David Lynch, a filmmaker so idiosyncratic that the best way to describe his work is by invoking his name, said movies can compensate for the limitations of language. In a New York Magazine article from 1990, he’s quoted as saying, “When you can talk about it, you’re not using cinema.” And yet it’s impossible not to talk about “Mad Max: Fury Road,” surely a piece of cinema in every sense of the word: it’s art and it’s definitely (one hell of) a movie.
In the way of vapid spectacles, created to generate ungodly revenue and maintained by an unreasonable sense of hype, there are worse entertainments than “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the latest box-office explosion from Marvel Studios and the sequel to the superhero recruitment promo “The Avengers.” Consider the boxing match this past weekend between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. It was the fight of the century right up until the first punch was thrown. The rest really is history: something from the past that will be vaguely recalled by some, if only for the price of the Pay Per View ticket. “Age of Ultron” won’t break your bank, but its true cost is still brain damage.
The only sympathy available to most of the characters in director David Cronenberg’s latest deadpan creation, “Maps to the Stars,” is of the same kind you might offer a monster. Like the wretch at the center of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” they aren’t necessarily at fault for being utterly repulsive. After all, they were born and bred, not in a lab as a result of scientific hubris, but in a much seedier, greedier place: Hollywood, where horrible people are produced just as often as horror films. Cronenberg, from a script by Bruce Wagner, has made one of the latter about the former. But by setting his film within the claws of the movie industry, he’s twisted the genre. Unlike Shelley’s disfigured monster, who hid from the world, Cronenberg’s are entitled, shameless. They walk in broad daylight, and they look like Julianne Moore and Robert Pattinson.
“Predestination,” a time-travel thriller with some transgender themes, is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, shrouded in itself. Though the film’s concluding sequence gives the impression that it’s wrapping up the twisty, time-bending narrative, a closer look reveals the plot to be even more pleasantly confounding than initially suggested. Like the great time-travel movies of the past, this one doesn’t make any sense. And yet the question at its core is perfectly clear, and delightfully explored, revealing the futility of the conceit: what good is altering the past if human nature will never change?
In “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” war is glorious and sorrowful — it is the stuff of legend, and, as the title suggests, it is the point. If you enter the movie theater looking for character nuance or an exploration of the great themes that prompt the titular onslaught, then turn away from this third and last chapter in a series of films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s book. But if your eye is fixed on baser things, like rip-roaring action and some genuinely inspired fantastical sequences, then, in honor of the dwarf king Thorin’s final request to his company, I will follow you, one last time.