Discerning The Real Julian Assange

Today’s release of the second Guardians of the Galaxy film may be the 800-pound gorilla of movie news. But Laura Poitras’ documentary/personal portrait of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may be the weekend’s most substantive opening.

The rest of the weekend’s art film openings have their virtues too. There are films featuring strong performances from Rami Malek, Richard Gere, and Cynthia Nixon. A Cannes award winner based on a true sports story also makes its debut. And the cinematically adventurous can try a very fractured look at the legacy of a historic Thai government massacre.

Buster’s Mal Heart

Buster (Rami Malek, Mr. Robot) is a long-haired mountain man breaking into mountain homes. Or is Malek’s character actually Jonah, a Midwest chain motel’s night shift concierge? Perhaps the mysterious coke-snorting Brown (DJ Qualls) has the answer. With Y2K approaching, Brown speaks of an approaching cataclysmic event called The Inversion. Could that event connect Jonah and Buster? If so, how?

Opens May 5 at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8

By The Time It Gets Dark

A film director interviews a writer about her student activist days, a past which includes a historic government massacre. But that’s just one thread in this Thai avant-garde drama, which metaphorically and literally drifts back and forth in time and reality. Viewers will see scenes from the making of the director’s film, a mysterious young servant who serves as mute witness, and even footage of mushroom growth.

Opens May 5 at the 4-Star Theatre

The Dinner

Two couples arrive for dinner at a chi-chi restaurant. One couple is an ex-history professor (Steve Coogan) and his wife (Laura Linney). The other couple consists of the ex-professor’s brother (Richard Gere), a prominent politician running for higher office, and his wife (Rebecca Hall). What brings them together is a horrific crime committed by their teenage sons, one captured on video and broadcast. As the two couples struggle to resolve the problem, they soon find themselves tested on the lengths they’ll go to protect their families. Directed and co-written by Oren Moverman (The Messenger).

Opens May 5 at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the Piedmont Theatre, and the Shattuck Cinemas

The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki

Young small-town Finnish boxer Olli Maki unexpectedly finds himself treated as a national superstar when he has a real shot at winning the 1962 World Featherweight boxing title. But the upcoming bout in Helsinki against American champion Davey Moore is complicated by Maki’s falling for the beautiful Raija. With boxing and romance competing for Maki’s attention, will he win on either front? This debut feature, which won Cannes’ Un Certain Regard award, is based on a true story.

Opens May 5 at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

A Quiet Passion

The new film from acclaimed director Terence Davies (Sunset Song) is a biopic of famed poet Emily Dickinson. Davies traces the life of the reclusive poet (played by a luminous Cynthia Nixon) from discerning teenage wit to her lonely death. It’s partly a study of family ties, partly a story of an incredible mind slowly crushed by social convention. Readings of Dickinson’s poems fill the film’s soundtrack.

Opens May 5 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas, the Rafael Film Center, and the Shattuck Cinemas


Documentarian Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) returns with a portrait of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. But this film also charts Poitras’ own shifting relationship to Assange while making this film. Is Assange a New Age defender of freedom of information? Or is he an image-obsessed celebrity determined to cultivate his countercultural mystique? Poitras’ film provides no easy answers as it follows Assange and his team from their exposure of Iraq War hypocrisies to their controversial involvement in the 2016 US presidential election.

Opens May 5 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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