Friday, November 15, 2019

Ford v Ferrari

My View:  Ford v Ferrari (2019) PG-13   Legendary American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) is hired by the Ford Motor Company to create a race car that can take on the seemingly to defeat Ferrari racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Against Ford’s wishes, he hires the brash and outspoken driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to drive the car. Can Shelby manage Mlle’s temper long enough to win the race? One of the best films of the year and maybe the finest racing film of all time. The plot is expertly laid out with the two leads at the top of their game, and the racing sequences are thrilling to watch. At no time does this film feel like a movie that is over two and a half hours in length. I loved the relationship that Miles has with both his wife (played by Caitriona Balfe) and his son (Noah Jupe), making Miles a man that you can root for from the start. Damon, as the brash and bold Shelby, holds his own with Cable on the screen, and their fight scene, while Miles’s wife looks on from a lawn chair in the front yard, is one of the highlights of the movie. Even if you aren’t a racing fan, you will love this film for its deep and complex characters and their ever-evolving relationships.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Ford v Ferrari Website
My View: The Irishman (2019) R   The story of Frank “The Irishman’ Sheeran (Robert De Niro) who went from a truck driving WWII vet to the right-hand man of the Bufalino crime family. Sheeran’s claim in the later years was that he was the hitman that killed his long-time friend Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), the former president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who mysteriously vanished in 1975. Director Martin Scorsese brings us another gem of a film. This isn’t a film that glamorizes the mob life like The Godfather, Goodfellas or Casino. This is a movie about the dark, bloody life of a man who, through good luck and bravado, makes it to be the right-hand man of a mob boss and a close friend of one of the most powerful men in the country in Teamsters boss Hoffa. Much has been made of the CGI effects used to ‘de-age’ De Niro and Joe Pesci (playing mob boss Russell Bufalino) for a good third of the film, but you very quickly accept it, and it never interferes with the flow of the movie. The performances in this film are just draw-dropping good, and while the film is three and a half hours long, you never notice or feel the length of the movie. I can’t stress how powerful and sometimes moving this film is. Note that while this film is based loosely on real events, don’t believe everything you see actually happened, especially with the death of Hoffa. I think we can allow a master filmmaker like Scorsese to have a little fun with history to create a film that is an instant classic in the making.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    The Irishman Website
My View: Charlie’s Angels (2019) PG-13   A systems engineer, Elena (Naomi Scott), joins Jane (Ella Balinska) and Sabina (Kristen Stewart) to work for the mysterious Charles Townsend. The Townsend Agency is guided by multiple Bosleys (Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou) to stop the world’s mastermind criminals. Can we please stop making films about crappy TV series from the past? The film is a bloated mess of a movie that has plot twists that you see almost from the start of the movie. Other than Patrick Stewart (who chews up scenery like he hasn’t acted in ten years), Kristen Stewart looks like the only actor in this cast that is having a good time making this film. Djimon Hounsou is absolutely wasted in a small role, and Elizabeth Banks acts like she is in a bad 70s cop show, which is what this film is based on. The film is summed up by a dance sequence near the end of the film that Balinska and Stewart join in on, somehow knowing all the intricate dance moves that contribute nothing to this film but making the running time pad out to almost two hours. If Charlie calls, don’t answer the phone. If you make it to the end, there are bonus scenes during the credits, which a bunch of cameos.   My Rating: Cable    Charlie's Angels Website
My View: The Good Liar (2019) R   Career con artist Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) meets wealthy widow Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) in an online dating service, and he can’t believe his luck. He begins a courtship with the intent of milking her dry, but he never thought for a moment that he would start to have feelings for her. The performances of McKellen and Mirren can’t overcome a weak plot whose major twist is seen almost from the start of the film. I wish that director Bill Condon and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher gave us a much more vibrant and complex plot, but the film finds its self in a corner at the end of the movie that it quite can’t get out of. I hate it when films let down the actors, especially ones of this talent, but The Good Liar can’t overcome its attempt to fool us.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Good Liar Movie
Indiefest: The Warrior Queen of Jhansi (2019) R  Rani Lakshmibai (Devika Bhise) must rise up and lead her people to take on the formidable British East India Company when it threatens her family and her country with expansion. I saw the trailer of this film and thought it might be a cool film to check out, a warrior queen who leads a group of women warriors to take on the mighty British empire. Unfortunately, this film feels like a poorly made TV docudrama, with long periods of people discussing how to put down the rebellion. The action sequences are too far, and few between and aren’t very exciting. The left me wanting more of this story, never quite delivering what it promised.  My Rating: Cable    The Warrior Queen of Jhansi Website
