Friday, January 27, 2023

Shotgun Wedding

My View: Shotgun Wedding (2022) R  Darcy (Jennifer Lopez) and Tom (Josh Duhamel) have invited their friends and family to the Philippines for their extravagant destination wedding. Unfortunately, someone else has invited themselves to the wedding, a group of pirates intent on a big payday. Darcy and Tom must save their friends and families. Maybe, also save their relationship. I admit I was intrigued when I saw the trailer for Shotgun Wedding, featuring Jennifer Lopez appearing up from a trapdoor with a shotgun blazing like Rambo. Unfortunately, the film is a poorly done romcom where we don’t like anyone, the couple we are supposed to root for fights constantly over stupid things, and the comedy bits hit you over the head with the subtly of a sledgehammer. Shotgun Wedding is a film that probably looked good on paper but when put on the screen, fails as badly as some of the jokes it tries to tell. Even comedy talent like Cheech Marin, Jennifer Coolidge, and D’Arcy Carden can’t save this unfunny and painful-to-watch attempt to combine a shoot-’em up action film (with a surprisingly high kill count) with a romcom that, as one character says, ‘hasn’t exactly gone to plan.’   My Rating: Cable  Shotgun Wedding Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform.

My View: You People (2023) R  Ezra (Jonah Hill) is a podcaster who thinks he has a knack for understanding the culture in America. He meets and falls in love with Amira (Lauren London). That was the easy part. Now they must meet each other parents, and it will not be pretty because both sets of parents feel the couple are wrong for each other. I liked this film from the moment that Eddie Murphy, who plays Akbar, the father of Amira, walks into the coffeehouse with a hoodie that says, ‘Fred Hampton Was Murdered.’ The film is from Blackish creator Kenya Barris, who has created a Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner for this century. Ezra is Akbar’s nightmare of a potential son-in-law. A white Jewish man who thinks he knows black culture. Ezra even moonlights from his cushy financial job by co-hosting a podcast with his best friend Mo (Sam Jay), where they talk about everything that Ezra thinks is ‘Black culture.’ On the other side, Amira has to deal with Ezra’s parents; Arnold (David Duchovny), a man who keeps quoting Xzibit, and Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who almost from the first thing meeting Amira tells her how badly the police treat Blacks and that we all should kneel during the national anthem. The question is can Ezra and Amira overcome their parents and end up together? You People is an amusing and witty film with some hilarious scenes, though it does drag in the middle when the couple go off on separate pre-wedding trips. It rights itself near the end of the film, when there are a couple of needed confrontations, and has a delightful ending that I thought rounded out the film. At times You People is a little over the top (we have to believe Jonah Hill has the chops to play street basketball), but still a sweet romcom with Eddie Murphy along to be the grump of the bunch. My Rating: Bargain Matinee You People Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Infinity Pool (2023) R  James (Alexander Skarsgård) and Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are a married couple enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation on an island when they are involved in a fatal accident. Now they are about to learn that any crime committed on the island has serious consequences, consequences that could be horrific. If you are a fan of David Lynch (Lost Highway, Twin Peaks) or David Cronenberg (The Fly, Crimes of the Future), then this film is for you. David Cronenberg's son, Brandon, gives us a strange voyage in a world where the rules keep changing. You never quite know if what you are seeing is happening or part of a drug-induced fog of weird and strange events. The movie reminded me quite a bit of the legendary 60s TV show The Prisoner, where the main character is a secret agent marooned on an island that is a bizarre type of prison. In this film, James gets caught up in an ever-changing world where he can’t figure out what is real and what is imaginary. Probably the film’s highlight is Mia Goth, who plays a fellow inhabitant of the island who guides and seduces James on his journey. Goth is fun to watch on the screen as a wild character that we can never figure out, stealing the film from the rest of the cast in every scene she is in. I will warn you there is a ton of bloodlust and sex that goes on the island, some of which I found very uncomfortable to watch. Infinity Pool is one of those films that you will either be really into or not get into at all. I was on the latter side and had a hard time wanting to keep going on this strange adventure with James.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Infinity Pool Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Maybe I Do (2023) PG-13  Michelle (Emma Roberts) and Allen (Luke Bracey) have been dating for a while, and they decide it’s time to determine if they should get married or break up. They invite their parents to meet and help them figure out their relationship. It turns out the parents know each other well, in fact, too well. This film reminds me of the type of movies we used to get regularly in the 60s and 70s, where the young couple looks to the parents for marriage/relationship advice because they believe their parent’s marriages are wonderful, but we find out they aren’t. Unfortunately, even with an all-star cast of Richard Gere, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and William H. Macy, the film feels like a combination of a stage play and a bad sitcom. Maybe I Do struggles to find laughs, takes forever to get going, and the dinner that gets everyone together? It doesn’t happen until an hour into the movie. By then, I didn’t care if any of these couples stayed together.   My Rating: Cable  Maybe I Do Info  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Close (2022) PG-13  Two thirteen-year-old boys, Leo and Remi, are best of friends, spending all their time together, but then the friendship suddenly gets disrupted, and Leo searches for answers. Hot off its Oscar nomination for Best International Feature Film, Close is a beautiful and moving tale of young friendship and how that fragile connection can be changed when confronted with peer pressure and the attempt by young people to find their place in the world. The film works because of the performances of Gustav De Waele, who plays Remi, and Eden Dambrine, who plays Leo. The two are perfect together, interacting as two best friends do, whether playing soldiers or hanging out in a bedroom taking a nap. Close is a film that lets us slowly understand the two boys’ relationship with each other and their families so that when things go wrong between the two, we see how it affects everyone, not just the boys. The film looks at how kids this age feel and how they see themselves in an ever-changing world. Close is a superb and dazzling look at friendship and how the dynamics of that friendship can have consequences. I will warn you; a tissue or two will be needed.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Close Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Life Upside-Down (2023)  Jonathan (Bob Odenkirk), Clarissa (Radha Mitchell), and Paul (Danny Huston) are stuck at home during the start of the pandemic. They will see their lives turned upside down, forced to reevaluate their lives, relationships, and what they want from life. The film centers on three people, Jonathan, who is a married artist, Clarissa, a teacher who is having a long-term affair with Jonathan, and Paul, a mutual friend who is a writer and is married to a much younger woman (Rosie Feliner). As the pandemic rages on in L.A. and everyone is isolated, alone or with their mates, they realize their lives aren’t what they thought they were. The problem with Life Upside-Down is the film’s pace; we spend a lot of time on conversations over the Internet that don’t seem to go anywhere and feels, at times, very stagey. The characters are one-dimensional, with no depth to them and have a tendency to repeat themselves. A lot. The ending gives us very little other than all three have changed their outlook on their lives and relationships.   My Rating: Cable  Life Upside-Down Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Everybody’s All-American (1988) R The story of a football hero, Gavin (Dennis Quaid), who married the homecoming queen, Babs (Jessica Lange), and for a while had it all. However, life has been hard for Gavin, and his troubles begin as his past heroics fade. This is a film where the performances outshine the script. Quaid and Lange are brilliant in the roles, but the film goes on way too long and never captures the magic that should have been there with the cast it has. A huge bright spot is John Goodman, who plays a fellow football player who is everyone’s best friend but has troubles of his own.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Everybody's All-American Info  The film is available to rent/buy on most streaming services.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Life Upside-Down: Pasta Machine Voice

