Freeze Frame: “The Power of the Dog” (R), “The Hand of God” (R), “C’Mon, C’Mon” (R), “Below the Fold” (Not rated)

The gothic arthouse western “The Power of the Dog” is one of those movies that causes critics to flip and general audiences to shrug. Benedict Cumberbatch leads an accomplished cast in director Jane Campion’s adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel that tells the tragic tale of a despicable cowboy who makes life miserable for everyone on a 1920s Montana cattle ranch. What makes him tick and will he get his comeuppance? This dark character study is beautifully crafted and skillfully acted. It’s all a bit too ambiguous for its own good. Still, “The Power of the Dog” has a quiet power.


“The lavishly filmed coming of age movie “The Hand of God” is Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s gauzy look back at the joy and tragedy of his early teenage years in Napoli. This autobiographical tale is understandably self-indulgent, but it has a wistful nature that may resonate with some viewers.


Joaquin Phoenix and young Woody Norman are utterly believable in Mike Mills’ low key but smart comic drama “C’Mon, C’Mon,” the tale of a single man and his troubled nephew who bicker and bond when they are thrown together by circumstance. Its approach comes off as a bit preachy and at times, the movie can be as annoying as fingernails on the chalkboard. In other words, it’s like real life. Expect some love for these actors at awards time.


Kansas City-based filmmaker Clayton Scott offers his locally lensed movie debut, “Below the Fold,” available on Amazon Prime and VOD. It’s fictional mystery thriller inspired by real life murders in the Skidmore, Missouri area. Davis DeRock and Sarah McGuire star as reporters who dig up new evidence in a decade-old cold case. While it doesn’t break any new ground, “Below the Fold” shows plenty of potential from a promising new talent.

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