Indiefest: Frankie (2019) PG-13   Three generations deal with life-changing experiences during one day on vacation in Sintra, Portugal, a historic town known for its water that heals. I enjoyed the performances in this film, especially Isabelle Huppert, who plays the title role, a world-famous actress and the matriarch of the family, and Marisa Tomei, a friend of Frankie who has come to spend time with Frankie and her family. This is a film that is all about conversations between a lot of miserable people. There are a few really touching moments, especially between Brendan Gleeson, who plays Frankie’s devoted and loving husband, and Huppert, a woman who wants to plan out everything in her life and usually gets her way. Spend the day in the beautiful countryside, getting to know this strange and troubled family.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Frankie Website
Indiefest:  Light from Light (2019) A single mom and part-time paranormal investigator, Shelia (Marin Ireland), is asked to look into a possible ‘haunting’ at a widower’s (Jim Gaffigan) home. I really enjoyed this small, quiet film about a mother and son, Owen(Josh Wiggins). While the paranormal aspect of the film is part of the story, the heart of the film is how the mother, son, and the widower are dealing with loss. Marin Ireland gives a multi-layered performance of a mom who may have the gift of being able to contact ghosts but is more concerned about how the widower is dealing with the loss of his wife. Josh Wiggins gives a winning performance as the son who is slow to develop his friendship with Lucy (Atheena Frizzell), a fellow student who shows all the signs that she wants to be more than friends with Owen. Jim Gaffigan gives a moving and restrained performance as the grieving widow who wants to know if his wife really is a ghost in his house or is it all in his imagination. This is a film that I savored every moment it was on the screen and loved getting to know the characters in the movie, pleased in the end how everything turned out.   My RatingRating: Full Price    Light from Light Website
Forgotten FilmEureka (1983) R   In the 20s, a prospector, Jack McCann (Gene Hackman), finds a gold mine through mysterious ways. He becomes the richest man in the world, but money can’t always buy happiness. Boasting an all-star cast that includes Theresa Russell, Rutger Hauer, Mickey Rourke, and Joe Pesci, this film is a wild ride of a movie that is part reality and part fantasy. Your job as a viewer is to figure out which part is real and which is fantasy. Hackman is fantastic as the role of a man whose life hasn’t turned out the way he wanted it to, and Theresa Russell is brilliant as his troubled daughter who has fallen for the wrong man (Hauer). This isn’t a great film, but man is it fun to watch Hackman just go nuts with the role.    My View: Bargain Matinee    Eureka Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Charlie’s Angels: Chaperon: Turkey

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) PG-13 The gang (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan) is back, and this time it’s a rescue mission. In order to escape the most dangerous game, they will have to go into an unknown country full of arid deserts and snowy mountains. The first film was an unexpected pleasure, so let's hope two times a charm.    Jumanji: The Next Level Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Doctor Sleep

My View:  Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep (2019) R   Years after the events of The Shining, a now-adult Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) meets a young girl, Abra (Emily Alyn Lind), who has similar powers like his. Dan takes the girl under his wing and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot. Their mission is to find and prey on children with powers so that their members can remain immortal. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how closely the movie follows the King storyline, but I think most fans of the first film will enjoy this movie that continues the story of Danny. The film effectively uses actors who look like the characters in the first film in a series of flashbacks that Danny keeps revisiting. I appreciated that the filmmakers took this route instead of trying to CGI the original actors into the film. While I never really got scared, I did enjoy the tension that the movie kept building as Danny and Abra try to defeat The True Knot. I don’t know if this film will be considered up there with The Shining, but it certainly does a great job of filling in the story on what happened after Danny’s dad died.   My Rating: Full Price     Doctor Sleep Website
My View: Last Christmas (2019) PG-13   Kate (Emilia Clarke) is a person who keeps making one wrong decision after another, sleeping with men who pick her up at bars, staying on friend’s couches until she wears out her welcome, and avoiding her mother’s phone calls. Kate works as Santa’s elf for a local, year-round Christmas store. Her life takes a new turn when she meets Tom (Henry Golding) outside the store. Tom seems perfect, but Kate is doubtful as he looks too good to be true. While I don’t think this will ever be a Christmas perennial, I did enjoy this film about a selfish young woman who learns to give from a man who shows up unexpectedly in her life. Clarke and Golding have strong chemistry that makes their give and take conversations seem real and enjoyable. I especially enjoyed Emma Thompson (who also wrote the script) as Kate’s overbearing mother and Michelle Yeoh is hilarious as Kate’s boss, a woman named Santa. Last Christmas is a warm and appealing way to get into the holiday spirit.   My Take: Bargain Matinee   Last Christmas Website
