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The Wife,

directed by Bjorn Runge

(R, 1 hour, 39 minutes)

The Wife is a commercially viable movie that doesn't condescend to the general audience it courts. It feels like a throwback to Hollywood movies of the '40s and '50s that asks the audience about things like literary jealousy and reputation.

In what might be Glenn Close's best role since she boiled that rabbit, she plays Joan Castleman, the helpmate of Saul Bellow/Philip Roth-esque New York literary figure Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce).

It's 1992, and Joe and Joan are taking the Concorde to Stockholm to pick up his Nobel Prize. We learn his win knocked the up-and-coming Bill Clinton off the cover of The New York Times Sunday Magazine, a detail that hints at the Bill-and-Hillary dynamic of Joe and Joan's relationship. How much does she have to do with his success?

It's obvious he can't function without her; she anticipates his needs before he realizes them. She knows where he left his glasses, when he should take his pills, what he should eat for lunch. She suffers his affairs and serves as a buffer between him and their needy son (Max Irons), an aspiring writer.

Joe is quick to tell all comers his "wife doesn't write." Oh, really?

There are flashbacks to the '50s where we learn that Joan (played by Close's daughter Annie Starke) once had writerly aspirations; she was Joe's student before she was his lover. She dropped out of school to take a job while he wrote the first novel that she inspired and nudged toward discovery. Can you see where this is going?

The plot creaks a bit beneath the weight of its hardly original conceit. But guessing its outcome doesn't spoil the fun. With Christian Slater, Elizabeth McGovern.

Boy Erased (R, 1 hour, 55 minutes) Gay conversion therapy is a scam that, not unlike credit repair and most work-from-home opportunities, is likely perpetuated by cynical grifters preying on the desperate and naive.

Joel Edgerton's film is based on the memoir of Arkansan Garrard Conley, who in 2004 entered a Memphis program called Love in Action (LIA), which was supposed to cure him of being gay. His character, Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) is an earnest college freshman who is aware of (and disturbed by) his attraction to men, but other than a chaste night spent with a boy he finds attractive, hasn't yet acted on those feelings.

He is, however, victimized by a fellow student, who out of his own self-loathing and guilt calls Jared's parents, Marshall (Russell Crowe) and Nancy (Nicole Kidman), to let them know they're raising a gay son. This precipitates a family crisis that leads Jared to give himself over to LIA's Victor Sikes (Edgerton) to have this bad part of himself erased.

It doesn't work that way, and no one should be surprised by the way the story plays out. It's a bit like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. What's best about this movie is not the straightforward story or the remarkably calibrated performances, but its insistence on the humanity of all of the characters.

Indivisible (PG-13, 1 hour, 59 minutes) A balanced and relatively sensitive faith-based drama, based on a true story, on the challenges faced by Heather Turner (Sarah Drew) when her husband, fresh-out-of-seminary Army Chaplain Darren Turner (Justin Bruening), is deployed to Iraq, leaving her to take care of three young children and serve the families of other deployed soldiers. With Jason George, Michael O'Neill, Eric Close; directed by David G. Evans.

Suspiria (R, 2 hours, 32 minutes) Ablaze with extravagant imagery, this remake of Dario Argento's original 1977 Italian horror film concerns an American dancer, a coven of witches, loads of guilt, and plenty of blood, flashily displayed in a west Berlin setting. Not for everybody. With Chloe Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Jessica Harper; directed by Luca Guadagnino.

Hunter Killer (R, 2 hours, 2 minutes ) Outdated and dull, this military submarine adventure fails every possible edge-of-the-seat test with its story, set beneath the Arctic Ocean, of American Captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) who, while searching for a U.S. sub in distress, runs across what appears to be a secret Russian coup. Call in the Navy SEALs! With Gary Oldman, Common, Michael Nyqvist, Linda Cardellini; directed by Donovan Marsh.

The Grinch, directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney (PG, 1 hour, 26 minutes)

In an effort to put a fresh and soft-focus spin on the long-lived (and sometimes ascerbit) Dr. Seuss story, this colorful, mild-mannered and very young kid-friendly animated version has the Grinch deciding to steal Christmas in order to gain some peace and quiet. So he decides to pose as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

Little does he know that Cindy-Lou Who and her pals plan to trap Santa during his rounds so she can thank him for helping her overly burdened single mother. It's inevitable that the two schemes will clash.

Nicely nimated with the distinctive voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury, Pharrell Williams; directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney. The home entertainment edition offers 60 minutes of bonus content including three mini-movies, featurettes, and a how-to-draw tutorial.

Widows (R, 2 hours, 9 minutes) Luxurious, colorful and well performed, yet suffering from a messy and overloaded plot, Widows is a heist movie that concerns four women (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo) who unite in an conspiracy to deal with debts left behind by their now-dead criminal husbands. With Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Jacki Weaver, Garret Dillahunt, Jon Bernthal, Lukas Haas, Robert Duvall; directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) from a script written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn.

The Girl in the Spider's Web (R, 1 hour, 57 minutes) Overly violent with lengthy scenes of people poking around on keyboards this film adds nothing new to the glum franchise that began with 2011's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Here we have computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) reunite in Sweden, on the trail of a computer scientist being exploited by the shadowy and criminal Spider Society.With Stephen Merchant, Vicky Krieps; directed by Fede Alvarez.

The Sisters Brothers (R, 2 hours, 1 minute) A comedic drama -- heavy on philosophy, horror, and diversions into uncharted territory -- that's set in the Pacific Northwest in 1851. It pits gold prospectors against a pair of violent, ill-tempered and argumentative brothers known for making life hellish for newcomers, especially those who manage to strike a vein. With John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rutger Hauer, Carol Kane; directed by Jacques Audiard.

A Private War (R, 1 hour, 50 minutes) Smart and sophisticated, this bio-pic features Rosamund Pike in the role of zealous war correspondent Marie Colvin who, although disfigured by a grenade by Sri Lanka (which explains why she wears a distinctive eye patch), takes on one dangerous assignment after another, including one that changes the course of her career. With Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci, Greg Wise, Tom Hollander; directed by Matthew Heineman.

Black '47 (R, 1 hour, 40 minutes) A grim, powerful revenge tale told in the style of spirited American westerns. In 1847, one of the most chaotic and violent in Ireland's history, an Irish veteran (James Frecheville) deserts the British army with plans to take his starving and evicted family to America. Turns out he's too late, and disaster has already struck. That's when he takes on a brutal battle with Anglo-Irish authorities. With Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Jim Broadbent, Sarah Greene; directed by Lance Daly.

The Wife

MovieStyle on 02/08/2019

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