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Review: Keira Knightley Chases the ‘Boston Strangler’ in Hulu’s Newspaper Thriller

(20th Century Studies/ HULU)

Keira Knightley Chases the ‘Boston Strangler’ in Hulu’s Journalistic Thriller

noel murray

March 20, 2023

boston strangler

Like Zodiac and Spotlight, the melancholic true crime drama Boston Strangler is a journalistic story rooted in cultural history, looking at how it affected the mores of a particular time and place.

The way that

Newspaper reporters covered a high-profile case. The investigation here involved one of the nation’s most infamous serial killers: a rapist and murderer who terrorized Boston in the early 1960s. Keira Knightley stars as Loretta McLaughlin, the real-life reporter who, with the With the help of his police sources, he found a pattern in the crimes.

Boston Strangler writer-director Matt Ruskin has two main versions of this story, one of which is more provocative than the other. The duller parts of the film blast the sexism of the era through an underdog arc, in which McLaughlin and fellow reporter Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) take on hostile cops, a skeptical editor (Chris Cooper) who thinks they women should stick to the Lifestyle section.


and Loretta’s husband (Morgan Spector), who grows fed up with her chasing leads instead of babysitting. Boston Strangler also suffers from an oppressively drab style, with excessive dim lighting, muted colors, and artistic compositions.

The movie still works for the most part, though, thanks to Ruskins’ other angle: questioning how the meaning of this story changes over time. What at first seems like a triumph of investigative groundwork with the press and police working together to protect the public becomes more complicated after authorities name Albert DeSalvo as the strangler. With DeSalvos’ confession not quite adding up, McLaughlin continues to investigate, uncovering the possibility of multiple perpetrators. Her and Coles’ victory over chauvinism is certainly admirable. But the most powerful parts of this picture have to do with her understanding that people can be too eager to hear neat stories with clear villains and conclusions, even if they aren’t entirely true.

Boston Strangler. Rated R, for some violent content and language. 1 hour, 52 minutes. Available on Hulu

1679372349 308 Review Keira Knightley Chases the Boston Strangler in Hulus Newspaper

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story

Too many documentary projects these days turn the content of a feature film into a tedious multi-part series; but director Suzanne Hillingers’ 94-minute Money Shot: The Story of Pornhub really should be longer, given how much ground it covers. Hillinger addresses the history of Internet pornography, the ways that free pornography has hurt and helped adult performers.


and the various campaigns to take down the Pornhub website. His main focus is on the latter: the complicated back and forth between sex.

workers trying to make a living and activists determined to dismantle their platforms.

Money Shot gives that story its due. While Hillinger clearly seems more sympathetic to the models, he lets the opposition make his case convincingly. The film acknowledges the real problem of crowdsourced porn sites making money off non-sex scenes.

consensual sex (and then hesitating to remove them). The question Money Shot asks is whether this should prevent willing adults from selling photos of their bodies online. This is a complicated topic


and Hillinger sometimes strays too far from it, indulging in sexually explicit digressions that are more titillating than pertinent. for the most part


however, this is a thoughtful look at a controversy that probably won’t die down as long as modern technology and prurient interests continue to exist.

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story. Rated TV-MA, for child abuse references, language, nudity, sexual violence references, and sex. 1 hour, 34 minutes. Available on Netflix Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game

The docu-dramedy Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game tells a low-stakes story with an accomplished cast, an appropriately light tone.


and enough energy to compensate for its lightness. Mike Faist follows

to the

his breakout performance in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story by bringing warmth and charm to the role of Roger Sharpe, the real-life journalist who wrote a comprehensive history of pinball machines in the 1970s and also used his experience to help to change the decades-old New York City ban on gambling.



Austin and Meredith Bragg keep hanging around


to the amazing moment in the stories, when Sharpe proves to government officials that pinball is a game of skill, not a game of chance. Dennis Boutsikaris plays the older Roger, who narrates his story and corrects the filmmakers when they try to make his life seem more dramatic than it actually was. This does not prevent the Braggs from spending


half of its runtime on Sharpe’s sweet but gentle romance with a single mother (Crystal Reed). Still, anyone with an interest in gaming history will find a lot to enjoy here; and general friendliness helps make what is essentially a 15-minute amusing anecdote tolerable for



Pinball: The man who saved the game. Not Rated. 1 hour, 34 minutes. Available on VOD Supercell

If you can forgive Supercell’s persistent cheesiness, this modest-budget storm-chasing drama offers some surprising superficial pleasures. Director Herbert James Winterstern (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Anna Elizabeth James) gracefully frames the picture, making the most of the flat earths and big skies for his story about a restless teenager, William Brody (Daniel Die


er), who leaves home to join his Uncle Roy (Skeet Ulrich) in what’s left of his late father’s storm/tornado research company. The film may be a bargain-priced Twister, but it often looks impressive.

