Movies With Milan

posted by thomasjohn - 


ANT-MAN AND THE WASP--The "Ant-Man" movies are sort of outliers in the Marvel Corp. universe. Unlike their more somber, heavy-breathing brethren (take "The Avengers:" please), Paul Rudd and Peyton ("Bring It On") Reed's "Ant"-franchise ("Ant-chise"?) is essentially comic. I just wish the films themselves were funnier and not so toothless-bland. In the second "Ant" adventure, the titular insect dude helps the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) retrieve her mother--none other than the great Michelle Pfeiffer--from something called the Quantum Realm. Like in the 2015 "Ant-Man," the best moments belong to goofy sidekick Michael Pena who really deserves his own stand-alone vehicle. At least it's that increasingly rare Marvel movie that clocks in at under two hours. (C.)

BLACKKKLANSMAN--In 1970's Colorado, an African-American cop (John David Washington from HBO's "Ballers") somehow manages to infiltrate the local chapter of the KKK with the help of his Jewish partner (Adam Driver). Sounds crazy, right? Believe it or not, Spike Lee's 2018 Cannes Golden Palm winner is actually based on a true story. This wildly kinetic, terrifically entertaining film is the "Do the Right Thing" director's most audience-friendly joint since 2006's "Inside Man," and just the shot of cinematic adrenaline the August movie doctor ordered. (A.)

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN--Gentle, sweet-natured Disney movie about the grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) getting reacquainted with childhood pals Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, et al to help cure his midlife malaise. Directed by Marc Forster who mined similar territory in 2004's "Finding Neverland," it's blessed with a screenplay--cowritten by "Spotlight" director Tom McCarthy and indie wunderkind Alex Ross Perry--of surprising delicacy and restraint. Kids will dig the cute CGI A.A. Milne characters; adults will like, and appreciate, its life lessons even more. (B PLUS.)

THE DARKEST MINDS--Or "The Divergent Maze Games." Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson ("Kung Fu Panda 2") and based upon Alexandra Bracken's YA trilogy of novels, this is yet another franchise hopeful that brings nothing appreciably new to an already hackneyed template that wore out its welcome around the time Jennifer Lawrence won her Oscar for "Silver Linings Playbook." Tweens might find it exciting; anyone else will likely be as bored and impatient as I was. (D PLUS.)

DEADPOOL 2--Fun sequel to the surprise 2015 Marvel blockbuster ("surprise" because it was rated "R" and Deadpool himself was a third-tier comic book superhero) proves that Ryan Reynolds is still a master of snarky deadpan. The plot--involving a massively muscular villain played by CGI and Josh Brolin--is, of course, utter nonsense, but if you're willing to go with the gleefully anarchic flow, you'll have a good time. Bonus points for casting "Atlanta" breakout star Zazie Beetz as Domino. (B MINUS.)

DOG DAYS--Kinda lame, sorta cute rom-com about looking-for-love Los Angelenos (among them Vanessa Hudgens, Nina Dobrev and Adam Pally) and their pooches. Feels a bit like a Hallmark Channel movie that accidentally wound up on the big screen. Never actively unpleasant, though. (C MINUS.)

EIGHTH GRADE--Wonderful coming-of-age movie about a 13-year-old girl (fantastic newcomer Elsie Fisher) navigating the perils of a typical 21st century adolescence. A spectacularly impressive writing-directing debut by YouTube favorite Bo Burnham, it's possibly the best, funniest and most empathetic "teenage girl figuring things out" movie since John Hughes' "16 Candles." An instant classic. (A.)

THE EQUALIZER 2--Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua reteam for a generally satisfying, tough-as-nails follow-up to their 2014 hit based on the '80s Edward Woodward tube series. It's as slick, cynical and unapologetically nasty as the original, and Washington again proves why he's one of the only true movie stars left. The two-time Oscar winner delivers an effortlessly commanding performance, and you can't imagine the film working without his mega-watt charisma. (B MINUS.)

THE FIRST PURGE--Ever wonder how The Purge started? Me neither, but in Universal's tireless attempt to extend their low-budget. highly profitable franchise, we finally get some answers. In their queasy mix of sociology and grindhouse, the "Purge" movies remain shining exemplars of termite art. This fourth entry in the series--sort of a blaxploitation riff--is no exception. (B MINUS.)

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3--Three isn't the lucky number for Adam Sandler's low-ambition monster mash 'toon franchise. Drac and his family take a luxury cruise where he--oops!--hooks up with Van Helsing's great granddaughter (Kathryn Hahn). If you think that's funny--or missed Kevin James' Frankenstein and Steve Buscemi's Wolfman characters--you (and your kids) will probably have a good time. Personally, I couldn't wait for it to end. (C MINUS.)

INCREDIBLES 2--Satisfactory follow-up to the beloved 2004 Pixar 'toon about a family of super hero crimefighters. It's colorful and fun, but due to the Marvel glut of the past fourteen years, some of the bloom--and specialness--is inevitably off the rose. It's also maybe a half hour

too long. The last indisputably great Pixar movie was 2015's "Inside Out." I'm still waiting for them to regain their footing. (B.)

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM--A marginal improvement over 2015's middling "Jurassic World" thanks to a better director (J.A. Bayona of "A Monster Calls" and "The Orphanage" fame), but the thrills remain as mechanical and rote as a second-tier theme park ride. Chris Pratt confirms my suspicion that he lost "it" after dropping his "Parks and Recreation" weight, getting buff and began headlining generic franchise fare like this and the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies. Sadly, he's become nearly as tiresome a screen presence as costar Bryce Dallas Howard. (C.)

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN--Donna's daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is pregnant, triggering a series of flashbacks to 1979 explaining how/when/why mom (Lily James from "Baby Driver" and Disney's "Cinderella) hooked up with her three potential dads once upon a time. Directed by Ol Parker (the "Marigold Hotel" movies), this is a rare sequel that actually improves upon the original. For starters, it's better photographed, making the idyllic Greek isle setting (actually played by Croatia!) as paradisiacal as it's supposed to be. And--hallelujah--Meryl Streep is sidelined with an extended cameo: a blessing since her annoyingly mannered, cutesy performance helped make "Mamma Mia!" well-nigh insufferable. The radiant James pretty much owns the movie, and may very well steal your heart. Oh yeah, Cher sings "Fernando." THE Cher. Do I really need to say anything more? (B MINUS.)

