Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10:58 am; Sunday at 12:30 pm; Monday at at Noon on "Arts Magazine"
Freeze Frame is a weekly show reviewing the latest movies from Hollywood’s best films to independent and arthouse movies.
FREEZE FRAME: “Man Down,” “The Eagle Huntress” December 2, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
Earnest performances and good intentions don’t always lead to good movies. “Man Down” is a case in point. Shia LaBeouf gives a solid turn as a U.S. Marine who, upon his return home from serving in Afghanistan, discovers that his wife and child have fallen into the hands of some chaotic force. Is this a mystery, a sci-fi story or an apocalyptic drama? The answer isn’t clear until the movie’s final moments. Sadly, this well-meaning film never gets a grip on its subject and comes off as forced and pretentious instead of heartfelt and impassioned.
FREEZE FRAME: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “The Edge of Seventeen,” “The 13th” November 18, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
Harry Potter fans who mourned the end of his book and movie franchise, take heart. J. K Rowling has revived that universe with her original screenplay, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Eddie Redmayne plays an English wizard who finds trouble when he travels to New York in the 1920s with a bagful of magical critters. Even though it’s loud, dark and overlong, it’s a wildly entertaining and visually bewitching fantasy that serves as a welcome introduction to a whole new franchise.
FREEZE FRAME: “Arrival,” “Christine” November 11, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
“Arrival” is a science fiction opus that walks a razor’s edge. It could be hokey in the extreme or profoundly moving. Luckily, it mostly keeps its balance thanks to skillful direction from Denis Villeneuve and a touching performance from Amy Adams. When a number of alien spacecraft abruptly appear in various parts of the world, the US Military recruits an expert linguist, played by Adams, to see if she can communicate with them. Will she be able to discover their motives and intent before humanity reacts with violence? This very smart movie asks more questions than it answers, so this is not a movie for those who hate ambiguity. For many, however, it marks the arrival of a very impressive and thought provoking film.
FREEZE FRAME: “Doctor Strange,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Trolls” November 4, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
The 14th film from the Marvel Universe is easily the trippiest, yet. Benedict Cumberbatch plays “Doctor Strange” in a visually spectacular origin story about Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme. While you may not be able to make heads or tails out of its plot about mysticism and treachery in multiple dimensions, there’s no denying that this well acted adventure is an involving mess. Cumberbatch is solid and although Tilda Swinton is miscast as his mentor, the Ancient One, she adds a welcome note of gravitas that leavens some of the silliness. “Doctor Strange” is one of the rare movies where the 3-D is actually worth the additional expense.
FREEZE FRAME: “Inferno,” “Certain Women,” “Michael Moore in Trumpland” October 28, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard may have gone to the well one too many times with "Inferno," their third entry in the Robert Langdon "Da Vinci Code" series by novelist Dan Brown. This time out, our intrepid Harvard symbologist tries to unravel his trickiest puzzle, yet, involving Dante, a deadly virus and a crazy billionaire.
FREEZE FRAME: “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” “Denial,” “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” “Keeping Up with the Joneses” October 21, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” could be described as “’The Last Samurai’ with a Pistol.” Tom Cruise reunites with “Samurai” director Ed Zwick in Cruise’s second go round as Lee Child’s backside-kicking ex-military policeman turned lone vigilante. While it has a sufficient action quotient for undemanding genre fans, this modest thriller is mostly boilerplate fare. Tom seems to be operating on Cruise control.
FREEZE FRAME: “American Honey,””The Accountant,” “Kevin Hart: What Now?” October 14, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
“American Honey” is the Shia LaBeouf drama that that was shot largely in the Kansas City area and won this year’s jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s an unusual coming of age drama about a hard-partying group of misfit teens selling magazines door to door. Newcomer Sasha Lane plays a young girl who falls in with these modern day gypsies. British filmmaker Andrea Arnold offers up some interesting ideas in this drama that has won praise from many critics, but this viewer found it to be overlong, meandering and self-indulgent. May I say, “The emperor has no clothes?”
FREEZE FRAME: “The Birth of a Nation,” “The Girl on the Train,” “The Great Gilly Hopkins” October 7, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
“The Birth of a Nation” is Nate Parker’s controversial but powerful film about the educated slave Nat Turner who became a pastor and led an ill-fated slave revolt in 1831. Parker wrote, directed, produced and stars as Turner in this unflinching look at the horrors of American slavery. While the violent content is certainly disturbing, the emotional force and the importance of the story help make up for some filmmaking flaws. It’s vibrant enough to start some meaningful conversations.
FREEZE FRAME: “The Queen of Katwe,” “Deepwater Horizon,” “Masterminds,” “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” September 30, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
Disney’s “The Queen of Katwe” may be the sunniest view of Uganda you’re likely to see. David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga star in the true story of a brilliant young girl who escapes her difficult circumstances when she discovers the world of competitive chess. While this lovely story is told in a pedestrian way, the terrific cast and never-say-die spirit that makes it work.
FREEZE FRAME: “The Magnificent Seven,” “Storks” September 23, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"
Western fans have been eagerly anticipating the remake of the classic 1960 shoot-‘em-up, “The Magnificent Seven.” Antoine Fuqua’s reimagining of the story isn’t magnificent, but it could be called “The Pretty Good Seven.” Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke lead a group of vigilante gunmen who help defend a small western town from an evil industrialist and his private army. Seems the homesteaders stand in the way of his mining interests. There’s plenty of action and some occasionally hilarious moments, mostly thanks to Pratt’s terrific comic timing. But this revenge tale is overlong, chaotic and extremely violent. The folks who gave this a PG-13 rating are dum-dum-da-dum, dum-dum-dum-da-dum.
Russ Simmons is an award-winning film critic whose work has been featured on television and in print for nearly two decades.