Friday, August 12, 2022

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

My View: Bodies, Bodies, Bodies (2022) R  In Bodies, Bodies, Bodies Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) have just arrived at a remote mansion to meet a bunch of Sophie’s friends for a hurricane party. While there, the group decides to play the game Bodies Bodies Bodies. Evidently, someone is taking the game too seriously because dead bodies soon start showing up. I may be getting much too old to enjoy films like this, but I think this movie wastes the talents of some up-and-coming actors in Rachel Sennott (Shiva Baby) and Maria Baklova (Oscar-nominated performance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) and instead gives us a slasher film that goes on excessively long and tries way ridiculously hard to be cutting edge. Maybe I didn’t like this film because the characters feel like they are right out of those old MTV Real World houses that used to annoy the crap out of me. Or maybe it’s how the pacing of this film just halts to a stop constantly, as we get one scene after another of someone crawling on the floor with their iPhone flashlights, waiting for the next body to show up. All I can say is that I was happy that a certain cast member was the first to go. Now if the rest of the characters had died that quickly maybe it would have gotten this film over with faster.   My Rating: Cable  Bodies, Bodies, Bodies Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

Indiefest: Summering (2022) PG-13   It’s the last days of summer, and four friends decide to spend the weekend doing as much as they can before school starts. Unquestionably, the four are about to go on an adventure that will change how they look at each other and their lives. I am a huge fan of filmmaker James Ponsoldt, with his 2013 film The Spectacular Now, one of my all-time favorites. While better than the 2013 Apple computer-inspired film The Circle, this film still didn’t hit the mark for me. The idea is fun, with four friends not wanting to waste their last days of summer when they discover a secret that changes their plans drastically. I think the filmmaker wrote himself into a corner that he couldn't quite get himself or his characters out of without a bit of a mess. As always, I did enjoy the performance of Lake Bell, who plays a cop who is a mother to one of the kids. Her kind of a bull in a china shop performance is fun to watch and helps move some slow sections along. Summering is a lovely, safe film about coming of age and friendship that doesn’t deliver the goods that we are used to from this filmmaker.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Summering Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Laal Singh Chaddha (2022) PG-13   Meet Laal Singh Chaddha (Aamir Khan), a simple man who will change the world through kindness. So this is a remake of Forrest Gump (done with Paramount’s stamp of approval) set in India in more modern times (not the 60s/70s that the original Forest was primarily set in). Does it follow the plot of the original? Sometimes shot for shot, but mostly it retells the story from an Indian point of view, using Indian history as the focal point. Yes, Laal meets a like-minded individual in the Army, but instead of shrimp, it’s underwear, and instead of an act of God, it’s a name change that saves the company. This is still a funny and sweet story of love, understanding, and redemption, but I didn’t connect with this film as I did with the original. I don’t know if it was the changes in the plot or possibly the music. The original used music exceptionally well. I point to the use of Freebird in the suicide scene, which fits the film's mood and helps set the setting. With this film, I never got caught up in the emotional pull of the film, even with all the (sorry, sort of spoiler alert) death scenes. However, it’s still a fun story; it just didn’t have the impact I wanted.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Laal Singh Chaddha Info  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: A Love Song (2022) PG   At a little used campground in the West, Faye (Dale Dickey) waits for a high school flame from her past to show up. The question is will he show up? Dale Dickey is one of those actors who has been working steadily for years, showing up in TV and movies constantly in roles that are never the star, always the supporting role, usually as the hard-living older woman who causes trouble. So it’s fun to see Dickey in a lead role that lets us see a softer side, a woman who has lived a life but has some regrets, and one of those is never entirely falling through with someone she thought she could love. A Love Song is a slow-moving film, letting us live with Faye, getting to know her. I loved her laying in her trailer, waking up to a bird singing, and instantly knowing what kind of bird was serenading her. This is a beautiful performance by Dickey, a woman with hopes and dreams of love, willing to put herself out there to connect with someone. I loved Dickey's scenes with Wes Studi, in which more is said between them during the bits of silence than when they actually talk. A Love Song is one of those films that moves slowly, but that just makes the scenes when something happens much more impactful and meaningful. It’s a film full of moments to savor, just as Faye does as she sits on the picnic table eating her dinner as the sun goes down once again.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again A Love Song Website Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Emily the Criminal (2022) R  Emily (Aubrey Plaza) is drowning in debt and is barely making it working for a catering company. Consequently, through a friend, she becomes involved in a credit card scam and sees it as her ticket out. Instead, Emily may be in way over her head. Right off the bat, this film lets you know that this is Aubrey Plaza’s film, and she doesn’t let us down with a captivating and multi-layered performance, filled with angst and humor, sometimes at the same time. It’s a great role, and Plaza is perfect as the woman who seizes a chance to make some easy money and then gets addicted to the rush of the con and its danger. Emily the Criminal is a film that takes you on a ride with a character you want to root for but know that she is going down a path she may not return from. The film is full of great twists and turns, and it feels like you might need a shower after seeing it because it takes you into a world chock full of grit, grime, and unsavory characters. Luckily for us, Emily fits right in.   My Rating: Full Price  Emily the Criminal Website Now playing in select theatres. 

