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Passion or obligation: That’s the choice

      Ronit (Rachel Weisz: My Cousin Rachel) returns to her Orthodox community to mourn her father, a revered rabbi. She has lived in New York by choice and in exile since the revelation of her teenage fling with another woman, Esti (Rachel McAdams: Game Night).
       Returning home as a successful photographer, Ronit learns that even in mourning she is shunned. In neither her father’s obituary nor his will is she acknowledged as his only child. She is welcomed only by Esti and by her husband Dovid (Alessandro Nivola: You Were Never Really Here), Ronit’s childhood friend.
      Having accepted her rabbi’s order to take a husband, Esti is at once a pillar of the community and a closeted lesbian living a life of quiet desperation. In Ronit’s return, she hopes to grasp a little bit of happiness. 
      As the women reunite, gossip swells.
     Beautifully shot and acted, Disobedience is a thoughtful film about closed communities. Director Sebastián Lelio, who just won an Oscar for the outstanding A Fantastic Woman, delves into the nuances of the Orthodox London community, showing the good and the bad. On the one hand, the community serves and helps its own. On the other, it’s run by rules that are unkind to those who don’t follow them. 
       Lelio takes pains to show the isolation of a person shunned. From the stores to school, the community turns hostile. 
      Helping underscore the theme is the brilliant acting trifecta of Weisz, McAdams and Nivola. Weisz’s Ronit is tortured as her hopes for reconciliation are smashed. 
      As Esti, McAdams offers a disturbing portrait of repression in religious communities. Unhappy as she is, she can’t bring herself to chance life alone. She knows that rekindling her romance with Ronit is the way to ruin, but she’s helpless to stop her attraction. 
        The surprise of the film is Nivola’s Dovid. His performance elevates a character who could have been a villain to a figure of sympathy. Dovid is devoted to his community and religion and is torn attempting to do the right thing. 
      Fascinating, well crafted and wonderfully performed, Disobedience is well worth the ticket. 
Great Drama • R • 114 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Book Club
       Four friends are feeling in a rut. Diane (Diane Keaton) is a widow figuring out sudden solitude. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a judge stinging from a contentious divorce. Carol (Mary Steenburgen) longs to revive her stale marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys an active single life.
       Forming a book club, the quartet finds their world changed by the titillating Fifty Shades of Grey. The book inspires some to embrace their sex lives and others to seek out lasting commitment.
       Book Club is a typical finding-a-new-lease-on-life comedy. If you’ve seen one of its kind, you can guess the plot. It’s more about the charisma of the actors than the strength of the plot. This isn’t a movie to stretch these actresses, but it will play to each of their strengths. Expect Keaton to shriek and flail, Bergen to offer a sardonic wit, Steenburgen to smile beatifically and Fonda to offer a sultry wink. 
      If you’re a fan of these lionesses of the screen, it should be fun to watch them vamp for laughs. Still, it’s distressing that these women are enamored with one of the poorest written books in history. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 104 mins. 
 
Deadpool 2
      Super-powered Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) has developed a reputation in the superhero community as the unkillable Deadpool. 
      Time-travelling, bioengineered super-soldier Cable (Josh Brolin) arrives in Wade’s era to give the hero a choice. He must kill a child to protect the future. Wade instead assembles a super team to stop Cable.
       Deadpool was the surprise super hit of the Marvel universe. Foul-mouthed, uber-violent and hyped to the ridiculousness of the super-genre, this is not the Marvel movie you take your kids to. Reynolds is charming and wry as this superhero who breaks the fourth wall to address the audience. Reynolds and the producers seem to have found a delicate balance between parody and gimmick. But leave the kids at home. This one will earn its R-rating.
Prospects: Bright • R • 119 mins. 
 
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word
       Legendary director Wim Wenders was offered unprecedented access to the Pope as he spread his message of hope, charity and kindness. 
      The documentary examines what Francis hopes to achieve as head of one of the most powerful religious groups in the world and how he deviates from the pontifical norm. 
      Don’t expect a film questioning Catholicism or criticizing the church. This movie is about hope and the positive effect religion can have on the world. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 96 mins. 
 
Show Dogs
       Frank (Will Arnett) and Max (Chris Bridges) are ill-adapted mixed-species partners who go undercover at an exclusive Las Vegas dog show to bust a smuggling ring and find a stolen baby panda. 
      Frank pretends to be a pretentious dog owner and Max his pampered pet. 
      Think of this as Miss Congeniality with a cast of talking dogs. Expect tons of bodily humor and slapstick comedy in this kiddie movie.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 92 mins.

