A Mother’s Burning Fury in “Three Billboards”

A late take on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in a pre-Oscars review series. By: CLAIRE PARK   In Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Frances McDormand perfects the exquisitely subtle acrobatics of rage as Mildred Hayes, from the way she crunches on her nails as she surveys the billboards that will announce her crusade against the ineffectual police department, to the moment she wrests a fire extinguisher out of her son’s hands and lets loose the rawest, most gravelly scream I’ve ever heard. With the help of the quietly bold Red Welby, Ebbing’s advertising salesman, Mildred erects three …

Continue reading A Mother’s Burning Fury in “Three Billboards”

“The Shape of Water” and the Reality-Warping Magic of Love

A late take on Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” in a pre-Oscars review series. By CLAIRE PARK In “The Shape of Water,” we are plunged into the green netherworld of early 1960’s Baltimore. Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a cleaning woman at a government research facility. She falls in love with the newly imported “Asset,” a hulking blue-green amphibious creature (Doug Jones) plucked from South American waters, whose superhuman physicality might aid the United States in the space race against the Soviets and who the grittily vicious project supervisor Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) tortures senselessly with a cattle …

Continue reading “The Shape of Water” and the Reality-Warping Magic of Love

Tumbling into Adulthood with “Lady Bird”

A late review of Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird,” in a pre-Oscars review series. By: CLAIRE PARK   Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, “Lady Bird,” is an affectionate meditation on the ecstatic missteps of adolescence. Her script is peppered with witticisms that teenagers will throw out, often inappropriately; taken out of context, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson’s (played by the radiant shape-shifter Saoirse Ronan) indignant ripostes could be framed—“Just because something looks ugly doesn’t mean it’s morally wrong,” and “Different things can be sad. It’s not all war”—but mostly embroil her in fiery arguments with her critical, fastidious mother (Laurie Metcalf), and earn …

Continue reading Tumbling into Adulthood with “Lady Bird”

Unpeeling Pain in Call Me by Your Name

A late take on the movie in a pre-Oscars review series. By CLAIRE PARK   In Luca Guadagnino’s Oscar-nominated picture Call Me by Your Name, based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman and adapted for the screen by James Ivory, the summer of 1983 unravels in languidly peeled layers, as bibliophile and musical prodigy teenager Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) spends time with his family on their rustic estate in a mystical “Somewhere in Northern Italy.” Guadagnino gives the scenes a both gritty and surreal quality; the landscapes boast lurid colors – Oliver’s green swimming shorts, the grimy and yellow …

Continue reading Unpeeling Pain in Call Me by Your Name