The Shape of Water

Fox Searchlight (2017) 123 min. R

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Screenplay: Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Cinematography: Dan Laustsen; Editing: Sidney Wolinsky; Production Design: Paul D. Austerberry; Set Decoration: Jeffrey A. Melvin & Shane Vineau; Costumes: Luis Sequeira; Score: Alexandre Desplat

Stars: Sally Hawkins (Elisa Esposito), Michael Shannon (Richard Strickland), Richard Jenkins (Giles), Octavia Spencer (Zelda), Michael Stuhlbarg (Dr. Robert Hoffstetler), Doug Jones (Amphibian Man), David Hewlett (Fleming), Nick Searcy (General Hoyt), Stewart Arnott (Bernard), Nigel Bennett (Mihalkov), Lauren Lee Smith (Elaine Strickland), Martin Roach (Brewster), John Kapelos (Mr. Arzoumanian), Morgan Kelly (Pie Guy), Marvin Kaye (Burly Russian), Brandon McKnight (Duane)

The Shape of Water is indispensable in furthering understanding of director Guillermo del Toro‘s sprawling, shared multiverse of fantasy films. It’s a fulfillment of his artistic aspirations, clarification of the obsessive themes and surreal subject matter dispersed throughout his cinematic diaspora. Moreover, the movie is a genuinely sincere and loving homage to the sort of flicks the director himself adored as a kid and which wielded the strongest impact on him as an artist, inspiring him to eventually immigrate to America’s moviemaking mecca.

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Bridge of Spies

bos-posterDreamWorks/20th Ct. Fox/Participant (2015) 142 min. PG-13

Director: Steven Spielberg

Screenplay: Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen; Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski; Editing: Michael Kahn; Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo & Bernhard Henrich; Costumes: Kasia Walicka-Maimone; Score: Thomas Newman

Stars: Tom Hanks (James B. Donovan), Mark Rylance (Rudolf Abel), Amy Ryan (Mary Donovan), Sebastian Koch (Wolfgang Vogel), Alan Alda (Thomas Watters), Austin Stowell (Francis Gary Powers), Scott Shepherd (Hoffman), Dakin Matthews (Judge Byers), Billy Magnussen (Doug Forrester), Will Rogers (Frederic Pryor), Mikhail Gorevoy (Ivan Schischkin), Jesse Plemons (Joe Murphy)

At the height of the Cold War, insurance lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is assigned the case of Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet spy apprehended in the act of espionage. Though he’s pressured not to put together much of a defense, Donovan believes not to do so would be unethical. Arguing for imprisonment rather than execution, he convinces the feds Abel could be used as a bargaining chip with the USSR at some point in the future. Not long after, U-2 spy Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot down and another American, college student Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers) apprehended on the East German side of the Berlin Wall. Asked by his country to intercede on America’s behalf, Donovan attempts to negotiate an exchange of prisoners.

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