Movies: July 4, 2014
Capsule reviews of ''La Bare,'' ''They Came Together,'' and more
R, 1 Hr., 30 Mins.
In his engaging directorial debut, Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello chronicles the real-life Mikes of famed Dallas strip club La Bare, ”which means, you know, ‘nude’ in French or whatever,” says one dancer helpfully. You’ll get your man-cake, if that’s what you came for, but Manganiello works hard to show the sometimes harsh realities behind the oiled pecs and tear-away pants. Like the guys who gyrate on La Bare’s stage every night, the movie is luggish, good-hearted, and a little bit sad. B+ —Leah Greenblatt
The Internet’s Own Boy
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 45 Mins.
This documentary eulogy for Aaron Swartz — the programming guru who hanged himself while facing a flabbergasting 13-count indictment for downloading academic papers — is fodder for those who idolize him as a martyr in the Internet freedom crusade. Talking (egg)heads reiterate outrage over the Obama Justice Department’s witch hunt against him, but Swartz’s ex-girlfriend adds heart when she tearfully recalls first seeing the ”end date” on his Wikipedia page. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B —Joe McGovern
They Came Together
R, 1 Hr., 23 Mins.
Rom-com tropes like the ”meet-cute” are so tired that you can’t just spoof them — you have to spoof the spoofs, which this winking David Wain-Michael Showalter parody mostly succeeds at doing. Molly (Amy Poehler) and Joel (Paul Rudd) tell the story of how they fell in love to another couple (Ellie Kemper and Bill Hader), repeating that it’s ”just like a romantic comedy.” Cue the clichés: an aerial shot of Manhattan, a costume-party encounter, a You’ve Got Mail subplot about a candy conglomerate devouring Molly’s indie sweetshop. Most of the jokes land bluntly — “This is a cliché!” — but tight pacing and a killer cast, which also includes Ed Helms and Christopher Meloni, make up for the inconsistent gags. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B —Stephan Lee
Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger
R, 1 Hr., 47 Mins.
How did Joe Berlinger, codirector of the Paradise Lost trilogy and advocate for the wrongly accused, become simpatico with the defense team of Boston supermobster Whitey Bulger? The answer (and then some) is found in this salty, streetwise documentary, which follows the 2013 trial of the vicious crime boss while also boldly examining the web of FBI corruption that had been latticed around him for 30 years. With minimal conspiratorial bluster, Berlinger unmasks the compliant faces of evil. (Also available on VOD) A- —Joe McGovern
Yves Saint Laurent
R, 1 Hr., 46 Mins.
The titular French visionary (Pierre Niney) set the fashion world ablaze with such indelible style moments as the Mondrian dress and the female tuxedo. Unlike YSL’s work, however, Jalil Lespert’s biopic looks pretty but lacks texture. The eye always travels to Niney, who thrillingly morphs from a fragile young prodigy into a brilliant, maddening, coke-addicted icon. Scenes between YSL and rock-steady lover Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne) spark, but the film stays too reverent to truly turn heads. B —Stephan Lee