THE MEG--Or "Sharknado"-on-a-slightly-bigger budget, this brain-dead Jason Statham shark flick fails as both horror flick and campy put-on. "Sharks on a Plane" anyone? (D.)

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE--FALLOUT--Helmed by "Rogue Nation" director Christopher McQuarrie, this is the best darn action movie since "John Wick, Chapter 2," maybe "Spectre." At 56, the indefatigable, seemingly indestructible Tom Cruise just keeps barreling ahead. Long may he run, jump, dive, pummel, get the point. The best time I've had at the movies this summer. (A.)

OCEAN'S 8--A fun, glossy, femme-centric reboot of Steven Soderbergh's early-'00s retooling of the Camelot-era Frank and Dino warhorse. Sandra Bullock confidently steps into George Clooney's Italian loafers as the mastermind of a jewel heist at the Met Gala. The cast (including Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson and Anne Hathaway) is aces, and director Gary ("The Hunger Games") Ross does yeoman work moving the chess pieces around and not getting in the way of all that estrogen. (B.)

SHOW DOGS--Awful kidflick about a canine cop who goes undercover at a dog show. Seriously; that's the plot. Has all the panache and wit of a basic cable movie your wee bairns would probably turn off after 15 minutes. On the bright side, there's only four weeks to go until "Incredibles 2" opens. (D.)

SKYSCRAPER--Dwayne Johnson plays a military vet with a prosthetic leg whose high-tech security job pits him against a group of terrorists atop a 240-story Chinese office building. Director Rawston Marshall Thurber ("Dodgeball," "Central Intelligence") is clearly aiming for a new Millennium "Die Hard," but it lacks the wit and hair-trigger timing of that 1988 John McTiernan/Bruce Willis classic. On the plus side, it's so dumb it's kind of fun. Think of "Skyscraper" as 103 minutes of CGI air conditioning. (C PLUS.)

SLENDER MAN--No advance screenings.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY--A roguishly charming Alden Ehrenreich hits it out of the park as the young Han Solo in this engaging "Star Wars" spin-off. Ron Howard is the director of record and he does a commendable job of making this Disney train run on time, even if it's maybe a half hour too long at 135 minutes. Too bad producer Kathleen Kennedy axed "LEGO Movie" auteurs Phil Lord and Chris Miller midway through the film's production: I bet their version would have been friskier and funnier. Good supporting turns from Donald Glover (as Lando Calrissian), Thandie Newton and Woody Harrelson. (B.)

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME--A totally unhinged mix of shocking (how shocking? it makes "The Equalizer 2" look like "Won't You Be My Neighbor?") and laugh-out-comedy that shouldn't work, yet does. I can't remember the last time a movie finessed those two disparate extremes as well as director Susanne Fogel does here. Kate McKinnon and Mia Kunis make a great buddy team, and Jane Curtin and Gillian Anderson contribute hilarious supporting turns. I liked Fogel's minutely scaled 2014 indie "Life Partners," but it didn't come anywhere near to suggesting that she had a big-scale production like this--with beaucoup action setpieces, a large international cast and numerous European ports of call--in her future. It deserves to be a late-summer sleeper. (B PLUS.)

TAG--Childhood friends (Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress and Ed Helms) take their schoolyard game of tag to near-sociopathic extremes. A one-joke movie that works more often than not thanks to its first-rate cast. For such a testosterone-fueled movie, it's a tad ironic that the two funniest performances are turned in by women (Leslie Bibb and Isla Fisher respectively). (C PLUS.)

TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES--This big-screen spin-off of the Cartoon Network series may seem, on paper anyway, like a junior varsity "Incredibles 2." But it's actually a good deal better--and smarter--than that. While the animation may lack Pixar's pizzaz, there's more than enough winking meta humor and genuine wit to amuse any grown-ups roped into accompanying their small fry. (B.)

UNCLE DREW--Silly and strained big screen spin-off of the Pepsi commercials in which NBA star Lyrie Irving dons old man make-up to fool gullible hoop-sters. Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll and Shaquille O'Neal add some spice, but the material is just too thin to sustain 105 minutes. Directed by Charles Stone III whose best movie remains 2002's "Drumroll." (C MINUS.)

UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB--In this quasi-sequel to 2014's "Unfriended," a teenager gets into hot water when his new (albeit used) laptop's previous owner decides he wants it back. Clunky, paint-by-numbers horror flick as lacking in imagination as it is genuine scares. (D PLUS.)

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?--Fred Rogers--Mr. Rogers to you--gets the big-screen treatment in Oscar-winning director Morgan ("20 Feet from Stardom") Neville's stirring, deeply felt documentary about the Pittsburgh kid TV pioneer's life, times and legacy. If you're burned out by today's lack of civility and the general meanness in our body politic, think of it as a balm for the soul. Inordinately lovely and quietly amazing, it's the perfect antidote to everything Trump. (A.)

---Milan Paurich


ACRIMONY--Taraji P. Henson is a woman scorned in the latest Tyler Perry melodrama. Even worse than the Perry norm, it's so ludicrously over-the-top you'll be forgiven for thinking it was intended as self-parody. And Henson gives the first genuinely bad performance of her career. Sad. (D MINUS.)

ANNIHILATION--More brainy, great-looking sci-fi from Alex ("Ex Machina") Garland starring Natalie Portman as a biologist who embarks on a perilous trek to discover what happened to her military husband (Oscar Isaac) during his mysterious one-year disappearance. Aliens may or may not be involved. Creepy and compelling throughout, and Portman is dependably strong. While this femme-driven brain-scratcher is bound to be as divisive as Garland's previous work (including his screenplay for Danny Boyle's "Sunshine"), cult immortality is preordained. (B PLUS.)

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR--Is it just me, or is every "Avengers" movie pretty much the same? The latest--third?; fourth?; I've lost count--is also the longest, running over two-and-a-half hours which is an hour too long if you're not a Marvel-head. As usual, the most enjoyable parts are the "office" banter/bickering between the Avengers crew (Robert Downey Jr. remains an irrepressible cut-up); they're the only thing that makes it seem like a real movie instead of merely an excuse to blow things up and demonstrate how cutting-edge 21st century CGI is. (C.)

