‘Kubo and the Two Strings’
(PG, 101 minutes, Focus Features): “Kubo and the Two Strings,” a 3D animated film about a one-eyed little boy who goes on a long quest to avenge his father’s death, teaches that the quest doesn’t matter at all; what’s important are the relationships formed through the journey, including the one with yourself.
A young widow named Kameyo (Brenda Vaccaro) struggles to raise her son Kubo (Art Parkinson) in a small coastal village. Once a renowned magician, she all but lost her mind when her husband, a famed samurai master, was murdered by her twin sisters (both voiced by Rooney Mara) and their father (Ralph Fiennes), a sort of demigod who lives in heaven.
When Kameyo disappears after a battle with her sisters, Kubo is left on his own. His quest: to gather the pieces of a magical suit of armor that’ll help him defeat his grandfather.
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He’s helped by a talking monkey (Charlize Theron) named Monkey, who is a bossy, opinionated creature, always telling off Kubo for being naughty. Monkey and Kuba meet a huge talking beetle (Matthew McConaughey). Beetle is a sweet, honorable man who pledges to help Kubo complete his quest.
The film doesn’t gloss over the painful aspects of life: Kubo’s grief at losing his parents is palpable. (The story’s sometimes harsh emotional landscape may be too heavy for young children.)
Contains thematic elements, scary images, action and peril. Philadelphia Inquirer
‘Hell or High Water’
(R; 102 minutes, Film 44): “Hell or High Water” is a contemporary cops-and-robbers chase set in a string of dusty, near-shuttered West Texas towns, the kind of genre piece that’s destined to be compared to “No Country for Old Men.”
Like that 2007 film, “Hell or High Water” addresses changing times and the breakdown of community through the lens of old-fashioned good guys and bad guys. Here, though, the foe isn’t a hyped-up embodiment of irrational evil but something far more specific, structural and utterly of its time.
It takes a while for the heroes and villains to come into clear focus in “Hell or High Water,” which begins with a beautifully staged bank robbery, wherein Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) and his brother, Toby (Chris Pine), fumble their way through what’s supposed to be a slick, perfectly timed heist.
In time, the Howard brothers come under the scrutiny of a Texas Ranger named Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), who with his partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) sets off on a not-quite-high-speed chase through the scrubby expanse of Texas for their increasingly confounding quarry. As the grizzled, almost-retired lawman on the thieves’ trail, Bridges adds a layer of mordant worldweariness to the film.
In a word, “Hell or High Water” is terrific.
Contains some strong violence, language throughout and brief sexuality. Washington Post
(R; 114 minutes; Warner Bros): “War Dogs,” directed by Todd Phillips (“Hangover” comedies), is an engrossing, depressing Iraq war movie that’s deeply critical of the Bush administration. The storyline focuses on two Miami Beach potheads (Miles Teller, Jonah Hill) whose misadventures include supplying illegal weapons and making a $300 million deal. They make a terrific team: Hill with his boisterous, scary best friend who knows no limits; Teller with his more worried, quieter partner in international crime.
They savor their best dialogue and so does their director, who gives small but showy roles to Bradley Cooper and Kevin Pollak. The whole may be less than its parts, but the parts are pretty impressive. Best of all is a seamless soundtrack of pop songs that often comment on the action. A war movie accompanied by The Who and Leonard Cohen? Why not?
Contains language throughout, drug use and some sexual references. Seattle Times
Also out Nov. 22
- “Mechanic 2: Resurrection”
- “Hands of Stone”
- “Poldark: Season 2”
- “Yoga Hosers”