Friday, July 19, 2024


My View:  Twisters  (2024)  PG-13  Kate Carter (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a meteorologist who used to love chasing tornadoes until she encountered one that had deadly results. Kate is lured back into the open plains by her friend Javi (Anthony Ramos), who has developed a groundbreaking new tracking system that, if it works, could save thousands of lives. She soon meets Tyler Owens (Glen Powell), a reckless storm chaser with a huge social media following. Think of this as not a sequel to the 1996 film Twister directed by Jan de Bont. Twisters is part of the same universe, but only slightly related (although there might be a connection between Tyler and Helen Hunt's character, but that's pushing it). Twister worked so well because of the writing (co-written by Michael Crichton), and it had an outstanding cast that wasn’t just led by Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt, but had a supporting cast that included Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Alan Ruck, Lois Smith and constant scene-stealer Philip Seymour Hoffman. This film does have Glen Powell, whose screen presence dominates every scene he is in. Powell, a native Texan, walks the walk (perfect ex-cowboy walk) and talks the talk as a former rodeo performer who fell in love with weather events when he was eight. Unfortunately, unlike Helen Hunt’s pairing with Bill Paxton, Daisy Edgar-Jones can’t match Powell’s firepower on the screen, and her character is always seemingly in the shadows. It doesn't help that Edgar-Jone's character, Kate, has PTSD from a horrific incident that happened while chasing tornadoes in college. Kate is a tornado whisperer who can pick the storm that will sprout a tornado, but she is gun-shy and has to be constantly saved from freezing up at the worst possible times. That being said, this is still a perfect, fun-filled action film that puts you not only alongside a tornado but often right inside it. My screening was in a Dolby theater, and the experience of being inside the twisters was so much fun. So much so that I kept waiting for the wind effects to start. Twisters is a fun ride, helped by the star power of Glen Powell and his monster (with an emphasis on monster) truck. So climb aboard, strap in, and hold on.  My Rating: Full Price  Twisters Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide. 

My ViewSkywalkers: A Love Story  (2024)  R  Skywalkers: A Love Story is a documentary about a couple, Angela Nikolau and Ivan Beerkus, who have made a career in climbing the highest buildings in the world. Their next destination is Malaysia to scale the 118-story mega-tall skyscraper Merdeka 118, the last super-skyscraper to be built in the next few years. Their goal is to rekindle their careers and relationship. If there was ever a couple destined to be together, it would be Angela and Ivan. Two people who think it’s fun to climb to the tops of buildings and then, without any safety equipment, pose on top of antennas or scaffolding. The couple are called rooftoppers, not climbers, because, other than climbing antennas or scaffolding, they rarely climb but use elevators or stairs to get near the tops of buildings. The footage is jaw-dropping, and you constantly worry about the two, as they think nothing of sitting on top of a building and having their feet over the edge to get a good view. Ivan, Russia’s top rooftopper, invites Angela, a woman who has made her mark on the sport by posing in dance/ballet moves atop buildings, to join him. There are parts of the story that seem staged, particularly when they discuss their relationship and goals. There is a dark side to this story that isn’t fully explored. I felt that the two often took chances, not because they loved what they do, but because they needed to get hits on their social accounts. A couple of times, the film shows the two reacting to fellow friends who have died or had accidents while doing the sport. The film glosses over these moments and returns to the relationship between the two lovers as Ivan slowly learns to trust Angela and support her. Throughout the film, I also had the feeling that what they were doing was wrong. Unlike rock climbing or skydiving, what they do is against the law, and I am afraid this film will inspire others to try this sport out. Still, this is a film that grabs you as the last third of the film is the two planning and then actually attempting to go to the top of the 118-story skyscraper, something that no one had been able to do before. Remember, while you are watching this film, there was a disclaimer at the beginning of the film that said: Do not attempt to imitate. Don’t worry, filmmakers, I won’t.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Skywalkers: A Love Story Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

