“Understated” isn’t a word you’d ordinarily use to describe a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but that’s surprisingly what “12 Strong” ends up being. Director Nicolai Fuglsig, making his feature filmmaking debut, draws on his photojournalism background in telling this story of real-life heroism. Chris Hemsworth stars as the leader of a team of Green Berets who were the first U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 9/11. It’s solid, especially for a January movie. My RogerEbert.com review.
“Paddington 2” is completely charming and exactly what we need right now. And it proves that the wonderful, original “Paddington” was no fluke three years ago. Maybe it’s not the revelation that the first film was, but its central message of being kind to others, even during the most troubling circumstances, couldn’t be more relevant. My review, at RogerEbert.com.
Welcome to the cinematic dumping ground that is January. My first review of 2018 is of the utterly forgettable crime thriller “Dark Meridian,” a title that says nothing at all. It could be a high-octane action flick about extreme sports enthusiasts. It could be a supernatural thriller about hopeful fools who dare to connect with the dead. It could be the new fragrance for men from Paco Rabanne. My review, at RogerEbert.com.
If you’re a fan of Aaron Sorkin’s particular brand of impossibly intelligent characters exchanging rat-a-tat dialogue, you’ll be in heaven here. The hose is on full blast for two-plus hours. Nothing and no one seems to be holding the longtime screenwriter back in his directorial debut, for better and for worse. But Jessica Chastain handles the complexity of the material masterfully in the true story of a woman who made millions running an underground poker game. My final review of 2017, at RogerEbert.com.
“Pitch Perfect 3” supposedly is the final film in the wildly successful series about the musical misadventures of the Barden Bellas. Lots of overlong, tearful group hugs after the final a cappella song make that clear. But we really didn’t need a second “Pitch Perfect” movie, much less a third one. Aca-nough already. My RogerEbert.com review.
It’s hard to imagine that legendary actors like Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland could co-star in a movie that’s flat-out terrible but … they have. And it’s called “The Leisure Seeker.” That’s also the affectionate name of their clunky RV, which they take on one last road trip. Director Paolo Virzi’s film is meant to be equal parts wacky and poignant. It is neither. My RogerEbert.com review.
As a (wannabe) figure skater, I was already predisposed to liking “I, Tonya.” But I was blown away by how surprisingly powerful and poignant it was. It’s “GoodFellas” on ice: darkly comic and often just plain dark, but always breathtakingly alive. Margot Robbie is heartbreaking as the disgraced skater and Allison Janney just tears it up as her abusive mother. My rave, at RogerEbert.com.
Gerald Foos bought a motel in Colorado to spy on his guests having sex with each other. And his story only gets weirder from there. My RogerEbert.com review of the documentary “Voyeur,” which has a lot to say about privacy, journalism and the elusive nature of truth.
Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name” is the best film of 2017. This story of unexpected first love set in northern Italy during the summer of 1983 is lushly beautiful and achingly sad, with pitch-perfect performances from Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer. It left me a sobbing mess. Come swoon with me at RogerEbert.com. It’s my first four-star review of the year.
What a wonderful surprise this movie is. It looks like a mawkish family drama about a young boy who overcomes a genetic abnormality and finds some happiness in the world. But it ends up being genuinely moving, thanks to strong performances from Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson and (mostly) understated direction from Stephen Chbosky. You’ll shed a few tears — especially if you’re a parent — and they’ll be earned. My RogerEbert.com review.