Review: ‘Spring Awakening,’ ‘The Takedown’ and other movies to watch this weekend
Long before Omar Sy became a Netflix superstar with the international hit TV series “Lupin,” he starred in the popular 2012 action-comedy “On the Other Side of the Tracks.” In the new sequel “The Takedown,” Sy reprises his role as Ousmane Diakité, an anti-authoritarian lone-wolf cop who once again finds himself working alongside François Monge (Laurent Lafitte), a fussy careerist who annoys everyone but gets along OK with Ousmane, because they both sincerely want to punish bad people. They’re joined occasionally by Izïa Higelin as Alice, who gives the boys someone to bicker over.
Sy and Lafitte bring a lot of old-school buddy-picture energy to “The Takedown,” tracking a murder to a small town overrun by drug-trafficking right-wing populists — who don’t have much use for guys like Ousmane, descended from African immigrants. Screenwriter Stéphane Kazandjian follows up on the mild social commentary of the first film (where the Black hero was frequently mistaken for a criminal) with some soft jabs at Marine Le Pen supporters.
For the record:
4:21 p.m. May 6, 2022An earlier version of this article incorrectly included the mountain-climbing documentary “The Sanctity of Space” among this week’s video-on-demand titles. The film is currently playing at the Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood. It will be available May 31 on VOD.
The political material is mainly meant to give Ousmane an outsider edge. (There are some pokes at leftist political correctness too, via François’ over-the-top by-the-book approach.) For the most part, “The Takedown” isn’t intended to rattle cages. Veteran action director Louis Leterrier delivers exactly what audiences expect: some banter, a couple of surprise plot twists and a few thrills. He does so more than capably, with two sequences in particular: a multiroom sprint through a colorful arcade, and a breathtaking car chase down a narrow cliffside road. Sure, the two leads are often just along for the ride in this stunt-driven movie — but they remain good company.
Rated: TV-MA for language, violence, nudity, gore
Running time: 2 hours, 1 minute
Playing: Available now on Netflix
‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known’
The original production of the musical “Spring Awakening” opened off-Broadway in 2006 and then moved to Broadway later that year, where it slowly became a sensation. With its largely teenage cast, its energetic Duncan Sheik alt-rock score, and its Steven Sater book (adapted from a late 19th century German play) and lyrics about emotionally scarred and sexually curious kids, the show connected with an audience of young theater geeks who hadn’t been so well served by Broadway since “Rent.” By the end of its run, “Spring Awakening” had won eight Tonys and had introduced a handful of new stage, screen and music stars, including Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele, John Gallagher Jr., Lauren Pritchard and Lilli Cooper.
All five of those performers reunite for Michael John Warren’s stirring documentary “Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known,” which tells both the story of how the show came to be and the story of a recent benefit concert performance. The cast and creative team’s memories are vivid and moving, as they describe — often while on the verge of tears — how this experience changed their lives, forged tight friendships and transformed their understanding of art, performance and what it means to be alive. More important, this doc is filled with wonderful music, as Warren’s editing team cuts between old and new footage of these singers often within the same song, proving that age hasn’t quelled their passion — and underlining how the promise of spring still blooms.
'Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known'
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Playing: Available now on HBO Max
If we’ve learned anything from horror movies, it’s that the worst way to recover from grief and guilt is to move to some spooky old property in the middle of nowhere. It’s a lesson lost on Eric Black (Tom Hughes), who in writer-director Russell Owen’s “Shepherd” reacts to his wife’s tragic death by taking a job on a small, foggy island, containing only a lighthouse, a farmhouse, a herd of sheep and the diaries of all the previous caretakers who’ve gone mad there.
“Shepherd” is a little light on incident for a genre picture. Owen leans heavily on Callum Donaldson’s blaring, atonal score and the majestic scenery of his location, as Eric suffers strange hallucinations and gradually confronts his culpability in his wife’s fate. But while the plot here is thin (and slow-paced, and oppressively grim), Owen has a remarkable facility for generating atmosphere. He’s made a film where one man’s internal strife has been effectively externalized as an inescapable, picturesque purgatory.
Rated: R, for some disturbing/bloody images and language
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes
Playing: Lumiere Music Hall, Beverly Hills; available May 10 on VOD
Though the structure of writer-director Ronny Trocker’s domestic drama “Human Factors” loosely recalls “Rashomon” — with the four members of a grumpy German family each offering their perspectives on a possible break-in at their Belgian vacation home — the movie has more in common with modern European directors like Michael Haneke, Ruben Östlund and Christian Petzold, who’ve all used inconvenient disruptions in ordinary people’s lives as a way to explore the deeper fractures in their relationships.
In the case of “Human Factors,” the married co-owners of an ad agency — as well as their alienated teenage daughter and their younger, loner son — can’t agree on what happened during the home invasion or even if it happened at all, because they’re frequently distant from each other, physically and emotionally. Trocker’s insights into a family crumbling due to a lack of trust aren’t all that fresh or keen, but his movie is tense and absorbing regardless, because he and his cast excel at dramatizing the lingering resentments and passive-aggression that foul the air between loved ones.
In German, French and Flemish with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles; also on VOD
Much of writer-director Valentyn Vasyanovych’s wartime drama “Reflection” is shot in front of windows, through which a Ukrainian doctor named Serhiy (Roman Lutskiy) sees — and is unfazed by — the turbulence of the world on the other side. Then Serhiy gets captured and tortured by the Russian military after he mistakenly drives into occupied territory; when he’s finally allowed to return home, he begins engaging more with the people in his life. Set in a war-torn part of Europe that’s lately become a lead story in the nightly news, “Reflection” is unflinching about the atrocities happening in Ukraine, though Vasyanovych mainly uses the violence as a pivot point for his protagonist. This is a poignant and poetic film, where the strife just outside the characters’ little bubbles is ever-present and always visible.
Running time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
Playing: Available through May 12 on Laemmle Virtual Cinema
Sheryl Crow’s 1993 debut album, “Tuesday Night Music Club,” was a huge, Grammy-winning hit; and the singer-songwriter has continued to sell records and draw crowds in the decades since. But as Amy Scott’s documentary “Sheryl” makes clear, Crow’s life hasn’t always been one big win after another. Scott covers Crow’s long years of work as a session musician (including a stint backing Michael Jackson) and her various setbacks due to ill health, relationship woes and public controversies. It’s a fascinating story, mostly told by Crow herself, who is disarmingly honest about the capriciousness and cruelty of the music business — and about how the best way to survive for decades is to learn how to connect with people.
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Playing: Available now on Showtime
Also on VOD
“Inbetween Girl” stars Emma Galbraith as Angie Chen, a mixed-race Galveston, Texas, teenager struggling with her identity, while also having a secret affair and dealing with her parents’ separation. Written and directed by Mei Makino, this entertaining indie dramedy has a unique perspective on “ordinary” kids, often leading surprisingly complicated lives.
“Escape the Field” is a mystery-thriller in the “Saw”/“Escape Room” mold, following an eclectic group of strangers who wake up in a cornfield and find themselves having to survive a series of traps, using only their wits and a small supply of seemingly random objects.
Available now on DVD and Blu-ray
“The Pink Cloud” was written and shot before the pandemic, but it’s hard to shake how prescient Brazilian writer-director Iuli Gerbase’s science-fiction drama is about quarantine life. Set in a world where a deadly gas forces everyone indoors indefinitely, the film follows a pair of new lovers as they adjust to unexpected couplehood and learn how to reimagine their jobs and hobbies in this new reality. (Breaking Glass)
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