My View Oddity  (2024)  R  In Oddity, it has been a year since Dani (Carolyn Bracken), home alone, opened her door to a stranger named Olin (Tadhg Murphy) and was murdered. A year after Dani’s death, Darcy (also Bracken) arrives with a large wooden mannequin at her late sister’s husband’s door. Darcy is convinced she can discover why Dani opened that door to a stranger, or did she? Oddity is a masterfully crafted mystery and horror story that gradually unfolds. Darcy is blind but sees more than most people, especially when dealing with death and the afterlife. Darcy is a unique character that filmmaker Damian McCarthy gives us, and Carolyn Bracken gives us a very strange hero to root for. There is a sense of dread almost from the film’s first frame, and after Dani’s death, we meet her sister, and from there, it’s just a matter of time before the mystery is solved. Oddity has a few jump-out-of-the-dark scares, but mostly it’s the building of the tension that makes this horror film stand out. Plus, there is that really creepy wooden figure that Darcy has brought along.  My Rating: Full Price   Oddity Website Now playing in theaters.
My View
:  My Spy: The Eternal City  (2024)  PG-13  JJ (Dave Bautista) and Sophie (Chloe Coleman) are back in My Spy: The Eternal City. This time, Sophie convinces JJ to chaperone her school trip to Rome. Just their luck, there is an international terrorist plot that is targeting CIA Chief David Kim (Ken Jeong) and his son, Colin (Taeho K), on the trip. I enjoyed the first My Spy movie (against my better judgment) because Dave Bautista was goofy, and there was great chemistry between Bautista and Chloe Coleman. Plus, it was fun watching the giant Bautista deal with the adorable and very cute Coleman. It’s four years later, and the plot has worn out its welcome. My Spy: The Eternal City is a film that goes for the cheap laugh every time and seems to have lost any idea of how the first film worked its magic, blending in the action sequences with some humor. Even Anna Farris can’t save the lousy plot and even lousier attempts at being funny. With a run time of almost two hours, the film never seems to end. Even the credits are long, as Ken Jeong and Craig Robinson do some very unfunny attempts at improving some songs. Watch the first film or any of the Robert Rodriguez Spy Kids movies and skip this one.  My Rating: Cable  My Spy: The Eternal City Website  Now playing on Amazon Prime
Indiefest:  Widow Clicquot  (2023)  R   Widow Clicquot is the story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot (Haley Bennett), who, at age twenty-seven, after her husband’s death, took over the family vineyard and revolutionized the champagne-making process, creating a world sensation against the odds. Widow Clicquot is a film where the performance of the lead and the cinematography try to carry the load but are both let down by a screenplay that can never find its footing. The film utilizes the magnificent beauty of the French countryside to its advantage, with some stunning shots. Haley Bennett gives a multi-layered performance as a woman determined to create a wine worthy of her late husband. The film wanders back and forth between before her husband's death, as we see him slowly descend into madness, and afterward, when she is trying to keep the vineyard afloat. It’s a strange film meant to celebrate a woman who fought against the system to invent the way Champagne is made today. Near the end of the film, we see the big moment when the widow Clicquot discovers the secret to great Champagne, but it’s glossed over so quickly that you don’t realize how important that moment is until you see it mentioned in the credits. It’s a weak storyline that is only elevated by Haley Bennett’s performance and the fantastic scenery.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Widow Clicquot Website  Now playing in theaters. 

My View:  
Find Me Falling  (2024)  In Find Me Falling, John (Harry Connick Jr.) is a rock star whose big comeback album was a disaster. Licking his wounds, he buys a cliff-side home in Cypress, a place he once knew before becoming famous. His dream of keeping a low profile is shattered with constant interruptions, including an old love, long-lost, who has resurfaced. Find Me Falling is not a typical romantic comedy, primarily because of the interruptions I mentioned in the plot description. The interruptions are caused by people committing suicide. John seems to have acquired a house on a cliff where people like to commit suicide. That’s in the first five minutes, and it’s a plot point that helps turn John’s life around. The songs (written by Connick Jr.) don’t work, except for a Greek song, used to woo a lover, which is terrible when the story is about a singer. During the opening credits, we hear the song that catapulted John into superstardom, and I initially thought it was the song that had ruined his career. The scenery in Cyprus is breathtaking, and the supporting cast is enjoyable to watch, especially Ali Fumiko Whitney, who plays a spunky local singer that John befriends
. The plot, though, is slow, the reveals are telegraphed miles ahead, and while Connick looks good in his swimming scene, he has a hard time with the comedic elements of the story. The ending is a little too forced to generate any sort of emotion. Like the rest of the film, the final shot misses the mark. It shows a handmade sign, and all I could think was, shouldn't it be in Greek and not English?   My Rating: Cable  Find Me Falling Website    Now playing on the Netflix platform.
Forgotten FilmQuills (2000) R  After years of being locked away in prisons, the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) is sent to the Charenton Insane Asylum run by Abbé du Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix). The Marquis de Sade establishes a friendship with a maid (Kate Winslet) and, with her aid, is able to continue writing and publishing his work. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is furious that Marquis de Sade’s work is still getting out and sends Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to the asylum to shut De Sade down, in any way necessary. It’s a battle of wits and wills that the two men will wage, and only one can win. Quills is a film that is at times funny and then, at a moment’s notice, becomes very scary. Rush is brilliant as the Marquis and Winslet gives a bawdy performance as the maid who intrigues de Sade. Add Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine, and you have a movie that keeps you interested until the very end.  My Rating: Full Price  Quills Into  The film is available to rent/buy on Amazon and Apple TV+.

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Twisters:  Stunt Trolly Drivers

Coming Soon to a Screen Near YouLee  (2023)  R  The story of Elizabeth ‘Lee’ Miller (Kate Winslet), a fashion model who became an acclaimed war correspondent for Vogue magazine during World War II. Kate Winslet has been developing this film for a few years, when a friend told her she resembled Lee.  Lee Info The film will be released in theaters on Friday, September 27, 2024.

