Joan Ellis

MICHAEL B. JORDAN AND Jamie Foxx star in “Just Mercy” (2019).
Just Mercy — Running Time: 2:16 — PG-13 “Just Mercy” is the one to see this week. This true story stuns on many levels as it delivers the tale of a young black lawyer who becomes deeply involved in helping a black man unjustly accused of murder. At 18, Rhonda Morrison has been shot while walking. She was white. Police listen to a white prisoner who accuses a black man of the murder. The immediate and total acceptance of the accusation is what stuns us. A white participant is believed. A black suspect is called a liar. Both a white court judge and a white witness announce that justice has been...

GEORGE MACKAY AND Dean-Charles Chapman star in “1917” (2019).
1917 — Running Time: 1:59 — Rating: R “1917” is a quality movie that led me to some dark thoughts. If the story doesn’t trigger lasting thoughts for you about men and war, then fine, just enjoy this good movie. The quality came from director Sam Mendes and the two fine actors who carry the film. Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is chosen to deliver a crucial message to the war front. Schofield (George MacKay) joins Blake and the entire movie unfolds as they carry the message that will, if they are successful, stop the Allies from attacking the Germans who are secretly hidden as they wait for the...
This was a year of creeping apprehension for movie lovers. Theaters were often lucky to have 10 people in the audience. Theaters are closing while Netflix releases new movies to people watching in their living rooms. The feel of change is overwhelming. Let’s look with final pleasure at three Oscar nominees from this year when the movie culture began to plunge into change. “Marriage Story” opens beautifully as a husband and wife describe each other on the path of their marriage from day one to now. As each finishes his/her personal tale, we have become captives in the problems they are trying...

ADAM SANDLER IN “Uncut Gems” (2019)
Uncut Gems — Running Time: 2:15 — Rating: R It is my great pleasure today to write a review of the worst movie I have ever seen. This will be a special challenge because the actors, the directing, and even the premise are all good. Here’s the problem. For the first half hour, we watch Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) as he runs through streets, buildings and underground tunnels. Yes, the photography is good, and no, we learn little about who he is or what he is doing. At long last, a box containing rare opals embedded in a rock arrives. From this point forward, that small rock is the trigger for...

EMMA WATSON, SAOIRSE Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen in “Little Women” (2019).
Little Women — Running Time: 2:14 — Rating: PG If you are thinking of skipping “Little Women,” think again. It has been read in Louisa May Alcott’s book and seen in movies by all ages ever since it was published in 1868. Now, as a gift to all of us, Greta Gerwig has assembled and directed a superb cast in a new version that is packing theaters. It is both a tribute to the book and a salute to families of any era. Just go. This story may have been written five decades ago but director Gerwig has dropped it into the present as she develops the sisters who are both intelligent and emotional in...

CHARLIZE THERON AND John Lithgow in “Bombshell” (2019).
Bombshell — Running Time: 1:48 — Rating: R In an attempt to take a fair look at corporate sexuality, “Bombshell” offers a depressing look at office politics leading to the current surge of revelations about the corporate promotion system. These politics continue still. Ask, if you care to, why some women do and some don’t dress in the sex-for-promotion way. As this movie makes clear, woman seducers will usually have blonde hair and a good figure adorned in scanty clothes. In this film, these women are then surprised when head of Fox News Roger Ailes demands sex in return for promotion. Why,...

SAM ROCKWELL AND Paul Walter Hauser star in “Richard Jewell” (2019).
Richard Jewell — Running Time: 2:26 — Rating: R Think 1996. The explosion at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta has killed innocents. The press has made Richard Jewell a hero throughout the country. Suddenly, the press labels Jewell the bomber and we watch him turn from hero to criminal in seconds on the front pages. Two things stamp the movie — “Richard Jewell” — with quality. Nothing is spared in creating both the explosion and the aftermath. Drawing on the always increasing new techniques of cinematic creation, the filmmakers drop us into the hideous reality of what happened in...

PAULINE KAEL IN What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (2018)
What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael — Running Time: 1:38 The new documentary about film critic Pauline Kael is a pile of contradictions that paint an intriguing portrait of the world’s most famous movie critic. “What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael” is a beautifully crafted look at the smart woman who wrote 12 books along with columns for The New Yorker. Did a given movie work? Movie lovers heard her answers to that one as she scorched or loved the plots, filming, and acting of movies during the 1960s and ’70s. The word “controversial” is nearly always part of any description of this...

Christian Bale in “Ford v Ferrari” (2019)
Ford v Ferrari — Running Time: 2:32 — Rating: PG-13 If you avoided seeing “Ford v Ferrari” because you aren’t interested in car racing, you might just reconsider. Why did I avoid it? Car racing and all-male casts have never drawn my interest. How could an audience be held in suspense for two and a half hours of men speeding around in circles to a deafening soundtrack? Yet finally, there I was in the movie, on that track, rooting for the good guys. During a five-year sales slump at the Ford Motor company, designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) begins to wonder how to make the Ford badge stand...

JAMIE LEE CURTIS, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Riki Lindhome, Jaeden Martell and Katherine Langford star in “Knives Out” (2019).
Knives Out — Running Time: 2:11 — Rating: PG-13 See “Knives Out” when you’re in that blissful movie mood of wanting to sit in the dark waiting to be transported to a different time and place. Actors, writers, and director Rian Johnson all moved together on this one to create a place we have never been before and it is magical. Let the mood roll over you slowly. Mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) has been found dead in his home of a head wound at 85. As police stand on the scene, Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) investigates Thrombey’s dysfunctional family and devoted...


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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