How handwriting analysis helped me forgive my mother — and myself

A Mother’s Day story by Jane Elkin
 
        On March 3, 2004, I boarded a plane for New Hampshire to sit vigil at my mother’s deathbed. Waiting at the gate, I wrote this page in my diary. It’s the lyrics to Nella Fantasia (In My Fantasy), a Sarah Brightman song that haunted me for two months and was the last music my mother ever heard, my final gift before singing at her funeral. 
       I didn’t want to do it, but Mom insisted, and she usually got what she wanted. So I fixed my eyes on a stained glass window and focused on my job — because you can’t sing and cry at the same time.
      In my writing, you can see what depression looks like: black, blotchy, and  sinking. I remember consciously choosing the marker because it matched my mood that day. Normally, I wrote optimistically rising lines in a fine blue ballpoint. “Keep on the sunny side” was more than a cliché in my life. It was how my mother raised me.
      As a toddler, my favorite song was about seven little girls sitting in the back seat, kissing and a-hugging with bread, or so I thought. “Mama, sing Snoopy Eyes,” I would prompt, as in “Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead!” Always she complied. It was our special car song. Sometimes I even got a slice of buttered bread sprinkled with sugar. 
        We had a song for everything. When I couldn’t remember her birthday, she said to remember Alan Sherman’s liverwurst: been there since October 1, and today is the 23rd of May! We climbed Mt. Washington to the theme from The Bridge on the River Kwai. When I started dating, her soundtrack became In My Little Red Book. 
      I adored her for 13 years and, because of her influence, wanted to be a singer and music teacher. It was all I thought I was good at. But she feared I’d wind up broken, like Billie Holliday or Judy Garland, and she was threatened by anything that didn’t fit her parochial vision for my future. A Catholic education seemed safer than public, so she transferred me without notice from the best performing arts school in the state to the worst. I resented her for months.
       That was the first of several dramas in a struggle for autonomy that led me to leave home at 18. Yet I never cut her out of my life, and she never stopped trying to pull my strings. Then she’d go and do something unpredictably wonderful like giving me voice lessons for my 25th birthday. It was complicated.
       When I began singing professionally at the nation’s largest Catholic church a decade later, I don’t know which of us was more proud. But by then, her spirituality had turned to fanaticism. When she asserted the point of my vocal studies was “to better praise God,” I wanted to say “No, I do it for my sake, not His,” but I couldn’t.
      Her snoopy nose was into everything from my music to my wardrobe, parenting style, even the way I changed a trash bag. Had I known her escalating control and petulant rants were symptomatic of an illness, I might have been more understanding. But by the time she was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors, she had just two months to live, and I was torn between grief and relief.
 
Her Hand and Mine
       After she died, I became a certified handwriting analyst. Applying the method to her journals, I saw that she was motivated by a lifelong fear of abandonment and a midlife loneliness I had never realized. I began writing a book and wound up pursuing a degree in creative writing to do the story justice. But I couldn’t move past my own guilt at never having properly mourned.
        “Good writing comes from forgiveness,” my teacher said. “Have you tried looking at your own script?” I had not. I felt sure I knew what I’d been feeling all the time. But there is a difference between being in the moment and reflecting on the moment. What I discovered set me free. 
      Here is my journal entry from the day I learned of my mother’s illness: 
Worse than I’d realized. The Drs. still don’t know the cause at this point. It could be a virus, a disease, or even cancer or a tumor on the brain. He [Dad] was supposed to call me back tonight, but it’s 10:30 …
         The first thing that struck me was the vertical “rivers” of white space between my words, reflecting a sudden loneliness. It was the same isolation I had seen in my mother’s writing when she was my age. The second surprise was the crashing letters in the right-hand margin, a phenomenon common to suicide notes because the right represents the future. The tendency is subtly evident here in the way the words appear to step off a cliff. Considering what lay ahead, I was literally staring death in the face and shrinking from it.
 
Final Gifts
         Four times I drove home, once with a broken tailbone, and was always surprised at her rapid regression. One weekend she was the adult bibliophile I knew; the next, a giggly teen swooning over movie heartthrobs. I felt privileged to meet my mother ‘pre-me’, even when she resembled a toddler, dangling her feet from an invalid’s pottychair and singing Daisy as my own girls had done.
       She liked old hymns, and one day when she no longer could join in, I sang her an original composition. It was my first and had taken years to write. I was nervous about sharing, but still craved her approval and wanted to give one last gift that was uniquely mine. But what if she didn’t like it? It was a bluegrass waltz, and she’d always hated country music. 
      She listened silently to all three verses, and as the final guitar chord died away, I dared ask her opinion. For once, all she said was “beautiful,” and that was her final gift to me. 
      Three weeks later, as she lay semi-comatose, I crowned her with my earphones and played Arvo Pärt’s Magnificat and Nella Fantasia, the most heavenly moving-on music I knew. She ahhhed as one sinking into a hot bath, her feet quivering like those of an infant smiling with her whole body. 
       Within hours her sporadic breathing turned to a death rattle that drove me from the room. I was ashamed of my weakness and kept the baby monitor low that night as I slept in another room, only to be awakened by the grey buzz of its mechanical silence and the fleeting sensation of her presence, which I felt as a slumbering child feels a goodnight kiss. 
      The purge of beige fluid trickling from her mouth when I found her told me all I needed to know. I closed her wide and vacant eyes, kissed her warm forehead and moved trancelike to the phone where the hospice number was posted in fat black figures. With shaking hands I misdialed three times. Then a voice answered, and I lost mine.
 
 
Jane Elkin is a former music teacher, chorister at The Basilica of the National Shrine and co-founder of The Renaissance Singers of Annapolis and Trinitas. She expects to complete her MFA at Bennington Writing Seminars in January. 

