Friday, November 9, 2018
"Boy Erased" stars up and coming Lucas Hedges as a sexually unsure 19 year old sent to gay conversion therapy. The movies gets a boost from an excellent cast, including Lucas Hedges as the kid, and Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe as his parents. Based on the memoir of Gerrard Conley, the story boils down to a father son conflict. As the father, Russell Crowe manages to convey love for his his son while unable to rise above his assumed alpha male status. In real life Conley's fther is a car dealer and Baptist preacher. Gay conversion camp feels like a concentration camp, with Joel Edgerton (who also directed) as the chief villain. I doubt "Boy Erased" will change any minds, but it avoids a sledgehammer approach. "Boy Erased" 2 1/2 Stars Rated "R". Does it deliver what it promises? Family drama with nuance. Is it entertaining? Good performances. Is it worth the price of admission? this one's up to you.
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Rosamund Pike tackles the life of war correspondent Marie Colvin, who covered a decade of middle East conflict and paid for it with her left eye, alcolism, and a bad case of war PTSD. Colvin cut a dashing figure with her eye patch and brusque manner which Pike works to capture. The script often falls into cliches including the one about journalism as the first draft of history. Pike attempts to reconstruct Colvin's voice, but the result sounds a little like Murphy Brown. The contrast of her dangerous work and hard driving social life gets exhausting. There's a good story in here about a brave woman that doesn't quite emerge. "A Private War" Rated "R" 1 Star. Does it deliver what it promises? War Story that goes for the cliches. Is it entertaining? Hard to watch. Is it worth the price of admission? Not a hit, but rather a miss.
Thursday, November 1, 2018
"Bohemian Rhapsody" celebrates Freddie Mercury and Queen with a winning mixture of cliché and bravado. It's hard to take your eyes off Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, and not just because of the outrageous, oversized teeth he wears. Malik captures Freddie's joy and swagger, and the music takes care of the rest. You won't learn much of anything in this biography, but you will watch the band create some of the most outrageous music of the 70s. The finale replicates Queen's 20-minute set at the 1985 Live Aid concert. "And then I wrote,""And then we played." "And then this happened" has never been so fun. "Bohemian Rhapsody," 3½ stars, rated "PG-13." Does it deliver what it promises? Yes, the music. Is it entertaining? Fascinating. Is it worth the price of admission? The next best thing to being there.
There's this German ballet company and Tilda Swinton runs it, so you know something weird's underway. Tilda is the head of a witches' coven. They dance, and worship Lucifer. Dakota Johnson arrives, and we worry for her safety until the plot twists. "Suspiria" slaps some other plot lines on us, including terrorism, the Holocaust, and a Mennonite woman who fears her daughter. "Suspiria" has two major scenes. In one, a disgraced dancer breaks her arms and legs during a modern dance and winds up looking like a rag doll. The other is full-scale, all-nude, blood-covered devil worship. "Suspiria" runs too long, has too many plots, and feels silly. Director Luca Guadagnino has long wanted to remake the original, a 1977 far-out freak show. He has made some wonderful films including "Call Me By Your Name" and "A Bigger Splash," but "Suspiria" is not one of them. "Suspiria," 1 star, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Not even close. Is it entertaining? Long, boring and weird. Is it worth the price of admission? Skip it.
Friday, October 26, 2018
Melissa McCarthy fans will love the darker character she inhabits in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" As writer Lee Israel, she's down on her luck, angry, drinks too much, and grabs at straws. Fate hands her an opportunity, when she finds an old letter written by a long gone celebrity, and discovers there's money in memorabilia. Soon, McCarthy (as Israel) puts together a celebrity assembly line... old paper, elderly typewriters, and her own biting voice, capable of channeling Dorothy Parker, Fanny Brice, and Edna Ferber. The crime, by the way, is called forging. "Can you Ever Forgive Me?" recreates the world of antiquarian book stores and autograph collectors, of shady bars and shady inhabitants, including a star turn from Richard E. Grant as Lee's drinking companion and partner in crime. "Can you ever Forgive Me?" turns the rise and fall of a desperate writer fun and satisfying. "Can you ever Forgive Me?" 3½ stars, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Great story and great part for Melissa McCarthy. Is it entertaining? Enthralling. Is it worth the price of admission? See it.
Viewers who expect "Mid90's" to deliver a Jonah Hill-signature nostalgic comedy will leave disappointed. Hill makes his directing debut in "Mid90s," while staying off camera. Sunny Suljic stars as Stevie, a 13-year-old growing up in one of L.A.'s poorer suburbs with little supervision other than an older brother (Lucas Hedges) who regularly beats him up, and a young mother (Katherine Waterston) who comes in and out of focus. The kid finds a group of skateboarding friends and ultimately finds himself. The adventures include petty crime, danger, and bodily harm. At 84 minutes long and presented on blurry 16mm film stock, "Mid90s" feels like a student film. In fairness, it shows Jonah Hill's promise as a director. "Mid90s," 1 star, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Not quite a complete film. Is it entertaining? Slightly. Is it worth the price of admission? Not quite.