My top pick for Boxing Day is YOUTH in which a retired orchestra conductor (Michael Caine) is on holiday with his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and his film director best friend (Harvey Keitel) in the Alps when he receives an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to perform for Prince Philip's birthday. Here’s my review (previously posted): It’s a thought-provoking movie about ageing, grief, regret, friendship, father-daughter relationships and how one finds peace and happiness in life — if that’s possible. Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel are excellent as best friends exploring their past lives and what it means to grow older together. And the supporting cast puts in excellent performances. It’s emotionally rich and tender with the gorgeous cinematography providing surprising perspectives on familiar, everyday happenings. Thoroughly enjoyable.
OTHERS TO SEE
Another one for the kids (actually opening on Xmas Day) is the animated adventure comedy THE GOOD DINOSAUR. In a world where dinosaurs and humans live side-by-side, an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. The trailers look cute. Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty says that, While the story attempts the moves that a Pixar film typically makes-nonverbal storytelling, death, a bittersweet ending-most of The Good Dinosaur's punches land soft, made worse by the disconnect that exists between the overly cartoonish style of the characters and the photorealistic landscapes.
SUFFRAGETTE (also opening on Xmas Day) tells the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. I’ve heard good things about this movie although critics are mostly rating it as average. Screen International’s Fionnuala Halligan suggests that Suffragette's strength lies in the fact that, even though some of the characters and events depicted seem archetypal, and they're certainly composites, they turn out to be more than that. I’d suggest this one is not to be missed.
TRUMBO looks like it will be in limited release but could be worth catching up with it. In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood's top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs. It was a very significant time in history. As Variety’s Peter Debruge reminds us, Trumbo may be clumsy and overly simplistic at times, but it's still an important reminder of how democracy can fail (that is, when a fervent majority turns on those with different and potentially threatening values), and the strength of character it takes to fight the system. If I can find it to watch, I’ll post a review.
THE BÉLIER FAMILY is a French comedy drama about a girl who lives with her deaf parents and discovers that she has the gift of singing. So expect some music as well!
I’ve been waiting for JOY to arrive for a long time. It’s finally here but reviews by critics rate it pretty low. Joy is the story of a family across four generations and the woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who rises to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty. According to Screen International’s Tim Grierson, The improvisational flair, unpredictable tonal shifts and overt emotional lurches that highlighted American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook are here less consistently inspired and affecting, resulting in a heartfelt fairy tale that only soars in spurts. I don’t care. Jennifer Lawrence is in it so I’m going to see it!
DADDY’S HOME pairs Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in a story where a mild-mannered radio executive (Ferrell) strives to become the best stepdad to his wife's two children, but complications ensue when their freewheeling and freeloading real father (Wahlberg) arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids. The general public are rating this slightly above average and I wouldn’t expect much more than that.
One to avoid this week — ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP. Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami...and dump them. They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother. I’d find an hour and a half of having to listen to these creatures very painful. The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael Rechtshaffen says it’s No less noisy, obnoxious or just plain groan-inducing than the previous installments. Give it a miss!
That's it for this week. See you at the movies! And have a great Xmas and New Year!
NOTE Movie summaries are adaptations of movie summary on IMDB. Opinions are mine unless credited. These updates are written from an Australian perspective so openings of the movies in cinemas may vary in other parts of the world.