Friday, November 16, 2018

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

My ViewFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald  (2018)  PG-13   After Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) help apprehend the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), Grindelwald makes good on his promise and escapes. Grindelwald sets about to find followers in his plot to take over the world from all non-magical beings. Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) convinces Newt to take on Grindelwald once again. I loved the first film which was filled with wonderful beasts of all types. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about this film. There are so many characters which take forever to develop, and it takes so long to get going, the film feels like it’s four hours in length. The first film was fun, this one is just tedious, and unlike the original film, this one doesn’t give us enough new beasts. A couple of characters that I loved in the first Fantastic Beasts, Jacob, the sidekick of Newt and Jacob’s love Queenie, are just lost in this film filled with characters. Once again, Johnny Depp sleepwalks through another performance. Can Hollywood quit giving him jobs he longer deserves? The film feels like one long setup for the next film and has a horrible, anticlimactic ending. There are no closing credit scenes in this film, but I suggest you just skip the whole thing.   My Rating: Cable   Fantastic Beasts Website
My ViewInstant Family  (2018)  PG-13  A couple (Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne) want to adopt and fall in love with an adorable kid. To their surprise, if they want that child, they have to adopt the kids two siblings. Can the couple survive this ‘Instant Family?’ I can’t believe I am saying this about a filmmaker who gave us the Daddy’s Home series, but I adore this film. It’s funny, warm, sweet look at a foster family trying to figure out the dynamics of it all. Yes, the film can get a little silly at times, but this film is full of heart and writer/director Sean Anders (who has fostered kids in his own family) is passionate about this subject, and it shows. The film was shot in Atlanta, and many of the kids in the movie are actual foster kids in real life. Go see this fantastic film. You will laugh and shed a few tears along the way.   My Rating: Full Price   Instant Family Website
My ViewWidows  (2018)  Their husbands have died in a botched heist, and a drug lord is demanding the money that was stolen from him, three of the widows plan to rob a local politician. Academy Award winning director Steve McQueen and writer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) gives a heist movie like no other. The film has plenty of twists and turns (one I unfortunately saw coming from a mile away) and moves at a quick pace. The cast is top notch with Viola Davis giving another outstanding performance that only she can give. This isn’t a perfect movie, I have a few problems with some of the plot, but it is worth seeing because of the incredible acting of the cast.  My Rating: Full Price   Widows Website
IndiefestThe Ballad of Buster Scruggs  (2018)  R  An anthology film comprised of six stories taking place in the old west. So let me tell you that this is a Coen Brothers movie and it acts like it. The film is six stories tied together by a storybook that we see when each story starts. The film is part comedy, part drama that is at times funny, other times sad or even scary. The story I enjoyed the most was the first one of the film, a play on the singing cowboy films of the 30s and 40s. The singing cowboy is played to perfection by Tim Blake Nelson, a cowboy who plays guitar while riding his horse and is the best gunslinger in the west. The ending of the story has a big payoff that I really enjoyed. Not all the stories worked, but there is enough in this film to satisfy any viewer. I will warn you that there is quite a bit of violence and death in this film, some of it comedic, some of it incredibly heartbreaking and poignant, so don’t be fooled by the trailer thinking that the whole movie is a comedy. I am a big fan of westerns, so I really enjoyed this film and its variety of tales that it told.   My Rating: Full Price   The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Website
My ViewThe Front Runner  (2018)  R  American Senator Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) was in the driver’s seat for the Democratic nominee for President in 1988. His career and campaign are ruined when it’s discovered that he has been having a scandalous love affair. This film explores the campaign of Hart that literally fell apart in just three weeks. It was the beginning of when mainstream news reporting became tabloid news. Jackman gives an excellent performance as the man who thought his personal life wasn’t anyone’s business.  This film is more about how the alleged affair (Hart and the woman he was caught with to this day deny that slept together) affect the people in the campaign and his family, especially his wife played by the incredible Vera Farmiga. I am guessing that the film left out one of the most famous photos of all time, Donna Rice sitting on Hart’s lap in front of the ‘Monkey Business’ boat due to copyright issues but by not being in the film, it sits out like a sore thumb. I liked this film, but I just don’t thank any aspect of this movie is Oscar quality.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Front Runner Website
Indiefest:  Green Book  (2018)  PG-13  An Italian-American bouncer, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is hired to drive an African-American classical pianist, Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) across the deep south on tour in the 1960s. This is a highly enjoyable movie with two great actors who have unbelievable chemistry together on the screen. This road-trip film about two people with nothing in common moves at such a quick pace that the movie feels more like an hour long than its two-hour length. This is a funny, touching and often moving film that explores how we may think we are vastly different from each other but in reality, we have a lot in common. My favorite scene, which is near the end of the film, is where the two men go to a bar and Don gets up and plays rock and roll with the house band while the whole bar goes nuts. I think you will love this film as much as I did.    My Rating: Full Price   Green Book Website
My ViewA Private War  (2018)  R    One of the greatest war correspondents of our time, Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike) is devoted to getting the story at all costs. Its always hard to make a story about a person you don’t like, but director Matthew Heineman and screenwriter Arash Amel pull it off. Colvin was a reporter that went to some of the worst war-torn areas of the world and did insightful and often moving stories about how war was affecting the civilians in that part of the world. Pike, in a demanding role, makes us root for Marie even though she was a problematic, self-centered person that certainly suffered from Post-traumatic stress disorder. The supporting cast is exceptional with Jamie Dornan standing out as a photographer that teams up with Marie. A Private War is not a perfect film as the story lags a bit in the middle  but it does give you an inside look at what reporters go through in war.  My Rating: Full Price
Forgotten Film:  All the Real Girls  (2003) Paul (Paul Schneider) is what we call a womanizer, a guy who sleeps with any woman he can seduce, only to move on from her when he has slept with her. His world changes when he meets his best-friends sister, Noel (Zooey Deschanel), an 18-year-old who has just come back home from boarding school. Looming large in the relationship is that Noel is a virgin. What I love about this movie is the film isn’t about Noel’s virginity, it’s about Paul trying to have a healthy relationship with the first woman he has let into his heart. The dialogue is sharp and feels real. If your type of movie is about falling in love with the right person for you, then this is a perfect film for you.    My Rating: Full Price   All the Real Girls Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Support Staff for Johnny Depp

