Review: Mudbound
Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mainstream Chick with Greta Gerwig @Middleburg

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Review: The Man Who Invented Christmas

God bless us, everyone. There’s more than one family-friendly movie worth catching this holiday season. First, there was Wonder, a heartwarming drama based on the best-selling book from 2012. And now there’s The Man Who Invented Christmas, a biopic of sorts about Charles Dickens and the creation of his 1843 classic novella “A Christmas Carol” where Scrooge discovers the true meaning of Christmas after late-night visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The story’s been adapted many, many, many times for stage and screen. So what makes this film worth seeing when you kind of know how it all plays out? Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, Legion, Downton Abbey) and veteran actor Christopher Plummer – especially Christopher Plummer – and a script infused with warmth and wit.

Review: Justice League

It’s increasingly hard to rate or rank superhero movies when there’s a new one, or two, or three bursting onto the scene seemingly every week. And let’s be honest, the reviews don’t matter. You probably fall into one of three camps: those who see them all, like right away; those who see most of them, eventually; and those who couldn’t care less. For those in the latter category, move on. There are plenty of awesome alternatives hitting the box office right now. For those who do care, or are simply curious, here’s my take on the much-anticipated, long-delayed, rumor-plagued Justice League: It’s pretty good. Not as good as Wonder Woman and not as much fun as Thor: Ragnarok, but it does its primary job: establishing the foundation for DC Comics’ cinematic version of Marvel’s Avengers, i.e. superheroes who are sometimes called upon to ‘assemble’ to save the world.

Quickie Review: Wonder

Wonder is simply a wonderful film for the whole family to watch and enjoy – and sniffle through – as we enter the holiday season. Based on the New York Times best-seller by R.J. Palacio, Wonder tells the inspiring story of August Pullman, a 10-year-old boy with a rare facial deformity whose parents enroll him in school at the start of fifth grade so he can be around other kids and live a more normal life. It’s not an easy transition. Kids will be kids. But Auggie is smart, funny, empathetic and endearing, and he has a close-knit, supportive family that always has his back.

Mainstream Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download

Featuring quickie reviews of: Breathe; Darkest Hour; Call Me By Your Name; Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool; Mudbound; Hostiles; Last Flag Flying; Lady Bird; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; I, Tonya; Faces, Places; The Square; Novitiate

For the second year in a row, I ventured out to bucolic Middleburg, Virginia (about an hour’s drive from DC) for the Middleburg Film Festival, a mid-October opportunity for a little bit of schmoozing and partying, and a whole lot of movie-watching. I’m a bit late with my recap, but hey, it took a while to wrap my head around the whole experience: Ten movies, across three venues, in 72 hours. A Mainstream Chick record!

(Spoiler-free) Review: Thor: Ragnarok

What exactly is Ragnarok? I’m not quite sure and I don’t really care. What I do know is this: Thor: Ragnarok is a very funny superhero action-adventure sci-fi fantasy movie that zips to the top of my list of ‘guilty pleasure’ popcorn movies for 2017. Is it ‘THE BEST MARVEL MOVIE EVER!’ as some have proclaimed? No. But it is one of the most entertaining, as long as you’re familiar – to some degree – with the Marvel universe (i.e. the Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, etc.) and have a solid appreciation for the tongue-in-cheek tone of a Deadpool or Guardians of the Galaxy. The more Marvel movies you’ve seen, the more you’ll get out of Ragnarok. It’s packed with hidden gems, celebrity cameos, sly innuendos, inside jokes and character development that builds off relationships established in earlier films featuring the various Avengers working solo or as a team. No spoilers. Just the gist:

Review: Thank You for Your Service

If you’re feeling inspired to see a movie similar to American Sniper as Veterans Day approaches, then Thank You for Your Service definitely fits the bill. It represents a worthy and well-acted attempt to highlight the struggles that many veterans face when returning from the battlefield and integrating back into family and civilian life –while dealing with PTSD. It’s a relatively quiet film about the horrors of wars, except for a few intense and bloody flashbacks that are used to frame the mindset of a couple of U.S. soldiers returning to their Midwest homes after a brutal tour in Iraq in 2007. Thank You for Your Service is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by David Finkel. His recent article in the Washington Post spurred my interest in seeing the movie, as did the fact that it stars Miles Teller (Only the Brave, Whiplash).

Quickie Reviews: Only the Brave; Marshall

Only the Brave is a solid, engaging drama that is all the more impactful in light of the recent wildfires in California. Fire is as much a character in Only the Brave as the 20 Granite Mountain Hotshots– and their families – to which the film pays tribute by sharing the true story of the elite firefighting unit, and their sacrifice on June 30, 2013. Nineteen of the men died trying to protect their community from the historic Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. One survived. The movie, based on a 2013 GQ article, features a strong ensemble cast led by the ruggedly charming Josh Brolin as Hotshot supervisor and father figure Eric Marsh. Miles Teller (Whiplash, Bleed for This, and the upcoming Thank You For Your Service) gets one of the more prominent sub-plots as Brendan, a young man with a troubled past who’s determined to turn his life around. He gets his second chance with the Granite Mountain Hotshots (think Top Gun with firefighters instead of fighter pilots).

Review: Professor Marston & The Wonder Women

All I knew going into Professor Marston & The Wonder Women was that it was an R-rated drama about the American psychologist who created the Wonder Woman comic book character. It is that – and a whole lot more. Two things are guaranteed: if you see this film, you’ll never look at Wonder Woman quite the same way ever again; and, two, this film is definitely not for kids. Think of it as Fifty Shades meets the TV series Big Love with a bit of Sister Wives thrown into the mix… in the 1930s and ‘40s. The result is a ménage à trois situation that is surprisingly engaging and discussion-provoking and totally off the charts.

Review: The Mountain Between Us

There’s plenty to mock and ridicule and dislike about The Mountain Between Us. And yet… there’s a certain entertainment value in watching a combination meet-cute/disaster flick when it stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. The two play virtual strangers who get to know each other quite well as the lone human survivors of a small plane crash into a frozen mountainside in the middle of nowhere.

Review: Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes is okay, but far from the grand slam I was rooting for. I love the story, especially because it’s true: tennis great Billie Jean King agrees to play ex-champ and self-professed male chauvinist pig Bobby Riggs in a high-profile televised event and kicks his butt, scoring a huge victory for the women’s rights movement in the 1970s. That’s not a spoiler. It’s a well-known fact in sports history. Unfortunately, without the dramatic climax that typically drives a sports drama, Battle of the Sexes is forced to look for bonus points off the court. They include: an exploration of Billie Jean’s sexual awakening as a lesbian and the strain that puts on her marriage; Bobby’s marital woes, childish antics and addiction to gambling; and, my favorite part of the film, Billie Jean’s willingness to take a stand for equal rights and social justice by, in part, organizing other players to break from the establishment and form the Women’s Tennis Association.