Drama

[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) …

[8.0] Writer/director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall) and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns bring us back to the trenches of World War I with the harrowing journey of two British officers tasked with traversing enemy territory to deliver a message that will save 1,600 of their fellow soldiers from certain death — including one of the young men’s brothers. 1917 is compelling on two different levels, infusing …

[7.0] Tom Hanks plays Fred Rogers, the famous host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, a children’s program that ran on PBS for over thirty years. But this movie isn’t just about Fred Rogers. It’s also the true story of journalist Tom Junod (named Lloyd Vogel in the movie), and the life-affirming friendship he developed while interviewing Rogers for an article. In the beginning, Vogel (played admirably …

[8.0] If someone is going to pick up Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved literary classic, dust it off, and serve up a retelling, let it be the Oscar-nominated writer/director of Lady Bird. Greta Gerwig is respectably faithful to the material, but bold in her decision to dice the story up and deliver it in non-linear fashion. In Gerwig’s adaptation, we experience the aftermath of the March …

[8.5] I think one of the hardest stories to tell is a good murder mystery story. That’s why we see so few of them turned into movies. Rian Johnson’s (The Last Jedi, Looper) Knives Out is a beguiling blend of classic and farce, reminding me at times of both Clue and Murder on the Orient Express. Remarkably, its dark comedy never undercuts its dramatic tension. …

[8.5] I am not a fan of car racing. I couldn’t care less about it, really. But like so many other great sports movies, Ford v Ferrari isn’t really about the sport itself. It’s about the people engaged in the sport. And to that extent, director James Mangold (Logan, Walk the Line) hits a home run with this true story about two men who overcome …

[6.0] A young boy in Hitler’s youth army (Roman Griffin Davis) finds himself in a moral dilemma after discovering a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in a secret space behind his bedroom wall. This film written for the screen and directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok) has an off-beat, surreal sense of humor that wears thin over time. It’s …

[8.0] Movies like The Lighthouse sure don’t hit the multiplex very often. Hot off his astounding debut feature, The Witch, writer/director Robert Eggers’ sophomore effort is a horrifically surreal pitch-black comedy about two men going mad in a remote lighthouse in the 1890s. Robert Pattinson, distancing himself from Twilight fame with increasingly remarkable performances, plays the younger of the two sea dogs. His character is …

[7.0] Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon star as Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse in this fascinating and fast-paced telling of the historic race to see whose electrical system would be the one showcased at the 1893 World’s Fair — and then implemented around the world. There’s a little character drama going on in The Current War, particularly with Edison’s family and the quirky nature of …

[8.0] On its surface, Joker is an origin story about Batman’s arch-nemesis. So at first glance, you might mistake it for ‘just another superhero’ movie. But writer/director Todd Phillips and actor Joaquin Phoenix have actually made a film that transcends the comic book genre. Joker works as a disturbing character study, an all-too timely allegory, and a provocative meditation on a theme — something we …

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