My View: Fall (2022) PG-13  Becky (Grace Caroline) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner) are all about conquering their fears and pushing their limits. Consequently, when they climb a 2,000-foot abandoned tower, they may have pushed the limits a bit too far. I, unfortunately…wait, on second thought…fortunately saw this film on my computer instead of in a theatre, because if I had, I don’t know if I could have stayed still, or maybe I would have had to watch the film through my hands in front of my face because even though I’m don’t have a big fear of heights, this film will give you one. The film is 90 percent on the tower, and most of it is harrowing and stomach-churning in its selection of shots which keep you saying, “Oh my! NO, NO, NO!’ It’s a film that keeps giving you impossible situations for our two climbers to escape, and once they do, they are still on that damn tower. There are a couple of plot items I could have used without, and the film goes on just a little too long, but it's a thrill ride from almost the first shot of the movie to the last, with a couple of twists that will shock you, that is if you can still see the screen from looking away so much.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Fall Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Day Shift (2022) R  Bud (Jamie Foxx) is a hard-working guy trying to make ends meet so his ex-wife and daughter won’t leave town. Bud has a secret; he works for an organization that hunts and kills vampires. As a fan of vampire books and films, I looked forward to this film, but I was a little letdown. There is a car chase that is supposed to be funny and fun because Bud’s daughter is in the front seat, playing a chase game on her iPad as her dad is driving 90 miles an hour on the streets of LA, trying to outrun some vampires in muscle cars and motorcycles. The fight sequences become too repetitive, and the rapport between Foxx and Dave Franco, who plays a mild-mannered desk jockey forced to go out into the field, is almost non-existent. Franco is meant to be the comic relief, but peeing his pants every time he gets scared gets old fast. I enjoyed Snoop Dogg as the respected veteran vampire killer with a powerful machine gun to blast his way through a group of fang bangers, but he’s not in the film enough to make it as much fun as it should be. I don’t know, maybe it was all the sunlight, but this film didn’t have much of a bite.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Day Shift Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Familyfaire: Secret Headquarters (2022) PG   Charlie (Walker Scobell) thinks his dad (Owen Wilson) is an IT guy constantly called out of town on jobs. While hanging out after school, Charlie and his friends discover that Charlie’s dad has a secret headquarters and is a superhero. Shortly the headquarters is attacked, with Charlie and his gang having to defend his home and save his dad from evildoers. This is a fun family adventure film with cool gadgets, an Ironman-like superhero, and kids taking on and beating adults at their own game. The film is greatly helped by the performance of Walker Scobell, who is an actor to watch. As in The Adam Project with Ryan Reynolds, Scobell holds his own with the adults in the cast, including Michael Pena and Jesse Williams, the two bad guys who want to take down the hero, The Guard, whose headquarters Charlie has discovered. The kids get to play with all sorts of gadgets, and the action sequences are fun, where the kids use the technology to defeat a group of bad guys out to steal The Guard’s power source. So take the elevator, push the button and enjoy the fun in the Secret Headquarters.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Secret Headquarters Website  Now playing on the Paramount+ platform.

Forgotten Film: In the Company of Men (1997) R  Two businessmen, Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy), are traveling together and will be spending six weeks working at their company's regional office. They decide they are tired of women who break their hearts and want revenge. The two decide to find a woman in this new city who doesn’t have much of a social life, and then both men will date her, then dump her. They find Christine (Stacy Edwards), who fits their profile and is deaf. They began to each date her showering her with attention and gifts. The question: is will they go through with their plan, or will Christine figure out something is wrong? I liked this film because all three performances are well done, and the film takes a few twists along the way, with the storyline going in a different and longer direction than you think it will take.   My Rating: Full Price  In the Company of Men Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Bodies, Bodies, Bodies: Intimacy Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Don’t Worry Darling (2022) R  A young housewife, Alice (Florence Pugh), is living in a community with her husband Jack (Harry Styles) in the 50s that seems to be perfect. But this community is hiding secrets, and the more Alice looks into it, the closer she comes to unveiling secrets that may cost her marriage and maybe, even her life. The film has been getting a lot of buzz and is directed by Olivia Wilde, who gave us the 2019 film Booksmart.    Don't Worry Darling Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Bullet Train

My View: Bullet Train (2022) R   Brad Pitt plays an assassin, code name Lady Bug, who has been given an easy task by his handler (Sandra Bullock), steal a briefcase and get off the train at the next stop. The only problem, Lady Bug has the worst luck of any person on the planet. Add to that burden is that the train is full of assassins, some of who are out to kill him, and others just want what he wants. I was worried about this film as I read the book by Japanese writer Kôtarô Isaka. The book was a funny thrill ride to read, and I am happy to say that David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde) has done a masterful job of adapting the book into a fast and hilarious film which continues to surprise you until the end. Pitt looks to be having so much fun in the role of the bad luck assassin who just wants to complete his mission while maintaining his zen. The film is full of characters that will delight you with their quirkiness, including the twin assassins Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), who have a bit of bad luck on their own. Tangerine is a no-nonsense killer who takes pride in his work but is somewhat hampered by his cohort in crime, Lemon, who finds solace in relating everything they do to the children's show Thomas the Tank Engine. It seems that everywhere Lady Bug goes on the train, he encounters another assassin, some he has met before, and others are new, but all are out for blood or revenge. The film is full of action, great fight sequences, humor, and a ton of surprises (even for someone like me who knew the storyline). I had so much fun watching this film and seeing what next problem Lady Bug would have to get out of. Be sure to get your ticket and find your seat on a train that will make a few stops, but know that not everyone will be able to get off this fast-moving and deadly ride. By the way, there is a short but very funny bonus scene after the first round of end credits.  My Rating: Full Price   Bullet Train Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