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 12, 2024

Fly Me to the Moon

My View:  Fly Me to the Moon  (2024)  PG-13  Fly Me to the Moon occurs before the first lunar landing. NASA has been having a rough couple of years with its attempts to reach the moon. Due to failed tests, successes by the Soviet Union, and a launch pad disaster that resulted in the death of three astronauts, NASA is in danger of losing its funding. The White House has hired marketing maven Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) to come in and get the public behind the U.S.A.’s race to the moon. With her constant demands and interference, Kelly has made the job of strait-laced launch director Cole Davis (Channing Tatum) even more difficult. Little does Cole know that Kelly has an even bigger task: to stage a fake moon landing as a backup. If you avoid getting too caught up in the plot, which can be insultingly ludicrous, Fly Me to the Moon can be a fun and funny movie. Johansson and Tatum share an incredible chemistry, and it's a love where the two characters are almost opposite but are meant to be together. Johansson is having a great time in this role, which allows her to play with accents while manipulating men with charm and intelligence. Tatum is a by-the-book kind of guy who has a past that haunts him. The problem is that this is a screwball comedy that sometimes gets too serious and pushes the boundaries of believability too far. Still, watching the two characters spar while knowing they will end up together is fun. And yes, spoiler alert, we do land on the moon.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Fly Me to the Moon Website Now playing in theaters nationwide. 

My View:  Longlegs  (2024)  R  In Longlegs, FBI Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) is a gifted new recruit assigned to an unsolved case involving a serial killer and the occult. Agent Harker discovers she has a personal connection to the killer and must stop him before he strikes again. Film critics, just like the rest of the theatre going audience, can get caught up in the buzz of films coming out. That’s the case with Longlegs, a film that the buzz said the film was terrifying and shocking. It doesn’t help that the film has a plot that isn’t dissimilar to Silence of the Lambs, with a rookie agent on the trail of a serial killer. Well, unfortunately, the film doesn't live up to the hype. The film’s first half is scary and full of incredibly moody cinematography, as we see that Agent Harker has a personal stake in catching the serial killer Longlegs. What I loved about the film’s first portion is that we don’t see Nicolas Cage’s face as the man who is Longlegs. That creates tension and some mystery. The problem with the film is the 2nd half can’t match the intensity of the first half. Cage’s Longlegs looks too weird to be anyone other than an actor in bizarre makeup. The oddness of it makes me believe that Mr. Cage designed it himself. The film also ventures down the path of Satanism, with some voodoo magic thrown in. The third section of the film takes the story further downhill, with a simplified explanation of how the killings were committed. I was all in for the first third of this film, especially with the performance of Maika Monroe as not your typical FBI agent, but someone who can sense evil without knowing why. But then Cage goes overboard, the story gets caught up with the devil, and the plot grinds into almost nothing at the end.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Longlegs Website  Now playing in theaters. 

Indiefest:  Touch  (2024)  R  Touch spans decades and several continents as Kristopher (Egill Ólafsson) has been told he is running out of time, and he sets off to find his one true love, who disappeared over 50 years ago. The story of finding love in an unexpected place, losing it, and trying to find it again is beautifully captured in this film. The film is broken up into two storylines: one is right before COVID is about to shut down the world when Kristopher searches to find a woman he was in love with that he lost touch with 50 years ago. 50 years ago, there was a love story that took place in the other storyline. What I loved about this film is that we get to see this love story almost in real-time. We are there when the two lovers, Kristopher (Palmi Kormákur) and Miko (Kôki), meet at her father’s Japanese restaurant. Kristopher has quit school and, on a lark, applies to work at the restaurant owned by Miko, her father, Takahashi-san (Masahiro Motoki). Takahashi likes what he sees in Kristopher and lets him wash dishes. Kristopher loves the restaurant, so much so that he learns Japanese and how to cook. Kristopher also has fallen for Miko, who, though she has a boyfriend, is intrigued by the young man from Iceland. As the elder Kristopher travels the world trying to find Miko, in what seems like an impossible task, we see why he is so passionate because we see how in love he was with Miko 50 years ago. Touch is a film that lets things develop, and it’s a film that is full of youthful love and the melancholy that is brought on by old age and loves that have been lost. So bring a tissue or two and go on a journey to find love again.  My Rating Full Price  Touch Website Now playing in theaters. 

IndiefestSing Sing  (2023)  R Devine G (Colman Domingo), a man in jail for a crime he did not commit, survives by acting in a theater group with other inmates. This is a powerful and emotional film about a group of men in a hopeless situation who find comfort and power in the theater. Led by an incredibly moving performance by Colman Domingo, we see how inspired the men are to find an outlet for their emotions and thoughts. The cast is made up mostly of former convicts who were in the theater program. Because of the casting, we see how moving and powerful acting is to let the men get in touch with their feelings and emotions in a system that doesn’t always allow you to do so. We get to see the men start the process of finding a play, in this case, written for them, that melds Shakespeare with modern spoken word to significant effect. I was struck by how much this cast made us feel what they were going through, giving us an inside look at a world we can only imagine. Sing Sing is a film about healing, no matter what you have done in the past, and using the power of theater and acting to find that way.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Sing Sing Website   Now playing in theaters.

