The film opens in placid Suburbicon, a standards-setting 1950s subdivision. Then we see two upsetting events: A black family moves into this smugly complacent, white-bread neighborhood; and a shocking home invasion upsets the delicate balance. Things quickly come undone.

George Clooney ("Leatherheads") directs this unpredictable and suspenseful drama, written by an able quartet comprised of Joel and Ethan Coen ("Hail, Caesar!"), plus George Clooney ("The Monuments Men") and Grant Heslov ("The Ides of March"). Based on their frequent collaboration and terrific track record, you can expect to giggle as you are horrified, but you will also have an involving plot that is easy to follow. And you will be confronted by the blatant racism that was so taken for granted in those Happy Days.

Part of Clooney's cast:
  • Matt Damon ("The Martian") We watch Gardner unravel as pressure starts to build on him and his family.
  • Julianne Moore ("Wonderstruck") Margaret and Rose are twins. One is wheelchair bound while the other seems like a buttinsky, so we keep an eye on her.
  • Noah Jupe ("Wonder") Nicky is the heart and soul of this movie. This observant little boy listens, watches, wonders, and then fears for his life.
  • Tony Basaraba ("The Accountant") Uncle Mitch always asks, "Who loves ya?"
  • Karima Westbrook ("The Rum Diary") Mrs. Mayers is the first to take the brunt of the rampant racism. 
  • Leith M. Burke ("The Tiger Hunter") Mr. Meyers watches the neighborhood and wonders if they are back in Mississippi.
  • Tony Espinosa ("Birth of a Nation") Andy Meyers is willing to play catch with Nicky...and share his unique pet.
  • Vince Cefalu ("Silicon Valley") Chuck surprised me, usually cops are portrayed as a bit dense.
  • Oscar Isaac ("Star Wars") Roger is an insurance claims adjuster. He watches for red flags. I didn't trust him...I think it's the hat.
To me, one of the outstanding features was the production design: Vintage vehicles, Franciscan china, Avocado bathroom fixtures, Green Stamps, full-skirted shirtwaist dresses, TV antennas on every roof, and those prices in the supermarket window!

This is R-rated, so expect violence, riots, gunfire and blowie uppie stuff. At one point I was afraid director Clooney was a bit too generous with his foreshadowing until I realized by having the audience in on a scheme, we were on tenterhooks waiting for the payoff. We clearly have people to root for, so the suspense is high. At final curtain, the screening audience applauded. I'll probably own this one.
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This is the trailer that hooked me:
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The Foreigner

One of my favorite stage plays is "The Foreigner." It's about a shy man who pretends to be a foreigner so he won't have to converse with people where he is staying. Consequently he overhears lots of big secrets!

Imagine my dismay when I discovered that this one is an R-rated Action/Thriller directed by Martin Campbell ("Casino Royale"). Then I found out it is produced by, and stars, Jackie Chan, so my hopes went back up again. Chan plays the father of a girl we see killed by a terrorist bomb at the very beginning. It seems The Troubles haven't gone away after all.

Part of Campbell's cast:
  • Jackie Chan ("Railroad Tigers") is Quan Ngoc Minh, that grieving father. He leaves his restaurant to a co-worker and sets out to discover who set the bomb that killed her. I like seeing a smart person in action.
  • Katie Leung ("Harry Potter") This Scottish-born actress plays Fan, his beloved daughter.
  • Pierce Brosnan ("The Only Living Boy in New York") Government official Liam Hennessy may know something that will help. He had, after all, ties to the Irish Republican Army some 30 years ago.
  • Orla Brady (Lots of TV) Mary is his wife. Her family has suffered its own losses.
  • Charlie Murphy ("Philomena") Maggie is his audacious daughter.
  • Rufus Jones (Lots of TV) is Ian, who takes the phone call notifying the public of the IRA's involvement.
  • Rory Fleck Byrne (Lots of TV) Sean is Liam's handsome nephew. He comes to help.
Despite the trademark action that we expect from a Chan movie, this one really belongs to Brosnan. He is the better actor, so Chan has wisely given him the lion's share of screen time. He shares the central spotlight with Chan as he discovers what a worthy opponent this shadowy man can be; AND he is responsible for most of the F-bombs that are launched.

This is R-rated, so expect gunfire, profanity, sweaty bodies, fisticuffs and blowie uppie stuff; all the elements that make a hit these days. Plus, this movie boasts the most heartfelt sigh I've ever seen. Watch for it. Our screening audience applauded the satisfying ending and we left the theater happy.
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See what you think:
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Thurgood Marshall was the first Black man to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. It's about time we (and our children) know more about this man.

