Expect multiple Oscar nominations for “Nomadland,” a drama based on a non-fiction book about indigent senior citizens who travel around the U.S. in trailers in search of employment. Frances McDormand is solid, as always, and director Chloé Zhao uses a number of non-actors to play versions of themselves. It’s slow-moving, but “Nomandland” is elegantly understated and effective.
“Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence” is a compelling documentary about a Kansas City woman named Bobbi Jo Reed. A former addict and prostitute, she got clean after years of struggle and founded Healing House, a local charity that has helped over 8,000 people in our area who have had similar struggles. “Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence” is an inspiring, challenging film.
“Rock Camp” is a much more light-hearted documentary. For 25 years, Rock impresario David Fishof has produced the annual Rock n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, where amateur rock wannabes live out their dreams by being mentored by actual rock stars. The movie follows the stories of four such campers. The talking heads include Roger Daltry, Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Sammy Hagar and Joe Perry, all of whom seem to be having fun…just like viewers of this movie.
“Blithe Spirit” is a spiritless version of Sir Noel Coward’s 1941 supernatural comic play. The gifted cast includes Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, Judy Dench and Leslie Mann, but under Edward Hall’s direction, it all seems a bit too forced and calculated. For a much better adaptation, seek out the classic 1945 film version directed by David Lean.
“Flora & Ulysses” is a Disney+ adaptation of the Newberry Award-winning children’s novel. It’s the tale of a young girl and a squirrel with superpowers. There’s a lot of slapstick and broad humor that saps “Flora & Ulysses” of much of its heart.
Your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at nelson-atkins.org, Screenland.com, fineartsgroup.com and drafthouse.com.