Movies reviewed this week: The Family Fang, The Founder, Ballerina and Long View: Hidden Figures (Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae).
The Fang family is one whose members have taken dysfunctional to a whole new level.
Baxter (Jason Bateman) is a failed academic who is trying to write a book while his sister Annie (Nicole Kidman) has a grip on life that is getting ever more tenuous by the day.
Both were brought up by two parents who have persisted in performing practical jokes on society as “art”.
While the gags continue, the fallout on both siblings has them both heading for a middle-aged meltdown.
Kidman skilfully plays the bitter daughter who wants nothing more to do with her parents while Bateman (who also directs) plays the weak younger brother who (still) can’t stick up for himself.
Exploring the nature of damaged psyches during adulthood, moviegoers get an insight into the dynamic between neglected siblings.
Flashback scenes depict the borderline insanity of their famous parents Camille (Kathryn Hahn) and Caleb (Christopher Walken), whose infamous escapades include an incident in which Baxter “shoots” at a policeman and licks “blood”.
After the parents go missing on holiday, Annie and Baxter convince themselves that it’s just another hoax but the police aren’t so sure. The journey of finding their parents allows the main characters to explore their purpose and relationships not only with their parents but also with each other.
Based on the novel by Kevin Wilson, Bateman captures themes of parenthood and the definition of art through some exceptional acting scenes peppered with raw emotion.
Here, he dishes up a unique comedy-drama; a satire of the depths of family ties and imagination.
However, the plotline has us a little hesitant about its ability to keep your undivided attention. Buy plenty of popcorn just in case it doesn’t.
Review by Taylor Glover
“How does a milkshake salesman build a fast food empire with an annual revenue of seven hundred million dollars?” Director John Lee Hancock, who helmed the marvellous Saving Mr Banks, returns with this, the rags-to-riches true story of the McDonalds empire. Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is coping with the daily struggles of survival while striving to do better. Then he meets two brothers who run a fast food joint and whose talent for serving up burgers and fries in double-quick time has him intrigued. The question is: how did McDonalds become so… big?
Kroc has to face tough decisions, like re-mortgaging his house. But he somehow ends up claiming the double-arched name and turning the culinary world on its head. This may be the film to motivate you this year.
Félice and Victor flee from an orphanage in Brittany to fulfil their life-long dreams in Paris. Felice dreams of becoming a ballet dancer while Victor wants to be an inventor. Ballerina is a feel-good family movie to tug at the aspirations of kids everywhere. This animated delight by directors Eric Summer and Eric Warin captures the adventures that life can offer. But it also has a few subtle messages about working for what you want and that things might not always go your way. It’s a fun film that younger moviegoers will enjoy.
Based on the true story of three female mathematicians at NASA, this empowering film charts the course of a hitherto unheard of chapter in US history.
Feisty trio Katherine (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) and Mary (Janelle Monae) have an integral role to play in putting a man in space.
But NASA is very much an all-male domain and the women have to use all their savvy to fight their corner and get the recognition their talents deserve.
Director Theodore Melfi admirably captures their story, and reflects a window on 1960s America that is sometimes less than endearing, to say the least.
Oman release date: February 23