Film

Nightmare Alley now playing (Starring Bradley Cooper)

NIGHTMARE ALLEY

  • By Alex Brown
  • Photo Courtesy of Searchlight

What do you get when you combine a star-studded, knockout cast with an Oscar-winning Director and Producer known for his dark point-of-view? A nightmare. Or in the case of Searchlight’s most recent box office release, Nightmare Alley.

The story focuses on Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born), a man who escapes his life by literally burning it down and joining a traveling carnival. When the show’s “geek” falls ill, the carnival owner asks Carlisle to help him dispose of the body. Shocked by the depths to which some people will sink to fuel their addictions, Carlisle ultimately falls into his own pattern of abuse alongside the clairvoyant act he joins.

Adding to Cooper’s star power is Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding and Heritage) as Zeena Krumbein, Caslisle’s psychic mentor, Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire, Spiderman) as carnival owner Clem Hoately, Mara Rooney (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Carol) as Carlisle’s love interest, and last, but by no means least, Cate Blanchett, of too many knockout films to name, as the corrupt psychologist Lilith Ritter, who may be the key to Carlisle’s undoing. The team is headed by none other than Director and Producer Guillermo del Toro, who tells this tale of dark ambition in a way only he can craft. 

While not immediately a box office smash, Nightmare Alley did receive critical acclaim. Beautiful in its production, the twisted story of this neo-noir film is sure to captivate audiences brave enough to enter del Toro’s nightmarish landscape of the darkness that lives in each of us. 

Now playing. For more, click here.

Cyrano now playing (Starring Peter Dinklage)

Cyrano

  • By Nina Sventitsky
  • Photo Courtesy of United Artists/MGM

Peter Dinklage is the hero we need right now — a flamboyantly poetic hero who uses words more than swords and wins the heart of a beautiful woman — first for his friend, and then finally, briefly for himself. Cyrano de Bergerac is the famously, physically flawed nobleman of 1640s Paris. The story, written in 1897, is familiar … nerd carries on a love affair of letters as he helps his friend woo the charming Roxane whilst harboring love for her as well. This musical romantic drama is from the team behind Pride and Prejudice (2005) Atonement, and Anna Karenina. 

Cyrano is played with pathos by Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones), an actor capable of Shakespearean-level dramatic depth. This is his first true romantic lead role, and yes, he sings! A clip of him singing a ballad from the film on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last month featured a deep baritone voice, no doubt cultivated by his stints as a punk rocker and his acting education at Bennington College. 

This version of the story is based on an original off-Broadway play written by Erica Schmidt (Dinklage’s wife). With this production team at the helm, the visuals are stunning and lush, bringing us 17th century noble life resembling an intricate tapestry. Expect excellent performances from Ben Mendelson (Bloodline), Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (The High Note), and Hayley Bennet as the luminous Roxane.

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The 355 in theaters January 15 (Starring Bingbing Fan, Lupita Nyong’o, Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, and Penélope Cruz)

THE 355

  • By RICH ANDREW
  • Photo Courtesy of UNIVERSAL

First there was Sydney Bristow. Then there was Atomic Blonde. And now director Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Phoenix) delivers unto us The 355. Named in honor of George Washington’s first ever female spy, four of the greatest female operatives from around the world are banding together. Their mission is to retrieve a stolen top-secret weapon from unknown and invisible enemies seeking to start a third world war. And what follows after that is a nonstop roller coaster ride of some of the most exciting action ever captured on screen. Whether it’s a barrage of bullets, fiery explosions, or scaling skyscraper rooftops, the joy of this flick comes directly from watching these bad ass spies being played by the best actresses in Hollywood. And donning the disguises of these operatives are bad asses in their own right Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Diane Kruger (Swimming with Sharks), Penélope Cruz (Official Competition), and Lupita Nyong’o (Americanah) with Bingbing Fan (The King’s Daughter) playing the huntress. Together, these indomitable women show off their impressive fight skills while reinvigorating the spy genre with some much needed female empowerment. With a stellar cast that also includes Sebastian Stan (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), Raphael Acloque (The Great), Edgar Ramírez (The Undoing), and Jason Wong (Silent Witness), The 355 packs the best kind of punch.

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The Tragedy of MacBeth (Starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand)

The Tragedy of Macbeth

  • By Quendrith Johnson
  • Photo Courtesy of A24

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” and other striking Shakespearean speeches live on in A24’s not-to-be-missed The Tragedy of Macbeth from director Joel Coen, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. Many don’t know that Washington has ‘trod the boards’ in New York, first appearing in the legendary Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park (1979). In this very Coen version, Washington will shock fans who were unaware of his facility with this dense historic dialogue. “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.” Frances McDormand plays all the dimensions of Lady Macbeth as only she can. 

Another remarkable element is the ‘three witches’ sequences as inhabited by American-born British actor and director Kathryn Hunter. For those not familiar with her work, Joel Coen’s version of The Tragedy of Macbeth won’t just be remembered for minimal restaging or reframing of the famous “Out, damned spot” speech, but for introducing audiences to Hunter’s astounding talent. Her witchy-ness will “double, double, toil and trouble” the Scottish Lord couple as Macbeth finds a harrowing way to ascend to the throne. Other notable performances include Brendan Gleeson as the ill-fated King Duncan, Harry Melling as his petulant son Malcolm, and Corey Hawkins and Moses Ingram (in her first movie since The Queen’s Gambit), as Lord and Lady Macduff. Coen favorite Stephen Root appears as The Porter.

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