'Tis The Season for the kind of movies Hollywood often considers its best. And our critic David Edelstein has just been to see three of them:
The cusp of December: Holiday movie season begins. What to see that's everywhere? What to seek out? What to salivate over seeing -- besides "Star Wars," which I'm already sick of?
To see now: "Creed" (Now playing).
It's not quite "Rocky VII." Sylvester Stallone is very poignant, a tad shameless, but on the sidelines. The spotlight's on a young African-American boxer, son of the late Apollo Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan.
Two years back, director Ryan Coogler collaborated with Jordan on the devastating "Fruitvale Station," depicting the senseless death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant. That's one kind of vital story. "Creed" is another: It focuses on pride, hard work, forging one's own identity.
Yeah, it's Hollywood corn, but it has the texture of real life. And there's a long, long single-shot boxing match that is a knockout.
To seek out: "Room" (Now playing)
It opened small last month and it's going wider: the story of a mom and five-year-old son in a room he thinks is the whole world -- a place of magic and fantasy. What she doesn't tell him is it's a prison fashioned by a sexual psychopath.
Such evil is flabbergasting, but the good is somehow more mysterious: the capacity of a child, when guarded by a loving parent, to project kindness onto the most malevolent environment.
I can't praise the acting of Brie Larson and young Jacob Tremblay enough: raw-nerve stuff.
To look forward to: "The Big Short" (Opens December 23).
How do you make an exuberant comedy about the financial apocalypse of 2008 that also elucidates the labyrinthine fraud at the heart of the economy?
Director Adam McKay leaps to the occasion, working from Michael Lewis' book on the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. It's part goofy comedy, part thriller, part documentary that leaves you with actual knowledge.
You root for maverick bankers and hedge-funders (played by, among others, Steve Carrel, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Brad Pitt) to be proven right in betting against a market built on corrupt loans.
You say, "Yessss!" when they are -- then realize their win was your loss.
It's the year's most rollicking bad time!
- Author Michael Lewis on Wall Street's delusion ("60 Minutes," 03/12/10)
- Michael Lewis' "The Big Short" offers six great money lessons for kids (Moneywatch, 10/05/10)
- "The Big Short" (Official site)
More from David Edelstein:
- "Spotlight" and uncovering the church's sex abuse scandal
- "Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "Straight Outta Compton"
- David Edelstein on summer films to watch
- "Tomorrowland" and the celebration of hope
- In praise of Kristen Stewart
- On hackers' chilling effect on movies
- "The Babadook": The horror film you must see
- Get real! David Edelstein celebrates documentary films
- David Edelstein on the politics of movies