‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘Three Billboards’ share the Phoenix Critics Circle’s Best Picture award

On Dec. 15, the Phoenix Critics Circle, along with their friends and spouses, enjoyed a festive evening at the Phoenix Film Foundation office and announced its winners for the best films, performances and technical categories of 2017. Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” and Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” both took the top prize for Best Picture  – via a tie – during an evening of two other ties as well.   “Three Billboards” was the big winner with four wins, closely followed by Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”…

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ carries visual thrills and missed opportunities

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” – The marketing department behind the Star Wars franchise must be brilliant.  With billions of dollars in tickets sold over eight films (including “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016)), hired advertising suits certainly know the cinematic beats that will attract their audience.  On the other hand, Star Wars probably does not need a marketing department at all, because after George Lucas’s visionary masterstroke arrived in 1977, fans bought into his wondrous space opera and the films that followed, and rightfully so! Well, as writer/director…

Oldman’s performance brings light to ‘Darkest Hour’

“Darkest Hour” – “I am unwanted.” – Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) Untested, unappreciated and soon-to-be unwanted within Parliament, Winston Churchill became the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister in May 1940, because Neville Chamberlain resigned during Germany’s rapid advance through Western Europe during World War II.  Inheriting a country teetering between appeasement and conflict, Churchill sided with the latter.  Rather than negotiate peace, his instinct was to fight Hitler and his fearsome military, but with 300,000 British soldiers trapped on the French beaches of Dunkirk, treaties between Germany and/or Italy became much…

Does ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ work? Humbug.

“The Man Who Invented Christmas” – Ask any American 6-year-old who invented Christmas.  Depending upon the household, Santa or Jesus would probably be the response, but director Bharat Nalluri and screenwriter Susan Coyne offer a third name. Charles Dickens. Dickens?  Well, the man did write A Christmas Carol in 1843, and his transcendent story has warmly struck jolly and merry nerves over the last 174 years.  In the television/film age, many, many producers have jumped on this particular holiday bandwagon.  Just look at the “Adaptations of ‘A Christmas Carol’” Wikipedia…

‘Justice League’ team chemistry tops some muddled special effects, lackluster villain

“Justice League” – There is no “I” in team. When confronted by a selfish player, a coach may use that sports proverb to help illustrate that looking out for No. 1 may prove fatal to the team’s success.  Now, if the team has one, some or a collection of self-centered basketball, baseball, football, volleyball, soccer, or insert-your-sport-here players, the end result could be a lost game or perhaps, a lost season. In the movies, an individual superhero might not be self-regarding, but he or she may just not be capable…