A Brief Word on New Film Releases: “The Blackcoat’s Daughter”, “The Bye Bye Man”, “Hidden Figures” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

By Andrew Buckner

**** out of *****.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017) is this year’s answer to The Witch (2016). Quietly chill-inducing, deliberately paced and unsettling, writer-director Oz Perkins crafts every shot in a manner that is meant to hypnotize and evoke fear with maximum impact. This is elevated by the continuously brilliant use of Elvis Perkins’ masterful score. Some may find this tale of two girls battling evil in a boarding school an empty case of style over substance. I, for one, found it riveting. Recommended! 94 minutes. (Unrated).

 out of *****.

The Bye Bye Man (2017) is generic in narrative and conception and never tops its opening five minutes. It also implements nearly every supernatural slasher cliche imaginable into its practically bloodless, 96 minute runtime. The finale is especially underwhelming. But, this variation on features like Candyman (1992) and Urban Legend (1998) is still a fair amount of fun. Though the performances are merely adequate, the decidedly retro vibe that vaguely courses throughout, viewed most readily in James Kniest’s well-fashioned cinematography, is also beneficial. (PG-13).

 out of *****.

Hidden Figures (2016), a Best Picture nominee at The 88th Academy Awards, is wonderful; endlessly entertaining, quietly moving and terrifically paced. This is even if the feature refuses to waver from the standard structure of similar big-budget, A-list Hollywood biographies. Still, director Theodore Melfi, who co- scripted with Allison Schroeder, keeps this adaptation of Mary Lee Shetterfly’s same titled historical tome crackling. This is with a charmingly successful blend of the upbeat, the emotive and the humorous. Correspondingly, Taraji P. Henson is exceptional as our heroine, Katherine G. Johnson. The same can be said for Kevin Costner’s representation of Al Harrison. In turn, this true story of a group of barrier-breaking female Mathematicians in Nasa soars. Definitely recommended. (PG). 127 minutes.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

****1/2 out of *****.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) is truly exhilarating escapist entertainment. Likewise, the myriad comparisons to director Irvin Kershner’s The Empire Strikes Back (1980) are certainly validated. This is evident in both the largely no nonsense tone and striking overall quality of the film. Additionally, Gareth Edwards’ direction and Michael Giacchino’s music match one another in pulse-pounding grandiosity. The result is epic in every sense of the word. This prequel to the original Star Wars (1977), which sports astonishing effects as well as a superb lead performance from Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, could well be one of the best entries in this wildly popular series to date. (PG-13). 133 minutes and 55 seconds.

Hidden Figures, The Bye Bye Man and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are available now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter can be seen in select theaters and on digital.

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