Tipping Point: Our picks and pans
Long Bright River
In Philadelphia, the once family-happy, working class neighborhood of Kensington has become so overrun by opioid addicts and dealers that it's thought of as a sort of Disneyland for junkies. Michaela "Mickey" Fitzpatrick is a 30-something single mom and a patrol officer in the district — an often melancholy job made more harrowing by the fact that her estranged but much-loved sister Kacey is a heroin addict/prostitute working the same streets. Now, someone is killing the prostitutes and Kacey is missing. Mickey must carefully nuance her efforts within a police department she increasingly can't trust, not to mention the family members and friends so torn apart by drugs that they regard Mickey as a traitor. Then there's Mickey's fragile young son Thomas, whom she struggles to protect from his loneliness as well as the environment and, lurking nearer the surface, a few bleak secrets. A crime novel? Yes, but also a remarkable and beautifully written literary effort told with sad and gallant grace.
— Rick Koster
Wonder Woman 1984
Sometimes, you just need a good popcorn movie. So, thank you, “Wonder Woman 1984.” This flick zips along with gadzooks! action scenes and playful humor. It's 1984, and Diana Prince (the perfect-for-the-role Gal Gadot) is working at the Smithsonian, alongside mousy geologist/cryptozoologist (Kristen Wiig), who eventually finds her inner villainess. But the real baddie here is a slick informercial star (a very effective Pedro Pascal) who develops superhuman powers and begins destroying the world. While this is a great roller-coaster ride, the last third of the film drags (sounds like all superhero movies, no?); this 151-minute release could easily have been trimmed to something closer to two hours.
— Kristina Dorsey
A Softer Landing
Forrest of Henry Chester
We’ll clear it up immediately: yes, "Forrest" has two "r's." Also, the members of this trio — Ernie Myers, Corky Ray and Steve Powell — are all good friends of mine with whom I played in the band Safety in Numbers. It’s gratifying that they continue to write and record what I think is excellent music with no real hopes or expectations other than the satisfaction of doing something they love. “A Softer Landing” is the first single of a soon-to-be-released album, and if you enjoy Paul McCartney, Ron Sexsmith, Squeeze, the Finn Brothers or Elvis Costello, please do yourself a favor and give it a listen. Beneath the lulling melodies and clever arrangement, take note of a bit of societal disquiet. And let me know if you think I’m being a “homer.”
— Rick Koster