My View: Midway (2019) PG-13   After the disastrous attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the U.S. Navy is reeling. Now, America, against heavy odds, must fight the Japanese Navy in the Battle of Midway, a turning point in World War II. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the film, especially in the air battle sequences. I loved the tension that the film created (even though I knew the outcome of all three battles), wondering if the heroes that we can come to know and love were going to survive. Standouts in the big cast are Ed Skrein, as a cocky pilot who starts to doubt his leadership abilities when disaster strikes, Patrick Wilson, as an Intelligence officer who has the guts to say that Midway will be the Japanese next target after Pearl and surprisingly, Nick Jonas, as a heroic seaman who isn’t afraid to face death. The film is a little too long as Aaron Eckhart’s storyline of Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo is really not necessary and could have easily been left out, but the story and the action move at a pretty quick pace and will have you on the edge of your seat.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Midway Website
Familyfaire: Playing with Fire (2019) PG   A crew of firefighters called smokejumpers, led by tough as nails Jake Carson (John Cena), meet their match when they rescue a trio of rambunctious children. This is one of those films when you look at your watch, thinking that the movie is undoubtedly about over, and you are shocked that there is still an hour to go. John Cena has shown in the past that he can do comedy, and he is supported by a comedic all-star lineup of John Leguizamo, Judy Greer, and Keegan-Michael Key, but all their talent can’t save this un-funny and sloppy film. I hate movies where the kids do horrible things, like destroy property and causing chaos, and we are expected to laugh because the kids are so cute. Fans of Deadpool are going to be disappointed in the performance of Brianna Hildebrand, who shows nothing like the spark we saw when she was Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Only small kids will enjoy this film, as I don’t think even the WWE fans of Cena will find anything in this film to laugh about.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again    Playing with Fire Website
Indiefest: Cyrano, My Love (2018)   Edmond Rostand (Thomas Soliveres) hasn’t written anything for two years. Married with two kids, he tells everyone that he has a new heroic comedy though all he has written is the title: ‘Cyrano de Bergerac.’ I had such a good time watching this marvelous telling of how Rostand came up with one of the most beloved characters in theatre. Having a wife and a best friend believe in Edmond only makes things worse. When a legendary actor, Constant Coquelin (Olivier Gourmet), is introduced to Edmond, the actor insists that the playwright come up with a play that can fill his theatre for two weeks. What I love about this film is that Edmond doesn’t come up with the ideas for his play all at once, but instead, it is a trail of happy circumstances that inspire him to come up with his play. If you enjoy theatre and especially if Cyrano has a soft spot in your heart, you will want to see this fantastic and funny film.   My Rating: Full Price    Cyrano, My Love Website
Forgotten Film: Gregory’s Girl (1980) PG  Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair) is a typical teen who, because of a recent growth spurt, has become quite awkward, notably on the soccer pitch. He likes Dorothy (Dee Hepburn), who is a much better player on the soccer team than Gregory is. Gregory finally gets the courage to ask Dorothy out, but that’s when Gregory’s troubles begin. This is an enjoyable and pleasing film about growing up in Scotland at an age when one mistake can seem like the end of the world to a teenager. The two leads are superb in their roles of teens in love and make the film a joy to watch.   My Rating: Full Price    Gregory's Girl Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Midway: Electric Swing Production Assistant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Little Women (2019) PG The classic tale of four young sisters coming of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War. Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, the follow up to her two-time Academy Award-nominated 2017 film Lady Bird, which is all I need to know.    Little Women Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Terminator: Dark Fate

My View:  Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) R    Two decades after Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) saved humanity from Judgement Day, she must again take on a Terminator, this time a new Terminator called the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna). Sarah, with the help of an enhanced super-soldier from the future named Grace (Mackenzie Davis), must keep a young woman named Dani (Natalia Reyes) safe. I really enjoyed this film as it picks up where Terminator II left off (forget all those other Terminator movies, in this cinema world, those don’t exist). I thought the film did a great job of incorporating Sarah into the story, as the feisty but damaged Connor fights to right the wrongs of the past. Mackenzie Davis brings a spark to the film as the soldier from the future who has been sent to save Dani at any cost. The action scenes are brilliant, and yes, a certain Terminator comes back to help the gang keep Dani safe (no spoiler here as Arnold is in the trailer and is featured prominently on the movie poster). If you enjoyed the first two films, you will have a great time with this film.    My Rating: Full Price    Terminator: Dark Fate Website
