Battle of the Sexes tells us the story of the match and the drama behind the match and the agony felt by Billie Jean and Bobby leading up to the match. Battle of the Sexes is an excellent portrayal of those events, with very fine performances by the two leads and the major supporting actors.
In the Netherlands, in the early 1600s, there was a phenomenon taking place called tulip-mania. The lovely flower had been brought from Asia to the Netherlands, which was a leading economic power at that time.
Logan Lucky is an interesting variance on the Hollywood practice of making movies that are sequels, or remakes of popular films of the past. Director Steven Soderbergh has put a new twist on that strategy. He gives us, in Logan Lucky, a replay of his successful Ocean’s Eleven (2001) that takes place in a different world.
Wind River in Wyoming is one of the largest Native American Reservations. In this movie, based on real events, Jeremy Renner plays a wildlife tracker, Cory Lambert. He is a resident of the reservation. He was married to a Native American woman and had two children.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a very noisy, international killing adventure with guns of all sorts being fired almost continuously. And between gun battles, there are killings by lots of other means — knife, club, martial arts, etc.
An outstanding cast delivers outstanding performances in The Glass Castle, the true-to-life story about a troubled family, unaware of their sad plight. The movie is based on the memoir of Jeannette Walls, one of the children in the family who grew up to be a successful magazine columnist in New York. That role, played by Ella Anderson as a child and Brie Larson as the adult, provides the perspective of the story.
Charlize Theron, the very beautiful and talented actress, has embraced the Jason Bourne genre of films, and under director David Leitch taken it a few steps up. In Atomic Blonde, Theron is Lorraine Broughton, a British M-16 espionage operative, sent to Berlin on a mission.
The Big Sick is a story about a couple who meet and fall in love. They are of the ‘millennial’ generation and the story is embedded in that culture. As much as they feel for each other, we don’t hear the words, “I love you” and there is no commitment or mention of marriage. This atmosphere is not disturbing, nor does it detract from the fine quality of the film.
The Beguiled is not like so many current films with heavy concentration on action, destruction and massive shootouts. There are many scenes with lots of suspense but that is founded more on personalities and the plot is loaded with mostly quiet sexual tensions.
In this film season, when emphasis is on features aimed at younger audiences, Baby Driver fits into that class, but at a much higher level of quality, interest and sophistication. Baby Driver is loaded with action and excitement without the use of computer generated images. The story keeps our attention sharply, often as we cling to the edge of our seats. And for sophistication, the characters are not simply dumb, crooked robots.
Megan Leavey is a movie based on the true story of a woman in the Marines and the dog she leads in detecting explosives and firearms. It is an outstanding film with a great performance by Kate Mara who plays the title character. The war scenes are in local skirmishes, away from major battlefields, and introduced with nail-biting suspense.
Wonder Woman is a film that brings some mixed feelings about watching it for 2+ hours. There are the traditional segments of intense, over-the-top action, with extensive crash-bang CGI sequences that adhere to the legend of the woman of wonder. She is the super hero ‘woman of steel’ devoted to justice and peace. There is nothing I would criticize about this aspect of the film. It is what to expect if you have followed any of Wonder Woman’s career since her comic book inception in the mid-1940s.
Everything, Everything is the type of movie that gives us a peek into a dark side of life, and the discovery that there is still a path to joy and happiness. Everything, Everything is not as syrupy as one might expect, but it does have some schmaltzy aspects.
Gifted is a movie that will satisfy the longing for good family fare, with very good acting, and scripted to keep us engaged and surprised throughout. The ‘gifted’ one is a seven-year old girl, Mary Adler (MacKenna Grace), who is a math genius, matching and surpassing the ability of college math majors.
Going in Style is a film that reminds us why we go to the movies — for entertainment. This may not be the best movie of the year, but it is far from the worst and it delivers entertainment: fun, friendship, getting the most out of life, love with our children and grandchildren and even some suspense. And there are a few surprises in the plot.
Beauty and the Beast is a remake, with live actors, of the classic 1991 Disney animated film. Having said that, I want to stay focused on this production and leave comparisons to those of you who remember the original.
The Shack is a film based on a very popular, best-selling book, about a man whose happy, fulfilled life is suddenly, tragically upended. Mack (Sam Worthington) and Nan Phillips (Radha Mitchel) have a wonderfully happy marriage with three children — teens Kate and Josh, and young Missy. Mack is a loving and attentive father to the threesome, especially to the precocious Missy. It is in contrast to Mack’s own childhood where he and his mother were treated brutally by his alcoholic father.
I loved this movie. I hated this movie. I loved it because it is a powerful exposé of a major problem in America — now and historically — and how slowly that is changing. I hated it because it was so painful to see how a couple, a pair of honest, law abiding, hard-working, kind citizens were persecuted, ‘lawfully,’ because they did not adhere to the racial standards of their state, one of the United States of America.
My view of the cinema world in 2016 was a bit dismal. There were too many films that were of the same, smash-bang action-oriented, Marvel comics, super-gory horror themes, etc. But in the fall, along came a stream of Golden Globe and Academy Award possibilities. The sun began to shine on movie theaters and their box offices, and on my personal cinematic pleasure.
Lion is the true story of a boy in India who undergoes various episodes that threaten his well-being or even his life. His name is Saroo and he is 5 years old in the 1980s. He lives in a slum area in a hovel for a home, with his mother, a younger sister and an older brother.
20th Century Women is a story that illustrates three historic social times in America. Each era — the mid-20th century, hippie America and the post baby-boomer era is represented by a character in the film. It takes place in Santa Barbara, California in 1979. Annette Bening is Dorothea, a 55-year old divorcee with a 15-year old son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann). Jamie has little memory of his father, who left after he was born.
Moonlight is a film that is mesmerizing in the way it keeps us involved with, and in, the life of a boy as he grows from grade school age to an adult. It is difficult to take your attention away from the screen but there is no humor or entertainment. What we see is how a person struggles to survive in an environment where he is a misfit, and can’t find where he does fit.
A fence refers to the separation between properties, but in this film, it is also a metaphor for mental and emotional barriers that keep people apart. In Fences, Denzel Washington is Troy Maxson, who is the focus of the story and the center of his family and friends we meet.
Hidden Figures is a clever title for this story. ‘Figures’ relates to mathematical issues and to people, while ‘hidden’ tells us these issues and the people have been generally unknown to most of us since they were great heroes in the space race against the Soviet Union. Hidden Figures is an excellent depiction of a critical part of the American space program.
Collateral Beauty is a story that digs into and shows the depth of grieving for a lost loved one, and the recovery to appreciate the remaining positive aspects of life — the collateral beauty.
Allied is a film that embodies wartime activities behind the full blown battlefield scenes. Allied is a movie that holds our interest by setting up an unexpected wartime romance and then introduces a major speed bump on the road to eternal bliss.
After an absence from film-making for almost 20 years, Warren Beatty returns with a masterful portrayal of Howard Hughes in this very good, well-mounted production.
Over the years we have seen many films that have the same theme as A Man Called Ove, where a bitter, crabby, unfriendly person is gradually changed into a kind and warmhearted neighbor.
Arrival is a sci-fi film in the same category as Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). My take on that great film was, “A true story that just hasn’t happened yet.” Arrival has the same basic theme, and is equally compelling.
Inferno is the third of Dan Brown’s novels about Dr. Robert Langdon, from Cambridge.