Still screen­ing in Bay Area the­aters

The Mercury News Weekend - - A+E -

“A Bad Moms Christ­mas”: Mila Ku­nis, Kris­ten Bell and Kathryn Hahn starred in the first “Bad Moms” com­edy last year, play­ing moth­ers who let loose with some al­co­hol while let­ting go of their as­pi­ra­tions to be per­fect moms. They’re back in this hol­i­day com­edy — joined by Chris­tine Baran­ski, Ch­eryl Hines and Su­san Saran­don play­ing the moms’ moms. Un­doubt­edly the plight of moth­ers who look for re­lief from the crush­ing weight of their tra­di­tional gen­der roles at the bot­tom of a chardon­nay bottle need some deft sto­ry­tellers to shine a light on their predica­ment. But co-writ­ers/ co-di­rec­tors Jon Lu­cas and Scott Moore (the mas­ter­minds be­hind the “Hang­over” movies) are not those sto­ry­tellers. The women in the film are car­toon­ish and campy, and fe­male view­ers de­serve bet­ter. ★ ½ (Katie Walsh, Tri­bune News Ser­vice) R, 1:44 “Blade Run­ner 2049”: While hunt­ing a repli­cant who “wants more life” in 2049Los Angeles, po­lice of­fi­cer K (Ryan Gosling) stum­bles upon mind­blow­ing se­crets, and sets off to try to find the orig­i­nal “Blade Run­ner’s” De­tec­tive Deckard (Har­ri­son Ford) — who, it turns out, has been in hid­ing for 30years. Direc­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve con­jures a dystopian fu­ture that seems less fan­tas­ti­cal than the one three decades ago, where the priv­i­leged live off-world, while the other hu­mans and an­droids rot amid the wreck­age on Earth. K’s boss is per­fectly played by Robin Wright, and Ford is at his most poignant here. As a para­ble about a pop­u­lace so ob­sessed with vir­tual re­al­ity that it com­pletely loses touch with na­ture, this “Blade” slices deep. ★ ★ ★ (Karen D’Souza, Bay Area News Group) R, 2:43 “The Florida Project”: In a heart­warm­ing, heartwrench­ing tale of child­hood poverty set at a cut-rate ex­tended-stay mo­tel near Walt Dis­ney World, young Moonee lives a charmed life of free­dom, friends and dev­il­ish fun un­der the watch­ful eye of the man- ager (Willem Dafoe), while her sin­gle mom re­sells in­ex­pen­sive perfume out­side a nearby re­sort ho­tel. Direc­tor Sean Baker (“Tan­ger­ine”), co-writer Chris Ber­goch and their won­der­ful young ac­tors get this slice of child­hood just right, while il­lu­mi­nat­ing the lives of peo­ple for whom one missed pay­ment would spell dis­as­ter. ★ ★ ★ ★ (Lind­sey Bahr, The As­so­ci­ated Press) R, 1:55 “Good­bye Christo­pher

Robin”: In the 1920s, Bri­tain’s A. A. Milne gave a world still reel­ing from the First World War gen­tle books, in­clud­ing “Win­nie-thePooh,” in­spired by his only child and the boy’s stuffed an­i­mal friends. Adapted from a 1990Milne bi­og­ra­phy and mem­oirs by the son, Christo­pher Milne, the script is stuffed with more shifts in time and tone than it can han­dle, and though the film — di­rected by Si­mon Cur­tis, and star­ring Domh­nall Glea­son as the au­thor — has mo­ments of de­light and pro­fun­dity, it stum­bles too of­ten to rank as first-rate. ★ ★ ½ (Jane Hor­witz, The Wash­ing­ton Post) PG, 1:47 “The Killing of a Sa­cred Deer”: Ni­cole Kid­man, Colin Far­rell and Ali­cia Sil­ver­stone star in a mod­ern-day goof on a Greek leg­end or two, di­rected by that coun­try’s cin­e­matic bad boy Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos (“The Lobster”). The film raises mostly unan­swered ques­tions for laughs be­fore tak­ing un­funny and bru­tal turns. Yor­gos may be posit­ing the idea that an­cient myths aren’t done with us yet in to­day’s in­creas­ingly nasty era. ★ ★ ½ (Bob Strauss, South­ern Cal­i­for­nia News Group) R, 1:59

“LBJ”: Rob Reiner’s biopic, star­ring Woody Har­rel­son as the 36th pres­i­dent, has ar­rived in the­aters a year af­ter its pre­miere at the 2016 Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val and 16months af­ter Bryan Cranston reprised his Tony-win­ning Broad­way per­for­mance as LBJ in an HBO film. Reiner’s ver­sion is a frus­trat­ing­lymild por­trait of the leg­endary politi­cian who pulled out all the stops to get the Civil Rights Act through Congress. Har­rel­son valiantly cre­ates a per­for­mance half­way be­tween im­per­son­ation and sug­ges­tion that’s of­ten touch­ing but far from de­fin­i­tive. ★ ★ (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tri­bune) R, 1:38

