WRITTEN BY NATHAN LERNER
For Digital First Media
“The Longest Ride”
Nicholas Sparks has discovered the formula for becoming a successful novelist. “The Longest Ride” is his seventeenth best-seller and the ninth to be adapted for the screen.
“The Longest Ride” revolves around a young couple and their unlikely relationship with an elderly man. Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson) is a co-ed at Wake Forest University. She is about to commence her dream job, working in a New York City art gallery.
Then, Sophia meets Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood), a one-time rodeo champion, who is attempting a comeback. Luke is different than any man, whom Sophia has ever met. She is immediately smitten with him. However, their conflicting values and aspirations threaten to unravel their relationship.
Enter Ira Levinson (Alan Alda), nonagenarian, who was recently involved in a car accident. Will his account of his decades long marriage somehow inspire the younger couple to stay together? You don’t need to be Nostradamus to correctly predict that one.
Sparks and Craig Bolotin tuned the former’s novel into a screenplay. Chances are that it will channel the source novel’s melodrama. The film is helmed by George Tillman, Jr. (“Soul Food,” “Notorious”). His filmmography makes him a somewhat curious selection for this genre.
Opens wide on April 10. PG-13 (for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action) 139 minutes. 20th Century Fox
“Once in a Lifetime”
To mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival will present “Once in a Lifetime” as part of their CineMondays program.
Based on a true story, it depicts Anne Guergen (Ariane Ascaride), a history teacher in a public high school. Her class consists of a racially diverse mix from predominantly underprivileged backgrounds.
Guergen enters her class into a national competition. The theme of the contest is children and adolescent victims of Nazi concentration camps. Will her students learn anything in the process, that reduces the tensions between them?
Playing on Monday, April 13 at the International House of Philadelphia (3701 Chestnut Street). No MPAA rating. 105 minutes. In French with English subtitles.
“Salt of the Earth”
This Oscar-nominated documentary profiles Brazilian photographer, Sebastião Salgado. Over the past four decades, Salgado has visited over a hundred countries. In his role as a photographer, he has captured international conflicts, environmental destruction, and a variety of social issues, including starvation.
Currently, Salgado has embarked on a new project. While they still exist, Salgado is visiting pristine areas of the planet. He is documenting the wild flora and fauna that still exist there.
“Salt of the Earth” is co-directed by Wim Wenders (“Wings of Desire”) and the subject’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. They alternate in narrating the tribute to the man, both of them both admire.
Opens April 10 at the Ritz 5 (214 Walnut Street) PG-13 (for thematic material involving disturbing images of violence and human suffering, and for nudity) 110 minutes. Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by Kornél Mundruczó, this Hungarian drama revolves a mixed breed dog, Hagen. His human guardian is 13-year girl, Lili (Zsófia Psotta). When she moves in with her father, he jettisons the dog to circumvent the government’s mongrel fee. Hagen attracts a pack of other mixed breed dogs. Will they rise up against their human oppressors? Imagine a canine version of “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”
“White Dog” debuted at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Prize Un Certain Regard. It was Hungary’s submission to the 87th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.
Opens April 10 at the Ritz Bourse (4th and Ranstead streets). 121 minutes. Magnolia Pictures. In Hungarian with English subtitles.
“While We’re Young”
This is the latest film from writer/director Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “Frances Ha”). No doubt, it will involve the auteur’s usual penchant for infusing serious issues with jocularity.
Coincidentally, like “The Longest Ride,” which also comes out this week, it involves two couples, who are divided by a generational gap. The similarities end there. “The Longest Ride” is a mainstream romantic drama set in North Carolina with traditional characters. “While We’re Young” is a zany romantic comedy in New York City full of an amalgam of offbeat individuals.
Ben Stiller is a middle-aged documentarian, who has been struggling for a decade to complete his film. He is married to Naomi Watts, who works as a producer for her father (Charles Grodin) an acclaimed documentarian. He is about to be feted at a Lincoln Center testimonial.
Stiller and Watts meet a twenty-something couple, Adam Driver (from “Girls”) and Amanda Seyfried. He’s also a documentarian and fawns over Stiller. She makes ice cream in an array of farfetched flavors. How will the couples interact?
“While We’re Young” has all the earmarks of an art house release. That’s where Baumbach’s releases have usually played. However, this time around, his film will be shown in multiplexes.
Opens wide on April 10. R (for language) 97 minutes. A24 Films
Nathan Lerner sees over 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org