Reviews: Anthony Hopkins, Mia Goth in movies to watch at home

“Since I’ve Been Down”

In the 1990s, the rise of crack cocaine and increased gang violence fueled what became a nationwide anti-crime hysteria, resulting in news stories portraying some drug dealers as “super-predators,” which resulted in legislation that sent children. to life imprisonment. Gilda Sheppard’s documentary ‘Since I Been Down’ examines how this crackdown has devastated a generation of black and Latino children in Tacoma, Wash., as aggressive policing and the introduction of ‘three strikes’ laws drove out the culprits and their casual acquaintances on the streets and in prison, without the possibility of parole.

Sheppard tells this story along two parallel tracks. Part of the film is a throwback to the 90s, with personal photographs, reflective interviews and old newspaper footage cut together to show how widespread anxiety about rampaging and inhumane gangs contrasted with what was going on. actually in the poorer neighborhoods of Tacoma. Behind the clichés on the front page were underprivileged children, who had been lured into a life of crime by the promise of money and a sense of community.

But the real interest of “Since I Been Down” – and what makes the film so powerful – are the scenes that show these men and women still incarcerated today. Stuck in institutions that showed little or no interest in rehabilitating lifers, these ex-gangsters educated themselves and joined support organizations, effectively recreating themselves as potentially productive members of society – but only if the company that threw them away 30 years ago ever decides to take them back.

“Since I’ve been down there.” Unclassified. 1h45. Available on VOD

“There are no saints”

José María Yazpik in the film “There are no saints”.

(Paramount Pictures/Saban Films)

The story behind the revenge thriller “There Are No Saints” is twistier than the movie itself. Originally titled “The Jesuit”, the film was written by accomplished filmmaker Paul Schrader to be made over a decade ago, with a cast that according to showbiz trades at the time would have included Oscar Isaac, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Rodriguez. The project flopped but the script survived and was eventually brought to the screen by director Alfonso Pineda Ulloa, who showed Schrader a cut as early as 2014.

The completed film (which would have undergone further changes over the past eight years) stars José María Yazpik as Neto Niente, a hitman who embarks on a violent mission across Texas and Mexico after that a crime boss went after his family. Joined by a stripper named Inez (Shannyn Sossamon) and occasionally aided by some sort of “fixer” named Carl (Tim Roth), Neto wreaks havoc on his way to a big boss (Neal McDonough), only to find he there’s another (Ron Perlman) he has to remove to get satisfaction.

In the abstract, “There Are No Saints” is one piece with Schrader’s work on images like “Taxi Driver” and “Hardcore,” in that it is a sinisterly obsessive man whose hero complex causes more problems than it solves. But the general atmosphere is more luscious than arty; and whether or not that’s due to the convoluted behind-the-scenes situation, the film feels jerky, with even the most visceral torture scenes feeling disconnected from any deeper meaning. “There Are No Saints” is like a ghost movie, drifting from the past to our present – ​​still haunting in its own way, but hazy on its mission.

“There are no saints.” R, for strong and disturbing violence, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and drug use. Duration: 1h39. Galaxy Theaters Mission Grove, Riverside; also on VOD

“Zero contact”

At the start of the pandemic, many talented and driven filmmakers tried to make the best of a bad situation, working around social distancing protocols to tell stories they hoped would challenge and entertain the millions stuck at home. home. That same impulse surely drove the creative team behind the sci-fi drama “Zero Contact” – even if their film is ultimately more puzzling than inspiring.

Anthony Hopkins plays Finley Hart, a recently deceased tech guru who made his fortune in data mining. When his underlings start receiving strange video messages that may have come from Finley, they’re unsure if they should carry out their late boss’s commands or if it’s some kind of glitch generated by the AI that could lead to disaster. The ensuing deliberations take up most of “Zero Contact”, as a wide cast of characters – calling from 16 countries – bark at each other through their computer screens.

Director Rick Dugdale does an admirable job of keeping the cast’s energy going; and the actors do what they can with dialogue that mostly consists of convoluted lingo, involving speculation on topics like machine learning and time travel. Nonetheless, “Zero Contact” — shot largely via Zoom — feels more like an endless conference call than the edge-of-the-seat thriller it’s meant to be.

“Zero contact”. Rated R for some violent content and brief language. 1 hour 37 minutes. Available in select theaters and on VOD

“The Quest: Nepal”

Alex Harz’s documentary “The Quest: Nepal” is both a straightforward first-person mountaineering tale and an admirable attempt to honor the culture of the local communities on Mount Everest. The Everest climbing sections of the film go through the familiar stages of such stories, as Harz and his team travel from base camp through the various phases of the ascent, while facing the altitude sickness, cold weather and dangerous terrain. The video they get from the top is, of course, stunning. But the most interesting parts of “The Quest” involve Harz’s conversations with his sherpa, part of the filmmaker’s greater insistence on including the people who are often left out of the Everest sagas. Although it has a neat look, “The Quest” sometimes feels more like an expensive YouTube vlog than an actual documentary. Still, it works well enough as a compact, personally meaningful story of mankind’s Everest obsession.

“The Quest: Nepal”. Unclassified. 1 hour, 10 minutes. Available on VOD

Diffusion

“Navalny” is a documentary about Alexei Navalny, the Russian dissident who has been one of Vladimir Putin’s most vocal and popular opponents in recent years. Directed by Daniel Roher, the film covers Navalny’s political activism via the story of his recovery from a mysterious 2020 poisoning. Available on HBO Max

“We feed people” is a documentary by Ron Howard about chef José Andrés, who, in addition to all his accomplishments as a restaurateur and culinary celebrity, has helped hungry people around the world over the past decade through his non-profit organization World Central Kitchen. Howard captures some of the most remarkable moments of Andrés’ mission, which saw him and his team of volunteers turn up with food immediately after disasters, despite logistical challenges and tricky politics. Available on Disney+

Available now on DVD and Blu-ray

A young woman who hides in the film

Mia Goth in the movie “X”.

(A24)

“X” is horror author Ti West’s best film in years: a riff on ’70s exploitation cinema that follows a ragtag group of pornographers who land themselves in life-threatening trouble when they surreptitiously attempt to make a film on the farm of an old Texan couple. Mia Goth is terrific in a dual role: as future starlet Maxine Minx and as elderly Pearl, who is fascinated and disturbed by what these kids are up to. Lions Gate

“Flower Drum Song” the 1965 Oscar-nominated film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s hit musical based on the novel by CY Lee, follows a young Hong Kong-born woman (Miyoshi Umeki) adjusting to life in the Asian American community from San Francisco. The new Blu-ray edition includes a commentary track starring Nancy Kwan, as well as plenty of features about the making of a film that over the years has been considered both problematic and groundbreaking. KL Studio Classics

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