INGRID GOES WEST. As a person mistrustful of social media and the vast, false fabric it represents, one might guess I would enjoy a prickly, misanthropic movie about lives both at the hot center and the colder fringes of swipe/like/love/#AMAZING. One would guess correctly and Ingrid Goes West is just such a thing.
After the death of her mother from a protracted illness, Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza), unmoored and alone, pours herself into unhealthy fixation on the curated, seemingly flawless online life of a friendly acquaintance. When Ingrid's myriad heart emoji and hashtags go unanswered, her feelings become too big to be contained by her phone and she lashes out IRL. Following a period of mandated residential therapy, Ingrid emerges refreshed but essentially unchanged. Unable to process her grief — or even clean the house — she finds solace in a new obsession: a pixyish LA photographer-cum-Instagram star named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), who lives the dream in a bungalow in Venice Beach, all mid-Century angularity and desert vibes, with a struggling-artist husband. Smitten, Ingrid stuffs a backpack with the 60-odd thousand dollars that constitute Mom's estate and, as the title has it, makes for the left coast.
Through of series of initially benign-seeming but increasingly disturbing moves, Ingrid manages to insinuate herself into the personal life of Taylor and her husband Ezra O'Keefe (Wyatt Russell), eventually drawing her landlord/aspiring screenwriter Dan Pinto (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) into her machinations. Things come to a head pretty precipitously.
Ingrid Goes West, the feature debut from director Matt Spicer and co-writer David Branson Smith, finds a delicate and impressive balance both in its tone and the treatment of its characters. Not one among them is entirely likable, whole or healthy, but they are full and dynamic enough not to be completely loathsome, either. Ingrid, in particular, does the wrong thing at nearly every opportunity but we can watch her doing those things, expecting the worst but still hoping somehow that they will turn out better next time. This is due in large part to Plaza's complex, committed performance, one that finds her transcending the comfortable acerbic ingénue persona she's honed over the years. Her Ingrid, raw and raging and dangerously compartmentalized, can't bring herself to let others access her interior life, but doesn't quite have the comportment to fully live the "better" one she attempts to build. Her trajectory is frustrating and devastating at once, as it's clear that she is motivated by an inchoate and unmanageable well of pain and loss.
While Ingrid is absolutely the center of the piece, the movie also neatly incorporates ideas about manufactured identity, self as commodity and the new celebrity. It name-checks some of its stalker-thriller influences, acknowledging them while also moving forward with a distinctive statement that is very much of its time but also cogent and smartly observed. It helps, of course, that the personal desolation and vacuity are tempered with moments of warmth and comedy. As much as the movie is about virtual friendship and prevarication, it grounds itself in honest notions of community and the need for real connection. R. 97m. MINOR.
LITTLE EVIL won't be found in theaters, as it is a recently released Netflix original, but is worth seeking out. From writer-director Eli Craig, of the delightful and unexpected 2010 movie Tucker and Dale vs Evil, with which it shares self-aware horror-comedy lineage, it tells the story of newly married Gary (Adam Scott) and Samantha (Evangeline Lilly). They're settling comfortably into an idyllic country life, except for Gary's growing suspicion that his new stepson Lucas (Owen Atlas) is the Antichrist.
Little Evil skews more comedy than horror, like Tucker and Dale before it, and as such makes for a light, pleasant entertainment. But it is also clever and stylish and funnier than most straight-ahead comedies. The supporting cast, including Sally Field, Taylor Labine and Bridgett Everett in a hilarious turn, helps the movie feel full and well rounded. While the ending may feel a little rushed, the humor, atmosphere and themes of love and understanding more than make up for that shortcoming. TVMA. 95m.
— John J. Bennett
*Updated schedules for Broadway and Mill Creek were unavailable at press time; below are the most recent listings. For showtimes, see the Journal's listings at www.northcoastjournal.com or call: Broadway Cinema 443-3456; Fortuna Theatre 725-2121; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Minor Theatre 822-3456; Richards' Goat Miniplex 630-5000.
