Friday, January 24, 2020

The Gentlemen

My View: The Gentlemen (2019) R   Mickey (Matthew McConaughey) is the weed lord of England and wants to settle down with his wife, Rosalind (Michelle Dockery), and sell his drug empire. It won’t be an easy sell. Writer/director Guy Ritchie goes back to his roots when he used to do witty and gritty films like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (2000) and Snatch (1998). The film is a little too flashy and very complicated at the start, and it took me quite a while to warm up to its rather brash language and violence, but about halfway through the film, I really started to enjoy it. McConaughey isn’t given too much to do other than be super cool (which we know he is good at), but the rest of the cast just has a blast playing some fun and off-the-wall characters. Charlie Hunnam, playing McConaughey’s right-hand man, is perfect in the role, and Colin Farrell gives a hilarious performance of a coach of a gang of small-time gagsters slash boxers. The best performance is Hugh Grant playing a con-man who is trying to swindle everyone he deals with. Grant is hilarious, with a thick British accent and twinkle in his eye as he tries to swindle a big score. Not quite a home run but still a good time at the movies, I hope Ritchie keeps making movies like this one instead of dreck that he has done lately (Aladdin, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.).    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Gentlemen Website
My View The Last Full Measure (2019) R  Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan) is given the task of investigating if thirty-four years after his death, Airman Willam H Pitsegnbarger Jr. (‘Pits’) is worthy of getting the nation’s highest military honor, for his actions on the battlefield. Huffman will discover that there are many secrets being hidden to Pits’ story. This is such a remarkable story that you want the film to be better than it is. With a cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Plummer, Bradley Whitford, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Peter Fonda, Amy Madigan, and Diane Ladd, you would think that this film would just fly by, but instead, it drags as we keep going back to flashbacks to the day that Pitts died. There are a lot of talking head scenes as Vietnam vets anguish over that day, but the film never delivers the emotional punch that is needed to make this film worth watching.    My Rating: Cable    The Last Full Measure Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray)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
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Gretel & Hansel (2020) PG-13   A young girl, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) leads her little brother, Hansel (Sam Leakey) into the woods in search of food and shelter. They come across a woman named Holda (Alice Krige) who claims that she wants to help the children, but Gretel senses that there is something evil about the woman. As of writing this, movie critics are not being offered a screening, never a good sign for a movie.    Gretel & Hansel Website
Forgotten Film: Bandslam (2009) PG   Will (Gaelan Connell) is a bit of a geek who's life revolves around music. He is recruited by Charlotte (Aly Michalka), who has put together a band to compete in the upcoming Battle of the Bands competition. Will knows something is missing from Charlotte’s band, and he finds Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens) and adds her to the band, which instantly begins to gel. What I love about this film (besides the music which is catchy and fun) is how the film treats these teens like actual people, with real feelings and dreams. Hudgens and Michalka can sing, and Connell is perfect as the awkward kid who doesn’t think any girl would be interested in him. It’s a fun ride that reminds me a little of the fabulous 80s teen films that I fell in love with.   My Rating: Full Price    Bandslam Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Gentlemen: Crowd Voice Casting Assistant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Rhythm Section (2020) R   Stephanie (Blake Lively) will go at any length to seek revenge against those who orchestrated a plane crash that killed her family. I am always interested to see what Blake Lively has picked for her next role.     The Rhythm Section Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Bad Boys for Life

My View: Bad Boys for Life (2020) R   The Bad Boys (Will Smith, Martin Lawrence) are back together for one last ride. The guys have to confront possible career changes and midlife crises, as they join a new task force named AMMO to take down a ruthless leader of a Miami drug cartel. If you are a fan of the first two films in the Bad Boys series, then you will have a good time watching this film. Is the plot stupid and the ending pretty unbelievable? Yes. Are there a lot of high-speed car chases and numerous things blowing up (sometimes for no reason)? Yes. Is the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence still there? Yes (but barely). I didn’t quite have as much fun as the audience I saw the film with, but if you know what you are getting into (watch the trailer), you will probably have a good time watching this ‘popcorn’ movie.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Bad Boys for Life Website
