Sarah Knight Adamson is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a voting member for the Critics Choice Awards for Movies.

Sarah Knight Adamson and Jessica Aymond are both Members of the Chicago Film Critics Association

Film Rating Code:

★★★★ Outstanding Film- Run, don’t walk to the nearest movie theater.

★★★½ Excellent Film- Highly recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★★ Very Good Film- Recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★½ Good Film- Wait for the DVD, the film is still worth viewing.

★★ Wait for the DVD and proceed with caution.

★½ Wait for the DVD the film has major problems in most areas.

★ Can’t recommend the film.

A Wrinkle in Time (PG) ★★★

Family Centered, Features a Rising Star-Storm Reid

Madeleine L’Engel’s novel A Wrinkle in Time, 1962 was first introduced to me in the late 80s when I began teaching fourth and fifth-grade gifted literature. We considered using it as a unit of study and then realized our Jr. Highs were teaching it. Rich in narrative, creative themes, vivid descriptions and family-centered; this Newberry Medal Award-winning book is a favorite classic in children’s literature. It’s well known that the novel may be ‘unfilmable’ due to the fantasy elements and cinematography. I’m happy to say, yes, indeed it can be re-created for the big screen, and the results are eye-popping while magnificent.

Ava DuVernay, director of Selma (2014), has created a fantasy world like no other. Vivid colors, glorious special effects, while staying centered on family values. There’s so much for all here to take note of and champion; especially a new determined, young lady, Storm Reid, (Meg Murray) to say that a “star is born,” is not an understatement. Her performance under DuVernay’s careful eye is spot on.

To be clear, this is first and foremost a young adult film; Meg Murray is a middle school student. She’s an awkward, underachieving, bullied and grieving teen whose father, Alex Murray (a bearded Chris Pine) disappeared four years prior leaving she, her mother, Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and gifted brother Charles Wallace, (Deric McCabe) to fend for themselves. Meg’s troubled classmate Calvin (Levi Miller), also a loner joins the siblings in their pursuit to find their father.

As a young adult film, it delivers and speaks to kids. On the whole, it is disjointed and purposely slow at times. If one hasn’t read the book, you may be in the dark as to exactly what is going on. Which leads back to the comment of unfilmable — I wholeheartedly recommend the film, just know it has a few problems that I’m willing to overlook for kids and adults in order to have the opportunity to experience their beloved novel on the big screen. Read more ›

Red Sparrow (R) ★★ Radio Podcast and Transcript 🎙

Red Sparrow rated R is based on a novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Dominika Egorova Russian Operative − a dangerous, abusive life and profession she did not choose.

After a deliberate career-ending fall as a result of her ballet partner’s intention to break her leg− she’s forced into an agreement to save her mother and their home. Thus, she has no choice but to enter a world of seduction, (physical, sexual and mental abuse) and betrayal.

Let’s Take a Listen: (Clip from “Red Sparrow,” Trailer) Lawrence speaking, “I was told to take a man to a hotel they said he was an enemy of the state.” A man, a Russian politician, Dimitri Ustinov, played by Kristof Konrad begins speaking, “Take off your dress off.” Lawrence continues, “And in exchange, my mother would get the doctor she needed. Instead, they cut his throat.”

Directed by Francis Lawrence, who also directed Jennifer Lawrence in three of the four, Hunger Games. Red Sparrow is torture porn and full-on sexual exploitation of women.

Here’s Another Clip: Her uncle speaking, “She’s a sparrow you should work with me and make him pay. You are better at this than any other. Your only problem is that you have a soul.” Read more ›

Black Panther (PG-13) ★★★★

Best film of 2018 so far!

Black Panther is based on the Marvel comic book character, and raises the bar for all comic book films going forward. The film’s genre is Drama, Science Fiction, and Fantasy; founded on the Black Panther character by Marvel Comic Book writers Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It made its debut appearance in 1966 in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 issue 52.

Black Panther the film is truly a cultural milestone, presenting an Afro-centric viewpoint — while highlighting current world issues of race, class, broken families, and gender inequality. Above all, it’s a beautiful, creative, and timely film. I highly recommend it for all ages, depending on parent guidance. I still get chills recalling my thoughts of “pure joy and elation” upon the rolling of the credits. In short— I loved this film!

