Capsule reviews of feature films

The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Entertainment News

BILAL: A NEW BREED OF HERO. 2 stars. Animated epic, imported form the United Arab Emirates, about historical figure Bilal ibn Rabah, who rose from slavery circa 630 AD to lead a revolt against corrupt aristocrats, and became an early follower of Muhammad. Uneven mix of beautiful vistas and awkwardly animated human figures, from a first-time animation studio. Featuring the voices of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Ian McShane. 1 hr. 47 PG-13 (violence) -- Gary Thompson

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. 3 stars. Handsome production set in 1983 Italy, where a professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) is hosting a handsome student (Armie Hammer) who becomes involved with the professor's son (Timothee Chalamet). Sensitively told, coming-of-age story that is well-acted by Chalamet and Hammer. Written by James Ivory, it recalls some of the quintessential Merchant Ivory movies of the 1990s, though it's directed by Luca Guadagnino. 2 hrs. 11 R (sex) -- Gary Thompson

COCO. 3 stars. In Mexico a fatherless boy crosses into the colorful land of the dead to learn more about his family, and to pursue his forbidden dream of being a musician. Steeped in the customs and rituals of the Day of the Dead celebration, which provide Pixar animators an opportunity to work with a new range of colors and visual ideas. The music is first-rate as well, even if the story sometimes sputters. Not in a class with Pixar's best animation, but way better than Cars 3. Featuring the voice of Benjamin Bratt. 1 hr. 40 PG -- Gary Thompson

DARKEST HOUR. 3 stars. Gary Oldman has great fun as Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour," and it's great fun to watch him play Britain's wartime prime minister, contending with political opposition while rallying his people and his king (Ben Mendelsohn) to the cause of opposing Germany, in the face of the dire events at Dunkirk. Joe Wright's showboating direction is a match for the heightened pitch of the performances, which include good work by Stephen Dillane, Kristen Scott Thomas and Lily James. 2 hrs. 5 PG-13 (language) -- Gary Thompson

DEN OF THIEVES. 2.5 stars. Gang of efficient and highly motivated bank robbers is shadowed and surveilled by a mirror-image group of law-enforcement officers. A knowing knock-off of Michael Mann's 'Heat' that invites the audience to enjoy the way it riffs on Mann's classic, sort of a bro-movie version of a Sound of Music singalong. Some of the plotting also filches from another famous genre picture. Which one? We're never tell. Starring Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber and O'Shea Jackson Jr. 2 hrs. R (violence) -- Gary Thompson

FILM STARS DON'T DIE IN LIVERPOOL. 2.5 stars. Based on the memoir of Peter Turner (Jamie Bell), an aspiring stage actor who had a brief affair with Hollywood star Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening). Offbeat romance with melancholoy tone, helped by first-rate performances from Bening and Bell, who has his most rewarding role since Billy Elliot. With Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave. 1 hr. 45 R (sex) -- Gary Thompson

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THE FLORIDA PROJECT. 3 stars. Engaging slice-of-life look at residents of an Orlando motel, the adults living paycheck-to-paycheck, their free-range kids having an improbably wonderful time on the ragged fringe of the Magic Kingdom. Written and directed by Sean Baker. With Willem Dafoe, Brooklyn Prince. 1 hr. 45. R (language) -- Gary Thompson

FOREVER MY GIRL. 2 stars. Corny, twangy romance about a debauched country star (Alex Roe) who returns to his Louisiana hometown to get his life in order and to sort things out with the high school sweetheart (Jessica Rothe) he left at the altar seven years earlier. Wholesome and generic, but the country music actually pretty good, either performed by Roe or selected for the soundtrack. Travis Tritt sings in a cameo. 1 hr. 40. PG (drinking) -- Gary Thompson

I, TONYA. 3 stars. Margot Robbie produces and stars in this biography, told with elements of black comedy, of notorious figure skater Tonya Harding (Robbie), implicated in the conspiracy to injure competitive rival Nancy Kerrigan. The movie tells you things you probably didn't know about the scandal, and manages to build empathy for Harding, who saw skating as a refuge form a life of poverty and abuse. Allison Janney and Sebastian Stan are Harding's abusive mother and husband, Bobby Canavale a cynical tabloid TV reporter. 1 hr. 59 R (violence) -- Gary Thompson

IN THE FADE. 3 stars. Diane Kruger won the best actress award at the Cannes Film festival for her riveting turn here as a German woman (in subtitled German with some English) whose Turkish/German husband and son are killed in a terrorist bombing. Absorbing if excruciating portrait of grief and fury, and an offbeat spin on the response-to-terror scenario -- the targets are immigrants and the perpetrators are neo-Nazis. 1 hr. 40 R (violence) -- Gary Thompson


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