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Edge of Tomorrow


(Century 16, Century 20) Game over. Restart. It’s an option familiar in the virtual worlds of video games but, alas, not in real life. The new sci-fi action movie “Edge of Tomorrow” uses the narrative structure of a video game to present a “what-if” scenario: what if we could keep pressing “start” every time we fail? That’s a fantasy that’s been dramatically explored before, in works like David Ives’ playlet “Sure Thing” and Harold Ramis’ 1993 film “Groundhog Day.” “Edge of Tomorrow” — based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s light novel “All You Need is Kill” — doesn’t have anything new to contribute, other than wedding the concept to a different genre, but it’s a good fit, resulting in a fairly eye-popping futuristic war story with a clever (to a point) structure. Tom Cruise stars as Major William Cage of U.S. Army Media Relations. With Earth losing a war to powerful tentacular, mouth-glowing aliens, Cage is content being just shy of a draft dodger, with little more than decades-earlier, neverapplied ROTC training to fall back on should he find himself in combat. And find himself in combat he does when he ticks off General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), gets busted down to private, and winds up on a suicide mission. Cruise nicely plays Cage’s anti-heroic freak-outs, which add flavor and stoke a rooting interest in his surviving long enough to redeem himself. In a sequence that suggests the alien-war equivalent of D-Day, the Army lands on the West Coast of France and proceeds to get slaughtered by the aliens. But when Cage gets face-fried with alien goop, he reawakens with a start a day before the

Tom Cruise stars in “Edge of Tomorrow.”

battle. As he repeatedly relives the day, he eventually discovers that Special Forces soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) — celebrated as the “Angel of Verdun” — holds the key to the mystery of what’s happening to him, and together, they may be the only two people who can save humanity. Basically, “Edge of Tomorrow” follows the same beats as “Groundhog Day,” but raising the stakes. Cage first must work through his Cassandra complex, then accept his lot and work to change his situation for the better. By nature of the plot device, “Edge of Tomorrow” also implicitly deals with some philosophical questions about how we live our lives: we only get one shot at any given interaction or situation, but if we could heighten our sensitivities, we could communicate much better, get much further, and even see strangers as they really are rather than writing them off in an instant. And, as in “Groundhog Day,” the

Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones in “Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway.”

protagonist learns selflessness and finds love. The acting is expectedly solid (Bill Paxton has some fun with the role of Cage’s befuddled master sergeant), and thanks to director Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity”), the impressively realized battle sequences are rip-roaring. It’s all a bit wearying by the home stretch, and a resolution that (like much of the film that precedes it) only sort of makes sense. But it’s summer, and we’re not supposed to think too much at the movies. This is a game worth playing once, though you probably won’t be dying to push “Restart” any time soon. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material. One hour, 53 minutes. — Peter Canavese Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway


(Aquarius) Culturally speaking, “Driving Miss Daisy” can be a bit of a touchy subject. Because race is front and center in this story of a elderly, wealthy Southern Jewish woman and her patient black chauffeur, this otherwise wispy two-handerplus-one could easily collapse under a sociopolitical weight it isn’t all that interested in lifting in the first place. And so it’s no surprise that the play has returned very much as a star vehicle for old-pro actors. Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for drama — and immediately made into a Best Picturewinning 1989 film — Alfred Uhry’s play “Driving Miss Daisy” was originally produced off-

Broadway in 1987 before at last enjoying a Broadway run with Vanessa Redgrave, James Earl Jones, and Boyd Gaines in 2010. Last year, that same production — with Angela Lansbury replacing Redgrave — toured Australia, where it was “captured for cinema.” A partnership between Screenvision and the newly formed Broadway Near You brings this Stagecast to movie theaters this week. Lansbury plays imperious Atlantan widower Mrs. Daisy Werthan, a retired fifth-grade English teacher who makes life difficult for her son Boolie (a stalwart Gaines). When the play opens, Daisy is 72, and a car accident has rendered her all but uninsurable. Boolie’s solution is to hire driver Hoke Colburn (Jones). Himself no spring chicken, Hoke immediately proves savvy in his people skills and, crucially, at maneuvering around white folks. But his ultimate test will be “Miss Daisy,” who’s resistant partly out of prideful denial of her advancing age, partly in fear of the familiarity and intrusion this black man would seem to represent. In sketches spanning from 1948 to 1973, the play depicts Hoke’s slow breakdown of Daisy’s latent racism and her walls of self-defense to reach detente and something like an arranged marriage. There resides the play’s nominal tension: how close can these two come to making a soulful connection as something like equals? There’s no mistaking “Driving Miss Daisy” as anything but a lean play, and its comfort zone is almost sit-comedic, coming to life most often in the odd-cou-

ple back-and-forths between Daisy and Hoke. As a white man, Uhry accepts the limitation of his perspective, telling the story from the privileged perspective of the Werthans. Being the great actor that he is, Jones takes this as a proper challenge, imbuing his character with his well-known booming voice but also with subtleties of conflicted feelings. His Hoke is clearly a moral man, but also one who has chosen optimism not only as a survival tactic for being around white folks but for living life. Jones’ genius is in occasionally clueing us in that it’s not a one-time choice, but one that he must make over and over again, and not easily. Lansbury’s performance may be a bit broader, but it’s no less satisfying, from the verbal railroading that establishes Daisy to her reactions to benign attacks on her equilibrium and, eventually, her physical and mental diminution. The old Dame has impeccable comic timing and control of her instrument, and there’s a beautiful refinement to how she delineates Daisy’s softening, for better and worse, into second childishness. Esbjornson’s production skillfully moves from scene to scene while providing a bit of scale to the staging. Five cameras unobtrusively capture it all. Here’s a terrific gift for American theater lovers who can’t just hop a plane to Melbourne to see the 87-year-old Lansbury play Miss Daisy opposite the 82-year-old Jones: for a fraction of a Broadway ticket price, Broadway Near You offers front-row seats. Not rated. One hour, 26 minutes. — Peter Canavese

June 6, 2014 ■ Mountain View Voice ■ ■


Mountain View Voice June 6, 2014 section2  
Mountain View Voice June 6, 2014 section2