The scariest part of this movie is paying see it

      Sean (Robert Sheehan: Mute) dreams of being a professional photographer. He takes his craft seriously and won’t take any job he considers beneath him. Thus limited, he shoots only random things on the street and his semi-naked girlfriend. 
       Until Sean and his buddy come up with a moneymaking scheme. As valets at a local Italian eatery, they lay hands on many car keys. While the customers are dining, the valets loot their homes. 
        The scheme goes wrong with Cale Erendreich (David Tennant: Jessica Jones).
       In Erendreich’s house, Sean discovers a locked room. Instead of jewels, inside he finds a bound and beaten woman. He can’t break her chains but promises to find a way to save her.
       From a pay phone, he calls the police, but doubling back he sees that the cops won’t enter the residence. His second strategy is to bait Erendreich into the open. Now he’s engaged in a game of cat-and-mouse with a serial killer. 
       Poorly shot, bizarrely plotted and hilariously acted, Bad Samaritan is a victim of serial bad choices. Director Dean Devlin (Geostorm) is bad at character development, cinematography and pacing.
      Acting is bad, too. Sean isn’t a particularly interesting hero. Erendreich is supposed to be a terrifying serial killer, but his evil machinations are pretty much limited to prank phone calls and sexting. ­Tennant gives us a villain who glowers, bugs his eyes and snarls through every scene, an odd choice for a movie that takes itself pretty seriously. 
        This movie is so bad that the only entertainment you’ll get from it is the fun of mocking it. 
Thrill-free Thriller • R • 110 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Breaking In
      After the death of her father, Shaun (Gabrielle Union) and her kids prepare his home for sale only to find a recently installed security system that makes the house nearly impregnable. 
      The reason for this becomes clear when a violent gang shows up. She fights off her attacker, but the kids are locked in while the bad guys search for something Shaun’s father has hidden. 
       To save her kids, Shaun takes out the bandits one by one.
      This is the Mother’s Day movie for the tough mom in your life. If you and your mom bond over Crossfit or Dirty Harry movies, this one’s for you. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 88 mins.
 
Disobedience
       Ronit (Rachel Weisz) is expelled from her Orthodox Jewish community in London for her same-sex relationship with best friend Esti (Rachel McAdams). Moving to New York, she becomes a successful photographer but grieves for her lost family and friends. When the death of her father takes her home, she rekindles her relationship with Esti, now married to a prominent rabbi. 
       Director Sebastián Lelio, who gave us the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman, is known for respectfully exploring women’s issues. Both McAdams and Weisz are brilliant performers able to carry the nuance of a complex drama.
Prospects: Bright • R • 114 mins. 
 
Life of the Party
       When Deanna’s (Melissa McCarthy) husband dumps her, she pursues the dream of finishing her bachelor’s degree, enrolling in her daughter’s college and moving into a dorm. She and the doubtful daughter bond, and soon Deanna is the life of every party.
        McCarthy is gifted at both physical and verbal comedy. With the right script, there isn’t much she can’t do. This getting-her-groove-back flick — complete with makeover, sex with a cute guy and reconnection with family — doesn’t set the bar high.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 105 mins. 
 
RBG
       This documentary follows feminist icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg from Harvard Law School, where she is one of the first women admitted, to civil rights activism, to the U.S. Supreme Court. 
       The filmmakers are admirers, so don’t expect challenges to this legend of justice. But if you want to know more of the life story of one of the most powerful women in America, this should be well worth the ticket. 
Prospects: Bright • PG • 97 mins. 

Disney puts all its heroes in one basket in this epic action movie

     The once mighty Avengers are in tatters. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.: Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Captain America (Chris Evans: Gifted) are feuding. Thor (Chris Hemsworth: 12 Strong) is drifting in space after destroying his home world to save his people. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo: Thor: Ragnarok) is still trying to find himself. 
      The divided heroes reunite to battle a baddie of galactic proportions.
      Thanos (Josh Brolin: Only the Brave) is a space invader obsessed with bringing balance to the universe. It’s his goal to eliminate half the lifeforms throughout the universe to counter overpopulation and dwindling resources. 
     Flashy, entertaining and shallow, Avengers: Infinity War is big-budget popcorn entertainment. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: Civil War) craft a bombastic confluence of seven superhero franchises. It’s a well-balanced film, given the size of characters and number of storylines. The Russo brothers also come up with a few unique character pairings that make the movie a blast to watch. 
       But as in any good Marvel movie, the real test is the quality of the villain. As power-mad galactic terrorist Thanos, Brolin turns in a surprisingly complex performance. His Thanos is committed to his task but not devoid of emotions. He loves his daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana: My Little Pony: The Movie), but won’t allow her to stand in the way of his mission. For a man bent on destroying half the universe, he’s surprisingly likeable. 
        As in most Avengers movies, there’s not time for deep characters. But that doesn’t mean the film lacks heart. Hemsworth, Downey and Saldana all have great dramatic moments. With plenty of comedy to counteract the grim plotlines, the movie also never veers too far into darkness.
       On a more practical level, for a film with an astronomical budget, Avengers: Infinity War has some surprisingly shoddy effects. A few CGI shots are almost laughably bad, and the main battle is filled with disposable monsters that are neither scary nor interesting. It’s a little disappointing that a movie guaranteed to break box office records can’t take care in its craft. 
      Fans of Marvel’s Avengers series will find this easily the best of the three films. It’s breezy, entertaining fun.
Good Action Adventure • PG-13 • 149 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
 
Bad Samaritan
       Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) is a valet who drives the cars he’s supposed to park to their rich owners’ homes for burglaries.
       It’s a lucrative scam until it isn’t.
       In the middle of a break-in, Sean finds a woman who’s bound, gagged and pleading for help. Afraid he’ll be arrested for breaking into the house, he leaves her and calls the police. When the cops find nothing, he’s stricken with guilt.
Now, he has two problems: First, he’s horrified that he might have gotten a woman killed. Second, homeowner (David Tennant) knows who he is and intends revenge. 
        A thriller about the dangers of doing the right thing, Bad Samaritan promises a tense cat-and-mouse game of Hitchcockian thrills. 
Prospects: Flickering • R • 107 mins. 
 
