21 JUMP STREET
In the tradition of Starsky and Hutch — taking a self-serious cop show and turning it into a loutish buddy comedy for the big screen — comes 21 Jump Street. What once was a steamy, street-smart hot rod for Johnny Depp and Richard Grieco (remember him?) has become more of an ice cream truck with a flat tire — loud, churlish, calling attention to itself. Basic idea is the same, though, two young-looking cops infiltrate a high school to root out some bad guys. (LB) Rated R
[VIDEO] ALBERT NOBBS
Though an intriguing centerpiece for a story — a woman who must pretend to be a man in order to live independently — Glenn Close’s Nobbs is something of a recluse. When Nobbs meets Hubert (Janet McTeer) — another woman who lives as a man, but with a personal life as well — she begins to see the possibility for something more than a solitary existence. Close’s take on Nobbs feels inauthentic, like a gender-spin impersonation of Anthony Hopkins’ emotionally-repressed manservant in The Remains of the Day. It’s actually McTeer who gives the truly dynamic performance here. Too bad the movie isn’t about her. (SR) Rated PG-13
[THUMB] KILL LIST
At first glance, Kill List appears to be the story of two British hitmen who stand to come into a bundle of money after assassinating three names on their “kill list.” But after a cache of pornography is discovered in the possession of one of their victims, Jay grows increasingly unhinged, and the film falls down a rabbit hole of tension, violence and paranoia.
Director Ben Wheatley (2009’s excellent Down Terrace) has created a dark and creepy film, that is also very funny at times. Much of the dialogue is improvised by the actors, and the banter helps give the film a naturalistic feel. A disorienting opening scene is followed by a hilariously uncomfortable dinner party. Wheatley constantly contrasts tones and emotions so that no stable quarter can be found.
Without spoiling the ending, let’s just say that the film’s final sequences are so outrageous that they threaten to undermine all the carefully calibrated kitchen-sink realism that has come before. That’s a shame, too, because Kill List is one of the most fascinating genre-bending films to come out of England in a long while. Unrated —Marjorie Baumgarten