Opening with a back-story of the five tribes in Africa who’ve battled throughout the years while enlightening Black Panther’s myth, we are given a portrait of the high-tech city of Wakanda along with its secrecy. Fast forward to 1992 in Oakland, CA: a young boy, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), is left behind to fend for himself in order to maintain a family lie. His father, who appears magically, also leaves magically by ascending into the sky via a high-tech spaceship.

Fast forward again to present-day in the city of Wakanda, Africa. We meet T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who, after the death of his father, becomes the King of Wakanda, a technologically advanced and isolated nation in Africa. The film centers on the life of T’Challa after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the discovery of another relative, Erik Killmonger, who challenges the crown and the mistakes of family. Writer and director Ryan Coogler (Creed, 2016; Fruitvale Station, 2013) knocks it out of the park! To sum it up — a triumph of a film. Read more ›

Hostiles (R) ★★½

Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Ben Foster,  and Jesse Plemons star in “Hostiles.” Photo credit: Entertainment Studios

Western Film Goes South

During the settling of this country, American Indians were often described as “savages” based on their fearsome reputation. While this connotation certainly struck fear in many, in reality, atrocities were committed by both sides in the battle for control of the United States. Truth be told, the tactics used by the U.S. were arguably worse and more effective. In the end, U.S. forces were too strong, and the Indian way of life was changed forever.

Although there have been a multitude of movies covering the settling of the west, American films did not have a respectable historical track record with its depiction of Native Americans. It was not until the 1990s with films like Dances with Wolves (1990) and Last of the Mohicans (1992) that mainstream movies really depicted Indians as anything more than bloodthirsty villains. The new western-drama, Hostiles, attempts to come to terms with the violent history between U.S. forces and the Indians. Unfortunately, even with noteworthy cinematography and an excellent A-list cast, the story fails to deliver a memorable experience and plods along at too many points. 

Read more ›

“A Fantastic Woman” Foreign Film Documentary ★★★½

A ‘Fantastic’ Film

A Fantastic Woman is a foreign film from Chile that is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language. (Update, March 4, 2018 A Fantastic Woman Won the Oscar and Daniela Vega presented at the 90th Oscar ceremony.) Focusing on a transgender’s plight with the death of a committed boyfriend, we view first hand the cruel blockages she faces. Chilean director Sebastián Lelio’s (Gloria 2013) centered on a middle-aged woman’s longing for a life, here we find similar themes as Daniela Vega’s (Marina) longs for respect.

Cowriter Gonzalo Maza) along with director Sebastiàn Lelio creates a character that we can’t help but empathize with. When we are first introduced to Marina, she’s in a bar singing to her much older lover Orlando (Francisco Reyes), who astonishingly looks like a younger version of Jeremy Irons. The pair draws us into the story; we wonder how their lives mirror our own. Yes, they care deeply for one another as Orlando has made plans for a birthday trip to Iguazu Falls, which appear in the opening shot of the film. But how does not only the 20-year age difference work but how does the transgender element come into play?

Vega, a transgender, has been quoted as discussing the reality of cisgender actors (someone whose gender identity corresponds with the sex assigned to them at birth) who have played transgender roles, notably Jared Leto who won an Oscar for his transgender woman with Aids in (The Dallas Buyers Club 2013). She said in an interview, “As an acting exercise, I think it’s an interesting challenge,” she says. “I could – and I have – played male characters.”

Writer and director Lelio first met with Vega to discuss the idea of bringing her on board as an advisor to the film before the film was even written. After becoming friends with Vega, Lelio knew he had his lead. Read more ›

“In the Fade” Foreign Film Documentary ★★★

Diane Kruger gives a Riveting Performance

The reason to see In the Fade is due to German-born Diane Kruger’s outstanding  performance as a grieving wife and mother. She’s previously acted exclusively in English and French films – most notably Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards. Here she convincingly portrays Katja’s fragility, anguish and unrelenting determination to seek justice for the terrorism act that killed her husband and 6-year-old son. She won the best-actress prize at Cannes for her outstanding performance, and the film also won a Golden Globe.