Director Reginald Hudlin ("Django Unchained") has taken a script by Jacob and Michael Koskoff and created an informative movie that illustrates one of the cases Marshall handled while he was with the NAACP. This gives us a flavor for the times that shaped him.

Part of Hudlin's cast:
  • Chadwick Bozeman (he has played Jackie Robinson and James Brown!) is Thurgood Marshall, born intelligent, arrogant and ambitious, this highly educated attorney hung out with the best, e.g., Langston Hughes and friends. He does not suffer fools gladly.
  • Josh Gad ("Frozen" and "Beauty and the Beast") is Sam Friedman, the insecure Jewish fellow who gets ramrodded into accepting a criminal case even though he has only tried civil suits. Watch Marshall walk all over him ...repeatedly!
  • Keisha Sharp ("Lethal Weapon") is Buster Marshall, the best wife for a man with Marshall's ambitions: she understands his long game.
  • Sterling K. Brown ("This is Us") Joseph Spell has been accused of raping a white woman and he maintains he did NOT rape her.
  • Kate Hudson ("Deepwater Horizon") Eleanor Strubing insists she was raped by the family chauffeur.
  • James Cromwell ("The Promise") Judge Foster is a dogmatic iron-fisted dictator in his court room. His mind is made up.
  • Dan Stevens ("Beauty and the Beast") Attorney for the Prosecution Loren Willis has the confidence born of his superior connections.
From the get-go, we can see the huge cultural gap between these two men. They get into Friedman's car and Marshall immediately changes the car radio from classical music to jazz. Marshall is a stranger in town and will soon be gone, while Friedman has to live there when the trial is over. But they BOTH know the Old Testament.

This PG-13 Biography/Drama has excellent depictions of how tough were the civil rights issues in the '60s and how the movement evolved. Be prepared for gunfire and physical violence; overwhelming prejudice and clever courtroom tactics. Be sure to stay for the wrap-up that plays during the closing credits. That's always satisfying....
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Take a look:
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Blade Runner 2048

Director Denis Villeneuve ("Sicario") hits this one right on the button. The production design (gloomy rain), the sets (rusty, dusty and worn), Roger A. Deakins' cinematography (many lovely monochromatic scenes), the cast (brilliantly chosen) and the dialogue (minimal) all feel like an extension of the 1982 classic. This R-rated thriller has it all: casual nudity, gunfire, tension, fisticuffs, drowning, only one kiss, but a silent erotic scene with a hologram that is a technical masterpiece. We also enjoy holograms of Elvis, Liberace, Marilyn and Old Blue Eyes himself.

We have a new LAPD blade runner trying to "retire" the last of the rogue replicants who have managed to elude authorities for 30 years. He discovers that an anomaly occurred long ago which could destroy the delicate balance between newer model replicants and humans: A baby was born 30 years ago to a replicant!

Some of Villeneuve's cast:
  • Ryan Gosling ("La La Land") "K" and later Joe, is sent on the trail of that anomaly.
  • Ana de Armas ("Overdrive") Joi is a hologram who serves K with wit, wisdom and a lot of heart. This Cuban actress has the BEST face!
  • Robin Wright ("House of Cards") Lieutenant Joshi is determined that the anomaly be eradicated. The balance is too delicate and in her words, "It will break the world!"
  • Sylvia Hooks ("Whatever Happens") the formidable Luv has her agenda and will NOT be deterred!
  • Harrison Ford ("Star Wars") Rick Deckard has been in hiding for over 30 years and he does NOT want to see Joe.
  • Sean Young ("Escape Room") Rachel was the gorgeous replicant in the first movie, we are happy to revisit a scene or two with her.
  • Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers' Club") Neander Wallace has taken over the industry that created replicants in the first place.
I skipped the IMAX version and was just as happy at my neighborhood Cinerama (it's nice to have a theater one block from my condo). Not since the first "Blade Runner" have I been so captivated by an almost silent film. Once again, there is very, very little dialogue but I missed the Bradbury Building. I guess that was hoping for too much!

This film sets a new standard; it is a thought-provoking sequel with astonishing visuals, brilliant leads (Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas in particular, though Harrison Ford doesn't embarrass himself), plus a white-knuckle battle near the end that was composed so well I walked home talking to myself!

Personally, I think Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) would like this extension of his rumination on what makes humanity human.
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See for yourself:
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