<i>Dinner</i> Theater

Dinner Theater

The dark social comedy Beatriz at Dinner mines racial and cultural discomfort for satire, mostly with mixed results
I've seen a lot of plays that start like this. A group of characters, either friends or casual acquaintances or business associates, meet for what they expect will be an uneventful evening of pleasant conversation over drinks.

Hardly a Page-Turner

The Book of Henry, Colin Trevorrow's follow-up to Jurassic World, is almost fascinatingly awful
Sometimes you see a movie that's so bad, so confounding, so thoroughly misguided in every way, you almost want to recommend it to people, simply because they'll never see anything quite like it. The Book of Henry is a movie like that.

Sleepless in Seattle

After many hours in the dark, two critics report on some of the biggest and best titles from the Seattle International Film Festival
BAND AID

Undead on Arrival

As the first entry in a proposed franchise, The Mummy doesn't inspire much confidence
There's no denying that The Mummy is stupid. Really, really stupid.

Warrior Princess

DC redeems itself with an exuberant, empowering origin story, anchored by Gal Gadot's star-making performance
The cinematic universe of DC Comics finally hits all the right notes — bullets, bronze and mustard gas included — in what for any other superhero would be a distinctly Marvel origin story. This, uh, wonderfully directed and near-perfectly cast female empowerment story is so similar in tone and feel to Marvel Studios' Captain America that I was waiting for Stan Lee to show up, possibly as a eunuch.

Fear Is Contagious

The eerie It Comes at Night is a sure-footed, finely wrought psychological thriller
It Comes at Night opens on the lesioned face of a dying old man surrounded by tearful loved ones wearing gloves and gas masks. He has a fatal and highly contagious disease that has decimated the population.

Underneath It All

Captain Underpants gets its head out of the toilet, but it hardly soars
To Kill a Mockingbird. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Let It Drown

The big-screen adaptation of the '90s guilty pleasure Baywatch flails about in the shallows
Looking at the trailers and posters for Baywatch, you might assume the movie is a parody, taking the formula of a mediocre TV drama from the past and developing jokes around its misplaced earnestness. But the Baywatch film appears to have been made by people who hold the series in a bizarrely high regard, because long stretches play out like a straightforward, forgettable episode of the show that inspired it.

A Real Fixer-Upper

Richard Gere sheds his movie star persona as a glad-handing, elbow-rubbing wiseguy in Norman
The pretty-boy veneer that has often overshadowed some of Richard Gere's best performances is nowhere to be found in the finely honed character study Norman, which has been aptly subtitled The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer. The popular actor disappears into the title role, a New York Jew who wants nothing more than to be connected to the movers and shakers of the world, to walk beside them as a valued player and associate, but who has no ambition to be a leader himself.

Arrrgh, It Blows!

It may have raked in billions, but the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has run aground
OK, make it stop. This amusement park ride has gone on long enough.

Space Oddity

Director Ridley Scott's third foray into the Alien universe is hardly a resurrection
To watch the Alien prequels — Prometheus (2012) and now Alien: Covenant — is to marvel at the changes in astronaut hiring practices that must have been implemented between the earlier chapters and the later ones. The characters in Ridley Scott's 1979 original, set in 2124, are competent spacefarers who encounter difficult situations.

Pure Poetry

The latest from writer-director Terence Davies beautifully evokes the pains and pleasures of Emily Dickinson's life and writing
Unlike most films about great artists, A Quiet Passion is about repression rather than expression. It chronicles the lonely, unfulfilled life of the poet Emily Dickinson, from young adulthood to her death in 1886, and it's fascinated with how she related to a world that didn't have much need for her.

Still Hooked on a Feeling

It's more of the same, but the second Guardians of the Galaxy film is just as irrepressibly entertaining as its predecessor
There's a moment midway through Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as the Yaka Arrow of the whistling Yondu (Michael Rooker's blue-skinned, mohawked mercenary) weaves a neon trail through the chest cavities of an array of disposable baddies, that a secret element of the surprise blockbuster franchise becomes evident: Guardians of the Galaxy is basically a cinematic laser-light show.

Weak Signal

The Circle not only forgets it's supposed to be a paranoid thriller, it completely misses its own point
I read Dave Eggers' 2013 novel The Circle with some trepidation, fully expecting it to devolve into a creaky, finger-wagging cautionary tale about how scary and dangerous the internet can be (as if we didn't already know). And it is that, to an extent, but it's also surprisingly plausible in its depiction of one woman's methodical indoctrination into an organization that only gradually reveals its nefarious inner workings.

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