Review: 12 Strong
Cinema Clash Podcasters talk Darkest Hour, The Shape of Water, Wonder Wheel, and the DC Film Critics Awards
Mini-Reviews: I, Tonya

Mini-Reviews: I, Tonya

Both of us chicks saw this one at Middleburg. Both of us liked it. Here are our mini-reviews:

Review: The Divine Order

The Divine Order (Die göttliche Ordnung) tells the story of women’s suffrage in Switzerland. I had no idea that the women there didn’t get the right to vote until 1971. As to the title, Swiss political and religious leaders of the time actually cited “the divine order” as the reason to keep them voiceless. Unbelievable! But fear not, this is not a heavy feminist screed, it’s a warm character driven dramedy about a group of women who buck the patriarchy and force their husbands to wake up and give them the vote. The film is Switzerland’s foreign-language Oscar entry and it’s a totally eye-opening and fun #GirlPower flick!

Review: The Disaster Artist (and The Room)

The Disaster Artist is a gift this holiday season to fans of the 2003 independent film The Room, a movie so dreadful it became known as the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Unbeknownst to me (until recently), The Room also became a cult classic. Now that I’ve seen it, I totally get it. The Room is so bad, it’s good, especially if you watch it with a raucous crowd, plastic spoons, footballs, and printed instructions (see photos below). It’s also essential viewing for anyone hoping to fully appreciate and understand the bizarre brilliance that is The Disaster Artist, a satirical yet fact-based film that explores how the very bad movie The Room came to be made in the first place. James Franco plays Tommy Wiseau, the aspiring filmmaker with an indiscernible accent who wrote, directed, produced/financed and starred in The Room. Franco and Wiseau are like kindred spirits in the quirky Hollywood landscape, so the casting is ideal – assuming you can embrace the quirk. If not, you’ll surely miss the point.

Review: The Square

Winner of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival’s Palme D’Or, The Square is a darkly funny satire set in the art world. Christian (Claes Bang) is the head curator at a prestigious Swedish modern art museum staging an exhibition calling for a trusting and compassionate society, who realizes how hard that actually is to accomplish. The film has less a story line than a series of tableaux one walks through ending up with an impression. It opens with an unseen artist building a square of brick right in from of the museum and laying a plaque in it saying,”The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.” And everything that happens afterwards refers back to that statement, revealing modern society’s greatest failing.

Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

This is the second film I’ve seen from writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, the first being The Lobster, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This one has the same altered-reality conceit, that the world is very nearly the one we live in, but has a few odd twists that set it apart. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a family lives a nice upper-middle class existence. The parents (Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman) are both doctors. The kids are attractive and smart. Things seem great, until Dad introduces them to a teenage boy he’s taken under his wing and then things go sideways.

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: Mudbound

Mudbound was another film we both saw at Middleburg. It won the audience award at the festival and it’s easy to see why: great performances in a tragic epic of two families, one black and one white, in the Deep South in the 1940s. The film confronts race head on as the white McAllan family buys a farm where the Jacksons, black tenant farmers, have been living for generations. Writer/director Dee Rees delivers a powerful story of friendship and hate. It’s is a beautifully shot and very timely film.

Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a darkly funny masterpiece. Oscar nods await, no doubt. It’s the story of Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) a mother who is righteously pissed that local law enforcement hasn’t come any closer to catching her daughter’s killer after seven months. So she puts her anger on display on three billboards just outside town calling out law enforcement for not doing their job, eliciting an immediate reaction from the whole town – some with her, some not, mostly because she singles out the town’s beloved Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). One of his deputies (Sam Rockwell) who has some serious anger management issues of his own takes it as a slap to the whole department and retaliates, and things just escalate from there.

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.