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Marlowe (2022) R Set in the 1930s, private detective Philip Marlowe (Liam Neeson) is hired by a glamorous heiress (Diane Kruger) to find her ex-lover. It’s a job that is guaranteed to get messy. Directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Greta) and written by William Monahan (The Departed), this should be a fun ride down the film noir genre. The cast includes Jessica Lange, Alan Cummings, Danny Huston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Daniela Melchior.   Marlowe Website The film will be released in theatres in mid-february.

Until Next Time!




Friday, January 20, 2023

Missing

My View: Missing (2023) PG-13  When her mother (Nia Long) disappears while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend (Ken Leung), June (Storm Reid), stuck thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, uses everything she can to search for answers. The further June digs, the more questions she gets, and June soon learns that she never really knew her mom at all. This film uses the same idea that a 2018 film that I liked a lot, Searching, did, where our protagonist stays at home and uses a computer to put the pieces together to find their loved ones. Both films had solid leads, and Storm Reid does a fantastic job as the young teen who uses her willpower and knowledge of the Internet to discover what happened to her mother. The film takes various twists and turns that keep you guessing until the end. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the film flowed and how the movie kept our interest in the chase to find June’s mom. It’s a nice touch to have Joaquim de Almeida as Javi, the guy June hires (at a very cheap rate) to be her eyes and ears on the ground in Columbia, where June’s mother went missing. Having that interaction gave us a chance to understand better June’s pain of losing her father and her terror of possibly now losing her mother. So please turn off your cell phone (because June will do enough web surfing for all of us) and see Missing.   My Rating: Full Price  Missing Website Now in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Living (2022) PG-13  Set in 1950s London, where Williams (Bill Nighy) has always prided himself on his work ethic, attention to detail, and not letting anything get personal. Williams finds out some shocking news, and he explores how to better his life and help people around him. Bill Nighy gives us another one of his brilliant performances as Mr. Williams, a stuffy, by the letter, civil servant who rules his little office like it’s a fiefdom. Some horrible news turns Williams’s life upside down, and he decides that maybe it’s time to take a chance and make a difference in this world. This is a film about redemption, about making choices to change and trying to connect with people, no matter how small the gesture is. Based on the classic Kurosawa film Ikiru, Bill Nighy gives us a performance for the ages, and he does more with just sitting in a park by himself than most actors speaking tons of lines. It’s a magical ride that Nighy takes us on, and that will make you feel you could do something nice for someone today which could make a difference in their lives. All it takes is taking an interest in someone.   My Rating: Full Price  Living Website  Now in select theatres.

Indiefest: Alice, Darling (2022) R  Alice, Darling is about a young woman (Anna Kendrick) who is in an abusive relationship that could become deadly, but doesn’t want to see the warning signs. Her friends stage an intervention at a weekend getaway to make her realize she is in trouble, but her boyfriend shows up unexpectedly, which could get ugly. I’m a big fan of Anna Kendrick and always love when a film challenges her to do more than just be cute. In Alice, Darling, Kendrick gives us a woman who is suffering not from physical abuse but the constant abuse of psychological means, where she has been conditioned to question every move she makes. The man she loves controls her whole life. However, Alice decides to go on a weekend getaway with her two best friends, Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn) and Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku), who have seen firsthand how controlling Alice’s boyfriend, Simon (Charlie Carrick), is. To do this, Alice lies about a business trip. A lie that she will soon regret. It’s a fine performance by Anna Kendrick, but I expected more from the film, as the final confrontation feels shallow and not the cathartic release I wanted. It’s an interesting performance that is let down by a script that didn’t know how to finish.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Alice, Darling Website  Now in select theatres.

