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Movies at a Glance & New DVDs

 
 

  

                                                                     MOVIES AT A GLANCE.

For NEW DVDs click HERE                                                                           

THERE ARE 5 NEW REVIEWS THIS WEEK:  FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD,              THE FRONT RUNNER, OUTLAW KING, A PRIVATE WAR, WIDOWS.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
(2hrs 14min) *** The biopic of British rock group Queen earned unanimous praise for Rami Malek as lead singer Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara. Early in life living with his parents, Freddie was a luggage handler in Heathrow. He formed a close relationship with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) – they were engaged briefly - and they remained friends till his death. He was a fan of the group Smile: guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), bass player John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello), and became their lead singer, naming the group Queen. They sold their van to afford recording a successful album and Elton John’s manager John Reid (Aiden Gillen) booked them on a US tour. In 1974 they attained international success with albums Sheer Heart Attack and A Night at the Opera featuring Bohemian Rhapsody. The band’s popularity continued through the ‘90s but soured when Freddie’s change of attitude caused a rift over years till their highly acclaimed reunion for 1985’s Band Aid. The second half basically without music has long dull sequences and Freddie’s homosexuality is played down. Good but not great. (Fifth Avenue, Dunbar, Scotiabank Theatre, Metropolis)
BOY ERASED (1hr 54min) *** ½  At the core of this sensitive compelling drama is the heartless controversial Conversion Therapy Program, “the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions. Medical bodies warns that conversion therapy practices are ineffective and potentially harmful.” Based on Garrard Conley’s “Boy Erased: A Memoir” recalling his youth as the only child of Marshall (Russell Crowe) and Nancy (Nicole Kidman),Jared (Lucas Hedges) was reported while in college as being gay to his Baptist minister father. He was given the choice of being disowned and leaving his family or to attend the church-supported gay conversion therapy. The self anointed head therapist is Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton, also director, writer and producer). We become privy to some of the authentic abusive techniques used by the so-called councilors and your feelings will depend on your thoughts of conversion therapy. Strong performances and a timely subject! (Fifth Avenue) 
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (1hr 47min) *** Leonore Carol "Lee" Israel was an author, known for her involvement in literary forgery. Alcoholic, unkempt, abrasive Lee (Melissa McCarthy) was a self destructive freelancer who wrote biographies in the ‘70s of screen celebrities. When her writing career finally failed, she was broke and living with her sick cat in a grungy apartment. Her agent Marjorie (Jane Curtin) refused to forward her money, suggested sobering up and finding a job. At her frequented bar she met genial gay hustler Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant). She discovered 2 letters from actress Fanny Brice in a library book, stole and sold them to friendly, lonely bookstore owner Anna (Dolly Wells).  That started a lucrative new hobby of typing and signing forged, fictitious letters by deceased celebrities, but spiced up to get higher prices from the dealers. When reports of her forgeries grew, Jack took them to interested bookstores, but eventually she was caught. The dark comedy has great performances and is worth seeing. (Fifth Avenue, Intl Village)
NEW: FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (2 hrs 14min) ** ½  Here we are in the second installment of five in the Wizarding World franchise of the Fantastic Beasts prequel series which began with the Harry Potter series written by J K. Rawling. The complicated main plot involves an attempt by Ministry of Magic employee Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and leader of the Order of the Phoenix Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to stop powerful dark wizard Gillert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) from causing a reign of terror and chaos around the divided wizarding world (the closing effects are absolutely stupendous).  At the end of the first film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Grindelwald had been caught but has escaped and is seeking a new Wizarding World Order, successfully persuading followers to raise pure-blood wizards and witches to rule over non-magical beings. Newt’s job is in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and he is a self-proclaimed magizoologist, collecting and protecting magical animals others consider pests, and he carries around an astounding magical suitcase. Before we go any further, the problem with Crimes is that is over-populated with characters - both human and CGI – and although the effects are awesome and amazing, there are far too many and as a result the main story is buried. The effects are the film’s Stars and not Redmayne or Depp. Set in the late 1920s mainly in London and Paris, the production and location values are superb and authentic.  