Carol

The Weinstein Company

Rated R sexuality, nudity and brief profanity

Divorcée Finds Refuge In Arms Of Shy Shopgirl In Tale Of Forbidden Love Set In The ’50s

Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) is a socialite in the midst of a bitter divorce. Her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler), is making it difficult, since he still loves her and can’t quite understand why she wants out of the marriage. After all, she’s been living in the lap of luxury in a mansion in suburban New Jersey, where the couple has been raising their young daughter, Rindy (Kk Heim).

But having a devoted spouse who’s a good provider and a doting dad just isn’t enough, given how Carol has been hiding a dark secret for decades. That’s because it’s the early ’50s, and she’s deep in the closet due to homosexuality’s generally being considered scandalous, if not perverted behavior.

Consequently, the only hint Harge has that his wife might be a lesbian was the brief fling she admits to having had with her BFF, Abby (Sarah Paulson). So, he’s remained optimistic about changing her mind, and has even suggested that they vacation together over the upcoming holidays.

However, the plot thickens when Carol ventures into Manhattan to do a little Christmas shopping. For, while buying presents for little Rindy in a department store, she makes the acquaintance of a pretty and polite, young clerk name Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara).

The two proceed to flirt with each other ever so subtly, so as to not arouse any suspicion among customers and employees. After purchasing an electric train set for her daughter, Carol accidentally leaves her gloves on the counter, which affords Therese an excuse to contact her again.

Despite the sizable age and class differences, the two strike up a platonic friendship with tremendous sexual tension simmering just below the surface. Their thinly-veiled desires are not lost on Therese’s boyfriend, Richard (Jake Lacy), who accuses her of having a crush on the well-preserved cougar. Meanwhile, Harge develops his own suspicions when he drops in on Carol unexpectedly and she can’t explain why she’s entertaining a woman half her age.

Fed up, he soon decides to seek sole custody of Rindy. However, his only hope of having Carol deemed an unfit mother rests in catching her and Therese in flagrante delicto, that is, in the act. To that end, he hires a private detective (Cory Michael Smith) to shadow the canoodling couple on a cross-country jaunt until he comes up with concrete proof of an affair.

Thus unfolds Carol, a bittersweet tale of forbidden love directed by Oscar nominee Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven). The piercingly-evocative, character-driven drama is based on The Price Of Salt, a groundbreaking romance novel published by Patricia Highsmith back in 1952. Well ahead of its time for lesbian literature, that seminal opus eschewed stale stereotypes in favor of a realistic portrayal of its gay protagonists.

Here, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara more than do justice to the seminal work, effectively capturing the sensibilities of star-crossed lovers daring to defy a culture marked by intolerance. Shot against an array of exquisite, painstakingly-recreated backdrops, this poignant period piece serves as a telling reminder of how far we’ve come from the days when homosexuality was still considered a crime of moral turpitude

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 118 minutes

 

 

My All American

Clarius Entertainment

Rated PG for mature themes, mild epithets and brief partial nudity

Inspirational Biopic Recounts Abbreviated Career Of Gridiron Great

Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) was just about the last person you’d expect to see on a football field. But the pint-sized safety somehow made up for it in heart, what he lacked in muscle and stature.

He was trained by his father (Michael Reilly Burke) to always give 110%, which led to his being recruited out of high school by Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart), the legendary coach of the University of Texas. At UT, Freddie was a fan favorite who helped lead the Longhorns to the national title during the 1969 season when the team went undefeated.

Unfortunately, the diminutive defensive back’s euphoria proved to be short-lived, for he would receive some very grim news from the doctor just a couple days after spearheading a come from behind victory over Arkansas in a contest considered “The Game of the Century.” He’d been playing with pain for weeks, and that nagging leg injury he’d been ignoring was diagnosed as cancer.

Suddenly, Freddie found himself facing the toughest battle of his life. But luckily, he had the support of his family and friends, especially Coach Royal, teammates Bobby (Rett Terrell) and James (Juston Street), and his high school and college sweetheart, Linda (Sarah Bolger).

