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

Review: So B. It

Adapted from Sarah Weeks’s YA novel, So B. It is the story of a 12-year-old girl named Heidi (Talitha Eliana Bateman) who lives in Reno with her severely autistic mother (Jacinda Barrett) and a mother-figure neighbor Bernadette (Alfre Woodard) who suffers from agoraphobia. She knows very little about her past or her family since her mother cannot tell her and there’s no one else to ask. But when she stumbles upon an undeveloped roll of film and prints it, she finds the key to her mom’s history. It points her to Liberty, New York, and so she takes off on a cross-country journey to discover who she really is. It’s a heartwarming coming-of-age story, though more ABC After School Special than must-see in a theater.

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: May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers

This is from one of our occasional Guest Chick reviewers who just happens to be a big Avett Brothers fan. Thanks, Marcianne Miller. In this heart-tugging, intimate portrait of the country’s wildly popular folk-rock act, the music is accessible and clear — and the message that echoes after the film is over– is a welcome reminder that in a few entertainment families, love and appreciation of one another weigh out over ego and fame. Cynics call such a message corny. For me and millions of the Avett Brothers fans, it’s a message worth clinging to and a film that merits repeat viewings.

Review: Year by the Sea

I know there are not enough great roles for women of a certain age, but could someone please write something good for Karen Allen (Indiana Jones, Starman) to act in. Year by the Sea isn’t it. She is so much better than this. In it, she plays a cliched wife/mother whose son just got married and whose husband sells the house without telling her he’s been relocated, just expecting she’ll go along. And so she feels very unmoored and decides to “find herself” by moving to a cabin on an island somewhere up on Cape Cod. Based on a book of the same name, the film is a jumble of tired tropes on menopausal women and empowerment, set against a soundtrack of the songs you were happy to have forgotten from your youth. I cannot imagine why it was made.

Review: mother!

This is without doubt the most divisive movie to come out in a long time. People either hate it or love it, with very few people on the fence about it. I make it a point not to read reviews before I go to see a film I’m planning to cover, but the headlines screaming about mother! (not to be confused with one of my favorite Korean films called Mother sans exclamation point) couldn’t be ignored. It got an F from viewer-polled Cinemascore, but earned raves from some well-known critics. The New York Times even posted an article titled, “Hating ‘Mother!’: Readers Speak Out.” And after finally seeing it for myself, I understand both sides of the argument, but come down on the WTF#?! side.

Review: Brad’s Status

I lie in bed and overthink everything in my life on a regular basis, but I don’t think everyone needs to hear about it. Writer/director Mike White (School of Rock, Beatriz at Dinner), however, thought that that kind of obsessive inner life monologue would make for a great film. Perhaps, though not this film. In Brad’s Status, Brad (Ben Stiller) is a dad about to take his only son (Austin Abrams ) on a college tour, and it throws him into a self-absorbed walk down memory lane where he compares his life with those of his classmates (Michael Sheen, Jemaine Clement, and Luke Wilson) and comes up totally lacking. Though there is dialogue in the film, Brad’s voice-over dominates. And boy is he annoying.

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.

Review: Stronger

Stronger starts off strong, falters a bit in the middle, and regains its footing towards the end, making for an inconsistent though still compelling drama. The movie tells the true story of 27-year-old Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), a regular guy who became a symbol of hope and inspiration following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Bauman was waiting at the finish line in a bid to cheer on – and win back – his ex-girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black) when the blast occurred. He lost both legs. Bauman is the guy being helped by a stranger in a cowboy hat in one of the most iconic photos from that day. Boston Strong personified. Stronger isn’t so much about the terrorist bombing or the manhunt that followed (Patriots Day covered that territory). It’s about Bauman’s struggle to recover, physically and emotionally, often in the uncomfortable glare of the public spotlight.

Review: The Villainess (AK-NYEO)

If you’re looking for some bloody violence, this is the movie for you! The opening sequence alone has a higher body count than even Tarantino’s most epic movie. A woman (Sook-hee- unseen until the end of the fighting) goes into a building and hall by hall, room by room, kills every single man in the place. They’re shooting and knifing and martial arting at her, too, but she’s just a better bad-ass than any of them. And at the end she walks out covered in blood ready to be arrested by the waiting police. The next thing she knows, she wakes up in some shady off-book South Korean Intelligence agency’s secret facility, and she’s told they’re going to train her, use her for various nefarious undercover ops, and after ten years she’ll have her freedom back. Or they can kill her. She goes for option one.

Review: Rebel in the Rye

I vaguely recall reading “The Catcher in the Rye” in High School. But I must not have been overly impressed with teen-angst icon Holden Caulfield because unlike characters in, say, “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Lord of the Flies,” Holden and his story failed to stick with me into my adult years. Perhaps that’s because the 1951 novel (that’s sold more than 65 million copies) was never adapted for film! At least now I understand why, thanks to the mildly intriguing biographical drama, Rebel in the Rye, about famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger who steadfastly refused to sell theatrical rights to his most famous work.