NEW YORK — The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.
Every word matters in this espionage thriller set in 1982 during the civil war in Lebanon. A U.S. negotiator (Jon Hamm) struggles with his emotional demons and a great deal of alcohol as he attempts to free an American hostage (Mark Pellegrino) held by Palestinian terrorists (including Idir Chender). A CIA field agent (Rosamund Pike) is assigned to the mediator to prevent from being taken hostage himself or going on an extended bender.
Director Brad Anderson, working from a screenplay by Tony Gilroy, demands that the audience pay close attention to this extraordinarily rare drama for grown-ups in which gunfire, explosions and ethnic hatreds are secondary to matters of trust.
Mature themes, gun violence, frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
“The Devil and Father Amorth”
William Friedkin, director of 1973’s “The Exorcist,” helmed and narrates this brief, mostly straightforward documentary about demonic possession. He follows the case of an Italian woman who was ministered to by Pauline Father Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome from 1986 until his death in 2016, aged 91. The film’s
selling point is the fact that Friedkin obtained permission to tape the rite itself, with predictably unsettling results.
Though there’s an intrusive feeling about this apparently unique footage, it will certainly fascinate at least some viewers. What surrounds it is a look back at William Peter Blatty’s fact-based 1971 novel, the source of Friedkin’s famous feature, interviews with, among others, Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists and a sketchy portrait of Father Amorth that asserts but does not explore his sanctity.
At times, Friedkin appears slightly breathless with enthusiasm for his own material, and Christopher Rouse’s churning score also hints at sensationalism. But overall the tone is respectful and sober minded.
Mature themes, potentially disturbing images, a rude gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
“I Feel Pretty”
A thump to the head during a Soul Cycle workout gives a young, ambitious but out-of-shape woman (Amy Schumer) the illusion that she is suddenly slim and beautiful, and this supercharges her self-confidence, transforming her failing romantic life as well as her career at a cosmetics firm (led by Lauren Hutton and Michelle Williams). Though her fantasy alienates her from her closest pals (Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps) for a time, it also lands her a sensitive new boyfriend (Rory Scovel).
Co-writers and directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein have packaged an unbendingly cheerful girl-power fable that, despite its trite plot, conveys sound messages about self-esteem and showcases some good moral choices. A sequence in which the protagonist’s sudden boldness is shown to extend to sexual matters, however, may have the parents of teen girls, who are this film’s target audience, hesitating to give them the green light.
An implied nonmarital sexual encounter, obscured rear nudity, a single instance each of scatological and anatomical humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Entertaining bit of outsized nonsense combining 1970s-style disaster movie spectacle with the even older altered-animal trope that gave the world Godzilla, and derived in part from the video arcade game of the same title. When a space station is destroyed, the DNA-changing chemical an evil corporation (led by Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy) was developing on board plummets to various localities around the world transforming and enraging, among other animals, a previously peaceful albino gorilla. To save the primate from running amok and being put down, his devoted trainer (Dwayne Johnson) teams with a geneticist (Naomie Harris) and an unconventional government agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). But the trio soon find themselves up against an enhanced wolf and a monstrous crocodile as well.
Considered as campy fun, director Brad Peyton’s mayhem fest works well enough as a time-killer for grown-ups, though artistic or moral significance is entirely absent.
Frequent monster violence, mostly stylized but with some gore, several uses of profanity and a couple of milder oaths, at least one rough and numerous crude terms, obscene gestures. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
“You Were Never Really Here”
Writer-director Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of the Jonathan Ames novella about a stressed-out, self-loathing hitman (Joaquin Phoenix) gets lost in a quagmire of immorality. Hired by a New York state senator (Alex Manette) whose 13-year-old daughter (Ekaterina Samsonov) is being held captive in a brothel of underage girls, the assassin sets out to rescue her through slaughter.
The fact that Ramsay’s script presents this as an opportunity for him to recapture the spark of life and find redemption is as deplorable as it is twisted.
Skewed values, much gory physical and gun violence, rear male nudity, mature references, including to suicide and the sexual exploitation of underage girls, and frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.