Freddie Steinmark’s abbreviated career and his ensuing intrepid fight against the disease which would cost him, first, a leg and, then, his life is the subject of My All American, a bittersweet biopic written and directed by Angelo Pizzo. While the movie marks Pizzo’s directorial debut, he is no stranger to the inspirational, sports saga genre, having penned the screenplays for such similarly-themed, fact-based dramas as Hoosiers (1986), Rudy (1993) and The Game of Their Lives (2005).

This film is likely to resonate most with the faith-based demographic, as its admirable protagonist is truly a throwback, a devout Christian who not only went to church every day but remained faithful to his girlfriend, despite all the groupies at his disposal. Decent acting trumps a fairly formulaic plotline, here, particularly Aaron Eckhart as a sermonizing coach waxing romantic about why Freddie was “My All American.”

An uplifting testament to an old-fashioned, real-life hero that time forgot.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Running time: 118 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening November 20, 2015

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (PG-13 for action, intense violence and mature themes) Franchise finale finds reluctant rebel Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) leading a team of trusted close friends (Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin and Natalie Dormer) on a mission to assassinate the President (Donald Sutherland) and to free the citizens of Panem. Ensemble cast includes Jeffrey Wright, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

 

The Night Before (R for pervasive profanity, incessant substance abuse, frontal nudity and graphic sexuality) Raunchy holiday comedy revolving around a trio of lifelong BFFs’ (Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie) wild night of drugs and debauchery during their annual Christmas Eve reunion. Cast includes James Franco, Miley Cyrus, Tracy Morgan, Mindy Kaling, Anthony Mackie, Lizzy Caplan and Jillian Bell.

 

Censored Voices (Unrated) Middle East documentary questioning the supposed heroism of Israeli soldiers who fought in ’67 war won in just six days. Featuring long-suppressed interviews with veterans recorded by kibbutzniks. (In Hebrew with subtitles)

 

Democrats (Unrated) Power corrupts documentary chronicling Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe’s going through the charade of staging a presidential election in a futile attempt to fool the world into believing the country’s a legitimate democracy.

 

Frame By Frame (Unrated) Free press documentary chronicling the efforts of four Afghan photojournalists to ply their trade following the fall of the Taliban who had made taking pictures a crime. (In Dari and English with subtitles)

 

Kingdom Of Shadows (PG-13 for mature themes and disturbing images) Rio Grande documentary taking an unflinching look at the ever-escalating body count in the drug wars being waged along the U.S.-Mexico border. (In Spanish and English with subtitles)

 

Legend (R for sexuality, drug use, graphic violence and pervasive profanity) Mob saga revisiting the exploits of Reggie and Ronnie Kray (Tom Hardy), infamous identical twins who ran a powerful crime syndicate in London in the ’60s. Supporting cast includes Emily Browning, Paul Bettany and Chazz Palminteri.

 

Mediterranea (Unrated) Fact-based docudrama recounting the ordeal of a couple of refugees (Koudous Seihon and Alassane Sy) who make the perilous journey from Africa to Italy in search of a better life only to be met with hostility and violence. With Paolo Sciarretta, Annalisa Pagano and Pio Amato. (In French, Italian, English and Arabic with subtitles)

 

Mustang (PG-13 for mature themes and sexuality) Tale of female empowerment, set in Turkey, about five, freedom-loving sisters grounded by their parents after engaging in innocent horseplay with boys on their way home from school. Co-starring Gunes Sensoy, Elit Iscan, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu and Ilayda Akdogan. (In Turkish with subtitles)

 

Secret In Their Eyes (PG-13 for profanity, sexual references, mature themes and disturbing violence) Whodunit revolving around a tight-knit FBI unit, investigating a string of murders of teenage girls, that is suddenly torn asunder by the brutal slaying of a team member’s (Julia Roberts) daughter (Zoe Graham). With Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Lyndon Smith.

 

The Summer Of Sangaile (Unrated) Julija Steponaityte handles the title role in this coming-of-age tale of teen love as a shy and retiring wallflower who falls head over heels for a daredevil (Aiste Dirziute) she meets at an airplane stunt show. Featuring Nele Savicenko, Laurynas Jurgelis and Jurate Sodyte. (In Lithuanian with subtitles)

 

Very Semi-Serious (Unrated) Jocular documentary highlighting the process by which the New Yorker magazine’s cartoon editor Bob Mankoff settles on which submissions to include in each issue.

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