How do you top playing Imperator Furiosa in 2015’s jaw-dropping “Mad Max: Fury Road?”
The answer is, you don’t. But if you’re Charlize Theron, you give it one heckuva try.
In “Atomic Blonde,” Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, a MI6 agent (same level as James Bond). The year is 1989 and the Berlin Wall is about to tumble. But before it does, she must retrieve a list of names that could compromise an entire network of agents, double agents, triple agents…you get the idea.
“Dunkirk” does World War II like nothing you’ve ever seen.
Sweeping yet intimate, heroic and horrific, the movie is a triumph of the sort of storytelling the movies do best. Yes, there is a plot (several, actually) and yes there is dialogue and yes, there are identifiable characters.
But what is so impressive about “Dunkirk” is how utterly immersive it is. We are on that besieged beach, our backs to the sea, the Nazis moving in. We are on that brave little boat, one of several hundred civilian crafts, crossing the English Channel to help rescue the troops. We are in the cockpit with those RAF pilots, trying to shoot down the German planes that circle above like birds of prey.
Part of the fun is purely visceral: “Baby Driver” spins fantastical wheelies all over Atlanta. And unlike, say, the CGI mayhem in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, these chases, crashes and exhilarating loop-the-loop thrills combine technical wizardry with the hands-on genius of a small flotilla of stunt drivers.
Though based on the same book by Thomas Cullinan, Clint Eastwood’s “The Beguiled” (released in 1971) and Sofia Coppola’s current version couldn’t be more different.
Eastwood’s picture, directed by fellow macho-man Don Siegel (remember, this is the Eastwood of “Dirty Harry,” not “Million Dollar Baby”), had a kind of leering Gothic misogyny. Coppola’s film, which made her only the second woman ever to win best director at Cannes, offers a gauzier female gaze — rustling petticoats and repressed desire.
Based on the true story of a Marine and her bomb-sniffing dog, the movie is a well-told weepie, especially if you’re a full-blown animal lover (Full confession…me).
Megan (Kate Mara) has a dead-end job and a deadbeat mom (Edie Falco) in a deader-than-dead town. There’s nothing keeping her in this Rust Belt corner of hell, but she doesn’t have any place she especially wants to go.
While the entire future of women in Hollywood is apparently riding on this femme-centric action flick (Variety-speak) and while the critics have raved and audiences have rallied, I just can’t join the celebration.
“Wonder Woman” is sturdy. It’s expensive. Its star, Gal Gadot (a former Miss Israel; who knew Wonder Woman was a nice Jewish girl?), is winning and hard-working.
Years ago, there was a documentary called “Searching for Debra Winger.”
Well, she’s been found. You just wish she’d been found in a better movie.
“The Lovers” is a comedy of eros. And errors. Mary (Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts) have been together for eons. The spark hasn’t just gone out of their marriage; there’s not even any kindling left.
So both, on the sly, have taken lovers. He’s with a well-toned but unstable ballet teacher (Melora Walters); she’s with a charming but lightweight writer (Aidan Gillen from “Game of Thrones”). The joke, kinda, is that the two cheat-ees are similar, both being what you might call B minus/C plus level artistes (but pretty).
Before “Snatched” begins, its stars, Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, appear together on-screen and thank us for coming to an actual theater to see their movie: “So many people worked on this and you chose the best way to see it!”
By the time “Snatched” is over, you may not feel like saying “Thanks” back. You may feel more like saying, “Why???”
Forget the old saying, “The Future is Now.” In “The Circle,” The Future is Yesterday.
A cautionary tale with a better set-up than pay-off, the movie makes merry fun of millennial Happy-Face careerism — but with a sinister subtext that becomes less of a laughing matter as the picture progresses. The problem is “The Circle” is never quite as ominous as it could be and the final scenes just sort of dribble away.
To be absolutely blunt about it, “Their Finest” is one of the finest films of the year thus far.
The title is a play on Winston Churchill’s famous, “This was their finest hour” speech, which he made to Parliament in 1940 as a way to rally the British and strengthen their resolve to finish off Hitler and his Nazis.
In “Tommy’s Honour,” the greatest hazard facing Tommy Morris – the 19th-century golf prodigy who won the equivalent of the British Open four times before he turned 21 – wasn’t sand traps or rough weather. It was the wretchedly rigid class system which decreed, no matter how well he did on the course, off the course he wasn’t a gentleman and thereby ineligible for acceptance into the inner circle at Scotland’s august St. Andrews. The highest he could aspire to was being a caddy.
“Get Out” pulls off a pretty impressive balancing act. It is simultaneously funny as all get out and scary as all get out.
The brainchild of Jordan Peele (best known as the shorter half of the Peele and Key comedy duo), “Get Out” has been hanging on in theaters for weeks now. No wonder. It’s an eminently satisfying film, combining sharp social satire with a horror flick’s incremental sense of dread.
It’s one thing to buy a zoo, as Matt Damon did in the 2011 movie. It’s quite another to keep the remnants of a zoo up and running after the Nazis have goose-stepped into Poland, as Jessica Chastain does in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
Based on a true story, the movie follows the quiet heroics of Antonina and Jan Zabinski (Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh). Not only did they do their best to keep the few animals that survived the initial Nazi invasion alive; they also used their decimated zoo as a means to hide Jews who’d escaped the infamous Warsaw Ghetto.
Kristin Stewart and her cell phone co-star in “Personal Shopper,” a ghost story for the cyber age. Since Stewart always looks slightly haunted, you could almost say it’s typecasting.
However, the typecasting here is of a different sort. As she did in “The Clouds of Sils Maria,” Stewart is again playing the personal assistant to a powerful woman. But while the core of “Sils Maria” was the give-and-take between her and Juliette Binoche (the self-absorbed actor who employs her), the boss in “Personal Shopper” is more a plot device than anything else. This movie is all about Stewart; thankfully, she’s such an intriguing actor, she can handle it.