‘Florence Foster Jenkins’
(PG-13; 110 minutes; BBC Films): Meryl Streep steps up to the plate with another cheerfully game performance in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” a warm, generous-hearted portrait of the title character: a wealthy music aficionado who, in real life, became a cult figure in the 1930s and ’40s with her earnest, wildly off-key singing.
The movie chronicles the final year of Jenkins’s life, opening with a tableau vivant at the New York arts club she founded and following the preparations for her infamous performance at Carnegie Hall in 1944 – a boisterous affair attended by rowdy sailors, camp followers, sundry gawkers and the likes of Cole Porter and Lily Pons. Streep, who possesses a lovely singing voice, does a pitch-perfect imitation of a tone-deaf diva, donning copious padding and a slightly askew wig to play a dotty dilettante who, in the film’s telling, becomes a heroic avatar for sincerity and well-meaning amateurism who flourishes in spite of cruel, persnickety critics.
“Florence Foster Jenkins” manages to be tender and surprisingly affecting. Nowhere is that truer than in her curious relationship with her young manager and common-law husband St. Clair Bayfield, portrayed by Hugh Grant with his signature ingratiating charm and, ultimately, admirable steel.
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Contains brief suggestive material. The Washington Post
‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’
(R; 122 minutes; Working Title): What a treat it is to dive back into the cozy world of Bridget Jones, who is the kind of old friend you can pick up with right where you left off, no matter how long it’s been. In “Bridget Jones’s Baby,”Bridget is now a producer on the television program “Hard News,” still has her great group of friends, even though they’re now all saddled with kids, and has achieved her ideal weight. When it comes to her love life, she’s is determined to make new mistakes, not old ones.
Jack Quant (Patrick Dempsey), an American tech billionaire, is the perfect new mistake, as opposed to old mistake Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), the fussbudget workaholic lawyer with whom things never worked out. And at 43, she finds herself with child. Just who else is also with child in this scenario – Jack or Mark – is the question that’s up for debate in the film.
Part of what’s so refreshing about “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is that at 43, Bridget is effortlessly desirable, sexy, adventurous and, yes, adorable. Zellweger plays Bridget just as charmingly as she always has – flawed but endearing.
The jokes reference beloved scenes from the first film, but it never feels like a re-hash of old material. Yet it feels current because they’ve allowed the character to grow. Bridget’s still awkward and prone to embarrassing foibles, but she’s older, wiser, comfortable in her own skin. As Bridget Jones discovers her own kind of Zen, it makes for a third installment that proves to be v.v. satisfying.
Contains language, sex references and some nudity. Tribune News Service
‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’
(PG-13; 127 minutes; 20th Century Fox): Tim Burton’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a thoroughly enjoyable movie that’s nonetheless going to be a hard sell. Devoted fans of Ransom Riggs’ popular young-adult novel might be disappointed by the film’s many swervings from the book. Younger kids, drawn to the fantasy element and the children in the cast, might be frightened by some of the film’s creepier sequences. Fans of the director might find it all too Tim-Burton-Meets-the-X-Men for their taste.
But Burton is one of those rare filmmakers with a clear, distinctive style, and it’s well suited to this material. A Florida teenager named Jake (Asa Butterfield), following clues uttered by his dying grandfather (Terence Stamp), discovers a mysterious time loop in the Welsh countryside, where a 1940s headmistress (Eva Green) presides over a school for children with unusual abilities. There’s great pleasure to be had in the performances, particularly Green’s deliciously avian Miss Peregrine and the cackling good time Samuel L. Jackson is having as a shape-shifting, pointy-toothed villain.
Contains intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and peril. Seattle Times
Also out Dec. 13
- “Suicide Squad”
- “Ben Hur”
- “Southside with You”
- “Little Men”
- “Brother Nature”
- “Fear the Walking Dead: Season 2”
- “Harley and the Davidsons”
- “I Am Not a Serial Killer”
- “Duck Dynasty: Season 10”
- “End of a Gun”