Indiefest: Sorry/Not Sorry  (2023) Sorry/Not Sorry is a documentary about comedian Louis C.K., accused of sexual harassment in 2017. The film investigates his comeback and how it impacted the women who publicly spoke out about his behavior. The film is told in seven parts, as you see the rise of Louis C.K. from a standup comedian to someone who was starring/directing movies while producing TV shows, along with his record-breaking standup shows. Sorry/Not Sorry centers on three female comedians, Jen Kirkman, Abby Schachner, and Megan Koester, who all have stories to tell of their encounters with Louis C.K. and the aftermath. Sorry/Not Sorry is a film that will make you mad and possibly make you reconsider if you think his standup is funny. This is a movie about a troubled man who had/has power and, though he suffered for about a year, seems to have done nothing to make up for his horrible treatment of women. The film asks many questions about how we treat women who speak out, how the powerful can go for years doing things that ordinary people would get in trouble for right away, and how quickly they should be forgiven. Sorry/Not Sorry gives us an inside look at what it's like to work as a woman in standup, and it's not pretty. Especially when someone can’t even say sorry with a straight face.   My Rating: Full Price  Sorry/Not Sorry Website  Now playing in theaters and On Demand. 

IndiefestDandelion  (2024)  R  Dandelion (KiKi Layne) is a singer-songwriter whose career is filled with small venues and even smaller towns. Desperate for a gig, she takes a job at a motorcycle rally in South Dakota, where she meets Casey (Thomas Doherty), a guitarist who left his dreams of stardom long ago. Casey will ignite something in Dandelion that she thought was long forgotten. Casey and Dandelion begin to mesh together, and Dandelion starts to believe in herself and her music again. However, Casey isn’t perfect and has baggage that could end things before they get started. Dandelion is a beautifully shot film that lets the scenery tell the story. I enjoyed a terrific scene where Casey and Dandelion collaborate on a song on a picturesque hilltop, which shows their passion for making music. The film’s second half flounders as Casey and Dandelion flirt with romance, but I had trouble getting to know Dandelion and just what she was thinking, especially at the end of the film. KiKi Layne gives us a performance that at times is dazzling, especially in those duets with Doherty, but she is let down by a script that doesn’t let her character grow enough to make the ending satisfying.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Dandelion Website Now playing in theaters. 

Forgotten FilmCoach Carter  (2005)  PG-13   Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) is a man of standards and rules. He was a high school record-setting sports hero, had a standout career in the military, and was a successful businessman. Now, Coach Carter has taken the job as basketball coach of a high school. Coach believes that high school is for learning, with sports secondary. The high school doesn’t know what they have gotten into, but they will soon realize that the coach means business. Coach Carter is an inspirational film based on the true story of a man who stood up to the administration and the parents when he ensured his players were students first. Jackson is outstanding as the coach who commands respect from the first whistle but also gives it to those who earn it. My Rating: Full Price  Coach Carter Info  The film is available for rent/buy on Amazon. 

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Touch:  Tattoo Art

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You Trap  (2024)  PG-13  A father (Josh Hartnett) and his daughter (Ariel Donoghue) are attending the concert of a lifetime. However, not everything is as it seems, and something dark and sinister is about to make its appearance at this concert. The film is from M. Night Shyamalan. His daughter, Saleka Shyamalan, portrays the concert performer, Lady Raven, that the father/daughter are seeing.  Trap Website  The film will be released in theaters on Friday, August 2, 2024. 

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 5, 2024

Despicable Me 4

FamilyfaireDespicable Me 4  (2004)  PG In Despicable Me 4, Gru (Steve Carell) and his family have a new addition, Gru Jr., who seems to have a mission to torment his father. Gru faces a new adversary, Maxime Le Mel (Will Ferrell), and his girlfriend, Valentina (Sofia Vergara). Maxime Le Mel aims to make a name for himself by destroying Gru. Gru, his family, and a few Minions enroll in a protection relocation program that entails moving to a new neighborhood. What could go wrong? Everything. What could go wrong in the latest Illumination animated film? Everything. Let’s start with the addition of a new villain, Maxime, voiced by Will Ferrell. Who at Illumination asked, 'Hey, what are the kids into these days?' What about cockroaches? Cool! So the new villain turns into a giant cockroach, and he has a ton of cockroach followers (they kind of disappear about halfway through the movie, so someone figured out that might be a problem). Will Ferrell and Sofia Vergara as his sidekick/wife (I never could figure out what her purpose was) didn't bring anything to the film at all. Attempting to make a giant cockroach morphy thing funny must have been challenging. The film is a mess as it has three stories going on at once: Maxime trying to kidnap Gru’s baby, the family trying to fit into a new neighborhood, and Gru gets sucked into a caper by the next-door neighbor’s daughter Poppy (voiced by Joey King). By the way, some of the Minions have been transformed into extremely unfunny versions of the Fantastic Four. Look, a Mega-Minion can shoot a laser with his one eye and melt an igloo on the other side of the earth. Hilarity ensues. I liked the first two Despicable Me films, but since then, these films have been lazy, unfunny films that show no sign of originality. What made the first film work was Gru was genuinely evil. He was a guy who delighted in causing problems like freezing everyone in the coffee line, and he was a tough guy, beating up the shark from Jaws. Then, he had to deal with three kids who were too cute for him to be horrible. The second film worked because we got a love interest for Gru, and the minions were funny. Now, with the Minion movie offshoots and these sequels, they have run out of ideas. What’s the next villain to take on Gru in DM5? Maybe Illumination will come up with Boogerman! Just know, we will keep getting these because they can make Minion popcorn buckets and that makes money. My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Despicable Me 4 Website  Now playing in theaters. 

