By A.D. Beal

House Of Gucci
The story of how Patrizia Reggiani fell in and out of love with—and then murdered—her husband and heir to the Gucci company, Maurizio. Ridley Scott can add comedy to his list of genres he can nail. House Of Gucci is a satire about the rich and how insecure they are, and how easily any taste of greed can corrupt. This is complemented by clever filmmaking choices and the cast. The performances range from chewing as much scenery as possible (Lady Gaga and Jared Leto) and playing it totally straight (Adam Driver and Jeremy Irons), and the contrast works well. It’s also nice to see how Scott gives this film the expensive look it needs, filled with overindulgence. A funny film, even if it feels bloated, but one could argue that fits for the film.

A nun begins a forbidden affair while receiving visions from who she believes is Jesus. It’s hard to explain something like Benedetta without putting people off. It’s well done, with Paul Verhoeven making the most of the explicit subtext and visuals to support it. The actors convince you of their madness, hypocrisy, and desire, and Verhoeven loves to make you hate them in all their explicit glory. But it’s subject matter is one that will turn off and offend, or even just simply disgust. It’s a movie that one must approach cautiously—it’s not unrated for nothing.

The Power of The Dog
A man begins a game of psychological war with his brother’s new wife. Silence can be killer, and Jane Campion, in her first movie in 12 years, uses it perfectly. Each third of the film focuses on a different character and how they affect everyone, and slowly but surely, their personalities change and deteriorate. Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst are the standouts here, both strangely swapping personalities over the course of the film. The dark tone contrasts well with the lovely but still barren western frontier presented. Jonny Greenwood continues to impress with his tense score. Quite an accomplishment.

Silent Night
A family gathers for what may be their final Christmas dinner. Silent Night, for most of its runtime, is great. The dark humor mixed with sincere family drama is a great showcase for first-time director Camille Griffin. How the various cast members show their emotions, whether subdued or outward, makes these characters real. Griffin’s script also does a great job at hinting at the main plot without telling us for the first twenty minutes. But the film unfortunately falls apart in its last ten minutes, rushing through its conclusion, our characters collapsing suddenly, and a final moment that is incredibly sudden and unearned plays out. It almost ruins what could have been a new holiday classic. It’s still worth a watch but be prepared for it to not stick the landing.

• The 355
• A Hero (Limited)
• Scream
• Deep Water
• Italian Studies (Limited)
• Cyrano
• The King’s Daughter
• Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre
• Redeeming Love
• Morbius
• You Won’t Be Alone