Familyfaire: Dolittle (2020) PG   Seven years ago, the famed doctor and veterinarian of Victorian England, Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.), lost his wife and has been sequestered behind the walls of Dolittle Manor with his menagerie of animals for his only company. When Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) falls ill, Dr. Dolittle sets out on an epic adventure to find a cure. Dolittle is an unfunny and rather stupid film that only young, and I mean really young, kids will enjoy. Downey has some sort of Welsh accent that I have no idea what he was saying about a third of the time. The plot is predictable, and the only fun animal in the whole bunch is a squirrel (voiced by Craig Robinson) that thinks people are out to kill him. The CGI is unimpressive, with some of the animals looking like they were drawn by eight-year-olds. I hope the paycheck was huge for Downey because he isn’t going to live down this film for quite a while.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again    Dolittle Website
Indiefest: The Song of Names (2019) PG-13   Thirty-five years after his close childhood friend, a violin prodigy, disappears on the eve of his big solo concert, an Englishman travels throughout Europe to find him. I wish this was a better film than what it turned out to be. It is intriguing at first, with the mystery of why the violinist disappeared without a trace. Unfortunately, the film takes too long to solve that mystery, and I became rather bored with the movie as it moved back and forth from the past to the present. When the mystery is solved, it’s quite a letdown, making the film feel a little shallow. Tim Roth plays the adult who is looking for the long, missing violinist, and Clive Owen is the man he finds. Both actors aren’t given much to do in this film, and the big, emotional moment just doesn’t deliver.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     The Song of Names Website
Indiefest: Les Miserables (2019) R   A cop (Damien Bonnard) transfers to the 93rd district (where Victor Hugo wrote his 1962 novel ‘The Miserables’) so that he can be near his son after his divorce. He is assigned to the local Anti-Crime Brigade, where cops try to keep the peace between residents. Les Miserables is a gritty, down, and dirty cop drama about the hard streets of a low-income Paris neighborhood, where the cops are constantly harassing the people of the community. What I loved about this film is there are a number of different characters in the movie, all with interlocking stories that all come together at the end of the film. Nominated for an International Feature Film Academy Award, this film is a hard look at a harsh life in the street.   My Rating: Full Price     Les Miserables Website
Indiefest: Weathering With You (2019) PG-13   A high-school boy, Hodaka, runs away to Tokyo, where he meets and befriends a girl who seemingly can manipulate the weather. The animation in this film is beautiful and sometimes a bit haunting. The film is a love story between a 15-year-old boy and a mysterious 18-year-old girl, Hina, who he discovers is called ‘The Sun Girl.’ Tokyo is in the middle of a record-setting weather event, it won’t stop raining. Hina, it seems can through prayer, stop the rain from falling for a short time. They start up a business, selling sunshine for events like a wedding or a ball game. Weathering with You is a love story, and the film is aimed at teenagers (think a Young Adult novel) where we wonder if Hodaka is ever going to get up the nerve to tell Hina just how he feels about her. Hina has a secret, and this love affair could be doomed. I enjoyed this film, and I loved the soundtrack that had a number of Japanese pop songs that perfectly captured the feelings of the characters.   My Rating: Full Price     Weathering With You Website
Forgotten Film: Lady in White (1988) PG-13   Frankie (Lukas Haas) is an 11-year old kid who one night is lured into the school cloakroom by some kids and is left behind, the door locked and Frankie realizes that no one knows where he is. He is visited by a ghost, a young girl who looks sad. As he tries to communicate with the spirit, another figure appears, a masked man who is looking for something in the cloakroom. The masked man decides to spare Frankie, leaving Frankie to figure out if he was visited by one or two ghosts. Lady in White is an excellent ghost story as our hero sets out to discover why he was visited by the young ghost, and if the masked man had anything to do with her death. I loved the fact that the film perfectly captures the look and feel of a small town as it deals with a ghost and a possible murderer. The film has a few nice twists and turns to make this a movie to watch. My Rating: Full Price    Lady in White Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Bad Boys for Life: Elk Set Production Assistant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Saint Frances (2019)  A young woman (Kelly O’Sullivan) life is falling apart, and she decides to take a new approach, she becomes a nanny to a six-year-old girl who will change her life. The star of the film, O’Sullivan wrote the screenplay, and the trailer looks like this film could be a lot of fun to watch.     Saint Francis Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 10, 2020