BAD SAMARITAN--After discovering a woman being held captive in a home that he's burglarizing, the thief anonymously calls the police. But that good deed soon gains the unwanted attention of his psychotic mark. A sadistic cat and mouse game ensues. Directed by Dean ("Geostorm") Devlin, it's icky, overextended and actively unpleasant. Skip. (D.)

BEIRUT--Smart, briskly paced adult drama about a former U.S. diplomat and some C.I.A. operatives trying to free an American captive in 1982 Lebanon. Directed by Brad ("The Call," "The Machinist") Anderson and featuring a terrific cast including Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Mark Pellegrino and Shea Whigham, it's a thinking-person's action thriller--something we haven't seen in awhile. (B.)

BLACK PANTHER--Ryan Coogler--director of "Creed," the best darn Rocky movie ever--works similar magic with Marvel in this exhilarating origin tale of the titular superhero played by Chadwick Boseman of "42" and "Get On Up" fame. Buttressing the comic book silliness--this is Marvel and not Shakespeare, after all--and giving it real emotional heft is a supporting cast with extraordinary bench strength (a scene-stealing Michael B. Jordan, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o and "Get Out" star Daniel Kaluuya). As the first African-American Marvel entry, "Black Panther" is already historic. It's also terrific entertainment. (A.)

BLOCKERS--The best raunchy comedy in eons stars John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz as overprotective parents trying to prevent their teenage girls from losing their virginity on prom night. Think a distaff version of "Super Bad" in which the quiet, tender moments are actually more memorable than the gross-out comic setpieces. (B.)

BOOK CLUB--A wonderful cast (Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen) topline a borderline-terrible comedy about a senior book club rediscovering the joys of sex after reading "50 Shades of Grey." While all the actresses are terrific, bringing a much-needed humanity to their cartoonishly drawn characters, I've seen funnier "Golden Girl" reruns. (C MINUS.)

BORG VS. McENROE--Tennis buffs will dig this compelling docudrama about the 1980's "Fire and Ice" rivalry between American bad boy John McEnroe (Shia LeBeouf) and masterfully impassive Swede Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason). Directed by Denmark's Janus Metz ("Armadillo"), it features a standout supporting turn by Stellan Skarsgard as Bjorg's coach/mentor. (B.)

BREAKING IN--Gabrielle Union gets a rare starring role as a woman fighting tooth and nailgun to protect her family from home invaders. Disposable trash from James McTeigue who seemed like an up-and-comer with "V for Vendetta" a dozen years ago, but never delivered on his early promise. (D PLUS.)

CHAPPAQUIDDICK--The late Ted Kennedy's tragic 1969 car accident that resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne is the subject of an unusually thoughtful, refreshingly non-exploitative John ("The Painted Veil") Curran-directed docudrama. Despite not looking anything like Kennedy, Jason Clarke is very good, as is Kate Mara as Kopechne. (B.)

THE COMMUTER--Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra reteam for a fourth Hitchcockian pastiche ("Non-Stop," "Unknown" and "Run All Night" were their previous collaborations). Neeson plays an ex-cop taking the Metro-North train from Manhattan during rush hour who's approached by a fellow passenger (Vera Farmiga) with an offer he can't refuse. Hokey and instantly forgettable, but entertaining while it lasts. (C PLUS.)

THE DEATH OF STALIN--Set in 1953 Moscow, this brilliant dark comedy by "Veep" creator Armando Iannucci deals with the political fallout after Joseph Stalin unexpectedly drops dead. Among the apparatchiks jockeying for positions of power are a motley crew of seasoned farceurs, among them Michael Palin, Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi and Simon Russell Beale. Iannucci has delivered a "Dr. Strangelove" for the new millennium (I actually think it's funnier), and he displays the same painstaking formal rigor that distinguished Stanley Kubrick's entire oeuvre. I can't recommend it highly enough. (A.)

DEATH WISH--Extreme horror director Eli ("Hostel," "Cabin Fever") Roth's tone-deaf reboot of the 1974 Charles Bronson vigilante meller. Bruce Willis picks up where Bronson left off, and the body count has grown exponentially along with the original template's moral rot. In an era where

gun casualties are as commonplace as the flu, it plays like a PSA for the NRA. Ugh. (D MINUS.)

DEN OF THIEVES-- Another glorified "B" movie toplining Gerard Butler, an actor who's made so many lousy career choices over the past decade that his SAG card deserves to be revoked. Clocking it at a derriere-numbing 140 minutes, this wannabe Michael Mann policier-noir about an elite unit of the L.A. County Sheriff's Office infiltrating a cadre of bank robbers is slightly more ambitious than, say, Butler's recent "Geostorm," but not appreciably better. (D PLUS.)

DOUBLE LOVER--Lip-smackingly decadent movie-movie by former French enfant terrible Francois ("Swimming Pool," "8 Women") Ozon plays like an '80s Brian De Palma thriller if DePalma had relocated to France. A mentally unstable young woman (Marine Vacth) begins an affair with her shrink (never a good idea) who's actually the twin brother of her boyfriend (Jeremie Renier doing yeoman double duty as the twins). Sexy and suspenseful, it's what the "Fifty Shades" movies had only wished they'd been. (A.)

EVERY DAY--Tweener bait adapted from David Levithan's best-selling YA novel about a 16-year-old whose new crush switches bodies on a daily basis. Not as terrible (or confusing) as it

sounds--the young leads are appealing--but unlikely to spawn a franchise either. (C.)

