Friday, December 2, 2022

Ohio-based 'Noise' and Marine base 'Inspection' join late-year film rush

Once again searching for universal truths that rarely come easy on the big screen, director/writer Noah Baumbach turns "White Noise" into an odd assortment of family issues, occasionally rollicking professorial discussions, and perhaps simply one huge, 136-minute fever dream.

The best news, though, is that the film looks terrific in a wide array of northeast Ohio settings, from Akron and Cleveland Heights to Peninsula and Wellington, with some nice location shots showing up in between. (You certainly can't miss downtown Cleveland's venerable Terminal Tower, either, when the climax takes such a rambling story into a seedy motel built especially for the film under the Innerbelt Bridge.)

Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig star as Jack and Babbette Gladney, each now in their fourth marriage and heading a family with four kids, including three from previous couplings. He's a recognized expert in Hitler Studies at "College on the Hill," and she's a "magnificently coiffed" homemaker, who might be on drugs. Oh, and, uh, both have these constantly uneasy feelings about death.

Of course, that truck-and-train-crash induced "Toxic Airborne Event" hovering in the skies above (any small town in America from the much-discussed -- and award-winning -- 1985 novel by Don DeLillo) might have a little something to do with the latter. See it to buy into it. Or not.

Rated "R" by MPAA: violence and profanity; 2:16; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

("White Noise," the Opening-Nighter at this summer's Venice International Film Festival, debuts today in a few select theaters -- including the Cedar Lee in Cleveland Heights -- before landing Dec. 30 on Netflix.)

"The Inspection" mostly tells a true story that turns into a smart and thoughtful first film from uniquely named writer/director Elegance Bratton. That's because it seriously is a tale about Bratton himself, and how his tough, religious, prison-guard mom threw her 16-year-old son out into the mean streets of Trenton, N.J., because she could not accept that he was gay.

Scenes between mom (the never-better Gabrielle Union) and child (the fabulous Jeremy Pope), both before and after the young man joins the Marines to prove and maybe improve himself, become as profound as they are heartbreaking.

The often hard-to-embrace training segments, though, provide the meat and potatoes of a recruit's struggles to not only deal with severe homophobia in the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" era, but also the bootcamp indignities of a military mindset attempting to break a man in order to build a man. In fact, a hard-nosed drill sergeant (the ever-worthy Bokeem Woodbine) introduces himself with: "I will become the nightmare that makes you afraid to close your eyes."

Through it all, the twice Tony-nominated Pope delivers one of the year's most potent performances, while Bratton, who eventually created instructional movies for the Marines, becomes a filmmaker to watch. Oorah!

Rated "R" by MPAA: language throughout, sexual content, some nudity and violence; 1:35; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

("The Inspection," another world premiere movie from the 47th annual Toronto International Film Festival, opens today in theaters and exclusively in northeast Ohio at the Cinemark Valley View.)

Also debuting today in theaters: "Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams" and "Violent Night"; Streaming: "Darby and the Dead" (Hulu) and "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (Netflix),

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