Some more January dumps and lingering Oscar bait this week.
The one big opening is 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (48), Michael Bay’s rah-rah film about an incident that just won’t die. Recent screenings for yahoos have led to reported death threats against Hillary Clinton. Justin Chang: “It’s a nail-biter and a head-scratcher rolled into one: The mind may initially race to keep up with logistics, but eventually one acknowledges the futility of trying to make sense of a situation that Bay himself hasn’t managed to clarify.”
Moonwalkers (39) has an interesting set-up: it takes seriously the notion that the moon landing was faked on a sound stage. But apparently it fails with it. Oktay Ege Kozak: “Moonwalkers takes a brilliant idea and runs it to the ground thanks to a confused and ill ogical screenplay, an atonal execution, and a bizarre addiction to Tarantino-level gleeful ultra-violence awkwardly crammed into what was obviously supposed to be a biting satire.”
One of the recent nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is Mustang (82), from France, but a family drama set in Turkey. Barbara VanDenbergh: “The cultural specificity and fiercely patriarchal setting sets Mustang apart. It’s a timely reminder that, even still, there are few safe havens in the world for a free spirit.”
Youth (64), directed by Paolo Sorrentino, had some Oscar hopes, but walked away with just a song nomination. It appears to be another film about old guys searching for the fountain of youth with young women. Michael O’Sullivan: “Youth is intoxicating, I’ll admit. Had I never tasted this wine before, I could easily see myself yearning for another glass. But this time it feels like an old vintage in a new bottle, one that’s grown slightly stale rather than better with age.”
The dump offs this month include Norm of the North (22), which looks like very bad animated kiddie fare, and yet more Kevin Hart in Ride Along 2 (32) . I hope black people aren’t upset that it doesn’t get Oscar nominations next year.