FEMALE TROUBLE--As Dawn Davenport, the ineffable, well-nigh unforgettable anti-heroine whose Candide-like journey takes her from high school delinquent to the electric chair in John Waters' 1975 masterpiece, the late Divine delivered a performance of such blistering, take-no-prisoners brilliance that even mainstream critics were forced to take notice. Which certainly wasn't the case with earlier Waters-Divine collaborations like midnight sensations "Pink Flamingos" and "Mondo Trasho" which were largely ignored except by their coterie of underground admirers. "Female Trouble" was also the first Waters joint accorded daytime performances in theaters. The fact that you didn't have to wait for the witching hours to get your freak on signaled a seismic change in both American movies and American life. Its historical (and artistic) import can't be emphasized strongly enough. Forty-plus years later, "Trouble" still has the ability to shock, awe and delight. Indeed, its acid-tinged, candy-colored social satire--a delirious mash-up of Douglas

Sirk's 1950's domestic melodramas and the Manson Family--feels springtime fresh. And in a veritable rogue's gallery of Divine divas (Babs Johnson, Tracy Turnblad, et al), Dawn remains the most iconic and irresistible. "Crime is beauty" indeed. In the newly issued Criterion Collection Blu-Ray, the film looks better than ever. Certainly better that the battered and bruised print I saw on a double-bill with "Flamingos" at New York's Cinema Village back in January 1977. And because it's Criterion, the cornucopia of extras are guaranteed to keep fans and non-fans alike busy for days. There's a 2004 Waters audio commentary; new and archival interviews with cast/crew members (Mink Stole, Pat Moran, production designer Vincent Peranio, costume designer/makeup artist Van Smith, et al); a 1975 interview with Waters, Divine, Stole and David Lochary; deleted scenes and alternate takes; behind-the-scenes documentary footage; a new conversation between Waters and critic Dennis Lim; and a terrific essay by freelance journalist Ed Haller that contextualizes the film (and Waters' place) in cinematic history. (A PLUS.)

THE 15:17 TO PARIS--Clint Eastwood's new film about the August 2015 French terrorist attack foiled by three American tourists is what "Sully" might have looked like if Sully had played himself instead of Tom Hanks. These earnest young men (Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler) are clearly not actors: their halting, deer-caught-in-the-headlights amateurishness, ironically, takes us out of their own true story. Tautly paced and expertly crafted on a tech level (Eastwood remains a master filmmaker), but ultimately lacking in any true emotional impact.


FIFTY SHADES FREED--Free at last! The conclusion of the mildly smutty, inordinately tedious S&M franchise is for completists only. Hopefully Dakota Johnson will move on to bigger and (far) better things. She has been the only element in this trifecta of soft-porn silliness to emerge unscathed from all the heavy-breathing insipidity. (C MINUS.)

FINDING YOUR FEET--After splitting from her cheating husband of forty years, Imelda Staunton finds late-in-life love with Timothy Spall in a senior dance class. Innocuous and predictable, but nicely played and the cliches go down easily enough. (C PLUS.)

FOREVER MY GIRL--A country music star (Alex Roe) returns to his hometown hoping to win back his childhood sweetheart (Jessica Rothe). Nicholas Sparks with a twang. (C MINUS.)

GAME NIGHT--Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams (both very good) host a murder mystery party that goes increasingly awry in a dark, sometimes dangerous comedy that, at its best, favorably recalls 80's classics like "After Hours," "Into the Night" and "Something Wild." A brave attempt at something different from the cookie-cutter Hollywood norm from John Frances Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (whose credits include writing "Horrible Bosses" and co-directing 2015's awful "Vacation" reboot). (B.)

GRINGO--Entertaining shaggy dog story about a buttoned-down businessman (David Oyelow) who loses his bearings--and nearly his life--on a trip in Mexico. (Drug cartels, the DEA and the CIA are involved.) A deliciously venal Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton play the conniving work associates responsible for his, er, predicament, and Amanda Seyfried is a good samaritan who tries to help. A fun throwback to the Tarantino derivatives that popped up on a regular basis during the '90s. Directed by Nash Edgerton (yes, Joel's brother). (B MINUS.)

HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES--In 1977 London, a punk rocker wannabe (Alex Sharp) falls for a pretty alien tourist (Elle Fanning). If you have a soft spot for Julien Temple's "Earth Girls Are Easy," this entertaining John Cameron Mitchell ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "Shortbus") sci-fi comedy-romance should be right up your alley. A smashing supporting turn from Mitchell's "Rabbit Hole" star, Nicole Kidman. (B.)

THE HURRICANE HEIST--Dully generic heist/disaster movie hybrid about a bunch of dimwit crooks who try and pull a robbery of the U.S. Treasury during a Category 5 hurricane. Since Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace and "True Blood" alum Ryan Kwanten don't have characters to play, they're reduced to running around in some really terrible weather shouting laughably expository dialogue at each other. Directed by Rob ("The Fast and the Furious," "XXX") Cohen who once upon a time made some pretty good movies ("A Small Circle of Friends," "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story"). Apparently those days are long behind him. (D MINUS.)

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE--More Evangelical Christian-pandering from the hackish Erwin Brothers ("Moms' Night Out") takes as its inspiration the story behind MercyMe's same-named song. Press notes describe it as "a gripping reminder of the power of true forgiveness." Whatever. But it's going to take me a long time to forgive Dennis Quaid and Cloris Leachman for wasting their talents on this tripe. (D.)

I FEEL PRETTY--After a freak gym accident, Amy Schumer's ugly duckling awakens with newly acquired self-confidence. Maybe too much self-confidence: she thinks she's a super model. Probably not very p.c. in the #MeToo era, but a fearless Schumer sells the movie's one-joke premise and makes it hum merrily along. The nicest surprise is a laugh-out-loud supporting turn from Michelle Williams. Who knew Ms. Method could be so funny? (B MINUS.)

INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY--A sequel to 2015's "Insidious, Chapter 3" (which was itself a prequel to the first two films), this edition is so confused and confusing you'd swear everyone was making it up as they went along. Let's hope the title's a promise because this teen horror franchise is now officially running on fumes. (D.)

ISLE OF DOGS--Wes ("Fantastic Mr. Fox," "The Grand Budapest Hotel") Anderson's latest stop-motion animated treasure is brilliantly imaginative, visually resplendent, wryly amusing and effortlessly moving without an ounce of Disney treacle. Set in a future version of Japan in which the entire dog population has been relocated to an island waste dump by a cat-loving despot, the film has more heart, wit and, yes, soul than a dozen live-action movies. The vocal casting is wonderful, too: Bill Murray, Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, Yoko Ono (yes, Yoko Ono!), Jeff Goldblum, etc. It's another instant classic by Anderson, my favorite contemporary American filmmaker. (A.)