My View: Harriet (2019) PG-13   The story of Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo), who went from escaping from slavery to becoming one of the forces that transported slaves to freedom using the Underground Railroad. I wish this was a better movie, but it feels like it’s a made for TV movie from 1985. If you are to believe this film, Harriet did most of her contact with her family and friends during the daytime, out in the open, even though she was a highly wanted person. The film wants us to know that when Harriet escaped from her plantation and made it to safety, it was an impossible trek that no woman alone had ever done. The problem is we see about five minutes of this journey, and we never get the feel of just how amazing this escape was. I found the film boring at times as there is a lot of debate on whether Harriet can go back to save her family. The film is not helped by a musical score that seems so out of place for most of the movie. I just wish this had been a more exciting and engaging look at a historical figure that we all need to know more about to truly appreciate all that she did.   My Rating: Cable   Harriet Website
Indiefest:  Motherless Brooklyn (2019) R   Set in 1950s New York, a private detective named Lionel (Edward Norton), afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, sets out to solve the murder of his friend and mentor, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). I am sure that a lot of critics are going to bring up the 1974 Oscar-winning film Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway since the plot of that film and this one are similar with a detective in each film trying to piece a mystery together while everyone else is telling him to drop the case. The similarities end there with Norton’s portrayal of Lionel, a detective who has Tourette’s Syndrome, a condition that hampers both his ability to investigate without attracting attention and picking up women. My favorite scene is when Lionel goes into a bar to ask a few questions. A good-looking woman comes up and starts to flirt with Lionel, pulling out a cigarette and asking a light. Lionel keeps lighting a match, and then before she can light her cigarette, he blows it out, causing the woman to walk away. I enjoyed this film, which Norton both wrote and directed, and it is evident that he loves the style and look of the detective films of the 40s and 50s. The film does get bogged down a bit in a very complicated plot and slows a little too much in the middle of the film. Regardless  I still enjoyed Norton’s performance and his directorial effort to give us a modern-day ‘film noir.’   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Motherless Brooklyn Website
Indiefest: Pain and Glory (2019) R   A famous film director (Antonio Banderas) must confront both his past and present as a film festival wants to celebrate the movie that made his career. Antonio Banderas gives a tour de force performance, one that surely will get him an Academy Award nomination. Banderas is perfect in the role of a man who, because of pain, both physical and emotional, can’t find a way to live his life. This is a vibrant and compelling movie about talent wasted and the stupid mistakes that we make when we think we are better than the rest of the world. I loved the flashbacks to his younger life, living with a mother (played by Penelope Cruz) who is continually being let down by her husband. What I loved about this film is that Banderas's character slowly makes discoveries about his life (both present and past) that help him become a better man.   My Rating: Full Price    Pain and Glory Website
Indiefest: JoJo Rabbit (2019) PG-13   A young boy, Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), wants to be in Hitler’s army at age ten and finds out that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home. So, you got to love a film where the kid in the story’s imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler (played by director/writer Taika Waititi). Taking in the place the last years of the war, JoJo, who is only ten, is desperate to go fight on the battlefield. Unfortunately, his mother (Scarlett Johansson) thinks better of JoJo’s plan and keeps him nearby. This film is full of humor, a great deal brought on by imaginary Adolf, who constantly gives advice to the boy (most of it nothing to do with Jojo) and offers JoJo cigarettes. The film is about prejudices and how propaganda can cloud your vision of the world. Griffin Davis is a delight as the young Nazi wannabe, and he has excellent chemistry with both Johansson and McKenzie. Sam Rockwell, as a failed army officer, is hilarious, and Stephen Merchant gives a tremendous short appearance as a SS agent looking for Jews. The audience I saw this film thoroughly enjoyed the movie and so did I.  My Rating: Full Price    JoJo Rabbit Website
Indiefest: Where’s My Roy Cohn? (2019) PG-13   Documentary on controversial lawyer Roy M. Cohn, who grew to prominence as Communist hunter Joseph McCarthy’s right-hand man in the 1950s to a trusted advisor to the rich and powerful, including Donald Trump. Roy Cohn was a bad and dishonest man who reveled in aligning himself with the rich and powerful, no matter if they were guilty or murderers. The film takes a hard look at Cohn and how, even after he was disbarred, he continued to manipulate the legal system to his and his client's financial gain. The film shows Cohn warts and all, including the last years of his life, when he refused to publicly come out as gay and HIV positive. This is a fascinating film about a man who trail-blazed the way for Donald Trump and the political landscape that we live in today.   My Rating: Full Price      Where is My Roy Cohn? Website
