Las Vegas film critic Josh Bell is reviewing 2 movies this week.
I've got two movies this week about characters in impoverished communities striving for better lives. First up is In the Heights, now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Based on Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit Broadway musical, In the Heights is set in the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights, home to a close-knit Latino community. Main character Usnavi (played by Anthony Ramos) runs a corner store and dreams of moving back to his family's home in the Dominican Republic. Like the stage production, the movie captures the joy and generosity of the community, along with catchy, vibrant musical numbers. Director Jon M. Chu brings cinematic flair to the production, making it a grand spectacle that's more than just a direct adaptation of the stage version. That's In the Heights, now in theaters and on HBO Max.
Now playing at the Art Houz Theaters downtown and available for video on demand rental is the festival favorite indie drama Holler. Set in a rundown Ohio town, Holler stars Jessica Barden as Ruth Avery, a smart and introspective teenager with ambitions beyond the cycle of pverty and addiction that surrounds her. Ruth's potential future and the pull of her past create the drama's central tension in writer-director Nicole Riegel's debut feature. Although Holler tells a coming-of-age story that is relatively familiar, Riegel captures the hardscrabble setting and the characters' crushing poverty with admirable clarity and sensitivity. That's Holler, now at Art Houz and on VOD.