The ‘Star Wars’ train keeps running with ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’. Taking place between the events of ‘Revenge of the Sith’ and ‘Rogue One’, ‘Solo’ feels like a long time coming. If you know that George Lucas scrapped Han Solo’s origin story in ‘Revenge of the Sith’, you would probably feel it fair that the beloved smuggler get a story of his own. Who knew that there would be production problems in the process? From reports of Alden Ehrenreich’s dismal acting to the firing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to the hiring of Ron Howard as eventual director, it seemed that fans and I were skeptical about how it could play out. A 70 percent on Rotten Tomatoes revealed that there was some hope, but I had to see for myself to see how it fared.
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‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ – written and directed by Martin McDonagh (‘In Bruges, ‘Seven Psychopaths’) is a darkly funny, albeit, serious look at the justice system and one woman’s fury against a case left unsolved. Frances McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a woman who decides to rent the titular billboards with a message calling out chief of police Willoughby (Oscar-nominee Woody Harrelson) for not focusing more on her daughter’s unsolved murder. At first, these billboards attract the attention of officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell, in a role he might win the Supporting Actor Oscar for), but eventually, the town gets all wrapped up in the controversy surrounding Hayes’ decision.
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Hailee Steinfeld has come a long way throughout her acting career. We should remember when she started working in film at age 14 as Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers’ remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic ‘True Grit’, (for which she was nominated for the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar) all the way up to last year’s ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ as aspiring singer/Freshman member of the Barden Bellas, Emily Junk. She was also in ‘Barely Lethal’ and ‘Term Life’ after that, but I don’t think those films were as mainstream as ‘Pitch Perfect 2’. Now, in 2016, she plays the lead in the James L. Brooks produced teen comedy-drama ‘The Edge of Seventeen’, where she not only gives a career-best (I have yet to watch ‘True Grit’, so hold your horses), but also plenty of attitude as Nadine, a 17-year-old with a lot of angst and hatred for almost everything around her.
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