Review: ‘The Janes,’ ‘The Walk’ and ‘The Northman’ come home

‘The Janes’

Before the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision paved the way for legal abortions in the United States, many American women had to pay exorbitant amounts of money to bullied criminals for quasi-medical procedures that could be life-threatening. Beginning in the late 1960s, an underground Chicago network attempted to connect women with real doctors and charged patients what they could afford. The organization disbanded when their services were no longer needed, but the connections they forged helped lay the foundation for the feminist movement of the ’70s.

The contemporary documentary The Janes – co-directed by Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes – tells the story of this group who advertised in counterculture magazines and on bulletin boards at hippie hangouts, advising troubled women to “call JANE.” The surviving, now aged, members of Jane give the filmmakers an overview of how they came together, how their law-wasting process worked, and why what they did matter.

“The Janes” is filled with alternately harrowing and darkly amusing anecdotes, covering everything from the index cards that chronicled patients’ pertinent details to the legend of the skilled amateur abortionist posing as a licensed professional. But what really resonates are the memories of women who have helped women by speaking openly about the specific economic and health concerns that the male-dominated establishment has typically ignored. JANE’s supportive atmosphere was eye opening and the possibility of a world where everyone, regardless of social status, can be seen and heard.

“The Janes.” TV-MA, for violence, adult content and adult language. 1 hour, 41 minutes. Available on HBO Max

‘The fair’

A black and white image of a woman cradling a young man next to a fire in the film "The fair."

Mimi Kuzyk and Mark O’Brien in The Righteous.

(arrow movies)

Actor Mark O’Brien wrote, directed and stars as a central role in his feature film debut The Righteous, a slow-burning black-and-white psychodrama reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman and gothic ghost stories. O’Brien plays Aaron, a mysterious stranger who shows up one night at the backwoods home of Frederic (Henry Czerny) and Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk), an elderly couple grieving the accidental death of their adopted daughter. Aaron seems to be a drifter at first, but as he chats with Frederic, he seems to know a lot about his host: that he used to be a priest, that he broke his vows decades ago, and that he prayed to God for deliverance.

O’Brien tells Frederic’s story – which encompasses both his dark past and his grim present – through a series of provocative conversations that have the intensity and conviction of great theatre. These characters tackle the big issues. Do sins always have to be punished? Can two mistakes make a right? Is an unimaginable tragedy God’s twisted way of demanding justice? Viewers uninterested in theology may find these concerns a little esoteric and may wish O’Brien had spent more time puzzling over who Aaron is and why he appears to have supernatural powers. But this film is a must-see for anyone who enjoys seeing great actors who have the space to explore their characters’ pain – and weave captivating moments out of rich words and subtle moods.

‘The fair.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 36 minutes. Available at Arrow

‘The walk’

Though the execution is clunky, the subject matter and scope of the historical drama The Walk is mostly compelling enough to make up for it. Directed by Daniel Adams and co-written by Adams and George Powell, the film is based on the men’s memories of Boston around 1974, when the courts ordered the public school system to integrate by moving children from black neighborhoods to white schools and vice versa. The story focuses primarily on a white police officer, Bill Coughlin (Justin Chitin), who is tasked with escorting the black students to class.

The Walk also follows a black teenager, Wendy Robinson (Lovie Simone), whose father (Terrence Howard) is afraid to put her on the bus; and it’s about how Coughlin’s roots in South Boston’s Irish-American gangs make him fear for the future of his own daughter, who is just as casually racist as her friends and neighbors. The dialogue is blunt and the plot overly focuses on white heroism; but the historical details are well observed, and the filmmakers show a genuine understanding of the ingrained attitudes and fears that make moments of social progress so difficult.

