Cineast Movie Previews: ‘Weiner,’ ‘The Nice Guys,’ ‘Angry Birds,’ ‘Maggie’s Plan’

Photo: My Make OU

Anthony Weiner went from a respected congressman—a liberal firebrand representing his New York City district—to a laughingstock more or less overnight, and for a reason that had an unfortunate resonance with his last name. There’s no need to go into further detail about that in this space. To many people’s surprise, Weiner didn’t give up his political ambitions after his very public humiliation, but instead decided to run for mayor of New York, perhaps thinking that a city with a taste for the risqué would have a soft spot for a guy like him. The film Weiner is an on-the-ground, cinéma vérité documentary of Weiner’s disastrous mayoral campaign. It takes an unflinching approach to the ongoing nightmare of a politician who has refused to recognize that he has stepped in it in such a way that cannot be ignored. Sure, New York may be tolerant, but it also supports, not one, but two tabloid newspapers locked in an epic struggle to outdo each other with ever more lurid headlines. Weiner didn’t have a prayer.

The Nice Guys
The year is 1977, the place is L.A. That already gives you a lot of what you need to know about The Nice Guys, with its disco-laden soundtrack and the leather-jacketed, bell-bottomed characters on the screen. The two main characters are the paunchy Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and Holland March (Ryan Gosling), two pretty incompetent private eyes who are investigating the suspicious death of an over-the-hill porn star. Healy and March don’t really get along—there are shades of Beverly Hills Cop here as the duo stumble their way through the seedy underworld of the porn industry in the age of big money and mob control. But the violence and action are frequently played for laughs, and the ridiculous clothes, hairstyles—even the ludicrous cars—of the ’70s are, as always, ripe targets for mockery.

Angry Birds
Just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, an animated treat for the whole family. The characters will be familiar to anyone who has played the popular game (is it still popular?), but Angry Birds obviously fleshes the whole thing out. There’s a lot of Looney Tunes-style cartoon violence, which is always fun, and perhaps a bit of salty language to keep the older kids tittering.

Maggie’s Plan
Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Maya Rudolph—if all of them don’t scream “art house flick” to you, then try this: Wallace Shawn. Ah, yes—that most New Yorker of New Yorkers lends his crumpled gravitas to Maggie’s Plan, a film that takes the clichéd juvenile situations of a teen exploitation film and imagines them taking place among the grizzled and wrinkled denizens of middle age. Maggie steals John away from his apparently horrible wife Georgette, and then, after realizing John’s a self-centered meanie, decides to give him back to Georgette. While the settings and cast and cinematography all combine to remind one of a Woody Allen movie, it’s hard to imagine the Woodster trying to pull off a plotline this silly.

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