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A Quiet Place

Lack of communication is downfall and ­salvation in this tense flick

© Paramount Pictures A family must live in silence after aliens invade Earth, hunting humans by sound.
       Predatory aliens roam Earth, hunting humans by sound. Even whispers can lead to a brutal death. Evelyn (Emily Blunt: My Little Pony: The Movie) and Lee Abbott (John Krasinski: Detroit) are working hard to keep their family life quiet. 
Sand is spread on trails from the house to town. Wooden floors are painted so everyone knows where to step to avoid creaks. Shoes are banned from the house as are all items like plates or cutlery that could make telltale sounds. The family uses sign language and crafts light signals for emergencies.
       Despite their planning, tragedy strikes when their youngest picks up a noise-making toy and is killed before his parents can reach him.
        After his death, the family splinters. Oldest daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds: Wonderstruck) blames herself and fears her father does as well. Lee draws back, secluding himself in a basement bunker as he seeks a way to defeat the aliens. Pregnant Evelyn must think of a way to deliver her baby silently and keep it from crying. Son Marcus (Noah Jupe: Wonder) is terrified of his own shadow.
       When the Abbotts face another threat, can they pull together? 
      Tense, interesting and well acted, A Quiet Place is one of the rare horror movies that doesn’t need cheap parlor tricks to entertain. Krasinski, who also directs, focuses on a family in crisis, exploring relationships and coping.
        The movie’s silence heightens tension. By crafting a film where sound is deadly, Krasinski plays on audience reaction. Rows of viewers collectively gasp or hold their breath. 
       The cast is also phenomenal. Blunt offers a wonderful, nearly silent performance. Small tremors in her face and shifts of her eyes convey more than some actresses can with pages of dialogue. She also works well with Krasinski, establishing that deep connection among the Abbotts before the alien disaster.
         Simmonds, who is a deaf actress, makes a fierce Regan, who lashes out in hurt and guilt over her part in her brother’s death.
        See the movie, but forgo the popcorn and candy lest you be the loudest thing in the theater.
Great Horror • PG-13 • 90 mins.
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Final Portrait
        Portrait artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) is legendary for capturing the essence of his subjects. 
        Writer James Lord (Armie Hammer) leaps at the invitation to sit for a Giacometti portrait. The artist promises to be quick. But in the studio, Lord discovers that an artist, and a portrait session, can’t be rushed.
        Director Stanley Tucci showcases actors and performances more than plot and nuance. A reflection on how torturous the artistic process can be, it’s a movie for anyone who’s ever struggled to complete a project. 
Prospects: Bright • R • 90 mins.
I Feel Pretty
        When deeply insecure Renee (Amy Schumer) hits her head, her world changes. She wakes up seeing herself as a physical ideal — and filled with a confidence she never dreamed of. 
        Will newly empowered Renee be able to conquer the world? Or will the patriarchy put her in her place? 
       This comedy about the difference self-assurance can make seems well meaning, the premise being that women allow themselves to be belittled by society and themselves, and when they shed those shackles, anything is possible. Is Schumer the one to execute it?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 110 mins.
Super Troopers 2
       When a Canadian border town turns out to be located on our side of the border, the United States government asks the Vermont State Troopers to help secure the town during the power transition, leading to a culture war in a tranquil town. 
       Super Troopers 2 rehashes the crass original, which felt fresh and had some funny moments. It’s a sequel no one really needed. 
Prospects: Dim • R • 100 mins.
       Brea (Paula Patton) and John (Omar Epps) are enjoying a romantic rural vacation when they run afoul of bikers. Trapped in the remote woods, they must rely on themselves to escape the violent, racist gang hunting them.
         Couple-in-peril plots are staples of the B-movie genre. Traffik has a chance to make a statement with its imperiled black couple hunted by a gang of violent whites.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 96 mins.
You Were Never Really Here
        Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) has a particular set of skills. A veteran with stress disorder problems, he works as hired muscle. On a mission to retrieve a senator’s missing daughter, he falls into a conspiracy that make him question the world and his own sanity. 
        Lynne Ramsay directs a dreamlike horror movie that will leave you questioning what you see. It played well at Cannes and has earned a few critical raves. But Ramsay likes to challenge her audiences. Expect ambiguous plots and unflinching depictions of depravity.
Prospects: Bright • R • 89 mins.