A little something for everyone this weekend. Kids, comic book fans, art house regulars, and people who like violence with their religion.
The likely box office winner this week will be Doctor Strange (72), getting good reviews f0r being off the usually beaten Marvel path. Doc Strange was always a minor character in Marvel books (I’m still waiting until they get to Moon Knight) but a funky one–he lived in the Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village and sported a porn ‘stache. He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and expressed the psychedelic elements of the era. Stephanie Zacharek: “Doctor Strange has one significant quality that most Marvel adaptations lack: A sense of humor about itself, which it wears as lightly as the most gossamer Cloak of Levitation.” By the way, I disagree with the basic part of her argument–I think Marvel has always had a sense of humor about itself, which the D.C. films have not.
Another big release this weekend is Hacksaw Ridge (71), the first film from Mel Gibson in ten years, who may be an abhorrent human being but knows his way around action scenes. I saw the movie today, a review will be forthcoming. Suffice it to say that Gibson loves to mix religion and violence. He’s clearly an Old Testament guy. It’s the story of a boy who joins the army in World War II but will not touch a gun. Zacharek: “I don’t think you could tell this story properly or honestly without being forthright about the horrors of the Pacific Theater, and as Gibson dramatizes them, they put Doss’ actions in jaggedly sharp perspective.”
For the kids is Trolls (56), family fare. When I was a kid, trolls meant things that lived under bridges that ate children, but I guess these are the cute furry-headed things that were popular in the ’70s. Roger Moore: “Kids, say the five-and-unders seeing their first movie, may connect with this confection. But if you’re old enough to know what “puerile” means, there’s nothing to cling to here.”
For the art house folk, there’s The Handmaiden (84) a South Korean drama. The plot seems complex, involving a, well, handmaiden, but it’s getting great reviews so I’ll try to catch up with it, maybe on DVD. Eric Kohn: “No matter its overarching ridiculousness, The Handmaiden remains a hugely enjoyable dose of grotesque escapism from a master of the form.”
Also in art houses is Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women (81). I’ve seen and enjoyed all of Reichardt’s films, but they are slow moving and better suited for DVD, when I can stop it and take breaks to look at my phone. Starring Michelle Williams. David Edelstein: “Certain Women turns out to be a study in women’s uncertainties, in the experience of pain that leads not to action but acceptance. It’s a slow go — but you get there.”