My ViewBeverly Hills Cop: Axel F  (2024)  R  Detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) returns to his old haunt, Beverly Hills. After his daughter Jane (Taylour Paige) is threatened, she and Axel team up with a new partner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and uncover a conspiracy that could shake up the town. Axel calls on some old pals in Billy (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton) to help bring down the bad guys. We forget how good and what a bit of fresh air Beverly Hills Cop was back in 1984. Murphy was so much fun as a fish-out-of-water Detroit cop who finds himself in the surreal world of Beverly Hills. Playing off of Judge Reinhold and John Ashton as two uptight cops, Murphy had a field day making fun of everything he encountered while trying to bring down a bad guy. The film even received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The two sequels, released in 87 and 94, were not up to the same standard, with Cop III being a disaster. This fourth film has been in the works since the late 90s, and scripts have been bouncing around for the last 20 years. Is this film as good as the first one? No, but it will make you forget the bitter taste of BHC3. Axel F is a fun ride of nostalgia, as 30 years later, Axel goes back to the 90210 zip code to help his estranged daughter, now a public defender, who has taken a case of a young man who has been wrongly accused of killing a cop. Murphy's performance as the wiseass Foley is still enjoyable, and it's a delight to see some of the familiar characters from the previous films. I did get a bit tired of some of the retread moments in this film. While the theme song (named Axel F) is warranted, the film uses quite a few of the first film’s soundtracks to try and bring back those fond memories. The same holds true for the action sequences. Instead of a big eighteen-wheeler crashing through cars from the first film, we get a combo trash truck/snow plow doing the same thing. There is a big shoot-out that seems to steal quite a few shots from the shoot-out sequence in the first film. The film also tries to push a few plot points that don't hold up, including Jon Ashton's Taggert (who retired in the third film), who is now, somehow, the Beverly Hills Police Chief. The film also tries very hard to capture the magic of Bronson Pinchot’s Serge appearance (one of the highlights of BHC I), but that falls incredibly flat. New additions to the cast, including Taylour Paige as Foley’s daughter and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the new Beverly Hills cop, are fine editions. Bringing in Kevin Bacon as a flashy, Rolex-wearing detective is a nice touch. The plot gets a little too complex, and I started feeling the almost two-hour length near the film’s end. Nevertheless, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F may be the perfect Netflix film. It's a film that feels nostalgic and, at times, funny, with some big car chases to keep you awake when things get slow.My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform

My ViewMaXXXine  (2024)  R  Maxxxine takes place in 1980s Hollywood, where adult film star and aspiring actress Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) is about to get the big break she has been dreaming about. Maxine’s bloody past could be catching up with her as a mysterious killer stalks Tinseltown’s streets. Ti West has made two good horror films for this series, both starring Mia Goth in X (2022) and Pearl (2022). X was a take on slasher films with a heavy influence from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Pearl, a take on the crazy slasher genre, is a story about a young woman who dreams of stardom but starts killing to get her freedom. Now comes MaXXXine, a film that doesn’t fit the horror film genre like the first two West films. MaXXXine is a film that focuses on suspense rather than horror. I'll admit that my initial reaction after watching the film was that it was a bit disappointing. Yeah, there are a few gruesome deaths (and one really gruesome take down by Maxine on a bad guy), but most of the killings take place off screen and we only see the results as the police investigate the crimes. However, after further reflection, I think this fits perfectly with the other two films. It’s a twist that I didn’t see coming, but it’s one that still satisfies me. MaXXXine is more about a young woman who, against the odds, is trying to make it in Hollywood and will let nothing get in her way, including a copycat serial killer. It’s funny that we have two films about Hollywood being released this week, with the other being the fourth installment of the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. In that original BHC film, we saw Hollywood’s fun and kooky side. That’s not Maxine’s Hollywood. Hers is full of sex workers, sleazy peep shows, and desperate women trying to make it in a world full of desperate people. The film centers around whether Maxine will fulfill her dreams of becoming a successful star or whether her violent past will bring her down. You will have to go and visit Maxine Minx’s world to see if she succeeds. My Rating: Full Price  MaXXXine Website  Now playing in theaters. 

