Ford v Ferrari

From cops to superheroes to time travelers, director James Mangold can't get enough of extraordinary, dangerous men. In Ford v Ferrari, he turns his attention to racecar driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), two of the architects of Ford's unprecedented triumph over Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. Mangold's orchestration of the racing scenes is splendid—he keeps the camera low to the ground so we get a clear view of the action and feel like we're part of it—and it's a blast watching Bale and Damon ham it up as pompous, lovable badasses. The only problem is that until a melancholy epilogue, the film's mood is one of bullying jubilation. To Mangold, the story of two white guys searching for the perfect adrenaline fix is nothing less than sacred myth—he prefers not to dwell on the arrogance and insecurities of the characters, let alone the absurdity of their willingness to pursue a victory that amounts to little more than one car company outshining another. Ford v Ferrari is one of Mangold's most entertaining films—and that's saying something, since he directed Cop Land and Walk the Line—but it should have spent more time exploring the hubris under the hood. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Mill Plain 8, Vancouver Mall 23, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Cornelius, Eastport, Bridgeport, Cascade, Cinema 99, City Center, Division, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Lloyd, Sherwood, Tigard, Vancouver Plaza, Studio One.

Last Christmas

If an adorable couple were all it took to make a masterpiece, Last Christmas would be the next Citizen Kane. Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) stars as Kate, an aspiring actress who works at a Christmas shop in London, and Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) as Tom, a suitor so suave and cheery he appears to have been genetically engineered to warm jaded hearts. Like the George Michael song that inspired it, Last Christmas is a love story steeped in sentimental charm—if you don't melt when Tom tenderly holds Kate while she reveals the story of the medical crisis that stymied her career, you should probably give up on happiness and restrict your moviegoing to artfully bleak films about the human condition like The Lighthouse. If there's a weak link in Last Christmas, it's the script. Lame jokes—about everything from fermented cabbage to bird excrement—abound, and a subplot about Kate volunteering at a homeless shelter exposes the film's disturbingly jocular attitude toward poverty. Last Christmas wants to be a crowd-pleasing balm for an England mired in Brexit, but the occasional cruelty of its humor echoes the ignorance and cynicism that gave rise to Britain's stalled break with the EU in the first place. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Dine-In Progress Ridge 13, Mill Plain 8, Vancouver Mall 23, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Cornelius, Eastport, Moreland, Oak Grove, Bridgeport, Cascade, Cinema 99, City Center, Division, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Lloyd, Sherwood, Tigard, Vancouver Plaza, Roseway, Scappoose, St. Johns Pub and Theater, Studio One.

Midway

Roland Emmerich's World War II blockbuster starts with a self-reflexive question: "Wasn't your empire built on ridiculous traditions?" a U.S. general asks a Japanese sergeant. "Yes," he replies. Emmerich has also built his empire on the ridiculous tradition of destroying things. In Independence Day, he blew up the White House, and in 2012, he created a tidal wave the size of California. Now he brings that digital bravura to the Battle of Midway. In the 1942 clash of U.S and Japanese aircraft carriers in the Pacific, the audience rides shotgun with fighter pilots as they zip through black smoke and machine-gun fire. The battle scenes are impressive enough to generate "hooyahs!" from veterans in the crowd (my father among them). But Wes Tooke's screenplay is dead in the water. When things aren't exploding, the characters need personality, not cliché dialogue along the lines of "Men like Dick Best are the reason we're going to win this war." The close-ups of heroic faces are just as blockheaded. The cast of well-knowns, including Ed Skrein (as Dick Best), Patrick Wilson, Dennis Quaid, Woody Harrelson and Aaron Eckhart, does its best to save the day and the film. The actors' efforts are too little too late. PG-13. ASHER LUBERTO. Dine-In Progress Ridge 13, Mill Plain 8, Vancouver Mall 23, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Cornelius, Eastport, Oak Grove, Bridgeport, Cascade, Cinema 99, City Center, Division, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Lloyd, Sherwood, Tigard, Vancouver Plaza, Scappoose, Studio One.