Viola Davis is the reason to see this heist movie. She is so great in everything - no matter what the genre. For this one she makes my year-end awards list. For the record, she won one Oscar for “Fences” and was nominated for two more. From “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen, this is the story of a group of widows forced to carry out one more heist for their recently departed husbands. Viola Davis’ hubby is played by Liam Neeson. “Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya is a bad guy this time around. There’s nothing believable in this film, story wise, but “Gone Girl” writer Gillian Flynn (co-writer here) makes it entertaining and twisty. What a great cast: Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez & Lukas Haas all have well-crafted roles. It’s pure popcorn with Viola Davis bringing the only “real.”
A dramedy based on director Sean Anders' real life story. He and his wife adopted sibling foster children. Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne are the parents. Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro work at the foster child agency. My screening was preceded by a video of the director, explaining the movie was inspired by his own life. That made the movie so much more powerful. I’m not sure Paramount listened to my suggestions to run the same video for all audiences- not just critics. It was funny but it was also very, very touching. So much so, it was the only movie ending that made me tear up this year. I just loved it and love what it can do for foster kids.
3 ½ ♥
Based on a real-life bromance in the early 60’s, Viggo Mortensen stars as an Italian-American bouncer who’s hired to be the driver and protector of a world class Black pianist who is about to embark on a tour that takes him into the deep South. Viggo is astounding- Oscar-worthy. Mahershala Ali (who won an Oscar for “Moonlight”) plays pianist Dr. Don Shirley- a role that’s a 180 degree turn from his Oscar winning role. It’s funny, touching and is exactly the healing movie we need right now. I left the theater feeling so good, so positive. The story is co-written by the son of the bouncer and believe it or not, “There’s Something about Mary’s” Peter Farrelly directed. You gotta see this one.
3 ½ ♥
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crime of Grindelwald”
The 2nd of 5 in the latest J.K. Rowling franchise. Johnny Depp is Grindelwald. Zoe Kravitz & Jude Law join the returning Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston & Ezra Miller. I didn’t catch it but it’s described as dark and only gets 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. One critic says it has an unsatisfying cliffhanger and another calls it the weakest in the “Harry Potter” world.
“A Private War”
The movie about Oyster Bay’s own Marie Colvin, who was killed in Syria while covering the civilian bombing by Syrian President Assad. They sex and juice it up too much. Her career itself was compelling enough- you almost felt the studio execs saying, “Can’t we make it sexy?”
“Under The Wire”
The much better, heart-wrenching, harrowing and for lack of a better word, thriller is the Marie Colvin documentary opening this weekend. It’s based on a book written by her photographer Paul Conroy. This is not only one of the best documentaries of the year; it’s one of the best movies of the year. Director Chris Martin joins me this weekend on “Sonstein Sunday” at 6:55 AM