As a courtroom thriller, In the Fade delivers. We are shown that stereotyping is dangerous thus causing a downward path to acts of vengeance. Director Fatih Akin takes us on an emotionally affecting journey into the dark world of senseless terrorism, and it’s consequences. We view Katja’s pain and suffering to the degree she’s trapped with no recourse but to take the law into her own hands. But, then again perhaps she makes another turn. The best way to truly know the outcome is the view the film as it unfolds.

Akin’s film is rich in character development; he introduces us to Nuri (Numan Acar) Katja’s husband and his wife, Katja Kruger. We see them being happily married, as he steps out of a prison cell for the event. Fast forward years later as the blissful family of now, three goes about their daily routine. Katja is a loving mother to her son Rocco, dad Nuri has stepped up and has a legit job–despite his shady past as a drug dealer.

Akin’s 2004 breakout film, Head-on also speaks to the desperation of a female protagonist centering on culture conflicts in Germany. As a filmmaker, here he drew on his own experiences growing up in Hamburg, Germany, the son of Turkish immigrants. It’s a highly personal film for Akin, as it’s based on the National Socialist Underground, a right-wing terrorist group who murdered nine people of Turkish, Greek and Kurdish origin as well as a German policewoman; Akin remembers these incidents all too well as his brother knew one of the victims. Read more ›

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (PG-13) ★★½

Fearless Teens Give Us—Running, Running, and More Running 

After 11 months of delayed production, due to lead actor Dylan O’Brien’s (Thomas) serious onset head injury, the finale brings the dystopian saga cast together again. Originally scheduled to be released February 2017, there’s been an overdue wait time. However, I applaud filmmakers for making sure their star was completely able to return to work all those typically long hours. What I find fault with isn’t the wait time; it’s the overstuffed script with drawn out scenes that are in dire need of editing. I’m sorry to say, one death scene with black blood and creepy purple popping veins went on so long that  you’re seriously wanting it to “just be over already.” 

An electrifying speeding train stunt bursts onscreen as the opening—and just like that—we are immersed back into the world of zombies, mad scientists, violence, comradery, torture, and heroes. Fans of the series will not be disappointed, especially if they’ve read the young adult books by James Dashner, as they will also have the advantage of knowing the back-story. If, in fact, one hasn’t seen the other two films, well, they’ll spend 143 minutes in their own maze of confusion and misunderstanding—good luck with that

Bringing you up to speed, this science-fiction story centers on a plague that has killed most of the adult population in the world. Scientists have been experimenting on kids to find an antidote named Death Cure. The maze, as described in the book and visually recreated in the first film—which, by the way, is fantastic; alas, in Death Cure, that really cool maze has been replaced by what appears to be an abandoned underground tunnel or a boring vacant parking garage. I’m not sure, but the is as huge as the maze is the main element of the story. Read more ›

12 Strong (R) ★★★ Radio Podcast and Transcript🎙

12 Strong Tagline: “19 men attacked our country. The 12 of you will be the first ones to fight back.”

Here’s a true American war drama by Warner Bros. that’s based on the book Horse Soldiers, written by Doug Stanton. It tells the story of CIA Officers and US Special forces that were sent to Afghanistan immediately after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Chris Hemsworth stars as Captain Mitch Nelson, along with Michael Shannon plays Chief Warrant Officer Hal Spencer, and Michel Pena is portrayed by soldier Sam Diller, bringing a dry sense of humor to the team.

We learn of the brotherhood of soldiers and their team; the brotherhood is at the base of everything, it’s one of the reasons they continue to do this—yes, to serve their country, but also that brotherhood. There’s nothing like that relationship.

Twelve-year Navy veteran Kenny Sheard, who also served in Afghanistan, appears in the film as the team’s senior medic, Bill Bennett. Bennett talked about the bond in the press notes, “That bond is very important because anything anyone does in the military, they know it’s a team effort. So it felt right to have that camaraderie be a major aspect of the story.”

The ensemble cast also included another real-life military veteran: Jack Kesy, who plays Charles Jones, he served in the United States Marines. He was actually just a few blocks from the World Trade Center when it fell, and served overseas in its aftermath.

When the team is sent to convince General Abdul Rashid Dostum, (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. Upon arrival, he informs them the only way to fight in the rugged terrain was to ride horses. All 12 soldiers fought against insurmountable odds.

