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Thanksgiving Recap of Films

by Sandra Olmsted, Ph.D.

The Holiday selection for movies offers lots of choices and something to please everyone! All these films are in theaters now.

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (TriStar) Director Ang Lee’s adaptation of Ben Fountain’s novel relies heavily, perhaps too heavily, on technological advancements in filmmaking to tell the story of a reluctant war hero and his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad,. When Nineteen-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle, he is brought home for a brief victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of a Thanksgiving Day football game, what really happened to the squad is revealed, contrasting the realities of the war with America’s perceptions of heroism. Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Kristen Stewart, and Steve Martin also star. Rated R for language throughout, some war violence, sexual content, and brief drug use; 110 minutes.

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Movies: A Short Recap Plus a Little Preview

by Sandra Olmsted

Here’s a recap of a few more films in theaters now, and a few of the coming attractions to look forward to seeing soon.

   Moana (Disney) Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) sails out on a daring mission to save her people and recapture the spirit of her ancestors, the greatest sailors in the world who voyaged across the vast Pacific and discovered the many islands of Oceania. That was three thousand years ago, and their voyages of discovery stopped for a millennium. Moana needs help to navigate the difficult water, battle enormous sea monsters, and overcome impossible odds, and the help she gets comes from the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her quest to become a master wayfinder. Will Moana fulfill the ancient quest of her ancestors and discover the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity? Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker, the film is ideal for youngsters and delightful for all fans of animation. Rated PG for peril, some scary images, and brief thematic elements, it runs 113 minutes.

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Inferno in Theaters Now

Inferno: Smoke But No Fire

  By Sandra Olmsted

inferno-tom-hanks-pg-16In Inferno, director Ron Howard opens with a chase up a famous European landmark that ends in the death of Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster). Zobrist will continue to appear in the film via internet videos where he espouses the annihilation of a large portion of the human race via the release of a plague.

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Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back–By the Book

By Sandra Olmsted


tom-cruise-as-jack-reecherJack Reacher: Never Go Back, the second installment in the franchise based on Lee Child’s books, hits all the marks for an action flick, like a color-by-numbers picture. Directed by Edward Zwick, who last worked with Tom Cruise on The Last Samurai (2003), the movie delivers all evil bad guys, the narrow escapes, thrill-ride chases, and against-the-odds battles buying a ticket to an action thriller promises. However, this movie leaves an unsatisfying B-film taste in the mouth.

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Good Remake of Birth of a Nation

Re-Birth of a Nation Allows Director,

Writer-Actor Nate Parker to Control Film

By Sandra Olmsted

Say Birth of a Nation and anyone who has had a film studies class will think D.W. Griffith ’s racist film that was also Hollywood’s first block buster and used innovative filmmaking techniques. Well, writer, director, and star Nate Parker is turning that thinking on its head by appropriating the title of Griffith’s film.

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Movie Review:

Bridget Jones’ Baby: Just For Fun                              

  by Sandra Olmsted

Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger), the symbolic modern woman for many, returns with a new adventure, this time in motherhood, as only Bridget Jones and Zellweger can do it. A perennial screw up and single girl, Bridget, now 43, still embodies the experience of being a woman pulled snagged, and shagged as it is here, between traditional roles and the independence and responsibilities of modernity.    The story picks up with Bridget as an established television producer who soon attends a memorial for old flame Daniel (Hugh Grant), who has gone missing in South America i.e. the wilds of not coming back for this third installment in the franchise. The memorial service sets the stage for Bridget’s snarky observations, first whispered to friends and then, at the encouragement of Daniel’s mother, Bridget’s gift for not getting what to say exactly polite but often correct kicks in with a vengeance, hilariously so. She was probably unnerved, as she so easily is, by the appearance of another old flame, Mark (Colin Firth), and his wife at the memorial.      Encouraged to celebrate her birthday with a weekend at a music festival by friend and co-worker Jude (Shirley Henderson), Bridget shows her stuck-in-the-past beliefs when she comes dressed an all-white outfit to the muddy field (this is rainy Old England) of apparently identical yurts. The white outfit and all-too-similar yurts lead to not only a meet cute but a delicious impromptu shag with Jack (Patrick Dempsey), a rather charming and very accommodating American, who it turns out is an online dating guru.    A week later at a christening, Bridget runs into one time sweetheart Mark, who is now practically divorced. Then Bridget and Mark rekindle their difficult, but deeply-held, love for one night of passion. In the morning, Mark finds only an empty bed and a note from Bridget explaining she can’t have a relationship with him again because they tend to disappoint each other too much and too often. Meanwhile, Bridget has other problems, namely the ultra-hipster new boss (Kate O’Flynn) at the television station. Being required to make her show shallow and hip rubs Bridget and Jude the wrong way, but Bridget soon discovers she really needs her job.    Emma Thompson who steals the scene after scene as Dr. Rawlings, Bridget’s very perceptive gynecologist. The scene was delightful where Zellweger and Thompson negotiate the problems of Bridget’s problematic paternity situation and “geriatric” pregnancy. Zellweger and Thompson have good chemistry as sparring and later cooperating characters.    Firth and Dempsey are equally good as heartthrobs, and Henderson also makes an excellent best friend and conspirator for Zellweger. The well-timed comic acting and the talented performers, include the many ones reprising roles from the two earlier installments, make the small problems with the script almost unnoticeable. Director Sharon Maguire, who directed the 2001 original, brings back the whimsy and power of Bridget’s everywoman experience negotiating womanhood in the twentieth and now twenty-first centuries.    Because Bridget Jones’ Baby is not an adaptation of Helen Fielding’s 2013 Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, the third novel in her Bridget Jones series, perhaps there are more adventures ahead for Bridget and her fans. The original adaptation, Bridget Jones’ Diary, is well worth revisiting.                Although Bridget Jones’ Baby is clearly aimed at the female audiences, Maguire includes plenty of gags that capture the problems of impending fatherhood for males, especially because Bridget has trouble telling Mark and Jack that she doesn’t know which is the father and won’t until the baby is born. Neither will the audiences unless unscrupulous reviewers spill the beans.    Because Bridget Jones’ Baby is not an adaptation of Helen Fielding’s 2013 Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, the third novel in her Bridget Jones series, perhaps there are more adventures ahead for Bridget and her fans    Bridget Jones’ Baby is rated R for language, sex references, and some nudity and is definitely an adult comedy and does require suspending disbelief, but let go and just have fun as Bridget and company poke fun at getting older and dealing with the new hip. Bridget Jones’ Baby, a Miramax release, runs a quickly-paced, fun and funny, 122 minutes, and is in theaters now.      Bridget Jones is still wacky with Renee Zellweger revising the role with Colin Firth and a new man in her life Patrick Dempsey in Bridget Jones Baby now playing area theaters

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