The Mustang
directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
Matthias Schoenaerts Bruce Dern Gideon Adlon

Occasionally, a movie will seize you.That movie might bring life and immediacy to history, or maybe it’s epic in its scope.Maybe that long-awaited kiss between two flawed-but-fated people will satisfy the universal yearning in us for love, true love.
The Mustang isn’t like that.It doesn’t exactly seize you.More like it slips into a corner of your brain and settles in.It sits in your peripheral vision not too heavily, but not lightly either.
After all, we know how this story goes before we buy the ticket, right?The trailer tells us we will not be let down.We will settle into our reserved seats, elevate our feet, and be treated to a story of the redemption of a man imprisoned.And, a key factor in his salvation will be a horse.A horse!A magnificent animal with an uncanny entre into the heart, and psyche, of a man.Love this!Can’t wait.

The surprise is that The Mustang delivers all that, and it sne…
Gloria Bell

Directed by Sebastian Lelio
Julianne Moore John Turturro Michael Cera Alanna Ubach

We cannot help wondering where Gloria Bell will end up.
Played by Julianne Moore with a big heart and a fragile edge, Gloria's been on her own since her divorce 15 years ago.She’s not going to inherit from her mom who’s living long enough and well enough to exhaust her own retirement money.
Her employer downsizes Gloria’s coworker, an older woman not yet ready to retire.Puts her out the door with not a little foreshadowing as to what might lie ahead when Gloria herself triggers that same age + salary-schedule nexus.Her kids are grown and immersed in their own lives.
And her goals are non-specific.  What does Gloria want, beyond dancing?

You might say Gloria’s prospects are thin.
But there is something in Gloria.Let’s call it an urge to live.To live life.To move forward.To find a way, her way.To avail herself.
So because she loves to dance, she goes out to dance, alone, and dances.She joins people s…

Directed by Jordan Peele
Lupita Nyong’o Winston Duke Elisabeth Moss

Here’s the thing about Jordan Peele ~ he’s so damn smart.And he’s funny. AND, he has something to say.

You gotta love Jordan Peele.If you never watched “Key & Peele,” find it now and watch it.Right away.That is some smart, funny, sketch comedy.And it is thoughtful.Good stuff.Great.Honestly.

If you saw “Get Out,” written and directed by Jordan Peele, then, like me, you most likely felt so pleased for him and proud of him and happy to know him as much as a fan knows the subject of her admiration.I’m pulling for this guy.His success makes me happy.
This was my mindset going into “Us.”Oh boy!Jordan Peele!He’s made another scary movie!I CAN’T WAIT to see it!
So right there was my problem.I sidestepped one of my own cardinal rules of movie going: Don’t get caught up in the hype, even if it is of your own making.See, God love ‘em, movies cannot rise to the hype.They just can’t.So don’t lay a bunch of expectations on a film bef…

Black Panther

Chadwick Boseman Michael B. Jordan Lupita Nyong’o
Ryan Coogler, Director 

Probably should have seen Black Panther before Wonder Woman.Because there’s this one thing that a person can’t help thinking after  seeing Wonder Woman.  Let's just cut to it:T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) was a great king.Loved him.Pledged my allegiance.Hated – no really! – hated to see him go.

But when they found him still alive after he took a brutal beating from Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan); after Killmonger threw him over the cliff and he fell so far that he started to shrink in our vision before he hit the water below; after we KNEW he was dead; you’re not gonna have Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o)challenge the new, evil King and throw his ass over the waterfall?You’re not gonna have T’Challa’s queen-apparent rise to assume the throne?

No really - you’re gonna have that ‘miracle’ twist – a fisherman found T’Challa and he’s on ice?HE gets to come back to life to carry out Nakia’s vision of a new, improv…

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Frances McDormand Sam Rockwell Woody Harrelson Martin McDonagh, Writer/Director 

In order to stay ‘with it,’ to be hep and all, I updated my invention – TheSound of Music syndrome – to the Avatar syndrome. 

Here it is:  Sometimes a movie is so hyped that a several things happen.  First, said movie cannot live up to the hype, no matter how good it is.  Second, people cannot/will not say what they really think of that over-hyped movie for fear of seeming ignorant or uncool.  Third, a moviegoer’s soaring expectations can lead to disappointment.

I discovered this phenomenon in 1965 with the huge letdown of The Sound of Music.  Anticipation ‘way too high!  I remember watching Julie Andrews grinning and twirling and singing to the sky, and thinking what the heck?!  How’d I get suckered into this?

Not that The Sound of Music is bad.  It’s not!  It’s good.  It’s just not that good.  Come on, admit it!  Do you want to watch it again and again?  Did you think about it for days after?

Same with Av…

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

Kenneth Branagh, Director

Overheard during Previews of Coming Attractions:  “Well, I like Liam Neeson, but that looks stupid.”

We feel ya, lady seated in the next row back.  We like Kenneth Branagh, and Johnny Depp, and Judi Dench, and Willem Dafoe, and Michelle Pfeiffer, and Penelope Cruz (well, sorta), and Josh Gad and Derek Jacobi…but this movie is stupid.

OK.  Maybe we’re out of line to say such a thing about this lush production full of all these beautiful people.  There were at least a couple of noteworthy elements to this 70mm spectacle:  1. Branagh’s mesmerizing mustache and 2. that super cool avalanche.

It probably is unjust to impugn a film when you’re not the intended audience.  And there was fair warning.  We knew going in that it was an Agatha Christie murder mystery; that Hercule Poirot would treat us like Perry Mason treated our mothers back in the day – rudely!  Condescendingly – as though they were in the room, but unworthy of a glance let…