Winterstern makes good use of the two biggest names in his cast: the late Anne Heche, who gives one of her last screen performances as Williams’ mother, a brilliant scientist who gave up extreme weather when the weather killed her husband. ; and Alec Baldwin, who plays the greedy opportunist who bought the Brody family business and turned it into a way to fleece thrill-seeking tourists. The dialogue is roundly functional and the story is stubbornly devoid of twists. But between the genuinely impressive storm effects and Corey Wallace’s soulful, old-fashioned score, Supercell feels like a cheaper but somehow more heartfelt version of a ’90s blockbuster.

supercell. Rated PG-13 for language, some hazards, and smoking. 1 hour, 40 minutes. Available on VOD; also playing theatrically, Laemmle GlendaleUnwelcome


Jon Joe

Wright has called his supernatural horror film Unwelcome, a cross between Gremlins and Straw Dogs, home.

Invasion thriller dotted with little beasts. And like both movies, Unwelcome may take some viewers further than they’d like to go. Throughout the film, Wright and


Co-writer Mark Stay cruelly torments his heroes: a sweet young couple, Maya (Hannah John-Kamen) and Jamie (Douglas Booth), who are expecting their first child. In the opening sequence, street punks break into their London flat and are pushed. Then, when Maya and Jamie move to a rural Irish town in search of peace, the family they hire to fix their house (played by Colm Meaney, Jamie-Lee ODonnell, Chris Walley and Kristian Nairn) proves nosy and destructive.

The tension breaks a bit once the real stars of the film arrive: a band of mischievous and malevolent fairies known as the Red Caps, whom the clever villagers have been placating for generations with food and arcane rituals. Not much is happening with the overall story arc of Unwelcome, which mostly has to do with Maya’s maternal instincts kicking in as she tries to figure out whether to ally with the jerky humans or the ferocious Red Caps to keep her son safe for long. be born. . But Wright, a veteran of genre cinema, does indeed generate weird vibes with the creature effects and the sometimes artificial-looking sets. The movie always looks fun, even when it’s getting on the nerves of its characters and audience.

Annoying. Rated R for strong violence and gore, pervasive language, some drug use and sexual material. 1 hour, 44 minutes. Available on VODAlso on VOD

The magician’s elephant is an animated adaptation of a children’s novel by Kate DiCamillo, about an orphan (Noah Jupe) who has to complete a series of impossible tasks to find his missing sister. a stellar voice

The cast, which includes Mandy Patinkin, Aasif Mandvi, Natasia Demetriou, Brian Tyree Henry, and Benedict Wong, add color and variety to this fantastic story that aims to inspire viewers to embrace hope.

Available on Netflix; also playing theatrically, Bay Theatre, Pacific Palisades

Are you alone tonight? is a Chinese neo-noir about a young air-conditioning repairman (Eddie Peng) who gets involved in a hit-and-run accident and feels so guilty that he befriends his victim’s widow (Sylvia Ch


ng) only to find out that the man he ran over was in deep trouble with some bad people. First-time filmmaker Wen Shipei gets a little too artsy with this story at times, with its scrambled timeline and atmospheric setting; but the image looks beautiful and is at best reminiscent of Wong Kar-wai’s uniquely personal and genre-bending work.

Available on VOD Now available on DVD and Blu-ray

A man named Otto is a remake of a 2015 Swedish film (based on a novel by Fredrik Backman) about an embittered crank whose outlook on life brightens a bit when he’s asked to help his neighbors. Tom Hanks plays the main character.


in a funny and moving performance that helped make the film a jack-in-the-box

office coup


The whale features Brendan Frasers’ Oscar-winning performance as a lonely man whose self-loathing and unhealthy eating habits have brought him to the brink of death. Before retiring permanently, he tries to patch things up in the two most important relationships in his life: with his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink) and with his best friend Liz (Hong Chau,

who was

an Oscar nominee for this role).

lionsgate; also playing theatrically in limited release