Indiefest: Greener Grass (2019)   Life is hard in suburban America. Soccer moms are always competing against each other for ‘best mom’ as their kids settle their differences on the soccer pitch. Families are judged by how fancy their golf carts are, how their lawns appear, and it’s all the while a serial killer is on the loose in their neighborhood. Just a fair warning that this film is a wild, crazy ride where serial killers try to get noticed but don’t, mothers give away their children on a whim and where it’s more important how you look than if you are happy. The film is nuts, and we see that at a lawn party where two great their wives with kisses and then they all realize that they have kissed the wrong wife. Sometimes the jokes don’t quite work, and the film goes on just a little too long, but it’s still fun to hop on a golf cart and ride down the street with this bizarre community.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Greener Grass Website
Forgotten Film: The Last of Sheila (1973)   A millionaire’s wife is killed in a hit and run accident. A year later, he invites friends and family to his yacht in France for a week of fun and parties. The millionaire (James Coburn) knows that the murderer is on the yacht and starts a very complicated game of mystery that his guests must solve. What the guests don’t know is that the millionaire plans on exposing not just the murderer but also all his guest's secrets that they have so carefully hidden in their lives. This is a mystery in the style of Agatha Christie, and it is a blast to watch as the guests slowly realize that they are being played. Like a Christie mystery, there is a great plot turn around the middle of the film, and we, as the audience, have to figure out what happened. If you like mysteries, then this is a film for you.    My Rating: Full Price    The Last of Shelia Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Terminator: Dark Fate: Immigration Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Frozen II (2019) PG   Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), and Sven leave Arendelle to find the origin of Elsa’s powers to save the kingdom. When I walked out of the screening of the first Frozen I told the rep, Disney has a massive hit in ‘Let it Go!” Let’s hope this one has one too.     Frozen II Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 25, 2019


My View: Countdown (2019) PG-13 When a nurse (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that claims to predict the moment a person will die, she discovers that she has only three days to live. Now she must figure out a way to save her life before the countdown strikes zero. This is your typical, run of the mill, jump out of the dark movie where our heroine is racing against time to figure out how to defeat an app that counts down when you are going to die. The ‘scary’ moments in the film were very predictable, never creating any tension that the movie sorely needed. P.J. Byrne does a horrible job as the comic relief priest that is sought after to find a solution to defeat the app.   My Rating: Cable   Countdown Website
My View: Black and Blue (2019) R   A rookie police officer, Alice West (Naomie Harris), witnesses dirty cops, including her partner, kill a man. West now is on the run from both her fellow officers and her community that she has sworn to protect and serve. Despite the acting chops of Naomie Harris, this film feels very long with endless chase sequences where our hero, the plucky army vet, Officer West, is able to elude police officers on both foot and in cars, time and time again by just hiding in various spots in the neighborhood. The film tries to add in commentary on the Katrina aftermath, police brutality, and several other issues that it tries to quickly wrap up at the end of the film. I love that Hollywood gave Harris a starring role in a movie, but can we provide her with something more than this full of holes plotline and a supporting cast that feels like it was in a bad 90s cop TV show.   My Rating: Cable   Black and Blue Website
MyView: The Current War: Director’s Cut (2017) PG-13    The story of the race between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch), Nikola Tesla (Nichoas Hoult), and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to determine whose electrical system will be adopted by the modern world. I would first like to mention the cinematography in this film, which is beautiful and amazing. The film does a great job of making it look like it is in the late 1800s. I love the fact that we see both sides of the story. The film goes back and forth, telling equally the stories of two gigantic figures of the time, Westinghouse, who knew his system was the correct one and Edison, who had the advantage over Westinghouse in the fact that he was already a household name, signing autographs right and left. My favorite character in the film was the eccentric Nikola Telsa, who worked at different times for both men. Hoult gives a multilayered performance of Telsa, a man who knew he was the smartest man in the room and would let you know it. The harnessing of electricity was one of the greatest achievements that man has ever had, and this film lives up to those lofty ideals.   My Rating: Full Price    The Current War Facebook Page