Overboard
       Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez) is a thoughtless wealthy man who treats his servants poorly. He fires harried single mother Kate (Anna Faris) over a trivial matter and refuses her pay. 
       When Leonardo is thrown off his yacht and wakes on the shore with amnesia, Kate sees opportunity. She shows up at the hospital as his wife and brings him home to her kids. Leonardo learns the meaning of work as Kate throws him into a blue-collar job and tasks him with raising “their” kids. 
       Leonardo adapts fairly well to life as Kate’s husband. Soon, the two are edging toward a connection. Will Kate’s lies torpedo their burgeoning relationship? 
       A remake of the 1980s romcom, Overboard is still a highly questionable concept for a film. The gender roles have been reversed from the original, but the movie is still trying to make kidnapping and gaslighting cute and quirky bases for romance. While the older film is perhaps a product of the times, this remake feels hopelessly out of touch. 
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 112 mins. 
 
Tully
      Marlo (Charlize Theron) is overwhelmed with caring for three young children. She and her husband aren’t connecting. She’s feeling desperate for some alone time. She worries she’s failing as a wife and mother.
      Though she’s against the idea, Marlo reluctantly accepts her brother’s offer to hire a night nanny for the family. Tully (Mackenzie Davis) turns out to be a godsend for both kids and mother.
       A movie about the problems women aren’t supposed to speak about, Tully will likely strike a chord with mothers everywhere.
Prospects: Bright • R • 94 mins. 

Unique charity helps locals adopt a child and support a widow

      Kadee Corley waits for her phone to ring. The call she expects will change her life, and the lives of her husband Bryan and their seven-year-old son Bryce. Forever.
       They are waiting to hear if the next member of their family is ready to come home. To Odenton. From Bulgaria.
      “We struggled trying to get pregnant with our first child, and after three miscarriages we finally had our beautiful son,” says Kadee.
      Two years later, they discovered Kadee had premature ovarian failure.
       The Corleys began the arduous process of adoption over a year ago.
“We decided to adopt from ­Bulgaria since the process is pretty quick compared to domestic adoptions,” Kadee explained. “Once a match is made, it is just a month or two later that we get to bring a child home.”
       Still, piles of paperwork stand between the Corleys and their new child.
“We have done the home study, filled out all the papers, but now we are dealing with lots of tiny technicalities in the records,” Kadee says.
       On top of the waiting, the Corleys are also feeling adoption’s financial pinch.       They have spent nearly $40,000, refinanced their house, then turned to their community for help.
      “This is our journey as a family,” Kadee says. “It felt really strange to be asking people for money to bring our child home to us.”
       The family wanted to raise money by doing something with a purpose. Online, they found a nonprofit organization called The Both Hands Project. 
      “It was a perfect fit,” Kadee says. 
      Both Hands helps adoptive families raise funds to cover expenses; the familes, in turn, agree to help a widow in need. A family gathers a team of volunteers and Both Hands coaches them to coordinate a service project fixing up a widow’s home. The family and their team also send letters out to raise sponsorship for their day of service. Those funds support the adoption.
       Once the Corleys had their how, they had to find a who.
       “A lot of people thought it was a scam. They couldn’t believe that someone was volunteering to do all this hard work for them for nothing in return,” Kadee says.
       Eventually they found Mary ­Hellman of Deale. 
      “She was under our nose the whole time,” Kadee says. “We initially asked her daughter, who is also a widow, if we could help her, and she sent us straight to her mother instead.”
      The Corleys gathered a group of 25 volunteers, donated supplies and all the elbow grease they could muster to spend 12 hours on an April Saturday working on Hellman’s house and yard.
       Kadee enumerates a long list of projects:
      “We repainted her living room, foyer and dining room; put new shingles on the roof, which was damaged from a recent wind storm; built a ramp and added electricity to her shed; built a new front porch, replaced deck railing and painted the entire back porch; repainted the exterior trim of the house and shed; weeded, mulched and planted an entire garden in front of the house, cleaned out planter boxes and filled them with donated flowers and plants.
      “We filled an entire dumpster of debris,” she says. “We even repurposed some of her late waterman husband’s belongings into décor so she could keep those memories of him.”
       Hellman has, in turn, grown close to the Corley family.
      The Corleys still need to raise $12,000 to completely cover the adoption costs, so their project is still seeking donations: www.bothhands.org/corley-403.

One closes (for now); two open

       Finding a public library in Annapolis this spring has become a lot more interesting.
      The 53-year-old Annapolis Library on West Street is now closed, its building scheduled for demolition. With a new library planned for that same spot — and several pop-ups already open — Annapolitans don’t have to look too far for their public library fix. The Annapolis Library is making its temporary home in Monarch Academy on Capital Drive. And a library experiment has just opened in the Westfield Annapolis Mall. 
       The new Annapolis Monarch Library, opened April 16, is off West Street on Capital Drive, with helpful signs pointing you in the right direction. The library and Monarch Academy charter school share the same building, but the library has its own and separate parking spaces and wing.
       In the entryway, you’ll see large renderings of the digitalized plans for the future public library.
      Past the entry, the library exists as one spacious, airy room, with help desks right at the front and a large children’s section past the stacks. Library staff are eager to answer questions about their new home. 
      Gloria Davis Harberts, regional manager for the area, is accommodating and ready to help patrons out of any confusion. 
      “We had people lining up outside before we opened,” Harberts told me. 
      Almost 9,000 items are already in the Monarch location, and the hold shelves are filling up with requests. 
       Harberts wants to make sure the library’s stay in Monarch brings in more users than ever. Class trips  through the library with Monarch Academy students are already a hit.
       “Some of the students have never been to a public library before,” she says. 
       Creating enthusiastic students and making libraries fun are two goals Harberts hopes to meet. 
 
