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David Thewlis

Blu-ray: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman (2017) is, if you’ll pardon such an obvious comment, a wonder of a superhero movie, a film that doesn’t transcend the genre but most certainly sets a high bar, especially next to the ponderous, humorless films of the new big screen universe of interconnected DC Comics heroes.

Warner Home Entertainment

Gal Gadot debuted as Amazon princess warrior Wonder Woman in the turgid Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and brightened the film immediately. The spirit we glimpsed there carries this origin story, which sends us back to the 1910s and the hidden island paradise of the Amazons inadvertently invaded when American pilot Steve Trevor (an earnest yet spirited Chris Pine) flies past the invisibility field and crash lands on the beach, the first man ever to set foot on the island. Diana is intrigued to say the least but more compelled by news of a world at war and, after the inevitable assault by German forces after Trevor, is convinced of her purpose: stopping the god Ares from destroying all of mankind through warfare. She leaves the island against the wishes her mother (Connie Nielsen, commanding and regal). Steve’s not so convinced of that stuff about ancient gods and eternal Amazons but he has no doubt as to her abilities as a warrior or her commitment to justice and he knows a valuable ally when he meets one.

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Review: Anomolisa

David Thewlis voices Michael Stone in the animated stop-motion film ‘Anomalisa.’

“Scrambled is my favorite eggs style. What about yours?” The speaker is Lisa, a lonely, sincere, somewhat vapid woman sharing breakfast with a well-regarded expert on customer service, Michael Stone. The line is vintage Charlie Kaufman: The Oscar-winning screenwriter has an uncanny ear for small talk and eager inanities—the chintzy conversation of the 21st-century mall-dweller. Kaufman risks the acid reflux that can result from writing these characters; there’s a fine line between the despair he conveys over the way we live today and out-and-out contempt for it. But his dialogue is so sharp you can’t help appreciating these people despite themselves (or you’ll be so impressed by the moviemaking experiment—the fact that Adaptation becomes exactly the kind of movie the on-screen Kaufman doesn’t want it to become, for instance—that liking the characters won’t matter).

Anomalisa is lemon-sucking sour, but there are enough gimmicks—and enough lacerating humor—to make the film memorable.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Film Review: ‘The Theory of Everything’

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne

It is easier to deny God than Hollywood—just ask Stephen Hawking. Everybody’s favorite theoretical physicist now has a biopic devoted to his singular life; not surprisingly, it concentrates less on the information-paradox problem in black holes than on the love life of a man stricken with a debilitating illness.

The Theory of Everything opens with Hawking (played by Les Miz star Eddie Redmayne) as a young nerd at university, where his geeky manner doesn’t entirely derail his ability to woo future wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) or impress supervisor Dennis Sciama (David Thewlis).

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

A Dull Portrait of ‘The Lady’

The Lady, Luc Besson’s handsome biopic about Aung San Suu Kiy (Michelle Yeoh), may be largely a dramatic dud, but there are a couple compelling reasons to watch it. The saga of Burma’s Joan of Arc (recently triumphant) transcends pedestrian filmmaking, and one is grateful for Besson’s honorable, if undistinguished, effort to commemorate this Nobel Peace Prize winner’s decades-long stand against her homeland’s brutal military regime. What impact The Lady has comes mostly from the Zen-like beauty and radiance of Yeoh, and the dotty authenticity of David Thewlis, playing Suu Kiy’s steadfast British husband, Michael Aris.

Michelle Yeoh as Aung San Suu Kiy

The movie opens with Suu Kiy’s dad, who has just helped free his country from British rule, regaling his 3-year-old daughter with magical stories about the golden land that once was Burma, resplendent with tigers, elephants and sunshine. Then Aung San drives off to hammer out plans for democratizing the newly independent nation. When pistol-brandishing soldiers crash the party, Aung San closes his eyes and leans into his death, armored in a martyr’s calm. Many years later, in a very similar crisis, his daughter will reprise that expression of unyielding tranquility.

When we first meet the grown-up Suu Kiy, she’s an unprepossessing Oxford University academic and housewife, off to care for her ailing mother in Rangoon. She’s barely had time to register bloodied protestors and summary street executions before activist students and their profs begin streaming into her home — and suddenly the visiting housewife’s tapped as Burma’s savior.

These momentous events slide swiftly by on some remote plane, sans any credible dramatic development or soul-searching on Suu Kiy’s part. Even when the woman who’s never before spoken in public mounts a platform and the camera tilts up to reveal a horizon-spanning crowd, the punch gets pulled; what should be a terrific emotional rush is muted, almost perfunctory.

Continue reading at MSN Movies