My View: Easter Sunday (2022) PG-13  Joe (Jo Koy) is returning to his crazy mess of a family for the Easter weekend, coming off the road as a standup comedian. What could go wrong? Well, with Joe’s family, just about everything. Joe is on the cusp of getting a supporting role in a sitcom, but before he can get the job, he has to clean up a few things; his cousin is in trouble again. His mother and her sister are fighting again, and his son is disappointed in Joe, again. You know you have a problem with a paper-thin plot when a movie about a standup comedian playing a standup comedian does three standup routines during the film, including a very unfunny and uncomfortable set during an Easter Sunday church service. This film reminded me of those bad TBS comedies that the cable network ran when they tried to get away from all those Braves baseball games. The storyline is weak, and the comedy is even weaker, with an ending that tries too quickly to tie up everything in one happy bow. We have all been there for those times when you are at a comedy club, and the comedian’s material isn’t working. You get up and go to the back bar to get away and give yourself a break. If only we could do that for most of this film.   My Rating: Cable  Easter Sunday Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Familyfaire: Luck (2022) G  Sam (voiced by Eva Noblezada) is the unluckiest person in the world. Despite Sam’s continual bad luck, she, along with a Scottish black cat named Bob (voiced by Simon Pegg), must join with some magical creatures to battle the forces of bad luck to save the world. Luck is an overlong, bland animated film that starts promising but, in the end, becomes predictable and, at times, boring. The idea that there are creatures responsible for both good and bad luck is amusing in concept, but this film spends too much time giving us a tour of the Good and Bad Luck worlds and not enough movement in the plot to keep us interested. I think kids will enjoy the relationship between Sam, the 'bad luck' human, and the cat named Bob, but they will become, like me, bored as the story keeps going, stopping and starting too many times for us to care what happens. It’s too bad, as the idea of luck being put out into the world is a funny idea, just not told for this long.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Luck Info  Now playing on the Apple TV+ platform. 

My Take: Wedding Season (2022)  Asha (Pallavi Sharda) and Ravi (Suraj Sharma) are both being pressured to find spouses, so they decide to pretend to date each other to survive a summer of weddings. However, Asha and Ravi just might be hearing wedding bells, for real, with each other. Wedding Season is a fun, enjoyable rom-com that doesn't disappoint. Sure it’s predictable, with the two falling in love (sorry for the spoiler, but it’s a rom-com), and of course, a problem develops, but that’s why we watch this type of film. The two leads, Pallavi Sharda and Suraj Sharma, are adorable together and make a great couple, and yes, they dance…a lot. The film has plenty of ‘feel good’ moments and, of course, plenty of falling love montages to go around. So fill out that wedding invitation and join in the fun.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee Wedding Season Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Indiefest: I Love My Dad (2022) R  After his son, Franklin (James Morosini), blocks him online, Chuck (Patton Oswalt) creates a fake account. Consequently, Chuck has just catfished his own son. So the plot will make you wince, a lot, as Chuck decides to create someone online that Franklin is sure to interact with, a young, attractive woman. Stealing the pics and profile of a friendly waitress Chuck meets at a diner, he starts interacting with his son as ‘Becca,’ and very quickly, Chuck has gone down a rabbit hole that gets weird and icky almost from the start. Patton Oswalt makes this film work, taking some risks that work only because he is such a comedic talent. The film is funny and uncomfortable simultaneously, and yes, this is based on a true story. The film does paint itself into a corner that it quite doesn't come out of, but it’s fun to see Oswalt squirm as he keeps applying those coats of paint.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  I Love My Dad Website   Now playing in select theatres.

My Take: Prey (2022)   Naru (Amber Midthunder) dreams of being recognized by her tribe as a fierce warrior. Naru dreams of proving herself worthy, and when a mountain lion threatens her people, she sets out with her trusty dog to hunt it down. The hunter becomes the prey when she encounters a fierce alien Predator, a warrior that has an arsenal at his side that Naru has never seen before. Set in the early 1700s, this is a story of someone who, because they are fighting not only for their survival but also for their people, must overcome the odds and defeat what seems like an undefeatable monster. Prey is a thrilling and exciting tale of battles and bravery, and both the camera work and the cinematography make the film come alive. Amber Midthunder is magical as Naru, making one fierce warrior we can root for from the start. I love how the film lets us know that evil exists in many forms. Prey is a story of one woman’s journey to prove to herself and her tribe that she is up to the task. Proving that evil can be defeated through cunning and perseverance. And lots of blood. Lots and lots of blood.   My Rating: Full Price   Prey Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform. 