 
A New Discovery
     Nowadays, you can also go to the library when you’re at the mall. Discoveries: the library at Westfield Annapolis Mall, opened April 30. The 3,000-square-foot space is nestled next to Crate and Barrel in the west wing of the mall, across from the Under Armour store.
     “We believe this new library will open many people’s eyes to what a modern library is and does,” Anne Arundel County Public Library chief Skip Auld says. “Public libraries have transformed from simply being places where people pick up their reading or viewing or listening materials to places where people gather to see friends and neighbors and make new friends, to learn from programs.”
      Technology and entertainment play a large role in this space, with a 3D printer, laptop rentals, self checkout, free movie streaming and online tutoring. 
      New Discoveries branch manager Rachael Myers and her team have lots of new programs in the works, many focused on children and teens. There will be early literacy programs and a Discovery Dock children’s area, along with a bilingual reading corner every Tuesday morning.
      To help make the library a creative community, the Annapolis Arts Alliance has partnered with Discoveries Library to showcase local art in the space. The pieces will be changed regularly to feature new artists and new types of art.
      The Discoveries Library is also more accessible to readers and shoppers with Saturday hours, 10am-5pm. 
      “This branch is completely separate and different from the Monarch Academy space,” says Library Communications Manager Christine Feldmann. It has a very different atmosphere. “We hope to prove that bringing a library into an already highly trafficked area will expose the library to new customers and reengage those that haven’t used a library in a while.” 
      Discoveries will be open until the end of 2019. Depending on the success of this space, the library could make another home at the Westfield Mall. 
 
What to Expect
       The new library on West Street is planned to open in late 2019 or early 2020. 
       The new 32,500-square-foot library will be built where the old library stood, the lot now enlarged from 3.9 acres to 4.7 acres. 
       To serve the needs of a changing community, the new building will have a section for tutoring, large computer stations, separate meeting spaces of different sizes and a business center equipped with tools and services such as shared office space.
     There will also be a vending area for snacks and drinks, expanded children’s spaces with comfortable seating and a tinker lab for workshops and classes. 
 
Test It Out
       As a new Annapolitan, I signed up for a library card while I was asking questions. I figured it was a good test of the new Annapolis Library at Monarch 
       After walking through the stacks of fantasy and fiction, I approached the help desk and asked for a card. 
      Five minutes later I was a new library cardholder with all the information I needed. I spotted an interesting-looking new thriller on the staff picks shelf, checked it out and took it home where it’s mine … for seven days.

A dark and twisted take on the action genre 

      For unsavory jobs, Joe (Joaquin Phoenix: Irrational Man) is the guy to call. The veteran of war, brutality and PTSD is abnormally good at violence.
      The money is good, and his earnings support his elderly mother. Joe, however, is not so good. He suffers constant flashbacks to either his abusive childhood or wartime in the Gulf. 
      His world shifts when he’s hired to save the daughter of a New York state senator from a trafficking ring. Gruff awkward Joe bonds with the girl. When the job goes south, Joe tears through the underbelly of New York, hell-bent on recovering her. 
     Director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) is known for making films that can be hard to access, and this one is no exception. Cryptic, brutal and beautiful, it is also challenging; some in the audience said “weird.” Think of it as an arthouse reboot of the Taken franchise. 
      Ramsay’s peculiar brand of storytelling is expressionistic. Don’t expect the plot to be fully explained. She offers vivid glimpses of Joe’s past and present, expecting us to fill in the rest of the story. If you can stick with it, you’ll be rewarded with a fascinating story about how violence molds our lives and our futures. 
       This isn’t a movie interested in making violence look cool; Ramsay shows its horror. Yet camera work is beautiful, with expert framing and action sequences that dance around violence. Sound design is artful, with highlighted bits of dialogue and noise ratcheting up the tension and explaining Joe’s tortured perception of the world. 
      Phoenix is fascinating, lumbering through scenes with a ballpeen hammer clenched in his fist. His Joe is terrifying yet endearing. He’s clearly lost, and basic human interaction is hard for him. But he follows his own strict moral code. 
       If you’re interested in a meditation on violence, trauma and obsession, You Were Never Really Here might be for you.
Great Action • R • 89 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
 
Avengers: Infinity War
       Just arrived on Earth, intergalactic super villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) plans to kill half of humanity, enslave the rest and collect the infinity stones that offer him ultimate power. 
      To stop him, this nearly unprecedented melding of film franchises brings together every member of the Marvel extended universe.
       This also means all your favorite superheroes will be short-changed because there’s no way to develop 30 characters in one film. But like all the Avengers movies, this is about spectacle, not plot or character. 
       If you’re not a fan of Marvel films, you may want to stay away from the movie house this weekend. No one wants to compete against this juggernaut.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 149 mins.

Like their owners, wooden boats don’t live forever. But the 1948 Trumpy yacht Counterpoint survives piece by salvaged piece

      The Trumpy yacht Counterpoint waited dry-docked at Herrington Harbor North for the right person to come along and shine her up, clean her decks and splash her into the water again. That person would have to match the dedication and vision of her former owner, William Watkins, who passed away in 2015.
      As wooden boat enthusiasts know, caring for a ship like this is equal parts passion, grueling work and money. They agree, nonetheless, that wooden boats deserve a second chance at life. Not all can be returned to their original state, but all deserve to be repurposed and reimagined to earn a new kind of glory.
       Wooden boats seem to have a soul, a passion of their own that infects their keepers. Maybe it’s the way the hull groans and hums when it races through changing waters. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of seeing the clouds reflected in a perfectly varnished piece of teak. Whatever it is, wooden boats embody nostalgia.
      With their unmistakable flared bows that gently pull the water away from the boat as they glide along the Bay, Trumpy yachts are remarkable examples of desire for another time. Or, in the case of the Watkins family and Counterpoint, more time. 
 
