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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Crank: High Voltage,’ ‘Tyson,’ ‘Sleep Dealer,’ ‘Is Anybody There?,’ ‘American Violet’

BUMPED UP: To note that I’ve added another screening this week: The Soloist (opens in the U.S. on April 24, and in the U.K. on September 11), the Jamie Foxx-Robert Downey Jr. movie about crazy musical genius. It’s from director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) and screenwriter Susannah Grant (Catch and Release, Charlotte’s Web, and ho-lee crap, they let a woman write a movie that’s not about weddings!), so, you know, awesome. Also: I was so afraid this screening was going to be on next Monday night, when I’m supposed to go hear a lecture by Phil “Bad Astronomy” Plait at the American Museum of Natural History here in NYC. Phil is cool, plus we were on a panel together at WorldCon in Los Angeles in 2006, plus his lecture is called “Death from the Skies!” (with an exclamation point), so I really didn’t want to miss that.

Honestly, there’s something so deeply wrong about these Crank movies — No. 2, Crank: High Voltage, opens on April 16 in the U.K. and on April 17 in the U.S. — as if they were designed to push boundaries that no one ever even knew existed before and hasten the four horsemen of the cinemapocalypse in their journey. And yet, I kinda liked the first one, and I expect to get something of a kick out of the second one. Is that wrong? Voltage won’t screen for critics, but I’ll check it out on Friday, once it opens.

Tyson (now playing in the U.K.; opens April 24 in the U.S.) is James Toback’s documentary about the man who is perhaps the worst excuse for an athlete ever in the history of professional game-players. This is one of those movies that throws up the greatest barriers to my quest to remain as objective as possible, even while also being biast.

Sleep Dealer (opens April 17 in the U.S.; no U.K. release date has been announced) is a non-English-language science fiction movie made in Mexico by an American filmmaker (Alex Rivera), and will offer — perhaps — a less than complimentary view on the U.S. and its immigration policies, official and unofficial. So, you know: it’s doomed at the box office, of course.

John Crowley made the uncomfortable Boy A and the problematic but challenging Intermission. Now he’s offering us Is Anybody There? (opens in the U.S. on April 17, and in the U.K. on May 1), about a kid in 1980s England who lives in the old age home that his parents run, and unhappily so, until Michael Caine moves in…

It’s not about gardening or flowers, but American Violet (opens in the U.S. on April 17; no U.K. release date has been announced) does feature a hardy mum: a woman swept up in a drug raid in Texas in 2000 who wasn’t guilty of anything, and fought back. (Her name isn’t Violet, in case you were wondering.) Based on a true story!



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  • Kevin

    Will you be seeing the new Robin Coltrane movie? My daughter has been excited to see it for a while and I’m glad it finally opens wide this Friday. I think it’s called GoobyGooby. Please don’t tell me you passed that movie up for something more important than a movie with Robin Coltrane who everyone loves from the Hairy Potter movies.

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