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The drought is over as Stone, Carell, and Cruise welcome you back to the movies

Battle of the Sexes (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017)

Score: B+

Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and partial nudity -- 121 minutes

To say that there was a drought of good films over the months of summer would be an understatement. Shame on Hollywood for all the mediocrity that we had to endure. But I am happy, if not excited, to report that there are two wonderful new movies to go and see this week. And there is both a beautiful love story and one of the most anticipated fall movies both being released next week.

We begin this week with BATTLE OF THE SEXES.

Great buzz. Great first reviews. However, realizing that we are living in what some now call the "Divided States of America" -- not everyone is going to love the lesbian scenes found in this film.

When the on-screen battle was over, I began asking a group of husbands and boyfriends sitting directly behind me in the auditorium what they really thought of the film. Their response "across the court" was -- "I liked the tennis scenes!" As well they should have. The tennis scenes including the return of Howard Cosell are terrific. But for some (and I have to be honest), the intimacy of two attractive women making love could be considered out of bounds.

There are so many good things about this film that was directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. The script by Simon Beaufoy should be Oscar-nominated. The great photography credit goes to Linus Sandgren and his team. And the production design by Judy Becker is outstanding.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES especially works because of two movie stars that are at the top of their game. If you loved Emma Stone last year in her Oscar-winning performance in LA LA LAND, wait until you see her playing 29-year-old Billy Jean King. If you loved Steve Carell in so many different projects from THE OFFICE to FOXCATCHER and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, he brings a depth of craziness playing 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. He was the tennis world champion before Billy Jean King was even born!

The supporting cast is equally strong. Andrea Riseborough plays Billy Jean King's hairdresser who she falls in love with. Elisabeth Shue plays Bobby's wife. Bill Pullman plays the tennis promoter. Sarah Silverman plays the founder of Tennis World Magazine. What great performances all across the court. In real life, tennis star Margaret Court -- played by Jessica McNamee -- was strongly against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

The themes of this film resonated in the 1970's and still should be top of the mind awareness today. We need to fight for Equal Rights on and off the court. We need to fight for Equal Pay for Equal Work. Bottom line: BATTLE OF THE SEXES is one of the best films of the year.

AMERICAN MADE (2017)

Score: B+

Rated R -- 115 minutes

THIS IS A NO-SPOILER REVIEW!

Tom Cruise is a Hollywood movie star. He is just so good up on the silver screen. He is one handsome actor who has aged so well and has not lost one ounce of his charisma. And unlike THE MUMMY -- he was handed a pretty good script written by Gary Spinelli. Credit great cinematography from Cesar Charlone.

Credit also goes to the film's director Doug Liman (EDGE OF TOMORROW) for a film based on a true story. Or is it a true story? Or are only parts of the movie actually true?

The Millennial moviegoers may be shocked to learn that Donald Trump is not the first American President to lie to us. Ronald Reagan and what was called in the late 1970's "his band of liars" -- are front and center in this film. Immediately following the screening earlier this week, a group of local film critics were arguing about the accuracy of the story. There have been a lot of the non-fiction articles and books published over the years. Perhaps a key to why this film may have been directed by Doug Liman is the fact that his father, Arthur L. Liman, was the Chief Counsel to the Senate Committee during the 1987 Iran Contra Investigation.

Mr. Cruise plays Barry Seal, an international hustler and TWA pilot who was recruited by the CIA to run one of the largest and most significant covert operations in U.S. history.

Cruise is joined by cast members Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright Olsen, E. Roger Mitchell, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez, Caleb Landry Jones, and Jayma Mays.

Trust me. When the film is over you will have your own argument as to how heavily fictionalized AMERICAN MADE truly is. It is obvious that Tom Cruise was attracted to the role because he could do most of his own flying. He loves his stunts. Bottom line: to me, the film was fast paced and a lot of fun.

PREVIEW OF NEXT WEEK'S REVIEWS

It has taken 35 years to have a sequel, but apparently, the wait was worth it. BLADE RUNNER 2049 is already being called a sci-fi masterpiece starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US tells the story of two strangers stranded after a tragic plane crash. These strangers must forge a connection in order to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow-covered mountain. It is a journey that you will not soon forget. The film is directed by Academy Award nominee Abu-Assad and stars Oscar winner Kate Winslet and Golden Globe winner Idris Elba. I loved the film.


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