THE GOOD MOTHER – Review by Peg Aloi

This thriller stars Hilary Swank as Marissa Bennings, a journalist for the Albany Times Union in upstate New York. Swank’s performance is fairly understated, with an inscrutable accent that apparently is supposed to telegraph “upstate New York,” though it seemed forced. There are some narrative gaps and a rather abrupt ending that leaves many questions unanswered. Director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, who co-wrote the script with Madison Harrison, is a young filmmaker with some solid storytelling skills. But this story, rooted in the director’s hometown, was at times both predictable and also somewhat confusing. The set-up is strong, the story relatable, but too many threads are left dangling.

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I AM MOTHER – Review by Susan Granger

Sci-fi movies about AI and robotics can be terrifying or tortuous – I Am Mother falls into the latter category. Set in a massive, automated, underground laboratory, the story begins with an angular, one-eyed android – embodied by Luke Hawker (who supervised its manufacture at New Zealand’s Weta Workshop) and softly voiced by Rose Byrne. Calling itself Mother, it chooses one test-tube embryo out of thousands in cryogenic stasis to begin the job of repopulating humanity after a horrific global extinction event.

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FATALE – Review by Diane Carson

Individuals with a couple hours to waste in a thoroughly preposterous plot will find a home in Fatale, with its retrograde plot and few redeeming features. I was attracted to it by two actors I admire immensely—Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy. Scripts crossing their desks must be terrible for them to accept this misadventure. Nevertheless, they soldier on, delivering good performances in ludicrous roles.

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FATALE – Review by Susan Granger

As the titular femme fatale, Hilary Swank seems ready to boil a bunny in this pulpy-noir thriller. Problem is: two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby), who also served as a producer, is decidedly unsexy in a role that calls for a sultry, seductive quality that she’s apparently unable to summon.

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AWAY – Review by Susan Granger

Looking for a new Netflix series to binge? Oscar-winner Hilary Swank stars in this cathartic, compelling sci-fi drama about the first manned mission to Mars. Perfectly timed during this worldwide pandemic, the initial 10 episodes capture our current anxiety and paranoia, as viewers can identify with the isolation and poignant emotional dilemmas faced by Atlas’ crew members who communicate with loved ones via video chat/cell phones/texting although they’re millions of miles away.

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WHAT THEY HAD – Review by Susan Granger

You have to admire first-time writer/director Elizabeth Chomko for assembling a star-studded cast for this poignant, multi-generational domestic drama, inspired by memories of her own grandparents. Set in the Chicago area, the story begins with clips of old home movies as elderly Ruth Everhardt (Blythe Danner) slips out of bed and shuffles off down the street into the cold, snowy night, clad only in a nightgown and sweater.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, November 2, 2018: WHAT THEY HAD

motw logo 1-35What They Had, the first feature from actress-turned-writer/director Elizabeth Chomko, is a stirring family drama in which adult siblings, Bridget (Hilary Swank) and Nick (Michael Shannon) are trying to cope with their mother’s (Blythe Danner) progressive dementia and their father’s (Robert Forster) denial of her disability. Chomko’s well-crafted script and sensitive direction, and the superb performances from the stellar ensemble bring a balance of heartbreak and humor to this painful and entirely relatable situation.

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WHAT THEY HAD – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

“Grandma drank the holy water,” says Taissa Farmiga’s moody college student. “At least she’s hydrated,” says Michael Shannon as her uncle who laughs mostly to keep him and the audience from crying. That first-time filmmaker Elizabeth Chomko can pull off this sort of humor in a movie that revolves around the evil disease that is dementia is a feat achieved primarily based on the strength of her casting choices.

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