My View: 1917  (2019) R   Two young British privates (Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay) during the First World War are given what most likely is an impossible task: to deliver a message deep behind enemy lines that will stop a massacre of 1,600 British soldiers. One of the best films of just 2019 but one of the best films of the decade. Shot and edited as if the film is one long take, the film is a masterpiece in film editing. It’s a roller-coaster ride as we follow the two young soldiers on what very quickly looks to become either an hopeless task to complete at the least and, more than likely, a suicide mission where both men will die in vain. You are immersed rapidly into a deadly and rotten war as our two heroes are given almost impossible hurdles to overcome, all the while the clock is ticking. The film is breathtaking in its scope as we see up close the horrors of WWI and the effect it had on the men who had to fight it. The film will keep you on the edge of your seat, and it’s almost two-hour length will fly by. Please go see this in a theatre, as both the score and the cinematography are breathtaking. The two lead actors, Chapman and MacKay, are outstanding, giving us an everyman feel to their portrayals of two British boys trying to save their fellow soldiers from a horrible death. I gave 1917 my top vote in all three of my critic groups end of the year voting over some other incredible films of 2019.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     1917 Website
My View: Like a Boss (2020) R   Two friends, Mel (Rose Byrne) and Mia (Tiffany Haddish) start a beauty company together. The problem is that Mel is the practical one, and Mia can only see the lavish lifestyle that she thinks she deserves. In walks Claire (Salma Hayek) who wants to invest in their company and make all their dreams come true, that is, until it turns into their nightmare. The only thing I can say positive about this film is that it is mercifully a short 83 minutes long. I felt sorry for Byrne and Haddish as they gamely gave it everything they had, but the story is so bad, there is no way that they could save this horrible film. The plot is paper-thin, and the two lifelong friends turn on each other in a blink of an eye. Salma Hayek gives an incredibly horrific over-the-top performance, and she is not helped by an overacting Karan Soni, who plays her gofer / yes man. The ending seems to have written by a group of 8-year-olds, and if I ever hear the classic song 'Proud Mary' sung by Byrne and Haddish again (it's their go-to Karaoke tune), I know that I have been sent to hell and not heaven.  My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again    Like a Boss Website
Indiefest:  Just Mercy  (2019)  PG -13  A young Harvard grad lawyer, Bryan (Michael B. Jordan), could have the pick of any job in the country. Still, he picks Alabama to set up a law firm specializing in advocating for death row inmates he feels to have been wrongly condemned. He meets and defends Walter McMillan (Jamie Foxx), a man convicted of a notorious murder of an 18-year-old-girl. Led by powerful performances by Jordan and Foxx, this earnest film, while not quite the home run you want it to be, is a good film with the message that every person deserves a chance at justice. The film tugs at the heartstrings but never feels overpowering, letting its message and plot slowly develop to its conclusion. Fans of Brie Larson will be a little disappointed as she isn’t given much to do, other than play the cheerleader for Jordan’s determined lawyer. The film doesn’t break any new ground, but the fact that this film is based on a real story brings home enough of an impact to make it an interesting movie to watch.   My Rating: Full Price    Just Mercy Website
My View: Underwater (2020) PG-13   A crew of aquatic researchers are 7 miles underwater on the Ocean floor when an earthquake devastates subterranean laboratory. They soon discover that they have more than the ocean seabed to fear. A great deal of this film takes place in very dark and murky water with the cast in very bulky, outer-space style diving suits. This means that a great deal of the action is tough to see, and the cast, speaking into their suit’s communication system, are at times incredibly hard to understand. I have a feeling that the film was much longer, and the studio made the filmmakers cut about 30 minutes because some of the transitions from one scene to another are almost unexplainable. Divers complain about not have enough oxygen, and then, in the next scene, they are fine, and sometimes we seem to time travel a bit, as the crew, walking on the ocean floor, moving at incredible speed and distance, while at other times they struggle to go a few feet. Other than a few newspaper clippings in the opening credits, there isn’t much setup, so we never really get to understand what the crew was doing in the laboratory and what their relationships between each other are. The ending feels rushed, and all the scares in this film are the ‘jump out of the dark’ style, which gets old very quickly. I hope Kristen Stewart got a big paycheck for this film, because she looks uncomfortable throughout the film, almost as uncomfortable as I was watching the movie.   My Rating: Cable    Underwater Website
