Reel-View Ratings: The Bigger The Beard, The Better The Movie


The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 dumped some 4.9 billion barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing irreparable damage to the area and its marine life. So naturally, it is now a big-budget disaster movie. The uneasy whiff of exploitation hovers over this production, which, against all odds, is actually quite good. Mark Wahlberg hits just the right notes as the everyman rising to save his crewmates, lending a grounded reality to the disaster as it unfolds. Things proceed with the smooth, clockwork certainty of inevitability, the villains neat and careless, the heroes worn and long-suffering. The jargon is technical, impenetrable, even, but it lends even more credence to the harshness of every dazzling explosion. (Still, though, the film does not sit comfortably in the conscience.) Opens Sept. 30 in wide release


The man who painted The Great Wave off Kanagawa — possibly the most famous Japanese art piece of all time — had a daughter, who was also a fine artist in her own right. Miss Hokusai focuses on O-Ei, who tirelessly assists her father and cares for her blind younger sister, as she finds her own artistic awakening (in erotic prints, among other subjects). The film dips its toe into a myriad of genres — Hokusai and O-Ei dabble with exorcisms and spirit wards at one point — but is at its best when it focuses on the familial, heartfelt relationship between father and daughter. The distinctive look of ukiyo-e (with specific references to Hokusai’s famous works) marries well with Miss Hokusai’s bright, clean animation. Plays at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at Doris Duke Theatre

This dramatization of the rise of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi hits all the beats you expect it to hit. Living in poverty with her mother, Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o), Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) finds unexpected solace playing chess under the tutelage of part-time soccer coach Robert (David Oyelowo), and quickly rises up to become internationally renowned at the game. The only reason the film doesn’t sink into generic platitudes is its phenomenal, all-black cast, who enliven their archetypical roles with humanity and emotion. More significantly, Queen resists urges to Westernize its narrative. It’s an African story set in Africa. It’s a thoughtful, respectful film — not a great one, but still too good to ignore. Opens Sept. 30 in wide release