Indiefest: My Old School  (2022)   In 1993, 16-year-old Brandon Lee enrolled at a secondary school in the well-to-do suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. Incredibly, two years later, a huge secret is revealed about Brandon. Needless to say, this is the stuff of legends. My Old School is a fascinating documentary with more twists and turns than one of those true murder mysteries on Dateline. The film's subject didn’t want to show his face, so actor Alan Cumming appears on camera when Brandon is interviewed, with Cumming mouthing the words. I don’t want to talk too much about the film’s subject, and please, don’t do a Google search before seeing this movie. I didn’t even watch the full trailer, as I could tell it was one of those films that going in was best not to know too much. The film is funny (some of Brandon’s classmates are hilarious in their interviews), touching, and a study into human behavior and motivation. My Old School is an entertaining true tale you will discuss long after it is done.   My Rating: Full Price   My Old School Website   Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest:  Sharp Stick (2022) R Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth) is a 26-year-old living with her mother, and all she wants in life is to be seen. Consequently, Sarah Jo starts an affair with a married man (Jon Bernthal), who happens to be her boss, and her world will never be the same. Sharp Stick is a film where writer/director Lena Dunham (Girls, Tiny Furniture) has created a character just for the shock value. I am unsure if Sarah Jo is on the spectrum or if Dunham has made her a 26-year-old virgin who doesn’t know about internet porn, sex, or relationships. Sarah Jo is a likable person with a talent for dealing with a special-needs boy named Zack. Zack’s father is a stay-at-home guy named Josh (Joe Bernthal), whom Sarah Jo targets to take her virginity (the first of many things Sarah Jo does without rhyme or reason). It’s a very icky and uncomfortable scene where he seems to be doing the right thing for about 2 minutes, then succumbs to her charms (I guess). While Sarah Jo is 26 and, therefore, is of age, she seems mentally about ten making the act seem wrong. After the affair is broken off, Sarah Jo is convinced she is bad at sex and goes on a weird goal-setting challenge to do every sex act she has seen in porn with random guys she meets on the internet. Combine this with an older sister (Taylour Paige) and mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who have no clue or interest in what Sarah Jo is doing in her life. It’s a lazy and uncreative world that Dunham has given us, full of stick figure characters that are there to shock you without substance or thought. Sharp Stick then tries to end on a happy note, but even that is ruined by a final scene that I have no idea what the film was trying to say. My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again Sharp Stick Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Second Best (1994) PG-13  Graham (William Hurt) is a man who has always been alone. Even living with his father, he is alone, a man who has never gotten close to anyone. Now in his forties and with his father dying, Graham decides he needs someone in his life, and he adopts James (Chris Cleary), a troubled young man with a past that haunts him. Together they will figure it out. William Hurt has always been a favorite actor of mine, and he is brilliant in the role of the slightly awkward and off-kilter Graham, a man who decides to make room in his life for another lost soul, someone who is just as damaged as he is. Second Best is a lovely film about people who have difficulty accepting love and reap the rewards when they finally do.   My Rating: Full Price   Second Best Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Bullet Train: Japanese Lyric Consultant

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Woman King (2022) The story of Nanisca (Viola Davis), a general of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors trained to take on an enemy determined to steal their people and destroy their way of life. All you need to know is that Viola Davis has a sword in this film and is kicking some serious butt in the trailer.   The Woman King Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 29, 2022

DC League of Super-Pets

FamilyFaire: DC League of Super-Pets (2022) PG  Krypto has always been by Superman’s side, in thick and thin, even when he started dating Lois Lane because that’s what a dog does. When Lex Luthor captures the Justice League, it’s up to Krypto and a few of his shelter-pets friends to defeat the evil Lex and save Superman. Because that’s what’s Superman’s ‘best friend’ does. This is a fun and enjoyable film for the whole family. Kids will enjoy Krypto and his ‘super friends,’ and adults will enjoy the fast and funny jokes. Dwayne Johnson is a blast as the voice of Krypto, a dog convinced that Superman is about to dump him for Lois Lane. Krypto meets a motley group of shelter animals, including their leader Ace, voiced by Kevin Hart. Besides Lex (voiced by Marc Maron), there is another evil mastermind, but I won’t ruin the surprise on that one. The storyline is a blast, the action will keep the kids interested, and the interplay between Krypto and his shelter friends is full of laughs and a few surprises. Be sure to stay through the first end credits, as with many super-hero films, there is a surprise scene setting up the next film.  My Rating: Full Price   DC League of Super-Pets Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Vengeance (2022) R  A podcaster (B.J. Novak) travels from New York City to Texas to attend a funeral of a woman he casually dated. While there, he discovers that she was murdered and decides to make a podcast out of the experience. Texas may never be the same. I loved this fish-out-of-water mystery with a twist. Like The Office (Novak was one of the main writers of the show, as well as one of the cast members), this is a dark comedy with a lot of pokes at conservatives and liberals, gun control, and the culture/myths of Texas. I loved the exploring of the cult of Whataburger (I’m a member) and the correct use of the Southern phrase “Bless Your Heart’. Novak plays a character that you will both love and hate (he can be a selfish jerk and condescending as heck), but you are willing to go on this journey with him to solve a murder while learning a bit about himself and the importance of family in your life. Vengeance is a fun film that gets very dark by the end, but I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.   My Rating: Full Price  Vengeance Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View: Thirteen Lives (2022) PG-13  Thirteen boys, and their soccer coach become trapped in a cave in Thailand. Now it’s up to a group of rag-tag cave divers to rescue them while the world is watching. I had a funny experience at the screening of this film. I knew the story, having seen the excellent documentary The Rescue last year, and about 45 minutes into this film, a woman behind me remarked, ‘they just found the boys. What’s the rest of this film about then?’. This remarkable story, told skillfully by Ron Howard, is more about the incredible rescue in the 2nd half of this film than the first half set up. It’s a fantastic tale of a seemingly impossible rescue by a group of cave divers who, on the surface (no pun intended), don’t look like they could dive in a pool, much less in a cave of every expanding, rushing water. The film is led by the two divers brought in due to their expertise in cave diving, played by Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen. Farrell is the heart and soul of the expedition, but it’s Mortensen, playing the cynic old pro driver, who steals the movie, as he is convinced that what they are doing is doomed but is willing to follow Farrell’s character and his ideas on how to rescue the boys from an impossible situation. Even knowing the story, I was glued to my seat during the rescue attempts (yes, that is plural), and you will be too. Thirteen Lives is an inspiring film about a group of courageous men who risked their reputation and their lives to rescue a group of boys who got stuck in a cave across the world.   My Rating: Full Price  Thirteen Lives Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide and on Amazon Prime on Friday, Aug. 5th.

