What Baldwin does with words, Jenkins does visually. It’s what Blanche DuBois says in “A Streetcar Named Desire”: “I don’t want realism. I want magic!” In “Beale Street” that magic can be crushing, and soul-stirring, sometimes simultaneously. Jenkins’ epilogue, not found in the novel, may go a little far in its embrace of the affirmative. But that’s hardly the worst thing you can say about any film, let alone one as lovely as this one.
What Vice says, and how it says it, will have half its audience nodding in angry, contemptuous agreement, and the other half calling it a liberal smear. In other words it’s like everything else in the culture right now.
It brings me no joy to relay this: From an irresistible “tell me more!” of a true story, Eastwood and his “Gran Torino” screenwriter Nick Schenk have made a movie that feels dodgy and false at every turn.
This addiction drama is primarily a showcase for its superb leading performers, and in its compressed time frame (24 hours around Christmas) it feels like a well-made play more than a fully amplified feature film. The acting is enough, though.
The result is a splendid black comedy that marks a stylistic leap for its director. Second only this year to the upcoming “Roma,” it’s a reminder of how the movies can imagine a highly specific yet deeply idiosyncratic vision of the past.
The Great Buster, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich’s fond if slight appreciation of Buster Keaton, serves as the centerpiece of the Gene Siskel Film Center’s weeklong “Best of Buster” mini-retrospective starting Friday.