Movie Review

A splash of color

Based on the short story by H.P. Lovecraft, Color Out of Space centers on the lives of the Gardner family after a meteor strikes their property, spawning an inexplicable, alien horror.

Admirers of famed filmmaker Agnès Varda, who died in March at 90, may be looking for a fitting remembrance. But those who are unfamiliar with Varda’s work may be wondering where to begin. Her final film, Varda by Agnès, answers both needs. It’s a perfect introduction and a lovely valediction.

The year is 1959, and Dr. Alan Stone (Richard Gere) is bringing his forward-looking, humane approach to an institution still mired, under the direction of smug administrator Dr. Orbus (Kevin Pollak), in the Dark Ages of psychiatric treatment. 

Sam Mendes’ characters go through scenes that carry the unmistakable whiff of screenwriting, even if they may have been extrapolated from granddad’s wartime tales. But what is truly magnificent about this movie is Roger Deakins’ stunning cinematography. 

Why not relish in the inanity while indulging in a holiday meal at Jean Cocteau Cinema (418 Montezuma Ave.), and be thankful the Griswolds aren’t doing the catering? Dinner is served at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, followed by a 7 p.m. screening of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. 

Greta Gerwig's Little Women is an astonishing accomplishment for what is only her second feature as a director. Her first, Lady Bird, may have been autobiographical, but Little Women is an artist’s statement.

Movie Reviews

Blamed for a bomb

In Richard Jewell, a movie about the security guard who found what’s known as the Centennial Park bomb during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and was subsequently falsely implicated in planting it, the villains are more starkly delineated than the heroes.

The Two Popes is really three movies: a behind-the-scenes tale of Vatican politics, a mini-biopic about the current pontiff, and a two-man study of friendship, rivalry, and major British acting.

Queen & Slim is full of violence and danger, but it isn’t a hectic, plot-driven caper. Its mood is dreamy, sometimes almost languorous, at least as invested in the aesthetics of life on the run as it is in the politics of black lives.

Can this divorce be saved? For all its satirical jabs at bourgeois mores and self-involved artists (a MacArthur “genius” grant pops up for a cameo), Marriage Story is suffused with humanism and forgiveness.

With its obsession with process and how-it-all-went-down chronology, The Irishman is tiresome, at times even dull in its pointless arguments and profane ego trips. But that leaves viewers confronting how movies — especially Martin Scorsese’s — have shaped our most disquieting desires.

Director Jacqui Fifer and producer Tom Cronin will be on hand for an audience Q&A after the 5:15 p.m. screening of The Portal on Sunday, Nov. 10 at The Screen. 

As he grows older, Pedro Almodóvar seems to be growing more reflective. Pain and Glory is not strictly autobiographical, but it is strewn with deeply personal bread crumbs to lead us through significant passages of the great director’s life.

A man wearing a ski mask robs a bank, dispassionately kills two clerks, and is quickly captured. He claims he was acting alone, but witnesses report that he seemed to be in some kind of trance, and a suspicion emerges that he was acting under hypnotic suggestion. 

An Afghan filmmaker, mother, and wife, Fatima Hussaini adopted yet another identity in 2015: political refugee. That year, the Taliban called for the death of her husband, Hassan Fazili, a filmmaker who owned a Kabul café that served both men and women. Together with their two young daughters, the couple fled Afghanistan, beginning an arduous multiyear odyssey that took them across continents and scarily inhospitable countries.

Some people have a way with time. Take Santa Fe filmmaker Sylvia Johnson, who transforms 15 minutes into a powerful story of two refugees and their struggle for asylum in the United States. Perhaps, like so many artists these days, she’s motivated by a mission: Her art is also her activism on subjects like water pollution, transgender discrimination, and animal rights.

In 2012, explorer Steve Elkins embarked on the dangerous undertaking, along with Benenson and best-selling author Douglas Preston, and traversed the dense interior of Honduras. They didn’t know if they’d find the lost city, rumored to exist somewhere in the vast and nearly impenetrable rainforests of the La Mosquitia region. 

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson have two of the most mesmerizing physiognomies in movies. In this sly American Gothic set in the late 19th century, the director Robert Eggers lights and frames the actors to emphasize every bony plane. The stark cinematography deepens the film’s shadows and unease, but it also throws these grizzled faces into relief, sharpening their cheekbones and revealing the death’s head under each man’s grimace.

The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival offers panel discussions with industry professionals and other educational offerings. All are held at Form & Concept Gallery, and admission is free. 

With more than 200 galleries and museums, most people probably think of Santa Fe as just an art town. But it’s increasingly gaining a reputation as a destination for cinephiles. The 11th Annual Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, Wednesday, Oct. 16, through Oct. 20, happens at various venues in town.