Indiefest: When You Finish Saving the World (2022) R  Ziggy (Finn Wolfhard) is a teen who lives for making music for his online fans. Ziggy thinks he is successful because of how many fans follow him, but his idea of happiness is about to change when he meets a fellow student named Lila (Alisha Boe), who sees something more in Ziggy. This is all the while Ziggy’s mom (Julianne Moore) tries to help a young teen (Billy Bryk) while working at a domestic abuse shelter. This film is about a bunch of self-centered people who want to impress someone but can’t keep the spotlight off of themselves. There are some wonderful performances in this film, especially Julianne Moore, the mother of Ziggy, who can’t connect with her son on any level. Still, instead of trying to fix that relationship, she fixates on another teen, trying to make him into the son that she wants. The problem is that the script, written and directed by Jesse Eisenberg, can never figure out where it wants to go, and we can’t get a handle on what makes these characters think the way they do. All I know is that after an hour and a half, I didn’t want to spend any more time with them because I didn’t like them. I just didn’t care if they succeeded or changed, and regardless of the ending, I’m not sure they ever will.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  When You Finish Saving the World Website   Now in select theatres.

Indiefest: After Love (2020)   Set in the port town of Dover, England, where Mary (Joanna Scanlan) is grieving the loss of the love of her life, her husband, Ahmed. Going through his wallet, Mary finds an ID card belonging to a French woman, a secret Ahmed kept just twenty-one miles across the English Channel in Calais. Joanna Scanlan gives us a heartbreakingly wonderful performance of a woman who learns that her husband had a secret that she decides she must explore herself. This film is about love, trust, and that everyone has secrets, but some are so devastating when they are found out. I don’t want to give too much out, but let’s just say that the film goes down a road where Mary finds herself in the position of whether to go along for the ride or reveal everything. It’s a decision Mary must make quickly, which will have far-reaching consequences. About Love is a film that moves slowly but with heart and substance, with Scanlan giving us an incredibly moving performance that gets better by the minute.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  After Love Website  Now in select theatres.

Indiefest:
The Son (2022) PG-13 Peter (Hugh Jackman) and his partner Beth (Vanessa Kirby) are struggling along with a new baby when Peter’s first wife, Kate (Laura Dern), tells Peter that he must take their teenage son, Nicholas (Zen McGrath). Kate has run out of ideas to help Nicholas, who suffers from depression, and the hope is that Peter can reach him. Peter hopes to be a better father than his dad and find a way to help Nicholas. I thought this would be a sequel of sorts to filmmaker Florian Zeller’s 2020 film The Father because of the title and the fact that Anthony Hopkins, the star of that film, plays a father in this film. This is not the case, and Hopkins, though a delight to watch in a very evil role, is only in one scene in The Son. Hugh Jackman puts everything he has into the role and gives one of his best dramatic performances. Jackman provides us with a performance that starts with empathy and a sureness that borders on cocky but ends with confusion and, yes, pain. I just wish it was in a better film. The film should have been The Father II, as the focus is not on the son, a deeply depressed teen, but on Peter, the father, and how he deals with someone he loves who is having trouble with life. As hard as Jackman and Laura Dern try, I never connected to the couple and didn’t get the emotional impact I wanted from the film. The film feels shallow and gives us an ending I felt cheated by. As good and spellbinding The Father was, The Son feels so much less. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Son Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: I Capture the Castle (2003) R  Set in 1930s England, 17-year-old Cassandra (Romola Garai) lives in a rundown castle with her very eccentric and growing poor by-the-day family. Her father (Bill Nighy) is a novelist who hasn’t written a word in 12 years. Her sister (Rose Byrne) has boys on the brain and is mad at the world, and Cassandra’s stepmother is a nudist. Into the madness come two Americans (Henry Thomas, Marc Blucas) who could change the family’s fortunes if the girls can get the boys to fall in love with them. I Capture the Castle is a fun romantic story based on the book by Dodie Smith, and Romola Garai is terrific as the fiery Cassandra who loves her family but wants to see the world and write about it. The dinner sequence where the two families get together is the highlight of the film and is hilarious. I Capture the Castle is a sweet look at first love and what we do to make our families happy. My Rating: Full Price   I Capture the Castle Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Living: Home Economist

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Amazing Maurice (2022) PG A talking tomcat named Maurice goes on an adventure with a kid who has a group of rats following him and a young woman who loves mysteries. Based on the beloved book by Terry Pratchett and with a voice cast that includes Hugh Laurie, Gemma Arterton, Emilia Clarke, Hugh Bonneville, and David Tennant, this should be a lot of fun. Coming to theatres in early February.  The Amazing Maurice Website

Until Next Time!