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Ralph Breaks the Internet  (2018)  PG  Ralph, and his pal Venellope go on a search on the internet for a new joystick for Ralph’s game. If they don’t find the joystick, Ralph’s game will be turned off. I loved the first film, and the trailer for this film looks like the filmmakers have found magic once again.    Ralph Breaks the Internet Website
Until Next Time!




Friday, November 9, 2018

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

Family Faire:  Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch  (2018)  PG  T  he Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) lives a solitary life with his loyal dog Max. The cynical grump goes on a mission to steal Christmas from the residents of Whoville. Kids are going to love this colorful and funny film. Adults, especially fans of the old 60s TV special maybe a little bored by the story that covers no new ground. I did love the Grinch’s dog Max, who steals the movie with his antics. Cumberbatch, doing the voice of The Grinch is almost unrecognizable in the role.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Website
My View: The Girl in the Spider’s Web  (2018)  R      Computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) is back on the prowl dispensing her style of justice. With journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), Lisbeth gets caught up in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials. So this film takes place three years after the third book (and the third Swedish films). I really enjoyed Claire Foy’s performance as she perfectly captures the fire and ice of Lisbeth’s personality. It was a little jaring getting used to a much younger Mikael Blomkvist, and though he isn’t given that much to do, Sverrir Gudnason is fine in the role. The action sequences were well done and the several chase sequences are fast and exciting. I am a big fan of the Swedish trio of films starring Noomi Rapace and I think this film is equal to those films. It is certainly better that the 2011 American version.  My Rating:  Full Price   The Girl in the Spider's Web Facebook page
Indiefest: The Great Buster  (2018)  Documentary on who is considered one of the greatest silent film comedians, who at the height of his fame, lost control over his movies and ‘talkies,’ film with sound brought his downfall. Directed by Academy Award nominee and film historian Peter Bogdanovich, The Great Buster is a loving look at one of the greatest filmmakers of the silent era. Using interviews with friends and family, vintage photos and footage from his numerous films, Bogdanovich lets us get to know Buster, warts and all. What I loved about this film, is that Bogdanovich looks at the ten featured films that Keaton did in the 20s, going into detail why each is a masterpiece. I am a fan of Keaton and his films, but I still learned a lot about the man and his movies.   My Rating: Full Price   The Great Buster Website
Indiefest:  Boy Erased  (2018)  R  The son (Lucas Hedges) of a Baptist preacher (Russell Crowe) is forced to go to a church-sponsored gay conversion program. If he doesn’t complete the program, his family will kick him out. While Lucas Hedges gives us a passionate and insightful performance as the troubled Jared, it’s the performances of Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman that shine in this film. Crowe, playing the father who is conflicted by his love of his son versus the conviction of his faith that the gay lifestyle is wrong in the eyes of his religion gives a first-rate performance. Kidman is brilliant as the mom who is conflicted by the love of her son and the religious beliefs of her husband. I was let down by this film because it never delivers the emotional punch that the film needs.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Boy Erased Website
In Case You Missed It (A movie just released on DVD/Blu-Ray):  BlacKkKlansman  (2018)  Based on the true story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first African-American police officer in Colorado Springs. With the help of a white police (Adam Driver), Ron infiltrates the local Ku Klux Klan, becoming a confidant of the Imperial Wizard himself, David Duke (Topher Grace) and eventually becoming the leader of the local pack. A young woman (Vanessa Hudgens) starts volunteering at a rescue center when she finds a dog wandering on its own on the street. This is one of the best films of the year and probably director Spike Lee’s most mainstream movie he has made. The amazing thing about this film is that almost everything that happens in the film actually happened to Ron Stallworth. I loved the performance of John David Washington, and he and Adam Driver have fantastic chemistry that makes this film a joy to watch. Do yourself a favor and go see this brilliant gem of a movie.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   BlacKkKlansman Website
Forgotten FilmState of Grace  (1990) R    A New York cop (Sean Penn) is recruited to return to his old neighborhood and infiltrate a mob run by his childhood friend’s brother (Ed Harris). There are some incredible performances in this film, including Ed Harris as the crazy mob boss. There is a rather neat twist that happens around the middle of the film that changes the complexion of the movie. This film was overshadowed by Goodfellas, which came out about the same time. If you are a fan of great acting and love mob movies, this is one for you.   My Rating: Full Price   State of Grace Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch:  Characters Surfacing Supervisor


