REAL REVIEWS: ‘Nightmare Alley’ – Stylish shocker in film noir | Lifestyles

NIGHTMARE ALLEY

(Theatres)

Best Picture and Best Director Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”) co-wrote and directed this return to film noir, a thriller based on William Lindsay Gresham’s novel.

Set in the 1940s, the feature film stars Bradley Cooper as Stanton Carlisle, an unlucky guy who joins a traveling carnival.

From the alcoholic mentalist Pete (David Strathairn) and his clairvoyant wife Zeena (Toni Collette), Carlisle learns all of Pete’s cues and tricks.

Then Carlisle leaves the carnival and takes Molly Cahill (Rooney Mara) with him. Eventually, the former carny dons a tuxedo and graduates to work his mentalist show as “The Great Carlisle” in big city nightclubs with Molly as his assistant. His success makes him develop an appetite for the biggest jerks.

When Carlisle teams up with seductive psychotherapist Dr. Lillith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), he becomes involved in an elaborate scheme to get money from Ezra Grindle (Richard Jenkins).

Originally a 1947 film starring Tyrone Power, Del Toro’s film succeeds as a stylish shocker that portrays the underbelly of society.

To classify

3 and 1/2 stars

PARALLEL MOTHERS

(Theatres)

Penelope Cruz and filmmaker Pedro Almodovar reunite for their seventh film with “Parallel Mothers,” a film that features the writer-director’s signature style with a bright color palette and frequent nods to Alfred Hitchcock.

The gripping Spanish-language drama begins with nearly 40-year-old Janis (Cruz) and teenage Ana (Milena Smit) sharing a hospital room. Both are single women, and both give birth to daughters.

After bringing their children home, Janis is stuck with a distracted nanny, and Ana’s mother, actress Teresa (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon), leaves Ana and travels all over Spain with a troupe of actors. .

Eventually, Janis and Ana’s lives intersect as Almodovar’s storyline takes viewers by surprise. A subplot concerns Janis’ determination to honor her grandparents by finding the site where most of her family’s village men were murdered at the start of the Spanish Civil War.

Israel Elejalde plays Arturo, a forensic archaeologist. Among Almodovar’s finest, “Parallel Mothers” was honored as one of the highest rated films of 2021.

To classify

3 and 1/2 stars

RECENT OPENINGS

A HERO

Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival with a feature film set in present-day Iran. Rahim (Amir Jadidi) is released from debtors’ prison on a 2-day discharge with a plan to win official release.

But he changes his mind about using gold coins from a lost purse to pay off his debt. instead, he returns the purse to its rightful owner. But his good deed lands him in the spotlight.

POUPELLE OF THE CITY OF CHIMNEYS

Based on a picture book by screenwriter Akihito Nishino, the 3D animated feature follows chimney sweep Lubicchi who believes something exists beyond the smoke-filled town of Chimney.

Lubicchi befriends Poupelle, a talking trash heap, and the pair go in search of what lies above the thick layers of smoke.

SEE FOR ME

Visually impaired Sophie (Skyler Davenport) is guarding her home in an isolated mansion when three criminals break in with the intention of robbing the place.

The home invasion thriller has an interesting twist due to a phone app called “See for Me.”

Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews film, arts and entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.