Badass Butt-kicking Broads On The Big Screen

By Chris Narloch

It must be just a coincidence – since major movies are often green-lit a year or two in advance of their release – but the post-#MeToo period is producing some fantastic feminist heroines on the big screen.

Read on for my reviews of three ball-busting chick flicks, currently playing at multiplexes in and around Sacramento, that are perfect for holiday movie going after your Thanksgiving and Black Friday festivities.

Widows

The great Viola Davis heads a terrific cast in this surprisingly moving crime thriller directed by Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) about a group of mob wives who team up to pull off their late husbands’ unsuccessful heist, in order to pay off debts.

Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo costar as the three other spunky Chicagoans who help Davis outwit a formidable crew of tough guys brought to life by Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, and Robert Duvall.

Don’t arrive late for the movie, or you will miss the startlingly sexy scene that opens the film, and watch too for the impressive scene in which Davis’s character loses it in front of her makeup mirror.

At over two hours long, I thought “Widows” could have been a little tighter, and the action is not always believable. Those quibbles aside, the film is a first-rate dramatic thriller that doesn’t scrimp on the drama or the thrills.

Boy Erased

Nicole Kidman excels as a mama bear whose unconditional love helps rescue her college-aged son (a superb Lucas Hedges) from a gay conversion camp, after her pastor-husband (Russell Crowe) and his evangelical cronies pack the boy off to be ‘straightened out.’

That love between mother and son is the backbone of the movie, and when Hedges and Kidman are onscreen, “Boy Erased” succeeds. Now playing at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre.

Maria by Callas

Forget Gaga. Forget Mariah. Forget Madonna. Nobody was a bigger diva than Maria Callas, the late, great opera singer for whom the word ‘diva’ was invented – or at least popularized.

Worshipped as if she were a goddess by opera fans -- and particularly gay male opera fans -- Callas (as she was known) remains one of the greatest singers in any musical genre that the world has ever known.

If you were lucky enough to catch the amazing holographic technology that brought the singer back to life at Mondavi Center in Davis recently, then you know what I’m talking about.

“Maria by Callas” is an insightful and moving documentary of the diva, told through copious film and audio clips, and in her own words, using private letters and public interviews.

Whether you are a diehard fan of Callas or a newbie who just wants to find out what all the fuss is about, you should see “Maria by Callas,” which opened at the Tower Theatre on Nov. 23.

Ralph Breaks The Internet

One of the best sequences in this very funny sequel to the 2012 animated hit “Wreck-It Ralph” has Sarah Silverman voicing the character of a spunky tomboy named Venellope Von Schweetz.

Venellope is surrounded by the Disney princesses of the past -- none of whom look like her -- and she sings a clever song (by Alan Menken, no less!) that pokes light-hearted fun at the Disney brand.

It’s a lovely moment in film history, especially for young girls in the audience, and it shows that Disney is evolving in their thinking about diversity within their artistic empire. (The rest of “Ralph Breaks The Internet” is also super-fun.)

 

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