Indiefest: The Lighthouse (2019) R   Two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson) work together, and the isolation takes a toll on the two men’s minds. This film reminded me of the European avant-garde movies that my college professors made me watch in my History of Cinema classes, an experience that I did not enjoy. This is the story of two men: Pattinson’s character, Winslow, is a wet behind the ears teetotaler of a man who is just there to make a buck and Dafoe’s character, Wake, is a hard-drinking former seaman who lost his leg and now takes his job as custodian of the lighthouse as serious as if he was piloting a ship. The two men barely make it to the end of the two weeks' stay when due to weather, their relief does not show up and may not for several months. The film early on hints that both men are troubled. Pattinson’s character has dreams/nightmares about a mermaid based on a small carving he finds hidden in his bed, and Dafoe’s character is ultra-protective of the light in the lighthouse, to the point of threatening violence if Winslow ever goes to the top. The second half of the film delves into how the two men are taking their continued isolation, and many of the remaining scenes of the film are hard to distinguish if they are real or just figments of the men’s minds. This is a film from Robert Eggers, the writer/director of The Witch (2015), another film that never was clear what was an actual event and what was only in the minds of its characters. I am just not a fan of this style of film and did not enjoy the movie, though I thought both actors were brilliant in their roles. This is a film that I will never re-watch and kind of wish that I hadn’t seen it to begin with.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Lighthouse Website
Indiefest: Parasite (2019) R A down on their luck family’s fortune changes when their out of work son, Kim Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi), poses as an English tutor for a wealthy teenage daughter of a very affluent family. I loved this film right from the start! A family, who when we first meet them, is more concerned with their free wi-fi going way than their living conditions, slowly but surely weasel their way into the lives of a well-to-do family. This is a masterpiece of filmmaking that moves back and forth from comedy to drama with a heavy hand on the implications of a society that is deeply divided between the haves and have nots. Do not read any detailed reviews of the film until you see the movie due to the incredible plot devices that are used. If this film is not nominated for not just Best Foreign Film but Best Picture at the next Academy Awards, it will be a failure of the highest magnitude. Perfectly shot with an impeccable cast make this film an incredible piece of cinema to watch. This is a film that I will probably go see again during its opening week because I want to experience it in all its glory.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Parasite Website
Forgotten Film: Cop Land (1997) R   Sheriff Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone) comes to realize that though his New Jersey community is populated by New York City police officers, it has become a front for the mob and the police officers he thought he could trust are in on the corruption. Written and directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line (2005), Logan (2017)), the film gives Stallone a chance to against his normal ‘superhero’ type, playing a slow to act Sheriff who learns too late that he may have bitten off more than he can handle. The cast is impressive with Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Annabella Sciorra, Cathy Moriarty, Edie Falco, and Peter Berg, but it’s the performance of Ray Liotta, playing the town’s coke head that becomes the only man that the Sheriff can trust. Liotta jumps off the screen and dominates every scene he is in, which is hard to do with this cast. Saddled with a horrible title and a slumping star, the film didn’t do great at the box office, but it is such a great film to discover.   My Rating: Full Price   Cop Land Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Current War: Horse Masters

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Ford v Ferrari (2019) PG-13 Tired of being dominated by the car-maker Ferrari, Ford gives the American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) six months to build a car that takes on the world at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. Shelby believes that only one car driver can man his race car, the hot-headed, brash Ken Miles (Christian Bale). I can’t wait to see this film, it looks like so much fun to watch.     Ford v Ferrari Website 
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

My View:  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  (2019) PG    Family ties will be questioned between Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), as they are pulled in different directions by an impending wedding, unexpected allies and the dark forces that are always in play. As with the first Maleficent film, this movie is all show and no substance. The CGI is once again outstanding, but the plot is even shakier than the first film, and the ending is so patched-worked that it feels the writer/directors of this film just decided to throw everything they could into the finale and hope people wouldn’t notice the giant plot holes the ending exposes. Once again, Angelina Jolie is the best thing about the film, but it’s not enough to save this film. By the way, at our critic's only screening, Disney showed us a ‘Don’t use your cellphone during the movie’ PSA that gave away most of the funnier bits in the film. Great thinking Disney!    My Rating: Cable    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Website
