Flick Of The Week: The Iron Lady

This zippy portrait of Margaret Thatcher (a shrill Meryl Streep) toggles back and forth between England’s first female Prime Minister in her twilight years to moments of her significant political achievements. Taking it upon herself to clean out her late husband Dennis’ (Jim Broadbent) things, Thatcher has visions of his ghost, who banters comically with her. The device is both effective and a bit annoying as much time is spent trying to make the senile old lady seem sympathetic, worthwhile. It’s an interesting approach to a polarizing figure. Better are the scenes of Thatcher making her tough decisions— going her own way and “saying the unsayable” as she “does not give in” and tries to change the face of history. Seeing her respond to IRA bombings, the country’s economic hardships, and the Falklands Conflict give The Iron Lady its power. One of the best sequences features two political handlers trying to maximize Thatcher’s appeal. As such, The Iron Lady is less a canny political biopic, and more of a quaint character study. Streep’s histrionic Oscar-baiting alternates between restraint and hamminess, but her look is as spot on as her accent. Broadbent is wonderfully amusing, making the stuffier moments go down easy. Director Phyllida Law includes some news footage to give the film some authenticity, but The Iron Lady is best suited to unfolding like the stagy chamber piece it is.

Beauty and the Beast 3D Disney re-releases their 1991 film—the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture—in the 3D format.

Carnage Roman Polanski adapts Yasmina Reza’s award-winning play “God of Carnage” about two couples—played by Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly and Kate Winslet and Christopher Waltz—getting into a fight when they seek to resolve their sons’ playground dispute.

Contraband Marky Mark Wahlberg stars as an ex smuggler lured back into a life of crime to save his wife’s brother from danger in this action film.

Joyful Noise Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton co-star as feuding gospel singers hoping to unite and win a national singing championship in this musical comedy-drama.

Pariah In this Independent Spirit Award nominee, an African American teenager (Adepero Oduye) in Brooklyn grapples with her sexual identity.

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Gary Kramer

Gary M. Kramer is a Philadelphia-based film critic who thinks Sandra Bullock mambos. He likes eating ethnic food and watching ethnic movies—though not necessarily both at the same time or from the same country.

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