This weekend sees such diverse personalities as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and “Girls” star Alex Karpovsky on the big screen. Johnson’s vehicle “Snitch” isn’t snatching much praise from critics, while Karpovsky has written, directed and starred in the double feature “Rubberneck” and “Red Flag,” receiving middling to positive reviews.
Carl Franklin, who directed some of the best episodes of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” has his adaptation “Bless Me, Ultima” in limited release, which is receiving upbeat reviews.
Easily the best received film of the weekend is restored repertory offering “Tristana,” Luis Bunuel’s 1970 perverse jewel starring Catherine Deneuve and Fernando Rey. If you’ve never seen this twisted classic, you must.
Tristana Dir. Luis Bunuel, Spain | Cohen Media Group | Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Fernando Rey | 100% Fresh | Roger Ebert: “A few great directors have the ability to draw us into their dream world, into their personalities and obsessions and fascinate us with them for a short time. This is the highest level of escapism the movies can provide for us.”
Red Flag Dir. Alex Karpovsky, USA | Tribeca Film | Cast: Karpovsky, Jennifer Prediger, Onur Turkel, Dustin Guy Defa | 82% Fresh | Indiewire: “This could be a recipe for excessive self-indulgence, but the meta quality of Red Flag is entirely irrelevant to its low key charm and persistent irreverence — anchored, as always, by Karpovsky’s loopy screen presence.”
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Bless Me, Ultima Dir. Carl Franklin, USA | Arenas Entertainment | Cast: Luke Ganalon, Joseph A. Garcia, Miriam Colon | 76% Fresh | Los Angeles Times: “A deeply satisfying feat of storytelling, Bless Me, Ultima makes a difficult task look easy. It combines innocence and experience, the darkness and wonder of life, in a way that is not easy to categorize but a rich pleasure to watch.”
Rubberneck Dir. Alex Karpovsky, USA | Tribeca Film | Cast: Karpovsky, Jaime Ray Newman, Amanda Good Hennessy, Dakota Shepard | 50% Rotten | Time Out New York: “A too-pat ending also spoils Rubberneck (shorter: Mommy made me do it!), though it doesn’t ruin the steely pleasures of the filmmaking.” | Our review
Snitch Dir. Ric Roman Waugh, USA | Summit Entertainment | Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Ravi Gavron | 51% Rotten | Variety: “It’s nice to have actors of Sarandon and Pepper’s caliber on board for the office-bound wheeler-dealer scenes, but mostly, it’s the prospect of witnessing Johnson at the helm of an 18-wheeler as he rams his way through machine-gun fire that excites.”
Dark Skies Dir. Scott Stewart, USA | Dimension Films | Cast: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, J.K. Simmons | 33% Rotten | Movie Nation: “It’s a passably chilling bit of nonsense that builds on the past, the tropes of the genre, and relies on them for the odd jolt and the occasional ironic laugh.”