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Thumbnails Oct 17

by Tony Medley

Loving Vincent (10/10): Even though I avoid animated films like the plague, this film blew me away. It’s not your normal animation with hundreds or thousands of cartoonists sitting in a room drawing their panels or with modern-day computerized animation. Rather, is an amazing work consisting of 65,000 frames of film each of which is oil painted by hand by 125 oil painters who traveled from all across the world to the studios in Poland and Greece to participate in the production which can only be described as one-of-a-kind. Telling the true story of Van Gogh’s death (almost certainly not suicide), every scene is drawn like a Van Gogh painting; it has to be seen to be appreciated. If it doesn’t win the Oscar® for Best Animated Film, there’s something rotten in Denmark.

Victoria & Abdul (8/10): Who knew? Apparently aging, obese Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) had the hots for a studley young Indian clerk, Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), called “Munshi” which means teacher. It was apparently love at first sight for the 68 year old monarch when she first set eyes on the 24 year old Muslim. For the next 14 years they were fast friends despite the opposition of her family, staff, and government officials. While this is a well told, Little known, eye-opening story, it is extraordinarily slow in parts. The acting is very good, as is the ambience created by the production design.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (7/10): Based on the relationship between, “Winnie the Pooh” author AA Milne and his wife (Domhnall Gleason and Margot Robbie) and their son Christopher Robin (Will Tilston), from whom sprang most of Milne’s stories, this is a tear-jerking biopic with a smashing performance by Tilston. It shows how his parents exploited Christopher and robbed him of his childhood. The only negative is that it took me 45 minutes to really get into the story as the first half of the film drags.

American Assassin (7/10): Fans of Vince Flynn’s excellent Mitch Rapp series will be disappointed by this Hollywood Pap that changes the story and is little different from your standard Jason Bourne thriller. While Dylan O’Brien is a pretty good Rapp, the same can’t be said for the rest of the players, who are mostly miscast. If they make sequel(s) they better get another director, better writers, different players for the sub-characters, and stick with Flynn’s stories as he wrote them.

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (7/10): Shot so darkly it might as well have been in Black & White, this is a completely different take on Watergate than seen in “All the President’s Men.” It portrays Felt as a troubled, ambitious man with a distressed wife who acted out of patriotism to the FBI, even though what he did was contrary to FBI rules, if not the law. While some feel he was a traitor to the country, the FBI, and the oath he took, this film is more sympathetic.

Battle of the Sexes (3/10): This title has a double meaning. It’s not just about the Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell)-Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) tennis match; it’s equally about LGBTQ rights. In fact the first half is a snorer that concentrates on the latter. Also unmentioned is the rumor that Riggs threw the match in return for forgiveness of a gambling debt to the mob. Oh well. The tennis part in the last half is pretty good.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (3/10): The first one was a pretty good, tongue in cheek takeoff on James Bond films. This one is ridiculous. Colin Firth is too good an actor to waste his talent on stuff like this.

Mother! (0/10): This psychobabble is a desolate, dystopian view of society. The ending is as disgusting a stretch of film as you will ever see, unless you are a devotee of horror, as it slowly dissolves into phantasmagoric mayhem. One interpretation of the meaning is that the house is the U.S. and the people who invade are illegal immigrants who are invited in only to destroy the legal residents’ house, lives, and world. But given the political orientation of the writer/director, it’s hard to believe that this was what he was trying to say. Regardless of the pseudo-intellectual "inspiration," content, and meaning (which is opaque to say the least), anybody who ventures into the theater to sit through these two hours does so at their peril and will see disturbing images that might be difficult to forget.