Friday, January 13, 2023

Plane

My View: Plane (2023) R Brodie Torrance (Gerard Butler) is an airline pilot who always puts his passengers first. When his plane encounters horrible storms, Brodie is forced to land the plane in a foreign country controlled by a powerful warlord. Brodie’s only ally to save his passengers is a convicted murderer (Mike Colter). Okay, you know what you are getting when you see a Gerard Butler film with a one-word title. It’s going to be a little dumb and you might laugh at the silliness of it all sometimes, but you will have fun. Butler plays an earnest pilot who puts his passengers above all else. What I liked about Brodie is that he isn’t your ordinary hero from this type of film. He isn’t a former special forces guy, just a guy who wants to rescue his passengers. Luckily for those passengers and us, Brodie does have a guy like that next to him in the convicted murderer, played by Mike Colter (Luke Cage Tv series), who we find out is a former French Foreign League soldier. The action, including some very well-done flying sequences, is fun, and the bad guys are just evil enough for you to hate immediately. So make sure your tray table is up, your belongings are secured, and your seat belt is on because it’s going to be a bumpy ride on ‘Plane.’   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Plane Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Dog Gone (2023)   A father (Rob Lowe) and son (Johnny Berchtold), whose relationship is in pieces, are forced to travel the Appalachian Trail to search for their beloved lost dog. Finding the dog is not the only problem, as the dog will die in less than two weeks if he doesn’t get his medication. It’s a story that captured the world’s heart. The film is based on a true story, and I will admit (as a dog lover) that I did tear up a few times, as it’s a remarkable story of a dog that winds up incredibly far from where he was lost. The film is more about the reconnection between a father and son than a lost dog story. If fact, other than a few scenes of Gonker (yeah, that’s the dog’s name) lying down in the woods for the night, we only follow the father and son traveling around handing out flyers while the mother (played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley) handles the phones and coordinates the search. The film feels like there is more to the story of what is causing the problems between the father and son, but things get fixed pretty quickly, a little too easily. Still, you will probably need a tissue or two. And the dog is pretty darn cute.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Dog Gone Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: The Drop (2022)  Mani (Jermaine Fowler) and Lex (Anna Konkle), a couple, are on a trip to see friends get married on a tropical island when their relationship is tested when one of them drops a baby. This is a film about relationships and how we often think they are perfect, but we can’t see the problems that keep popping up as we pretend to be happy. Mani and Lex seem to be a perfect couple, in love and trying to get pregnant. However, when one of them drops a baby on her head (she is fine), things go downhill quickly. The film starts out a lot of fun, and there is a plane ride where we get to see the group together (most are former college pals who apparently have all slept together), which is hilarious. Unfortunately, the film goes a bit downhill at that point, turning into a bit of a black comedy that goes off into some rather icky subjects, and it is very apparent the cast is doing quite a bit of improvising (a couple of times that improvising just grounds the film to a halt). It’s kind of weird to say, but the film went off the rails when they dropped the baby.   My Rating: Cable  The Drop Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Indiefest: Saint Omer (2022) PG-13   Rama (Kayije Kagame) is a novelist researching her next work at the trial of Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), who is accused of drowning her child. Laurence claims she did it because of demons. This is a film you watch knowing that it will not give you all the answers you want, and you are ok with that. Set mainly in a courtroom, the film is a long look at two women bound by motherhood. The film asks you to let it slowly reveal the facts of the case in the trial, and then you have to decide if you feel the woman accused is guilty. Saint Omer is a gritty look at something shocking but asks you to look with compassion. What I loved about this film is that we get more information from the faces of the two actors than from what they say or do. It’s a blow to your gut, but this film is worth watching.   My Rating: Full Price   Saint Omer Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Broker (2022) In Broker, a young woman, So-young (Ji-eun Lee), leaves a baby at an adoption drop-off. Her baby is taken by a team of brokers (Song Kang-ho, Dong-won Gang) who steal infants left off for adoption and then sell the babies to parents wanting children, who the official process has denied. Little do the baby snatchers know that they are being watched by a couple of detectives trying to bring the snatchers to justice. This is a challenging film to describe as the cast of characters gets larger as the film goes along. Every character in this film has a flaw, and they are all on a collision course that will not end well. This is a film about finding family where you can find it and how hopelessness can propel you to do things you thought you never would do. Broker is a beautifully acted film with some outstanding performances, including Song Kang-ho, playing a man who desperately needs money but has a heart that makes him make choices that we know he will end up paying for. Song Kang-ho plays off the rest of the cast with ease, and it’s his charm that overwhelms you on the screen. Broker is a film you know will probably end in heartbreak, but you are willing to go along for the ride just to find out if it does happen.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Broker Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
Indiefest:
Women Talking (2022) PG-13 Women Talking takes place in 2010, where the women of an isolated religious community must decide on one of three things: do nothing, stay and fight, or leave. A group of women are meeting to decide what to do after discovering that the religious sect's men have done something horrible. At first, we think the women are from the 19th century, but we soon find that the women in this sect are entirely isolated from the rest of the world, with no knowledge of what it’s like in the modern world, not able to read, write or even read a map. Filmmaker Sarah Polley brings us a talkfest of a tale about women trying to figure out an almost impossible situation. The cast, including Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Judith Ivey, Claire Foy, and Frances McDormand, are given amazing speeches that seemed to flow out of the women. Unfortunately, while the performances are brilliant, I found the film a bit too much like a stage play, with almost the whole movie taking place inside a barn. Of the cast, Rooney Mara, who plays a pregnant woman constantly putting down the rest of the women, and Jessie Buckley, who is in an abusive relationship, stand out. I wish this outstanding cast had been given more to do than give speeches to each other. Still, the slowness of the plot doesn't overshadow the incredible performances that make Women Talking worth watching.   My Rating: Full Price   Women Talking Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: When Eight Bells Toll (1971) GP  When ships carrying gold bullion go missing off the coast of Scotland, the Treasury department sends in their best man, Philip Calvert (Anthony Hopkins), to investigate. Calvert hides on the next ship carrying the gold and finds himself knee-deep in bad guys. Based on an Alistair MacLean book (he also wrote the screenplay), the movie attempted to start up a new James Bond-like character in Philip Calvert, hoping for a series of films. The film didn’t catch on, and we never got to see Anthony Hopkins kick butt like this again. It’s a fun film, reminiscent of the other Alistair MacLean-based movies like Ice Station Zebra and The Guns of Navarone, and Hopkins is rather dashing as the secret agent.    My Rating: Full Price  When Eight Bells Toll Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Plane: Scenics

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Bosch & Rockit (aka: Ocean Boy) (2022) in the last summer on the Australian coast, Bosch (Luke Hemsworth) goes on the run, wanted for dealing drugs with his surf gang. In tow is his son, Rockit (Rasmus King), who has no idea what his father has done and thinks he is on a magical vacation with his dad. I want to see this film just for the location shots alone.    Bosch & Rockit Info  In theatres in early February.