Indiefest: Days of Rage: The Rolling Stones’ Road to Altamont (2020)   At the end of the 60s, the Rolling Stones had become the voice of the new era. It all came crashing down at a rock concert that changed their lives forever. Days of Rage is an excellent and informative documentary on what led to a death at a free rock concert. I loved all the news footage as the film shows us how and why this concert was almost doomed to fail from the start. People remember The British invasion, but what this film points out is that the Stones were, at the time, almost the anti-Beatles, striving to be something new and different from all the other British bands to tour the states in the late 60s. The film gives us great insight into why and how the outlaw biker gang, the Hells Angels, became the security for the concert and just how things got so quickly out of hand. The film has some tremendous classic Stones live concert footage that fans of the group will want to see. I thought I knew about what happened at Altamont but, because of this film, I have a new understanding of what went down that fateful night.   My Rating: Full Price    Days of Rage Info
Forgotten Film: The Others (2001)  PG-13  Grace (Nicole Kidman) moves to a mansion on Jersey with her two children while waiting for her husband to return from the Second World War. Her two children have a disease that means they cannot be exposed to sunlight. Due to her children’s affliction, she has created a series of rules that must be followed, or the children could be harmed. The home and her children become too much for her, so she hires a group of servants who soon learn that breaking the rules will have some unexpected consequences. I love this film, how it slowly, darkly builds the tension without having to resort to tricks or easy scares. Kidman gives one of her best performances as the mother who finds herself in a highly disturbing situation, one that she may not be able to handle. I can’t give away much more of the plot without ruining the movie, but let me say this, it’s one of the best uses of suspense in a film and will probably shock you a few times with the twists and turns the plot takes.   My Rating: Full Price    The Others Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Underwater: Legacy Suit Lighting Technician

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Mulan (2020)   A young Chinese maiden (Yifei Liu) disguises herself as a male warrior when her ailing father is called into the army to protect the country from the Huns. I loved the animated film, and this live-action movie looks terrific.    Mulan Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Grudge and Mike's Top Ten Films of 2019

My View: The Grudge (2019) R   A house is cursed by a ghost hell-bent on getting vengeance by dooming anyone who enters will die a violent death. The first The Grudge (2004) was a surprise hit, mostly riding on the coattails of Buffy’s Sarah Michelle Gellar. After two lesser successful sequels, they have decided to reboot the series with this film. While the original movie wasn’t a slam dunk, it did have its scary moments and was worth the watch. I can’t say the same thing about this film. The film does a very clumsy tie-in to the first film and then proceeds to jump back in forth between three or is it four stories (I was too bored to keep track). The film has a bunch of jump out of the dark scares that don’t ever work, and the movie never builds any suspense. I now have a grudge against the writer/director of this film for making sit through ninety-three minutes of boring  My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   The Grudge Website
Indiefest: Cunningham (2019)  PG   Documentary on Merce Cunningham and the history of his iconic dance company. A fascinating film about a cutting-edge choreographer/dancer who created a ground-breaking company that pushed the boundaries of music and dance. When asked if he wrote and performed ‘avant-garde’ pieces, he replied, ‘I don’t describe it, I just do it.’ The film beautifully recreates some Cunningham’s most well-known pieces, often in usual settings such as a forest or the top of a high-rise. There are also behind-the-scenes glimpses of Cunningham at work with his dancers, plus archival footage of the company performing on live television. Cunningham isn’t a film for everyone, but for lovers of theater and dance, it is a must-see.    My Rating: Full Price    Cunningham Website
Forgotten Film: Whale Rider (2002)  PG-13   On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe that they were founded by an ancestor, Paikea, who, when his canoe capsized, he rode to shore on the back of a whale. This New Zealand tribe believes that the first-born sons are the only heirs that can become the chief. Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) believes that it is her destiny to become chief, against the wishes and beliefs of her grandfather, Koro (Rawin Paratene), she fights against a thousand years of tradition to fulfill her place in history. A stirring film of courage, with the unbelievable setting of New Zealand, along with Castle-Hughes giving us a magical and uplifting performance as the determined Pai, make this a film you will want to watch.   My Rating: Full Price    Whale Rider Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Grudge: Special MUFX Show Runner

