Movie Review

Veteran movie reviewer Jim Erickson shares his no-holds-barred opinions on Hollywood's best efforts. Tune in every Thursday for the latest review.

Race is an unexpectedly good movie about Jesse Owens, the black American track and field star who pretty much ruined a 1936 Olympic games for Adolf Hitler, who had hoped to use them to prove that the Aryan race, especially under Nazi-ism, was truly a race of Superman. And it's exceptionally satisfactory because of the things it does not do as much as for what it does.

I went to the first matinee of Deadpool, took one look at the mob in the lobby, and got back in my car and went home; I went back to the last show at night, and by the time the movie started, it looked as if every seat in the house was filled. I was later told that it had been selling out all weekend. And though it is a comic-book movie and I hate comic-book movies, I was never bored. So Deadpool is clearly well-made for its own audience. But I'm not that audience.

Writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen can be depended upon always to present us with something unusual, and Hail, Caesar! is their most unconventional offering to date. 

Two movies to mention today: Jane Got a Gun and Room.

Jane Got a Gun is an enjoyable western with the slight novelty of a woman protagonist, but nothing special despite Natalie Portman as star; but Room is unique in the literal sense, and a masterpiece.

To me, Dirty Grandpa looks like an attempt to make friendly comedy out of what a rather nasty adolescent boy would like to think the ideal life would still look like when he reached 71: nothing but sex and gross-out humor, with a great number of willing girls running around in bikinis and thongs.

Carol is a really excellent and highly unusual movie that may be suffering at the box office for its very superiority, despite the awards nominations for both of its stars. 

The Revenant is basically a story of physical survival under great physical challenge. Fortunately or unfortunately, it is at some points overlaid with Hollywood traditions and cliches, but these tend to appear toward the end of a long movie, and judging by the general run of current movies, I'd guess that a lot of moviegoers will welcome the occasional relief from a story that is not always easy to watch.

Two different movies to report on today, for two very different audiences.

The relatively rare moviegoer who still looks for serious grownup entertainment on the big screen will find a real treasure in Concussion, while the more commonly found escapee from reality will find enjoyment in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight.

The main problem with The Big Short is whether director Adam McKay succeeds in making you understand just what it is that Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling are doing to the bond market that ends up with the market crash of 2008. That he never succeeded with me proves nothing, because I can almost never understand anything involving either numbers or money. And the half-dozen or so people I consulted over this problem all said I didn't need to feel ashamed of myself because they had some trouble with the problem themselves.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens offers little to those who care about plot and character, but evidence is that most Star Wars fans are not much concerned about things like that, and if you want thrills and action and the feeling that you're on some kind of a ride, it should be right up your alley.

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