ISMAEL'S GHOSTS--Mathieu Amalric is understandably flummoxed when his MIA wife (Marion Cotillard) returns after a 20-year absence. Needless to say her reappearance causes considerable strain on his relationship with new partner Charlotte Gainsbourg. Since the film was written and directed by the great Arnaud Desplechin ("A Christmas Tale"), don't go in expecting a Gallic "Philadelphia Story." Desplechin has much bigger fish to fry, all of them uniquely fascinating and infinitely tasty. (A.)

LEAN ON PETE--Director Andrew ("Weekend," "45 Years") Haigh's first American-lensed film is a small miracle: a boy and his horse story (well, sort of) that's also a masterpiece of empathy. After an orphaned 15-year-old (Charlie Plummer, remarkable) rescues the titular ailing racehorse, they embark upon a cross-country journey to reunite with the boy's estranged aunt (his only living relative). Beautifully lensed and impeccably acted (Steve Buscemi, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Zahn, Travis Fimmel and Amy Seimetz all make indelible impressions), it's a movie to treasure. The tears it earns are both cathartic and joyful. (A.)

THE LEISURE SEEKER--Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland are better than their material in this hokey, sentimental dramedy about a long-married couple's Winnebago road trip to visit Ernest Hemingway's Key West home (Hemingway is the Sutherland character's literary hero). Because Mirren is dying of cancer and Sutherland has dementia, there's plenty of predictable heart-wringing--and some cringe-inducing stabs at humor to boot. Ick. (C MINUS.)

LIFE OF THE PARTY--To help rebound from a messy divorce, Melissa McCarthy (who cowrote the screenplay) returns to college to complete her bachelor's degree. Needless to say daughter Maddie (appealing newcomer Molly Gordon) is, er, conflicted about having mom on campus. Formulaic, sitcom-y fare made enjoyable, even oddly endearing by McCarthy and an ace supporting cast (including Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph and Julie Bowen). Helmed by McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone, who previously directed her in 2014's "Tammy" and 2016's "The Boss." (B MINUS.)

LOVE AFTER LOVE--Andie McDowell rebounds and blossoms after the death of her long-time husband. Her grown sons (Chris O'Dowd and James Adomian)? Not so much. I'm not sure whether first-time writer-director Russell Harbaugh was going for ersatz (John) Cassavetes, an American indie (Ingmar) Bergman pastiche...or something else. But the result is fascinating, albeit discomfiting to watch and beautifully acted, especially by McDowell who hasn't been this good since 1995's "Unstrung Heroes," maybe "sex, lies and videotape." (B.)

LOVELESS--A divorced couple (Aleksey Rozin and Maryana Spivak, both tremendous) uneasily reunite after their young son disappears. The bitterness and acrimony that wrecked their marriage immediately comes to the forefront, and the missing child is nearly forgotten amidst all the toxicity and bile-spewing. As devastating and damning an indictment of life in present-day Russia as director Andrey Zvyagintsev's previous masterpiece, 2014's "Leviathan." (A.)

LOVE, SIMON--Nick ("Jurassic World," "Everything Everything") Robinson plays a high school senior whose journey out of the closet is the subject of this warm and fuzzy dramedy from openly gay TV auteur Greg ("Riverdale," "The Arrow") Berlanti. A little too slick (and glib) for its own good, but its heart is definitely in the right place. Nicely acted by Robinson and the always welcome Jennifer Garner as his mom. (B.)

MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE--Another dystopian YA franchise signs off. Dylan O'Brien has grown in the lead role of Thomas, and has become a formidable action hero in the process. He's the best thing here. Unfortunately, in an attempt to give a series that always prided itself on unpretentiousness--certainly in comparison with, say, the "Divergent" movies--"epic" weight, a certain ponderousness has set in. It's a (too) leisurely paced 142-minute sprint to the finish line. (C PLUS.)

MIDNIGHT SUN--Sappy star-crossed YA romance that somehow bypassed the Hallmark Channel and made its way onto the big screen. Not for long, I suspect. Neither Bella Thorne or Patrick Schwarzenegger (yes, Ahnud's son) can make it even borderline tolerable for anyone old enough to drive. (D.)

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD--Would "The Walking Dead"--and the cottage industry that sprung up around it--even exist without "Night of the Living Dead"? Discuss. Or better yet, buy the Criterion Collection's stunningly comprehensive new Blu-Ray edition of George A. Romero's grassroots zombie trailblazer. Shot in Pittsburgh on a $100,000 budget, Romero's 1968 masterpiece left an indelible footprint in both the horror genre and indie film circles. Decades before "Get Out," Romero was combining genre tropes with the type of scathing social criticism that would have never been allowed in a more "reputable" mainstream release. It was truly a "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church" moment, even if no one quite realized it at the time. Fifty years later, Romero's movie still has the ability to send goosebumps down your spine--and make you laugh your ass off if you're so inclined. Criterion's 4K digital restoration (supervised by, among others, Romero, co-screenwriter John A. Russo and sound engineer Gary R. Streiner) insures that this "Living Dead" looks vastly superior to any previous versions: it's certainly an improvement over the distressed print I saw back in the day on a double-bill with "Dr. Who and the Daleks" at a neighborhood theater. The extras are an embarrassment of geek-riches, beginning with "Night of Anubis," a previously unseen work-print edit of the film and an equally rare 16 mm dailies reel. There are two--count 'em--audio commentaries from 1994 featuring Romero, Russo, producer Karl Hardman and actor Judith O'Dea (Barbara) among others, and archival interviews with Romero and actors Duane Jones (Ben) and Judith Ridley. Also included are programs featuring Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro and Robert Rodriguez rhapsodizing over Romero's visionary genius, and Russo dishing on the commercial and industrial-film company where he and Romero began their careers. There are also new interviews with Streiner and producer Russell Streiner; newsreels from 1967; original trailer, radio and TV spots; and an essay by "Nation" critic Stuart Klawans."They're coming for you, Barbara!" indeed. (A PLUS.)

