M.V. Moorhead, Author at PHOENIX magazine

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Opening this weekend: The Gentleman—Matthew McConaughey plays Mickey Pearson, a wildly wealthy weed kingpin in the UK. By virtue of the fact, which Mickey himself points out, that his illicit product doesn’t kill people like heroin does, he’s the least despicable boss in this latest of writer-director Guy Ritchie’s gangster comedies. Mickey would like to divest himself of his massive subterranean pot empire and live the life of a gentleman, so he makes an offer...

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Opening this week: Dolittle—Robert Downey, Jr. plays the newest screen version of Hugh Lofting’s character, the doctor who can talk to the animals. Directed by Stephen Gaghan and set in a vague idea of the 19th Century, the movie has a late point of attack: The Doc has long since learned his inter-species polyglot skills and is an embittered widower, withdrawn from human society to hang out with his animal pals in his vast estate....

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Opening this week: 1917—It’s April of the title year in France, and two young British soldiers are ordered to take a hike. Their mission, which they have no choice but to accept, is to cut across no man’s land to warn another battalion a few miles away but cut off from radio communication with headquarters, not to attack as planned; they’re heading into a German trap. One of the men has a brother in this...

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Time for the movie critic’s annual exercise in self-importance (as opposed to all those weekly exercises in self-importance): The Top Ten List. Here are the ten films from the past year that seem like the best to me, at least at the moment: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood—As with Inglourious Basterds, tolerance for Quentin Tarantino’s provocative do-over of 1969 in general and the Manson murders in particular will be a matter of personal taste; I...

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Little Women—There have been multiple screen adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel, and all of them have their merits. Katherine Hepburn seemed born to play heroine Jo March in George Cukor’s 1933 film, and Elizabeth Taylor seemed born to play Amy in Mervyn LeRoy’s 1949 rendering. For my money, the best, most balanced and beautiful version yet was Gillian Armstrong’s, from 1994, with Winona Ryder’s best performance ever as Jo, and a luminous Claire...

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Opening wide this weekend: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—Final thirds of trilogies of trilogies don’t come along every day. Yet, here we are marking the last chapter of the nine-movie Star Wars cycle that began in 1977, and it feels, to me at least, if not a non-event, then just another blockbuster movie. In the film, the heroes visit a festival on a planet that, C-3PO tells us, is only celebrated “every 42 years.”...

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For Boomer-era people on, the annual watching of certain movies has become a traditional part of marking the holiday season. But this can be a chore. The equally essential TV specials, like Rudolph, The Grinch and A Charlie Brown Christmas, don’t require the same investment of time, during an already hectic season, as movies do. Yet when the holidays are over, you may feel a pang that you didn’t get to White Christmas or Scrooged...

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At Harkins Arizona Mills: I See You—Helen Hunt lives in a gorgeous waterfront home in an affluent Ohio neighborhood. But she’s seriously in the doghouse with her police detective husband (Jon Tenney) and even more so with her enraged teenage son (Judah Lewis) over a recent affair. Weird, seemingly supernatural things are happening in the house, and in the community, where adolescent boys have gone missing. This brooding thriller manages a polished look on what...

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Knives Out—Remember those facetious mysteries of the ‘70s, like Murder by Death or Sleuth; the sort of thing that unfolds mostly in one old-dark-house setting, with scherzo strings or tinkling harpsichord on the soundtrack? If so, you may feel a special nostalgic pull from this goofball all-star ensemble whodunit from writer-director Rian Johnson. The story concerns Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) a rich mystery writer living in a cluttered rattletrap Massachusetts manse with a bunch of...

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Opening this weekend: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood—The life and career of Mr. Rogers is a truly remarkable story, and it was very capably told in last year’s documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? This drama, in which the kid-show host is played by Tom Hanks, is trying for something different. To begin with, Mr. Rogers isn’t the central character; most of the movie’s screen time is devoted to Matthew Rhys, as a fictionalized...

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At Harkins Fashion Square: The Report—From its generic title on, this political drama is all business. Even the protagonist, played by Adam Driver, has a generic-sounding name: Daniel J. Jones. If memory serves, there isn’t a single scene in the film that shows him at his home, or tells us anything more about his personal life than that he was a jogger. The focus of the film, written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, is...

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Opening wide this weekend: Last Christmas—The holiday season is here, whether we approve of it starting so early or not; the first Christmas movie of the season has opened. The title of this English romcom refers, of course, to the Wham! hit of 1984 penned by George Michael, and the soundtrack (and soundtrack album; the perfect stocking-stuffer) is packed with other Michael favorites. So for some audience members it might be a relief simply that...

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