Another Time
     John J. Trumpy & Sons moved from Gloucester City, N.J., to Annapolis in 1947. The Trumpy yacht yard sat where Charthouse Restaurant now serves its fare on Second Street in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis.
       Originally built for Francis V. DuPont in 1948, Counterpoint featured the flared bow of Trumpy yachts that allowed for a smoother ride through choppy waters. Its double-hull construction promised both longevity and durability. Teak decking and mahogany planking combined with brass hardware and chrome instruments made this stylish boat fit for the family that commissioned it and a worthy dream for a lover of the Bay. 
      Eventually the 58-foot yacht was purchased by William Watkins, a Marylander whose life always seemed to lead him back to the water. As a young boy, Watkins would head down to the Colchester section of Baltimore and watch the ships. 
      At 17, Watkins convinced his parents to let him join the Navy. In World War II’s Pacific theater, he served on the destroyer escort Abercrombie, which provided support during attacks on the Philippines and Okinawa.
      Returning from the war, Watkins went on to be a mariner for Standard Oil. Later he owned the Forest Inn in Reisterstown, a restaurant renowned for its crab cakes. Patrons could charter the restaurant’s boat, Freedom II. This 46-foot fishing boat with central air soon became a favorite of industry leaders in East Baltimore and reinvigorated Watkins’ passion for being on the water. 
 
Soul Mate
      Counterpoint joined Watkins’s small fleet in 1974. Berthing her at the Trumpy yacht house in Annapolis, he managed to keep the purchase a secret from his wife for nearly two years, before Charlie Satchell, who ran the boathouse, let the truth slip during a phone call. When Watkins’ wife Barbara answered and denied that the boat was theirs, the jig was up.
      “Counterpoint was his mistress,” explained son Scott Watkins in a phone interview. “She was representative of a time when things were done with style and beauty and had a story. Boats have a soul, and she was my father’s soulmate.”
      Diagnosed with leukemia, Barbara died when she was 43. Her passing left Watkins responsible for the restaurant and raising the kids. Counterpoint became a refuge. 
      As the years passed, time took its toll on boat and owner. Watkins continued to work on the boat for as long as he was able, but when the maintenance grew too difficult and costly, Watkins decided to haul the boat out, still holding on to the hope that he — or someone — might restore her. 
       Counterpoint was towed from her berth with her 83-year-old master on a misty, bitter March morning in 2012. “It was like seeing two old institutions,” Scott said, “sailing for the last time together.” It took nearly 24 hours to deliver the boat to its new home at Herrington Harbour North Marina. 
       Watkins died in 2015 at the age of 85. Counterpoint decayed in place.
       “Over the years, the Watkins family and Herrington Harbour North pursued virtually every avenue to find someone who wanted to restore Counterpoint,” said Herrington’s Hamilton Chaney. 
 
One More Time
      Salvage became the best and, Chaney says, “the only option to save a part of this important piece of maritime history.”
      Piece by piece, Watkins’ Counterpoint has been dismantled. Thus far, nearly all of the mahogany planking from the hull’s stern and starboard has been salvaged as well as 25 pounds of screws, two five-blade propellers, both rudders and a companionway in need of a little cleaning. 
     “It’s a good compromise,” said Scott Watkins of the fate of his father’s beloved Counterpoint. “Boats like her are a representation of the soul and history of the region. It’s so necessary that they aren’t forgotten.”

Lack of communication is downfall and ­salvation in this tense flick

       Predatory aliens roam Earth, hunting humans by sound. Even whispers can lead to a brutal death. Evelyn (Emily Blunt: My Little Pony: The Movie) and Lee Abbott (John Krasinski: Detroit) are working hard to keep their family life quiet. 
Sand is spread on trails from the house to town. Wooden floors are painted so everyone knows where to step to avoid creaks. Shoes are banned from the house as are all items like plates or cutlery that could make telltale sounds. The family uses sign language and crafts light signals for emergencies.
       Despite their planning, tragedy strikes when their youngest picks up a noise-making toy and is killed before his parents can reach him.
        After his death, the family splinters. Oldest daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds: Wonderstruck) blames herself and fears her father does as well. Lee draws back, secluding himself in a basement bunker as he seeks a way to defeat the aliens. Pregnant Evelyn must think of a way to deliver her baby silently and keep it from crying. Son Marcus (Noah Jupe: Wonder) is terrified of his own shadow.
       When the Abbotts face another threat, can they pull together? 
      Tense, interesting and well acted, A Quiet Place is one of the rare horror movies that doesn’t need cheap parlor tricks to entertain. Krasinski, who also directs, focuses on a family in crisis, exploring relationships and coping.
        The movie’s silence heightens tension. By crafting a film where sound is deadly, Krasinski plays on audience reaction. Rows of viewers collectively gasp or hold their breath. 
       The cast is also phenomenal. Blunt offers a wonderful, nearly silent performance. Small tremors in her face and shifts of her eyes convey more than some actresses can with pages of dialogue. She also works well with Krasinski, establishing that deep connection among the Abbotts before the alien disaster.
         Simmonds, who is a deaf actress, makes a fierce Regan, who lashes out in hurt and guilt over her part in her brother’s death.
        See the movie, but forgo the popcorn and candy lest you be the loudest thing in the theater.
Great Horror • PG-13 • 90 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
 
Final Portrait
        Portrait artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) is legendary for capturing the essence of his subjects. 
        Writer James Lord (Armie Hammer) leaps at the invitation to sit for a Giacometti portrait. The artist promises to be quick. But in the studio, Lord discovers that an artist, and a portrait session, can’t be rushed.
        Director Stanley Tucci showcases actors and performances more than plot and nuance. A reflection on how torturous the artistic process can be, it’s a movie for anyone who’s ever struggled to complete a project. 
Prospects: Bright • R • 90 mins.
 