NOSTALGIA--Memory and loss are the themes of this intricately structured drama written by indie wunderkind Alex Ross Perry and directed by Mark Pellington. It doesn't entirely work--the stop-and-start rhythm built into the material takes some getting used to--but very much worth seeing for the superb performances of Ellen Burstyn, Jon Hamm and Catherine Keener. (B.)

ON CHESIL BEACH--Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle share a disastrous wedding night in 1962 that proves to have life-altering consequences for both. Skillfully adapted from Ian McEwan's acclaimed novel, it's a nuanced, intelligent film for adult audiences that deserved to find a bigger audience in theaters last spring. First-rate supporting turns from Samuel West and Emily Watson as Ronan's, uh, complicated parents. (B.)

THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE--Aki Kaurismaki, Finland's answer to American indie mainstay Jim Jarmusch, has been making wonderfully quirky, wry, minimalist slices of life-on-the-fringes for more than 30 years. "Hope" ranks with "The Match Factory Girl" and "Ariel" as one of his greatest works to date. The global refugee crisis comes to Kausimaki's beloved Helsinki when a displaced Syrian (Sherwan Haji) strikes up an odd-couple friendship with a recently divorced salesman (Sakari Kuosmanen) who dreams of becoming a restauranteur. Like Jarmusch, Kaurismaki has always been a bit of an acquired taste, even for arthouse habitu├ęs, but if you can get on his deadpan wavelength, the rewards are considerable. An old-fashioned humanist in the tradition of Jean Renoir or Milos Forman, Kaurismaki shows that nuggets of empathy can make even the hardest of hard scrabble existences not only bearable, but maybe even transcendent. The newly issued Criterion Collection Blu-Ray has less extras than one associates with the Tiffany home video label, but they're choice nonetheless. Included are an interview with Haji; a short film by Daniel Raim based on a 1997 essay by critic Peter von Bagh to whom Kaurismaki dedicated the film; press conference footage from the 2017 Berlin Film Festival featuring Kaurismaki and the film's stars; music videos; and an essay by critic Girish Shambu. (A.)

OVERBOARD--Harmless gender-switched reboot of the 1987 Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell rom-com. Fitfully amusing thanks to the always welcome Anna Farris as a plucky single mom who gets the upper hand after her pampered moneybags (Eugenio Derbez) boss experiences a bout of amnesia. Overlong and silly, but relatively painless just the same. (C.)

PACIFIC RIM UPRISING--I loved Guillermo del Toro's 2013 "Pacific Rim," but this slapdash, del Toro-less follow-up plays like a mediocre direct-to-video sequel. It's indifferently directed with laughably bad dialogue/performances, and the CGI is so oppressively omni-present I'm surprised they didn't bypass human actors altogether and just use holograms. Certainly they couldn't have been any worse than charisma and talent-deficient leads John Boyega and Scott Eastwood. (D MINUS.)

PADDINGTON 2--Innocuous follow-up to the popular 2015 kidflick. Sally Hawkins and High Bonneville return as adoptive "parents" to a twee CGI bear who once again wreaks benign havoc on their proper British household. Small children will love it. Anyone else? Snoozeville. (C.)

THE PARTY--On the night she's elected Prime Minister, Kristin Scott Thomas (terrific) learns that hubby Timothy Spall is (a) dying of a terminal disease, and (b) leaving her for a younger woman. Party guests Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer and Cillian Murphy join in the titular celebration's bleakly comic madness. The most purely entertaining film by cult British feminist director Sally Potter since 1993's "Orlando." (A MINUS.)

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST--While handsomely produced on a cable movie budget, this sluggishly paced New Testament spin-off is fatally lacking in drama/interest. Strictly for undemanding "faith" audiences who will buy a ticket to anything--and like it, dammit--that

preaches to their Evangelical choir. The biggest name in the cast is Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" Jesus, Jim Caviezel. (D PLUS.)

PETER RABBIT--The mix of CGI and live action is mostly seamless in director Will ("Annie") Gluck's occasionally belabored, intermittently charming attempt to take Beatrix Potter's cuddly bunnies into the 21st century. Ubiquitous, unctuous James Corden voices Peter which is why it sometimes feels like a feature-length installment of Carpool Karaoke. The first-rate supporting cast includes Sam Neill (as Peter's nemesis Farmer McGregor), Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne as human antagonists (or friends). "I, Tonya" Oscar nominee Margot Robbie and "Star Wars" heroine Daisy Ridley provide the voices for Peter pals Flopsy and Cotton-Tail. (C PLUS.)

PROUD MARY--"Empire" diva Taraji P. Henson plays a mob hitwoman in a junky, thoroughly disreputable genre flick that could have been tailor-made for Pam Grier back in her blaxploitation heyday. Dumb, excessively violent and a thorough waste of Henson's considerable talents. (D.)

A QUIET PLACE--"Office" alumnus John Krasinski cowrote and directed this wonderfully creepy dystopian thriller set in a futuristic world where staying silent is the only way to stay alive. Kransinski stars with real-life wife Emily Blunt as the beleaguered paterfamilias attempting to save his family (Noah Jute and Millicent Simmonds are their kids, both excellent) from extinction. It ain't gonna be easy. As good as the best M. Night Shyamalan movies (think "The Sixth Sense" or "Unbreakable"). (A MINUS.)

RAMPAGE--Based upon the same 1986 arcade game that inspired Disney's "Wreck-it-Ralph," Dwayne Johnson's reunion with "San Andreas" director Brad Peyton is so ridiculous you almost want to cut it some slack. The ever-affable Johnson plays a primatologist whose favorite gorilla undergoes a top-secret genetic experiment that turns him into a rampaging monster. Soon, there's an outbreak of giant killer beasts and it's up to the former Mr. Rock to save us all from Armageddon. If you didn't laugh while reading that synopsis, this movie probably isn't for you. For anyone else, it nearly qualifies as "so bad it's almost good." (C MINUS.)

READY PLAYER ONE--Steven Spielberg's wildly ambitious adaptation of Ernest Cline's 2011 cult novel is a cross between his underappreciated 2001 masterpiece "A.I.," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and Chris Columbus' woebegone "Pixels." A busy fanboy fantastia littered with the detritus of '80s pop culture, it's overlong, frenetic and alternately exhilarating or exhausting depending upon your penchant for virtual reality vidgames. Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn and current Spielberg muse Mark Rylance headline the cast, but the film's cutting edge CGI deserves top billing. (C.)