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Just Mercy  (2019) PG-13   A young Harvard grad lawyer (Michael B. Jordan) could have the pick of any job in the country, but he picks Alabama to set up a law firm specializing in advocating for death row inmates he feels to have been wrongly condemned. He meets and defends Walter McMillan (Jamie Foxx), a man convicted of a notorious murder of an 18-year-old-girl. As I stated before, I will see any film starring Michael B. Jordan.    Just Mercy Website

Mike’s Top Ten Films of 2019

1).  1917   (film comes out Jan. 10th)
2) Parasite   Parasite Review
3)Marriage Story  Marriage Story Review
4) The Peanut Butter Falcon   The Peanut Butter Falcon Review
5)The Irishman    The Irishman Review
6)Little Women    Little Women Review
7)Avengers: End Game   Avengers: End Game Review
8)Knives Out    Knives Out Review
9)Apollo 11    Apollo 11 Review
10). The Little Biggest Farm    The Biggest Little Farm Review

Honorable Mention: Honeyland, Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood, Pain and Glory, Uncut Gems, Toy Story 4, I Lost My Body, Booksmart, Ford vs Ferrari, Us, Diego Maradona, The Amazing Jonathan, Jojo Rabbit, One Child Nation, Maiden, Late Night, Dolemite Is My Name

Until Next Time!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Little Women

My View: Little Women   (2019) PG    In the aftermath of the American Civil War, the movie explores the lives of the March sisters, Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen), all under the watchful eye of their beloved mother, Marmee (Laura Dern). I am a massive fan of the writer/director of this film Greta Gerwig, both as an actor (Greenberg (2010), Frances Ha (2012), and as a director (Lady Bird (2017), which I thought was one of the best films of 2017. Gerwig has done it again, bringing freshness and light to the Louisa May Alcott story that has been adapted to the screen seven times before. I loved the performances of the cast, especially Saoirse Ronan as, Jo, the young woman who is filled with passion for writing and Florence Pugh, as the self-centered Amy. Ronan brings a fierceness to the role; you can see the determination in her eyes as she wills Jo to succeed where almost everyone, including some in her family, feels that she is battling against windmills. Pugh is delightful as Amy, a young woman who is quite as mature as her fellow sisters, sometimes making decisions based on her heart and not her head. Little Women is a beautiful film, full of heart and occasionally, heartbreak, about growing up and having to face the harsh world, but always knowing that your family is there to fall back on. Take the whole family and enjoy the wonderful world of a group of four sisters experiencing the trials and tribulations of life.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Little Women Website
Familyfaire: Spies in Disguise  (2019) PG   The world’s best spy, Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith), is turned into a pigeon; he must join forces with a low-level inventor, Walter (voiced by Tom Holland), to save the world. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this animated feature. A new take on the super spy saving the world genre, this time with a young inventor who thinks there is a better way to defeat the bad guys, with non-violent gadgets. Will Smith is perfect as Sterling, Lance Sterling, a spy who is used to saving the world daily, all the time with an ego to match. Lance is a lone wolf, but when he is set up by the evil Killian (voiced by Ben Mendelsohn) and Lance is forced to team up with Walter, who turns Lance into the ultimate disguise, a pigeon. The animation gives off a cool James Bond-like vibe, and the action is almost nonstop, with quite a few explosions and car chase scenes spread throughout the film. The bit younger crowd may be a bit bored, but the 6-12-year-olds will have a great time going on an adventure to save the world with Walter and his spy partner, Lance the pigeon.    My Rating: Full Price     Spies in Disguise Website
My View: Uncut Gems (2019) R   Howard (Adam Sandler) thinks his life is about to change due to the delivery of an uncut gem that could be worth millions. Howard is all about taking chances, and he starts a series of high-stakes bets that he could win big on or also lose everything. Adam Sandler is an actor that, most of the time, pisses me off. My problem with Sandler is not because of his continual compulsion to make incredibly crappy films with his friends, like Grown Ups (2010), That’s My Boy (2012) and one of the worst movies I have ever seen, Jack and Jill (2011). No, it’s not that, it’s that Sandler can be an excellent, even great actor when he chooses the right material. The list is small but notable with outstanding work in films such as Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Reign Over Me (2007) and Spanglish (2004), where Sandler brings a quiet force to make an ordinary film worthy of watching. Add to the list Uncut Gems, where Sandler plays a man you probably won’t like or maybe even not root for, going so far as to hope that he fails. Still, you can’t deny that Sandler fills the screen with a magical, almost hypnotic performance as a man who is desperate to keep pushing his luck, even if it means he has to beat impossible odds. Uncut Gems is not a film that you will be able to sit back and enjoy, as Sandler and the directors of the film, Benny and Josh Safdie, take you on a journey of the high’s and low’s of a gambler. It’s like taking a ride on a roller coaster but one that rarely takes an uphill break, as Howard’s life quickly moves down from one get rich scheme to another. I loved the cast, including Kevin Garnett, the NBA all-star who plays himself, Julia Fox, who plays Howard’s combative girlfriend and Idina Menzel as Howard’s long-suffering ex-wife, who has seen Howard’s life on the edge in close-up. After seeing this film, you may need to take a few minutes to gather your thoughts and your senses before exiting the theatre.