Until Next Time!




Friday, January 6, 2023

M3GAN

My View: M3GAN (2023) PG-13 Gemma (Allison Williams), a robotics engineer, suddenly becomes a caretaker of her orphaned 8-year-old niece, Cady (Violet McGraw). Gemma realizes she is unprepared to be a parent and decides to pair her robotic companion prototype M3GAN with Cady. It’s a pairing that will become deadly. January is usually a place where horror films go to die. It’s a time when studios look to make a quick buck on a low-budget scary film before the serious competition comes back to the theatre. That’s why M3GAN is such a surprise! It’s a film that has fun with what it is trying to do, making a horror film about a creepy doll that is scary just to look at her. Full of humor and some cool special effects, we have a horror star who makes Chucky look like an amateur. There are plenty of scares and some unbelievably creepy scenes with M3GAN, like when she dances in the hallway right before killing a few people. M3GAN has some things to say and sing about the state of parenting today while winking at us that this is just a movie, though a scary one. So go meet your new best friend and welcome M3GAN to the family. I guarantee you may think twice about interacting with Alexa or Seri again. And I hope there is a MEGAN4, or would it be M4GAN?   My Rating: Full Price  M3GAN Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: A Man Called Otto (2022) PG-13 Otto (Tom Hanks) is a grumpy old man who just wants to be by himself after the loss of his wife. Otto’s world will be turned upside down by a new family next door and a cat that won’t leave him alone. After two horrible performances in the Robert Zemeckis film Pinocchio as Geppetto and Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis, I was wary of this remake of a two-time Oscar-nominated Swedish film called A Man Called Ove. I’m happy to report while not a great movie, this remake is likable, and so is Tom Hanks. Hanks plays a man mourning his wife's death and takes it out on his neighbors or anyone else who disagrees with his viewpoints. Along comes a family that somehow, someway, melts Otto’s heart a bit, and he begins to warm up, though it’s a really slow thaw. The reason to see this film isn’t Hanks and his performance; it's Mariana Treviño, who plays the new neighbor who won’t take Otto being a cranky old man anymore. Treviño is a joy to watch as she brings life to the neighborhood and to the film itself. It’s a magical performance, and I can’t wait to see her in more roles in the future. The film isn’t as good as the original (Ove is much worse as a person than Otto, so the turn is even better), but the film hits all the right spots, and you won’t go away disappointed, though you may need a few tissues a time or two.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  A Man Called Otto Website  Now playing in select theatres and nationwide on Friday, January 13th. 

My View: The Pale Blue Eye (2022) R  In 1830, a former West Point cadet and now detective, Augustus Landor (Christian Bale), is hired to investigate the suicide of a West Point cadet. Augustus discovers this isn’t an ordinary case of suicide and insists on another cadet to help him solve the possible crime. That young cadet’s name is Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling). I enjoyed this film, mostly because I love mysteries that involve famous people (I read a lot of crime novels that do the same thing). The film has plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested, and the interplay between Poe and Landor is fun. It’s hard to upstage Christian Bale, but Harry Melling does a great job creating Poe as a likable character that makes the film work. I thought the cinematography was outstanding, capturing the look and feel of a very cold, dark New England in the 1800s. The final act is a little disappointing, but still, I had a good time trying to figure out the mystery along with Augustus and Edgar.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Pale Blue Eye Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Indiefest: The Old Way (2023) R Colton Briggs (Nicolas Cage) was one of the most feared gunfighters before he decided to hang up his guns and get married. Colton’s past comes back to haunt him when the son of a man Colton killed returns to exact revenge, resulting in the death of Colton’s wife. Accompanied by his daughter, Brooke (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), Colton is on a mission to find his wife's killer and avenge her. I love westerns and Nic Cage, but in this case, the two don’t make for a good picture. The film is about a man who changed his ways due to meeting his wife, and now that she is gone, he has returned to being, as he describes to his daughter, ‘dead inside.’ The film has way too many scenes where the characters sit around and talk, and too few action sequences, making the film feel slow and unmoving. I did like Ryan Kiera Armstrong, the headstrong daughter who talks her way into joining her father on his trip to revenge. Armstrong holds her own in scenes with Cage (not an easy thing to do) and is the bright spot of a film that takes too long to develop.  My Rating: Cable   The Old Way Info  Now playing in select theatres and available On Demand on January 13th.

Forgotten Film: Joe Gould’s Secret (2000) R In 1940, a The New Yorker staff writer, Joseph Mitchell (Stanley Tucci), hears about a man, Joe Gould (Ian Holm), who is writing an Oral History of the World from his over twenty-thousand conversations he’s had and overheard. Joseph is about to meet a man who is many things, but is he a writer or a con man? This is a fascinating film directed by Stanley Tucci about Joseph Mitchell and his meeting a man who will change Joseph’s outlook on life and views of how the world operates. Holm is brilliant in the role of Gould, a man Joseph hopes is telling the truth about his book, but the more he spends with Joe, the less he feels the book is real. The film has an outstanding cast, including Patrias Clarkson, Hope Davis, Susan Sarandon, Sarah Hyland, and Steve Martin.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Joe Gould's Secret Info


Weird Credits: From the credits of M3GAN: Puppet Hair


Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Maybe I Do (2023) PG-13 Michelle (Emma Roberts) and Allen (Luke Bracey) have been dating for a while, and they decide it’s time to decide if they should get married or breakup. They invite their parents to meet and help them figure out their relationship. It turns out the parents know each other well, in fact, too well. The cast includes Richard Gere, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and William H. Macy. That’s enough right there to see this film.    Maybe I Do Info   In theatres late January, 2023.

Until Next Time!




Friday, December 30, 2022

White Noise and Mike's Top Ten Films of 2022

My View: White Noise (2022) R   Jack (Adam Driver) and Babette (Greta Gerwig) are the parents of a blended family, including anxiety-ridden Denise (Raffey Cassidy) and known-it-all Heinrich (Sam Nivola). Jack is a professor and one of the world’s experts on Hitler but worries that people will judge him because he doesn’t speak German. Babette drops things at a moment's notice to chase storms and seems to be forgetting a lot lately. Adding to the chaos is a major accident that will shake the very essence of their family foundation. This comedy combines a mystery with a possible crime and a whole lot of misunderstanding to make for a fun and enjoyable watch. I loved the dialogue in this film, with the entire family sometimes talking simultaneously. Driver and Gerwig have great chemistry on screen together, and Raffey Cassidy is brilliant as Denise, who is focused on figuring out what is going on with her mother. You may never look at a grocery store the same way again after this film. So go on an adventure with a crazy family that loves each other, sometimes a little too much.   My Rating: Full Price    Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Mike’s Top Ten Films of 2022



1).
Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) R Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is an unhappy laundry-mat owner, married to Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), and has an adult daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), of who she disapproves of. While at an IRS audit, Evelyn is suddenly thrust into an adventure where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led. I will start this review by telling you, run, don’t walk to your theatre, and see this film! I can’t tell you the last time I had so much fun watching a movie and how much it kept surprising me with every scene. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a joy to watch, a film that is hard to describe but is a fast-moving adventure that explores what it means to love, to believe in not only yourself but your loved ones, and how one person, no matter how unimportant they feel, can make a difference in the world. I have been a big fan of Michelle Yeoh, in such action films as Supercop and The Stunt Woman, before she hit the big time in America with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yeoh gives us a multi-faceted performance as a woman who is so unhappy in her life that she takes it out on the people that she loves. An ordinary shop owner is asked to save the world from destruction, and Yeoh’s character goes on a journey that takes her to many alternate lives and worlds, where Evelyn discovers that she does have it in her to battle for the safety of the world and the people who she loves. This is one of those magical films that, five minutes in, you won’t want it to end. So sit down in a theatre seat and go on an adventure that you soon won’t forget with Evelyn as she battles to save our reality.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Everything Everywhere All At Once Website

2).  Top Gun: Maverick (2022) PG-13   Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise) has for 30 years served his country but has done it his way as one of the Navy’s top aviators, pushing the envelope as a test pilot. Maverick has been able to dodge the advancement in rank that would ground him until now. Maverick is back where he started, and he is still flying by the air tower, rank be damned. First, see this film on as big a movie screen as you can find (I saw it in IMAX and am so glad I did) because, incredibly, most of the stunts in this film were done in real planes making the flying sequences an absolute blast to watch. I was physically tired after seeing this film because I felt like I was in those fighter jets along with the characters in the movie. Secondly, this is one of the best sequels ever made, and yes, I know it’s 36 years after Top Gun. The first Top Gun was a fun, enjoyable movie that capitalized on the then-growing movie theme of mixing current top 40 hits with a film to create music videos within a movie. The plot was stitched together (some of it after the principal shooting had been done) and leaned heavily on Tom Cruise’s charisma and lots of good-looking young men (sometimes with their shirts off). Not only that, but we kicked the Russian’s butts in a dogfight (something huge in the 80s), and you also had a great cast of primarily up-and-coming stars, including an adorable Meg Ryan. So comes this movie, and it blows that Top Gun out of the park. First and foremost, Tom Cruise is brilliant as the man who has lived his life like his nickname, Maverick. After doing what Maverick does, breaking the rules to prove a point, he is forced to return to the school which made him a true fighter pilot, ‘Top Gun.’ He will lead a mission with the best pilots in the Navy that is dangerous and may be impossible, but of course, that is what Maverick does, the impossible. Add to this is a cast that rivals the original. First, we have Jennifer Connelly, playing a former flame of Maverick, who now runs the famous bar that everyone hangs out in, and Maverick has a history of trying to pick up women in. Connely is perfect as the one that got away, someone who can stand up to Maverick’s antics and give him a run for his money. And she is someone who has lived a life both before and after Maverick. Next, we have perfect casting in Miles Teller, who plays a certain someone’s son and is now a pilot who has a big chip on his shoulder because of it. When Miles walks into the bar, our first scene to see him is a fantastic moment, which I thought was a flashback at first. Finally, we have a new ace named Hangman, played with gusto and bravado by Glen Powell, a cock sure pilot who outdoes Mavericks’ old rival, Iceman. Speaking of Iceman, Val Kilmer makes a vital appearance in the film, and they explain his inability to talk normally (in real life, Kilmer had throat cancer, see his documentary Val for more). The plot is fast-paced, hitting all the right notes and emotions; the romance between Cruise and Connely feels real and genuine, the action sequences are truly superb, and there isn’t a bad performance in the bunch. All in all, Top Gun: Maverick is sure to be in my top ten films of the year and is not to be missed. And once again, see it in a big-screen theatre! You won’t be disappointed.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Top Gun: Maverick Website

