As always, go online to find the complete version of the Movie Scene and reviews of new films.
(Fantasy thriller, R, 110 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) A customs officer who can smell fear develops an unusual attraction to a strange traveler while aiding a police investigation that calls into question her entire existence. The film, by Iranian-Swedish director Ali Abbasi and adapted from a short story by “Let the Right One In” author John Ajvide Lindqvist, is the Swedish entry in this year’s Oscar foreign-language race.
MARIA BY CALLAS: IN HER OWN WORDS
3 ½ stars
(Documentary, PG, 113 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) Director Tom Volf’s documentary about opera star Maria Callas relies almost entirely on the opera star’s own words, and as a result manages to capture the emotional essence of the diva, leaving you both shaken and stirred by the extent of her gifts and the way they connected to both audiences and her tumultuous life. (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)
MR. FISH: CARTOONING FROM THE DEEP END
(Documentary, no MPAA rating, 70 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) Pablo Bryant directs this enjoyably candid documentary about Dwayne Booth, the wildly iconoclastic cartoonist known as Mr. Fish, and his struggles to balance his artistic vision with the need tp provide for his family. (Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times)
WEED THE PEOPLE
(Documentary, no MPAA rating, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis on Dec. 7-9 only) Abby Epstein's moving documentary explores the effects of cannabis on pediatric cancer, as well as the establishment’s disinterest in researching its efficacy. (Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times)
THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE
(Horror, R, 85 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12 and the Regal 7 in Albany) Shay Mitchell from TV’s “Pretty Little Liars” stars in this horror flick, which follows a former policewoman who encounters the supernatural while working in a morgue. The cast includes Stana Katic and Nick Thune.
2 ½ stars
(Sports drama, PG-13, 128 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) The sequel to 2015’s “Creed” isn’t as good, but it has its pleasures, including Michael B. Jordan returning as the son of boxer Apollo Creed, and Dolph Lundgren, who’s surprisingly effective. The movie essentially is a sequel to 1985’s “Rocky IV,” in which Russian brute Lundgren killed Apollo Creed in the ring; now, decades later, Creed’s son (Jordan) takes on the son of the Russian boxer. (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET
(Animated adventure, PG, 112 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) The hapless video game "villain" (John C. Reilly) from "Wreck-It Ralph" and his sharp-witted friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) venture out of the arcade into the World Wide Web in search of a replacement part. There were times when the sweet-natured animated adventure was brimming with so much stimuli, I had to remind myself to laugh. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
2 ½ stars (Action-adventure, PG-13, 116 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Taron Egerton of the “Kingsmen” films takes on the title role in the latest cinematic interpretation of the legend; this Robin Hood is a war-hardened Crusader who teams up with his Moorish commander to battle the corrupt English crown. Jamie Foxx and Ben Mendelsohn co-star. The movie is sleek, modern and retrofitted for a radical political landscape, even if it loses steam in its second half. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD
2 ½ stars
(Fantasy adventure, PG-13, 134 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvalli 12) While the performances are solid, the sequel to J.K. Rowling's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" sinks under the weight of too many intersecting storylines and not enough focus on the fascinating, fractured relationship of wizards Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) and Dumbledore (Jude Law). (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Comedy drama, PG-13, 118 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Without thinking it through, a married couple (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) decide to foster three troubled siblings. The well-intentioned but disappointing result is an uneven mix of broad comedy and sometimes heavy-handed melodrama. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Crime thriller, R, 128 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Viola Davis deserves a best actress nomination for her performance as a criminal's wife plotting a heist of her own. Even the relatively peripheral characters are unforgettable in this film -- part political thriller, part family drama, part race and class commentary. This is one of the best movies of 2018. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
(Biography, R, 107 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) In the performance of her career, Melissa McCarthy plays a washed-up, desperate celebrity biographer who resorts to forging letters "written" by famous authors and selling them to collectors for cash. She's aided by a nomination-worthy script, vibrant cinematography and memorable supporting performances. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
DR. SEUSS’ THE GRINCH
(Animated, PG, 90 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 and the Pix in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) Benedict Cumberbatch voices the green meanie who threatens Christmas in Who-ville in this computer-animated retelling of the Dr. Seuss classic. Voices by Angela Lansbury, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Pharrell Williams. You’ll laugh a bit; you’ll cry a bit. But you won’t want to see this one every holiday season. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Music biography, PG-13, 135 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12). The greatly gifted Rami Malek is given zero chance to create a believable, in-depth portrayal of Queen leader Freddie Mercury in this shamelessly scripted biopic. What a crushing, unmitigated, stunningly inept and astonishingly tone-deaf disaster. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
A STAR IS BORN
"A Star Is Born" (Drama, R, 136 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12). In his directorial debut, Bradley Cooper (also the leading man) strikes the perfect balance between a showbiz fable and an intimate story with universal truths. As the protege who rockets to fame, Lady Gaga is a winning, natural presence, even in the scenes where she's nowhere near a piano or a microphone. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)