Grindelwald seeks as an ally the disturbed, dangerous Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), host over an immensely powerful creature which emerges when he is upset, and Newt is also looking for him, anxious to find him first. Popular with first night audiences were the humorous characters of Muggle Jacob (Dan Folger) and amorous mind-reader Queenie (Alison Sudol). Other central characters include Newt’s older bureaucratic brother Theseus (Callum Turner) – the brothers are caring but don’t understand each other – and Theseus’ fiancée Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz), Newt’s schoolmate with whom he still has feelings. Other women in Newt’s life are his reliable assistant Bunty (Victoria Yates) and newly reinstated auror Porpentina (Katherine Waterston) with whom he has a romantic tension. Then there’s amusing Zouwu, a fascinating computer generated giant snarling cat. Some subplots go nowhere. Question is whether any other than hardcore Potter fans will get involved with the convoluted, confusing plotting?  At least with the Potter films, also directed by David Yates, there was a focus. Verdict?  Good but Not Great. (Fifth Avenue, Dunbar, Scotiabank Theatre, Metropolis) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sghpTgBUO-A
FREE SOLO (1hr36min) **** Documentary. Recommended. Free Solo describes climbing without the use of any rope or other kinds of protection, wherein a fall could result in a serious accident or death. The climber performs alone, relying entirely on their ability. We follow climber Alex Honnold on his two hour and fifty minute ascent of the 2,224 foot Regular Northwest Face route of Yosemite’s Half-Dome, normally demanding multiple days. Alex made international news with the first and so far only solo free ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite, captured on film and documented by climbers / photographers Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi. The 33 year old holds the fastest ascent of the Yosemite triple crown, an 18-hour 50 minute link-up of Mount Watkins, The Nose and the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome. It’s a beautiful, breath taking, absorbing yet stressful film to watch. As Alex says “Anyone can conceivably die on any given day.” (Scotiabank Theatre).
NEW: THE FRONT RUNNER (!hr 52min) ** ½ Fact: Democratic U.S. Senator Gary Hart's 1988 presidential campaign was derailed in just three weeks by accusations of an extramarital affair with pharmaceutical rep/model Donna Rice. Based on Matt Bai's novel "All the Truth is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid," it was written by Bai with political consultant Jat Carson and Canadian-American producer/director Jason Reitman, responsible for personal favourite Juno as well as Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air, and, incidentally, son of Ivan Reitman (Animal House, Stripes, Ghostbusters). Hart (Hugh Jackman) was a handsome, charismatic, charming politician in his mid '40s focused on improving jobs for working-class Americans and set to succeed Ronald Reagan, when he, following rumors of womanizing, was approached by a Washington Post reporter, a fictional A.J. Parker (Mamoudou Athie) though in reality it was a New York Times reporter, and asked if he and his wife Lee (Vera Farmiga) had "a traditional marriage" and later "Have you ever committed adultery?" Although they had separated and their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) lived with her, Lee, long suffering and understanding infidelity, supported Hart in his election bid, and is still not divorced from him! The Miami Herald's sleazy reporter Tom Fielder (Steve Zissis) had been told by Hart, "Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored." The Herald had received an anonymous tip that Donna Rice (Sara Paxton) was on her way to D.C. to meet the Senator, following a first meeting in Florida at a Monkey Business yacht party, and Fielder with Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (Alfred Molina) staked out his townhouse with cameras. In the past, the press had kept quiet although knowing of the affairs of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson. Times changed following the Watergate scandal and the role of the prying press in campaign news coverage. From then on, reporters and paparazzi started a feeding frenzy but Hart coldly and arrogantly insisted that his privacy was being invaded. Loyal but frustrated campaign manager Bill Dixon (J K Simmons) was at his wit's end and called in his troops for damage control while campaign worker Irene (Molly Ephraim) looked after Donna. Scenes are over-stuffed with unidentified newsroom characters, talking over each other, which makes it difficult to understand. Is there anything Jackman can't do? As usual he is perfect although the film unfortunately isn't. (Intl Village)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv_bI6ENOSI
JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN. (1hr 29min) ** English (Rowan Atkinson) is a bungling, accident prone, retired secret agent.  When a cyber attack from an unknown entity has revealed the identities of all of Britain’s top agents at M17 and. with the impending G12 meeting in Scotland, MI7 chief Pegasus (Adam James) insists a substitute must be found immediately. English is brought of out retirement and together with his sidekick Angus Bough (Angus Miller) they embark on an adventure starting in France where a suspicious super yacht is moored, belonging to Jason Volta (Jake Lacy), an ambitious master hacker Silicon Valley billionaire, also watched closely by Russian operative, Ophelia (Olga Kurylenko). The UK Prime Minister (Emma Thompson) has met Volta, promoting a system that would improve data management,  and, in spite of English’s doomed efforts and following further cyber attacks, she recklessly invites Volta to attend the event where he reveals his self serving plan of extorting full control of G12 countries’ data. Dated corny slapstick stuff! (Intl Village, Metropolis)
MID90s  (1hr 24min) * For those into skateboarding and who don’t mind hearing the f word in every sentence, you may enjoy actor/comedian Jonah Hill’s debut as writer/director of his coming-of-age comedy/drama. The storyline is simple. 13 year old Stevie (Sunny Suljic), bullied by his antagonistic older brother (Lucas Hedges) and with a single caring but ineffectual mom (Katherine Waterston), desperately wants to join a aimless gang of skateboarding teens, Ray (Ba-kel Smith), F***shit  (Olan Prenatt) and Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin), while he is an ambitious novice. To prove himself to the others, Stevie starts smoking, drinking, is given speed and has his first sexual intercourse, much to the gang’s amusement. The partying and drug use gets worse and there is a car crash with Stevie ending in hospital. This doesn’t have enough story or standout performances to make it an obvious success. (Intl Village)
NEW: OUTLAW KING (2hrs 1min) ** ½  The historical action film is based on the 14th century Scottish King, Robert the Bruce, who defeated the considerably larger army of Edward 11 of England during the First war of Scottish independence at the Battle of Loudoun Hill in 1314, confirming the establishment of an independent Scottish kingdom. Surprisingly underwhelming, one endless battle follows another and it is hard to distinguish the good guys from the bad, although the battles are well shot and impressively directed.  Miscast American heartthrob Chris Pine plays Robert and he is bland and boring, and not assisted by a dull, contrived screenplay and dialogue by 5 writers. The bleak, plodding film opens in a tent with Edward 1 (Stephen Dillane) soliciting a truce after 8 years, with Robert renouncing his claim to the throne and other Scottish nobles forced to pledge their reluctant allegiance to Edward, receiving in return their seized land. They are treated to a display of English power with a giant flaming catapult which, with a single metal boulder shot, destroys a part of a castle some distance away. And we get swordplay between Robert and the king’s bragging psychotic son Edward, Prince of Wales (Billy Howle), desperate to prove himself. Edward decreed that recently widowed Robert (with a young daughter) should marry his goddaughter Elizabeth de Burgh (Florence Pugh). James Douglas (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) petitioned the king to get his land back but when the king learned that his late father was a sworn enemy he refused and Douglas joined forces with Robert when he re-launched his rebellion. Not all Scotsmen wanted Robert as their king. Nevertheless he was crowned Robert 1, King of Scotland, and Edward 1 declared him an outlaw. Edward Prince of Wales captured Elizabeth, her step daughter and Robert’s brother Nigel (Lorne MacFadyen). Elizabeth was placed in a hanging cage from the castle walls, the child was sent to a nunnery, Nigel was brutally hanged, and Robert seeked revenge. After initial devastating losses, one successful operation inspired the outlaw king and his survivors to start guerilla warfare. This is a disappointing sequel compared to Mel Gibson’s impressive Braveheart about William Wallace whose name was a clarion call to Scots. Following his defeat against Edward 1, Wallace was a fugitive for 7 years till he was betrayed, tried for treason and hanged, drawn and quartered. On the positive side, the exquisite drama is gorgeously filmed in Scotland and the production values including costumes and props look authentic. (Available on NETFLIXhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHpO9AG_dkE
NEW: A PRIVATE WAR (1hr 46min) **** Recommended. I left the theatre without a single negative thought about this film, based on the 2012 article "Marie Colvin’s Private War" in Vanity Fair by Marie Brenner. The biographical drama stars Rosamund Pike in her best performance ever as dedicated foreign affairs’ American investigative journalist Marie Colvin. She died while covering the Siege of Homs in Syria, tragically killed by an “improvised explosive device filled with nails.” Colvin noted the importance of shining a light on "humanity in extremes, pushed to the unendurable." The mesmerizing film is by respected US documentarian filmmaker and first time feature director Matthew Heineman. From the opening aerial shots of a totally obliterated Homs, Syria in 2012, we learn from Colvin’s real voice why she does what she does, and as the film progresses Pike does an accurate voice simulation. The factually based story starts with her reporting on the rebel Tamil Tigers from war torn Sri Lanka in 2001, resulting in a firefight which costs her a left eye and she recovered in hospital