My View: Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) R The gang (Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Jessie Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson) move to the heartland and have to keep fighting off zombies, all while dealing with a makeshift family that always doesn’t get along. Ten years after the first film, the director and cast have reassembled to bring us another fun adventure of following rules, killing zombies and trying to survive the dynamics of this small group of misfits. While not quite as much fun as the original, the film still is full of hilarious zombie kills, including the Zombie Kill of the Week, and is greatly helped with the addition of a pink wearing Barbie doll of a woman named Madison, played with incredible comedic chops by Zoey Deutch. To say that Deutch steals the movie from the four main actors is an understatement, as she gum chews and hair plays into your heart. I had a great time watching this film, and it made me want to see the first film again. Make sure to stay through all the credits, as there are two bonus scenes that are some of the funniest moments of the movie.   My Rating: Full Price    Zombieland: Double Tap Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Crawl (2019) R   A Category 5 hurricane is about to hit. Having not heard from her dad, Maley (Kaya Scodelario) goes to his house and finds that he is injured. However, there is something down in the basement with them, and it’s out for blood. This is quite a good horror film while there are a few ‘jump out of the dark’ scares, most of the film is building terror. You also can’t figure out how the father/daughter are going to get out of this situation. I liked the performance of Kaya Scodelario, who is very believable as a college swimmer, which the pilot uses to its advantage. There is no rhyme or reason why the gators are killing people, but the shark in Jaws didn’t have a reason either. He just killed.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Crawl Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Spies in Disguise (2019) The world’s best spy (voiced by Will Smith) is turned into a pigeon, he must join forces with a low-level inventor (Tom Holland) to save the world. Did I mention that Will Smith’s character turns into a pigeon?    Spies in Disguise Website
Forgotten Film: In the Electric Mist (2009) R   Months after Hurricane Katrina has hit New Orleans, Detective Dave Robicheaux (Tommy Lee Jones) is investigating a murder of a hooker with ties to a mobster (John Goodman) who is producing a Civil War movie in the area. When the lead actor of the Civil War film, Elrod Sykes (Pete Sarsgaard) discovers a corpse on the swamp movie set, and his investigation begins. Robicheaux starts another investigation into what he thinks is a murder of a black man in 1965. If you like moody, full of twist’s murder mysteries, then this film is for you. What makes this film outstanding is the supporting cast, including Kelly Macdonald, Mary Steenburgen, Ned Beatty, Buddy Guy, John Sayles, and the great Levon Helm.   My Rating: Full Price    In the Electric Mist Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil: Horse Masters

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Current War: Director’s Cut (2017)   The story of the race between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch), Nikola Tesla (Nichoas Hoult) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to determine whose electrical system will be adopted by the modern world. The film got caught up in the Harvey Weinstein scandal and has been sold several times since then. It has finally gotten a release date, and with this cast, I am hoping for great things.    The Current War Facebook Page
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Addams Family

Family Faire:  The Addams Family  (2019) PG   The creepy, ghoulish, and peculiar Addams Family is back, terrorizing their neighbors in hair-raising fun. No movie or TV show has come close to the very funny but also very dark humor that cartoonist Charles Addams put into his New Yorker cartoons. This animated family film doesn’t come close to match the inventiveness that those cartoons displayed. Instead, we get a PC version of those characters he created and a storyline that is predictable and boring. Most of the kids around me at my screening were no longer paying attention to the film by about ten minutes in. I did like that fact that the film tends to center on Wednesday, the young Addams daughter whose best friend is a tree that can move its branches to grab people and transport them around the grounds. To me, Wednesday has always been the most interesting character of the bunch, with her deadpan delivery and almost superior outlook about the world than the rest of her family. Unfortunately, this is a movie that both parents and kids will want to leave the theatre soon after it starts.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   The Addams Family Website
