Doctor Strange *
After his career is destroyed, a brilliant but arrogant surgeon gets a new lease on life when a sorcerer takes him under his wing and trains him to defend the world against evil.
Stunning visual effects and an energetic cast help enliven the latest Marvel episode to a moderate level of distinction from its relatives. But, ultimately, it remains a Marvel movie and therefore suffers from incoherent fight scenes, dull villains, rampant sarcasm and a metaphysical logic that completely falls apart if one comprehends it for longer than 10 seconds.
d – Scott Derrickson
w – Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill (Based on the Comic Book by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko)
ph – Ben Davis
pd – Charles Wood
m – Michael Giacchino
ed – Sabrina Plisco, Wyatt Smith
cos – Alexandra Byrne
p – Kevin Feige
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Stuhlbarg, Scott Adkins
After a casual encounter, a brokenhearted woman decides to confront her life and the most important events about her stranded daughter.
A retreat to distingué drama for Almodovar after a 10-year caesura of disparate interests. He implements his usual mix of Hitchcockian pacing, maternal discomposure, moralistic guilt and meticulous mise-en-scène, but offers really nothing new that his oeuvre hasn’t already covered.
wd – Pedro Almodovar (Based on the Short Stories by Alice Munro)
ph – Jean-Claude Larrieu
pd – Antxón Gómez
m – Alberto Iglesias
ed – Jose Salcedo
cos – Sonia Grande
p – Agustín Almodóvar, Esther García
Cast: Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Michelle Jenner, Darío Grandinetti, Rossy de Palma, Nathalie Poza
Take Me to the River *
A naive California gay teen plans to remain above the fray at his Nebraskan family reunion, but a disturbing incident places him at the center of a long-buried family secret.
Ambiguity as an end rather than as a means: Taking on the now rampantly chic approach to low-budget filmmaking in which layers of sticky awkwardness are slowly undressed through characters’ refusal to speak freely. And once the big twist is revealed, which, if taken literally, is utterly incongruous, it doesn’t in the least distinguish the film from countless other mopey indies about dysfunctional families.
wd – Matt Sobel
ph – Thomas Scott Stanton
pd – Margaret Ruder
ed – Jacob Secher Schulsinger
cos – Rebecca Luke
p – Matt Sobel
Cast: Logan Miller, Robin Weigert, Josh Hamilton, Richard Schiff, Ursula Parker, Azura Skye, Ashley Gerasimovich, Elizabeth Franz, Seth Young, Amy Hostetler
Certain Women **
Three separate stories, each about female alienation and heartache.
Told in triptych, with each story only having the faintest of connections, it is typical of its director’s quiet, academic, observational approach. It gains immeasurably from its third story, which is so affecting that one wishes it could’ve been its own film.
wd – Kelly Reichardt (Based on the Short Stories by Maile Meloy)
ph – Christopher Blauvelt
pd – Anthony Gasparro
m – Jeff Grace
ed – Kelly Reichardt
cos – April Napier
p – Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani
Cast: Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Lily Gladstone, James Le Gros, Jared Harris, Rene Auberjonois, John Getz, Sara Rodier