DAVE MADE A MAZE. A frustrated artist is trapped in his own living room installation. Starring Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Nick Thune and Adam Busch. TV14. 80m. MINIPLEX
HOME AGAIN. A newly separated mother (Reese Witherspoon) takes on a trio of young, male housemates. PG13 97m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK
IT. Stephen King's scary clown classic gets the big screen treatment, luring us back into the sewers. R. 97m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.
ANNABELLE: CREATION. Writer Gary Dauberman and director David F. Sandberg give the Conjuring universe a taut, well-realized creepy doll origin story that's scary and fun, even if its moment has passed. R. 109m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
ATOMIC BLONDE. Stuntman-turned-director David Leitch brings Cold War cool, exceptional fight choreography and a quieter, better paced spy movie than the trailer suggests. Charlize Theron delivers a winking, knife-edged performance. R. 109m. BROADWAY.
BIRTH OF THE DRAGON. Based on the legend of pre-stardom Bruce Lee's (Philip Ng) San Francisco throwdown with Shaolin master Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia). You'd better stretch. PG13. 100m. BROADWAY.
CARS 3. Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) goes up against younger, faster cars in the race for the Piston Cup in this Pixar sequel. With Larry the Cable Guy and Cristela Alonzo. G. 109m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
THE DARK TOWER. In this skimming adaptation of a Stephen King novel about a battle for the universe, Idris Elba's glowering intensity and quiet grief almost carry the dull exposition. And Matthew McConaughey, as a runway strutting villain, is likely having a better time than the audience. PG13. 95m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
DESPICABLE ME 3. An out of work Gru (Steve Carell) returns to a life of crime, meets his long-lost twin and battles a villain stuck in the '80s (Trey Parker). With Kristen Wiig. PG. 156m. MILL CREEK.
DUNKIRK. Christopher Nolan's focused and intimate telling of this World War II story of pinned troops, outnumbered airmen and hail-Mary civilian rescue effort brings each character to life with the wave-action of hope and hopelessness. PG13. 106m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
THE GIRL WITHOUT HANDS. A German animated fairy tale about a girl who escapes the devil at the cost of her hands. PG13. 100m. MINIPLEX.
THE GLASS CASTLE. A big-hearted, well-acted, unpretentious examination of family life in hard times based on Jeannete Walls' memoir. With strong performances by Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson. PG13. 127m. BROADWAY.
GOOD TIME. Veterans and non-actors alike thrive onscreen in a troubling and gritty little gem about the aftermath of a botched bank robbery. Starring Robert Pattison. R. 100m. BROADWAY.
THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson bring back the buddy movie with their collective charisma and sharp repartee. Salma Hayek is a vicious delight and the movie has action and laughs enough jokes to entertain throughout. PG. 91m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER. This update on the original documentary starring Al Gore focuses on the possibility of an "energy revolution." PG. 98m. MINOR.
LEAP! Elle Fanning voices a would-be ballerina who runs away from her orphanage and sneaks into the Paris Opera in this animated dance off. PG13. 100m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
LOGAN LUCKY. A big-hearted, well-crafted, brisk and entertaining heist movie with twists, turns and cliffhangers aplenty. Director (and likely writer) Steven Soderbergh comes back strong. Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig. PG13. 119m. BROADWAY, MINOR.
THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE. Squirrely sequel about animals trying to save their park. Voiced by Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph and Jackie Chan. PG. 91m. FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. Co-writer/director Jon Watts (Clown, 2014; Cop Car, 2015) makes good on a tremendous opportunity here, utilizing a talented cast to great effect and bringing the franchise back to its sweetspot. PG13. 133m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. Caser (Andy Serkis) sets out on a quest of vengeance after the apes are pulled into war with a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). PG13. 150m. BROADWAY.
WHOSE STREETS? Documentary about protest and activists in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police killing of Michael Brown, an African American teenager. R. 90m. MINIPLEX.
WIND RIVER. A snowbound and sadly lyrical thriller about an FBI agent and a hunter investigating a murder on a Native American reservation. Starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Graham Greene. R. 107m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.
— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill