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Movie Reviews





 



John Cena the voice of Ferdinand, the heavy and full of brotherly love bull

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:57:26 UT

One would think it would grow wearisome to see a 2,000-pound bull repeatedly placed in situations in which his size overwhelms his surroundings. It’s essentially the same gag, whether the title character of the new animated film “Ferdinand” squeezes into the window of a house, turns a sofa into a seesaw or navigates the proverbial china shop. Yet the gag never gets old. This is because the bull, lent a gentle resolve by voice actor John Cena and a wide-eyed wonder by the artists and animators at Blue Sky Studios (“Ice Age”), is such a sweetheart.



Capsule movie reviews, Dec. 10

Thu, 7 Dec 2017 17:12:43 UT

A Bad Moms Christmas This rushed sequel to “Bad Moms” (2016) feels more like a financial decision than an artistic mandate. And yet, through all its plot and editing problems, the comedy does deliver a lot of laughs — with a trio of bad grandmothers joining bad moms Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn. Icy and disapproving Christine Baranski stands out among the newcomers. Rated R. 117 minutes.—P.



Light-hearted ‘Six Degrees of Freedom’ a piece to take seriously

Fri, 1 Dec 2017 23:41:31 UT

Artificial intelligence, programmed behaviors, privacy and other digital-age dilemmas are at issue in “Six Degrees of Freedom,” a beguiling world premiere dance theater work by Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts. In 75 minutes that blended the playfully droll and gracefully haunting, the natteringly absurd and downright funny, this lighthearted troupe of five made a distinctive first impression at ODC Theater on Thursday, Nov. 30. Lighthearted is not to say lightweight. In both its critique and appropriation of technology, “Six Degrees” imparted an insinuating wit and satirical insight.



Movie review capsules, Dec. 3

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:30:26 UT

A Bad Moms Christmas This rushed sequel to “Bad Moms” (2016) feels more like a financial decision than an artistic mandate. And yet, through all its plot and editing problems, the comedy does deliver a lot of laughs — with a trio of bad grandmothers joining bad moms Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn. Icy and disapproving Christine Baranski stands out among the newcomers. Rated R. 117 minutes.—P.



‘Divine Order’ a by-the-numbers story of Swiss women’s suffrage

Thu, 23 Nov 2017 21:45:43 UT

Maybe it was something in the mountain air, but on the question of women’s suffrage, Switzerland lagged well behind the United States and Europe — Swiss women didn’t get the vote until 1971. Writer-director Petra Volpe has dramatized this worthwhile subject in “The Divine Order,” but the project has a simplistic, by-the-numbers feeling, and makes little attempt to understand the suffragists’ opponents, seen as thoroughly hidebound and fit only for disdain. The cultural upheaval affecting the rest of the Western world seems to arrive late in the small mountain village of the film’s heroine, Nora (Marie Leuenberger), a housewife and mother.



Capsule movie reviews, Nov. 26

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 21:52:13 UT

A Bad Moms Christmas This rushed sequel to “Bad Moms” (2016) feels more like a financial decision than an artistic mandate. And yet, through all its plot and editing problems, the comedy does deliver a lot of laughs — with a trio of bad grandmothers joining bad moms Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn. Icy and disapproving Christine Baranski stands out among the newcomers. Rated R. 117 minutes.—P.Hartlaub Bill Nye: Science Guy Bill Nye has transformed himself from zany kids show host to a passionate defender of science who makes his case with a sense of urgency.



Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and a movie in St. Helena

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 01:04:05 UT

Going to a movie after Thanksgiving dinner is almost as much of a tradition as pumpkin pie. But if you live in the North Bay, Cameo Cinema in St. Helena will help you combine the two. As part of its Movies to Dine For series, the theater is screening “Victoria & Abdul,” a recent release about Queen Victoria’s late-in-life friendship with Abdul Karim, a young clerk from India, paired with dinner by Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen and wines from the Napa Valley. The movie stars Judi Dench and Ali Fazal, and tells a story historians only somewhat excavated in the 1960s. It wasn’t an easy task, as much of the correspondence between the two friends was burned after Queen Victoria’s death.



‘Man’ lets us experience ‘A Christmas Carol’ anew

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 21:28:35 UT

Christmas movies thrive on the sense that we’re all in this together, “fellow passengers to the grave” as Charles Dickens put it. That sense was common in the 1940s and ’50s, an era that produced some of our best Christmas movies. That’s in stark contrast to today, an era so steeped in self-glorification that the most popular genre is the superhero movie, which is all about expressing the self at all costs, even if it means the routine destruction of entire city blocks. So, coming when it does, “The Man Who Invented Christmas” is not just a good movie but a welcome relief. If you’re waiting for that nice Christmas feeling, this movie brings it on.



Filmmaking artistry on first-rate display in ‘Three Billboards’

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 04:07:24 UT

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” begins where most stories should begin, already in progress. The pivotal event, the tragedy from which the central character can never recover, has already happened, and what we see is the aftermath, the crazy things that take place after the world has already tipped its hand and revealed its madness. The movie represents a leap forward for writer-director Martin McDonagh. “Three Billboards” is as clever and imaginative as McDonagh’s “In Bruges” in terms of how it makes characters collide in delightful and unexpected ways.



Capsule movie reviews for Nov. 19

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 23:41:58 UT

American Made The movie’s light, breezy tone doesn’t quite seem right — or even make sense — for this story of a TWA pilot turned drug smuggler in the 1980s. Still, Tom Cruise is his own quality control, so the movie is brisk and entertaining, anyway. Rated R. 115 minutes.—M.LaSalle A Bad Moms Christmas This rushed sequel to “Bad Moms” (2016) feels more like a financial decision than an artistic mandate. And yet, through all its plot and editing problems, the comedy does deliver a lot of laughs — with a trio of bad grandmothers joining bad moms Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn.



A successful new stab at ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

Thu, 9 Nov 2017 20:31:54 UT

Kenneth Branagh’s new adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express” contains some of the best of old and new. Based on the novel by Agatha Christie, this is in many ways an old-fashioned entertainment, but it has the pace and visual richness of a modern movie. And it’s almost as star-studded as the famous 1974 adaptation, which starred Albert Finney, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman (in an Oscar-winning performance), Lauren Bacall and John Gielgud. Fans of the 1974 version may see this movie and think, “Oh, but the original was so much better.




Movie review capsules, Nov. 3

Thu, 2 Nov 2017 16:55:45 UT

All the Rage (Saved by Sarno) This is an advocacy film extolling the virtues of the late Dr. John Sarno’s unorthodox treatment for back pain. His idea was that much back pain has its genesis in repressed emotions from childhood, particularly anger. One of the filmmakers, Michael Galinsky, who gained some relief from Sarno’s methods, also turns the camera on himself. Whether this movie can convert a skeptic is questionable. Not rated. 94 minutes.—W.Addiego American Made The movie’s light, breezy tone doesn’t quite seem right — or even make sense — for this story of a TWA pilot turned drug smuggler in the 1980s.




Dysfunctional ‘Bad Moms Christmas’ still delivers laughs

Wed, 1 Nov 2017 13:00:00 UT

Comedy transpires in the most obvious places during “A Bad Moms Christmas.” A randy grandmother goes to a strip club. A small child says the f-word, repeatedly. Even smooth jazz artist Kenny G, perhaps the easiest target on the planet, gets mocked in a cameo. The rushed sequel to “Bad Moms” (2016) feels more like a financial decision than an artistic mandate. An atrophied plot withers and drops pieces of itself, like your holiday tree in mid-February. And yet, through all of the pointless detours, shameless product placement and odd timing — Christmas is still 54 days away, shouldn’t this be “A Bad Moms Thanksgiving”? — the comedy does deliver a lot of laughs.



Through its flaws, ‘Thank You’ has a powerful message

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 21:11:01 UT

The makers of “Thank You for Your Service” deserve a cinematic medal of honor for getting their film to a big screen. We’re in an age of sequels to sequels and reboots of reboots, where a well-reviewed movie that makes $400 million worldwide can be written up as a failure. And here’s an unflinching film about military post-traumatic stress disorder, with only a couple of action scenes, getting wide distribution. The good intentions go a long way, with another solid performance by Miles Teller (they seem to arrive weekly), and a rare nuanced look at the struggle of veterans. Its existence will help people, and bring understanding.



‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’: in Hundred Acre Wood, respite from war

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:01:00 UT

“Goodbye Christopher Robin” is an exquisite, beautiful film, and like most beautiful things, there’s something painful about it. It depicts a kind of beauty, innocence and purity that can’t be forever, whose existence forces you to stop and appreciate it now — and in the moment of appreciating it, to contemplate its future nonexistence. That’s really the governing emotion of this film, the pitch that it reaches and sustains from beginning to end, a kind of sadness in the midst of happiness, a paradise with an awareness of mortality. It’s the story of the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.