‘The walk.’ R, for the language throughout, including racial slurs and some violence. 1 hour 45 minutes. Available in selected cinemas and on VOD

“The Lineage of the Cop”

Baby-faced “Parasite” star Choi Woo-shik once again uses his guileless demeanor in “The Policeman’s Lineage,” a twisted crime drama about the moral compromises some cops make in their pursuit of bad guys. Choi plays Choi Min-jae, a third-generation cop whose reputation for honesty leads to Internal Affairs assigning him to a rumored corrupt anti-drug task force. As Choi begins gathering evidence against his new boss, Park Kang-yoon (Cho Jin-woong), he begins to see the veteran police’s methods as perhaps more effective than illegal – and he also gains insight into his father, who works undercover -Mission died. Directed by Lee Kyoo-man from a screenplay by Bae Young-ik (adapted from a novel by Joh Sasaki), the film’s exploration of the gray areas of crime-fighting is familiar; but strong performances, some stylistic flair and a matter-of-fact tone give The Policeman’s Lineage ring of truth.

“The Lineage of the Cop.” In Korean with English subtitles. Not rated. 1 hour 59 minutes. Available on VOD

‘keep company’

Horror comedy The Keeping Company strikes a sometimes difficult balance between its two genres as director and co-writer Josh Wallace trades in prickly satire at the expense of thrills. Devin Das (who also wrote the screenplay) and Ahmed Bharoocha play doorstep salespeople for a seedy insurance company who cross paths with a family of serial killers and discover their customers can be as predatory as their bosses. Wallace and Das pack a lot into a short run, including a subplot about a disgruntled plaintiff who threatens to expose the company’s exploitative practices, and another about a political candidate whose hard-line crime policies add another layer of commentary about cynicism and hypocrisy adds movie. Between all the characters and the plot there isn’t as much space as there should be for shocks and jokes. Still, it’s rare that a movie like this gets slammed for having too many ideas. While it doesn’t quite add up, Keeping Company is never boring or predictable.

‘Keep company.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 22 minutes. Available on VOD

“A Sex Planation”

The lively and light-hearted documentary “A Sexplanation” deals with a rather serious subject: the pathetic state of sex education in the United States and how many people rely on rumor, religion, politicians and pornography to determine what “normal” sexual desires are . Speaking to friends, family, and clinical experts, director and host Alex Liu seeks common examples of how Americans are learning about sex — and the things they do in their bedrooms that they’re still ashamed to be open about speak. The film’s structure is too loose and scattered, and overall it leans more toward personal anecdotes and observations than hard data. (A section covering what men and women watch most often on the Pornhub site is more insightful than, say, hearing one of Liu’s friends talk about masturbation.) But overall, this is an entertaining film with admirable intent , which urges audiences to reconsider their assumptions about pleasure.

“A sex plan.” Not rated. 1 hour 16 minutes. Available on VOD

Also stream

“Hurry” is the latest dramatic performance from comedian Adam Sandler, who has a knack for these kinds of roles. In this critically acclaimed underdog sports story, Sandler plays a pro basketball scout who aspires to be a coach and sees his ticket to greatness in a talented Spanish hoopster (Juancho Hernangómez) with a troubled past. Available on Netflix

Now available on DVD and Blu-ray

Alexander Skarsgård in The Northman

Alexander Skarsgård in the film The Northman

(Aidan Monaghan/Focus Functions)

“The Northman” is a suspenseful, stylish, blood-soaked Viking action epic from The Witch writer-director Robert Eggers that roughly combines the psychologically complex plot of Hamlet with the macho swagger of a Mel Gibson film. Alexander Skarsgård plays an exiled prince with a heavy sword and a thirst for revenge who makes life difficult for his scheming mother (Nicole Kidman) and her new husband (Claes Bang). Focus/Universal (also available for Peacock)

“The Place Promised in Our Early Days,” “5 Centimeters Per Second,” and “Children Chasing Lost Voices” are three early films by acclaimed Japanese animation writer-director Makoto Shinkai, whose more recent films Your Name and Weathering with You have been international sensations. These three feature-packed Special Edition Blu-rays will be a boon to Shinkai’s newer fans, who will be drawn to the way he weaves science fiction and fantasy into stories about the real-life concerns of young people. GCHILDREN/Scream! Factory

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-06-10/review-janes-abortion-righteous-northman Review: ‘The Janes,’ ‘The Walk’ and ‘The Northman’ come home

Sarah Ridley

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