Film Reviews with Sister Rose

Scene from "All the Money in the World"

All the Money in the World

In July 1973, Abigail “Gail” Getty (Michelle Williams), the divorced mother of 16- year-old John Paul “Paul” Getty III (Charlie Plummer), receives a call that her son has been kidnapped in Rome. The ransom is $17 million. She thinks it’s a joke because it’s the kind of thing her son would talk about doing. This is no stunt, however.

Gail asks Paul’s grandfather, oil tycoon J.P. Getty (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom to a group of Italian criminals. Their leader, Cinquanta (Romain Duris), tells Gail that the grandfather should pay because he has “all the money in the world.” Although he professes to love his eldest grandchild, Getty refuses to pay the ransom for fear that his other grandchildren would be kidnapped too. In reality, he is a mean, crafty miser. He even does his own laundry by hand so he doesn’t have to pay to have it done.

The thugs eventually “sell” Paul to the Mafia. Cinquanta is enlisted to renegotiate the ransom with the help of Getty’s head of security, ex-CIA officer Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg). Getty fi nally agrees to pay the ransom, but only after the kidnappers cut off the teen’s ear and send it to a newspaper. Further, he does it as a loan to his son, Paul’s father, so it will be tax deductible.

For those of us who remember this saga that lasted six months, the retelling is harrowing, though screenwriter David Scarpa made character and event sequencing changes to speed up the pace. He based the script on John Pearson’s 1995 book, Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty.

Ridley Scott directs this crime thriller to nail-biting effect. When actor Kevin Spacey, originally cast as the elder Getty, was accused of sexual abuse, Scott reshot Spacey’s scenes, replacing him with the very convincing Plummer. The fi lm deserves awards for editing. Wahlberg is credible as the negotiator, while Williams is superb and a worthy foil to her former father-in-law.

All the Money in the World is a cautionary tale that great wealth will not necessarily make you happy.

A-3, R‚ Graphic violence, greed, language, peril.

Phantom Thread

Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s original script tells the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis, in reportedly his final film role), a London fashion designer in the 1950s. With his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville), they dress the rich and famous. Young women pass through Reynolds’ life and shop as models and muses, but he is a confirmed bachelor who uses them until he tells them to leave. He learned his trade from his mother, who haunts his weirdly obsessed memory. The designer embroiders names on labels that he sews in hidden places of the garments he makes—just as his mother did.

While eating at a hotel in the country, he meets an awkward, beautiful young waitress, Alma (Vicky Krieps). Reynolds is much older than Alma, but asks her out to dinner and she follows him to London. Though unsure of her status at the shop, she learns from and falls in love with Reynolds, and becomes a model for his designs. Cyril is suspicious until Reynolds becomes ill and Alma connives to assert her claim by caring for him. In gratitude, he admits his love for her and they marry. But this is no ordinary love story.

Phantom Thread is either about two people with serious mental health problems whose lives elegantly collide or about the externalization of interior love so profound that they are willing to go to unfathomable lengths to finally admit it. It’s a unique film with strong performances and one that deserves further reflection.

L, R, Adult themes

I Can Only Imagine

When Bart Millard (J. Michael Finley) wrote this title song in 1999, he had no way of knowing it would become the most played Christian song of all time when his group MercyMe released it as a lead single of their Almost There album in 2001. Bart grew up with his abusive, alcoholic dad, Arthur (Dennis Quaid), in Greenville, Texas. His mother left one day, leaving Bart alone to suffer from his father’s incessant negativity and beatings. After injuring his ankle playing football in high school, Bart takes choir where he discovers his musical talent.

When he leaves home for college, he turns his back on his dad, though he stays in touch with his supportive grandmother, Memaw (Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman). He connects with Shannon (Madeline Carroll) from high school and they grow close. On an impulse, he returns home to visit his dad to discover that something incredible has happened.

I Can Only Imagine is probably the best film of the Christian genre that I have seen so far and certainly the best from brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin (October Baby).

Not yet rated, Implied physical violence, adult themes.

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