Bill Murray re-teams with “Lost in Translation” filmmaker Sophia Coppola for the disarming comedy, “On the Rocks.” Rashida Jones plays a woman who fears her husband, played by Marlon Wayans, may be cheating on her. Her pushy ne’er do well father, played by Murray, manipulates her into spying on her spouse. There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, making “On the Rocks” a sly, engaging and loving look at family dynamics.
“The Forty-Year-Old Version” may be the year’s biggest surprise. Acclaimed playwright Radha Banks plays herself in this autobiographical movie about a struggling theater artist who tries her hand at rap. Whip smart and often hilarious, it’s an eye-opening exposé of racism and ageism in the liberal New York performing arts scene. This very adult film has brazen language and content that will make it radioactive for many, but if you can get past the barrage of dirty words, “The Forty-Year-Old Version” will be a welcome introduction to a charismatic talent.
“Yellow Rose” is a charming coming-of-age movie about a Philippine-American teenager who faces possible deportation while trying to break into the Austin country music scene. Broadway star Eva Noblezada makes an impressive movie debut in this sweet-natured comic drama that’s filled with pathos and affecting, well-sung tunes. The presence of Austin music icon Dale Watson is a big help, too. “Yellow Rose” is an appealing, sweet-natured sleeper.
Noted character actor Joe Pantoliano takes a rare leading role in low-key comedy, “From the Vine.” He plays a disaffected Canadian auto executive who ditches his career to return to his ancestral home in rural Italy and tries to re-open his family’s abandoned vineyard and winery. It tries hard to be charming, employing some awkward moments of magic realism. It’s good-natured, but “From the Vine” often seems forced and artificial.
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.