Indiefest: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song (2021) PG-13  Documentary about the life of singer-songwriter extraordinaire Leonard Cohen, centering around his powerful, mesmerizing song Hallelujah. Fascinating documentary about a man and his relationship with a song that became a staple of all the TV music competition shows. Cohen was a master of telling a story through song. I always felt that when I listened to his songs, I was experiencing a short movie told through music. The film makes his inspirational and powerful song Hallelujah the center of the story. It’s a tale of a song that took him seven years to write, going through over 150 versions of the lyrics, and then there are different versions of the song. The most interesting bit of the film is how the song became such a hit and how so many people think it’s another artist’s song (both John Cale and Jeff Buckley recorded the song that became bigger hits than Cohen’s version). Fans of Cohen are going to go nuts over the number of interviews with Cohen and his numerous performances in concert, including his groundbreaking five-year tour in his seventies. If you don’t know much about the man or his songs, this is a great way to be introduced to a man who could tell a whole story in just 4 minutes of a song.   My Rating: Full Price  Hallelujah Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Resurrection (2022) Margaret's (Rebecca Hall) orderly life is about to unravel as a man from her past (Tim Roth) comes back into her life and brings the horrors of her past with him. First, the good: both Rebecca Hall's and Tim Roth's performances are brilliant. Hall is both steely in one moment ready to kick ass, and in another moment, a quivering mess, and only someone as talented as Hall could pull this off. Roth is perfect as the creepy guy that comes back into Margaret’s life after 22 years. This film is part horror, part suspense, as we go into a dark past that includes abuse and mind control. I will warn you that some parts of the film are disturbing, and I think the film went a little too far into the extreme for me. But still, Resurection is worth seeing for the performances as we go down a bumpy road that just could lead to madness  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Resurrection Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: My Donkey, My Lover, and I (2020)   When Antoinette’s (Laure Calamy) trip is canceled due to her married lover going on a vacation with his wife, she decides to follow them on a hiking trip with the help of an overprotective donkey named Patrick. This is a fun film to watch, and you will fall in love with Patrick, the donkey that goes on this journey of self-discovery with Antoinette. The film is a light comedy that is a breeze to watch, helped along by the winning performance of Laure Calmay, who gives life to a self-centered, over-the-top woman who is head over heels in love with a married man. Calmay is delightful, but she is upstaged by Patrick, a donkey who lets Antoinette know when she is doing something bad, whether it's taking the wrong trail or picking the wrong man. My Donkey, My Lover and I isn’t a groundbreaking film of self-discovery like Wild, it's just a fun romp with a headstrong donkey that has more sense than his traveling companion.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   My Donkey, My Lover, and I Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Not Okay  (2022) R  Danni (Zoey Deutch) wants to be a writer, but no one will take her seriously. She decides to make everyone jealous and fakes a trip to Paris, claiming she won a writers’ retreat. However, after posting fake pictures, Paris is attacked by terrorists, and Dani is caught up in a lie about to go viral. It’s hard to make a comedy where the main character is unlikable from start to finish but Not Okay does that. Danni gets caught up in a lie that goes viral, and she enjoys the result. This is a character that doesn’t think; Danni just goes with the lie because telling the truth would cost her the fame she has suddenly taken. I like Zoey Deutch, and she has a flare for comedy, but this film never lets Deutch show that talent. Instead, the film is too busy making fun of and saying how bad the Internet fame game is. Deutch is overshadowed by an outstanding performance from Mia Isaac, a young woman Danni meets who has suffered a real tragedy and befriends Danni, thinking she is a kindred spirit. Isaac has a speech near the end of the film that is the only redeeming factor in this film that uses a terrorist attack as fodder to make fun of how bad the Internet and influencers are. My Rating: Cable  Not Okay Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Forgotten Film:  Smashed (2012)  R   Married couple Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul), whose love is built on their drinking habits, are tested when Kate decides to get sober. This is a tough film to watch, just because the characters go through so much pain. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is outstanding as Kate, who lies at the drop of a hat to cover up her drinking but realizes, after waking up too many times in strange places, that she must change her life. Aaron Paul doesn’t do a bad performance as her husband, but this is Winstead’s movie, and she runs with it. You genuinely hope that she can get her life together, but you also know that it’s going to take some major changes and sacrifices, including, probably, the sacrifice of her marriage. Smashed was the 2nd featured film that one of my favorite filmmakers, James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour), made, and it was such a great film with an outstanding cast. My Rating: Full Price   Smashed Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Thirteen Lives: Thai Looping

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Blonde (2022) NC-17   The story of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas). The film is based on the fiction novel by Joyce Carol Oates and directed/written by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Killing Them Softly). Dominik has stated that fans of Marilyn may be upset by this film’s content. Also, note that the film contains very little dialogue, and the director has said that the film is an ‘avalanche of images and events.’ I am excited to see this film because of Ana de Armas, who, in the last few years, has become a big star with outstanding performances in Knives Out (2019), No Time to Die (2021), and The Gray Man (2022).   Blonde Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 22, 2022


