Drama

[7.0] Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson star in playwright/director Jane Anderson’s story about a rural midwestern family weathering the father’s decision to undergo a sex change. Wilkinson portrays the father, who endures prejudice from his coworkers and family. Lange plays his shocked wife, who eventually becomes his strongest defender. Hayden Panettierie plays their progressive young daughter, while Joseph Sikora plays their adult son who has …

[8.0] Behold the glory of Barbara Stanwyck. One of classic Hollywood’s sassiest broads makes a big splash in this early talkie that’s leagues ahead of other early 30s flicks in terms of story, craftsmanship, and performance. Babs plays a “party girl” (we know them as escorts now) who serendipitously winds up hitching a ride in the middle of the night with a fuddy-duddy artist. Both …

[8.0] In this Spanish film from writer/director Agustín Villaronga, a Nazi child killer is put in an iron lung after a botched suicide attempt. His wife hires a young male nurse to take care of him, but the young man becomes increasingly unhinged as he reads through the Nazi’s diaries. Once the caregiver begins re-enacting some of the Nazi’s crimes and winning over the affection …

[2.0] This is the worst adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma I’ve seen, with Gwyneth Paltrow’s middling 1996 version coming in ahead, and Amy Heckerling’s Clueless easily taking the crown. This newest incarnation is directed by Autumn de Wilde, a first-time feature director with a string of music videos in her filmography. But don’t expect any visual or aural panache on that account. This Emma suffers …

[7.0] A young man named Smitty (Wendell Burton) goes to prison and immediately falls into a brutal struggle for power and supremacy. He reluctantly enters into a submissive relationship with one of his roommates, a tough guy named Rocky (Zooey Hall) who promises to protect him from gang rapes in exchange for sexual servitude. He also observes how a drag queen named Queenie (Michael Greer) …

[6.5] Writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) won his first two Academy Awards for writing and directing this drama about three wives who reflect on their marriages when they learn a fourth woman has just left town with one of their husbands. Mankiewicz can always be relied upon for great dialogue and pitch-perfect casting. All six principles (the fourth …

[5.0] Dorothy Mackaill stars as a young woman strung along by a wealthy suitor who eventually declines to marry her, souring her relationship with any man until a rich artist comes along and strikes her fancy. The Reckless Hour is cut from a well-used cloth, but moves briskly for an early talkie and features a couple of colorful supporting performances, namely Joan Blondell as Mackaill’s …

[5.0] After being part of an ensemble in The Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie returns in the role of Harley Quinn — a character that really isn’t built to carry her own movie. She’s a former psychiatrist who fell in love with the Joker and turned to the dark side. In other words, she’s nuts and dangerous. She can only function as a funny, charismatic villain, …

[6.5] Matthew McConaughey plays an American marijuana dealer looking to sell his lucrative British production and distribution system. But when one of the bidders sabotages him to drive down the value, everyone has to watch their backs. Charlie Hunnam co-stars as McConaughey’s right-hand man, and Hugh Grant is featured as a smarmy, investigative screenwriter who attempts to blackmail them. The Gentlemen is a twisty-turny crime …

[3.0] Dorothy Mackaill headlines as a newly-engaged Broadway song and dance star who’s confronted with a ghost from the past on the eve of her retirement. Noah Beery plays the bad guy — a man who tried to rape Mackaill’s character several years ago, and who shows up at the theater to (we assume) try again. Bright Lights (also known bizarrely as Adventures in Africa) …

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