War, chase films, Ronstadt’s voice endures, another dog flick

| August 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

Official Secrets. Photo by Nick Wall.

Official Secrets (9/10): Runtime 112 minutes. R. It’s chancy to believe history as told by motion pictures, but this film seems right on, in capturing the deceitfulness of the Bush Administration and Colin Powell in starting the second Iraq war (evocative of Lyndon Johnson’s fraudulent Tonkin Gulf Resolution that callously misled the American populace into supporting the Vietnam War) and the heroism of a woman who tried to disclose their duplicity. It is one of the most entertaining and captivating films so far this year.

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (9/10): Runtime 95 minutes. NR. An outstanding, if whitewashed, documentary about a beautiful woman with a more beautiful voice. Filled with music, it tells her story with interviews with her and others, along with archival clips. This is a film not to be missed. Opens Sept. 6.

Angel Has Fallen (7/10): Runtime 120 minutes. R. Better than its precursors. While this is damning with faint praise, despite all the silly gun battles this is an entertaining chase film until the formulaic ending, with a good supporting performance by Nick Nolte.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld (7/10): Runtime 123 minutes. NR. The plane crash that killed United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, while landing to attend a cease-fire conference about a civil war in the Congo in 1961, seemed fishy at the time. Now director Mads Brügger and his accomplice, private investigator Göran Björkdahl, go on a quest to find out if Hammarskjöld was really murdered, and what they discover is shocking and incriminatory.

David Crosby: Remember My Name (7/10): Runtime 92 minutes. NR. This is a disjointed telling of the story of the folk rock singer/guitarist by himself through interviews and archival films, absent the music. He was so unlikeable that his former partners in Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young refuse to speak to him.

The Kitchen (5/10): Runtime 103 minutes. R. The acting is good and the leads are well supported. But the counterfactual premise (that the Mob provided real “protection” for shop owners that the shop owners actually wanted, when, in fact, the only “protection” the Mob sold was “protection” that was forced on them against the Mob itself) is so absurd, and the violence so pervasive, that this is not a film to recommend unless you get off on brutal violence and silly plots.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (Children 7/10; adults 1/10): Runtime 100 minutes. PG. With virtually every hackneyed scene used from time immemorial in jungle movies, the only things worthwhile to anybody but a 10-year-old girl are the shots of the rainforest and the closing song and dance.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette (4/10): Runtime 107 minutes. PG-13. An uninvolving story about an unsympathetic woman filled with excruciatingly long monologues and plot holes galore. The only saving grace is a fine performance by Kristen Wiig in a supporting role as Bernadette’s neighbor.

The Art of Racing in the Rain (3/10): Runtime 107 minutes. PG. How many more movies about dogs will we have to see? This is the third this year. The other two were about dogs who thought and acted like dogs. The dog in this emotionally manipulative film thinks and reasons like it got a Ph.D. from an Ivy League school, contemplating things beyond “bacon, bacon, bacon!” and looking at his master and thinking, “You are God!” No, this dog (voiced by Kevin Costner) reasons like Aristotle and plans and cogitates on things beyond the ken of most normal humans. Let’s hope that this is the last dog movie for the foreseeable future, although my female assistant loved it. However, I think it unlikely to charm the male of the species.

Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw (3/10): Runtime 137 minutes. R. I went into this seemingly endless insult to entertainment expecting one idiotic car chase after another, prolific violence, sophomoric humor, a plethora of special effects, ridiculous fights where the heroes take one killing blow after another, yet come up smiling, uncounted numbers of fatalities, and a story that would be hard to believe in a comic book. I was on the mark.

By Tony Medley


Category: Entertainment

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