but had to wear an eye patch. The foreign editor Sean Ryan (the ever reliable Tom Hollander) at her London paper The Times was personally concerned for her health and, while recuperating, she attempted reconciliation with her twice divorced husband. Against advice, she insisted on getting back into the fray, this time in Iraq where, despite the US coalition plan to imbed journalists, she met freelance photographer Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan of 50 Shades) and he joined her and a translator and they sneaked off to the ultimate danger zone of Fallujah. She got through an Iraqi checkpoint by presenting a gym card, pretending to be a doctor. They came across local mothers and wives tearfully watching heavy machinery dig up mass grave remains of family members. When back from the war in London, crippled by anxiety Colvin smoked and drank vodka heavily. Friends and colleagues expressed concern that she was suffering from severe PTSD. She had a brief affair with Tony Shaw (Stanley Tucci) before heading out into the next war zone. She sent a final desperate dispatch from Homs to CNN, describing her situation and blaming the Syrian regime for targeting innocent women and children in their bombings. The performances from actors to locals are remarkably real. This is the heart-breaking story of an extraordinary dedicated woman. Please see it – You will not be disappointed.  (Intl Village)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTf0Lc5YAcc   
A STAR IS BORN (2hrs 15min) *** First made in 1937 with Janet Gaynor and Fredrick March, remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, then in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Here is A Star is Re-Born, a heavy on original music version of the tragic story of a popular country-rock star who meets a young unknown singer/songwriter, propels her into stardom while falling in love with her. Jackson Maine (Bradley Copper) is a hugely successful country music superstar who gets personal support from his older brother/ manager Bobby (Sam Elliott), acutely aware of Jackson's battle with drink, hidden from the public. When Jackson hears waitress Ally (Lady Gaga) singing her own songs, he invites her on stage with him and that’s the start of a romance that leads to marriage. A smarmy English producer/manager (Rafi Gavron) persuades her to change her image and to go solo and she out-does Jackson. The underwhelming melodrama is tired, overly long with 20 songs. Enjoyable but not great. (Fifth Avenue, Scotiabank Theatre, Metropolis)
NEW: WIDOWS (2hrs 10min) *** ½ What a fantastic premise: Three armed career criminal robbers are killed in a failed heist attempt to steal $5 million, only to have their widows step up to finish the job. This is highly acclaimed Oscar winner, visual artist and British black director Steve McQueen’s fourth critically acclaimed feature (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave), and it’s written by him and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl). They based it on the two six-part British television crime drama Widows broadcast in 1983 and 1985 and written by Lynda La Plant, writer of the popular British Helen Mirren TV series Prime Suspect. On the south side of Chicago, ringleader Harry Rawlins (Liam Neeson) is in a passionate bedroom scene with his wife Veronica (Viola Davis) and that is intercut with a getaway van being chased with its back doors swung open, and the cops firing on the van till it exploded with all killed. Living in a palatial penthouse, Veronica discovers she owes $2 million (it went up in flames) to black crime boss Jamal Manning (Bryan Tyree Henry) running a close campaign in the upcoming special election for alderman of the 18th ward against politically-minded Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell). He demands that back from Veronica within a month or he’ll set his psychopath enforcer brother Jatemme (Daniel Kahuuya) on her, they having been the targets of the last job. Jack left behind a notebook with details of the planned robbery and Veronica realized the only way to pay the debt was to go through with the robbery but she needed help. Although strangers, she contacted the other two widows, downtrodden Alice Gunner (Elizabeth Dibicki) whose husband Florek (Jon Bernthal) was a wife beater, and Linda Perilli (Michelle Rodriguez), a mother of two whose husband Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) lost through gambling the rent money on her clothing store and now his family has cut her off.  The fourth, hairdresser and single mom Belle (Cynthia Erive), joined as their getaway driver. Also in the mix is Jack’s crooked politician dad, Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall), forced to resign because of ill health and still determined to hold onto the political empire built 60 years ago by rearranging precincts. Then there’s Alice’s loony mother Agnieska (Jacki Weaver) who pushed Alice into prostitution to pay for college. There are surprise plot twists genuinely shocking and Mulligan’s links with Rawlins are revealed slowly. Desperate people will do desperate things and be forewarned it’s a surprising and stunning ending! McQueen, Flynn, cinematographer Sean Bobbitt and composer Hans Zimmer all deserve commendations for a very entertaining hoist film. (Intl Village)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYUFlgR4YwQ

 

                                                  NEW DVDs

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday November 20
BLINDSPOTTING. Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Ethan Embry, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Utkarsh Ambudkar. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pf5Cgek8pBQ
CRAZY RICH ASIANS. Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina ,  Michelle Yeoh
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14ZHRBfpeNg
KIN. Jack Reynor, Zoë Kravitz, Carrie Coon, Dennis Quaid, James Franco, Myles Truitt, Gavin Fox, Michael B Jordan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZEVj2J6Zo8
LITTLE ITALY.  Hayden Christensen, Emma Roberts, Alyssa Milano, Danny Aiello, Jane Seymour, Andrea Martin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pH4RfCIQnxQ
DOG DAYS..Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Michael Cassidy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA_khn8cuq0

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday November 27
BLUE IGUANA. Sam Rockwell, Ben Schwartz, Phoebe Fox, Peter Ferdinando, Peter Polycarpou, Simon Callow
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0L290ZVs88
THE LITTLE STRANGER  Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter, Charlotte Rampling. Josh Dylan, Liv Hill
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPDA7Z1c-Eg
SHARP OBJECTS (HBO)  Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, Henry Czerny, Matt Craven, Elizabeth Perkins
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqlu5G2WTe8

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday December 4
A.X.L (A robotic military dog)  Alex Neustaedter, Becky G., Alex MacNicoll, Dominic Rains, Thomas Jane
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwRGurIh4QM
THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS.  Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, Elizabeth Banks, Brian Henson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkCfws0jtVA
McQUEEN. Documentary. Extraordinary life, career and artistry of visionary designer Alexander McQueen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKwCd6WLPdE
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT. Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiHiW4N7-bo
POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD. Documentary. A personal journey w the Pope's ideas and reform message.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fluWdi-k0FY