Thursday, December 10, 2020

'Your Woman,' 'Racer' stream for thrills; 'Another Round' enjoys just that

Brosnahan goes into serious mom mode with infant in tow.
If anyone other than Rachel Brosnahan portrayed the ditzy, naive, seemingly even clueless Jean at the start of an Amazon Prime original called "I'm Your Woman," you might never buy into the way this mobster's wife becomes her own powerful self by the time director Julia Hart's '70s-set take on a crime movie expires. But she does, so you do.

I mean, the award-winning comedian from Amazon's legitimate TV gem, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," is simply that good (yes, you can call her marvelous here, too) as a trophy bride-turned instant mom suddenly going on the lam. 

It all happens astonishingly fast when shady hubby Eddie (Bill Heck) literally walks in the door with a baby boy, tells his wife, "he's ours," and Jean almost as quickly names the cute kid Harry. Then Eddie immediately disappears into an adjoining room for a meeting with a few, ahem, associates. 

Disappear becomes the operative word more than once after that as Jean mostly mingles with a family trio of somewhat mysterious Eddie connections (assertive turns from Arize Kene, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Frankie Faison). Special moments of Aretha Franklin's essential "Natural Woman" help breathe some screen life into this up-and-down "Woman," too.

Rated "R" by MPAA; language and violence; 1:58; $ $ $ out of $5

Up next is "The Racer," a Dublin-based production whose thrills -- and spills -- come with cycling, specifically the "notorious Irish stages" of Tour de France during three days of the international sport's late-'90s doping scandals.

The film's otherwise formulated story centers around a generally likable Belgian rider (the well-cast Louis Talpe) carrying various work and personal issues on his veteran bike saddle. Certainly, they are among the reasons he accepts the dangerous EPO needle we see shoved into his hip in the early-going by an alleged friend and trainer (the notable Iain Glen) and definitely against the wishes of a sexy young medical intern (Tara Lee).

From there, director/co-writer Kieron J. Walsh, an obvious cycling expert, takes a more dramatic than emotional spin with an athlete whose career, checkered though it is, remains the vehicle to chase his actual and impregnable addiction: the race itself. 

"The Racer" also is available on Amazon Prime Video, among an assortment of other VOD outlets. 

Not rated by MPAA (but there's typical sporty language and, naturally, the plot-driven drug use); 1:36; $ $ $ out of $5

Finally, have one on me: Simply do yourself a favor and drink in “Another Round,” a mostly entertaining – and occasionally dark -- dramedy from writer/director Thomas Vinterberg ("The Hunt") about a quartet of Danish school teachers testing the limits of alcohol and the people around them.  

Students cheer Mikkelsen pouring down a big one.
It all brings another of Vinterberg's many cinematic experiments to life, with this one attempting to discover any truth to a philosophical concoction suggesting that success may be connected to our daily level of (moderate) drunkenness.

As he did in his co-writer/director's last outing, ever-great Dane Mads Mikkelsen leads a smartly adept troupe through shtick and skin, sadness and serious celebration. One of my two personal favorite films coming out of this year's 45th annual (and first-ever virtual) Toronto International Film Festival, "Another Round" continues through most of the month in virtual screening rooms at both Cleveland Cinemas and the Cleveland Cinematheque.

Not rated by MPAA (but just imagine the carousing); 1:57: $ $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

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