By Original-Cin Staff
To paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times they are – a-larming. And it’s fitting we have several politically topical movie offerings this week.
Leading off there’s Luce (Rating: B+), based on J.C. Lee’s stage play. It features Naomi Watts and Tim Roth as adoptive parents of African-born Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) a high-school star who becomes a subject of suspicion of his teacher (Octavia Spencer). Our reviewer Karen Gordon praises the excellent performances all around in this layered drama, though occasionally scenes a bit too pointed.
Guillermo Del Toro produced the adolescent horror movie, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Rating: C) based on the late Alvin Schwartz’s series of horror tales for adolescents. Despite being set in small-town Pennsylvania, 1968, says reviewer Liam Lacey, it manages to push several topical buttons including anti-immigrant bias and right-wing politics, in an attractively-produced, if over-familiar film.
Casey Affleck wrote and directed Light of My Life (Rating: B), a dystopian drama about a world in which all the women have died of a “female plague” Affleck plays a man who is travelling with his 11-year-old daughter, Rag (the excellent Anna Pniowsky) who is disguised as a boy. Because Affleck was sued by two women for sexual harassment in 2010, it’s difficult not to see the film through the filter of #metoo, says reviewer Liam Lacey, but the film also works as an exploration of the limits of parental love.
The documentary Mike Wallace Is Here (Rating: B) looks at the career of the late 60 Minutes correspondent, a model of the old-fashioned tough interviewer. The film, relying on archival interviews, explores how Wallace’s persona was a creation, while posing some of the reasons why, in the age of FOX News and social media, we won’t see his like again. If nothing else, says Liam Lacey, the film is worth seeing for the archival clips of Wallace going toe-to-toe with everyone from Salvador Dali to Ayatollah Khomeini.
For some counter-programming, we have a talking dog movie, The Art of Racing in the Rain (Rating: C+). Based on Garth Stein’s best-seller, the movie featuring Kevin Costner providing the internal monologue of a philosophical dog named Enzo and lots of “aww” moments. Our dog-loving reviewer Jim Slotek admits to tearing up, but expected more of Enzo’s philosophy and less of the melodrama about Enzo’s race-car driving owner, Denny (Milo Ventimiglia from This Is Us), and his tragic love affair with wife Eve (Amanda Seyfried). It doesn’t live up to the book, but if you’re looking for something with the tone of A Dog’s Journey, this definitely qualifies.
Have a great weekend.