This week at the cinema - January 17, 2018

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

There’s no stopping Frances McDormand’s quest for justice in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

There’s no stopping Frances McDormand’s quest for justice in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Genre: Crime drama
Director: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek
Duration: 115 minutes
Class: 15
KRS Releasing Ltd

The black comedy crime, directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), has already won plaudits and various awards, including best screenplay (McDonagh) at the Venice Film Festival and four Golden Globes for best picture, best screenplay, best actress (Frances McDormand) and best actor (Sam Rockwell).

The film focuses on McDormand’s role as Mildred Hayes, whose daughter was killed months earlier, with the culprit still on the run. Now, Hayes makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command, Officer Dixon (Rockwell) – an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence – gets involved, the battle is only exacerbated.

Critics praised the top-notch performances by the three main protagonists and McDonagh’s screenplay and direction.

Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post wrote: “The film is as dark as they come, a pitch-black, often laceratingly funny look at human nature at its most nasty, brutish and dimwitted.”

Jeffrey M. Anderson of Common Sense Media said  the film “ starts with cleverness and wit, then opens up into something truthfully human”, while Owen Gleiberman of Variety described it as “a quirky emotional puzzle put together by a trickster poet”.

The critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri deftly balances black comedy against searing drama – and draws unforgettable performances from its veteran cast along the way.”

The film, which has grossed $39.5 million since its opening in the US in early November, is in the race for more awards and is expected to lead Oscar nominations when they are announced on January 23.

IMDB: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Empire: 5 stars

A Mexican boy’s pursuit of his dreams leads him to the Land of the Dead in Coco.A Mexican boy’s pursuit of his dreams leads him to the Land of the Dead in Coco.

Coco (2018)
Genre: Animation
Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Voices of: Anthony Gonzales, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
Duration: 105 minutes
Class: PG
KRS Releasing Ltd

A 12-year-old Mexican boy named Miguel is the protagonist of the latest animated tale by Pixar Animation Studios. Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician  like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz, despite his family’s generation ban on music.

Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colourful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an incredible journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

Critics loved the heart-warming story, which delves into Mexican culture and music.

Molly Freeman of Screen Rant wrote: “Coco is a heartwarming story about family and a well-crafted coming-of-age tale steeped beautifully in the traditions of Mexico’s Día de los Muertos.”

The Day of the Dead is a festive and colourful holiday in which Mexicans honour their deceased loved ones. The holiday gained international fame after the 2015 James Bond film Spectre opened with this celebration.

Sandie Angulo Chen of Common Sense Media wrote: “Colourful, beautifully animated and culturally sensitive, Coco is an affecting, multilayered coming-of-age drama.”

And Christopher Orr of The Atlantic particularly loved “its vibrant visuals, which rely on a palette of fluorescent greens, blues, yellows and oranges”.

The film, which won a Golden Globe for best animated picture, opens in Malta on Friday.

IMDB: 8.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Empire: 5 stars

Christian Bale plays a tough as nails army captain in Hostiles.Christian Bale plays a tough as nails army captain in Hostiles.

Hostiles (2017)
Genre: Western
Directors: Scott Cooper
Starring: Scott Shepherd, Rosamund Pike, Christian Bale, Rory Cochrane, Jonathan Majors
Duration: 134 minutes
Class: 15
KRS Releasing Ltd

The period Western film is set in 1892, when legendary army captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their tribal land.

Embarking on a perilous journey, they soon encounter a young widow (Rosamund Pike) whose family was killed on the plains. The travellers must band together to survive a punishing landscape that is crawling with hostile Comanches.

The film received good reviews, even though some critics lamented about the lack of development of its Native American characters.

Peter Debruge of Variety wrote: “Hostiles ultimately falls back on the same one-dimensional archetypes, depicting Native Americans either as ruthless savages or as stoic sages, with nothing in between.”

Others were more pleased. Dan Jolin of Empire magazine described Hostiles as “a  finely crafted Western which doesn’t flinch from portraying the horrors inflicted during that violent era, and which boasts an astounding performance from Bale”.

IMDB: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Empire: 4 stars

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