** Never judge a book by its cover. Bombshell might seem an explosive drama for the #MeToo era, but it actually provides a comedic take on a touchy subject: the downfall of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). There's nothing funny about sexual harassment at the conservative cable channel, or women's struggles to advance their careers there. But director Jay Roach does a pretty good job of blending satirical and serious tones, which manages to humanize the victims but at times turns them into cartoons. All of the leads disappear into their roles, including Nicole Kidman as former anchor Gretchen Carlson and Margot Robbie as the fictionalized Kayla Pospisil. But Charlize Theron truly becomes Megyn Kelly, another anchor who ended up infuriating viewers by challenging Donald Trump on his misogyny before the 2016 election. Thanks to Theron's Oscar-worthy performance, Kazuhiro Tsuji's Oscar-worthy makeup design and the vérité-like camera work, it feels as if we are stalking the real Kelly as she wanders through Fox's headquarters. Eventually, she joins Carlson in outing Ailes' behavior, and more women follow in their stiletto footsteps. Yet by the time the movie is over, and Time's Up for Ailes, it's clear Bombshell is more concerned with entertaining the masses than inspiring them. R. ASHER LUBERTO. Dine-In Progress Ridge 13, Vancouver Mall 23, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Bridgeport, Cascade, City Center, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower.
**** Divorce is never pretty. But the divorce in Noah Baumbach's film is piercingly beautiful, miraculously moving and richly detailed. This won't come as a surprise to fans of the director's earlier work (Frances Ha, The Meyerowitz Stories, The Squid and the Whale). His movies have made subjects like death and loneliness feel as warm and welcoming as a midnight cuddle. This one is funny, to be sure, yet his script never lets the audience get too comfortable. The first time we see the couple at the center of the story (Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson), they're in therapy, and as they list all the reasons they fell for each other, you can't help but wonder where the relationship went wrong. What separates this from being another Scenes From a Marriage is that Marriage Story never reveals why the split happened, instead throwing the audience right into a custodial battle over their son. What ensues is a melodrama, graced by Randy Newman's heartbreaking score, with torrents of raw emotion that could only have stemmed from Baumbach's 2010 divorce from actor Jennifer Jason Leigh. The film also benefits from two of the best performances this decade from its leads as well as a minimalist style that makes it seem as if the events were unfolding in real time. The result is timeless. R. ASHER LUBERTO. Cinema 21.
Queen & Slim
*** The two heroes in Queen & Slim aren't actually named Queen and Slim. The title pair (Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith), whose given names aren't revealed until the end, start the film as fugitives on the run—a Bonnie and Clyde duo whose engine runs on fury after they shoot a racist cop in self-defense. Only after a viral video of the incident clearly illustrates their innocence do the two become folk heroes in the black community. Despite the evidence, the police prolong the manhunt that isn't always as stressful for Queen and Slim as it might sound. Dreamy colors create a soulful mood enhanced by a New Orleans hip-hop soundtrack and memorable pit stops. When the two ride ponies or slow dance in a bar, their feeling of freedom will sweep you off your feet. Director Melina Matsoukas adds speed bumps along the way: racist whites, running out of gas, racist whites, worldwide outcry, and more racist whites. Yet her protest picture doesn't frame the two as immortal—Queen and Slim make mistakes along the way like everyone else. It's their courage that is celebrated, as they take a stand against the criminal justice system, no matter the cost. R. ASHER LUBERTO. Vancouver Mall 23, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Bridgeport, Cascade, City Center, Division, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Lloyd.