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The Dirt and The Highwaymen

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THE DIRT. Mötley Crüe has never been my thing; never been a "thing" at all for me, really. There's a bit of a generational discrepancy and by the time I was selecting my own records to play, I was already well down a path that didn't lead to hair-metal. (I'll admit to a brief dalliance with Poison's Open Up and Say ... Ahh! but attribute it to peer pressure and the shoddily-built popular culture of the day — it didn't stick.) In the fullness of time, I've come to appreciate Guns N' Roses, particularly Appetite for Destruction, but it draws for more deeply from rawk than it does from glam and so its seediness and sleaze seem somehow better earned (or at least less dated).

Still, I like an origin story as much as anyone and I've always been fascinated by the rise (and especially the fall) of debauched rock stars. And Mötley Crüe's songs are ubiquitous (even if I couldn't have correctly attributed one until very recently) so why not while away a couple of housebound weekend hours with the adapted autobiography of the band that is Nicki Sixx (Douglas Booth), Tommy Lee (Colson "Machine Gun Kelly" Baker), Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon) and Vince Neil (Daniel Webber)? That shall remain a question worthy of some debate but here we are.

Tales of the band's collective misbehavior and the book in which they themselves have compiled them have long been the stuff of legend. It was only a matter of time before a Mötley Crüe fanatic got into a position to render the legend as a cinematic reality. That individual ended up being Jeff Tremaine, known primarily for his place in the Jackass universe (he directed all of their movies, as well as a number of peripheral projects), and it makes a lot of sense.

Told from a shared, past-tense, first-person perspective, The Dirt hands off the narrative from band member to band member, attempting to give a full picture of their rise (going back to early childhood, in the cases of Sixx and Lee) from the scuzzy clubs of the Sunset Strip to the stages of packed arenas around the world. It's ostensibly a warts-and-all story, and there are a few mildly harrowing moments. But ultimately this is a celebration of what makes the band so simultaneously attractive and repellent to so many. Adorned liberally with naked girls, Jack Daniel's bottles and little mountains of cocaine, it's hard not to feel like the movie celebrates the hyperactive, worst-case, frat-boy impulses that characterized the band's offstage antics. It becomes a portrait of young men behaving badly without any authentic sense of the significance of their actions. Mildly salacious, breezily paced and reverent of a time and place that may not deserve it, The Dirt will probably play well with the Crüe heads and the Jackass faithful. TVMA. 107M. NETFLIX.

THE HIGHWAYMEN. In the midst of all the hoopla, with Steven Spielberg decrying Netflix as an other that should not be mentioned in the same breath as conventional moviemaking entities, the studio continues to generate content, much of it filling the void created by the monolithic corporatization of the aforementioned entities. There isn't a whole lot of — what are the kids calling it, bandwidth? — left in the theatrical marketplace for small and mid-sized movies that aren't guaranteed to gross $1 billion. Movies like The Dirt and this one, a character vehicle for Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, both of whom used to be what we called movie stars.

In 1934, the state of Texas (the country at large, really) is held in thrall by the bloody exploits of a young couple armed to the teeth and blasting around the middle-South in a V8 Ford. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are in the midst of a robbery and murder spree that the authorities seem unable to halt. Mired in the Great Depression, much of the country sees the couple as young Robin Hoods in love, symbolic of the underclass taking back what is rightfully theirs from conniving bankers and strong-arm cops. To the powers that be they are a menace, remorseless murderers who will not stop unless killed.

In desperation, Texas governor "Ma" Ferguson (Kathy Bates) enlists Frank Hamer (Costner), formerly a celebrated member of the Texas Rangers so recently disbanded by Ferguson herself. He is charged with the task of tracking and killing Parker and Barrow, a task so far unaccomplished by the full force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hamer brings along Maney Gault (Harrelson), a fellow former Ranger, loads his wife's Ford sedan with an unbelievable arsenal, and the two set about tracking their quarry across the vastness of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

In its subverting of the myth-making that has so enlarged the short lives of Bonnie and Clyde, The Highwaymen might be accused of a knee-jerk pro-law enforcement stance but there's more to it than that. It examines the reality of taking human life, the permanent change it exerts on a person, in a mature and unflinching way, with Costner and Harrelson bringing to bear their long careers and years of life. Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Alamo, 2004; The Blind Side, 2009), the movie is also beautiful and well made, albeit in a decidedly conventional, old-fashioned way. R. 132M. NETFLIX.

— John J. Bennett

See showtimes at www.northcoastjournal.com or call: Broadway Cinema 443-3456; Fortuna Theatre 725-2121; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Minor Theatre 822-3456; Richard's Goat Miniplex 630-5000.

Previews

APOLLO 11. Documentary about the moon mission with Newil Armstong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, who will apparently still punch you in the face if you insist it was faked. G. 93M. MINIPLEX.

THE BEST OF ENEMIES. Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell star in a dramatization of civil rights activist Ann Atwater going toe to toe with the head of the KKK in North Carolina in 1971. PG13. BROADWAY. 132M.

BIRDS OF PASSAGE. Drama about an indigenous family's disastrous entanglement with a drug war in Colombia. Starring Carmiña Martínez and José Acosta. In Spanish and Wayuu with subtitles. NR. 125M. MINIPLEX.

PET SEMATARY. The Stephen King novel gets a new adaptation and now cats and children are even more terrifying. Starring Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow. R. 100M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.

SHAZAM! And adolescent foster kid (Asher Angel) turns into the D.C. comic superhero (Zachary Levi) in the red suit and cape. PG13. 132M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980). John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and an all-star roster of blues greats get the band back together. NR. 112M. BROADWAY.

Continuing

CAPTAIN MARVEL. Brie Larson's superheroine is literally down-to-earth in a refreshing '90s-era origin story that thankfully takes a break from Marvel's massive scale and delivers more focused action and story. With baby-faced Samuel L. Jackson. PG13. 124M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.

DUMBO. Tim Burton's live-action and CG remake of the flying elephant story. With Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito. PG. 152M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

FIVE FEET APART. Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse star as young people with cystic fibrosis conducting a romance around their quarantines. PG13. 116M. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

GLORIA BELL. Julianne Moore stars as a divorced woman and disco devotee navigating a relationship with someone new (John Turturro) in her 50s. R. 102M. BROADWAY.

HOTEL MUMBAI. Dev Patel and Armie Hammer star as a Taj Hotel staffer and guest, respectively, trying to escape the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. R. 123M. BROADWAY.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD. This installment finds Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) looking for more creatures like his dragon buddy. PG. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

UNPLANNED. Anti-abortion drama from the director of God's Not Dead and God's Not Dead 2. R. BROADWAY, FORTUNA.

US. Writer/director Jordan Peele's excellent, genre-expanding horror movie about a family beset by their creepy doubles is a grotesque dance with the self and the other that also manages charm and humor. Starring Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke. R. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

WONDER PARK. A magical amusement park springs to life when a girl discovers it in the woods. Voiced by Jennifer Garner and Sofia Mali. PG. 85M. BROADWAY, FORTUNA.

— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

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