RED SPARROW--Jennifer Lawrence reteams with her "Hunger Game" director Francis Lawrence for a bristling, uber-stylish espionage thriller about a Russian ballerina turned international spy in Putin-era Russia. While the movie somewhat overstays its welcome at 140 minutes, a kick-ass Lawrence and the top-notch supporting cast (including Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts and the sublime Charlotte Rampling) insure that it's never boring. (B.)

REVENGE--Ultra-violent, surprisingly effective thriller about a young woman (the statuesque Matila Anna Ingrid Lutz) who enacts grisly revenge on the trio of men (headed by an unctuous Kevin Janssens) who gang-raped her and left her for dead in the desert. First-time director Coralie Fargeat's spiked water-cooler movie is like an uber-stylized cross between vintage grindhouse ("I Spit On Your Grave," "Last House on the Left") and the #TimesUp movement.


THE RIDER--An extraordinary movie by director Chloe Zhao about a young Native American bronco rider (Brady Jandreau) whose promising rodeo career is cut short by a near fatal head injury. Like Zhao's previous neorealist marvel, "Songs My Brothers Taught Me," the cast is comprised of non-pros essentially playing fictionalized versions of themselves. It's a risky gambit that doesn't always work (see Clint Eastwood's clunky "The 15:17 to Paris"), but does so beautifully here. It's as visually resplendent as your average Terrence Malick movie--and just as besotted with nature and a kind of secular spiritualism--but with more narrative meat on its bones. Like that other 2018 boy-and-his-horse story, Andrew Haigh's wonderful "Lean on Pete," it's a humanist masterpiece that deserves to be seen by the widest possible audience. (A.)

SAMSON--A Biblical "epic" done on the cheap is no epic. It's fodder for low-rent cable networks which is where this holier-than-thou bilge belongs. (D MINUS.)

7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE--The 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight from Tel Avid to Paris is chronicled yet again in a workmanlike, yet curiously flat docudrama from director Jose (Netflix's "Narcos") Padilha. A good cast (Daniel Bruhl, Rosamund Pike, Eddie Marsan) hits their marks: nothing more, nothing less. (C.)

SHERLOCK GNOMES--A belated sequel to the 2011 animated sleeper adds a wry Arthur Conan Doyle spin to the mix. Intermittently amusing and good-looking with a solid vocal cast (Emily Blunt and James McAvoy reprise their roles as Gnomeo and Juliet, and Johnny Deep voices the titular gnome), it's a movie that grown-ups can watch relatively painlessly with their wee bairns. (C PLUS.)

SHOCK AND AWE--The build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq is revisited in Rob Reiner's fact-based docudrama. Two Knight Ridder reporters (Woody Harrelson and James Marsden) don't believe the weapons of mass destruction propaganda emanating from the White House and decide to suss out the truth. It's no "All the President's Men" or even "The Post," but it's still an entertaining ride. (B MINUS.)

SMALL TOWN CRIME--John Hawkes (first-rate) is an alcoholic ex-cop turned P.I. in this tasty slice of neo-noir by the Nelms Brothers (Ian and Esham). A first-rate supporting cast (including Robert Forster, Octavia Spencer and Anthony Anderson) helps sell the goods: think early '70s Don Siegel crossed with a post-Coen Brothers Sundance indie vibe. Laudably economical at a 92 terse minutes, it's the kind of movie that's worth seeking out if you're burned out on bland, bloated Hollywood fare. (B.)

STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT--More a spin-off than a sequel to the 2008 home invasion thriller in which the masked psychopaths have downgraded to trailer parks. (Hey, it's the Trump era.) Leads Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson, both clearly better than their Grade-B material, somehow manage to acquit themselves with a modicum of dignity. As devoid of style, suspense and technical competence as director Johannes Roberts' inexplicable summer 2017 sleeper, "47 Meters Down." (D PLUS.)

SUBMISSION--College professor Stanley Tucci gets more than he bargained after beginning his mentorship of an ambitious student (promising newcomer Addison Timlin). Tucci is dependably strong and Kyra Sedgwick makes her every scene count as his scorned wife. I just wish that the whole thing felt more like a movie than an off-Broadway play. (B MINUS.)

THOROUGHBREDS--Affectless, upper-class Connecticut teens Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy plot a murder in writer-director Cory Finley's strikingly accomplished debut movie. Alternately funny and horrifying, this pitch-black comedy marks Finley as a filmmaker to watch. (B.)

TOMB RAIDER--The timing for this reboot of the long dormant Angelina Jolie franchise couldn't be better. Post-"Wonder Woman" and #MeToo, there's a renewed urgency to Lara Croft's cartoonish heroics. Lending the film a gravitas it really doesn't deserve is Oscar winner Alicia Vikander who actually makes Lara seem like a flesh-and-blood action heroine rather than simply an airbrushed video game avatar. Not bad as far as 21st century CGI tentpoles go. (C PLUS.)

TRAFFIK--Trashy "B" action movie about a couple (the overqualified Paula Patton and Omar Epps) whose weekend getaway is spoiled by a vicious biker gang. Directed by DeonTaylor whose previous film (2016's "Meet the Blacks") was equally rank. (C MINUS.)

TRUTH OR DARE--Sadly, not a reissue of Madonna's classic 1990 behind-the-scenes documentary, but a standard-issue teen horror flick in which the titular party game turns deadly for a group of Millennials. Probably not the worst PG-13-rated teen horror movie we're likely to see this year, but completely unremarkable and cookie-cutter generic just the same. (C MINUS.)

TULLY--Charlize Theron plays a stressed out suburban wife/mother whose quality of life improves exponentially after hiring "night nanny" Mackenzie Davis. Witty, warm and wise with a twist ending you won't see coming, it's another strong collaboration between director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody who previously teamed on "Juno" and "Young Adult." (A MINUS.)

TWELVE STRONG--Chris Hemsworth plays a member of a Special Forces Green Beret unit assigned to Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Newbie director Nicolai Fuglsig can't decide whether he wants to make a rah-rah slice of America First agitprop or a more nuanced, morally ambiguous "Black Hawk Down"-style procedural. That innate schizophrenia sabotages the movie's best intentions. Good supporting cast (Michael Shannon, Bill Fichtner, Michael Pena and Taylor Sheridan), though. (C.)

