Ai Weiwei The Fake Case
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 29 Mins.
The daring Beijing artist is shown at rest in quiet scenes shot vérité-style during his 2011 house arrest for tax evasion (or “subversion of state power”). There are touching family moments (his rueful mom says, “If this was 1957 they would have killed you already”), though the man himself is a hesitant figure, rendered morose and stooped by China’s depressingly slow cultural progress. B+ —Joe McGovern
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 31 Mins.
Why is the question of bottle or breast such an emotional briar patch? Dana Ben-Ari tries to find an answer in her debut doc, which follows a meticulously chosen swath of parents — single, hetero, lesbian, gay, well-off and not — as they learn what it means, on the most primal of levels, to feed and bond with their children. The social pressure to breast-feed, the taboo on doing it in public, the guilt over a low milk supply — the film tackles it all with smarts and sensitivity. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go nurse my 6-month-old. B+ —Missy Schwartz
R, 1 Hr., 57 Mins.
Like Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee, James Gray seems to have an unlimited supply of New York stories. But the latest from the director of Little Odessa and The Yards is frustratingly lifeless. Marion Cotillard stars as a down-on-her-luck Polish immigrant named Ewa who comes to America in 1921 searching for a fresh start only to be separated from her sickly sister at Ellis Island. Alone and threatened with deportation, Ewa is taken in by a burlesque-house hustler and pimp (Joaquin Phoenix), who adds her to his menagerie of fresh-off-the-boat prostitutes. Her only chance of salvation comes from a dashing magician (Jeremy Renner). It all sounds more eventful than it is. Not only is there a strange inertness to the film, but each actor appears to be in a different one. Cotillard is too fragile, Phoenix too overwrought, and Renner too undercooked. The real star is cinematographer Darius Khondji, who gives the film the sepia-tinted glow of The Godfather Part II. How can a movie that looks so warm feel so cold? B- —Chris Nashawaty
R, 1 Hr., 55 Mins.
Jon Favreau stars as a disenchanted L.A. cook who hits the road with his son in an old food truck. B —Clark Collis