The Good Liar
Previews Reviews

On Screen: Ford v Ferrari, The Good Liar, Strange Negotiations, the Secret of NIMH, The Night of the Hunter

Aside from Kristin Stewart’s maybe-not-bad comedic turn in the latest reboot of Charlie’s Angels, this week’s biggest Oscar-hungry opening is Ford v. Ferrari, a loud, hyper-masculine tale of an American automaker’s quest to get its groove back and win the affections of a cohort of veterans, back from the big war, with money in their pockets and sex appeal on their minds. It’s a film of scene-chewing men, in which women, children, and nuance, are merely decorations in a contest between independent genius and corporate interests. I saw it this summer and thought it was fine; your mileage may vary depending on your fondness for cocky Christian Bale and wily determined Matt Damon. It’s worth a look and is sure to be an easy consensus choice for the whole family when it’s time to head out for a holiday movie.

Below, some other reviews and recommendations from Team Sunbreak to get you through the weekend and beyond at the movies.

The Good Liar (2019 | USA | 109 minutes | Bill Condon)

Every few years we see a marriage of the most brilliant actors in Britain come together to create something wonderful. While The Good Liar only pulls together two such big names, Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, the high hopes I had for what seemed to be an exciting, slow-building, thriller pitting the two against each other were somewhat deflated by the end. I felt a twist coming from a mile away, but even more disappointing was how much I felt their age coming through. In every film I’ve seen with either of these two phenomenal actors, they never seemed old, even if their characters were meant to be so (ex. Red for Mirren, Lord of the Rings for McKellen). I think the storyline and/or the director was hinging on using their age as either a point of humor (McKellen) or weakness (Mirren) so the twist at the end wasn’t as obvious or at least so you misjudge them… but it did the exact opposite. They both showed their range theatrically and did the best they could with the role they were given, I just think the writing needed some help. However, the real stand out for me was Russel Tovey playing Mirren’s grandson, but I won’t elaborate for fear of spoiling the best part of the film. I was first introduced to Tovey’s acting in the BBC series Sherlock and every portrayal, including the first, has been fantastic. I’m not saying don’t go to the film, I think it’s worth the nearly two-hour run time, but what I am saying is don’t expect the unerring and riveting film that it could have been. ☆☆☆½ (Morgen Schuler)

Other limited and archival releases to consider for the coming week from Morgen (MS) and Chris (CB):

  • PUGET SOUNDTRACK: Night of the Hunter (1955 | USA | 92 minutes | Charles Laughton)Harry Powell, the anti-hero pastor played by Robert Mitchum was probably one of the first film characters to give me genuine nightmares because I got the VHS tape from the library three or four years before my precociousness matched my maturity. One of the most creepy films I’ve ever seen, it should even be doubly-so with all sounds being supplanted with a score from marimba specialist Erin Jorgensen.(NW Film Forum, Saturday, November 16, 8PM) –CB 
  • The Secret of NIMH (1982 | USA | 82 minutes | Don Bluth)
    Talk about the epitome of my childhood; I must have watched this film at least once a year as I grew up from a little tot to well into my twenties. I was actually surprised I wasn’t more scared of it the first time I saw it at around age 8 or 9. Especially frightening was the owl crunching down on the bones of his victims who must have looked just like the brave mother mouse that entered his cave to find answers. That crunch still haunts me. I was just so drawn in by her boldness, her ability to do anything to save her husband, it honestly contributed to some of my fearlessness in some of the crazy things I’ve done in life (thankfully most worked out better than worse). Also, while investigating the release date for this masterpiece, I found out that Wil Wheaton was the voice of the precocious young son that mouthed off and got them into trouble more often than not. While I knew his character always meant well, I couldn’t help but be annoyed at him for almost getting them killed more than once! Anyway, seeing this film in theaters would be an incredible delight and I highly recommend catching it this Saturday at 1:30 with your little ones; but maybe not if they’re younger than 9 or 10… that owl though. (The Beacon, Saturday,November 16, 1:30pm) –MS
  • Strange Negotiations (2019 | USA | 91 minutes | Brandon Vedder)
    Indie rocker David Bazan has such a fascinating story that I’m glad someone turned it into a feature-length documentary. Bazan and his (recently reunited) band Pedro the Lion were the “Christian rock” secularists could love, until Bazan had some very real quarrels with his faith and his relationship to it. I’m anxious to learn more about the album that followed his drift from Christianity, the quite miraculous Curse Your Branches. (NW Film Forum, Friday, November 15 through Wednesday, November 20) –CB