“12 Strong”…based on the real-life story of the first U.S. special forces sent to Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks. This unit was on horseback (!!!) worked with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban. A statue in their honor was erected just last year near Ground Zero. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) stars as the combat inexperienced captain (with his real-life wife playing his wife!!) along with Michael Pena and Michael Shannon, who’s competing with himself at the box office this weekend since he also stars in “The Shape Of Water”. Non-stop action & an incredible real story.
“Phantom Thread”.. this one’s getting mucho buzz because 3-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis says this will be his last film. Ever. And he doesn’t say why. The movie reunites him with Paul Thomas Anderson ( Maya Rudolph’s long time love), who directed him in “There Will Be Blood”. Anderson is also known for “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia”.
Set in the 50’s, this is one weird-ass love story!! Lewis plays a very un-likeable and intolerant couture clothing designer (making one of a kind fashions) who falls in love with a much younger waitress, who becomes both his muse and torturer. Don’t ask. I didn’t get this one at all but it made me really hungry with her elaborate mushroom omelet making. Part of the torture. She’d poison him with the meal so she could nurse him back to health. And he was down with this!!!
If you like period pieces, this has a lot of that. And if you like weird love stories- well-there’s that. And Daniel Day-Lewis can do no wrong. But this one left me scratching my head.
Also opening wide:
“I Tonya”… a REALLY dark comedy that will probably change the way you feel about the notorious Tonya Harding, who was banned for life from figure skating after the knee-whacking of rival Nancy Kerrigan before the Olympics more than 20 years ago. Absolute award-winning performances by Margo Robbie, who we first saw in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Allison Janney, playing her abusive mother-from-hell. Janney might be the villain of the year. The movie breaks through the wall with the audience with everyone talking to the camera, telling their own version of the story, based on real-life interviews. A line we hear from all them: ”That never happened”. It’s funny & tragic. Because we learn Tonya Harding was abused. First by her mom, then by her husband. And in her mind, later, by us all. A must see.
Also going wide:
“Call Me By Your Name”….This is a gay teen’s coming of age story set in a very lush Italy during a summer in the early 80’s. It’s just a love story- there’s no AIDS; no anti-gay sentiment. No horrified parents. It’s just a story of a 17 year old exploring his sexuality and falling in love -and that’s what makes it different.
NYC native Timothee Chalamet stars with Arme Hammer as the grad student who is the object of the 17 year old’s affection. The only problem with this movie is Arme looks way older than the 24 year old he’s playing. It’s beautifully shot – lush. Some trivia: Chalamet stars in another critically acclaimed film, “Lady Bird”. And he used to date Madonna’s daughter, Lola. They went to high school together. Timothee is getting Oscar buzz. And yes- the sexuality is explicit, though I hear there was heavy editing.
The best scenes in the movie, one of the best parental speeches EVER, has dad Michael Stuhlbarg having a long talk with his heartbroken son. Every parent should watch this speech.