My View: NOPE (2022) R   A brother and sister (Daniel Kalyuua and Keke Palmer) are working on their family ranch that supplies horses to Hollywood films. Things start getting strange on the ranch as it looks like aliens are flying around, and the duo decides to document these occurrences. Consequently, their actions are to the dismay of the forces behind the flying saucers. See this on the big screen. I mean, see it in a theatre on a screen as big as you can with a sound system to match. A UFO lover’s dream come true, NOPE is a fun, well-done thriller with a few scares along the way that will fulfill your wish for a big blockbuster ride. And I will tell you, this film will also shock you, almost from the start. With a great cast, incredible sound effects, and cinematography that fully utilizes the IMAX camera to its glorious beauty and NOPE is a film that will thrill and amaze you. Like any Jordan Peele film, it is filled with humor, some of which is pretty dark but allows you to release a bit of the tension that builds throughout the film. The film has a lot to say, touching on the entertainment industry, our reliance on electronics, our attempt to train animals against their will, and how hard it is to follow our dreams, especially if it's not your own. So please sit down and get ready to be amazed, and I warned you, shocked.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   NOPE website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: The Gray Man (2022) PG-13  Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling), whose true identity is known to none, is the CIA’s man when someone needs to die, the Agency-sanctioned merchant of death. After accidentally uncovering dark Agency secrets, Court is being hunted by Lloyd Hasen (Chris Evans), a former fellow assassin, who has been given the task to hunt Court down and take him out. Now the only person he can count on is Agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas), but the odds are against him…just the way that Court likes it. I enjoyed this film, but I am a big fan of action films, especially ones that feature a lot of hand-to-hand combat, and this has a lot. Ryan Gosling plays an assassin with a soul who won’t cross a line, even if it means it will piss some people off. Gosling’s agent six is a superhero, someone who can take on an army single handily, fall off a roof with only a few scratches and take a pounding but keep on fighting. He is up against Chris Evans's antihero, a man who doesn’t mind collateral damage as long as he gets what he wants, and in this case, he wants Agent Six dead. Evans is the surprise of the film, playing a creepy bad guy with a fun flair for the dramatic. Ana de Armas holds her own in the action sequences and makes a good companion for Gosling’s deadpanned Agent Six. The film goes on a little too long, but it's a good time with a ton of action sequences, including a thrilling fight inside a giant transport plane as it slowly falls apart. So join in on the action and enjoy the duel between Evans and Gosling.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Gray Man Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform and in select theatres. 

My View: Anything’s Possible (2022) PG-13  Kelsa (Eva Reign), a confident young woman who is trans, is just trying to survive her senior year of high school. All she wants to do is blend in and get this year over with, but love has another idea. However, when a classmate, Khal (Abubakr Ali), gets a crush on Kelsa, he decides to go for it and ask her out, even though he knows they will be the center of attention. I really like this film, with its take on a teen romance, where instead of the hot guy dating the nerdy girl (or visa-versa) causing trouble within their friends, we get the hot guy dating someone that no one see’s coming, Kelsa. The film does a great job of giving us a young woman who doesn’t want to be a trailblazer; she wants to live her life like anyone else. I loved the relationship between Kelsa and her mother, who have a rule that Kelsa and her mother can only discuss things the average mother would ask her average daughter. The two leads are just what you want in a teen romance; adorable, slightly klutzy and have great on-screen chemistry that makes you want their characters to be together. And yes, Kelsa being trans is a big deal in the film, but it’s handled with compassion and with a character that just wants to be seen as Kelsa, nothing else. As it should be.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Anything's Possible Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform.

Indiefest: Fire of Love (2022) PG  Documentary about scientists Katia and Maurice Krafft, who fell in love over their research on volcanoes. They were known worldwide as daredevils who brought us some of the most explosive imagery ever recorded. Significantly, they died doing the thing that they loved. Right off the bat, I’m going to tell you that this film is sure to be in my top ten films of 2022, and I predict it will be nominated for the Documentary Academy Award next year. Yep, this film is that good. The film tells the story of two of the world’s greatest volcanologists, Katia and Maurice Krafft, who just happened to be married. This is not only a story about Volcanos but also a love story between two brilliant and interesting people who bonded instantly over their love of volcanoes. Ninety percent of the footage in the film is from the personal archives of the Krafft’s. To say that there are shots of volcanos that are simply breathtaking is an understatement. The film is summed up by an amazing shot of an erupting volcano, with hot, red lava spewing up into the air, as the two scientists, in silver protective suits, almost dance in front of the awesome display of earth’s mighty power. You can see just from that one shot why they both knew that it wasn’t how they would die but when. However, yes, they did die, but it is very evident from this beautiful and moving film that they died doing what they loved, and they died as they wished, together.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Fire of Love Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Alone Together (2022) R  What happens when two strangers (Katie Holmes, Jim Sturgess) book the same Airbnb during the start of the lockdown of the pandemic. Katie Holmes wrote, starred, and directed this film about two people who are in bad relationships, who then find out that maybe, just maybe, their failed relationships aren’t their fault. This is one of many films I’ve seen in the past year where people are stuck together at the start of the pandemic when everything was shut down, and everyone was told to stay home and not go out. This is a very predictable romance between two likable characters, who we know are meant for each other, and it’s only a matter of time before they both realize it. There isn’t anything new in this film, and both actors are fine in their roles. Holmes does let her character express a few feelings and opinions about being allowed when you are in a relationship, to being yourself and following your dream. The film delivers what you think it will, a romance that finds two people in the middle of a worldwide crisis; I just wish that the plot had a few more surprises in it.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Alone Together website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Murina (2021)  Julija (Gracija Filipović) lives with her parents on a Croatian island, who she increasingly doesn’t get along with. When a handsome older man, Javier (Cliff Curtis), comes to the island, Julija sees it as an opportunity to escape the boredom of her life and her parents. This is a film about a power of wills between a father, Ante (Leon Lucev), and Julija, a headstrong young woman who wants to get as far away from her father as possible, whether it be overseas or in the ocean. Ante is a man who is controlling and has an overpowering ego that won’t take anyway but his. Julija is happiest when she is in the water, it’s her escape from reality. Ante is driven by a visit from an old friend, Javier, who he hopes will buy his land and he and his family can move to the mainland. Julija sees Javier as her savior, someone who can rescue her from her father and his oppressive rule. Julija’s mother, Nela (Danica Curcic), is caught between her husband, whom she has stood by all these years, and her daughter, whom she is proud of. This is a movie that constantly builds the tension between father and daughter, and we know that the hopes and dreams of both are doomed almost from the start. I loved Gracija Filipovic’s performance of Julija, as she continually pushes the boundaries that her father has set for her, whether it’s wearing an old dress of her mother’s against his wishes or leaving out a line about her father in a poem that he forces her to recite in front of a crowd. Murina is a film where everyone’s dreams are seemingly just out of reach, even when those dreams were in the past.   My Rating: Full Price    Murina Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Murder by Numbers (2002) R A 'by the book' police detective (Ben Chaplin) and his loose-cannon partner (Sandra Bullock) are investigating a murder. Little does the detective know that the murder has been committed by two high school kids (Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt) who only did the killing to see if they could commit the perfect crime. This is a forgotten Sandra Bullock film that is quite good. Bullock plays a character a little different from what our Sandy plays typically, a character that you might not like. In fact, I think you will like Ben Chaplin’s character much more than Bullock’s, but that’s why I like this film. Plus, Gosling and Pitt are creepy as heck, making two terrifying and clever criminals who will not be easy to catch. The film also has one of my favorite unappreciated actors, Chris Penn in it.  My Rating: Full Price   Murder by Numbers Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of NOPE: Mask Maker

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Smile (2022) R   After a patient, who claimed she was seeing something that no one else could see, killed herself in front of Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon), Rose begins to experience frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. Rose must confront her troubled past in order to survive this new horrifying reality. The trailer looks like it could be terrifying.    Smile Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 15, 2022

Where the Crawdads Sing

My View: Where the Crawdads Sing  (2022) PG-13   Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is an outsider in her community. Kya is called the ‘Marsh Girl’ by the locals since she was abandoned in the marshlands of North Carolina and raised herself to adulthood. Kya begins exploring outside her marsh's world when a young man she befriended is found dead and is immediately cast by the community as the main suspect. Kya’s life will be under the microscope, and many secrets of the marsh are about to be revealed. I have a feeling that this is one of those movies where the book is much better than the film. I liked this film, primarily due to the performance of Daisy Edgar-Jones, but the film feels very slow in its storytelling and the core of the story, one of mystery and romance, feels a little forced, with a love story that feels too much like a bad Young Adult novel. I had trouble liking either of the two men whom Kya becomes romantically involved with, and that’s a problem with a film that is part romance. The film also tries hard to bring in feelings from past movies such as Nell and To Kill a Mockingbird, especially with the nice Southern lawyer, played by David Strathairn. So much so that I kept waiting for Scout to show up in any scene Strathairn is in. Still, I enjoyed the film, I just wish there had been more to it than a lot of scenes where Kya looks longingly at the marsh, thinking thoughts about a past love.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Where the Crawdads Sing Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Familyfaire: Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022) PG   Ever since Hank (voiced by Micael Cera), as a young pup, was saved from bullies by a mysterious samurai, he has wanted to become a samurai himself. Hank is hired to become the samurai of a small town being threatened by an evil overload. The only problem, Hank is a dog, and the townspeople are cats. You know this is a bad film when the audience I saw the movie with, filled with kids, only laughed when there was a farting scene. The film is a takeoff of samurai films and the Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles (hence the fart scene). In fact, Mel Brooks (who wrote some of his own lines) voices one of the characters, The Shogun, reminiscent of his performance as Governor Lepetomane in Blazing Saddles (‘work, work, work’). The film is a bore (kids at my screening were more interested in the whoopee cushions that were handed out before the film), the animation is flat and lifeless, and the storyline quickly becomes old. I had high hopes when I found out that Samuel L. Jackson was doing a voice, but unfortunately, he isn’t given much to work with a character that gets drunk on catnip (once again, think Blazing Saddles). Skip this one and let the older kids watch Spaceballs instead.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Paws of Fury Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022)  PG   A widowed cleaning lady (Lesley Manville) in 1950s London inherits a pile big of money, falls madly in love with the dresses of Dior, and decides to fly to Paris and buy one for herself. It’s a tale of adventure that will change her life and possibly the very future of the House of Dior itself. We all need a bit of Mrs. Harris in our life. Lesley Manville is a positive force for good in this film about a woman who follows her dream and won’t let anyone put her down on her way. You will fall in love with Mrs. Harris as she strives to put together the money to not only go to Paris but buy a Dior dress. This is a feel-good film that is funny, sweet, and has a bit of romance thrown in. The film gives us a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most fabulous couture houses in the world, seen through the eyes of someone who wouldn’t usually be welcomed to a place that relies on the rich and the privileged. It seems that everywhere Mrs. Harris goes, she spreads her love for life and adventure, even in a stuffy and class-oriented climate. I love that Mrs. Harris visits Paris during a strike where the garbage collectors are protesting low wages by not collecting the refuse of the city, making one of the most beautiful and iconic cities of the world a little dirty and smelly, one that only someone like Mrs. Harris could turn into a lesson of learning and acceptance. And by the way, even a guy like me knows that the classic Dior dresses look fantastic. So, pinch a few pennies and save up to take a journey to Paris with Mrs. Harris, and you are guaranteed a smashing good time.   My Rating: Full Price   Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Gone in the Night (2022) R  Kath (Winona Ryder) and her boyfriend Max (John Gallagher, Jr.) are going on a weekend trip to a remote cabin in the wilderness. However, when they arrive, they find that the cabin has been double-booked, and a young couple (Brianne Tju, Owen Teague) has already moved in. The two couples decide to share the cabin, and after a night of partying, Kath wakes up to discover that both her boyfriend and the other woman have disappeared. When Max doesn’t show up, Kath goes on the hunt to find him with the help of the owner of the cabin (Dermot Mulroney) and discovers that the truth is stranger than she could have ever imagined. I enjoyed the first part of this film, but by the 2nd half of the film, I got tired of how the plot was being revealed in a series of flashbacks that gave away too much information, and I figured out the mystery way too early in the film. I always enjoy Winona Ryder’s performances, but she isn’t asked to do much in this film other than being bewildered and scared. I wasn’t shocked at the ending (the film wants us to be), and I wish it had lived up to the promise that the first 20 minutes had, but it doesn’t.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Gone in the Night Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide. 

