Still screen­ing in Bay Area the­aters— Nov. 24

The Mercury News Weekend - - A+E -

“A BadMoms 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. ★ (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 mind-blow­ing 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 touch­with na­ture, this “Blade” slices deep. ★★★ (Karen D’Souza, Bay Area News Group) R, 2:43

“Bill Nye - The Sci­ence Guy:

The well-known TV per­son­al­ity at­tempts to re­store sci­ence to its right­ful place in a world that’s be­come more hos­tile to ev­i­dence and rea­son now. In the doc­u­men­tary, we see him draw pas­sion­ate crowds at his pub­lic ap­pear­ances and share his in­fec­tious en­thu­si­asm to fight against cli­mate-change de­nial. ★★★ (Lora Grady, The Wash­ing­ton Post) Un­rated, 1:41

“Daddy’s Home 2”:

This sur­real se­quel to the 2015 hit skates on the comic per­sonas of Will Fer­rell and Mark Wahlberg, the re­turn­ing orig­i­nal dads. New this time are their fathers — John Lith­gow as a chatty, re­tired post­man with cook­ies in his pocket, and Mel Gib­son as a ma­cho, wom­an­iz­ing as­tro­naut who wants to give his grand­kids guns for Christ­mas. At times, the hu­mor is deliri­ously silly, at other mo­ments way off the

“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 the­m­an­ager (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

“Jus­tice League”:

Although marginally bet­ter than “Bat­man v Su­per­man” and “Sui­cide Squad,” di­rec­tor Zack Sny­der’s lat­est is still a pro­found mess of maudlin mus­cles, in­co­her­ent ac­tion and jaw-drop­pingly aw­ful CGI. It is big, loud, aw­ful to look at and ohso-dumb. There are some good mo­ments, thanks in large part to the ad­di­tion of Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/ The Flash, whose quick, self-dep­re­cat­ing hu­mor (likely the re­sult of Joss Whe­don’s script and reshoot work) and gen­eral live­li­ness steal scenes away from his brawnier and mood­ier coun­ter­parts. But ev­ery­thing else about “Jus­tice League” feels la­bored, from a pre­pos­ter­ous un­der­wa­ter bat­tle that comes out of nowhere and the ca­ma­raderie among the su­per­heroes that never clicks. ★ (Lind­sey Bahr, The As­so­ci­ated Press) PG-13, 2:01

“Lady Bird”:

Fo­cus­ing on a year (2002) in the life of high school se­nior Chris­tine McPher­son (aka Lady Bird), Greta Ger­wig’s lov­ingly com­posed film bursts with wit, hu­man­ity, joy and truth. Young Lady Bird craves a so­phis­ti­ca­tion that she finds to­tally lack­ing in her home­town of Sacra­mento, and can’t quite put into words or ac­tions be­yond a vague de­sire to go to an East Coast col­lege. She doesn’t know that kind of dis­sat­is­fac­tion has plagued ev­ery 17-year-old, who would rather die than ad­mit that ev­ery­thing might be OK. Play­ing the ti­tle char­ac­ter, Ir­ish-Amer­i­can ac­tress Saoirse Ronan adds an­other stun­ning per­for­mance to her re­sume. Lau­rie Met­calf dis­tin­guishes her­self as Chris­tine’s mother, a hard­work­ing nurse, and so does Beanie Feld­stein play­ing the girl’s best friend. ★★★★ (Lind­sey Bahr, The As­so­ci­ated Press) R, 1:33

“Last Flag Fly­ing”:

Richard Lin­klater’s film is a sort of fol­lowup to Hal Ashby’s great 1973movie “The Last De­tail,” in which two petty of­fi­cers (Otis Young and Jack Ni­chol­son) trans­port a naive 18-year-old sol­dier (Randy Quaid) from Vir­ginia to a brig in NewHamp­shire, where he will serve eight years for try­ing to steal $40from a char­ity box. “Last Flag Fly­ing” trav­els the same high­way, but the cen­tral trio are Viet­nam vet­er­ans and friends well into mid­dle age (Lau­rence Fish­burne, Bryan Cranston and Steve Car­rell). The rea­son for this jour­ney is to ac­com­pany the body of the son of one of the vets, killed in the Iraq war, to his New Hamp­shire home­town for burial. A theme in this deeply con­tem­pla­tive film is about how so much changes while so much stays the same. It’s still the foot sol­diers who pay the price for ill-con­ceived wars. ★★ (Jake Coyle, The As­so­ci­ated Press) R, 2:04

