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Reviews for June 3rd, 2016

      Call Her Applebroog is a thoroughly engaging and intimate doc about 87-year-old artist Ida Applebroog. Instead of bombarding audiences with archival footage, Beth B, Ida's daughter, focuses the camera on Ida at her studio as she looks at drawings and paintings from her past and reminisces about them. Her artwork, like any great artwork, is subverse in how it depicts sexual content which is both bold, refreshing and, most importantly, a celebrate of being human. Applebroog is, in many ways, a humanist. Kudos to her daughter for allowing the audience to see her for how she truly is: a complex human being, quirks and all. Gradually, you learn details about her personal life, i.e. how she was shy and quiet during her childhood. In a running time of merely 70 minutes, you're able to get a sense of how witty, intelligent, articulate, blunt and brilliant Ida Applebroog is as a human being as well as an artist. She's a documentary subject who's as interesting, charismatic and irresistibly entertaining as Iris Apfel in Maysles' doc Iris. Zeitgeist Films opens Call Her Applebroog at The Metrograph.

Be Somebody

Directed by Joshua Caldwell


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Paramount Pictures and Studio 71.
Opens at AMC Empire 25.

Careful What You Wish For

Directed by Elizabeth Allen


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Starz Digital.
Opens at Cinema Village.

The Conjuring 2

Directed by James Wan


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

Diary of a Chambermaid

Directed by Benoît Jacquot


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Cohen Media Group.
Opens at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.


Directed by Michael Grandage

      Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth), a book editor for the publishing company Scribner's, agrees to become the editor of author Thomas Wolfe's (Jude Law) books. They become good friends, but their relationship does get a bit rocky. The more they spend time together, the more it damages the relationship between Max and his wife (Laura Linney), and Thomas and his patron (Nicole Kidman). Max also works as an editor for F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West).

      Colin Firth and Jude Law both give solid performances, but they're undermined by a clunky, lethargic and stilted screenplay by John Logan. Not a single scenes truly comes to life which is a disappointment because the crux of the film lies on the bond between Max and Thomas. You recognize that they're friends, but you don't feel their connection or care about their friendship for that matter. Logan fails to adequately explore the dysfunctional family like of Max, and to show delve deeper into the suffering of Max's wife. It seems like Max's wife and Thomas' patron are merely there as cardboard characters to move the plot forward; their characters don't feel lived-in because of the weak screenplay. There are, though, brief moments of witty comic relief, but they're far and few between. Much of the film feels flat like a bad made-for-TV movie that lacks an emotional hook. Once a gun shows up later in the second act, Genius's plot becomes even more uneven and lazy when it comes to going into darker places. More humanism (i.e. in last year's underrated Trumbo) would have elevated Genius to greater heights. made for a much more powerful and poignant film.

      On a positive note, the costume designs, set designs, lighting and desaturated colors all help to add some much-needed authenticity and richness. The dialogue doesn't feel stuffy, and the running time is, fortunately, under 2 hours, so at least Genius doesn't overstay its welcome. If ts screenplay were as lively, rich and authentic as its aesthetic qualities, Genius would have been much more powerful, memorable and poignant.

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Roadside Attractions.
Opens at Landmark Sunshine Cinema, City Cinemas 123, and AMC/Loews 68th St.

Len and Company

Directed by Tim Godsall


Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by IFC Films.
Opens at IFC Center.

Now You See Me 2

Directed by Jon M. Chu


Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Lionsgate.
Opens nationwide.