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Darkest Hour, movie review
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‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a touching, tender story

(Jack English/Focus Features)

“Call Me By Your Name”

This is a touching and tender story about a young man falling in love.

The fact that this 17-year-old falls for another man who happens to be visiting his family for the summer complicates the tricky terrain of first love.

Shot in a gorgeous and sunny Italian villa, “Call Me By Your Name” is meant to be seductive (which it is) and nicely mimics the young man’s deepening feelings.

Except for the fact that it depicts a gay relationship, much of the movie seems to be dealing with pretty standard, first-love stuff. That remains true until about the three-quarters mark when the film vaults into a place of distinction.

A scene with a peach, a father’s talk to his son, and a stationary four-minute final shot will stay with you long after you leave the theater.

Already named the best film of the year by a number of critics’ groups, and already nominated for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, “Call Me By Your Name” is in the running for serious Oscar consideration as well.

The film’s breakout star is the relatively unknown Timothee Chalamet who finds himself a surprise frontrunner in the Best Actor category.

“Downsizing”

This Alexander Payne film starts off with a great premise.

A laboratory in Norway has discovered a way to safely shrink humans. Hence a movement is born to convince more and more humans to “get small.”

These volunteers benefit financially — they can live like millionaires in a carefully constructed world built just for them — but they also help the planet by not using up as many of the world’s resources.

Matt Damon plays a middle-aged man who decides to get small himself. The bulk of the movie focuses on him adjusting to his new, tiny environment and to the oddball assortment of characters he meets who have also been miniaturized.

The first half of this film is very clever social satire, but that satire eventually gives way to a more earnest and plodding personal drama.

Damon, Christoph Waltz, and Golden Globe nominee Hong Chau are all excellent in this uneven fable.

“Darkest Hour”

Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill at a low-water mark for 20th century Great Britain.

It was 1940 and the Nazis had already torn through most of Europe. They were now on the brink of routing the British and French forces on the coast of France, and Churchill had to decide whether to sue for peace or face the possibility of the entire British military — 300,000 troops strong — getting wiped out.

This set the stage for the dramatic events seen in the much better movie “Dunkirk.”

Despite the hair-raising consequences of such a decision, “Darkest Hour” cannot find a compelling way to dramatize the behind-the-scenes negotiating.

There’s so much speechifying and grandstanding that, at times, the film has all the tension of a political convention.

And Oldman seems at a loss as to how to bring to life the bigger-than-life Churchill.

He’s mostly all bellows and grumbles, with not much in between. A pretty dull history lesson.

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