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The Sisters Brothers

A pair of brothers seeks greater purpose in this existential Western

© Why Not Productions Charlie and Eli Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly) are brothers and assassins. The older of the two dreams of a normal life, while hard-drinking Charlie has taken charge with gusto. Each increasingly questions the other’s methods.
     The Sisters Brothers Charlie and Eli (Joaquin Phoenix: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot; John C. Reilly: Kong: Skull Island) work as toughs and killers for land magnate The Commodore.
       Charlie is content, but Eli wants a way out. He fancies a schoolteacher and has fantasies about leaving gunplay and blood for a little local store in a small town. Eli, however, doubts that violent and capricious Charlie can manage without him.
       When the brothers are assigned chemist Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed: Venom), Eli sees his chance to make enough money to retire. Charlie sees a chance to move up in The Commodore’s estimation and as an outlaw legend.
      But Warm is more than a hustler who bilked The Commodore. He’s a brilliant chemist who has come up with a formula that takes 90 percent of the work out of gold mining. Most everyone who knows of the formula — including The Commodore — is out to steal it.
       Will Eli and Charlie side with The Commodore or the chemist? 
       This hilarious, violent film about the meaning of manhood and the motivation of guilt is a fascinating ride. Using the cowboy as a stand-in for machismo, Director Jacques Audiard analyzes how frightening, confusing and chaotic trying to live up to these ideals can be. To this purpose, he adapts the gory comic tone popularized by the Coen brothers.
       Cinematographer Benoît Debie (Climax) captures beautiful visuals of wild frontier expanses and the muddy grime of developing towns. The people are equally gritty; toothbrushes, just making their way to the frontier, seem a silly luxury. The people are hard, and life is short, and Debie uses situation to explain character. 
       Best of all are Phoenix and Reilly as they play off each other. With his chaotic buffoonery and wild-eyed declarations, Phoenix plays Charlie as wounded and furious with a world he can deal with only through alcoholism and increasingly dangerous confrontations.
       Reilly shows just how deft an actor he can be when he’s not pandering in a Will Ferrell movie. His Eli is a deeply tired soul, plagued with guilt and a sense of obligation to his brother. 
       The film occasionally drags, but its quirky characters, interesting metaphors and wonderful performances make an excellent remix of the Western genre. 
Good Western • R • 121 mins.
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Bohemian Rhapsody
      This by-the-numbers biopic explores how the band Queen found its voice and lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) became an icon. It drags in telling the story behind the band but finds its feet in musical numbers. 
       If you’re a fan of Queen, it might be worth the ticket to experience the electricity of their live shows again. But don’t go looking for insight into Mercury’s famous persona. 
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 134 mins. 
Nobody’s Fool
      Danica (Tika Sumpter) is successful, beautiful and in a promising online relationship. When capricious sister Tanya (Tiffany Haddish) is released from jail, Danica wants no responsibility for her. But Tanya has her own agenda: Proving herself by helping her sister solve the mystery of the online sweetheart. 
       Nobody’s Fool might be the comedy Tyler Perry has needed. Sumpter and Haddish are fine performers, and play off each other beautifully. It might be worth the ticket. 
Prospects: Flickering • R • 110 mins. 
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
      This retelling of the classic holiday tale follows Clara (Mackenzie Foy) in a fantastic realm of magic and wonder. She pledges her help to a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight) as they travel through the lands of Snowflakes, Flowers and Sweets in search of a magic key to restore order to the world. 
       If your little ones won’t be able to sit through the ballet, consider buying a ticket to this. There are lots of magical effects, 3D tricks and candy-colored costumes to keep them enthralled. Older viewers will enjoy seeing Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren camp it up. 
Prospects: Festive • PG • 99 mins. 
      Invited to join a prestigious dance company in Germany, Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) thinks her dreams are coming true. But something’s not quite right. Dancers get sick or disappear, and odd rituals seem to be happening around her. Is she in the middle of a dark conspiracy? Or is she losing her grip on reality as she strives for perfection? 
       Based on the bloody, trippy masterpiece by Dario Argento, Suspiria should be a spine-tingling watch for horror aficionados. Reimagined by brilliant director Luca Guadagnino, this film is generating mixed reviews, from brilliant to redundant. 
Prospects: Flickering • R • 152 mins.