“Novi­tiate”: In Mar­garet Betts’ de­but dra­matic fea­ture, Mar­garet Qual­ley mov­ingly por­trays a woman who en­ters a con­vent at age 17in 1954, and sees the Vat­i­can II re­forms tak­ing ef­fect 10 years later, even though the con­vent’s mother su­pe­rior (Melissa Leo), who has lived be­hind its walls for 40years, teaches the girls to treat ev­ery­thing she says as the literal word of God. What “Novi­tiate” makes clear is that women wel­comed this life not to es­cape the out­side world but to em­brace a dif­fer­ent, more sat­is­fy­ing in­te­rior one. ★ ★ ★ (Ken­neth Turan, Los Angeles Times) R, 2:03

“Only the Brave”: Film­maker Joseph Kosin­ski’s fact-based drama fo­cuses on Ari­zona’s 2013Yar­nell fire and the Gran­ite Moun­tain Hot­shots crew who fought it. The story is laid outwith the same pre­ci­sion that Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) brought to train­ing the fire­fight­ers and help­ing them plan for each bat­tle. The film re­volves around the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Marsh and Bren­dan McDonough (Miles Teller), a for­mer junkie who ap­plies for the job when he be­comes a fa­ther. This tale will touch your heart and keep hold­ing on to it long af­ter the cred­its roll. ★ ★ ★ ★ (Katie Walsh, Tri­bune News Ser­vice) PG-13, 2:12

“Subur­bicon”: This un­easy, tonally awk­ward drama — in­spired by racism in the planned com­mu­nity of Le­vit­town, Penn­syl­va­nia, in the 1950s — be­comes a bur­lesque of racial panic and then de­volves into Hitch­cock­ian hor­ror. Matt Da­mon de­liv­ers a spot-on per­for­mance as a be­lea­guered Ev­ery­man hoisted on his own bum­blingly self-de­struc­tive pre­tard. Ju­lianne Moore and Os­car Isaac co-star. Direc­tor Ge­orge Clooney and col­lab­o­ra­tor Grant Heslov adapted the screen­play from a never-pro­duced ef­fort by Joel and Ethan Coen. ★ ★ (Ann Hor­na­day, The Wash­ing­ton Post) R, 1:45 “Thank Your for Your Ser­vice”: In this fact-based drama, Miles Teller stars as Sgt. Adam Schu­mann, who’s strug­gling to find his foot­ing again with his wife (Ha­ley Ben­nett) and kids af­ter a par­tic­u­larly har­row­ing de­ploy­ment with his bat- tal­ion in Iraq. Adapted from David Finkel’s book about PTSD, the film is un­even, but Teller’s per­for­mance is com­pelling and mov­ing. ★ ★ ½ (Katie Walsh, Tri­bune News Ser­vice) R, 1:48

“Thor — Rag­narok”: If you never thought you’d the see the word “wit” in the same sen­tence as “part of theMarvel fran­chise,” take heart. New Zealand in­die film­maker Taika Waititi (“Hunt for the Wilder­peo­ple”) has given the of­ten flag­ging su­per­hero genre a much needed sense of hu­mor with­out laps­ing into ir­rev­er­ent drivel. Not since “Buffy” has a badass ac­tion hero made us laugh this hard while stay­ing true to his or her ori­gin story. From the epic Hulk vs. Thor smack­down to Cate Blanchett’s slith­ery vamp­ing as the vil­lain Hela, “Thor” brings equal parts thun­der and hi­lar­ity, thanks to its screen­play and Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hid­dle­ston, Blanchett, Mark Ruf­falo and Tessa Thomp­son. ★ ★ ★ ½ (Karen D’Souza, Bay Area News Group) PG-13, 2:10

“Vic­to­ria & Ab­dul”: In this crowd-pleaser from Stephen Frears, Judi Dench plays Eng­land’s Queen Vic­to­ria, and Bol­ly­wood star Ali Fazal plays Ab­dul Karim, a hand­some 24-year-old In­dian Mus­lim clerk who trav­els to Lon­don to present a cer­e­mo­nial gold coin to the queen at her Golden Ju­bilee. Vic­to­ria ap­points him her ser­vant and then her tu­tor in Urdu and In­dian cul­ture — much to the cha­grin of jeal­ous courtiers. ★ ★ (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times) PG-13, 1:52 “Won­der­struck”: This film’s par­al­lel sto­ries, from a novel by Brian Selznick, fol­low two deaf chil­dren (Oakes Fe­g­ley and new­comer Mill­cent Sim­monds) who, 50years apart, run off to New York City to try to fill gaps in their lives. Like all of Todd Haynes’ movies, this one (his first for fam­ily au­di­ences) feels like a metic­u­lously con­structed trea­sure. And while it doesn’t en­tirely cast a spell, the two nar­ra­tives fi­nally do meet, and con­jure gen­uine awe. ★ ★ ½ (Stephanie Merry, The Wash­ing­ton Post) PG, 1:57

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF MARVEL STU­DIOS

Chris Hemsworth, left, and the Hulk have man­aged to find wit and a sense of hu­mor in “Thor — Rag­narok.”

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