Movies

Now showing in Taos: 'The Art of Racing in the Rain'

A dog prepares for his next life by watching a race car driver move through the challenges in his own

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 9/1/19

I hate movies about dogs. Not because I think they’re intrinsically all bad. I just know dogs and for all the love and attention we give them, fate

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Movies

Now showing in Taos: 'The Art of Racing in the Rain'

A dog prepares for his next life by watching a race car driver move through the challenges in his own

Posted

I hate movies about dogs.

Not because I think they’re intrinsically all bad. I just know dogs and for all the love and attention we give them, fate always takes their short little lives away just as we’ve gotten to really know them.

And, I know movies. For a successful movie to exist there must be conflict and a series of emotional arcs. This means in a movie centered on dogs something bad is going to happen. It always does. And, then I’m left a stupid wreck. That’s why.

The makers of “The Art of Racing in the Rain” must know there are people like me in the audience because their movie begins at the end, and in so doing they get the hardest part out of the way so they can tell their tale without that inevitability hanging over our heads. Fat chance.

While it is admirable, and very well acted by its principals Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Baker, Martin Donavan and Kevin Costner as the voice of Enzo, the dog, it’s a melodramatic roller coaster built around the premise that for a dog to become reincarnated as a human, he or she must be prepared. They must learn as much as they can about humanity: our needs, drives, inspirations, and our faults. Only after all that will their little souls move on.

So, Enzo the dog finds his purpose when Denny Swift (Ventimiglia) picks him out of a litter of pups and takes him home. Denny is a race car driver and mechanic, which tells you right away the risks in his job will create some built-in conflicts, but Denny has an edge. He has figured out a way to drive in the rain that never fails him and as long as he uses that technique on the track, he’s fine. It’s when he fails to use it in life that he hits proverbial brick walls.

Part of that emerges when he meets and falls in love with an English-as-a-foreign language teacher named Eve (Seyfried). Then, they get married and have a sweet little daughter named Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). All along, Enzo watches and observes, and helps when he can. But when he sniffs the fatal odor of cancer, he cannot and that becomes one of his greatest inner tragedies.

Based upon a New York Times best seller by Garth Stein and directed by Simon Curtis, the movie is uplifting and rather inspiring at times, but keep those hankies ready. It’s gonna a tough ride at times. And, if you have a dog waiting for you at home, hug them extra tight. You just never know.

Tempo grade: B+

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” is rated PG for thematic material.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos.

Spider-Man: Far from Home Extended

MPAA rating: PG for rude humor and action.

From our review first published July. 7. This new release adds about 4-5 minutes of new footage.

At the outset, the new Spider-Man movie acknowledges the cataclysmic events of the Avengers’ “Infinity Wars” — which (spoiler alert) dealt with half the population of the universe disappearing — and “Endgame” when, five years later, they put things right again at great cost.

In Spidey’s world, this incident became known as “The Blip.” Those lost five years meant the people who came back had not aged, and so relationships, marriages, businesses, finances, government, everything took a hit because it. For Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), it means (spoiler alert, again) he still mourns the death of Tony Stark/Iron Man, his mentor.

Despite the fact that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) of S.H.I.E.L.D. want to re-form The Avengers with Spider-Man, Peter Parker, the teenager, just wants to pursue a romantic relationship with M.J. (Zendaya) if he can ever find a place or time to be alone with her. That might finally happen when Peter signs-onto a class trip that will take him — and M.J. — to Europe.

This also coincides with the latest super-villain threat and Nick’s urgency to get Spider-Man involved to help fight it. Helping the effort is a new ally named Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), who claims to be from an alternate universe in which the earth was destroyed by the evil super villain.

Where this movie falls off the rails is in spending a lot of time on Peter’s comic misadventures trying to get M.J. alone so he can express his feelings for her and on playing cute with the plot twist you can see a mile off involving Quentin Beck. Unfortunately, the same fate that befell the last X-Men movie may hit this one due either to super-hero fatigue on the part of audiences or the inability of Marvel to come up with interesting stories worthy of their attention.

Personally, the animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” now playing on Netflix, is still my favorite so far. Stay put at the end for two end-credit scenes that changes what you’ve just seen by quite a bit.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Note: There is no film this week at the Taos Community Auditorium.

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