Karen Martin’s Home Movies

March 24, 2017

Miss Sloane,

directed by John Madden

(R, 2 hours, 12 minutes)

Jessica Chastain elevates the impact of this otherwise unremarkable suspense drama with her performance as Elizabeth Sloane, a bossy, brilliant and cold-hearted lobbyist who reigns supreme in Washington. With the help of a herd of devoted young nerdy proteges, she takes on the obviously inept brain trust of politicians and other insiders who dare to stall her manipulative schemes that serve her clients and strengthen her made-of-steel reputation.

But when she goes to obsessive lengths to get a gun-ownership background check bill passed, the film descends into run-of-the-mill corruption territory. Despite the best efforts of Chastain as the title character — perfectly groomed, capable of stomping about authoritatively for endless hours on towering heels, medicated to the max (maybe a little beyond), and disdainful of basic human needs like sleep and food — and of a strong supporting cast (Sam Waterston, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Alison Pill), the film really doesn’t bring anything new to the increasingly agitated conversation of what it takes to understand the inner workings of the nation’s bafflingly complicated capital.

Lion (PG-13, 1 hour, 58 minutes) Garth Davis’ scenic and uplifting directorial debut, which earned six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, features Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) as the grown-up Saroo who, when he’s 5 years old, gets lost on a Indian train that takes him thousands of miles away from his home and family. After living in the streets and in a none-too-safe orphanage, he’s adopted by a loving Australian couple, but he eventually sets out to find his lost family and return to his first home. The Blu-ray and DVD bonus content includes deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes gallery. With Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Sunny Pawar as the young Saroo.

Silence (R, 2 hours, 41 minutes) A dedication to the work of Martin Scorcese and to the passion of Christians is necessary to make it through this grim, lengthy drama in which two missionaries (Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) risk their faith and lives by traveling to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) at a time when Christianity was outlawed. Blu-ray bonus content includes a featurette on the making of the film.

Assassin’s Creed (PG-13, 1 hour, 55 minutes) A flat, incomprehensible video game of a movie in which Michael Fassbender plays a guy who, thanks to technology, gets his genetic memories unlocked and is able to relive the life of his cryptic ancestor Aguilar in 15th-century Spain. With Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons, Michael Kenneth Williams; directed by Justin Kurzel.

Fire at Sea (not rated, 1 hour, 54 minutes) A meaningful, affecting documentary that examines the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, south of Sicily, where innumerable African and Middle Eastern refugees in various stages of hope and suffering cluster for months at a time in their quest to find a new life in Europe. Directed by Gianfranco Rosi.

In Dubious Battle (R, 1 hour, 50 minutes) Too much in awe of its subject matter to be lively, this drama chronicles an effort to unionize workers on a fruit farm in California during the Depression that’s led by Mac Mc-Leod (James Franco) and Jim Nolan (Nat Wolff). Based on the 1936 novel by John Steinbeck. With Ed Harris, Robert Duvall, Selena Gomez, Vincent D’Onofrio; directed by Franco.

A Kind of Murder (R, 1 hour 35 minutes) A stylish, attractively framed but curiously inert psychological thriller mystery, set in the 1960s, in which becoming obsessed with an unsolved murder brings on mental disintegration in an architect and aspiring crime novelist, which isn’t helped much by the crumbling of his marriage as he pursues a younger woman. Based on The Blunderer by Patricia Highsmith. With Patrick Wilson, Vincent Kartheiser, Eddie Marsan, Jessica Biel, Haley Bennett; directed by Andy Goddard.

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