BOOK CLUB [PG-13] C-
I know that I was supposed to sit back and enjoy the high-end appointments and details to be found in “Book Club,” which are callbacks to the luxury magazine age found in the works of Nancy Meyers (“Something’s Gotta Give”) and Nora Ephron (“You’ve Got Mail”), but during the initial set-up by director Bill Holderman and co-screenwriter Erin Simms, I couldn’t help wondering why this quartet of friends (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen) couldn’t have been a bit more diverse either in their composition or in their romantic choices. The adult fairy tale about them reading 50 Shades of Greyand having sexual epiphanies is nothing when compared to the idea that these progressive feminists somehow exist and operate in such a white-washed state. Ultimately, I closed my mental book on the proceedings on this cheap beach fantasy.
DEADPOOL 2 [R] B+
Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is back and he’s doubling down on his brand of fourth wall breaking violent pop cultural riffs. There are no sacred cows here – because the Merc with the Mouth (as he’s dubbed in the Marvel comic books from which he sprang forth) probably killed them all off – but that means that Deadpool is even willing to skewer himself, sometimes quite literally, to stick a particularly putrid joke. David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”) and his screenwriters (Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Reynolds) actually craft a more than adequate narrative around the silly hijinks, based on the idea of Deadpool attempting to save a mutant child (Julian Dennison) from a time-traveling super soldier named Cable (Josh Brolin), but what matters here is that Deadpool is an unkillable adolescent id that lives to test the limits of social order and our tolerance for gore. Personally, that makes him my kind of hero.
DISOBEDIENCE [R] B+
I am a late arrival to the fan club of Chilean director Sebastián Lelio, having stumbled upon his 2013 film “Gloria” at a film festival, but the world joined the bandwagon, bestowing this year’s Best Foreign Language Academy Award on “A Fantastic Woman.” The funny thing about prolific storytellers like Lelio is that some projects slip under the radar during their big coming out moments. “Disobedience” made the festival rounds at the same time as “A Fantastic Woman” and failed to catch the same level of attention, despite having recognizable faces like Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz and Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams lip-locked on the poster. The pair play childhood friends brought back together who face renewed backlash from their highly oppressive religious community based on their unquenchable passion for one another. Lelio powerfully captures yet another tale of women seeking to exert freedom and control over their lives in the face of staunch societal opposition. “Disobedience” is an example of the expansive potential of humanity.