Allison Janney has spent much of her career playing women who can think and persuade just about anyone. As the title character in the thriller Lou, Janney once again plays someone who’s two or three steps ahead of anyone who crosses her path—though this time she doesn’t talk as much because she doesn’t want to risk spilling one of her many secrets.
Directed by Ann Foerster from a screenplay by Maggie Cohn and Jack Stanley, “Lou” stars Janney as a reclusive landowner in a small coastal community in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1980s. Set during a dangerous storm, the film follows Lou’s tight tenant Hannah (Jurnee Smollett) who needs help when her untrustworthy ex Phillip (Logan Marshall-Green) kidnaps her young daughter for reasons that may have to do with other shady guys who lurk in the woods. When Lou ventures into the rain-soaked wilderness to fix all this, she proves so surprisingly skilled at tracking and killing that Hannah quickly realizes her prickly landlord must have a dark past.
The mystery of who Lou is and why she’s interested in Hannah isn’t as surprising as the film makes it out to be; but Janney is so impressive as an unlikely action hero that the image still works. The action races from one tense outdoor confrontation to the next as “Lou” tells a simple but effective story about two women who must endure the harshness of the elements and the machinations of violent men.
‘Lou.’ R, for violence and language. 1 hour, 47 minutes. Available on Netflix
Like many recent movies and TV shows about time warps, the romantic dramedy Meet Cute wastes no time building its premise. Kaley Cuoco plays Sheila, who in the opening scene meets Gary (Pete Davidson) at a bar and confesses something: She has access to a time machine that can reset the past 24 hours, and she’s used it over and over again to experience her first magical night together again. Director Alex Lehmann and screenwriter Noga Pnueli assume their audiences will be familiar with films like Groundhog Day and Palm Springs, so they get right to the heart of the story, which sees Sheila tweaking small details throughout her never-ending date with Gary .
Unlike Groundhog Day and Palm Springs (and Russian Doll, Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, Source Code, etc.), Meet Cute falls into a rut pretty quickly because it lacks the imagination that makes the best time warp stories work. All of Sheila’s machinations come from a mundane place: She’s broken and Gary’s broken; and so they spend most of their time together enjoying the wonders of New York City while comparing their respective traumas. Also the rules of the time warp don’t matter anymore after a while.
Lehmann makes the city look gorgeous; and Cuoco and Davidson fully immerse themselves in these characters, who are equal parts funny, awkward, and dark. But while there’s the germ of a great time warp plot idea here – the notion that even the best date won’t make a person happy forever – Lehmann and Pnueli don’t expand on it enough or do anything surprising or cool. The one idea turns out to be the only idea and hardly worth repeating.
‘Learn sweets.’ TV-MA, for violence, harsh language and smoking. 1 hour, 29 minutes. Available on Peacock
Natascha McElhone is a prodigy in writer-director Valerie Buhagiar’s enchanting dramedy Carmen, a film about a long-overlooked woman who finally comes out of her shell and harnesses a lifetime of silent observation. McElhone plays Carmen, who worked for decades as a housekeeper for her brother, a Catholic priest on the island of Malta. When he dies, the diocese expels them; but Carmen still has the keys to the church, where she hides and secretly listens to confessions from women who prefer her practical advice to her brother’s old-fashioned penance.
“Carmen” relies too much on coincidence to keep its story going; and Buhagiar inserts a few too many impressionistic flashbacks to the heroine’s youth and the romance her family forced her to abandon. But McElhone strikes a delicate balance between humor and pathos, playing someone who’s spent 30 years watching — and forming opinions — as her neighbors grapple with the complications of marriage, parenthood, and coming-of-age. As she begins breaking rules, making money, and dressing pretty, Carmen finds herself both elated and scared. The audience gets to feel all of this, because she lives what she has only studied up to now.
“Carmen.” In Maltese and English with English subtitles Unrated. 1 hour, 27 minutes. Available on VOD
“The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales”
Activist and filmmaker Abigail Disney has often criticized the company her grandfather Roy and great-uncle Walt co-founded in the 1920s, but rarely has she embraced her family’s legacy as directly as in the documentary The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales, which she co-directed with Kathleen Hughes. The film follows Disney’s efforts in recent years to shame the Walt Disney Co. for the wide discrepancy between their executive pay and the paltry wages paid to their lowest employees, who sometimes have to rely on food banks and unsafe housing, to survive.
As Disney makes clear, her family’s company is far from the worst offender when it comes to robbing workers of their fundamental dignity. But because of what Walt Disney stands for — and because the company used to be a relatively responsible corporate citizen — she and Hughes use it as an example of how far America’s economy has strayed from its mid-20th-century ideals. This is an uncompromising advocacy document; and as such, it will likely rub some viewers the wrong way. But even those who just want to watch it to argue should find that “The American Dream” is a worthy opponent.
“The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales.” Not rated. 1 hour, 27 minutes. Available on VOD
‘me to play’
Veteran New York actors Dan Moran and Chris Jones spent decades on stage and screen before both men were stricken with the debilitating physical effects of Parkinson’s disease, which made it difficult for them to remember lines and hits. Director Jim Bernfield’s short and sweet documentary Me to Play follows Moran and Jones as they work with some of their old colleagues on a production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, an existentialist and apocalyptic play that the two leads do particularly well Find . The film charts the often difficult rehearsal process, but also spends time with the actors’ family and friends, who in some cases are uncharacteristically honest about what a nightmare it was seeing someone they love perish. “Me to Play” doesn’t make a big statement about living with illness or theater as therapy. It’s a little slice of life about a couple of guys trying to illustrate that classic Beckett quote: “I can’t take it anymore. I will continue.”
‘Me to play.’ Not rated. 1 hour 12 minutes. Available on VOD and Fandor
Also on VOD
“Nope” is the latest stunning genre film from Get Out/Us writer-director Jordan Peele, this time fusing horror, sci-fi, western and social satire in a tale of horse breeders who encounter aliens. The top cast includes Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun in a film that defies easy description or explanation and is best experienced with as little prior knowledge as possible. Available on VOD
Now available on DVD and Blu-ray
“exotic” was a pivotal film for Canadian writer-director Atom Egoyan, who applied his fascination with sexual desire and modern-day alienation to a compelling and accessible story about a man attempting to overcome personal tragedy through the rituals of strip club table dancing. The extras on the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray contextualize the film’s place in Egoyan’s career through in-depth conversations and several bonus films. criteria
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-09-23/review-lou-alison-janney-meet-cute-kaley-cuoco-pete-davidson-nope Reviews: Alison Janney’s action chops in Netflix’s ‘Lou’