Reel-View Ratings: The Bigger The Beard, The Better The Movie
FREE STATE OF JONES
Confederate army medic Newton Jones (Matthew McConaughey) is sick of fighting a rich man’s war over slavery, so he absconds and raises his own multiracial fighting force that secedes a small county away from the politics of the Civil War. It’s a story that hopes to resonate in today’s world, but Free State of Jones trips over itself with droning storytelling (told with PowerPoint-esque placards to speed things up), a little bit of white savior complex (much as McConaughey tries to rein it in), and a disappointing lack of nuance in this suspiciously utopian rebellion force. Interesting story, bad vehicle — it may well be better suited for a boring classroom screener.
Opened June 24 at Kahala Theatre
OUR KIND OF TRAITOR
An innocent English couple with the last name “Make-peace” (Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris) gets swept up in a bloody money-laundering scheme when a Russian mob accountant (Stellan Skarsgard) wants to cut a deal with the British government and sell out his bosses in exchange for asylum. The Makepeaces are to serve as go-betweens. It isn’t exactly a groundbreaking premise for a morally ambiguous spy caper, but the story buzzes along with its photogenic cast and twisty story, keeping viewers intrigued until the end. Dynamic, menacing Skarsgard is the standout here. Would that his film were more original, to secure his place in cinematic memory!
Opens July 1 at Kahala Theatre
THE GREAT PASSAGE
A 15-year journey to write a living dictionary does not, in theory, make for thrilling cinema. The same remains true in practice. But if viewers are willing to accept this film’s languid pace, they shall find an interesting examination of Japanese society and beliefs (individuality melts away before the needs of the group in quietly alarming ways), balancing a love of linguistics and language with a slow-burn romance between the dictionary’s nervous editor and his landlord’s daughter. It will take work to uncover those insights, but really, can you expect any less from a film about, literally, a gigantic dictionary?
Plays at 1:30 and 6 p.m. July 1, and at noon, 4:30 and 9 p.m. July 3 at the Movie Museum