My ViewKill (2023)  R   In Kill, Army commando Amrit (Lakshya) discovers that his true love, Tulika (Tanya Maniktala), is engaged to be married against her will, so Amrit boards a train on a quest to stop the marriage. But first, he has to stop a gang of forty thieves who are terrorizing passengers on his train. If you are a fan of the brutal action film series John Wick and The Raid, then this film is for you. I will warn you, this film has some of the most bloody and goriest kills that I have seen, some of which would make a slasher horror film fan jump out of their seats. The film takes its title seriously, as very few people survive in this almost non-stop fighting fest that makes use of the very tight spaces of a train that keeps speeding along as the kill count keeps moving up. Although the film depicts close-quarter fighting brutally, it is also a film about love and family. Our hero is in love with a woman who has been promised to another. He wants to run away with his love, but she is worried that if they try to run away, her family will use violent means to get her back. Little does she know what is in store for her love, her family, and everyone else on the train, as a gang of thieves plan on taking over the train to rob everyone on it. Our hero, Amrit, played by the ultra-charismatic Lakshya, and his best friend, Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan), are on the train and are highly trained commandos, ready to take on all the bad guys. The family aspect is the reason why this film works. Amrit is defending not only his true love but also her family, who do not want him to be with her. Adding to the mix are the story’s villains, a group of related thieves, one big family of bad guys. In the mix is the son of the leader of the group, a young man named Fani (Raghav Juyal), who delights in killing in the most psychotic ways and has a lot of daddy issues. Kill is a film that once the battle is on and the fighting ramps up, it doesn’t slow down to take a breath, and you almost become overwhelmed by the violence and mayhem. For action fans, this is a film that will keep you interested until the end. Just don’t bet on anyone surviving. Remember the title of the film. My Rating: Full Price  Kill Website  Now playing in theaters. 

Forgotten FilmThe Last Supper  (1995) R  A group of idealistic, liberal students who live together in a house, invite a truck driver who gave them a ride to dinner. It turns out the truck driver is a racist and bonkers. When the truck driver goes nuts, the students kill him and bury him in the backyard. Then, the group comes up with an idea. Why don’t they invite right-wing people whose beliefs they hate to dinner and poison them? This is a fun film with an important idea at its core: would you kill an evil person if you disagreed with them? The cast is outstanding, with the students comprising Cameron Dia, Annabeth Gish, Ron Eldard, Jonathan Penner, and Courtney B. Vance. The dinner invites are equally enjoyable, including Charles Durning, Mark Harmon, Ron Perlman, and Jason Alexander. The film loses its way in the end but it's still a fun watch.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Last Supper Info The film is available to rent/buy on Apple TV+ and Amazon. 

Weird Credits:  From the credits of MaXXXine: Biscuit Stunt Driver

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: Twisters  (2024) PG-13  Kate Carter (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a meteorologist who used to love chasing tornadoes until she encountered one that had deadly results. Kate is lured back into the open plains by her friend Javi (Anthony Ramos), who has developed a groundbreaking new tracking system that could save hundreds of lives. She soon meets Tyler Owens (Glen Powell), a reckless storm chaser with a huge social media following. Let’s see if Mr. Powell can keep his winning streak going and if the film will meet the expectations of the fans of the 1996 film Twister, which starred Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton.   Twisters Website The film will be in theatres on Friday, July 19th. 

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 28, 2024

A Quiet Place: Day One

My View:  A Quiet Place: Day One  (2024)  PG-13  A Quiet Place: Day One takes place on the first day of the alien invasion. Sam (Lupita Nyong’o) and her pet cat must survive in an ever-isolated New York City. Sam tries to figure out a way out while evading the bloodthirsty alien creatures with ultrasonic hearing. She teams up with a young law student, Eric (Joseph Quinn), who is just looking for help and guidance. I am a big fan of John Krasinski’s first two Quiet Place films, as they were a perfect mix of great drama with some horror thrown in. I will admit it took me almost a day to change my opinion of this film, which takes place on the first few days of the invasion by killer aliens who locate their victims by sound. My first reaction was that the film didn’t give us much information about the aliens and why they have invaded. But with further thought, this isn’t about the aliens; it’s about the people trying to survive and make connections in a world where talking rarely happens. Day One is not a film about survival, but rather about living your life, finding connections with others, and finding solace in the little things that make up the world. Yes, there are plenty of scary aliens seemingly around every corner, and it’s a world where the slightest mistake could cost you your life. But it’s also a story of finding humanity, sometimes in small gestures, that connect people. Oh, and cat lovers will fall in love with Sam's cat, who constantly steals the movie from Nyong'o, something I thought would be impossible. So pack a few cans of cat food, a couple of flashlights and go on a journey with Eric and Sam as they try to evade the invaders and survive together with a cat that has more than nine lives.  My Rating: Full Price  A Quiet Place: Day One Website Now playing in theaters nationwide. 

My View:  Horizon:  An American Saga- Chapter 1   (2024)  R  Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 spans the  years of the Civil War, as the film looks at the people who made up the Old West at a time of conflict. The story is told through the lens of families, friends, and foes as America expanded its boundaries. If you are hoping for another Costner-directed Dances with Wolves, you will be sadly disappointed. Horizon is a film that has too many characters to keep track of, and I have no clue if they will all somehow connect in Chapter 2. While Costner, the director, still has an eye for some stunning shots of the American West, the film suffers from characters you don’t care about and a script that meanders like the wagon train that Luke Wilson is leading. Who the heck thought he could be perfect as the trail boss? Costner’s character shows up about an hour into the film, doing what I never was clear about, and quickly gets involved with a prostitute played by Abbey Lee and gets into a whole bunch of trouble. By the way, Abbey Lee’s character, Marigold, is the only character I enjoyed. And apparently, in what seemed like 5 minutes of highlights from Chapter 2, shown at the end of the film, Marigold does not appear again. I am not sure the audience will show up for Chapter 2 either. As a fan of Westerns, I was hoping Mr. Costner would give us something to enjoy, but other than a very talkative prostitute, he doesn’t. It’s just a long, a big mess of a story that may never end.   My Rating: Cable  Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 Website  Now playing in theaters. 

