This week at the cinema

Times of Malta takes a look at the latest big screen releases

Julia Roberts gives Jacob Tremblay all the support he needs in Wonder.Julia Roberts gives Jacob Tremblay all the support he needs in Wonder.

Wonder (2017)
Genre: Drama
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe  
Duration: 113 minutes
Class: PG
KRS Releasing Ltd

Based on the 2012 novel of the same name, the drama is about a child suffering from Treacher Collins syndrome – a genetic disorder characterised by deformities of the ears, eyes, cheekbones, and chin – who tries to fit in.

Due to numerous surgeries, August ‘Auggie’ Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) has been home-schooled by his mother Isabel (Julia Roberts) but as he approaches middle age school, his mother and father Nate decide to enrol him in a private school.

He is laughed at and feels an outcast until, after a series of incidents,  he becomes more accepted by his school mates.

The film, directed by US novelist, screenwriter and director  Stephen Chbosky, best known as the author of the coming-of-age drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower, earned a lot of praise.

Critics liked its relevant and strong message of kindness, friendship and acceptance and its talented cast, led by young Tremblay.

Owen Gleiberman of Variety described the film as “a drama of disarmingly level-headed empathy that glides along with wit, assurance and grace, and has something touching and resonant to say about the current climate of American bullying.”

Chris Agar of Screen Rant wrote: “Wonder is a touching tale of love and friendship, buoyed by strong performances from Jacob Tremblay and the rest of the cast.”

And Lisa Beardsworth of Empire commented: “It sometimes over-plays its hand but, anchored by a terrific Jacob Tremblay, Wonder is a warm persuasive argument for tolerance. And it’s always great to have Julia Roberts back on the big screen.”

Made on a $20 million budget, the film did very well at the box office, grossing circa $100 million since its opening in the US on November 17.

IMDB: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Empire: 3 stars

Dan Stevens (left) dreams up Christopher Plummer’s character Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas.Dan Stevens (left) dreams up Christopher Plummer’s character Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)
Genre: Biopic
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Starring: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Simon Callow, Miriam Margolyes
Duration: 104 minutes
Class: PG
KRS Releasing Ltd

British Indian film director Bharat Nalluri, mostly known for his TV series Spooks, Life on Mars and Hustle, here adapts the book by Les Standiford about author Charles Dickens.

The plot finds Dickens (Dan Stevens) two years after publishing Oliver Twist, when he is suffering financial hardship from the failure of his last three books.

While at a funeral he finds inspiration to write A Christmas Carol and his father John (Jonathan Pryce) eventually influences his fictional character Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer).

Real life people combined with vivid imagination lead to the creation of  other popular characters in the novel such as Tiny Tim.

The film received generally positive comments with critics praising the main protagonist, Stevens.

Susan Wloszczyna of the Washington Post said that Stevens “inhabits the character of Dickens beautifully” and Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times wrote: “Brightly lit and anchored by Dan Stevens’s infectious, live-wire performance, the film nevertheless proceeds like a television holiday special.”

The critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads: “The Man Who Invented Christmas adds holiday magic to the writing of A Christmas Carol, putting a sweetly revisionist spin on the story behind a classic Yuletide tale.”

IMDB: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Empire: 3 stars

James Franco gives his all to turn his project into reality in The Disaster Artist.James Franco gives his all to turn his project into reality in The Disaster Artist.

The Disaster Artist (2017)
Genre: Biopic
Director: James Franco
Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Ari Graynor, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Jacki Weaver, Zaf Efron
Duration: 103 minutes
Class: N/A
KRS Releasing Ltd

James Franco produced, directed and stars in this biopic based on a non-fiction book chronicling the making of Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult film The Room.

Wiseau (James Franco) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) become friends after meeting each other in an acting class in San Francisco. Hoping to achieve Hollywood stardom, Sestero moves to LA and signs on to appear in his buddy’s project. Financed with his own money, Wiseau writes, directs and stars in The Room, which is panned by critics.

This film, ironically about what is considered one of the worst movies ever made, won rave reviews.

Peter Debruge of Variety said: “James Franco achieves what could become his most iconic role.”

Dave Sims of The Atlantic wrote: “Franco’s movie is ultimately a chronicle of the genesis of great art – namely a work even its creator didn’t fully understand and whose popularity few could have ever imagined.”

IMDB: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Empire: N/A

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