Here’s a clip: Hemsworth speaking, “Every step we take will be on a mine field through a hundred different wars. Odds are we don’t all make it out alive. Shannon, “If we don’t take that city the world trade center is just the beginning.”

The director is Nicolai Fuglsig and the writer is Ted Tally and Peter Craig.  
Read more ›

Jane Documentary ★★★★ Radio Podcast and Transcript 🎙


The film is a biographical documentary about the life of primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall starting from 1960 until present day.

You’ll view never-before-seen footage that has been tucked away in the National Geographic archives for over 50 years.

Writer/director Brett Morgen tells the story of a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and changed our understanding of the natural world.

Audio Clip: Jane Goodall speaking, “Day after day in the sun and he wind and the rain I climbed into the hills, this is where I was meant to coexist.” Read more ›

The Commuter ★★ (PG-13) Radio Podcast and Transcript🎙

The Commuter

Liam Neeson stars in yet again; another action film where his family is threatened with death−and, yet again he’s in a race against the clock as time is never on his side. The Commuter is an action and drama from Lionsgate Studio. Neeson, a seasoned action-hero found success in the genre with the film Taken. Here he reunites with French director Jaume Collet-Serra as their three films: Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night, were box office hits.

Neeson plays an ex-cop who changed jobs ten years ago to work as an insurance salesman. At the beginning of the film, we view his daily train commute into New York City band are introduced to his everyday riders. One particular day appears to start out normally like every other day except the commute home becomes a nightmare.

He’s blackmailed by a mysterious unnamed woman played by Vera Farmiga into finding the identity of a passenger on a train before the last stop.

Audio clip−Farmiga, “Someone on this train doesn’t belong, all you have to do is find them. In the bathroom, there is $75,000 only if you do this one little thing.” Read more ›

Paddington 2 (PG) ★★★½


Paddington 2 Teaches Life Lessons: Be Kind, Polite and Look for the Good in Others

Oh, that sweet-natured, adorable Paddington bear is back−here’s the good news−the sequel is better than the original. It’s been three years since Paddington (2015) premiered to fairly good reviews; however, my complaint with the film was the lack of innovative storytelling. Nicole Kidman as the curator of the Natural History Museum plotted to exterminate Paddington by stuffing him as her prize exhibit. Really? Honestly−that plot-line is too morbid for a children’s film.

Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) the Peruvian lovable bear’s follow-up offers a flawless balance of comedy − and creative ‘kid-centered’ storytelling, featuring Brittan’s own suave Hugh Grant as yester-year circus actor Phoenix Buchanan. Director Simon Curtis of Goodbye Christopher Robin specified in our interview this past October while referring to another beloved bear, Winnie the Pooh, “It’s not easy playing opposite children or animals and in this case a cuddly smiley, stuffed bear.” Certainly, the sentiment applies to Hugh Grant and the beloved Paddington however, Grant nearly steals the film. He’s downright fantastic, be sure to stay for the ending credits, as you’ll be entertained by Grant in a musical revenue song and dance number that is sure to garner a smile or chuckle by the mere thought of it.

Paddington 2 felt fun and enjoyable−if not to me at least, a tad surprising. I wasn’t expecting to love the film as much as I did; in my line of work, unfortunately, I’ve become cynical−more often than not, disenchantment is the norm. The mere premise of Paddington’s character, with his very clear set of old-fashioned values he learned from his Aunt Lucy in Peru –he’s always kind and polite, and looks for the good in everyone − is every parents dream in raising their children. These simple, yet powerful lessons should serve as a cue for everyone. At the same time, filmmakers incorporated themes that are close to the source material from which Paddington hails. He was first introduced in Michael Bond’s 1958 book A Bear Called Paddington. Bond wrote more than 20 volumes featuring the blue coat, red hat wearing, marmalade sandwich-loving bear, which have sold over 35 million copies.

The themes here are central to Paddington’s character; he typically gets himself into all kinds of trouble by his innocence. Here he decides to work as a window washer to save money for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday present. One can just imagine the countless jams encounters. The animators must have had a field day, to say the least, and we are the benefactors. Lots of comedic situations with many different types of people. Read more ›

The Shape of Water (R) ★★★

Elisa Esposito, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg star in “The Shape of Water.” Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight.

