Archive for November, 2017

Much Ado About Generic “Justice League”

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I’m  old enough to remember when the DC superhero amalgam “Justice League,”  was called Justice League of America, or JLA.

But perhaps to widen the appeal of the franchise to an international audience, it ditched the word “America.”

I wish I could say this latest entry in the DC Extended Universe makes the JLA great again, but it’s another visually dense, narratively generic slog from director Zack Snyder.

Like other DC-EU movies Snyder has directed (“Man of Steel,” “Batman V. Superman”) the self-serious “Justice League” is a storm before the calm affair. You don’t need a weatherman to know it will be dominated by bleak themes, murky visuals and bombastic action, despite hopes otherwise.

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“Lady Bird” A Bittersweet Mother-Daughter Tale

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Saoirise Ronan and Beanie Feldstein

“Lady Bird” is a mother-daughter story in the tough-love tradition of “Juno” and the bittersweet coming-of age story “Gregory’s Girl” by Scottish director (and romcom pioneer) Bill Forsyth.

The thing about kids is that when they learn to walk they begin walking away. Saoirise Ronan plays the title character, a senior at a Catholic high school taking her first defiantly wobbly steps toward becoming who she will be.

Spoiler alert: in real life she became Greta Gerwig, the actress-writer-director whose film is semi-autobiographical and has the sharply drawn details to prove it.

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Manufacturing Catholic Guilt In “Novitiate”

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It’s Roman Catholic week at the Oriental Theatre this week!

Say five Hail Marys.

Tomorrow I’ll discuss Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed “Lady Bird,” about a 17-year old girl at a Catholic high school.

But today’s topic is “Novitiate” an intimate and terrifying look at a cloistered community of nuns in 1964 and the young girls who want to become them. Its writer-director Maggie Betts, described as a “one time New York socialite and daughter of a Manhattan developer,” was named breakthrough director at the Sundance Film Festival, for this her first fictional narrative.

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Waititi Freshens “Thor: Ragnarok” With Quirky Humor

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“Thor: Ragnarok” is a buddy comedy brimming with one liners and offbeat characters and relationships whose mechanical narrative and generic visual design leaves something to be desired.

But the relationships between newly-shorn Thor, played Chris Hemsworth; Hulk and his alter-ego Bruce Banner, played by Mark Ruffalo; his trickster brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston; and a Valkyrie, played Tessa Thompson – are given appealing  top spin by director Taika Waititi.

Waititi, a New Zealander of Maori descent, is the first indigenous person to helm a superhero  film.

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