February will end on a high note for renters with one critically acclaimed film and the latest Marvel Super Hero epic sharing shelf space alongside a spy drama and a creature feature.
ALLIED – Brad Pitt stars as a RAF intelligence officer who falls in love with a French Resistance fighter he works with on a dangerous mission. The two pose as husband and wife and wind up tying the knot after returning to England. The tension mounts when he is informed she may be a traitor. He has only 72 hours to spy on his own wife as a sensitive operation nears that she could compromise. Good war time thriller in the tradition of ‘Casablanca.’
MOONLIGHT – Critics and award organizations embraced this low key drama about a young African American male coming of age in a tough neighborhood. Life throws a lot at this boy who must come to grips with an absentee mother and the dawning realization that he is homosexual in an environment that is far from supportive. Downbeat but effective and ultra realistic.
DOCTOR STRANGE – A gifted and somewhat arrogant surgeon desperately seeks a cure for his damaged hands but winds up on a road to enlightenment in this adaptation of the Marvel comic book character. Strange is forced to seek out alternative treatment when conventional science can’t cure the mangled hands he incurs after a horrific car crash. He eventually seeks out mystical help and learns that his path may no longer lie on this plane of existence when his studies open his eyes to the possibilities of magic. Fans of the comic will love the serious treatment it gets here though there is still plenty of room for some jaw dropping visuals and awesome action sequences. Benedict Cumberbatch offers a solid portrait of Strange.
VENOM – A black mamba gets loose in a suburban London home where a kidnapping plot has gone horribly wrong in this solid horror/suspense yarn from the early eighties. The real treat here is the international cast that includes Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson and Sterling Hayden. This film was a battle royal behind the cameras with Kinski and Reed locking horns at every turn and even running off original director (Tobe Hooper). Normally I don’t recommend director’s commentaries but this one is a hoot as replacement director Piers Haggard (The Blood On Satan’s Claw) recalls wrangling his cast while the snake behaved like a perfect gentleman.
Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.