Thursday, October 27, 2022
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who appeared together in In Bruges (2008), reunite in The Banshees of Inisherin, the story of two former friends living on a fictional island off the coast of Ireland.
Monday, October 24, 2022
My Policeman deals with the sadness of lives that have been deformed by laws and values that changed too late for its principal characters to reap the benefits of social advancement. The movie examines the relationship between two men and a woman during the 1950s, a time when homosexuality was against the law in Britain. We meet the same characters in the late 1990s after the law and attitudes have evolved. Based on a novel by Bethan Roberts, the movie uses two sets of actors to play its characters as young people and as senior citizens. Emma Corrin plays the young woman in this triangle with Harry Styles and David Dawson playing the men. In this case, the older actors (Linus Roach, Gina McKee, and Rupert Everett) don’t look enough like their younger counterparts to keep from being a debilitating distraction. Director Michael Grandage keeps the tone steady as Styles’ Tom (a policeman by trade) and Dawson’s Patrick (a museum curator) negotiate the difficulties of being gay in a country that won’t allow them to be themselves, something that Tom has trouble with on his own. Looking for cover and continuity, Tom marries Corrin’s Marian. Unsurprisingly, the two don’t live happily ever after. In the '90s scenes, Patrick -- disabled by a stroke -- is brought by Marion to share Tom and Marion's Brighton home. My Policeman asks us to feel the weight of suppression that warps the lives of three people but the story’s tight focus and split narrative produce a dreary, often stale affair.
Thursday, October 20, 2022
George Clooney and Julia Roberts go to Bali in Ticket To Paradise, a star-driven romcom with a sitcom-level plot. Clooney and Roberts play divorced parents who want to prevent their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) from marrying a seaweed farmer (Maxime Bouttier) she meets on a post-college vacation in Bali. The parents fear their daughter is repeating the mistake they made when their marriage ended after five years. The scenery (the movie was shot in Australia) proves pleasant and seaweed farming never has looked more idyllic. Then again, it's a low bar because few Hollywood movies (if any) have referenced an occupation that may have grown with the rise of health-food marketing. To complicate matters, Roberts' Georgia is dating a younger man (Lucas Bravo), an airline pilot who wants to marry her. He shows up in Bali, too. But we know that the top-billed bickering stars are destined to reunite. Clooney’s David and Georgia concoct various silly schemes (including theft of the wedding rings) as they try to derail the pending nuptials. Silly stuff, yes, but not especially amusing. In all, Ticket to Paradise stands as an undemanding mediocrity in which Clooney delivers wisecracks and Roberts fires back. Oh well, everyone looks nice, the warm waters appear inviting, a bit of Balinese tradition finds its way onto the screen, and no one ever mentions how much the hotel and airfare may have cost.
Dwayne Johnson finds a superpower showcase in Black Adam, the latest entry into the DC Comics Universe. Johnson plays a character with superpowers but his Adam also has a vengeful side, which is supposed to make him more interesting — at least on paper.
Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne give strong performances in The Good Nurse, a reality-based thriller grounded in the hospital environment in which two intensive-care nurses ply their trade.
Tar, an intensely realized drama starring Cate Blanchett as a revered conductor, extends beyond the world of classical music to take a penetrating look at the ultra-successful career of Lydia Tar, a fictional character who represents what we've come to regard as star power.
Thursday, October 13, 2022
In Stars at Noon, director Claire Denis' latest serving of ambiguous drama, Margaret Qualley plays Trish, an American journalist stranded in Nicaragua. Having had her passport seized, Trish relies on a government connection and on her personal wiles to survive. She raises cash by charging for sex, primarily with a Nicaraguan soldier.
Friday, October 7, 2022
The Nakam was a clandestine group of Jewish Holocaust survivors who wanted to make Germans pay for what they’d done to European Jewry. The group planned to poison the water supply of post-war Nuremberg, considering it an act of justifiable revenge. Not all Jews agreed. The Haganah, a Zionist military organization that also operated in post-war Germany, worried that a Nakam success would turn the world against any attempt to establish a Jewish state. August Diehl anchors the story as Max, a survivor who lost his wife and child during the Holocaust. Will Max choose revenge or a more enduring response; i.e., a victory for the fledgling state of Israel? That’s the moral territory that directors Dorn and Yoav Paz stake out. The setup couldn't be more interesting. The movie that follows? Not so much. Michael Aloni plays a Haganah operative who asks Max to infiltrate the Nakam ranks so that the poisoning plot can be disrupted. Sylvia Hoeks portrays Anna, a woman who works with the Nakam and faces her own moral crisis. In sum: intriguing subject but the movie isn't nearly as compelling as the questions it raises, perhaps because it fails to bring the drama to an exciting and suspenseful conclusion. Plan A begins by asking us what what we'd do in similar circumstances but doesn't do enough to involve us in the struggle the characters face as they move toward moments of grave consequence.
The Storied Life of A.J. FikryGently manipulative, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry combines sadness and sentiment in ways that make the movie feel formatted and formulaic. A.J. Fikry (Kunai Nayyar) runs a book store on an island off the Massachusetts coast. Mired in grief for his late wife, A.J. tries to drown his feelings with drink. Things begin to change when a publisher’s rep (Lucy Hale) tries to interest Fikry in her line. She's particularly enthusiastic about a book in which an old man acknowledges grief and loss. The heart of the movie involves an infant who's left in A.J.'s store. A.J. adopts the infant. The grim clouds hanging over A.J.'s life begin to lift, even though a rare copy of Edgar Allan Poe's Tamerlane has been stolen from his apartment. It was supposed to pay for A.J.’s retirement. The story covers A.J.'s life as his young charge grows into her teenage years. A.J. also begins a relationship with Hale's Amelia. Christina Hendricks portrays A.J.'s sister-in-law and David Arquette plays the good-hearted local sheriff. Sprinkled with literary references, the movie eventually tells us how an infant landed in A.J.'s life. But sentiment overcomes sense the longer director Hans Canosa's movie goes on. Based on a popular novel by Gabrielle Zevin, the movie eventually dissolves into a soon-forgotten sigh.