My ViewDaddio  (2023)  R   In Daddio, a woman (Dakota Johnson) takes a cab ride from JFK to the city. On the way, she converses with a widower cab driver, Clark (Sean Penn), who has a habit of asking questions. Sometimes, it’s easier to discuss your personal life and loves with a stranger. All it takes is a conversation with someone you don't know to figure out a few things. It’s a time-honored thing for someone to talk to a stranger. Sometimes, it’s a bartender, or a fellow stranger at the bar, or on a long cab drive. This used to be more common before people could bury themselves in their phones. To pass the time, you would talk to a stranger, and if you connected, someone might bear personal things. That's what happens in Daddio: during a long taxi ride from the airport to midtown, with heavy traffic in between, they have time to discuss love, life, and mistakes. Daddio is a fine match between two strong and personal actors in Johnson and Penn. Both portray likable characters, which is essential because we, the audience, are along for this hour and forty-minute ride. Johnson plays a successful computer programmer who is in a relationship that, through Clark’s probing and guessing, we discover, is with a married man. To make the young woman comfortable, Clark makes a game of these confessions, one secret given for one in return. The back-and-forth chemistry between the two actors and a realistic dialogue, where we almost feel guilty for being allowed to ride along, without us having to share a secret or two in return. We get to ride along and do not have to pay Clark for the privilege of being invited into the lives of the two people. Like most cab rides, we will never see them again, and that’s okay; we got to learn a few things about these two people and us as well.  My Rating: Full Price   Daddio Website  The film is now in theaters.

My View: I Am: Celine Dion  (2024) The documentary I Am: Celine Dion gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic singer, her Vegas residency, and her struggle with a life-altering illness that Celine vows to overcome and be on the stage again. The numerous concert clips and behind-the-scenes footage are sure to delight Celine Dion fans. Plus, Celine gives us a tour of her costume collection, which makes up a whole warehouse, and we get a ton of scenes in her Las Vegas home, with her kids and dog. However, I will warn you that this is not a warm and fuzzy movie. I Am gives us a close-up of the battle that Celine is waging with the rare neurological disorder, Stiff Person Syndrome, that has taken her away from the concert stage. I commend Celine Dion for allowing the cameras to see her both at her best and worst, showing how devastating this condition is and how it has robbed her of what she loves almost as much as her family: performing. There are two heartbreaking scenes. One is where Celine struggles to record a new song, something she hasn’t done in years, with a singing voice that doesn’t want to respond. The second is near the film’s end when we see her go into a total seizure, brought on by trying to do too much. It’s a scary and heartbreaking scene that she recovers from because of her team. At one point, near the end of the seizure, she is asked if she wants the cameras to be cut off, and she bravely says no. I Am: Celine Dion is a brave and insightful film that shines a spotlight on a devastating neurological disorder that few have ever heard of. Before watching this film, I was not a big fan of Celine Dion, the singer, but I am now a fan of Celine Dion, the person. My Rating: Full Price  I Am: Celine Dion Website  The film is now on the Amazon Prime format.

My View Kinds of Kindness  (2024)  R  Kinds of Kindness is a trilogy of stories about a man who tries to take control of his life, a police officer whose wife has become seemingly a different person, and a woman who searches for someone with a special ability. This is a film from Yorgos Lanthimos, who gave us the 11-nominated, four-time Oscar-winner comedy Poor Things. Poor Things was a comedy with a bit of darkness. Kinds of Kindness is the exact opposite: it’s a drama full of darkness with a bit of comedy. So you have been warned. This is a film built from three different stories. One character connects each story, but that connection is so slight and quick that you might not even notice it. Kinds of Kindness comprises three stories. The first is a man who has had his life predetermined for him and tries to break the chain. The second story is about a cop who is convinced that his wife, who has been missing and presumed dead, is not really his wife. Story number three is about a couple who are on the search for someone who can raise the dead. All three stories are strange and take almost absurd turns that leave you wondering if what you saw is true or a figment of a character's imagination. Unlike Poor Things, which, because Emma Stone played such a bizarre and fun character, along with all the strange animals/people in the film, was fun to watch, this film can be brutal and extremely dark. Surprisingly, I think I found this film more enjoyable than Poor Things. It’s a film that seems to have more substance than the comedy. Somehow, someway, I was more involved with these dark and strange stories, all of which surprised me with how they told, and how the stories each ended. So, if you dare, get into the purple muscle car that Emma Stone’s character drives in the third story and take a ride with a film that will take you on a very bumpy ride.   My Rating: Full Price   Kinds of Kindness Website   Now playing in theaters.

