Strangler fast-paced, Moving On enjoyable, 65 is abysmal

Strangler needs room to breathe

Unlike the crime procedural approach taken by the 1968 Tony Curtis film of the same name, Matt Ruskin's Boston Strangler takes a far different look at the infamous killer. It focuses not only on the tenacious efforts of two female reporters who broke the story but provides a more in-depth look at the murders, suggesting instead that Albert DeSalvo's confession to the crimes was untrue and that a small group of killers was in fact responsible.

Loretta McLaughlin (Kiera Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon), writers for the Boston Record-American, are the first to notice the similarities between the murders of three women and doggedly keep the story in the minds of the public, holding the police department's feet to the fire.

As constructed by Ruskin, the viewer's undivided attention is required as the two women uncover clues, the revelations unfolding in a hurry, how they all fit together explained in a blur. At times, it's all a bit too much, and if confusion sets in as to who is related to who and how it all dovetails into the murders, don't be too hard on yourself. This story is one that would have been much better served as a mini-series. In Ruskin's hands, the viewer isn't allowed to process all that is presented while the pace negatively affects the narrative flow. Not only are we not given time to digest all the information, but none to feel either. Ruskin's plate is far too full and the result is a film that, while engaging, ultimately feels less than complete. Without question, Boston Strangler contains a fascinating story – it just needs room to breathe. Streaming on Hulu.

Moving On

On the heels of their bland crowd-pleaser, 80 For Brady, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin reunite for Moving On, a far better showcase for their talents. Written and directed by Paul Weitz (About a Boy), the story begins with a dour situation made all the more awkward by a rash declaration.

Claire and Evelyn (Fonda and Tomlin) are attending the funeral of their best friend, an event that includes shocking revelations and a sobering threat. Grappling with his grief over the death of his wife, Howard (Malcolm McDowell) is suddenly accosted by Claire, who declares that she is going to kill him. At first, he doesn't take her seriously and neither does Evelyn, yet there's a tenacity to her friend's actions as she comes to realize this was no idle threat.

Just why Claire wants to kill Howard is revealed by degrees, and as the film runs a brisk 85 minutes, the viewer's patience isn't taxed. A subplot showing Evelyn dealing with her own troubles – feelings of loneliness and futility – ring true, as does a rekindled love affair between Claire and her ex (Richard Roundtree). To be sure, this is a trifle, but the four veterans bring just enough life and professionalism to make Moving On, if not a film classic, at least an enjoyable time-filler. In theaters.

65 – Really, Adam Driver?!? Really?!?

Adam Driver is one of our most intriguing, intelligent actors, who can be relied upon to be involved in quality motion pictures. Knowing this, I couldn't help but wonder how in the world he ended up in the abysmal new sci-fi thriller 65. I'm assuming he lost a bet.

Driver stars as Mills, a human who happens to crash land on Earth 65 million years ago, long before there were any human beings on the planet. Seems his ship, a transport in which he was ferrying passengers to a faraway planet, was hit by an asteroid and must make an emergency stop on the third rock from the sun. All on board are dead, except Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), a young teen who reminds Mills of his recently deceased daughter. Together, they attempt to make a 15-mile trek to a rescue pod but the catch is, they have to dodge a great many dinosaurs along the way.

There are so many incongruities at play here, I don't know where to begin. I love how the characters happen to speak English and have the same names for objects that we have... yet, they supposedly have no relation to the species (us) that would later inhabit the planet. To be sure, there is a neat little third-act twist and the special effects are well-done, as every cent of the film's $90 million budget is on screen. However, of that outlay, much more should have gone towards script development. As it is, 65 plays out like a film scripted by a committee of 13-year-old boys, none of whom are above cribbing the best parts from better movies. In theaters.

About The Author

Chuck Koplinski

Writing for Illinois Times since 1998, Chuck Koplinski is a member of the Critic's Choice Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association and a contributor to Rotten Tomatoes. He appears on WCIA-TV twice a week to review current releases and, no matter what anyone says, thinks Tom Cruise's version of The Mummy...

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