Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"Dunkirk" ★★★★

There's much to like in this film about the desperate rescue of trapped British troops from the French beach town in 1940. That said, while very good, I'm not sure it's the epic, unqualified success that so many reviewers seemed to think at the time of its release. What sets it apart is its focus not on the larger picture or strategy -- hardly mentioned at all -- but on the people caught up in the evacuation. It's told in a clever and almost elegiac way, intertwining three stories -- that of a British soldier desperate to get home, two Spitfire pilots covering the evacuation, and a civilian yachtsman helping to ferry troops off the beaches. Events in the three stories unfold in different time frames, the stories flit back and forth before coming together. It conveys the horror, confusion and human drama of combat very well.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Sam Elliott's Oscar Role

"The Hero" ★★★★½

I'm a huge Sam Elliott fan, so it stands to reason I would like this film about an aging actor facing his mortality. And Elliott delivers a strong performance, surely worthy of an Oscar if there's any justice. Laura Prepon of "That 70s Show" fame puts in a creditable account as Elliott's unlikely love interest. This is not the movie for you if you're looking for thrill and chills -- it's a movie for those who like quiet, understated stories about people. If you like Francois Truffaut films from the 60s, this ought to appeal. I liked it all the way to the end, which came on rather abruptly and left me feeling I hadn't arrived at my destination. Still worth the journey, but when it's over you may feel like you still have to walk the last few miles to get where you're going. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mr. Trump's Wild Ride as Chronicled by Katy Tur

Unbelievable" by Katy Tur ★★★★★

NBC correspondent Katy Tur's memoir of the insane 2016 Trump campaign, which she followed from day one, is alternately amusing and maddening -- it's about Trump, after all -- but always compelling. She chronicles the wild trip that was the bumpy, chaotic Trump campaign tour, vividly recreating the whole, yes, unbelievable phenomenon. Along the way, we're reminded again and again just how unperturbed Trump's acolytes were by the serial lies and misdemeanors of their candidate, how Trump withstood with nary a scratch innumerable assaults and exposes that would have killed the campaign of any normal politician. Don't look for deep analysis here; that's not Tur's purpose. Just go along for the scariest ride this side of the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags.

"I, Tonya" ★★★★½ This movie is a scream, a hoot and a half. The only reason I'm not giving it five stars is because the ...