Six new March film reviews from Don Shanahan on Every Movie Has a Lesson

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JOURNEY’S END

That’s the beauty found in the bleakness of R.C. Sheriff’s 1928 play Journey’s End.  Rarely are the plights of officers given this much tangible intimacy.  Sheriff’s work emerges with its first faithful film adaptation in 88 years since James Whale’s 1930 work.   Director Saul Dibb (The DutchessSuite Francaise) brings this powerful pillar just in time for the First World War Centenary anniversary of its cited historical setting.  Bolstered by strong performances and patient tension, Journey’s End is a worthy experience to join the class of All Quiet on the Western FrontPaths of GlorySergeant York, and Gallipoli.

FLOWER

Though measured as a small independent film, Flower is an undoubted showcase platform for the soaring talent of Zooey Deutch.  Clad in her plain tank-tops and empowering a character with all kinds of obscene confidence, not even the worst behaviors on display can take away the magnetism of her frank and jarring performance.  For most of the film, she shines repulsiveness with unmatched charisma.

SUBMISSION

Stanley Tucci is a cinematic treasure of sarcasm.  What that man can shell out in a throwaway line, a raised eyebrow, or a pause of bated breath is on another level to most of his peers and contemporaries.  When Stanley cranks that mockery up with profanity, it only gets sharper. It would take quite the rug pull to disrupt that man’s mojo. Tucci meets that tumultuous turmoil in Submission

THE DEATH OF STALIN

Hot damn, you know your satire is magma-level hot when you offend the powers-that-be of a country enough to ban your film from playing on their soil.  Labeled as “extremist” and a “provocation” enough to spark tabloid headlines like “the film Hitler could have made,” Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin wears a giant badge of pride next to a tiny medallion of shame on its cinematic uniform on being banned in four nations: Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan.

COLORS OF THE WIND

The melodramatic preposterousness of Colors of the Wind is two-fold.  The first layer is good old-fashioned stage magic, everything from card tricks to disappearing acts.  The second comes from the notion of doppelgangers, the fanciful term for doubles, ghostly counterparts, and alter egos that have been a storytelling tropebefore in film.  Both elements create spirited and soapy intrigue in the film when combined with the romantic destiny of star-crossed lovers.

BEAUTY MARK

Many internal and external situations can cause feelings of desperation.  Straits get so dire that horrible choices become the only choices. For Angie in Beauty Mark, played by emerging TV actress Auden Thornton, the burdensome weights (and they are sure plural) around her neck are overbearing.  When those burdens and stresses pile on at the same time, the desperation of her situation becomes overwhelming in this excellent and hardscrabble family drama from writer-director Harris Doran.

 

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