Friday movie roundup: Havana nights in "Chico & Rita"
It's Easter weekend, and you'd be hard-pressed to find an Easter egg as colorful and vibrant as the best new movie in theaters.
That's "Chico & Rita," a surprise nominee for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. The Spanish-language romance, between a soulful singer and a two-timing jazzman in the 1950s, takes the viewer from the hotspots of Havana to the clubs of New York. Direcors Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal combine bold lines, radiant colors and a propulsive jazz score (including animated cameos of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie) to create a delight for the eyes and ears. (It's also sexy and very adult, with animated sex scenes and nudity.)
The weekend's big studio opening is "American Reunion," the fourth (if you don't count direct-to-DVD releases, and who does?) of the "American Pie" franchise. It's more than a decade since we first met the awkwardly sex-obsessed Jim (Jason Biggs) and his horndog buddies and now we catch up to them dealing with the real world, and still as raunchy as ever. The Tribune's Scott D. Pierce writes that the movie is just a rehash of the jokes of the previous films.
On the local front, "Redemption" is a Utah-produced drama that unveils a little-known bit of Utah history. It centers on Jean Baptiste (David H. Stevens), a French immigrant convicted of grave-robbing in 1862 Utah territory and exiled to live alone on Antelope Island. His only human contact is the lawman, Henry Heath (John Freeman), who arrested him and who has a personal stake in the case, as his daughter's grave was one of those robbed. Writer-director Tom Russell captures some marvelous scenery of Antelope Island, but the drama moves at a snail's pace.
The New Zealand comedy-drama "Boy" is graced with a winning performance by its 11-year-old lead, and with plenty of local color. Alas, the story of a youngster (James Rolleston) in 1984 discovering that his dad (played by the movie's writer-director, Taika Waititi) isn't the hero he'd always imagined is a bit thin.
"Thin Ice" is the latest from the indie-film sister act the Sprecher sisters (Karen and Jill write, Jill directs). This one (originally titled "The Convincer" when it played at Sundance 2011) is a too-quirky-for-its-own-good caper comedy, starring Greg Kinnear as a double-talking insurance salesman who tries to swindle a farmer (Alan Arkin) who possesses a rare violin.
And, speaking of ice, there is the 3-D re-release of James Cameron's "Titanic," for those who want to hear "Jack!" "Rose" for three hours. (Check out this review by The Miami Herald's Rene Rodriguez.)