Friday, February 9, 2018

Weekend Movie Guide

Daniel Vega stars in A Fantastic Woman

Lady Bird - 4 Stars. Greta Gerwig directs a spot-on mother/daughter battle, during a young woman's high school senior year. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf deliver award-worthy performances.

Darkest Hour - 4 Stars. Set in May 1940, as Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister and ignores the advice to negotiate with Hitler.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - 4 Stars. Caustic, often shock comedy, starring Frances McDormand as a woman at war with the town police over the unsolved murder of her daughter.

I, Tonya - 4 Stars. Margot Robbie dazzles as hard scrabble Olympic skater and tabloid queen Tonya Harding.

Phantom Thread - 4 Stars. 1950s fashion artist Daniel Day-Lewis finds his match in waitress Vicky Krieps. Hitchcock would have loved this power struggle romance.

The Post - 3½ Stars. The Washington Post defies the government, and publishes the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Stirring newspaper drama, as well as inspiring rise of Katherine Graham as publisher/leader.

Call Me by Your Name - 3½ Stars. Beautifully filmed, languid Italian summer romance.

Black Panther---3 1/2 Stars.  Chadwick Boseman breathes life into a new and exciting super hero.  As king of a little known African nation he can bring peace and power to the world, but first he must settle a family score.

Wonder - 3 Stars. Family-friendly story of a 5th grader, born with facial deformities, trading home schooling for private school. Jacob Tremblay makes this story winning, with Julia Robert and Owen Wilson as his parents. Told from different points of view, it avoids sentimentality, remaining both funny and real.

Coco - 3 Stars. Pixar takes a deep dive into Mexican culture, in this eye-popping story of a little boy searching for his roots.

The Insult - A construction worker and a mechanic get into an argument over a drainpipe. Set in Lebanon, it pits a Christian party member against a Palestinian. Deft storytelling, subtitled.

The Shape of Water - 3 Stars. Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning woman, who comes to the aid of a sea creature captured during the Cold War.

A Fantastic Woman - 3 Stars. A transgender woman cannot grieve the sudden death of her partner, because of his family and a repressive South American society. Dreamlike and beautifully made, but a little too coy at times.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - 2½ Stars. Echoes the best elements of the earlier Star Wars films. Runs long and loud. Fans won't mind.

Molly's Game - 2½ Stars. Jessica Chastain spins a pretty good story about an Olympic hopeful, turned gambling queen. Aaron Sorkin's script starts interesting, but turns exhausting.

Fifty Shades Freed - 2 Stars. Concludes the series, thank Heavens!

12 Strong - 2 Stars. Patriotic based-on-fact story of the special forces team that joined an Afghanistan warlord to fight the Taliban in the weeks following 9/11. Long and hard to follow.

Hostiles - 2 Stars. Christian Bale is ordered to escort Indian Chief Wes Studi back to his homeland to die. Slow and predictable.

Justice League - 2 Stars. Charismatic Gal Gadot returns as Wonder Woman, and joins Batman and several others in another of the usual formula plots to save the world.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure - 1 Star. Same old, same old young adult dystopian flesh-eating zombies conclusion.