My View:  Gemini Man  (2019)  PG-13   An over-the-hill hitman (Will Smith) takes on his worst nightmare, a younger clone of himself bent on killing him. Let's get right to what everyone will be talking about, the CGI younger Will Smith in the film. At times, the CGI does a great job and looks like a real person, but there are times, especially when we first meet the clone that looks fake and very animated. This takes away from the film, as you are consistently taken from the storyline or the action, looking at how well or not the film is carrying off this gimmick. I call it a gimmick because, as one of my fellow critics noted after the film screening, it would have been easier (and less costly) to cast a young actor in the part and then add makeup for the older version. The action is well done, but the storyline is weak, and the ending is just stupid and an easy out. Throughout the film I kept asking, why did two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee want to do this film, and how could it be this bad directed by him.   My Rating: Cable   Gemini Man Website
Indiefest:   Dolemite is My Name   (2019)  R  Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) is a has-been singer/comedian who now works in a dingy club as an MC. He decides to create a character called Dolemite and records numerous successful ‘blue’ comedy records. Rudy decides that to take his Dolemite character to the next level, he will star in a ‘Blaxploitation’ film. Giving what may be his best performance ever, Eddie Murphy fills the screen with a character that is so full of confidence and heart, he is sure that his vision will triumph. The great thing about his film is that Murphy is totally emersed in Rudy Ray Moore that you never see Eddie Murphy the comedic entertainer, sneak out at any point. Be warned, the film is filled with cursing and nudity but if you have seen any of the 70/80s Blaxploitation films, you will find this film an incredible ride. From the very start, this film sets a comedic tone that lasts through the closing credits when we see the actual Rudy Ray Moore star in the original Dolemite, and yes, the ceiling does fall on him as he makes love.   My Rating: Full Price    Dolemite is My Name Website
Indiefest: Lucy in the Sky  (2019)  R  Astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) returns to Earth after having an otherworldly experience in space. Now Lucy begins to lose touch with reality as she strives to return to deep space. This film felt more like the woman goes nuts Lifetime movie of the week than a major motion picture. After about the first ten minutes, I just didn’t care about Lucy and her drive to get back to space, no matter the cost. The film goes from Lucy wanting, actually needing to get back to space, to suddenly needed to be with a fellow astronaut (Jon Hamm) Lucy has had an affair with and has dropped her for a new and younger recruit. It just didn’t make sense to me how, for two-thirds of the film, she is all consumed by getting back into space, and then she gives it all up for a man who doesn’t want her. Portman gives it everything she has but she can’t overcome a messy script or her bad Texas accent.   My Rating: Cable   Lucy in the Sky Website
My View:  Jexi    (2019)  R   Phil (Adam Devine) has no friends, a dead-end job, and his love life is just wishful dreams. His life changes when he gets a new phone that has an A.I. life coach named Jexi (voiced by Rose Byrne) that helps Phil get his life in order. Things change when Jexi (think a Siri that has gone rogue) becomes in love with Phil and will do anything to keep him hers. This could be my number one worst film of the year. The shocking thing is that right from the start Jexi is gross, crass, and horrible to Phil, and he takes it as the phone is being helpful. The amount of not just profanities but almost obscene material that comes from Jexi is amazing. Nothing about this film is funny, and several running gags (Jexi asks Phil to keep pulling the power cord in and out as she has an orgasm) are just drop dead dumb. The ending feels like the film ran out of money, as Jexi just gives up and lets Phil have a girlfriend, played by Alexandra Shipp (the only breath of fresh air in this stagnant film). I didn’t hear one laugh from the audience, and I would have heard it because there were only four other people in the audience.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again     Jexi Website
Forgotten Film: The Three Musketeers   (1973)   Having been trained by his father, a young D’Artagnan (Michael York), heads to Paris to join the King’s musketeers. Brashly, D’Drtagnan challenges Athos, Porthos, and Aramis (Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay, and Richard Chamberlain) to separate duels. When the Three Musketeers find out that all three of them have been challenged by the same young fool, they take pity on him and take him under his wing. The Three Musketeers enlist D’Artagnan to help them take on the evil Rochefort (Christopher Lee) and Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) and stop a plot to gain power by proving to King Louis XIII that his wife is cheating on him. I love this film as it is part swashbuckling sword-fighting action, but it is also part comedy, with someone of the comedic bits, out and out slapstick, especially the part of the clumsy and bumbling Constance de Bonacieux, played by the hilarious Raquel Welch. What is so much fun about this film is actors like Lee and Heston play their parts very straight and narrow, while others around them are almost camping it up. Oliver Reed stands out as the lead Musketeer, but the whole cast does an incredible job of making this a wonder to watch.   My Rating: Full Price    The Three Musketeers Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Gemini Man: Toolman

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Based on the true-life story of the friendship between the beloved Fred Rodgers (Tom Hanks) and journalist Tom Junod ( Matthew Rhys). Anybody (including me) that saw the brilliant documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018) is going to have to see this film.     A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Website
Until Next Time!