YESTERDAY

Yesterday is a trifle of a movie: a light, sugary sweet confection that is delicious and satisfying. It’s kind of like an early era Beatles song: bouncy, energetic, and consumed by puppy dog love. Sure, The Beatles also wrote “Don’t Let Me Down” and “A Day in the Life,” but Yesterday — written by Richard Curtis and directed by Danny Boyle — isn’t concerned with the entirety of the Fab Four’s discography, just the silly love songs they need to tell their story. And to tell it well. The premise is as preposterous as it is magical: Jack Malik (Himesh … Continue reading YESTERDAY

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

The year is 1561, and Mary Stuart has returned to Scotland. Spending most of her childhood in France, Mary (Saoirse Ronan) has decided to come home and claim her throne, the very one her half-brother, James (James McArdle) has been keeping warm in her absence. Maybe too warm, as Mary soon find out. But this Scotland is not the Scotland Mary left all those years ago. In 1560, the Calvinist preacher, John Knox (David Tennant), brought the Reformation to Scotland, calling for riots in the streets and the end of Catholic rule. Down in England, the Protestants already control the … Continue reading MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

BABY DRIVER

There is a scene roughly halfway through Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 backstage masterpiece The Red Shoes where Ballet Russe impresario Lermontov comforts his understandably nervous principal dancer, Vicky Page. “Nothing matters by the music,” Lermontov assures her. He hums the notes and Page relaxes, the steps have returned to her mind and her body regains confidence. Without the music, she’s just a bunch of limbs failing about; with the music, her body and her movements become a work of art. Maybe a post-war tragedy about the all-consuming desire to create isn’t the most obvious connection to Baby Driver — … Continue reading BABY DRIVER

THE DANISH GIRL

The Danish Girl is easily director Tom Hooper’s most interesting movie, though that doesn’t say very much. Dramatizing the world’s first known gender reassignment surgery, Hooper explores the story from an intimate setting, concerning himself largely with the marital plight of Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) rather than the social or political aspects of Einar/Lili’s decision in 19th Century Amsterdam. The result is a tender treatment of a delicate subject, but with a shallow focus. Hooper’s main problem is that he isn’t sure whose story is the compelling one — the title refers to Einar/Lili in … Continue reading THE DANISH GIRL

THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY

Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) is a sloppy swindler, a sloppy drunk and even a sloppy murderer. He and his much younger wife, Colette (Kirsten Dunst), wander the ruins of the Acropolis when they catch the eye of Rydal (Oscar Isaac) an American ex-pat with Daddy issues. That their paths would cross is inevitable. The fact that it was written, not in the stars, but via the pen of Patricia Highsmith makes it tragedy. Highsmith’s novels have been no strangers to the silver screen, as her first novel, Strangers on a Train made for one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best pictures. Much … Continue reading THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY