Kubo and the Two Strings / Hell or High Water

Both the animated feature Kubo and the Two Strings and David Mackenzie's Gothic Western Hell or High Water are dark, engrossing tales. Kubo is the name of a gifted, one-eyed troubadour in samurai Japan. He cares for his ailing mother -- a former celestial being -- when he's not bringing to life with music the origami sculptures he uses to tell stories in the village square. Kubo had been warned that evil is stalking him and he must take care. When it finds him he sets off on a quest to secure the armament he needs to protect himself. The film features the voices of Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes and George Takei and is a fable unlike any I've seen. Death is a constant presence throughout the picture, which includes terrific battle scenes that would likely be quite frightening to the youngest children.

Chris Pine and the ever-entertaining Ben Foster are West Texas sibling bank robbers trying to right wrongs done to their family by bad luck and greed. Beau Bridges is the Texas ranger who is nearing retirement but whose understanding of the criminal mind is still sharp. The expansive desolation of that desiccated region is in every frame but it's the flinty language writer Taylor Sheridan puts in the mouths of the actors that is the true star of this wonderful, brutal and human picture.


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