During the holiday season, more than a dozen new movies will show up in theaters and on streaming services. Here are capsule reviews of two of them. GLASS ONION, a follow up to hit mystery film, KNIVES OUT, is a very entertaining whodunit, starring Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, the clever, often funny detective in a completely new story. The other actors in the all new ensemble cast are excellent and the film’s plot is full of surprises. It was in theaters for a week last month but debuts on Netflix on December 23. WHITE NOISE, on the other hand, is an absurd misfire that I had a hard time sitting through. The actors are good (Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Don Cheadle), and the production design recreating the 1980’s is impressive, but the script is a messy over-the-top satire that veers between the ridiculous and the preposterous. WHITE NOISE is based on an acclaimed novel written by Don Delillo almost forty years ago. It’s long been considered unfilmable, and this movie does nothing to suggest otherwise. It’s showing this week at Regal Dole Cannery and the Kahala Mall Theaters. It will stream on Netflix, starting on December 30.
Sometimes films need to be nominated for an Academy Award before Hawaii theaters bring will them here. WOMEN TALKING and LIVING are two examples. Nominated for best picture, WOMEN TALKING is an intense drama about women in an isolated religious farm community who have been sexually abused by seven of the men who rule their colony. When the rapes are discovered and police arrest the abusers, the rest of the men go to town to bail them out. And 8 of the women meet in a hayloft to debate what action they should take: Do nothing, stay and fight, or leave. Directed by Sarah Polley, the film stars Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, and Jessie Buckley among others. In LIVING, Bill Nighy has earned a Best Actor nomination for his role as a repressed bureaucrat and widower living a dreary, repetitive life in 1950’s Britain. But that all changes when his doctor tells him he has only about six months to live. LIVING is a fine reimagining of Akira Kurosawa’s IKIRU.
Actor Jesse Eisenberg has acted in more than forty movies in the last twenty years. But now he’s written and directed a feature film for the very first time. It’s called WHEN YOU FINISH SAVING THE WORLD and it disappeared from local theaters after just one week. Unfortunately, it’s clearly the work of a well intentioned filmmaker who doesn’t know yet how to write a good script or direct an engaging film. But as an actor, I really admire Eisenberg’s talent. He’s currently playing one of four main characters in FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE, a great 8 episode streaming series that originated on FX but is now streaming on Hulu. The show stars Eisenberg, Claire Danes, Lizzy Caplan and Adam Brody. FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE is an astonishingly honest look at the struggles of middle age people who start questioning everything they’ve done in their lives. It’s the best streaming series I’ve seen in a year. (HULU)
Many of the most critically acclaimed movies in 2022 were box office failures and didn’t last more than a week or two in theaters. But most of these overlooked films are streaming now. One of those excellent films is EMILY THE CRIMINAL, starring Aubrey Plaza. Plaza is best known for her six years playing a comic character the TV series, PARKS AND RECREATION. But for the past seven years she’s shown she has serious acting chops. In EMILY THE CRIMINAL, she plays a tough but vulnerable young woman whose conviction on an assault charge keeps her from getting a decent paying job. Emily is saddled with 60,000 dollars of student and she’s desperate. She works at such a low paying food delivery job that she can barely cover the interest payments on her loans. But a friend shows her how she can get involved in a credit card buying scam and she enters the criminal world. The dark story develops in surprising ways and eventually comes to a shocking climax. EMILY THE CRIMINAL does not excuse criminality, but it does explain how society can inadvertently turn desperate people into criminals. (Netflix)