Friday, November 4, 2022

Exceptional 'Banshees,' 'Tanya' returns, and a little something 'Weird'

Even with one of the year's most tongue-twisting titles, "The Banshees of Inisherin" still easily becomes one of 2022's most bloody good films, too. Certainly the reasons are numerous, starting with writer/director Martin McDonagh, who never has made a bad movie in his life.

The darkly comic, Irish storytelller's "In Bruges" remains one of my all-time favorites, and his "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" (2017) and "Seven Psychopaths"(2012) each made my personal Top 10 lists in their respective years. Right now, it looks as if "The Banshees" will be on one, as well.

In fact, another reason to see it arrives with those credible stars of the aforementioned "Bruges" returning here in ever-fine form. Colin Farrell (Pádraic) and Brendan Gleeson (Colm) this time portray longstanding besties on the island of Inisherin, which McDonagh gorgeously places just off Ireland's Civil War-torn coast. Trouble is, the boys just aren't getting along from the get-go, since Colm suddenly and inexplicably disses Pádraic's happy-go-lucky aimlessness, and the sadder, not wiser pal just refuses to understand.
On the go-between sideline are the latter's appealing, single sister (Kerry Condon) and maybe the isle's oddest inhabitant (King of Quirkiness Barry Keoghan), a rowdy young man with plenty of tragic troubles to call his own. All four in the movie's main acting quartet should be in line for awards-season mention, and a win or two would not be a surprise. They're all that watchable -- and eminently deserving.

Of course, Inisherin itself does not really exist, but McDonagh gives it some distinctive, 1920s character, anyway. The acceptance of farm animals living with families in cottage houses, hard-drinking residents mostly taking long, scenic walks to wherever they want to go, and a general hard-to-shake vibe of discovering a place you'd love to examine yourself might certainly encourage a visit.

Rated "R" by MPAA: language throughout, some violent content, and brief graphic nudity; 1:54; $ $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

("The Banshees of Inisherin" opens today in theaters just about everywhere.)

"The Return of Tanya Tucker (Featuring Brandi Carlile)" comes four years in the making and 17 more before that, when the former country sensation gave up a career upon the death of her parents and, just maybe, during some very hard livin' herself.

Besides, her tough-as-nails Dad directed Tanya's career from Day One at age 13. "So, I didn't have a manager," Tucker tells new friend and comeback partner Brandi Carlile in one of the many privately engaging onscreen conversations for all of us to hear.

If you don't know, Carlile herself is one of the current singing/writing stars of the country-music scene, already owning 19 Grammy Award nominations and six wins in the past seven years alone, including a few as a major crossover artist. Oh, yeah, she also looked for a way to get the career of  the Tequila-lovin' Tucker, a major influence on Brandi growing up, goin' mightily again. 

One of the results becomes this bliss-and-vinegar documentary (from "Indigo Girls" director Kathlyn Horan), which chronicles a Carlile-produced album, tour and some surprising details on the way to a unique rebound story that still might have a few more chapters to tell.

Rated "R" by MPAA: for language; 1:48; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

("The Return of Tanya Tucker -- Featuring Brandi Carlile" is singin' and playin' in theaters right now.)

The "Tanya Tucker" doc world-premiered at September's 47th annual Toronto International Film Festival, and "Banshees" made its North American debut there, but "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" is the only member of this week's TIFF trio of new releases to have walked away with a coveted "People's Choice Award." 

That came in the festival's lively, wacky and always-lotsa-fun "Midnight Madness" program, which offered the universe's first complete look at "Weird" on Opening Night, when it also was rewarded with thunderous applause from a packed house. (A second, daytime festival screening sold-out as well.)

No concidence, naturally, but co-writer Yankovic himself (with director Eric Appel) made his mock-bio aptly wacky and fun, too, especially in a first 45 minutes that's downright rollicking. I mean, a terrific Daniel Radcliffe somehow magically turns into the title player, particularly during a monumental celebrity pool party, where he meets the likes of Wolfman Jack (Jack Black), Pee-Wee Herman (Jorma Toccone), Alice Cooper (Akiva Schaffer), and Andy Warhol (Conan O'Brien) to name only a hilarious few. 

Alas, the rest turns lame quickly, especially once Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) gets her fingers into our hero, reaching for a career jolt of her own from the accordion-playing Al's famously infamous song parodies. Not so interesting -- and stupid.

Not rated by MPAA: (but filled with typically naughty things); 1:48; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

(You can watch "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" now, streaming exclusively as the Roku Channel's first major movie release.)

Also debuting in northeast Ohio theaters today: "Armageddon Time" (see mini-review at left), "The Estate," "On the Line," and "One Piece Film Red." Streaming only: Still another TIFF world premiere, "Causeway," and "Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me" (both on AppleTV+), and "Enola Holmes 2" (Netflix).

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