With 13 Nominations “The Shape of Water” Makes An Oscar Splash

Conventional thinking tells us monsters are bad. They are strange, terrifying and typically the villain of a story. This is not how Guillermo Del Toro, the director of The Shape of Water sees it. Since he broke through to American audiences with the gothic fantasy film, Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Del Toro has depicted monsters as sympathetic, even heroic creatures. In fact, the director recently claimed: “monsters saved his life” and are “the patron saints of our blissful perfection” in a recent acceptance speech. This belief is at the heart of The Shape of Water, a fantasy tale about a mute woman and an amphibian-man hybrid creature who form quite the odd couple. Although the premise is clearly unusual and may not appeal to a broad audience, it is a well-made film with a unique script in an era where original storytelling is difficult to find. 

The setting takes place in the 1950s during the heart of the Cold War. The main character Elisa (Sally Hawkins, Maudie, 2016) is a cleaning lady at a top-secret military facility in Baltimore and has lost the ability to speak due to a childhood injury. Elisa lives a quiet life and has only two friends – her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins, (LBJ, 2016), a sweet and sensitive artist, and her chatty co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures, 2016), who does the talking for both of them at work. As the audience is introduced to Elisa’s world, the score and art direction, arguably the most impressive aspects of the film, are on full display. Despite her routine existence, its clear something unusual is coming into her life.  Read more ›

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (R) ★★★

Annette Bening as Gloria Grahame and Jamie Bell as Peter Turner Photo by Susie Allnutt, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Brilliant Acting Jolts Life into this Lack Luster Script

With a setting of 1979 through 1981, in England, NY, and L.A., this slice-of-life film is an eye opener into the world of an aging female star, her young lover, and the choices she makes when faced with a life-threatening disease.

Annette Bening fans will rejoice when they view the ultra-talented actress as Gloria Grahame, the Academy Award winning 40s and 50s black and white film star known for her roles as the sultry temptress. Grahame, similar in alluring looks and mannerisms—especially her little girl whisper voice—to Marilyn Monroe, gives Bening a role of a lifetime. She is the reason to see the film.

Gloria Grahame film star of the 40s and 50s

Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot (2000) fame gives a riveting performance as Peter Turner, the aspiring Liverpool actor that is much younger (28 years younger, to be exact) than Grahame, whom he falls madly in love with. The film is based on Turner’s popular memoir of the same name that was published in 1986.

Beginning in a Liverpool boarding house, an aging Grahame is trying to find acting work that would be denied her in the States, especially Hollywood. She sees her cute neighbor and strikes up a whispery/breathy conversation. Grahame: “You’re the next door guy, right?” Turner: “That makes you the girl next door.” Grahame: “I need a partner for my dance class; if you come into my room and hustle with me, I’ll make you a drink.” Turner: “If you fix me a drink, I’ll clean your bathroom.”

Next, we are treated to a montage of Saturday Night Fever songs while viewing Turner’s Billy Elliot moves ending with John Travolta’s classic splits. It’s a fun, energetic scene with plenty of flirting, setting the tone perfectly for their romantic connection.

We learn of Grahame’s life through snippets, which are too thin to gain the full story. Here’s the scoop on her career: she earned a memorable scene as Violet in It’s a Wonderful Life (1944), starred in In a Lonely Place (1950) with Humphrey Bogart, Sudden Fear (1952) together with Joan Crawford, and finally with The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) being her claim to fame by winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. When Technicolor replaced the silver screen, Grahame’s career took a nosedive. She had a bad reputation for being difficult to work with, she unnecessarily altered her looks through plastic surgery, and possibly the worst blow to her career was the disclosure by husband number two Nicholas Ray, that she and her stepson Anthony Ray were intimate when he was only thirteen years old. Although Grahame did marry Anthony ten years later, making him husband number four. A troubled past, that’s for sure. Read more ›

Phantom Thread (R) ★★★

“Phantom Thread” stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville. Photo Credit: Focus Features.

