Murder on the Orient Express

Kennth Branagh does best when doing what he loves best – acting and directing!  He knows how to make a good film and deliver interesting characters, although perhaps sometimes a bit too slick. Love that he tipped his hat to older black and white films in his staging. His plays his character just right – lovable despite being impeccable.  Surrounded by a good cast, he keeps their their talent a bit silo-ed, lending itself perfectly to the story.  As one of the few my age who never saw the original, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the mystery unfold and playing the who done it game. A great escape! Definitely date night worthy.

All I See Is You

They say this is a psychological thriller but, I wasn’t thrilled.  It seems the director (who also wrote it) was in cahoots with the musician in trying to make an interesting premise weird and eerie.  The writer / director was lucky to have good actors and the poor actors did what they could to contribute but yesh.  Feel badly saying this as I’m sure there is a market for this film but, I’m not part of it so, not a date night worthy movie for me.

Stronger

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a great performance.  He has a way of really inhabiting his characters and bringing them to life.  Tatiana Maslany makes a great match and Miranda Richarson is exactly what you would expect from this Massachusetts mom.  Good cast.  While it’s based on a true story it could have gone too Hollywood and other than some over the top flashbacks it doesn’t.  Perhaps the sign of a director who’s still maturing.  Not overly formulaic which makes it somewhat fresh.  Just a little bit long but otherwise good film.  Date night worthy but perhaps date night at home with wine and snuggling time.

Wonder

This one wants to be a Disney film.  Most of it is sweet.  Many lines are predictable – Julia Roberts is almost too perfect making her a bit distant and unbelievable.  The kids are as good as one would expect.  Message points are of course on target and yes a tear was shed by the end.  However, is it worth the money to see it on the big screen or can you wait and stream it.  Thinking it’s a wait and stream or see it with kid(s), making it not really date night worthy.

Call Me By Your Name

What an impact film.  Michael Stuhlbarg gives such a wonderful speech towards the end of the film that really touches your heart.  The film is perfectly cast, tenderly handling this coming of age story with naturalness and ease.  It’s exciting to see that we have grown enough to be able to bring this young love film to light and mainstream.  I hope it provides inspiration.

Gifted

Kids have a way of stealing the show which is of course the case with young McKenna Grace.  In fact, this year they should just have a best kids category!  Chris Evans does a nice job of being the sweet hot single uncle (that we all drool over) taking care of his niece.  Sorry, don’t think there were any shirtless shots! Jenny Slate is an adorable “girl next door” (not her role in the film but I don’t want to give the storyline away too much).  Octavia Spencer is the only odd casting choice but does well.  And the film overall is a nice enjoyable holiday movie or night out with your date, especially if you want a break from all the heavy message movies!  So yes, date night worthy.

Detroit

“Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”   I grew up hearing that over and over again.  No, it’s not in this film but indirectly it is.  I’m not sure we have ever gotten away from what happened in Detroit in 1967 and in particular at the Algiers Motel.  While the film is important it’s a bit of a mishmash and long.  It begins with great animation launches into some story, find’s it’s plot, lingers for quite a while and then attempts a very quick resolution.  It also began with a very jittery camera, trademark style from the team that brought us The Hurt Locker.  From jittery and went to winding to TV courtroom style.  Great cast/ensemble, appropriate music and good costumes/makeup.  Not quite date night unless you want to leave really angry.