Here is a short review of The Report, which opens exclusively at Santikos Silverado Theater on November 15, and a pair of short reviews of the first two original films available on the Disney+ platform, which debuted earlier this week.
Lady and the Tramp
The live-action Disney remake parade continues, this time with a retelling of the 1955 animated classic Lady and the Tramp. Featuring the voices of Tessa Thompson (Creed) and Justin Theroux (On the Basis of Sex) as the title characters, the 2019 version is just as lovable as its cast of furry companions. Cynics who brushed off the remake of The Lion King earlier this year, probably won’t be very impressed with this mostly-faithful retelling, but there’s just enough to admire in the family-friendly adventure that teams up a beloved Cocker Spaniel with a free-spirited, streetwise mutt. Co-written by Andrew Bujalski (Support the Girls) and first-time screenwriter Kari Granlund, Lady and the Tramp makes a few changes from the original film, the most noteworthy being the elimination of the culturally-insensitive Siamese cats, but none of the changes made by Bujalski, Granlund and director Charlie Bean (The Lego Ninjago Movie) spoil the most charming elements of the story. It’s especially true for the famous spaghetti-eating scene in the alley behind an Italian restaurant. Whether we’re talking live-action or 2D animation, once the Tramp pushes that last meatball with his snout to Lady’s side of the plate, your heart is sure to flutter. Lady and the Tramp is currently available for streaming on Disney+. 3 out of 5 stars (recommended)
Oscar-nominated actress Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) does her best to make her bubbly personality the focal point of Noelle, but the harmless holiday comedy featuring a storyline about Santa Claus’ sister saving Christmas is a stocking-full of ho-ho-hokum. Kendrick stars as Noelle Kringle, the sister of Nick (Bill Hader), the newly-named Santa Claus, who must take the mantle from his jollier father after his passing. Uninterested in the job, Nick escapes to Phoenix after Noelle tells him he should take some time off. When Nick doesn’t return, Noelle and Elf Polly (Shirley MacLaine) jump on Santa’s sleigh with his magic reindeer to bring back her brother and save Christmas. Even as traditional as these “save Christmas” movies are, Noelle doesn’t cut it. Written and directed by Marc Lawrence (Two Weeks Notice), Noelle is hoping its fish-out-of-water story might fall under the same category as the clever 2007 princess adventure Enchanted, but Lawrence’s script relies too much on Christmas-themed puns that are just as bad as “ho-ho-hokum" and a narrative that is predictable and dimwitted. Noelle is currently available for streaming on Disney+. 2 out of 5 stars (not recommended)
With all the talk of whistle blowers in the media today, screenwriter and first-time feature film director Scott Z. Burns’ (Contagion) dramatic thriller The Report is sure to hit close to home for those newshounds who understand that sometimes the U.S. government does some pretty terrible things. The film stars Oscar-nominated actor Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman) as Daniel J. Jones, a U.S. Senate staffer who is assigned by his boss, California Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), to investigate the means by which the CIA handled foreign detainees after 9/11. Once given access to a trove of CIA records, Daniel begins to piece together a report, which would later come to be known as the Torture Report, that details the unsuccessful “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by CIA operatives to force possible terrorists into giving up information while under duress. The Report isn’t an easy watch, especially during the scenes of torture, but Burns keeps pushing the narrative forward with confidence. Although there are sections of The Report that might make moviegoers feel like they’re sifting through the same amount of complex information as Daniel, Driver and Bening’s performances keep the fact-finding mission from becoming too convoluted. For those moviegoers who are also political junkies, if you can sit and watch eight hours of impeachment testimony, The Report should be a walk in the park. The Report opens exclusively at the Santikos Silverado November 15. It debuts on Amazon Prime November 29.3.5 out of 5 stars (recommended)
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