And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: Leave No Trace

Eight years ago writer/director Debra Granik introduced us all to Jennifer Lawrence in the amazing Winter’s Bone. She’s finally made another movie after way too long, introducing us to the next young actress we should probably keep an eye on, Thomasin McKenzie, who plays 13-year-old Tom in this gem of a film. Like Winter’s Bone, Leave No Trace is not about people living conventional lives with ordinary choices to make. Tom and her dad Will (Ben Foster, Hell or High Water) have chosen to live out in the woods in an Oregon park, taking care of themselves, and living a fairly isolated but full life together. But when they’re discovered by rangers and social services gets involved, the question of what is home and what is normal is pushed to the fore.

Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water didn’t get the attention it deserved when it was out. But now it’s getting some notice by the awards people, so I thought I’d give my take. (Mainstream Chick’s take is at the bottom of this post. We both liked it a lot!) It has a great cast – Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham, and Ben Foster. It’s a fairly simple story, very well told. Two teams are playing a cat and mouse game with each other. Brothers Tony and Tanner (Pine and Foster) are small time bank robbers. Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Bridges) and his partner Alberto (Birmingham) are on their tail as they knock over branches of the Texas Midlands Bank. Tanner has a record, but Tony is doing it all for his young sons. And Hamilton is about to retire, so he wants that last good case. It’s a very human story that’s humorous, sad, and action packed.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Pete’s Dragon; Florence Foster Jenkins; Hell or High Water

Good news, mainstream movie fans: There really is something for just about everyone at the Box Office this weekend. First, however, I must confess that I missed the screening of Sausage Party and doubt I’ll get around to watching it anytime soon, unless someone wants to send me a Sausage link. Regardless, I suspect the movie is filled with enough raunchy adult animation and humor to entertain a certain demographic. I’ll just leave it at that (for now), and move on to Pete’s Dragon, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Hell or High Water

The best new family film option is Pete’s Dragon, a live-action reimagining of a 1977 Disney flick that I don’t recall watching as a kid, even though it featured music and singing (i.e. how did I miss that one!?) I’m not exactly the target demo anymore for this type of movie, so I borrowed 12-year-old Aaron, 8-year-old Marisa, and their parents for an honest, independent evaluation of this Tarzan-esque meets dragon story. The general consensus: They liked it!

Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is difficult to watch. So difficult, in fact, that I covered my eyes for the majority of the second half. It’s a hard-core war movie. It’s intense. Brutal. Bloody. And depressing. So unless you have the stomach for long battle scenes pitting a small band of brothers against a largely unseen enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan, then I suggest you take a pass.