Paul McGuire Grimes reviews a few movies to take in over the holidays.
NEWS OF THE WORLD (in theaters)
Director Paul Greengrass first teamed up with Oscar winner Tom Hanks for the true story Captain Phillips in 2013. Their new film News of the World take us back to 1870, five years after the Civil War and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, played by Tom Hanks, travels town to town delivering news headlines and stories to anyone who gathers around his podium. The effects of the war are still being felt with the divide and racism still at play. Captain Kidd comes across a young girl, named Johanna, lost and abandoned in the plains of Texas. He takes her with him hoping to return her back home. He learns she is of German descent but raised by the Kiowa tribe and doesn’t speak English.
Hanks’ character Captain Kidd is a man of unity and a call to duty hoping to reunite this young girl with her relatives and bring these townspeople together with his messages and stories.
It has the look and feel of the classic western with vast empty plains and covered wagons of travelers with small towns protective of their people and beliefs. We see how the war has had a different stamp on the various places Captain Kidd stops in. And yet, even as a noble and honest man, he’s seen as the instigator from out of town causing trouble. Some people he comes across only want to hear the news they want to hear to fit their own set of beliefs. Even he’s given threats despite his calls for unity and peace.
The western genre may not be your style, but Tom Hanks has a way of making every character or story compelling regardless of genre. He’s an actor who is always present finding the honesty and drive with each character.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
WONDER WOMAN 1984 (HBO Max)
Trust me when I tell you that director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot rule the DC Extended Universe. In the first film, we saw Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman fall in love with Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor during the first world war. Flash forward to 1984, and Diana now works for the Smithsonian by day while mourning the loss of her great love. Her newest colleague Barbara Minerva, played by Kristen Wiig, is a gemologist and zoologist who has been brought in to examine a magical stone. Barbara falls victim to the charming Max Lord, a conniving businessman and television personality who has dangerous plans afoot. He’s played by Pedro Pascal who you may know better as The Mandalorian.
Director Patty Jenkins takes us from the hidden island of Themyscira to the vibrant and robust vibe of a 1980s mall with Wonder Woman kicking butt like only she can. Everything from the arcades to the bad fashion to the jazzercise should put a big grin on people’s faces. It’s a stark contrast from some of the darker and CGI-heavy DC films.
Wonder Woman 1984 explodes in 1980s culture with some fun call backs to the Christopher Reeve’s Superman.
I appreciated seeing this film have an anthropology angle to it examining cultures and civilizations being created and destroyed. We get a look at what happens when people get what they’ve always wanted and the sacrifices that come when you think you have everything.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
SYLVIE’S LOVE (Amazon Prime)
A timeless love story with a jazz backdrop lies at the heart of the new film Sylvie’s Love. It’s the late 1950s in New York City when Robert, a jazz saxophonist spots Sylvie behind the counter of a record store. His musical expertise leads him to getting a job laying room for them to fall in love. With this being a love story, there must be a catch as Sylvie is engaged to man off at war and Robert’s band ends up touring across the country.
Sylvie’s Love is written and directed by Eugene Ashe, a former musician himself who was inspired by old photographs of his family and wanted to tell their story of survival and sacrifices in the name of love.
I felt its timeless and elegant nature early on the film. A beautiful couple falling in love when the timing isn’t right with either of them and the scattered rhythms of jazz carries the audience through their journey.
This movie should have a universal appeal to it given the throwback nature of the setting and its effective storytelling. I became torn as I wanted to respect the fact that Sylvie’s engaged but I still wanted her and Robert to end up together in the end.
Sylvie’s Love is a beautiful journey as these two characters come so far from where we meet them at the beginning. Not only do Sylvie and Robert find themselves but also find what they need from each other. It comes with a terrific soundtrack that makes jazz feel like an integral part of this story.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS.