As coming-out-of-pandemic blockbusters go, there's probably no movie more highly anticipated than "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Webslinging star Tom Holland has signed on for more, but we knew this would close out a trilogy directed by John Watts, and it would be special.
Nobody wants to read any spoilers, so this might be a shorter write-up than for most big films.
As we see in the trailer, it picks right up from the last one, when Mysterio has revealed the identity of Spider-Man, a.k.a. Peter Parker. And Spidey discovers it's not that fun to be famous in New York City!
Soon, after a Dr. Strange spell goes awry, villains from the past come back, shattering the multiverse.
If Spidey thought he had problems before, now he's in the thick of things.
His relationship with M.J., played by real girlfriend Zendaya grows stronger, a little art imitating life.
As for all the rumors you've heard, I will only say this is a very satisfying story. It goes from humor to emotion as nimbly as Spider-Man slings through the buildings.
Be sure to stay for one mid-credit and one post-credit scene. You'll see where the MCU is headed.
(Columbia Pictures. Rated PG-13. Running Time 2 hrs. 28 mins. In Theaters Only.)
Speaking of trailers, the teaser to "Nightmare Alley" barely scratches the surface of what the film is about. The dramatic noir thriller is set in the 40s. In fact, it's a remake of an old Tyrone Power movie.
Bradley Cooper leads an all-star cast. He joins a carnival and, inspired by Toni Collette, who's a performing medium, he becomes a medium himself, leaving the carnival and taking his love interest, played by Rooney Mara, with him. His world, then, spirals out of control when he gets into high-stakes readings for a rich client, brokered by Cate Blanchett, who plays an amazing femme fatale.
This is a terrific movie, maybe not quite to the level of his Oscar-winning "The Shape of Water," but just about. Expect plenty of Oscar nominations for this one, too.. from acting to production design.
(Fox Searchlight Pictures. Rated R. Running Time 2 hrs. 30 mins. In Theaters Only.)
Drive My Car
"Drive My Car" is a Japanese film with subtitles that clocks in at three hours. Yup, that's a challenge.
Based on a short story that was clearly extended -- a married woman writes screenplays for TV dramas. She dictates them to her husband while they're in the throes of passion! Her husband is a successful theater actor who catches her cheating on him with one of her TV protegees.
Now, the actor heads out of town to direct a Chekov play. Among those he casts, the actor who was seeing his wife.
Here's where the title comes in. The theater he's working for him has a policy that even their contract hires must use a professional driver to get back and forth. Enter a young woman who he's wary of, at first. Their friendship and trust grows as they realize they have more in common than they think.
This is a fine film, fresh and compelling, but honestly, it would have been better if it were trimmed by a half hour. Running lines of Chekov with subtitles gets a little tedious.
(Janus Films. Not Rated. Running Time 2 hrs. 59 mins. In Theaters Only.)
How about post-apocalyptic war with artificial intelligence!
Chloe Grace Moretz plays one half of a young couple on the run. They're hoping to make it through an android stronghold called 'No Man's Land' before the birth of their first child.
Algee Smith plays the father of her child. They may have escaped together, but their pregnancy was not planned. In fact, she wasn't even sure she wanted him as her boyfriend. But as their journey becomes more intense and he becomes more protective, their caring grows.
The androids in this story may have the upper hand in intelligence, but they're void of all emotion. And that's exactly what Chloe expresses so beautifully. She does the heavy lifting here, and I'm not just talking her fake pregnancy belly! She carries both well.
(Hulu. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 50 mins. Streaming on Hulu)
Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali plays a dying man, Cameron, with an adoring wife and son in "Swan Song." He becomes aware of new technology that can clone a healthy version of him, and insert him back into his family life. They'd never know he was leaving.
The brains of this operation is an intense, Glenn Close. She can't risk a failure. He makes friends with another patient who's further along into the process, played by Awkwafina. She's always a great addition.
Ali is great as Cameron grapples with his decision. Naomie Harris also shines as his wife.
This is decent drama. It definitely draws you in, but Ali will probably be on the outside looking in at a nomination.
(Apple TV. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 52 mins. Streaming on Apple TV+)