3). The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) R Two lifelong friends, Padraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), have been meeting for years every afternoon to walk down to their local pub and have a conversation. Until one day, Colm refuses to answer the door, claiming he has no more time to have stupid conversations with Padraic. Things go downhill from there. To say that this film is Irish to the core would be an understatement. Sometimes it’s a hilarious comedy, and other times it goes incredibly dark. This may be the best performance that Colin Farrell has ever done, as Padraic, a simple man who can’t understand why his best friend has decided to shun him. It’s beautiful to watch as Farrel's character stumbles through life, not understanding that what has worked in the past won’t work anymore. As you would expect, Brendan Gleeson is phenomenal as Colm, a man who has decided to change his life and try to accomplish something lasting before he dies. I expect an Oscar nomination for Gleeson, but I want one for Farrell also, who has never gotten an Oscar nod. What makes this film stand out is the supporting cast. The film is richer because of the just outstanding work by Kerry Condon, who plays Siobhan, the sister of Padraic, who is smart and fiery but is constantly reminded by everyone that she has never married. Condon is a delight to watch as Siobhan knows that she will continue to live a miserable life if she stays on the island. And then there is Barry Keoghan, who plays the lovable village idiot Dominic. Dominic isn’t the most intelligent guy in the world, but he is good at telling people what they need to hear, whether they want to hear it or not. So, visit Padraic, Colm, and the rest of the gang on an island that seems to be in its own little world, for better or worse.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Banshees of Inisherin Website

4).  The Fabelmans (2022) PG-13 Growing up in post-World War II Arizona, Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) begins making home movies and learns how the power of film can help us see the truth about each other and ourselves. Steven Spielberg brings us his most personal film that he has ever made. A movie that is a love story of both film/filmmaking and his family, especially his mother. We get to witness how it all started, a trip to the movies with his parents to see a spectacle of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth. Having trouble dealing with a traumatic car crash detected in the film, Sammy’s mother suggests that he film with his father’s home movie camera, a recreation of the scene using his toy train. This sparks the filmmaker in Sammy, and we see through his childhood and into his teenage years just how making movies became a passion for Sammy. This passion is beautifully expressed when Sammy’s Uncle Boris, played by the fabulous Judd Hirsch, tells Sammy how he is different from most people. That Sammy loves his family, but his love and passion for art supersedes everything else. It’s a small but moving scene that lets us know making movies is the thing that drives Sammy. The film is filled with brilliant performances, but it’s the role of Michelle Williams as Sammy’s fiery, funny, and sometimes slightly insane mother that drives this film and creates all the drama in the movie. Williams, channeling a bit of Judy Garland, is absolutely breathtaking as Mitzi, a woman who, like Sammy, has a fire for art. In her case, it’s music, but she sees that same love of creating in Sammy, encourages him to explore it, and becomes his biggest fan. It’s a role that dominates the scenes Williams is in and is sure to bring her another Oscar nomination (her 5th) for her role as this madcap, emotional woman who thinks nothing of taking her children in the car to follow a tornado that has suddenly appeared in their town. This film is filled with incredible performances throughout the film, including Gabriel LaBelle, who portrays Sammy in his teen years, giving us a moving and funny look at a boy turning into a man who loves his mother but is torn by a secret he discovers about her. Paul Dano gives us a father in Burt who loves science and loves his wife but can’t quite connect and understand both his wife’s and his son’s obsession with something that isn’t practical or, in his eyes, useful. I think by reading my reviews over the years, you know I share this same passion for film, and I love that Steven Spielberg has given us a film that so wonderfully and beautifully expresses that love. Please go see The Fabelmans in a movie theatre where it deserves to be seen so you can immerse yourself into the magical world of Sammy and his madcap, funny, and loving family. And maybe, discover that you also share that love of movies.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  The Fabelmans Website

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

6).  RRR (2022)   The story of two men, Rama Raju (Ram Charan Teja), an Indian cop serving the British, who will stop at nothing to get the promotion he desperately thinks he deserves, and Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.), who pledges to find Malli, a small girl, who has been taken away from her family by a British governor and his wife. The two men are on a collision course that could bring down the rule of the British. The film combines the joy of singing and dance (a staple of Bollywood) with incredible action sequences involving not only gunfights and swords but also tigers. The two leads are incredibly talented dancers and both are charismatic as heck. Be sure to watch this film without the dubbed English version (which is awful). RRR is a film that needs to be seen on the big screen with an audience that will cheer and shout. Even if you watch it at home, you may find yourself standing up and yelling too!   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   RRR Info

7). TAR (2022) R Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and has recently become the first-ever female chief conductor of a major orchestra, but Lydia’s world is about to come crashing down around her, and there may not be anything she can do to stop it. Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and has recently become the first-ever female chief conductor of a major orchestra, but Lydia’s world is about to come crashing down around her, and there may not be anything she can do to stop it. Blanchett gives a tour de force performance as the talented but flawed Lydia Tar, a woman so sure of herself that she doesn’t see her downfall coming. It’s a masterful performance in which Blanchett speaks several languages without a hitch, plays the piano, and even sings while accompanying herself on an accordion. This is the story of someone who believes they can get away with just about anything because they are talented and gifted, even when their world is crumbling around them. Tar is a classical music fan’s dream, giving you an inside look at how an orchestra works under a conductor and the power that they possess. Equally impressive is the use of the camera. There is a remarkable sequence where Lydia is teaching a class at Julliard, and the camera seems to follow her around effortlessly as she puts a student in his place, giving us a lecture that encompasses everything from music to race relations. Lydia is not a person you will like; in fact, by the end of the film, you will probably despise her and probably revel in her downfall. You will also be reveling in the performance of Blanchett, something that we will be talking about for a long time. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Tar Website

8). Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) PG-13 Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is back and has a new mystery to solve. He has been invited to an exclusive private island to play a murder mystery game hosted by a wealthy tycoon (Edward Norton). Things are going great until a real murder happens. Rian Johnson is back with his Knives Out format, bringing back our favorite pompous detective, Benoit Blanc, this time to solve a murder or two with a cast of strange and wonderful characters. This is such a fun movie to watch, and I had a blast with it. The cast is terrific, with actors such as Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, and Kate Hudson filling out the strange and wonderful group of people that Miles Bron, played Edward Norton, playing a sort of Elon Musk character, has invited to his island. Out of this cast, Janelle Monae stands out, playing a mysterious woman with a grudge, who the rest of the group is surprised has shown up for the festivities. Monae is brilliant in the role, and I think she could get an Academy Award nomination for the performance. The film is funny, filled with incredible sight gags, and has a mystery that isn’t easy to solve. I can’t wait to see the next movie that Johnson and Craig bring us because the world needs more of Benoit Blanc solving mysteries.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Glass Onion Website

9). The Batman (2022) PG-13 The Batman is about the Caped Crusader, Batman (Robert Pattinson), in his second year of fighting crime, uncovering corruption in Gotham City that connects to his own family while battling a criminal known as The Riddler for control of his city. When I was a boy, my favorite comic book character was Batman because he wasn’t a person with superpowers, but he used his gadgets and mind to solve crimes. Like the other hero of my childhood, Sherlock Holmes, Batman solved crimes using his intellect. What filmmaker Matt Reeves has brought us a Batman who is fighting a losing battle for control of a city that he loves. Pattinson is brilliant as the brooding crime fighter trying to figure out who is killing the city’s most important and influential powerbrokers, as each gruesome killing is left with a riddle in a greeting card. Zoë Kravitz lights up the screen as Selina Kyle, Catwoman, who enlists The Batman to help her find her missing lover/roommate. Even so, it’s Paul Dano, who steals the film with his performance as The Riddler. For most of the film, we only see The Riddler in videos he releases, as he hides behind an odd bit of masking. Dano is scary as the mad, evil Riddler, who leaves clues for Batman at every murder he has committed. The Batman is not an origin story. We don’t get the usual flashback to when Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered before his eyes; instead, this is a Batman that we already know, a crime-fighter battling his own demons as he takes on the worst of humanity. And know this: you will not recognize Colin Farrell as The Penguin. It is a fantastic bit of screen magic with The Penguin looking more like a gangster than the quacking cartoon character of other Batman films. I will warn you that you will want to hold off on drinking anything before or during the film as the running time is almost 3 hours long, and you won’t want to miss anything on the screen to take a pee break. And yes, the film sets up another Batman film, and of course, there is a tiny surprise at the end of the final credits. So go on a journey with the Batman to solve crimes and defeat the criminals that threaten his beloved Gotham City.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Batman Website

10). Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022) PG Mourning the loss of his only son, Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley) makes a boy puppet named Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) that magically comes to life. Now Pinocchio, with the help of his father and his friend, the talking Cricket (Ewan McGregor), must learn what it is to be a boy in the real world. This isn’t your father’s (or should I say my) Pinocchio, which may be a little too advanced for young kids. The stop-motion animation is some of the best I have ever seen and the storyline, which includes death and Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy, is simply magnificent. The film has del Toro’s imprint all over it, from the, at times, very dark subject matter, to the mysterious talking Death (voiced by the terrific Tilda Swinton). You do have some fun comic relief with Pinocchio’s sidekick and mentor, Sebastian J. Cricket (voiced by Ewan McGregor), who constantly gets smushed, and a hilarious monkey named Spazzatura (voiced by Cate Blanchett), who at first is a bad guy but becomes an ally of Pinocchio in the later stages of the film. The film still has the heart and soul of a young boy who makes mistakes but wants to be real because he loves his father so much. It’s a beautiful film, both cinematically and story-wise, that gives you hope about love and humanity conquering evil, even if you have to lie a little bit.   My Rating; I Would Pay to See it Again   Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio Website


Almost Made It List: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, All That Breathes, The Woman King, Broker, Decision to Leave, Turning Red, The Quiet Girl, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Goodnight Oppy, All Quiet on the Western Front, Moonage Daydream, Louis Armstrong’s Black and Blues, Bad Axe, Causeway, Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, After Yang, Sidney, A Love Song, Black Phone, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, The Janes, Watcher, Montana Story, Armageddon Time, Close.

Forgotten Film: Pauline at the Beach (1983) R  I thought that I would suggest a French comedy about life at the beach since the weather has been freezing. Marion (Arielle Dombasle) is about to divorce her husband and decides to go on vacation and take her 15-year-old niece Pauline (Amanda Langelt) along for the ride. Pauline observes the goings-on of the adults with disdain and sometimes amusement, as the adults seem to go from relationship to relationship, all the while talking about how bad or good they are at them. The plot gets a little complicated, but it's all in good fun, and there are some sublime performances, including Amanda Langelt. My Rating: Full Price   Pauline at the Beach Info


Weird Credits: From the credits of White Noise: Prosthetic Artist to Mr. Driver


Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023) Mike (Channing Tatum) is bartending when he meets a woman (Salma Hayek Pinault) who could change his life, again. I loved the first Magic Mike, but the 2nd one wasn’t very good. Maybe getting the gang back together again will work this time. Hey, it’s got Salma Hayek, so I’m in.   Magic Mike's Last Dance Info   The film is out on Valentine's Day, 2023.

Until Next Time!