad guy (Mel Gibson — a solid choice, since who doesn't love to hate him?) angers mercenary Barney (Stallone) and his team of graying, gun-wielding, shit-talking badasses (Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Terry Crews). Revenge is sought, bullets fly, buildings explode, a government operative sticks his nose in (here, it's Harrison Ford), and Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up to save the day. Fortunately, Expendables business as usual also happens to be stupidly enjoyable, especially with the addition of a just-out-of-prison (onscreen and off) Wesley Snipes. There are also fun roles for Antonio Banderas, Kelsey Grammar, and Robert Davi, but the crew's next-generation recruits (rebel Kellen Lutz, hacker Glen Powell, weapons master Victor Ortiz, and ladybro Ronda Rousey) seem rather unnecessary. Isn't the point of these movies to remind us that old guys still rule? (2:07) (Cheryl Eddy)
Finding Fela Having taken on Enron, WikiLeaks, Hunter S. Thompson, Ken Kesey, Eliot Spitzer, and Lance Armstrong, documentarian Alex Gibney (an Oscar winner for for 2007 torture exposé Taxi to the Dark Side) turns his attentions to yet another fascinating figure: Afrobeat pioneer and political activist Fela Kuti. Finding Fela incorporates the making of Bill T. Jones' Tony-winning musical Fela! into its tale of the late lightning rod, but footage of the real Kuti is more compelling than any staged recreation; his performances at Lagos nightclub the Shrine are legendary, and rightfully so, as we see here. But despite its dynamic, complicated subject — being a musical visionary would be doc-worthy enough, but he was also regularly persecuted by the Nigerian government, and was both free-living polygamist (with some regressive views on women's rights) and spiritual explorer — Finding Fela is disappointingly conventional, presenting the expected mix of vintage clips and contemporary interviews (with Kuti's children and fellow musicians, among others). Enlightening, but not essential. (2:00) (Cheryl Eddy)
The Giver Lois Lowry's classic YA novel gets a veteran helmer for its big-screen adaptation, but Philip Noyce's ability to attract top adult talent (Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges) can't outweigh his heavy-handed interpretation of what was never a subtle work to begin with. In a vaguely post-apocalyptic society so regulated and dulled that nobody has emotions or empathy, a young man named Jonas (Maleficent's Brenton Thwaites, bumped up in age from the book's 11-year-old) is tasked with becoming the "receiver of memories." Basically this means that he gets to hang out with Bridges' character and learn things about the world and human history in the form of Koyaanisqatsi-meets-National Geographic montages (music — it's a thing! Also: war is hell, etc.) This is life-changing stuff, but part of the deal is that he must never, ever tell anyone else about it, at least until he's as grizzled as Bridges and has his own successor in need of a thorough mind-blowing. Of course, he immediately loops in pretty BFF Fiona (Odeya Rush), who he's been seeing in a new light since catching wind of a concept called "love." Soon, his awakening draws the ire of his mother-esque guardian (Katie Holmes), as well as the community's leader (Streep). If you're looking for suspense, or any curve balls (duuuude ... once Jonas' mind starts expanding, he starts seeing the black-and-white world in color!), best backtrack to one of Noyce's 1990s thrillers (1992's Patriot Games, perhaps). About the only surprise in The Giver is that Taylor Swift's much-hyped role is smaller than expected, and not nearly as distracting. (1:40) (Cheryl Eddy)
Kink Itching for more than the run-of-the-mill tour behind the forbidding doors of the Armory? Kink.com may seem like old news to Missionites, but fewer still have, ah, penetrated the actual sanctum sanctorums of BDSM videos in production. Director Christina Voros teams up here with producer James Franco, for whom she served as cinematographer on As I Lay Dying, to look in on the process and some of the issues and personalities behind Kink's brand of porn, and attempts to make her way through the tangled complex of desire that seems to parallel both the Armory's fortress and the city's labyrinthine counterculture. Ever wonder how to step on a penis without eliciting a scream — be it from pleasure or pain? We learn that and look in on former farm boy turned porn star and director Van Darkholme in action, teaching his dom how to pummel his sub hard enough to deliver a satisfying thump but not hurt. Meanwhile, other filmmakers go to town in ways that should press more than a few buttons when it comes to, say, rape fantasies. Pungent stuff, complete with full frontal male and female nudity and explicit acts with sanders and the like, although Kink would have only been better with a more honed focus on the humans behind the mechanical phalluses. Voros is obviously on Team Kink, though the multiple on-camera quasi-apologies regarding BDSM culture in general give the appearance of players and pornographers protesting a smidge too much. (1:19) Roxie. (Kimberly Chun)
Let's Be Cops Another buddy cop comedy — except this time, the cops (Jake Johnson and Marlon Wayans Jr.) are faking it. (1:44)