Daniel Day-Lewis’s Final Curtain Call

Daniel Day-Lewis is generally considered the greatest actor of his generation and some consider Paul Thomas Anderson to be the greatest director of his generation. When these two collaborated ten years ago, it resulted in There Will Be Blood (2007), a brutal film about a vicious oil tycoon that earned a best actor Oscar and wide critical praise. Ten years later, the pair have reunited for Phantom Thread, a film about an English dressmaker at an elite fashion house in post-war London. Based on the premises alone, it would appear that their two collaborations seem completely unrelated; however both focus on intense men who are obsessed with success and struggle outside of their professional lives. Phantom Thread probably won’t attract the same audiences as previous Daniel Day-Lewis films due to the subject matter and methodical pace of the story, but the film is visually stunning, masterfully acted and allegedly the last chance to see a legendary actor in action.

The story is set in 1950s London within the world of high fashion and centers on Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln, 2012), a master dressmaker for extremely wealthy clientele. Reynolds has just completed his latest dress, and after the final fitting with his delighted patron, he joins his older sister and business partner, Cyril, (Leslie Manville, (Rupture, 2016) for dinner. Cyril, who appears cold and emotionless much of the time, senses lingering anxiety in her brother and suggests he escape to the country to unwind from his latest project.  Reynolds agrees and zips out to the countryside in his sporty car that night. The next morning he stops at a local restaurant for breakfast and sees a young waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps) who transfixes him. After a hilariously elaborate breakfast order and some light banter, the two agree to a dinner date that night. While at dinner, Reynolds and Alma talk about their families and he explains what he does for his living. Afterwards, he invites her to his home where he shows her his craft and creates a beautiful dress for her. Although he warns Alma that he is a “confirmed bachelor,” Alma returns back to London with him to be his new model and ultimately his new muse. Read more ›

Sarah’s Top 20 (Award-Worthy) Films of 2017

Top 20 Award-Worthy Films, Starting with #1 as my Favorite

1. Lady Bird
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Wonder Woman
5. The Phantom Thread
6. The Disaster Artist
7. Blade Runner 2049
8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
9. The Florida Project
10. Call Me By Your Name
11. The Post
12. The Shape of Water
13. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
14. Darkest Hour
15. Molly’s Game
16. I, Toyna
17. Beauty and the Beast
18. Mudbound
19. Thor: Ragnarok
20. All the Money in the World
Honorable Mentions: The Big Sick, Victoria & Abdul, Get Out, Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, Big Time.

The Greatest Showman (PG-13) ★★

P. T. Barnum’s Storyline takes a Backseat to Singer Jenny Lind

The Greatest Showman is a dramatic musical inspired by P.T Barnum, (Hugh Jackman) the man behind the mystic of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Unfortunately, the film takes too many liberties with the true historical facts surrounding Barnum, of which we are supposed to forgive. No, not on my watch, this is 2017; one would like to think we’ve come furtherer in filmmaking than to accept blatant fallacies and laziness with American history.

The central theme here should have been Barnum’s creativity fueled by his desire for fame and fortune. The film is sidetracked by a far-fetched storyline – that he becomes infatuated with the famous Swedish singer Jenny Lind, (Rebecca Ferguson). Thus, leaving his wife (Michelle Williams) and children to tour with her. Upon his departure we see his sad children following their carriage down the length of the road and also lonely scenes of his wife and kids eating dinner without him.

While on tour, Lind is shown trying to seduce Barnum while they’re drinking champagne in her hotel room. One has to wonder what he expected to happen; his shocked reaction comes off as preposterous. Immediately she threatens to quit the tour, which we all know will leave he and his family bankrupt. In reality, there was never a shocking kiss between them that made headlines in the newspapers nor was there a romantic relationship garnered by Lind. This type of false storytelling is clearly defamation of character; I’m sure her family, friends, and fans are furious. According to my research, she quit the tour due to Barnum’s outlandish marketing schemes. She was a highly charitable person and gave generously to underprivileged children; as she grew up in an orphanage.

Read more ›

Molly’s Game (R) ★★★

“Molly’s Game” stars Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner and Michael Cera. Photo Credit: STXFilms

Try Your Hand at Molly’s Game

Molly’s Game is the true story of the rise, fall and redemption of Molly Bloom, who by the age of 26 was dubbed the “Poker Princess” for organizing high-stakes poker games in Los Angeles and New York for movie stars, athletes, and rich business men. This entertaining film marks the directorial debut for Aaron Sorkin, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of a number of hit movies (Social Network, Moneyball) who wrote this screenplay as well.

