“Cold War” is one of the best European films of the year and is, rightfully, a contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. This bittersweet tale is about the on-and-off romance between a young singer and her choir director that begins in 1950s Communist Poland and makes memorable pit stops in other parts of Europe over a period of years. It’s artfully directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, features stunning black-and-white cinematography and showcases a star-making performance from Joanna Kulig. “Cold War” is involving and packs an emotional wallop.
Melancholy may be the best term to describe “Stan & Ollie,” a very sweet, low-key tale about famed comedy duo Laurel and Hardy and their attempt to revive their sputtering film and theater careers in the 1950s. John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan are terrific in this beautifully produced comic drama. While the stars have the requisite chemistry, Laurel and Hardy’s gentle humor may not translate well for modern audiences.
If his autobiographies are to be believed, 1940s Hollywood actor Errol Flynn had amazing adventures on the high seas before becoming a swashbuckling hero in classic movies like “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” The film “In Like Flynn” stars Thomas Cocquerel as the young Flynn who voyages up the east coast of Australia in an attempt to find gold in Papua New Guinea. Along the way he has risky encounters with pirates, Chinese opium smugglers and Australian mobsters. It’s a rousing story undone by phony, routine direction and uninspired performances.
Also opening this week, “Serenity” is a film noir thriller starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. “The Kid Who Would be King” is a contemporary spin on the King Arthur legend about a kid who discovers Excalibur. “Ghostbox Cowboy” is a dark comedy about a Texan who runs into trouble attempting a con in China.