Movies like the World War II epic Dunkirk are popular escapes from reality.
Unless you're Fred Clutterbuck, who watched Christopher Nolan's movie expecting more reality about his escape.
Clutterbuck, 97 and belying it, survived the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk, France, in 1940 that Nolan's acclaimed film dramatizes. His story is different from the movie's triangulated tension on land, sea and air....
OPENING Thursday: VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
Spending $200 million on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is Luc Besson's sci-folly, too much for a fantasy gorgeous to observe yet torturous to sit through. "Too much" is Besson's signature move.
Based on a French comic book series, Valerian casts sleepy-eyed Dane DeHaan in the title role, a scrawny space jockey too confident in his charms. DeHaan is slightly more convincing as an intergalactic detective than model-turned-mannequin Cara Delevingne as his partner Laureline. Neither wrestles Besson's clunky banter anywhere close to submission....
Spending $200 million on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is Luc Besson's sci-folly, too much for a fantasy that's gorgeous to observe yet torturous to sit through. "Too much" is Besson's signature move, so we shouldn't be surprised.
Based on a French comic book series, Valerian casts sleepy-eyed Dane DeHaan in the title role, a scrawny space jockey too confident in his charms; Han Solo's bratty kid brother. DeHaan is slightly more convincing as an intergalactic detective than model-turned-mannequin Cara Delevingne as his partner Laureline, whose impact can be gauged by her name's absence from the title. Neither wrestles Besson's clunky banter anywhere close to submission....
After a career of mind-bending fantasies, writer-director Christopher Nolan has now crafted a historical epic almost too perfect to believe.
Dunkirk is Nolan's cinematic foray into reality, the true story of a Allied rescue against all odds in 1940 that stemmed the tide of World War II. Brilliantly conceived from triangulated timelines and perspectives, Dunkirk deserves mention among the finest war movies ever, and certainly among the best of any sort this year....
Get thee to the nunnery of The Little Hours, a smutty comedy starring Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci as 14th century nuns in heat. This Sundance grad from writer-director Jeff Baena is bawdy, blasphemous and very funny when on its game, which isn't always.
Based on a few pages from Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, The Little Hours is set in a Tuscan convent overseen by Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) and Sister Marea (Molly Shannon), each more interested in the other than what their nuns are doing. Three are already breaking their vows regarding profanity....
This weekend, War for the Planet of the Apes concludes arguably one of Hollywood's finest trilogies ever. We can argue just as passionately about which ones don't deserve consideration.
The Godfather and Back to the Future? Each worthy until their respective Part IIIs, when the Corleone saga jumped the Pope and Marty McFly headed west. Rocky Balboa didn't know when to quit, a great trait for a boxer but not a trilogy. Indiana Jones made the same mistake....
Opening Thursday: War for the Planet of the Apes
Like its hyper-intelligent simian hero Caesar (Andy Serkis in another masterful motion-capture performance), the series evolves beyond mere expectations of summertime fun into Shakespearean spectacle. War for the Planet of the Apes is fantasy as history's mirror, from primal survival to inhumane atrocities. Stakes are raised through hindsight: These apes are us, and the worst of us is them. Matt Reeves' movie broods even better than it blows up things....
Humanity gets what it deserves in War for the Planet of the Apes, rounding out a thrilling trilogy setting the stage for Charlton Heston's arrival in 1968.
Like its hyper-intelligent simian hero Caesar, the series evolves beyond mere expectations of summertime fun into Shakespearean spectacle. War for the Planet of the Apes is fantasy as history's mirror, from primal survival to inhumane atrocities. Stakes are raised through hindsight; these apes are us, and the worst of us is them. Matt Reeves' movie broods even better than it blows up things....
INDIE FLICKS: THE BIG SICK
Kumail Nanjiani is known for HBO's Silicon Valley, but he'll be remembered for living a truly original romance then co-writing a movie about it and playing himself in The Big Sick (R). You will love Nanjiani and this movie.
The spoiler is right there in the opening credits. Nanjiani co-wrote The Big Sick with his wife, Emily V. Gordon, so obviously they married after she survives the critical illness in the movie. Emily is played by the beautifully plain Zoe Kazan, whip smart and just as funny as Nanjiani, a standup comedian drawing on his Pakistani culture for material....
Anthony C. Ferrante can't escape that other shark movie directed by that other guy.
Not that anyone confuses the Sharknado franchise with Jaws, or Ferrante with Steven Spielberg, even after directing all four schlock-tacular Syfy channel movies. His fifth, Sharknado: Global Swarming, debuts in August.
That's one more than the Jaws franchise. Four more than Spielberg, but Ferrante isn't counting. He's just proud that since 2013's phenomenal debut, his Sharknado movies are mentioned in the same breath as Jaws, for better or worse....
Spider-Man: Homecoming does the improbable, successfully rebooting a reboot of a trilogy that did the job well enough only a decade ago. It's a movie that could be unnecessary but isn't.
In fact, Spider-Man: Homecoming turns the web slinger into the funniest superhero not named Deadpool, an eagerly awkward wannabe Avenger. This Spider-Man is actually a teenage boy as usual, but finally with an actor who can pass for one. Tom Holland is the third try, and he's a charmer....
DESPICABLE ME 3
One of Hollywood's most successful animation franchises isn't about "me" anymore; it's about them.
Minions, those jabbering yellow baldies with their pharmaceutical physiques. Nothing but Teletubbies with better agents.
Back in 2010, Minions knew their funniest place, playing sidekicks to Steve Carell's arch-villain Gru, the title character in Despicable Me. They were only one reason Despicable Me is one of the decade's more enjoyable 'toons....
Despicable Me 3 doubles down on Steve Carell's silly way with words, a smart idea after too much Minions gibberish spoiled Part 2. They're still here, in smaller doses and somewhat funnier for it.
Carell gets dual roles, one reprising his former arch villain turned doting adoptive father, crimefighter and newlywed Gru. He also voices Dru, Gru's twin brother with luxurious hair who desires to follow the family tradition of villainy. A sharp character kneecapped by a previous sequel gets a playmate, a playful actor gets more of the material he needs....
It was a man's world in 1971 when Clint Eastwood starred in The Beguiled, a Southern gothic thriller that's as misogynistic in hindsight as old movies can be.
A half-century later, director Sofia Coppola presents the feminist morality tale at the core of The Beguiled that Eastwood's macho image and society in general wouldn't allow at the time. In 1971, he played a charmer-turned-victim; now the character is a manipulator who'll get what he deserves....
Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.
Everything moves to the beat, even beatdowns. Car chases become interpretive dances of destruction, drums and bullets pound staccato in tandem. Wright takes music video literalization to breathtaking heights. Baby Driver doesn't operate from its hero's point of view but rather his point of hearing, essentially the same thing. Wright's ingenious approach literally turns the genre on its ear....