Friday, January 13, 2017

Arch Campbell's Weekend Movie Guide (1/13/17)

Kevin Bacon, Mark Wahlberg & John Goodman (r) star in Patriots Day

From our friend, Arch Campbell...

La La Land - 4 Stars. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling fall in love with each other & Los Angeles in an optimistic fantasy musical.

Manchester by the Sea - 4 Stars. Casey Affleck delivers one of the best performances in years as a janitor forced to return to the scene of a profound loss. The story never goes where you expect, in the name of stark real truth.

Jackie - 4 Stars. Natalie Portman gives the performance of the year as Jackie Kennedy in the days after the Kennedy assassination, as she manages her grief and crafts the Kennedy "myth."

Lion - 4 Stars. Emotional story of a young boy who falls asleep on a train and is carried a thousand miles from home. Growing up, he feels the tug of home, and follows his instincts. One of the year's best.

Paterson - 4 Stars. The great Adam Driver plays a Paterson, New Jersey bus driver named Paterson who writes poetry.  Quirky, moving and great fun.

Loving - 3½ Stars. Gently-told true story of the interracial couple who challenged Virginia's ban on mixed marriage. A quiet love story with a star-making role for actress Ruth Negga.

Arch with Will Ferrell & Zach Galifianakis (r)

Moonlight - 3½ Stars. Three scenes from the life of a poor kid growing up with an addicted single mother. Love and emotion overcome challenge in a sometimes difficult, but deeply affecting story.

Best New Opening > Patriots Day - 3½ Stars. Mark Wahlberg recreates the Boston Marathon bombing and pays tribute to police, first responders, and the city of Boston. Surprisingly strong.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - 3 Stars. J.K. Rowling recaptures that old Potter magic.

Fences - 3 Stars. Denzel Washington transfers August Wilson's play to the screen. The result looks like a play, but Denzel holds our attention.

Hidden Figures - 3 Stars. Inspiring story of three brilliant black women who faced prejudice and gender discrimination working in the space program in 1961. They kept John Glenn aloft.

20th Century Women - 3 Stars. Teenage boy comes of age in 1979 with a little help from his free-spirited mother (Annette Bening) and her unusual friends.

Julieta - 3 Stars. Pedro Almodovar's sweeping story of motherhood, death, and reconciliation.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - 2½ Stars. Star Wars sidebar. Most fans will love it, but don't expect anything new.

Collateral Beauty - 2½ Stars. Will Smith learns a life lesson from "Love," "Time" and "Death."

Doctor Strange - 2½ Stars. The excellent Benedict Cumberbatch lends his talent to Marvel’s latest superhero series, but his acting and eye popping special effects can’t save the finale from turning into the same old good versus evil thing.

Passengers - 2½ Stars. Chris Pratt takes a space journey to a distant planet, but wakes up decades too soon. So he wakes up Jennifer Lawrence. Great opening, but weak ending.

Nocturnal Animals - 2 Stars. Amy Adams creeps out over the manuscript of a thriller. Starts tense, ends with a fizzle.

Arrival - 2 Stars. Space aliens have a message for us, and only Amy Adams can hear it. Wonderful effects, but a head scratcher of a plot.

Hacksaw Ridge - 2 Stars. Mel Gibson takes the story of a conscientious objector during World War II, and turns it into an overly violent meditation on war. Ironic, I guess; but I wish Clint Eastwood had directed.

A Monster Calls - 2 Stars. A young boy deals with his mother's slow death with the help of a series of fables told by an animated yew tree. Slow and dark.

Live by Night - 1 Star. Rare misfire by Ben Affleck as a 1920s gangster sent to Florida to take over the rum trade. The meandering story threatens to never end.

Elle - 1 Star. Getting a lot of attention, due to the Golden Globes. Rape, violence, and a "so what" attitude made it too much for me.

Didn't See It, Don't Wanna See It:

Assassin's Creed - I'd rather die.

Silence - Describes the audience response.

Why Him? - Why watch?

Visit Arch's website for his (unrivaled) take on movies. He remains the only other (we're not self-hating) critic, whose opinion we admire and respect.