Sep 20 2019

Ad Astra

Cool as a cucumber, astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), the son of missing and famed astronaut H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) is called to action when strange power bursts from outer space begin threatening life on earth. Following in his father’s footsteps Roy will have to travel to the edge of our solar system to save our world and subsequently uncover the truth about his missing father and life on other planets. Directed by James Gray and Written by Gray and Ethan Gross, this dive into interstellar, zero gravity, soul exploration is a finely crafted amalgamation of the last twenty years of sci-fi space travel, all beautifully encapsulated in a two hour and two minute package. Which is to say, top notch acting from the ensemble, which also incldues Ruth Negga and Donald Sutherland, helps to add significant weight and power while drop dead gorgeous cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema, and a score, glacial and haunting from by Max Richter more than makes up for the somewhat underwhelming story arc of a father/son relationship dogged by the harshness of space and the human psyche. Perhaps an alternate working title might have been Zen and the Art of Space Station Maintenance? With early sights set on making an awards splash this year Ad Astra is not one to go quietly into the night, even though in space “no one can hear you scream.” Worth checking out this weekend, Ad Astra is rated PG-13.

Sep 13 2019

The Goldfinch

One of the few survivors of a bombing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, Theo Decker (Oakes Fegley, Ansel Elgort) rises from the ashes to be taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family. But, when estranged father (Luke Wilson) returns to claim Theo and bring him back to Nevada, the aspiring antiquarian is stopped in his studies; returning to New York a considerably more appealing fate. All the while, the harboring of stolen painting, “the Goldfinch,” remains at the center of Theo’s drive. How best to re-enter society for Theo and the painting hangs in the balance?Directed by John Crowley and based on the novel by Donna Tartt, this kitchen sink showpiece bounces from past to present with an accomplished ensemble made up of adult and child actors to round out each time period; interestingly it’s the youth who steal the show with significantly more impressive dynamic range and control, props to Oakes Fegley and Finn Wolfhard for their tortured youth incantation. Meanwhile, as the story sprawls in all directions like a deflated balloon, the overall wonder also manages to fall flat as our characters age and become wooden, disappointing for a tale of such epic proportions often falling to coincidence for convenience of storytelling. On the positive Cinematography by Roger Deakins is impeccable as always with consideration to light, color, texture, and creative angling. Maybe a matinee or rental if you don’t want to play bladder busters, the runtime is two hours and twenty nine minutes by the way, the Goldfinch is rated R.

Sep 6 2019

It Chapter Two

It’s been 27 years since the small town of Derry was last terrorized by Pennywise (Bill SkarsgÃ¥rd), the supernatural/extraterrestrial dancing clown; now, a similar series of events and disappearances is happening again. Returning home on a blood oath to finish “It” once and for all the Losers Club will have to dig up their past to ensure their future, lest their own self doubt destroy them first. Directed by Andy Muschietti and based on Stephen King’s novel, this beast of a movie, which runs nearly three hours in length, puts maximum effort in to re-creating the Stephen King slow burn style of character development. This go round adding heavy helpings of backstory to each of the leads, often in graphic and gory detail, fewer stones are left unturned, this however sacrifices eloquence and brevity on the alter of bloat. On the upshot, and despite its inefficiencies, the creep and tension factors clearly hit harder into the deadlights, even with fully telegraphed punches. And, to the ensemble’s credit, both generations of actors meld nicely to create what feels like legitimate and authentic younger and older versions of themselves, sharp. From a makeup and effects perspective, the film does lean heavily into CGI territory (computers and digital imagery) as opposed to practical effects (puppets, models, painting, etc.), but, measuring gallon for gallon in stage blood vs. CGI blood, either way you’re in for a massacre. Are you ready to kill this clown? It Chapter Two is rated R….for obvious reasons.