John David Washington stars along with Zendaya in the dark and talky drama, “Malcolm & Marie.” Following a movie premier, a filmmaker and his girlfriend muse intermittently argue, make up, make love and argue again. The actors are terrific, but writer/director Sam Levinson’s bitter film plays out like a lesser version of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.” It’s smart, but it lacks the incendiary humor that could have elevated it. “Malcolm & Marie” is observant but frustratingly repetitious.
Actor Viggo Mortensen makes his directorial debut with the heartbreaking drama, “Falling.” Mortensen, who also wrote and produced, plays John, a gay man whose brutish and abusive father Willis, played by Lance Henriksen, is suffering from dementia. Longstanding issues resurface as the elderly man spews homophobic and misogynist nonsense causing John to recall difficult memories from his childhood. While the film is very well acted and well intentioned, it is a slog to sit through. Henriksen’s character is so unlikeable that he sabotages any potential empathy for his plight. You have to give Mortensen credit though for his uncompromising viewpoint. Still, “Falling” is an agonizing watch.
Sam Neill and Michael Caton play feuding brothers in the lightweight Australian comic drama, “Rams.” Although they live side by side on their family sheep ranch, Colin and Les haven’t spoken to one another for 40 years. When a rare disease appears among their flocks, their relationship is strained further and puts the entire local agriculture community in jeopardy. This is the type of movie that relies on homespun rural charm for its appeal. And, while it doesn’t all work, the capable cast gives the low-key “Rams” a much-needed punch.
Your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at nelson-atkins.org, Screenland.com, fineartsgroup.com and drafthouse.com.