My View: Persuasion (2022) PG   Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson) has never gotten over the man she was persuaded not to marry eight years ago due to his humble origins. Now that man, Captain Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis), is back in her life. However, there is a new suitor for Anne’s heart, the dashing Mr. Elliot (Henry Golding), and Anne is torn between an old love who got away and a new one who promises to give her the world. I liked this film a lot, but I wonder if my judgment has become a bit murky because I have become such a fan of Dakota Johnson. She is delightful in this adaptation of a Jane Austin novel. Throughout the film, Anne narrates the film, giving us direct asides, like letting us see her reaction to something she told us would happen. This is a story of a love lost and the regrets of both parties. In typical Austin fashion, there is a lot of dancing around the two lovers' true feelings, miscommunications, and of course, another suitor who causes a bit of a problem or two. Does this have the biting wit of a film like Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility? No, not even close but Johnson and Jarvis gives us a couple that we can root for and a heroine who has a wicked sense of humor.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Persuasion Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: The Deer King (2021) R  Van is the last of a group of soldiers fighting for their lands against an evil empire. After becoming the lone survivor of a slave camp, Van meets a young girl, and they go on an adventure that may save the universe. This fantasy epic gets lost in its attempt to build a world that is too complex to be told in one film. This is not a film for young kids as there is quite a bit of violence and bloodshed, though anime and fantasy teens may enjoy the epic tale of revenge and finding a purpose. Besides a highly complex storyline (that gets confusing at times), the film has an animated look that is bland and doesn’t deliver the wonder and beauty it needs. There are sub-plots among other sub-plots, and I never quite got which side was the good guys and which were the bad ones. The ending feels weak and almost too quick, making it seem as though the story isn’t finished, and maybe it's not, but I don’t think I will care.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Deer King Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

Indiefest: Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down (2022) PG-13   Documentary about the former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her battle to overcome the effects of an assassination attempt in 2011 that left her partially paralyzed and with a language impairment. This is a film where you are going to experience a range of emotions as you watch it. You will cry, get angry, but also laugh as you follow the life of Gabby Giffords, a woman whose spirit and love of life wasn't shut down by an assassin's bullet. The film gives us an intimate look at Giffords and her journey to get not only her ability to walk but also to talk. Due to her husband, Mark, we see the highs and many lows of her recovery, as Mark was determined to let his wife and us see just how far she had to come back from death’s door. It’s a fantastic film about a remarkable woman and the man who believed in her recovery. This is not a film about outlawing guns but does have a message of how we can make gun ownership safer and keep them out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. Gabby was and is a gun owner; there is even a scene of her recently firing a handgun at a gun range. My favorite scene of the film is during the closing credits as we follow Gabby as she peddles a recumbent bike around her neighborhood while joyfully singing a John Denver song. By the film's end, you won’t feel sorry for Gabby but will be happy that she is still around to make us smile.    My Rating: Full Price   Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View:
Don’t Make Me Go (2022) R  Max (John Cho) is a single father who discovers he has a fatal brain tumor. Straightaway, Max decides to take his daughter, Wally (Mia Isaac), on a road trip. This is Max’s last chance to try and teach his daughter everything she might need to live her life on her own. At the start of the film, Wally tells us, ‘You’re not gonna like how this story ends, but I think you are going to like this story.’ Well, Wally, you would be wrong. I liked this film for the first two-thirds of the movie, mainly because the relationship between Max and Wally feels natural, and the chemistry between the two actors is delightful. A few scenes seem a little forced, and it tries a bit too hard for us to love Wally from the start, but I can overlook this film’s early faults due to the winning relationship between the father and daughter. However, without giving away the ending, I hated the last 15 minutes of this film. I mean, I really hated it. It soured the whole movie for me, a real punch in the gut. Let me make it clear; I hated the ending.   My Rating: Cable   Don't Make Go Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform. 

Forgotten FIlm: Shoot the Moon (1982) R   This is a film about a long-time marriage falling apart. George (Albert Finney) is unhappy and wants out of his marriage to live with his new love, Sandy (Karen Allen). Faith (Diane Keaton) feels abandoned by her husband, having left her and their four children for another woman. Faith finds a way to get back at George by having an affair with a young man (Peter Weller), and the fireworks begin. This movie is about unhappy people who don’t care who gets hurt, as long as their spouse gets hurt the most. Keaton and Finney play people you won’t like, and we never quite know why the marriage fell apart after so many years. Shoot the Moon isn’t about why they fell in or out of love; it’s about the pain and destruction a failed marriage can cause.   My Rating: Full Price   Shoot the Moon Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris: Toad in the Hole Prepared By

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Invitation (2022)   Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) knows nothing about her family’s past, so she sends off her DNA to find out more. Through the test, she meets a cousin (Hugh Skinner) who invites her to a family wedding in England. Evie goes but soon learns that her newfound family has a secret, one that may cost Evie her life. The Invitation looks like it could be a fun watch.    The Invitation Info  The movies is scheduled to be released in late August, 2022.

Until Next Time!