Tuesday, December 14, 2021

A 'Nightmare' remake for the first in 12 Days of Movie Christmas 2021

So many movies, so little time. I mean, who's really counting, but more than a megaplex full of cinema will debut between now and Christmas Day. Hence, here's what we're gonna do for each of the next 12 afternoons -- Dec. 14-25. Visit by 6 p.m. (ET) each night and (hopefully) find a little something about a film now playing in or close to surfacing at a theater (or streaming service) near you. It's our "12 Days of Movie Christmas" -- starting right now 3-2-1 . . . Ho! Ho! Ho! . . . By the way, please know that some Grinch, not John, has contributed any and all reviews with ratings less than $ $ $.

Considering the months-long awards hype, superstar casting and unquestionable heft of director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro, one might expect at least a few startling moments to appear much sooner than any actually do in the underwhelming "Nightmare Alley." 

In fact, almost a full 90 minutes don't exactly fly by before the likes of Cate Blanchett, Richard Jenkins and an almost unrecognizable Mary Steenburgen start showing up to inject some pizzazz into del Toro's remake of a 1947 film noir classic that had pretty boy Tyrone Power in the starring role.

Bradley Cooper attempts to turn similar tricks in this new version as an obviously troubled guy, who burns down his house to start the proceedings, before landing in a carnival filled with geeks, freaks and con artists galore. Two of them, an alcoholic mentalist (David Strathairn) and his fortune teller wife (Toni Collette), teach him how to play mind games, with the latter occasionally throwing a little something extra to Cooper's good-looking Stan.

Yes, the long and sluggish narrative becomes murkier from there, even if the traveling midway and beyond earn star treatment in terms of cinematography, production design and visual effects. All three already have been recognized among the film's eight -- count 'em 8 -- Critics Choce Awards nominations. Hmm.

("Nightmare Alley" starts Friday in theaters everywhere.)

Rated "R" by MPAA: strong/bloody violence, some sexual content, nudity and language; 2:30; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Coming tomorrow (Day 2 of Movie Christmas 2021): "Spider-Man: No Way Home "

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