Popcorn & Candy: Young Thieves and Visionaries Edition

Popcorn & Candy was DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week.

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Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters (The Orchard)

AMERICAN ANIMALS

Based on the true story of four college buds who in 2004 almost pulled off a $12 million  rare book heist, this lively if derivative crime drama is framed by documentary interviews with real-life thieves who share their unreliable and often conflicting memories of what really happened. It’s an apt sophomore project for writer-director Bart Layton, whose first feature, the 2012 crime documentary The Imposter, used reenactments to tell the story of a French on artist who convinced a grieving Texas family that he was their missing teenage son. If this movie too often becomes a game of spot-the-reference, that’s by design–the culprits watched old heist movies before planning one of their own. American Animals is consistently watchable and has fun playing with genre tropes and needle-drops, but it doesn’t quite make the best use of its resources, from Barry Keoghan, who was a revelation in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, to Udo Keir, who was wickedly funny in Downsizing and is just wasted here.

Watch the trailer.
Opens Friday at Landmark E Street Cinema, Landmark Bethesda Row, and Angelika Mosaic.

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(eOne)

You know you’re in for a hard slog when a director’s idea of an exciting opening set piece involves a (slow) file transfer computer screen. The latest Nicolas Cage straight-to-VOD thriller plays like a channel-surf through at least three different duds, weaving together the story of a financial deal-gone-wrong in Afghanistan, a successful banker, a bullied high school student, and finally, a veteran police officer (Cage) who’s about to be forced into retirement. Naturally, the officer’s normally uneventful beat becomes a day that changes everybody’s lives. Writer-director York Alec Shackleton made his name as a young snowboarding and skateboarding whiz, but unlike the great explorer with whom he shares a name, he comes up empty on this expedition.

Watch the trailer.
Available Friday on VOD platforms.

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(Venice Film Festival)

THE ROAD TO MANDALAY

Two illegal immigrants from Burma struggle to survive in Bangkok Thailand, and fall in love in this 2016 drama. .Part of the Freer’s series devoted to Taiwanese director Midi Z, who will appear at the screening. Also screening this weekend is City of Jade (Saturday, June 9 at 2 pm), a documentary that follows the director’s attempt to reconcile with his older brother, Zhao, who abandoned the family when Midi Z was just five years old; after rumors that Zhao had found fortune in a mythical city, he showed up at their father’s funeral as an impoverished opium addict.

Watch the trailer.
Friday, June 8 at 7 pm at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

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MASARYK

As part of its Lions of Czech Film Series, the Avalon Theatre screens this 2016 drama about Czech diplomat and politician Jan Masaryk, who as Ambassador to Britain tried to save his country from Nazi occupation but was betrayed by Allied forces. Also known as A Prominent Patient, the movie shuttles between London, Prage, and a psychiatric hospital in New Jersey where he fled after the war. The Hollywood Reporter writes, “With all that going on, one would think there was ample material for a fascinating pre-war thriller…but the screenplay is missing a lot of pieces and the humdrum staging looks numbingly like jazzed-up Euro TV fare.”

Watch the trailer.
Wednesday, June 13 at 8 pm at The Avalon.

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