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Hello, ladies!

A good year for women on film, as exemplified in new releases The Eyes of My Mother, Miss Sloane, and more

Miss Sloane: Jessica Chastain is having none of your gendered tomfoolery
Miss Sloane: Jessica Chastain is having none of your gendered tomfoolery
Movie

Miss Sloane ***

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Following a pair of sojourns to the adorable <em>Marigold Hotel</em>, John Madden (<Em>Shakespeare in Love</em>) takes a giant step forward with this perfectly timed tale of how to draw and quarter a lobbyist. “She pees standing up,” is how one of her colleagues describes Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), an influence peddler who, not unlike Donald Trump, rides herd over a team of young apprentices — in this case, waging war against the “guardians of the second amendment.” As the kingmaker who can’t make it through a 16-hour workday without ingesting a fistful of speed, Chastain’s over the top performance is perfectly-pitched. Plot strings begin to fray when the high-priced male prostitute (Jake Lacy) whose services she regularly procures accidentally spots her from across the room at a society gala and stops just short of letting out a taxi whistle to attract her attention. Luckily, a couple of nifty third act twists help to right the minor imbalance.

Find showtimes

I missed the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters. I also missed both versions of the “awful opera singer” story (Marguerite and Florence Foster Jenkins).

Heck, I even missed Denial, despite the fact that it starred personal favorite Rachel Weisz. (I miss a lot, what with co-critic Scott Marks taking around half of the reviews.) But I still think women made a pretty strong showing onscreen this year.

Movie

Things to Come <em>(L'Avenir)</em> **

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Perhaps the most fascinating thing about watching philosophy professor Nathalie Chazeaux’s (Isabelle Huppert) life crumble is the utter lack of drama accorded to various disasters by both the film and its characters. (This is, one recalls, what’s meant by “taking things philosophically.”) Things fall apart, and as she notes in a rare and therefore memorable outburst, one is a fool to think otherwise. The natural character of the crumbling is heightened by writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve’s patience and care in setting up this particular house of cards, interspersed with her gradual introduction of tremors: Mom is failing in mind and body. The students are protesting. The husband is distant. The book isn’t selling. And so on. Eventually, even the consolations of philosophy are rendered dubious. But doubt isn’t despair, and undramatic isn’t unfeeling; Nathalie is never anything less than human, and never in need of any great lesson or epiphany. The world turns; she makes her peace and finds her way.

Find showtimes

Here are just a few gynocentric entries (most of which I liked, or at least liked the lead performances in): The Edge of Seventeen, Arrival, American Honey, Queen of Katwe, White Girl, Mia Madre, The Innocents, Nerve, Author: the JT LeRoy Story, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, The Shallows, The Neon Demon, Fireworks Wednesday, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Witch.

Movie

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story **

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Disney spins the Wheel! Of! <em>Star Wars</em>! and gets “Gotta get that shield down!” as its Obligatory Plotline Rehash in director Gareth Edwards’ take on how exactly the rebellion got ahold of the plans for the original Death Star in <em>A New Hope</em>. (Answer: through some pretty dark dealings and considerable sacrifice.) The good news is that Edwards’ effort to make a storm-the-beach war film produces a tense third act that earns most of its big moments and also justifies much of what’s come before. The bad news is that what’s come before is a clunky attempt at a coldhearted espionage thriller, full of good characters saddled with bad dialogue, tense scenarios saddled with dumb action, and tolerable storyweaving saddled with bad fan service. (Blue milk! Walrus Man! A variant on "Never tell me the odds!" Etc.) Like the rebootish <em>The Force Awakens</em>, <em>Rogue One</em> features tweaks on the old standbys (leads Jyn and Cassian as Leia and Han, the politely snarky K-2SO as both C-3PO and RD-D2, etc.). Unlike <em>The Force Awakens</em>, it also features some genuine freshness: a reluctant collaborator with the Empire, a monk who can feel the Force but is nobody’s Jedi, and a frustrated baddie who just wants credit where it’s due.

Find showtimes

I mention it because this week brings a further flurry of fine female-featuring films: The Eyes of My Mother, Things to Come, and Miss Sloane. And hey howdy, the man movies aren't bad either: Coming Through the Rye and Camino a la Paz both snagged three stars. Only Office Christmas Party disappointed — though it will most likely out earn all the others, maybe combined. Make of that what you will.

