Freeze Frame: “The Call of the Wild” (PG), “The Assistant” (R)

“The Call of the Wild” is at least the ninth adaptation of the classic Jack London novel about the adventures of a dog named Buck, set during the Yukon Gold Rush iof the 1890s. Harrison Ford plays John Thornton, the gruff prospector who becomes one of Buck’s multiple masters. It’s a rousing story and Ford’s presence is a big help, but the filmmakers use unconvincing computer-generated imagery to create all the animals and most of the environment. This approach undermines London’s story, giving “The Call of the Wild” has a sheen of artificiality when it should be a celebration of the natural world. The under 10 set may enjoy it, but for the rest of us, this dog has no bite.


If you think your boss is bad, check out “The Assistant.” Julia Garner, best known from her role as the hillbilly gangster Ruth Langmore from Netflix’s “Ozark,” shows her range in an excellent performance as Julia, an exploited gofer for a nasty, unseen film executive. Any resemblance to Harvey Weinstein may or may not be coincidental. This slice-of-life character study takes place over one grueling day as Julia, a recent college grad pining to break into the film production business, endures the system’s inherent sexism and autocracy. “The Assistant” is slow-moving and not for everyone, but it’s an effective cautionary tale for the “Me Too” era.


Also opening this week, “Marcel Duchamp: The Art of the Possible” is a documentary about the acclaimed artist. “Premature” is a romantic drama set in contemporary Harlem. “The Lodge” is a horror thriller set in an isolated cabin during a blizzard. Riley Keough stars. Katie Holmes stars in “Brahms: The Boy 2,” a horror sequel about a haunted doll. “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a comedy inspired by the hidden camera prank TV series.

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