December 2018 is upon us and in just a few days, Christmas is coming. While most people will buy materials gifts for their family and friends as well as for themselves, why not give the gift of movies? When you come to think about it, material things fade away but the gift of experience will not, especially when shared with others.
So, before the year ends, check with your neighborhood Reading Cinema about the schedule of movie screenings and buy advance tickets, if possible! You and your family and friends will enjoy these movies, many of which are both entertaining and enlightening, followed by sharing your opinions about them.
A Star Is Born
Lady Gaga, as we all know, is a great musician and performer, and she has proven it several times with crowd-pleasing hits like Poker Face and Born This Way. But we’re all surprised that she has proven to be a good actress, too! She’s even nearly unrecognizable in the movie – little to none of the makeup, big hair, and outrageous costumes she’s often seen in whether in both on and off the red carpet.
But a good actress she is in A Star Is Born, a reimagining of Barbra Streisand’s classic movie. The contemporary movie could have been problematic because the original film is still so well-loved and its star still at the peak of her stardom despite the passing of years. Fortunately, Cooper’s film more than fills the shoes of his predecessor.
As for the story, it’s a familiar one but it’s still compelling despite being so. Lady Gaga plays a talented singer whose career soars even as her lover’s career hits the skids; her lover, played by Bradley Cooper, is a struggling alcoholic and music icon. The tensions between the lovers form the core of the movie yet it doesn’t seem too limited.
Pawel Pawlikowski, the famous Polish auteur, brings us Cold War, a rich black-and-white film depicting the lives of mismatched, even ill-fated, characters. He is famous, of course, for his masterful films including the Oscar-winning masterpiece, Ida, yet another must-see film if it comes to a theater near you.
In Cold War, Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot played lovers whose mismatched personalities often put them at odds. Pawlikowski admitted that he included biographical details from his parents’ lives, and it has contributed to the movie’s real-life feel. He also ensured that the music used in it was organic (i.e., the songs were the ones actually being used at the time).
Ben Is Back
Julia Roberts has once again proven why she’s America’s darling with her powerful performance in Ben Is Back. While she started in popcorn rom-com films – Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride immediately comes to mind – she has proven herself to be a compelling actress, as proven in her Oscar-winning turn in Erin Bronkovich.
But Roberts isn’t the only star in Ben Is Back. Lucas Hedges delivers a powerful performance, too, as a recovering addict whose antics will leave audiences emotionally drained but surprisingly happy about it. Here, his character signs himself out of an addiction rehabilitation program so he can spend the holidays with his family.
For families dealing with the addiction of one or two of their members, Ben Is Back may just hit a nerve. The film emphasizes the oft-repeated yet oft-ignored truth that addiction is a family disease – whatever the addict does will have an effect on his family and whatever his family does will also have an effect on him. What the effects may be will differ from one individual and family to the next.
Every reimagining of the classic favorite – the story of Robin Hood, the so-called Prince of Thieves in this case – can be just as tricky. The audience has likely seen it all, from the funny cartoons to the serious films, where Robin Hood is concerned so there seems to be nothing else to add.
But we’re surprised that Otto Bathurst actually made his version of Robin Hood energetic and entertaining in ways that sustained our interest. Taron Edgerton, who plays Robin Hood, delivers a serious but not too serious performance while Ben Mendlesohn, who plays the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and Jamie Foxx as John, Robin Hoods mentor, gives great support.
And there are no tights in sight here, just cool hoodies, in keeping with the young audience. Robin Hood is a guilty pleasure that we will admit to enjoying.
When you’re known by your initials and nearly everybody knows what it stands for, then you have made it in life – and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg certainly falls into this category, along with the likes of JFK and LBJ. In RBG, a documentary, her extraordinary legacy comes to the fore, and it’s one that the contemporary audience would do well to take note of.