IndiefestJanet Planet  (2023)  PG-13  Janet Planet is about 11-year-old Lucy (Zoe Ziegler), who is spending the summer of 1991 with her mother, Janet (Julianne Nicholson), at their home. As the summer goes along, three strangers enter Janet’s world and are captivated by her and her very insightful daughter. Janet Planet is a film about a young girl trying to find her place in the world with a mother who doesn’t seem to have ever found her place. Buoyed by two powerful performances from Zoe Ziegler and Julianne Nicholson, the film is about two people living together but not always on the same page. Lucy is someone who likes to be the center of attention. Her mother seems to collect people, often being influenced by the people she lets into her life, but it's never permanent. The only constant in Janet’s life is her daughter, who she often opens up to her as they lie in bed together at night. Lacy's entire world revolves around her mother, and there is no room for anyone else. We never know if this is also the case with Janet, but it’s clear that their relationship is the only thing that ultimately matters. Not much happens in Janet and Lacy’s world, and they seem fine with that.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Janet Planet Website  Now playing in theaters.

My ViewFancy Dance  (2023)  R    In Fancy Dance, Jax (Lily Gladstone) is obsessed with finding where her missing sister has disappeared to. Jax’s sister has left behind Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson) in Jax’s care, much to the dismay of Jax’s father, Frank (Shea Whigham). At the risk of losing custody, Jax sets out for the state powwow, hoping to track down Roki’s mother before the ceremonies begin. While Lily Gladstone’s character, Jax, is the one making the decisions, we see how all the drama that is happening with the family through the eyes of Roki, who desperately wants to see her mother again. Gladstone lets Deroy-Olson be the emotional one, allowing her to reflect on what is happening in their lives through Roki’s actions and facial expressions. Jax knows the deck is stacked against her in finding her sister, Roki’s mother. It’s stacked because of the lack of resources given to finding missing persons who live on the reservation. It’s stacked against Jax because of someone who has made mistakes in her past, and the courts will use it against her. And it’s stacked against her because, in her heart, Jax thinks this might be a lost cause. The story slowly teaches us about life on the reservation and about Roki’s mother. Fancy Dance is a film that lets us peek into the lives of two women with a bond of more than just aunt and niece; It’s a bond of history, culture, and a way of life. Life is full of injustices, but family can help you deal with them, even if it takes dancing to do it.  My Rating: Full Price    Fancy Dance Info  Now playing on the Apple TV+ format.
My View:  
A Family Affair  (2024)  PG-13  In A Family Affair, Zara (Joey King) has been a personal assistant for a couple of years to super mega movie star Chris Cole (Zac Efron), a selfish, demanding womanizer. The job has taken a toll on Zara, and because she is fed up dealing with Chris and his constant demands, she quits. Soon after, to her horror, she discovers that her widowed mother and successful author, Brooke (Nicole Kidman), has begun a romance with Zara’s former boss. So with Zac Efron playing the selfish, boorish star, Nicole Kidman playing the widow/perfect mom, Kathy Bates playing the wise and fun grandma, and Joey King playing the put-upon, smart, lovable personal assistant, this film should have been a smash hit. However, the'meet-cute'/jumping into bed is too easy (sorry Nicole, pun intended), and everything else in the plot is predictable and lazy. Despite the star power, the film falls flat on its face. Besides his winning smile and rock-hard abs (they are brought up several times), you wonder what Brooke sees in Chris. Sure, he is someone who looks good in anything he wears, but the man treats Zara, Brooke’s beloved daughter, like crap. In addition, Chris is a shallow idiot who thinks he can persuade his assistant to order fresh air for him to breathe. This same person then meets Brooke and is suddenly a nice guy who reads books and can converse with an author without boring her to tears. The laughs are few, and the chemistry between Efron and Kidman is sorely lacking. Do we truly believe that this love affair will span beyond a six-month shooting schedule? The only bright spot is Joey King, who tries as hard as she can to be kooky, lovable, and willing to be silly when it’s needed. But try as hard as she can; nothing can save this rom-com from needing a rewrite or two. Or three.  My Rating: Cable   A Family Affair Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Forgotten Film: Eye of the Needle  (1981)  R  A ruthless killer and German spy, Henry Faber, nicked named The Needle (for the way he kills) is in Britain during WWII and has gotten important information about the upcoming Allied invasion of Europe that must get to Hitler himself. As he waits to be picked up on an Isolated island off the Scottish coast and against his better judgment, he becomes involved with the wife, Lucy (Kate Nelligan), of a disabled man (Christopher Cazenove). This is a story about lost souls finding each other, even in wartime. However, this is not a romantic tale as Henry is a killer who doesn’t think twice about murder if it benefits Henry. Henry is a troubled man, and no matter how much Lucy falls for him, she won’t be able to change him.  Or will it? Donald Sutherland gives an outstanding performance as only he can, making a man with all the makings of a serial killer, someone who is so complex that you wonder if he can find happiness with Lucy.  My Rating: Full Price  Eye of the Needle Website  The film is available for rent/buy on Amazon and Apple TV.

Weird Credits:  From the credits of A Quiet Place: Day One:  Wire Assistants 

Coming Soon to a Screen Near YouLonglegs  (2024)  R  FBI Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) is a gifted new recruit assigned to an unsolved case involving a serial killer and the occult. Agent Harker discovers she has a personal connection to the killer and must stop him before he strikes again. The cast includes Nicolas Cage, Blaire Underwood, and Alicia Witt.  Longlegs Website  The film will be released in theaters on Friday, July 12, 2024. 

Until Next Time!