Movies: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Commuter, Phantom Thread, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

This quasi sequel to the 1995 film follows the family friendly board game: Jumanji. The movie begins with the actors selecting who they want to play in the game before entering the game.  There is a gender bending twist, at first confusing, but soon becomes quite funny.

The cast really makes this film work.  Spencer, the gamer, becomes Dwayne Johnson.  Football Jock, Fridge, becomes Einstein, Kevin Hart.  Bethany becomes Professor Jack Black.  Wallflower Martha becomes warrior Karen Gillan.  Nick Jonas is Alex 20 years later.

It is rated PG-13 for adventure action, suggestive content and some language.  The genre is (pick one): Action & Adventure, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy.  It runs 1 minute short of 2 hours.

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The Commuter

This is a conspiracy based film about a business man’s commute home that becomes a living nightmare when people start being killed one by one during the commute.  It is creepy, scary, implausible, yet realistic enough to keep us spooked for a while.

Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Elizabeth McGovern and Jonathan Banks are the headliners along with another dozen actors.

It is rated PG-13 for intense action/violence and language.  We strongly do not suggest this movie for children.  The genre is noted as a Drama, Mystery, Suspense.  Run time is 1 hour, 45 minutes.

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Phantom Thread

This barely marketed movie about a post war 1950’s British dress designer to the rich and famous of the day, Reynolds Woodcock and his sister, is not an attractive picture of creativity and talent as much as a peek behind the curtain of elitism and social intolerance.

It was briefly released in Los Angeles and New York to be eligible for Oscar consideration and only yesterday released in broader distribution.

The film is both mesmerizing and cringe worthy at the same time.  It has a great musical score.  It is visually stunning, often intense.  That said, few of the characters are likable.  In fact, most are borderline annoying.

All that said, Daniel Day-Lewis plays the legendary  designer Charles James.  Lesley Manville is chilly as his sister Cyril Woodcock.  Vicky Krieps is the beguiling Alma Elson.  As noted, none of the lead characters are particularly likable.  Perhaps that is why we came away more annoyed than impressed.

It is rated R for strong language.  It is listed as a Drama with a running time of 2 hours, 10 minutes.

Special note:  Daniel Day-Lewis has announced his retirement from acting with this film.  It is not the first time he has said this so time will tell.

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Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Odd title, yes.  This film was just released yesterday (except for a few theaters in LA and New York on December 22, 2017 in order to qualify for Oscar consideration).

This film is based on the Peter Turner memoir about Academy Award winning actress Gloria Grahame in 1978.  The actress, diagnosed with breast cancer, has an affair with a much younger British man that grows into a deep relationship.

Annette Bening is extraordinary as Ms. Grahame.  Jamie Bell is equally perfect as the young Peter Turner.  Julie Walters is sweet as Peter’s mom Bella, along with Stephen Graham as Peter’s dad.  Vanessa Redgrave has a cameo role as Gloria’s mother.

This is a powerful true story about the lust for life and love.  It is rated R for language, some sexual content and brief nudity.  Given the content of adult topics, we do not recommend viewing by children.

The genre is noted as Art House & International, Drama, Romance.  It runs 1 hour, 46 minutes.

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