THE LADY IN THE VAN answers our question of, how many elderly women can Maggie Smith play without repeating herself? A lot, obviously. Her characterization of the homeless Mary in Nicholas Hytner’s adaptation of Alan Bennett’s play is fresh and always moving. Alex Jennings plays Bennett – the work is based on his memoir – two times over, as the man living his life, and as the author writing about it. This is a piece as much about a writer’s ethics as it is about a high-born woman reduced to living in a van in Bennett’s driveway. (See full review).
Small-town rabbit Judy Hopps (left, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) hits the big city in charming Zootopia.
ZOOTOPIA is a lot of things at once, and all of them are pretty good. It's a fish-out-of-water picture about a wide-eyed small-town bunny named Judy (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) who comes to the big city to fulfill her dream of becoming a police officer. It's a buddy comedy in which the overmatched Judy enlists the help of a crafty fox named Nick (Jason Bateman) to crack a missing-person case. And it's an allegory about the need for tolerance and understanding in a quietly racist society where xenophobia and fear of the other are recast as the tension between predators and prey. (See full review).
THE LITTLE PRINCE, based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic children’s book, gets a beautiful, affectionate and enchanting tribute from Kung Fu Panda director Mark Osborne. The original fable, about a young boy who falls to Earth from his lonely asteroid and becomes frustrated by the concerns of narrow-minded adults, is perhaps too slender for a feature film. Instead of padding the material, Osborne and his writers frame it within a modern day tale about a nameless young girl (Mackenzie Foy) who moves next door to the kooky, elderly Aviator (Jeff Bridges), the narrator of Saint-Exupéry’s novella. (See full review).
Available to watch: iTunes
KEANU's Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key play cousins who find themselves flailing through the Los Angeles criminal underworld in search of a missing kitten – who, it turns out, has been cuddling with every gang lord in town. It’s ridiculous, but in a really engaging way, with our clueless heroes essentially trapped in a never-ending improv game of “yes, and...” that starts when they’re mistaken for a pair of murderous gangsters and ends with a shootout and a car chase. (See full review).
Available to watch: iTunes
THE LOBSTER is a smart, funny and disturbing allegory about the absurdity of rigid societal norms. In a near-future world, unpartnered people are given 45 days to find a mate – or they’re turned into the animal of their choice. As time runs out, singles subtly, then not so subtly compete for partners, their survival instincts kicking in. Meanwhile, a band of rebels headed by the coolly observant Léa Seydoux offers an alternative that’s just as repressive. (See full review).
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, like The Winter Soldier before it, is less of a stand-alone adventure than a straight-up sequel to the Avengers movie that preceded it, Age Of Ultron. And, again like The Winter Soldier, it betters its predecessor by telling a massive story from the perspective of the franchise’s most human and endearing hero. This time around, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) goes up against Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) over a superhero responsibility accord that would criminalize independent action, forcing their fellow heroes to choose sides. (See full review).