I Feel Pretty
        When deeply insecure Renee (Amy Schumer) hits her head, her world changes. She wakes up seeing herself as a physical ideal — and filled with a confidence she never dreamed of. 
        Will newly empowered Renee be able to conquer the world? Or will the patriarchy put her in her place? 
       This comedy about the difference self-assurance can make seems well meaning, the premise being that women allow themselves to be belittled by society and themselves, and when they shed those shackles, anything is possible. Is Schumer the one to execute it?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 110 mins.
 
Super Troopers 2
       When a Canadian border town turns out to be located on our side of the border, the United States government asks the Vermont State Troopers to help secure the town during the power transition, leading to a culture war in a tranquil town. 
       Super Troopers 2 rehashes the crass original, which felt fresh and had some funny moments. It’s a sequel no one really needed. 
Prospects: Dim • R • 100 mins.
 
Traffik
       Brea (Paula Patton) and John (Omar Epps) are enjoying a romantic rural vacation when they run afoul of bikers. Trapped in the remote woods, they must rely on themselves to escape the violent, racist gang hunting them.
         Couple-in-peril plots are staples of the B-movie genre. Traffik has a chance to make a statement with its imperiled black couple hunted by a gang of violent whites.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 96 mins.
 
You Were Never Really Here
        Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) has a particular set of skills. A veteran with stress disorder problems, he works as hired muscle. On a mission to retrieve a senator’s missing daughter, he falls into a conspiracy that make him question the world and his own sanity. 
        Lynne Ramsay directs a dreamlike horror movie that will leave you questioning what you see. It played well at Cannes and has earned a few critical raves. But Ramsay likes to challenge her audiences. Expect ambiguous plots and unflinching depictions of depravity.
Prospects: Bright • R • 89 mins.
A Bay Weekly conversation with Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley 
      Before running for mayor of Annapolis, restaurateur Gavin Buckley ran in high heels and a skirt during a men-in-high-heels sprint at the 2015 Annapolis Fringe Festival. That was nothing out of the ordinary for the South African-born Buckley, who grew up in Perth, West Australia. 
        Ever since coming ashore in Annapolis in 1992, Buckley has been a proponent of all things local, the arts and West Street. He has exerted influence through his ownership and management of several restaurants, Tsunami, Lemongrass and Metropolitan among them. Some of what he’s done has stuck, as did his victory in redefining what’s permissible in Annapolis’ historic district. He cites his controversy with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission over the Agony and Ecstasy mural painted on the exterior of Tsunami as one reason he ran for mayor. Other things — a dog park near upper West Street — never took hold. 
       Buckley’s enthusiasm and vision are forces to be reckoned with. He wants to make Annapolis into an arts, gastronomic, historic and sailing destination. If he can maintain and expand support from the city’s 39,000 residents and thousands more who live outside the city’s 8.1 square miles, many of the ideas he favors could gain enough traction to change the face of the 10th oldest city in the United States.
       Bay Weekly spoke to Buckley about three months into his first year as mayor. The interview that follows has been edited for length and clarity.
 
Bay Weekly You’ve often talked about the dynamic of drawing locals in and tourists following. How do you see that working?
Gavin Buckley Starting from the top would be keeping the Sailing Hall of Fame here. We call ourselves the Sailing Capital of America, and if we’re not willing to put our money where our mouth is, we should take the sign down. Whether [the hall of fame is] housed in a boutique hotel or not, the sailing industry, the boating industry need to feel supported by the administration.
        A City Dock boutique hotel is an idea I’m putting forth. Called The Maritime, maybe it could be four stories, maybe it could have a rooftop that looks over Spa Creek, some conference rooms or meeting space above the Sailing Hall of Fame. 
 
Bay Weekly How does that vision extend beyond the boating industry to people who live here?
Gavin Buckley The main thing I want to focus on is the plaza that we create, called Lafayette Square, and how we program that plaza. It would still have to be hardscape that you could fit the Boat Show in, that you could pull a tour bus up to to drop people off and then pull out again. But it should be mainly for pedestrians, and there should be things for pedestrians to do. We’ve taken the team down to the wharf in D.C. to see how they’ve programmed a pretty much blighted waterfront area and turned it around.
        We’re bringing in Fred Kent, a famous place-making guy that was here seven years ago to do another presentation. The next day, we’re going to bring him back, put a big tent at City Dock and have a workshop that anyone will be invited to. That workshop can be about how we feel our public space here wants to look, so it’s organic, it comes from the people who live here. It comes from the locals … And you’re a local if you live in Arnold or Crownsville or Edgewater … it’s still your downtown, so getting people invested in it and committed to it, that’s our goal.
        Going up Main Street, we envision a bike path and a trolley line coming down one side of Main Street. We envision expanding the sidewalk and creating outdoor cafes coming down — on the right-hand side — from the Treaty of Paris all the way to Acme and Chick & Ruths.
 
