Your Weekly Roundup of Movies: “It Ain’t Over” Is a Cinematic Love Letter to Yogi Berra

What to see and what to skip.

IT AIN’T OVER

*** Sports documentaries are typically fueled by controversy, but It Ain’t Over is about Yogi Berra, a man who was anything but typical. A cinematic love letter from his granddaughter Lindsay Berra, who narrates, the film sets out to reframe a man mocked for being seemingly molded out of Silly Putty, rather than chiseled from bronze and marble, though the 5-foot-8 “everyman” with a Forrest Gump-like charm and Chauncey Gardner-like wisdom consistently found levels of success far exceeding most Hall of Famers. Yogi’s story had humble beginnings: The son of immigrants in an Italian working-class neighborhood, he joined the U.S. Navy and was wounded during the D-Day landings, an experience that defined him before the Yankee pinstripes did. The film admirably conveys the spirit of a man who never punched down, choosing instead to see individuals for whom they were (exemplified by his embrace of Jackie Robinson and his feud with sports villain George Steinbrenner). The disarming honesty of his simple “Yogi-isms” impacted people in messianic ways, most poignantly displayed here when confronting his son caught in the death grips of drug addiction. All in all, It Ain’t Over successfully recontextualizes Berra’s legacy beyond that of his Hanna-Barbera pantless cartoon bear counterpart, leaving us with the story of a loving husband, a devoted family man, and a world-class winner. NR. RAY GILL JR. Bridgeport, Fox Tower.

ELEMENTAL

*** Though AI tech is still a bit too raw for Pixar productions to be wholly computer-generated, the studio that launched the age of CGI animation with films largely ignoring humanity keeps churning out iterations of the same master code, Elemental included. Adorably anthropomorphized animal-vegetable-mineral thing? Climactic epiphany plucked straight from college admission essay? Aggressive punnery so relentless it begins to feel like a tic? So far, so Pixar. As newly humanized dramatic personae, the classical cornerstones of our universe are easily enough rendered recognizable tropes yet nimbly evade the worst ethnic stereotypes. Within the bustling metropolis of Element City, cloud-hoppers huff and puff like aggro Scandinavians, while society largely dismisses the earthen denizens as stolid civil servants transplanted from the Low Countries. Still, the spotlight remains fixed on the unlikely pairing of Firetown lass Ember Lumen (voiced by Leah Lewis) and Old Water scion Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie). You can guess the rest; he carries a torch, she’s wet, things get steamy. Lush visuals and trenchant wordplay be damned, the studio’s target audience remains young children, and a whiff of regressive unease curdles all supposed love story trappings. Whereas early Pixar’s best echoed the far-flung imaginings of an especially gifted, somewhat creepy preteen, the neutered rom-com narrative reveals a blinkered worldview and a stunted emotional maturity all too, sigh, elementary. PG. JAY HORTON. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Lloyd Center, Pioneer Place, Progress Ridge, St. Johns, St. Johns Twin, Studio One, Wunderland Milwaukie.

SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE

*** Early in this kaleidoscopic sequel to the Oscar-winning Into the Spider-Verse, two teen superheroes, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), enjoy a reunion that sends both your heart and your eyes topsy-turvy. Using their spider-powers to stick to a skyscraper, they dangle upside down so gracefully that the only sign of gravity’s pull is the movement of Gwen’s ponytail. Such beauty is de rigueur for the Spider-Verse franchise, which has brought rare fluidity and texture to computer animation. Gone is the plasticine sheen popularized by Pixar and Shrek; here, images flow and bleed like watercolors (or flash violently like strobe lights). It’s the story that could use more dimension, though not when the vampiric Spider-Man 2099/Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) is onscreen. A defender of countless arachnid-themed alternate realities, Miguel is less a Spider-Man than an aggrieved Spider-Man fan. Raving about the sanctity of “the canon,” he insists that to be a superhero is to endure tragedy—a belief that Miles, who has two loving parents to protect, cannot accept. Across the Spider-Verse plays like the first salvo of a philosophical attack on trauma as motivation in superhero fiction, but it ends with an irritating cliffhanger before it can finish its thoughts. Until the release of the upcoming Beyond the Spider-Verse, there’s no telling whether this chapter of Miles’ story is playing at profundity or actually profound. Still, it’s hard to resist the swirling fight scenes and the moments of serenity shared by Miles and Gwen. Pixels put the Spider-Verse in peril, but they also beautifully bridge the vast distance between a girl and a boy. PG. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Bagdad, Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, Cinema 21, Fox Tower, Laurelhurst, Living Room, Lloyd Center, Oak Grove, OMSI, Pioneer Place, Progress Ridge, Studio One, Wunderland Milwaukie.