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Uncut Gems Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray): Abominable (2019) PG   Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet), a young girl, finds a friendly Yeti that longs to go back to his mountain. Yi and two other friends make it their mission to help ‘Everest’ return to its homeland. The gang will have to avoid a wealthy man named Burnish (Eddie Izzard) who wants to put Everest in his collection. While very predictable and at times a little slow, the film is a warm look at friendship and how those friends will try their best to make their friend's dreams come true. Abominable is a sweet film that families will enjoy, and kids will love the action sequences. Sure the plot is a little too paint by numbers kids film, but Everest and his buddies may make you forget that.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Abominable Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Dolittle (2020) PG   Seven years ago, the famed doctor and veterinarian of Victorian England, Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) lost his wife and has been sequestered behind the walls of Dolittle Manor with his menagerie of animals for his only company. When Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) falls ill, Dr. Dolittle sets out on an epic adventure to find a cure. Just watch the trailer and see if you want Downey to talk to anything, including animals in this film.  Hollywood, quit remaking movies that were bad to begin with. Did I mention the animals talk?    Dolittle Website
Forgotten Film: Children of a Lesser God (1986) R   James (William Hurt) has taught at some of the best institutions in the country but is always looking for a new challenge. James begins teaching at a school for the deaf and quickly notices a young cleaning woman named Sarah (Marlee Matlin), who is deaf, and learning that she has been at the school since she was five. Sarah chooses not to speak, haunted by her childhood, especially her relationship with her mother, who she has not seen in eight years. They begin a slow ride to romance as they learn about each other, and James will soon learn that Sarah does not speak because it allows her to live her life in solitude. As they fall in love, will the divide between the world of the hearing and the deaf be too much for their devotion to endure? The reason to see this film is the Oscar-winning performance of Matlin, as the headstrong, combative and angry Sarah, a woman who doesn’t want to enter into the land of speech, happy to live her life on her terms. It is a moving and beautiful performance, filled with fear, fear of the unknown, and the fear that if she lets someone in, she will get hurt again.   My Rating: Full Price     Children of a Lesser God Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Spies in Disguise:  Fur Supervisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: A Quiet Place Part II (2020)   After escaping from their home, now the family (Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Noah Jupe ) must go into the outside world and soon realize that the world is far more dangerous than they ever experienced or imagined.     A Quiet Place Part II Facebook Page
Until Next Time!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My View:  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) PG-13   The surviving Resistance faces the First Order in a showdown to close out the final chapter in the Skywalker saga, as both Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) struggle with the power of the Dark Side. I wanted to love this film as I did with The Force Awakens, but alas, I only liked it. The film feels somewhat incomplete and, at times, rushed, especially the ending sequence. I did thoroughly enjoy the fighting sequences that Rey is involved with, and it’s always a blast to watch Driver do anything on the screen. There are some significant plot holes in this film, and I felt terrible for Oscar Issac playing Poe, whose big scenes seem overshadowed by the other characters in the movie. Unfortunately, the film clumsily incorporates the scenes with the late Carrie Fisher (Leia), making them stand out for how badly they were patched together (Fisher died before she could film her part, so they used old footage of her). I am a big fan of the Star Wars saga, but I felt a little let down by this film. It just didn’t deliver everything I wanted in a conclusion to an epic series.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Website
