Freeze Frame: “1917” (R), “Just Mercy” (PG-13)

“1917” is a stunning WWI drama that unfolds in a single shot. Two young British soldiers played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman are sent on a desperate mission with little hope of success. They’re to cross the dangerous terrain of no man’s land to warn a British regiment not to attack German forces because the enemy has set them up for a trap. Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes based his screenplay on stories his grandfather told him about the war. The single shot approach is a gimmick, but one that works on every level making “1917” one of the most immersive war films of all time. With “1917”, Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins have delivered the best film officially released in 2019.


Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx lead a strong cast in the earnest and heartfelt true-life drama, “Just Mercy,” based on Bryan Stevenson’s bestselling memoir. Jordan plays Stevenson, a naive but driven Harvard-educated lawyer who travels to Alabama to aid people thought to be wrongly convicted. He takes on the case of Walter McMillian, played by Foxx, a death row inmate awaiting execution for a murder he didn’t commit. While the filmmakers wear their convictions on their sleeve, they manage to imbue the proceedings with passion. “Just Mercy” is involving and makes a strong case that our justice system is still severely unbalanced.


Also opening this week, “Like a Boss” is a comedy starring Tiffany Haddish and Salma Hayek about backstabbing behavior in the beauty industry. Kristen Stewart stars in the sci-fi opus “Underwater,” a drama about the crew of an underwater research lab whose struggles only begin after an earthquake. Richard Gere stars in “The Three Christs” the story of a psychiatrist who tries to help three patients, each of whom believes that he is Jesus.

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