MENDING THE LINE

*** The latest entry in the sentimental-veteran genre, Mending the Line stars Sinqua Walls as John, a guilt-ridden Marine who served in the war in Afghanistan. Shuffled between various Veteran Affairs offices, John lands in Montana and eventually starts fly-fishing therapy with Ike (Brian Cox of Succession fame), a crabby Vietnam veteran. There’s not really much in the way of surprises, but Mending the Line is strengthened by its sincerity and the excellent chemistry between Walls and Cox. At two hours, the premise does feel a little stretched, mostly because John’s love interest, Lucy (Perry Mattfeld), could have easily been edited out (personally, I was more worried about John’s paraplegic war buddy, who disappears from the film and is implied to be descending into alcoholism). Yet despite its detours, Mending the Line brings us close to its broken-down veterans, delivering a sympathetic depiction that transcends politics. R. WILLIAM SCHWARTZ. City Center, Division, Movies on TV.

YOU HURT MY FEELINGS

*** Is Nicole Holofcener’s cup half full or half empty? Both, judging by You Hurt My Feelings, which she wrote and directed. This witty, perceptive film explores everyday dichotomies between truth and lies, encouragement and abuse, haves and have-nots. Beth (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who proves again she’s adept at serious comedy) and Don (Tobias Menzies) are a long-married couple so cozy with each other they don’t mind licking the same ice cream cone. But when Beth, a writer, overhears Don say he doesn’t like her newest manuscript (even though he’s repeatedly told her he loves it), she loses her trust in him and her own abilities. The film asks how much harm we cause by telling well-meant white lies; has Beth, for example, put too much pressure on their pot-selling son by cheerfully insisting he’s destined to do great things? As the daughter of a man who called her “stupid” and “shit for brains,” though, she’s still lacerated by the memory of her late father’s slurs. All the characters in the film get tangled in webs of self-doubt, while also recognizing their privilege in a melting world, as Beth’s sister, Sarah (played by a splendid Michaela Watkins), says. Still, private dramas matter, and when Beth cries over her husband’s betrayal, the psychic pain on her face is as real as any physical wound. R. LINDA FERGUSON. Bridgeport, Cinema 21, Fox Tower, Laurelhurst, Living Room.

THE BOOGEYMAN

** Based on a 1973 short story, The Boogeyman is the latest in an endless run of Stephen King adaptations. The simple narrative follows high school student Sadie Harper (Sophie Thatcher) and her little sister Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair) as they struggle to deal with the sudden death of their mother. The girls and their therapist father, Will (Chris Messina), must face a dark supernatural force that enters their home not long after he takes on a new patient. Director Rob Savage, who made the excellent pandemic-era film Host, does a fine job at transitioning into a larger studio project, grabbing from a familiar bag of tricks (dark corners, creaking doors, jump scares), but creating terror with confidence (one scene involving a tooth is particularly effective). The Boogeyman also gets a boost from character actors Marin Ireland and David Dastmalchian in small but important supporting roles, but the film mostly plays like a lesser version of Lights Out (2016). In the pantheon of King adaptations, it earns the blandest distinction: not one of the worst, not one of the best. PG-13. DANIEL RESTER. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Laurelhurst, Lloyd Center, Movies On TV, Oak Grove, Pioneer Place, Progress Ridge, Studio One, Wilsonville.

BROOKLYN 45

** It’s probably “hokum,” admits the drunken colonel (played by horror luminary Larry Fessenden), but he’s just lost his wife and might like to turn his Christmas party into a séance. That’s where five old service friends find themselves in Brooklyn 45, just months after World War II’s conclusion, joining hands in a Park Slope parlor to test whether the soul of the colonel’s wife is nearby. The séance circle—Marla the former wartime interrogator (Anne Ramsay), her Pentagon clerk husband Bob (Ron E. Rains), and two majors (Jeremy Holm, Ezra Buzzington)—is skeptical, but they respect their ranking officer’s wishes. What follows is light horror hovering around a polemic chamber piece. In the American film lexicon, there’s still a compelling edge to depicting the U.S. victory in WWII as ridden with xenophobia, bloodlust and spiritual compromise, and Brooklyn 45′s script often forces the sometimes outgunned actors to say exactly that. Spoken once by a potential war criminal, the line “I’m not a bad man” is an eye roll, let alone twice. For all its twists, torture and worrying that Nazis walk among these paranoid vets, Brooklyn 45 struggles to live in the haunted, expository past and still uphold the immediacy of a confined, genre-shifting present. NR. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Shudder.

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