Friday, February 17, 2017

Arch Campbell's Weekend Movie Guide (2/17/17)

Rosamund Pike & David Oyelowo (r) star in A United Kingdom

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)

The Lego Batman Movie - 3½ Stars. Animated comedy based on the Batman character. Hilarious from the first frame onward.

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.

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.

Best New Opening A United Kingdom - 3 Stars. David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike add dignity to the story of an interracial couple whose marriage caused an international fury.

I Am Not Your Negro - 3 Stars. James Baldwin’s haunting writings brought to life with the voice of Samuel Jackson.

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.

Gold - 2½ Stars. Matthew McConaughey mines for gold in Indonesia and on Wall Street. A familiar story, more brass than gold.

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

The Founder - 2½ Stars. Michael Keaton gives a great performance as McDonald's founder Ray Kroc. The script paints Kroc as not exactly a nice guy, but avoids the judgement (which might have helped.)

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.

The Space Between Us - 2 Stars. A kid born on Mars escapes to Earth, falls in love, and discovers he can’t live on Earth. Cute at best.

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.

The Great Wall - 1 Star. Matt Damon fights monsters with the Chinese in a Chinese-financed English production that gets lost in translation.

Fifty Shades Darker - 1 Star. Second installment of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” S&M saga. This time, the lovers reunite and renegotiate. More soapy than sexy.

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.

Split - Zero Stars. I wish I had split, instead of watching this "Psycho" rip-off.

The Comedian - Zero Stars. Robert De Niro proves he's no longer "The King of Comedy." There's nothing funny, watching him in this misguided vanity project.

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.