A WRINKLE IN TIME (PG)
Starring: Storm Reid, Chris Pine, Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Levi Miller, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Whinfrey, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifanakis, Michael Pena
Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Based on Madeline L’Engle’s 1962 novel, this was a film labelled “impossible to make.” Underneath all the glitter, glamour and sci-fi special effects, it is a simple story of a girl’s search for her missing father, and that archetypal storyline works well. However, the numerous time transitions still need quite a bit or ironing to get the wrinkles out. The “fairy-godmothers,” AKA “three witches,” are called “The Mrs.” here, and the actors cast to play them (Winfrey, Kaling, Witherspoon) seem to be having a heck-of-a-lotta fun. Much has been written about how this $100 million+ film was created, directed, and stars larger-than-life women, so it is ironic that it is the guys (most noticeably Chris Pine as the missing father and Deric McCabe as the quirky little brother) who steal the otherwise disappointing movie.
2-and-1/2 pieces of ‘Too much of the CG stuff seems unfinished’ toast.
Directed by: Thomas Lemon
A slightly shorter version of this film was shown on opening night at last year’s Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, and the lack of a cohesive flow is still evident. It is an assemblage of set pieces shot by talented documentarians in 25 different countries -= all of which purport to illuminate what is sacred in the world. Individually, many of these shorts work well, but the haphazard shift from one group and locale to another is not only jarring, but counterproductive. We aren’t allowed enough time to consider what we have just seen before we are seeing something completely different.
1-and-1/2 pieces of ‘Needs a Joseph Campbell or David Attenborough to frame the sequences’ toast
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kalli Vernoff
Directed by: Cory Finley
At the center of things is a psychopathic girl (a zoo-sadist) who once mutilated a prized horse. She now resides with her mother and stepfather in a Connecticut mansion, where a former friend is hired to be her tutor. The two actresses have a grand time in this film-noirish tale, wisely choosing to ignore the not-so-subtle plot devices thrown at them by writer/director Cory Finley. This would make a good double bill with Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” since both satires crack through the carefully constructed facades of upper-class suburbia.
3 pieces of ‘Modern-day film-noir’ toast
Starring: Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Matvey Novikov
Directed by: AndreyZvyagintsev
If you are triggered by inexorably depressing tales completely lacking in empathy, than this Russian-entry for a Best Foreign Language Oscar is one you should avoid at all costs. Ostensibly, it is the story of a divorcing couple who hate each other, and have already moved on to other people. Unfortunately, they have a boy - who they believe they should have aborted. He stays in the shadows, seeing and hearing way too much - until a phone call announces the boy has been absent from school for two days. Their missing son compounds and speeds up the disintegration of the marriage, and his fate becomes a litmus test of life in modern-day Russia.