Reel-View Ratings: The Bigger The Beard, The Better The Movie



Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York hosts a sumptuous fashion exhibit and party known as the Met Gala. First Monday goes behind the scenes of that annual event, specifically to the 2015 incarnation, called China: Through the Looking Glass. Fashion luminaries, including Anna Wintour and John Galliano, wax rhetoric about the higher callings of their biz, and there’s a good chunk of time devoted to the logistics that go into hosting such an expensive, elaborate venture. However, the film shies away from examining in detail the less savory parts of the gala and exhibit, avoiding claims of cultural appropriation and celebrity pandering, leaving conspicuous holes in its otherwise meticulous seams.

Plays at 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. June 25, 7:30 p.m. June 26 and 1 p.m. June 28 at Doris Duke Theatre



Hard-luck factory worker Thierry Taugourdeau loses his job, and after a year of unemployment, manages to get a new one as a security guard at a Walmart-style big-box store, where he cracks down on people even more desperate than he is. His story is unremarkable — his luck is tough, but he wasn’t starving — and yet entirely relatable in this simple, undramatic depiction of what morals people will compromise to survive. This hyper-realistic approach also means that the film does come off as boring during longer stretches, but even scenes as small as Thierry on a doomed job interview via Skype will rankle and roil in viewers, who will empathize with his humiliation. It ain’t fancy, but it’s real.

Opens June 24 at Kahala Theatre



After his impressive debut Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn has been steadily trekking downhill, first with Only God Forgives and now with the graphic, fetishized The Neon Demon. Starring Elle Fanning as Jesse, a hypnotically beautiful model who gets eaten alive in the shark-infested modeling industry of Los Angeles, the film is mostly an exercise in exquisite death-meets-sex imagery with surrealist dream sequences (which all involve blood and gore, of course). The Neon Demon is striking, searing itself into memory with Fanning’s ephemeral, pale beauty, but at its core, reads more like Refn’s secret fantasies come to morbid life than an actual film.

Opens June 24 at Kahala Theatre