‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’
(PG-13; 151 minutes; Warner Bros.): Zack Snyder’s booming, brooding film, in which the DC Comics heroes – Ben Affleck in his first venture as the Dark Knight, Henry Cavill back for a second turn as the Man of Steel – are joined by Jesse Eisenberg as the jittery millennial Luthor, who would like nothing better than to take Superman down.
Snyder’s superpowered epic has a sense of import and grandeur about it. This is, after all, the first time these icons of pop culture have squared off on the big screen, and there’s a gravitas here that even the most stale of comic book tropes can’t diminish.
The film is designed to serve as a launching pad for a whole Justice League franchise. If you blink, you might miss Aquaman and the Flash, but they’re here, among the “metahumans” that Bruce Wayne discovers. One of those metahumans – Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman – does get a little more screen time.
Contains intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality. Philadelphia Inquirer
(R; 100 minutes; Crescendo): A biographical drama centering on a handful of periods in the life of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, this valentine to jazz in all its forms stars Don Cheadle in arguably the best performance of his decades-long career, as vibrant a portrait of a difficult, passionate, committed creative artist as anyone could wish for.
Though it starts out promisingly as an attempt at fragmented, free-form narrative, “Miles Ahead” puzzlingly devolves into the cliché territory of a heist plot.
Cheadle’s performance as Davis, a complex, driven man who could be violently destructive to the people around him but was always looking to take the music further, stands tall in all of this, even when the plot contrivances start to pile up like so much disposable material.
Contains strong language throughout, drug use, some sexuality/nudity and brief violence. Los Angeles Times
(R; 100 minutes; Fox Searchlight): In “Demolition,” Jake Gyllenhaal proves that an actor who could easily be dismissed as just another watchable face is actually possessed of subtle, fascinatingly protean chops.
Gyllenhaal plays Davis Mitchell, a young investment banker who’s on the phone with his boss as “Demolition” opens. Filmed in a series of jangly, disorienting close-ups, the sequence reveals that Davis is in a car being driven by his wife, Julia (Heather Lind). A study in the exasperated minutiae of the reasonably happy marriage, the scene expertly ratchets up the tension, so that even its foregone conclusion arrives like a thuddingly paralyzing blow.
What ensues is a sometimes bizarre, self-consciously quirky portrait of a man reconsidering his life’s purpose, the foundation of his marriage and his inescapable sense of alienation from a world he can only perceive through destructive, shattering metaphors.
Contains language, some sexual references, drug use and disturbing behavior. Washington Post
‘Elvis & Nixon’
(R; 86 minutes; Amazon Studios): It is, reportedly, the most requested image in the National Archives: a 1970 black-and-white shot of then-President Nixon smiling warily as he shakes the hand of Elvis Presley, who’s resplendent in a caped suit, exuberant wings of hair, two enormous necklaces and a collar big enough to use as an emergency umbrella. What event caused these two unlikely schmoozers to meet? “Elvis & Nixon,” directed by Liza Johnson, will tell you.
Well, sort of. As is usually the case with this sort of based-on-fact comedy, some of it’s fiction. It’s known that Presley had a White House meeting with Nixon, and that he sent a letter beforehand, asking the president to consider appointing him as a “Federal Agent at Large” to help fight “the drug culture.”
The screenplay is problematic. Too often, the dialogue is flat and sitcommy. But there’s much pleasure to be had in “Elvis & Nixon” from its two lead performances. Kevin Spacey’s Nixon is a grumpy, self-conscious bear of a man, peeved that such a meeting might take place “during my nap time.” And Michael Shannon’s Presley, pale as paper, has a funny, laid-back delivery.
Contains mature language. Seattle Times
Also out July 19
- “Perfect Match”
- “A Perfect Day”
- “Kill Zone 2”
- “Bitten: Season 3”
- “Orphan Black: Season 4”
- “Person of Interest: Season 5”
- “Royal Pains: Season 8”
- “The 100: Season 3”
- “The Magicians: Season 1”