Cezanne et Moi

What exactly do artists and writers do? If Cézanne et Moi is to be believed, they work occasionally, but spend most of their waking hours bickering about art, life, or women. That may be true, but it makes this biopic about the turbulent bromance between two nineteenth-century French legends, novelist Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet) and painter Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne), pretty dull. Of the two performers, Gallienne is the more commanding—with a great mass of dark hair and a Hagrid-lite beard, he rages through the movie like a hurricane, spewing curses and crumpling only when a particularly barbed insult is slung at his work. Canet, on the other hand, is disappointingly feeble as Zola—unlike Gallienne, he doesn't have the charisma to match his facial hair. Even more frustrating is the work of director Danièle Thompson, who peppers the movie with bland, postcard-pretty nature shots and disorienting chronological shifts that fail to liven up the film as Cézanne and Zola talk, talk, talk. Thompson forgets that Cézanne and Zola endured because they created. The movie should have tried doing the same. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Critic's Rating: 1/4 stars.  Fox Tower. 

David Lynch: The Art Life

In A Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde wrote that great artists "exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are." No one has ever accused David Lynch of being uninteresting, but Jon Nguyen's new documentary about him certainly is. The film consists mostly of montages of the director's paintings interspersed with an interview at his home studio in the Hollywood Hills. Lynch describes his fairly uneventful suburban childhood, outlining his life up through the filming of Eraserhead at the American Film Institute. For hardcore fans, this kind of access may feel like a revelation. In addition to an incredible catalog of his visual art, viewers are granted an hour and a half of interview footage from the notoriously press-shy director. But despite its length and scope, the content of the interview isn't particularly revealing. Lynch's mother was a "very adoring and good person," his father "a research scientist, meaning he was looking into things." Lynch mostly sticks to generalizations about each major period discussed, rarely offering the poignant anecdotal touches that would keep a viewer engaged. Considering how much of himself he has already poured into his work, though, should we really expect him to? NR. GRACE CULHANE. Critic's Rating: 2/4 stars.  Cinema 21. 

The Fate of the Furious

It's no small testament to the sanity-dampening field projected by Vin Diesel's doughy sparkplug warlord Dominic Toretto that the road race opening Fate Of The Furious feels sorta tame. Human scale and recognizable emotions are a poor match for the ever-escalating spectacles of a franchise veering cosmically-deranged one mile at a time. For lapsed viewers who've skipped a few installments, our plucky crew of warmhearted auto thieves have essentially turned paramilitary warriors caught between shadowy intelligence agent, Kurt Russell as "Mr. Nobody," and cyber-terrorist, Charlize Theron as hentai Cruella de Ville, with the fate of the world at stake. In short, the conceptual nitrous boost has been pushed so many times that the barest semblance of coherency was giddily torn asunder. To be sure, Dwayne Johnson unburdened of obligation toward taste or credulity is wondrous—like a nestling taken flight or eyebrow slipped its moorings—and Helen Mirren's cameo as Jason Statham's comic-cockney gangster mum deserves its own movie/show/channel. Alas, the sheer cynicism of reductive pseudo-satire curdles before long against the heavy-lidded solemnity of Michelle Rodriguez and our founding paterfam. Its hard not to see how a certain floppy-haired, fundamentally humorless positivism greased the gears from an altogether different angle—grounding the shtick and leavening brutalism. Objects in the rear view mirror may appear more crucial than we'd assume. PG-13. JAY HORTON. Critic's Rating: 2/4 stars. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Lloyd, Oak Grove, Pioneer Place, Roseway, St. Johns Twin Cinema & Pub, Tigard, Vancouver. 

Free Fire

A new British gangster flick from cult director Ben Wheatley sees a pack of gangsters trapped in a Boston warehouse after an arms deal goes awry. R. Bridgeport, Lloyd, Vancouver.

The Lost City of Z

At the start of this supremely entertaining tale of exploration and obsession, a group of men chases a galloping deer. Yet only one of them proves worthy of the challenge: British adventurer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who nails the graceful creature with his first shot. That ruthlessness powers him through this fact-based film, which unfolds in the early years of the 20th century and chronicles Fawcett's storied search for an ancient city he believes lies hidden deep within the Amazon. The quest fuels the fires of Fawcett's ego—he craves manly trials, even when they force him to abandon his wife (Sienna Miller) and his oldest son (Tom Holland). Despite its poisonous protagonist, The Lost City of Z is one of the most purely enjoyable American movies of the decade. With a buildup of suspense that could have made Hitchcock crack a sinister smile, and intoxicating images—men hacking their way through foliage with machetes, ramshackle boats floating toward elusive destinations—from director James Gray (Two Lovers), the movie hypnotizes completely. Rarely has the allure of the unknown been dramatized so momentously on film, which is why you shouldn't bother reading up on the real Fawcett before you buy a ticket. The less you know, the better. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON.Critic's Rating: 4/4 stars.  Clackamas.

In advance of its TV premiere on OPB, NW Film Center screens a look into Oregon's animation industry. NR. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Wednesday, April 19.

The Promise

Director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) tries to raise some Titanic-level romantic goosebumps with this historical-fiction epic set during the Armenian genocide in Turkey—but only during the film's first act. The movie may heat up with a rapturous affair in Constantinople between Michael (Oscar Isaac) and Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), but the sparks of their affection are quickly snuffed by sounds of windows shattering and Michael being struck on the skull with a gun. These jolts of horror are a prelude to massacres, and as Armenians, Ana and Michael are set adrift across a country that's gone from being home to being hell. They're often accompanied by Chris Myers (Christian Bale), an American photojournalist vying for Ana's affection. His romantic rivalry with Michael feels jarringly out of place in this grim film, which in one scene reveals a pile of bodies that includes a recently murdered pregnant woman. Yet The Promise will not be denied as George powerfully dramatizes stunning acts of both savagery and decency, most notably in a scene where Michael struggles to free prisoners from a moving train at night in the midst of a storm, refusing to surrender even as rain buffets his face. Like George, he's committed. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON.  Critic's Rating: 3/4 stars. Bridgeport, City Center, Division, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, Vancouver.

3 Hours Till Dead

An AWOL soldier goes into hiding in a rural farm area with friends, only to discover upon his return that society has collapsed into a zombie apocalypse. NR. Clinton Street Theater.

The Void

A policeman delivers an injured patient to an understaffed hospital, then experiences strange occurrences linked to a group of weirdos in hoods. A new, low-budget horror film whose practical effects have drawn comparisons to John Carpenter's The Thing. NR. Hollywood Theatre. April 22-23.