‘Mary Poppins’ affirms the power of magic

‘Mary Poppins’ affirms the power of magic

“Mary Poppins Returns” (2018). Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Jeremy Swift, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Jim Norton, Noma Dumezweni, Tarik Frimpong, Suda Bhuchar, Steve Nicolson, Christian Dixon, Chris O’Dowd (voice), Edward Hibbert (voice). Director: Rob Marshall. Screenplay: David Magee. Story: David Magee, Rob Marshall and John DeLuca. Source Material: P.L. Travers. Web site. Trailer.

Children frequently delight in the power of magic. They appreciate the wonder it engenders, and they often look on in wide-eyed awe at what it can produce. But, somewhere along the line, many of us lose that sense of amazement as we age, believing that such notions are little more than foolish, childish fantasies. What’s worse, due to the difficulties of prevailing circumstances in many of our lives, some of us may never discover the joys of this endearing aspect of life to begin with, denying us one of the tremendous pleasures of childhood. And, unfortunately, in either case, we often end up divorced from the skills and mindset that a genuine belief in magic affords us, separated from valuable tools that can help us achieve happiness and fulfillment in life. When this happens, we need something to help us discover or rediscover what we’ve lost or never found, the kind of fun-filled intervention offered by a specially gifted miracle worker in the long-awaited sequel to a Disney musical classic, “Mary Poppins Returns.” (more…)

‘The Favourite’ tackles how to get (or not get) one’s way

‘The Favourite’ tackles how to get (or not get) one’s way

“The Favourite” (2018). Cast: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, James Smith, Joe Alwyn, Mark Gatiss. Director: Yorgos Lanthimos. Screenplay: Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. Web site. Trailer.

We all love to get our way. It’s fulfilling when we see our wishes come to fruition, often leaving us with a warm, satisfied glow inside. But how we get there can be challenging, especially if we find ourselves pushing too hard to see the desired result realized. So it is with a beleaguered monarch and her two closest but contentious advisors in the new period piece dark comedy, “The Favourite.” (more…)

‘A Private War’ wrestles with belief conflicts

‘A Private War’ wrestles with belief conflicts

“A Private War” (2018). Cast: Rosamind Pike, Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci, Tom Hollander, Faye Marsay, Greg Wise, Corey Johnson, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Alexandra Moen, Fady Elsayed, Raad Rawi, Amanda Drew, Jérémie Lahuerte. Director: Matthew Heineman. Screenplay: Arash Amel. Story Source: Marie Brenner, “Marie Colvin’s Private War,” Vanity Fair magazine. Web site. Trailer.

Getting at the truth under trying circumstances can be challenging, to say the least. But imagine what that undertaking might be like with the added dangers of bullets whizzing overhead and unseen land mines potentially lurking in the path of our every step. Such a pursuit takes someone genuinely committed and eminently earnest about arduous tasks like these, the kind of individual profiled in the gripping new biopic, “A Private War.” (more…)

‘Viper Club’ probes the depths of truth, compassion

‘Viper Club’ probes the depths of truth, compassion

“Viper Club” (2018). Cast: Susan Sarandon, Matt Bomer, Edie Falco, Lola Kirke, Julian Morris, Sheila Vand, Adepero Oduye, Amir Malaklou, Damian Young, Patrick Breen, Jerome Charvet, Mattea Conforti, Kristin Villanueva, Jack McCarthy. Director: Maryam Keshavarz. Screenplay: Maryam Keshavarz and Jonathan Mastro. Web site. Trailer.

Getting at the truth isn’t always easy. It may be obscured by camouflage, and accessing it may be difficult because of roadblocks or obstacles. And yet, once that elusive truth is found, it could potentially be so painful that one might wish it had stayed concealed. However, for those who are committed to seeing it being told, it takes certain skills, most notably in the areas of tact, compassion and forthrightness, to convey the information, especially to those most in need of hearing it. These are qualities essential to the missions of a courageous mother and son as seen in the gripping new drama, “Viper Club.” (more…)

‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ examines creativity gone awry

‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ examines creativity gone awry

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018). Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Jane Curtin, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone, Christian Navarro, Stephen Spinella, Gregory Korostishevsky, Anna Deavere Smith, Pun Bandu, Erik LaRay Harvey, Brandon Scott Jones, Marc Evan Jackson, Sandy Rosenberg, Towne the cat. Director: Marielle Heller. Screenplay: Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty. Book: Lee Israel, Can You Ever Forgive Me? Web site. Trailer.

Creativity is a wonderful thing. It gives us great satisfaction, and it can lead to the production of marvelous conceptions made manifest. It offers boundless opportunities for exploration and expression, adding constantly to the richness of human experience. But is it always benevolent and uplifting, or can it be contorted into questionable forms that get out of hand? That’s a fine line to traverse, but sometimes we may step over it and find ourselves on the wrong side of the creative process. Such an experience befell a struggling author, as depicted in the intriguing new biopic, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (more…)

‘Beautiful Boy’ plumbs the depths of parental love

‘Beautiful Boy’ plumbs the depths of parental love

“Beautiful Boy” (2018). Cast: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan, Kaitlyn Dever, Timothy Hutton, Oakley Bull, Christian Convery, Andre Royo, Stefanie Scott, Kue Lawrence, Zachary Rifkin, Jack Dylan Grazer. Director: Felix Van Groeningen. Screenplay: Luke Davies and Felix Van Groeningen. Books: David Sheff, Beautiful Boy, and Nic Sheff, Tweak. Web site. Trailer.

How far should parents go in looking after their children? Some would say that there are no limits on this question, that mothers and fathers should be willing to do whatever it takes to attend to their kids. But is that really true? And what happens when those children are on the verge of becoming adults themselves – do the same rules apply as when they’re youngsters, especially if they become embroiled in challenges seemingly of their own making? However, no matter what happens, they’re still one’s kids, and there’s a natural tendency toward being protective that automatically kicks in. Those are among some of the tough questions addressed in the new, fact-based family drama, “Beautiful Boy.” (more…)

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