The film begins describing how Molly (Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane, 2016) ended up in her unique position in the underground gambling world. Oddly enough, her story begins on the mountain slopes training as a downhill skier in Colorado. Her father (Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures, 2016) always pushed her to excel and it paid off as she is ranked third in the U.S. in slalom skiing with plans to attend a top law school after the Olympics. Those plans are derailed during her time trial as she snags a branch while attempting a jump and reinjures a childhood injury. Molly’s wipeout abruptly ends her skiing career. Instead of going to law school as expected, she puts it on hold and heads to L.A. to come up with a new plan, this time, against her father’s wishes. Read more ›

Downsizing (R) ★★

Kristen Wiig, Matt Damon, Maribeth Monroe and Jason Sudeikis star in “Downsizing.” MUST CREDIT: Paramount Pictures

Downsizing Needs a ‘Super-sized’ Script Re-Write

How does the world deal with over-population? In Downsizing, Norwegian scientists discover that shrinking humans to five inches tall is the answer. Also, they’ve proposed a 200-year plan in which the entire population of the planet will transition from large or small. Although a cinematic gem regarding visual realization and concept development, the film splinters in too many directions never fully developing the original idea.

The trailers are misleading as Kristen Wigg (Audrey Safranek), Matt Damon’s (Paul Safranek) wife is featured as the main character yet, she’s only in the film for 20 or so minutes. From the get-go, Paul has been “all in” with the change as he’s living a somewhat “small” life. His dead-end job as a physical therapist for Omaha Steaks has never yielded the economic stability he’d dreamed of. Audrey’s parents are vehemently against the idea, which had a significant impact on her decision. Upon completion of the procedure—there’s no turning backing—it’s irreversible. Yep, final.

Read more ›

The Post (PG-13) ★★★

Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, David Cross, Carrie Coon, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Odenkirk and Alison Brie star in “The Post.” Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The Post Defends the Freedom of the Press

Although people rail against journalists and media for having bias, leaking stories, or disseminating fake news, it’s hard to imagine a democracy without the press working to obtain the truth. Although a free press is enshrined in the First Amendment, that hasn’t stopped the government from attempting to stifle it throughout U.S. history. One of the most famous attacks on the press is the heart of Steven Spielberg’s new film, The Post, an excellent depiction of the Nixon White House’s attempt to stop the release of the so-called Pentagon Papers and the efforts by the newspapers to fight back.

The Post is a very well-crafted story with great performances from a stacked cast. The main draw for audiences will be the pairing of (arguably) the best working actors alive, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. Hanks has collaborated with Stephen Spielberg several times, but this marks a first-time with Streep. Although the pair are excellent in their performances, this film showcases strong acts from the entire cast. The casting resembles Spielberg’s Lincoln where even the smallest role went to someone who could be a lead in another project. Even though a large collection of famous actors can sometimes distract from a movie, each actor feels natural in their role in The Post.

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I, Tonya (R) ★★★½

Margot Robbie, Allison Janney and Sebastian Stan star in “I, Tonya.” Photo Credit: NEON.

“I, Tonya” Ranks High on the Scale

Olympic figure skater, Tonya Harding, was one of the most hated people in America in the early 90s due to one of the most astonishing scandals in sports. The rivalry between Harding and America’s skating sweetheart, Nancy Kerrigan, led to an attack on Kerrigan as she was clubbed with a police baton several weeks before the 1994 Winter Olympics. Although Harding was an accomplished figure skater, in fact the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with this infamous and poorly executed scandal.

Based on true events, this dark yet comedic drama receives high scores. I, Tonya is the portrayal of Harding’s life and career and the extent of Harding’s underprivileged upbringing in a broken household may not be known to most. Despite the harsh reality of Harding’s background, the script is able to soften the brutality by weaving humor into the storyline. Audiences may find themselves gasping and cheering in the same scene and some may even end up rooting for Harding in the end. Directed by Craig Gillespie (The Finest Hours), this film is insightful, self-aware, humorous and sobering – pulling audiences’ emotions in several different directions at the same time.

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