BY ROBIN E. SIMMONS
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Writer/director Guillermo del Toro said that when he was a boy and saw “The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” he wondered why the creature never “got” the girl. Now we get a chance to see what Guillermo was thinking back then and why that vintage monster movie so inspired him.
No one does otherworldly adult fantasy fables like Guillermo del Toro. His latest work of wonder is set in 1962 Baltimore where lonely, mute, Elisa (a terrific Sally Hawkins) works as a cleaning person in a secret government lab.
Her life changes forever when she and co-worker Zelda, (Octavia Spencer) discover the lab’s big secret: a strange, scaled creature from South America that lives in a water tank. Over time, Elisa develops a powerful bond with her friend. When she learns that its fate lies in the hands of a hostile government, Elisa takes him home to her apartment, where he lives in her bathtub until… But to say anything more would be an unforgiveable spoiler to this deeply romantic and surprisingly thought-provoking work of cinematic art.
It would be a shame to miss this strangely wondrous and sensual film that is a celebration of love and beauty no matter where one finds it. Besides Hawkins and Spencer, the superb cast includes Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg and Doug Jones as Amphibian Man. Surrender to the wonder and awe of this truly magical film. Strongest recommendation. Perfect for the holidays.
New Blu for the Home Theater:
VALERIAN and the City of a Thousand Planets
Set 700 years in the future, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) work together to maintain order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the minister of defense, the duo embarks on a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where diverse species gather to share knowledge and culture. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline race against time to identify the menace that also jeopardizes the future of the known universe. This huge budget, eye-popping extravaganza may sometimes be hard to follow, but it never fails to evoke a sense of a place we have not visited. This dazzling Ultra HD 4K fever dream of a movie is a wonder on a compatible TV. Also stars: Clive Owen, Ethan Hawk, John Goodman (voice) and Rihanna – the latter in a spectacular dance sequence. Nice making-of extras explore the film’s extreme creativity and its gifted fabricators. Lionsgate. Blu-ray 4K ULTRA HD.