Movie reviews: 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'The Sense of an Ending' and 'The Last Word' opening on March 17
Walt Disney Pictures, 2017.

The long awaited "Beauty and the Beast" is finally in theaters, but it's not the only film hitting multiplexes this weekend.  Two smaller films open as well:  "The Sense of an Ending" starring Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling, and "The Last Word" starring Amanda Seyfried and Shirley MacLaine.

Here are reviews of all of the films opening in theaters on Friday, March 10, 2017:

“Beauty and the Beast”

This movie received the "full review" treatment: Check out our full review of Beauty and the Beast here.

“The Sense of an Ending”

"The Sense of an Ending" is a drama powered by the great Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling. It's an interestingly-woven story about how we remember, or how we choose to forget. A shop-owner (Broadbent) receives a letter that he has been left a sum of money and an old diary from over 50 years ago, from an ex-girlfriend (Rampling). When he tries to retreive it, the woman isn't interested in giving it to him. Unraveling in a series of flashbacks, we learn more and more about the man as we see him question his reality. It's a deep, intellectual movie, and a rarity in these cold winter months that a film would challenge our brains. Whenever a movie deals in flashbacks, it risks being manipulative or contrived, revealing to us only what we need at the time and never the full picture. And while there is a bit of that, "The Sense of an Ending" has a message that shines through, if not any easy answers. This is a recommendation, but only if you're in the mood to think. Grade: B+.

Genre: Drama. Run Time: 1 hour 48 minutes. Rated PG-13. Starring: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode. Directed by Ritesh Batra (“The Lunchbox").

“The Last Word”

In "The Last Word," Shirley MacClaine goes against type...just kidding. She plays a curmudgeony, meen old coot, the same type of character she has completely owned for several decades now. Here, she is as irritated as ever as a controlling old woman who hires a young journalist (Amanda Seyfried) to write her own obituary. If that premise sounds implausible, it sort of is, despite the film trying to explain that MacClaine's character was a major financial backer of the stumbling paper. MacClaine is always a joy to watch - she's so good at being bad - but it's to the point where you feel like you've seen her in this gear before, that it's becoming old hat. Her scenes with Seyfried are sometimes electric and the two certainly have chemistry, but they're trapped in a borderline ridiculous film that never quire turns into anything remarkable, especially once she "adopts" a young girl (AnnJewel Lee) to help with her image. You can go ahead and write the obituary for this turkey, because it was dead on arrival. Grade: C-.

Genre: Comedy, Drama. Run Time: 1 hours 48 minutes. Rated R. Starring: Shirley MacClaine, Amanda Seyfried, Philip Baker Hall, Tom Everett Scott, AnnJewel Lee Dixon, Thomas Sadoski. Directed by Mark Pellington ("Lone," "I Melt With You," "Henry Poole Is Here").

All of these movies open locally on Friday, March 17, 2017 (check for showtimes).

Next week reviews include: "CHIPs and T2: Trainspotting."