My View: Bombshell  (2019) R   A group of women, including anchors Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman and Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), decide to take on Fox News chief Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) and the toxic atmosphere he created and presided over at the network. The film is a certainty to make the Oscar nomination for makeup, because Charlize Theron, as Megan Kelly is one of the best impersonations of a real person I have ever seen in a film. The film starts a little unnerving as Theron as Kelly gives us a tour of the Fox News building, breaking the fourth wall. The film teeters between drama and comedy, sometimes to the determent of the movie. Bombshell is an interesting film to watch, but I wonder who is the audience this film is meant for. Fans of the Fox Network won’t want to watch it, and people who don’t like the network already know the story of Ailes and his downfall. I thought it was fascinating that the film used a lot of very familiar actors to round out the cast, even in smaller parts, like Jennifer Morrison as Juliet Huddy, a former Fox reporter who was demoted when she spoke up about Ailes plays on women. I enjoyed this film, especially the performances of Theron and John Lithgow as the villain of the film, Roger Ailes himself.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee      Bombshell Website
My View: Cats (2019) PG   A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide every year which one of their clan will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life. Ok, if you love the Broadway musical, you will probably like, maybe even love this film. For the rest of us, it is just a bizarre movie-going experience. With the only human character in the film showing up at the beginning to toss a cat into an alley, the movie is populated by singing and dancing cats. There is almost no plot to this film, as we go from song to song, introducing us to the cast of characters in the movie. The most famous song, Memories, is sung several times, by Jennifer Hudson, playing the down and out cat Grizabella and Francesca Hayward as the innocent newcomer, Victoria. At times, the film feels like a bad parody that Saturday Night Live might put on, as some of the songs/dances are just unbelievably campy. There is a lot of talent in this cast, but most, including Idris Elba and Ian McKellen, are given roles that are on the verge of embarrassing. And yes, Taylor Swift sings a song, Golden Globe nominated 'Beautiful Ghosts', as the cat, Bombalurina, where she gets everyone high on catnip. My viewing of this film was not helped by several of the audience members who thought the film was a comedy (it’s not) and were laughing out loud throughout the film. Stay at home and watch a classic musical like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, you will have a much better viewing experience.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again     Cats Website
Indiefest: A Hidden Life (2019) PG-13   Bl. Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), with the support of his wife, Fani (Valerie Pachner) and his children, refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II, even when threatened with execution for treason. I am not a big fan of filmmaker Terrence Malick ( Tree of Life, Knight of Cups). A Hidden Life is another Malick film that takes forever to tell the story as Fraz gets jailed about an hour into the film and spends the rest of the two hours languishing in various prisons. As with most Malick films, he tells his story through a plethora of shots, so many so that it must have taken over a year to shoot this film. I also did not enjoy the fact that sometimes the cast said their dialogue in English, but at other times, especially in times of anger or anguish, the exchange was in German, making us in the dark on what was being said. The film moves at an incredibly slow pace, and because Franz is never going to back down to the Nazi’s, we know how this film is going to turn out. The two leads are outstanding in their roles; I just wished I had seen quite a bit less of them and the numerous shots of the Austrian countryside.   My Rating: Cable    A Hidden Life Website
Forgotten Film: Victor Victoria (1982) PG   A struggling singer (Julie Andrews) in 1934 Paris, with the help of a gay cabaret singer Toddy (Robert Preston), pretends to be a man named Victor and gets a job at a club as a female impersonator named Victor, with his on stage persona named Victoria. Victor becomes the hit of Paris. Things get complicated when Chicago nightclub owner, King (James Garner), falls head over heels for Victoria, only to find out that Victoria is a man, or is he? Andrews is brilliant in the role, and Garner is perfect as the man who has to reconcile his romantic feelings for ‘Victoria.’ Lesley Ann Warren practically steals the movies as King’s very jealous girlfriend, Norma, who is determined to take Victor/Victoria down. A great cast with some beautiful and fun cabaret songs makes this film so much fun to watch.   My Rating: Full Price      Victor Victoria Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Cats: Magic Consultant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Call of the Wild (2020)   A grizzled explorer (Harrison Ford) finds a dog named Buck, and they go on an adventure of a lifetime in the wilderness of the Yukon. I am a sucker for a movie that features a dog, plus its got Karen Gillan and Harrison Ford, so I am going to make sure I see this one.    The Call of the Wild Website
Until Next Time!