(Oh, and hey, doesn't that Star Wars movie coming out next week have a lady star?)

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Miss Sloane: Jessica Chastain is having none of your gendered tomfoolery
Miss Sloane: Jessica Chastain is having none of your gendered tomfoolery
Movie

Miss Sloane ***

thumbnail

Following a pair of sojourns to the adorable <em>Marigold Hotel</em>, John Madden (<Em>Shakespeare in Love</em>) takes a giant step forward with this perfectly timed tale of how to draw and quarter a lobbyist. “She pees standing up,” is how one of her colleagues describes Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), an influence peddler who, not unlike Donald Trump, rides herd over a team of young apprentices — in this case, waging war against the “guardians of the second amendment.” As the kingmaker who can’t make it through a 16-hour workday without ingesting a fistful of speed, Chastain’s over the top performance is perfectly-pitched. Plot strings begin to fray when the high-priced male prostitute (Jake Lacy) whose services she regularly procures accidentally spots her from across the room at a society gala and stops just short of letting out a taxi whistle to attract her attention. Luckily, a couple of nifty third act twists help to right the minor imbalance.

Find showtimes

I missed the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters. I also missed both versions of the “awful opera singer” story (Marguerite and Florence Foster Jenkins).

Heck, I even missed Denial, despite the fact that it starred personal favorite Rachel Weisz. (I miss a lot, what with co-critic Scott Marks taking around half of the reviews.) But I still think women made a pretty strong showing onscreen this year.

Movie

Things to Come <em>(L'Avenir)</em> **

thumbnail

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about watching philosophy professor Nathalie Chazeaux’s (Isabelle Huppert) life crumble is the utter lack of drama accorded to various disasters by both the film and its characters. (This is, one recalls, what’s meant by “taking things philosophically.”) Things fall apart, and as she notes in a rare and therefore memorable outburst, one is a fool to think otherwise. The natural character of the crumbling is heightened by writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve’s patience and care in setting up this particular house of cards, interspersed with her gradual introduction of tremors: Mom is failing in mind and body. The students are protesting. The husband is distant. The book isn’t selling. And so on. Eventually, even the consolations of philosophy are rendered dubious. But doubt isn’t despair, and undramatic isn’t unfeeling; Nathalie is never anything less than human, and never in need of any great lesson or epiphany. The world turns; she makes her peace and finds her way.

Find showtimes

Here are just a few gynocentric entries (most of which I liked, or at least liked the lead performances in): The Edge of Seventeen, Arrival, American Honey, Queen of Katwe, White Girl, Mia Madre, The Innocents, Nerve, Author: the JT LeRoy Story, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, The Shallows, The Neon Demon, Fireworks Wednesday, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Witch.

Movie

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story **

thumbnail

Disney spins the Wheel! Of! <em>Star Wars</em>! and gets “Gotta get that shield down!” as its Obligatory Plotline Rehash in director Gareth Edwards’ take on how exactly the rebellion got ahold of the plans for the original Death Star in <em>A New Hope</em>. (Answer: through some pretty dark dealings and considerable sacrifice.) The good news is that Edwards’ effort to make a storm-the-beach war film produces a tense third act that earns most of its big moments and also justifies much of what’s come before. The bad news is that what’s come before is a clunky attempt at a coldhearted espionage thriller, full of good characters saddled with bad dialogue, tense scenarios saddled with dumb action, and tolerable storyweaving saddled with bad fan service. (Blue milk! Walrus Man! A variant on "Never tell me the odds!" Etc.) Like the rebootish <em>The Force Awakens</em>, <em>Rogue One</em> features tweaks on the old standbys (leads Jyn and Cassian as Leia and Han, the politely snarky K-2SO as both C-3PO and RD-D2, etc.). Unlike <em>The Force Awakens</em>, it also features some genuine freshness: a reluctant collaborator with the Empire, a monk who can feel the Force but is nobody’s Jedi, and a frustrated baddie who just wants credit where it’s due.

Find showtimes

I mention it because this week brings a further flurry of fine female-featuring films: The Eyes of My Mother, Things to Come, and Miss Sloane. And hey howdy, the man movies aren't bad either: Coming Through the Rye and Camino a la Paz both snagged three stars. Only Office Christmas Party disappointed — though it will most likely out earn all the others, maybe combined. Make of that what you will.

(Oh, and hey, doesn't that Star Wars movie coming out next week have a lady star?)

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