“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 frus­trat­ingly mild 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

“Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press”:

Would that in this vis­ually stun­ning pro­duc­tion — with lav­ish pe­riod cos­tumes and grand views of the snow-capped Alps — the per­for­mances were not so lack­lus­ter, and more like Michelle Pfeif­fer’s and Derek Ja­cobi’s, who leave last­ing im­pres­sions. The oth­ers, in­clud­ing di­rec­tor-star Ken­neth Branagh as Her­cule Poirot, mostly go through the mo­tions, and the film’s de­fi­cient pac­ing un­der­mines the sense of sus­pense. ★★ (Karen D’Souza, Bay Area News Group) PG-13, 1:54

Ruben Östlund’s “Force Ma­jeure” (2014), a satire of gen­der pol­i­tics, was set in a Swiss ski re­sort, and this

“The Square”:

new satire takes aim at the con­tem­po­rary art world, where jar­gon has re­placed emo­tion and pre­ten­tious lan­guage has su­per­seded tech­ni­cal prow­ess, pic­to­rial beauty and plea­sure. When Chris­tian (Claes Bang), chief cu­ra­tor at a swanky mu­seum in Stock­holm, is robbed, that ex­pe­ri­ence pro­pels him down an al­ter­nately amus­ing and alarm­ing rab­bit hole of re­venge and unintended con­se­quences, while a new­mu­seum in­stal­la­tion is cre­at­ing prob­lems of its own. Elis­a­beth Moss plays an Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist who chal­lenges Chris­tian about the ar­cane gob­bledy­gook in one of his pro­grams, and Do­minic West chan­nels Ju­lian Schn­abel as a pa­jama-clad vis­it­ing artist. ★★ (Ann Hor­na­day, The Wash­ing­ton Post) R, 2:25

“The Star” (PG): A brave don­key, voiced by Steven Yeun, and his an­i­mal friends be­come un­sung he­roes of the first Christ­mas. The movie is sin­cerely Chris­tian in its out­look, while also a slap­stick an­i­mal toon. It’s a mix that works only in­ter­mit­tently as it mines ev­ery op­por­tu­nity for goofy an­i­mal hu­mor. ★★ (Jane Hor­witz, The Wash­ing­ton Post) PG, 1:26

“Thor — Rag­narok”:

If you never thought you’d the see the word “wit” in the same sen­tence as “part of the Marvel 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 the Vam­pire Slayer” 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. ★★★ (Karen D’Souza, Bay Area News Group) PG-13, 2:10

“Won­der”: Af­ter 27 surg­eries to help him see, breathe and hear, 10-yearold Aug­gie Pull­man (Ja­cob Trem­blay) doesn’t look like other chil­dren. Af­ter years of be­ing home-schooled by his mother (Ju­lia Roberts), he’s pre­par­ing to join his peers at New York’s Beecher Prep. Noted child-whis­perer Stephen Ch­bosky di­rected the drama, mostly avoid­ing trea­cle­with a script he co-adapted from R.J. Palacio’s beloved best­selling chil­dren’s novel. The re­sult is not all an­guish and bul­ly­ing, but also a com­plex, funny cry-fest that looks at the very real bur­dens of be­ing a kid. ★★★ (Stephanie Merry, The Wash­ing­ton Post), PG 1:53


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. ★★ (Stephanie Merry, The Wash­ing­ton Post) PG, 1:57


Ezra Miller, left, Ben Af­fleck and Gal Gadot in “Jus­tice League.” mark. ★★ (Katie Walsh, Tri­bune News Ser­vice) PG13, 1:40

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