Bay Weekly City Dock is vulnerable to sea level rise. What measures are you planning to counter rising waters and the issues that come with them?
Gavin Buckley The historic district and the water are two of our greatest assets, but the water is also our greatest threat. We have to be mindful of that or we won’t have a historic district. 
        We’re talking about a nine-foot increase. We have to prepare for that. We will appoint a resiliency officer or director who will focus on how we do that. How we’re going to deal with it is to identify the city’s assets, cultural and physical, and the city’s needs and prepare for the next 50 years. Then we’re going to come up with plans that involve the private sector.
 
Bay Weekly Have you gotten to the hows?
Gavin Buckley We should incentivize an international contest. You look at what they’ve done in the Netherlands and in countries that have had to stop big masses of water. If we put a big idea out there and included the county in the plan, we could do things that involve dikes or things like that that could save massive communities that sit on the Severn River or Spa Creek.
        Take the boutique hotel idea. If we put the parking underground, and we put the last level of parking six, eight, 10 feet above grade, that could be the creation of a sea wall for the historic district, if we decide to go that route.
         Using the private sector will be a big thing for us and bundling, coming up with ideas that are blessed by the city, maybe some even pre-permitted by the city, and taking them to the private sector so that we get civic investment is the goal.
 
Bay Weekly In terms of mitigating climate change, you say you’d like fewer vehicles. How will you move people around?
Gavin Buckley The trolleys — we’d like them to be electric. We would like to audit all the city buildings for efficiencies and try to operate those in terms of that. Getting people out of cars and making it a much more walkable city. We like the Danish model. We like it that half their country goes to work on a bike. So if you make bike paths safe, it’s a consideration. We’ve got two bike bridges planned and pretty neat bike paths that go from the historic district down to the mall and from the Poplar Trail to the B&A Trail, from the library over to Quiet Waters Park. We’ve got a lot of ideas like that that can move people around without burning fossil fuel.
 
Bay Weekly How would the city work with the county to do some of these things?
Gavin Buckley Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has a ­dedicated bike specialist on staff. He’s been talking about bringing the B&A Trail to the stadium. I have to intersect that with a bike path across College Creek that intersects it from the downtown area. We have to work together — use Open Space money to fund certain things.
 
Bay Weekly How do you foresee integrating green technologies into areas managed by the Historic Preservation Commission? Will that require changes to ordinances?
Gavin Buckley We have to consider substitute materials. We have to consider whether the environment trumps preservation in some things. I’m hoping to appoint somebody with that kind of experience on the historic preservation board soon. Then maybe somebody with a building background, too, who understands changes from that angle.
 
Bay Weekly How do you propose integrating more of the city’s history into everyday spaces to develop a greater sense of community?
Gavin Buckley The Market House is going to be a central area for everybody in the town, whatever race, rich or poor, I think it’s going to be a town center again.
        We need to do events that are inclusive. We’ve done that on West Street, and we should do that downtown as well. Kids in marginalized communities should get to see role models who’ve come out of this town and done great things, and know what a rich history we have. We have a mural coming up, Daniel Hale Williams coming to West Street, near Asbury United Methodist Church. He wasn’t just the first African American, but the first person to do successful heart surgery. Another mural we’re trying to do is Thurgood Marshall next to the courthouse. And another is [local DJ] Hoppy Adams; Chick & Ruths is another wall where we can do that. So just some inspirational characters who’ve come out of here. 
 
Bay Weekly You’ve mentioned wanting to create a no-discharge zone all around Annapolis.
Gavin Buckley We’re formulating it with the county because they’re on the same page. I want people to realize that we care about the water. This is a good place to swim. I get frustrated when people say, I’m not swimming there. I’m not eating anything from there. Cities and countries all over the planet with waters all around industrial towns bring them back to pristine condition. We should be fighting for that, too. With Steve Schuh, we’re working on legalities and how we craft it. I know it’s going to affect some boating businesses, but I think we’ll gain more than we’ll lose. 
 
Bay Weekly Through what specific ways do you intend to bring people together?
Gavin Buckley We all need to get to know each other a lot better. My staff are diverse. We are inclusive — age-inclusive, race-inclusive, sexual preference-inclusive. It’s about leadership and how you conduct yourself. Events are diverse. We just did a big plaque at City Hall that celebrates all the elected African American officials in city government; the first-ever elected African American in the state of Maryland was a city councilor. Next we’re going to do another plaque next to that for all the women that have been voted to city council — and just start to draw attention to the fact that other people have worked much harder to get there as opposed to us old white guys. I get mad at old white guys, then I realize I am one. (Laughs.)
 
Bay Weekly Which cities do you look toward for the things you would like to do?
Gavin Buckley The Austins, the Boulders, the Charlestons, the Burlingtons, the Ashevilles. Even locally, Frederick’s done well the last couple of decades. I read up on different mayors and best practices. If I see a good idea, I bring it to our team and see what they think.
 
Bay Weekly Speaking of ideas …
Gavin Buckley We love ideas. Just because we put an idea out there doesn’t mean it’s going to happen; it’s the start of a conversation. I defi­nitely don’t surround myself with people that just think the same way I do. I need other people’s perspectives. If the majority of people don’t like something, we don’t do it. But I think we have a lot of untapped potential and need to try things.
 
Bay Weekly What’s the best way for people to reach you?
Gavin Buckley [email protected] We go through the emails every couple of days, or if there’s a meeting needed, set them up.