By Original-Cin Staff
If you need a spoonful of sugar to help the holiday medicine go down, our Karen Gordon heartily endorses Mary Poppins Returns (Rating: A+) as an "almost perfect old-fashioned family movie" starring Emily Blunt as the umbrella-wielding nanny, Lin-Manual Miranda as her lamplighter friend, and a cameo from a 93-year-old Dick Van Dyke, a mere 54 years after the original movie.
For a bigger portion of empty calories, our chef recommends Hawaiian hunk Jason Mamoa in super-hero drama, Aquaman (Rating: B), which Jim Slotek says is "relentless, noisy, entertaining nonsense." Jim also reviews Bumblebee (Rating: B-), the Transformers franchise spin-off starring Hailee Steinfeld, in a shorter, lighter and human friendly story about giant fighting robots and their young human friends.
For the art-house version of style over substance, there's Vox Lux (Rating: B-), Brady Corbet's ambitious meditation on violence and celebrity, starring Natalie Portman as a jaded pop star. But our reviewer Kim Hughes found the "messy-female-musician-as-avatar-for-society’s-ills" trope more depressing than revealing. For a more relatable tidy female pop star movie, we have Jennifer Lopez, as an assistant manager at a box store who shows up the Madison Avenue snobs in Second Act (Rating: B-) which Kim says checks all the J-Lo rom-com boxes.
Welcome to Marwen (Rating: D), Robert Zemeckis’s dramatized life of outsider artist Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) is a mess of schmaltzy live action and creepy doll animation, says Liam Lacey. Skip the movie and check out the award-winning 2010 documentary, Marwencol, instead.
Also, this week Bonne Laufer has exclusive interviews with Moonlight actor Trevante Rhodes about new Netflix thriller, Bird Box as well as Bumblebee director Travis Knight, and Emily Mortimer, who plays the now-grown-up Jane in Mary Poppins Returns.
In limited release we have Mirai of the Future (Rating: B+), a super-cute animated Japanese story of a little boy with a big temper; The Great Buster: A Celebration (Rating: B+) Peter Bogdanovich's documentary on silent-era genius, Buster Keaton and They Shall Not Grow Old (Rating: A), Peter Jackson’s haunting Great War memorial film, using colourization and voice-over interviews to bring history to life.
Don’t forget to check back for reviews of Christmas Day openings including If Beale Street Could Talk, Holmes & Watson, Vice and On the Basis of Sex. And please be sure to check out our final podcast of 2018 where we wonder whatever happened to Christmas movies.
Have a great holiday.