UNSANE--Steven Soderbergh's snake pit suspenser--shot exclusively on iPhones--is a terrific showcase for "The Crown"'s Claire Foy who delivers a bravura performance as a woman mistakenly locked up in a sinister mental hospital. Gleefully lurid and hugely entertaining for anyone (guilty as charged) who remembers and digs vintage 1970's grindhouse cinema. Solid support from Juno Temple as a fellow patient and Amy Irving as Foy's mom. (B PLUS.)

THE VIRGIN SUICIDES--Sofia Coppola's lovely, deeply affecting 2000 directorial debut finally gets the Criterion Collection treatment it deserves. Sensitively adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides's acclaimed YA novel, the film marked Coppola as a distinctive new voice in American cinema. Anchored by Kirsten Dunst's mercurial performance as the eldest of five daughters chafing under repressive helicopter parents (James Woods and Kathleen Turner) in 1970's suburbia, the movie has a dreamy, plaintive melancholy that will haunt you long after it's over. I hadn't seen "The Virgin Suicides" since its original theatrical release, and like other first films by auteur directors (Wes Anderson's "Bottle Rocket;" Spike Jonze's "Being John Malkovich;" the Coen Brothers' "Blood Simple;" etc.), it's fascinating to discover all the various tropes/motifs one associates with their later works in its nascent stage. The bountiful extras on the digitally restored Criterion Blu-Ray include new interviews with Coppola, cinematographer Ed Lachman, Dunst, Josh Hartnett and Eugenides; a 1998 making-of documentary directed by Coppola's mother, Eleanor; Coppola's 1998 short film, "Lick the Star;" a music video, "Playground Love," directed by Coppola and her brother, Roman; and a thoughtful, appreciative essay about Coppola and the film by novelist Megan Abbott. (A.)

WHERE IS KYRA?--Michelle Pfeiffer is stunning as the title character, a disappointed-in-life middle-aged woman who moves back in with her ailing mom in a Brooklyn walk-up. After her mother dies, Kyra's financial support system disappears and she's forced to make some tough choices. Providing what little help he can is new boyfriend Kiefer Sutherland (also very good).

Directed by Andrew ("Mother of George") Dosunmu, it's stripped down, too arty for its own good, but quietly devastating thanks almost entirely to Pfeiffer's performance. (B.)

WINCHESTER--Oscar winner Helen Mirren plays a member of the Winchester rifle family convinced that her mansion is haunted by gunfire victims. Don't you hate when that happens? An old-fashioned, things-that-go-bump-in-the-night ghost story in the "Woman in Black" tradition directed by the Spierig Brothers whose horror flicks (e.g., "Jigsaw," their recent "Saw" reboot) are usually a lot more gruesome and graphic. Underwhelming and not particularly scary, but still better than "Insidious: The Last Key." (D PLUS.)

WOMEN IN LOVE--Ken Russell and Larry Kramer's Academy Award-winning 1970 D.H. Lawrence adaptation has aged remarkably well--and, nearly 50 years later, still has the power to shock and awe. Compared to the puritanical movies released by Hollywood these days, its unabashed eroticism and full frontal nudity make it seem downright liberating. Blessed with inspired casting (Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden as the titular women; Oliver Reed and Alan Bates as their equally besotted male counterparts) and Billy Williams' gorgeous, sun-dappled cinematography, it could almost be construed as a #MeToo siren call in its emphasis on female empowerment and women, yes, doing it for themselves. Jackson deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as the imperious Gudrun Brangwen, and her 1976 interview is one of the many extras on this beautifully restored new Criterion Collection Blu-Ray. Also included are two 2003 commentaries featuring Russell and Kramer; a 2007 Russell interview for the BAFTA Los Angeles Heritage Archive; "A British Picture: Portrait of an Enfant Terrible," Russell's 1989 auto-biopic; interviews with Kramer and Linden conducted during the movie's 1969 production; new interviews with Williams and editor Michael Bradsell; a 1972 short based on a Lawrence story produced by and starring Bates; and an insightful essay about the film and Russell's career by scholar Linda Ruth Williams. Fingers crossed that Criterion will some day get around to releasing Russell's 1971 magnum opus, "The Devils." (A.)

WONDERSTRUCK--A magical journey into the past (1927 and 1977 respectively) by Todd Haynes that feels like an instant classic. Make that "cult classic" since virtually nobody saw it in theaters. Future generations will mock 2017 audiences for being so deaf, dumb and blind. (A.)

A WRINKLE IN TIME--Disappointing adaptation of Madeline L'Engle's kid-lit classic that's both over-produced and creatively underwhelming. Talented director Ana DuVernay ("Selma"), who's used to working on a vastly smaller scale and with a lot less money, is clearly in over her head. You quickly get the sense that this runaway Disney Corp. production just got the better of her. A wonderful cast (Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mindy Kaling, et al) is left stranded, "Jumanji"-like, in a CGI Never Never Land. You'll feel their pain. (D PLUS.)

YOUNG MR. LINCOLN--The best Hollywood movie of 1939 wasn't "Gone With the Wind" or even "The Wizard of Oz," but this elegiac John Ford masterpiece about the early years of Honest Abe Lincoln, memorably played by Henry Fonda in one of his greatest screen performances. The film's stunning black-and-white photography (by frequent Ford collaborator Bert Glennon) has never looked better than in this new Criterion Collection Blu-Ray edition. Glennon's richly burnished images practically glisten. If you've never seen "Young Mr. Lincoln"--shockingly, the movie isn't as well-known as it should be: it's frequently overshadowed by Ford's "Stagecoach" released that same year--this is a fantastic introduction to one of the most enduring classics of

the American cinema. The extras are, per the Criterion norm, suitably choice: an audio commentary with Ford biographer Joseph McBride; Lindsay Anderson's profile of Ford's life and work prior to WW II; a 1975 talk show appearance by Fonda; audio interviews from the seventies with Ford and Fonda conducted by Ford's grandson; a radio dramatization of the film; an essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien; and a Ford homage by master Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein.



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