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouWidows  (2018)    Their husbands have died in a botched heist and a drug lord is demanding the money that was stolen from him, three of the widows plan to rob a local politician. The film is directed by Academy Award winner Steve McQueen and stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Carrie Coon, and Colin Farrell.   Widows Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, November 2, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody

My ViewBohemian Rhapsody  (2018)  PG-13  Story of one of the world’s greatest rock bands, Queen, led by their flamboyant lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek). I loved the concert scenes, especially the last 20 minutes which is from their legendary 1985 Live Aid appearance. This is probably the best I’ve seen in a film of four actors playing instruments, all for play with skill and conviction. I really enjoyed the first half of the film; it’s fun to see how they were formed and how they came up with their unique sound. What I didn’t like about the movie is that they mess with the timeline. For example, Freddy was diagnosed with Aids in 1987, but in the film he is diagnosed in 1985 before Live Aid, making that concert appearance more meaningful. I didn’t like how the made Freddy the party boy, and the other three members of the band come off like perfect husbands and fathers. I found that I didn’t enjoy the 2nd have of the film (except for that ending) when Freddie starts acting like a diva and breaks up the band. The 2nd half seems very long and isn’t much fun to watch. Unlike the rumors that were circulating this year, it does deal with Freddie being gay, but it’s pretty sanitized. If you are a fan of Queen like I am, you will enjoy the film, but you probably won’t think its a great movie, but you will enjoy the concert scenes.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Bohemia Rhapsody Website
Family Faire:   The Nutcracker and the Four Realms  (2018)  PG  Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is on a search for a key that will open a box her late mother gave her. When Clara searches for the key, the trail takes her to a magical, mysterious parallel world. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. The art direction, costumes, and hair design are fantastic in this film. The storyline moves along at a great pace and is fun to watch. It takes the basis of the Nutcracker story and makes it its own original story. There is an ode to the Nutcracker ballet with a fantasy sequence where some of the famous dance is performed. I immensely enjoyed the performance of Mackenzie Foy who plays Clara, the girl trying to find the key to open up her dead mother’s gift.   My Rating: Full Price   The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Website
Indiefest:   Suspiria  (2018) R    A promising young dancer, Susie (Dakota Johnson) joins a world-renowned dance company. Susie soon learns that mysterious things are happening at the company and dancers have gone missing. This is a bizarre, weird, sometimes violent film that has plenty of nudity and a couple of extremely violent scenes, one early on in the film that is really hard to watch. There is quite a bit of modern dancing in this film, much more than in the original 1977 Suspiria. The film feels every bit of its 2 hours and twenty-minute length. This is very different than director Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 film Call Me By Your Name. There is a subplot about a highjacked plane that I don’t have any clue why it's in the film. The director tries to get too cute with strange camera angles, slow-motion scenes that don’t work and an ending that is very creepy. This is a horror movie that just isn’t scary. I did not enjoy this film, and I plan on never seeing it again.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again     Suspiria Website
My View:   Can You Ever Forgive Me?  (2018)  R    Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) has made her living writing about celebrities. When she falls out of style and can’t get published, she begins to forges letters from deceased authors and playwrights. Melissa McCarthy gives a stunning performance of someone who is utterly unlikeable. In fact both her character and her best friend, Jack (played superbly by Richard E. Grant), a gay man who doesn’t seem to have a job or a home, are horrible people. McCarthy’s character thinks that she is the greatest writer in the world and that nobody realizes that. It makes Lee bitter and angry at the world. Jack gets by on his looks, which are rapidly fading as he ages, and by selling cocaine. The film is entertaining to watch as we wait for when it will all fall apart for Lee. You are not going to like these characters, but you are going to love the film and its performances.    My Rating: Full Price    Can You Ever Forgive Me? Website

Forgotten Film: Mary and Max  (2009)  This film is done in claymation, but it’s not for kids. It’s the tale of a 20-year friendship between two unlikely pen pals: Mary (voiced by Toni Collette) a lonely 8-year old girl from Australia and Max (voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman), an obese, 44-year old New Yorker with Asperger Syndrome. It’s a beautiful story about friendship that is funny at times but can also be melancholy as it deals with topics like depression and isolation. This is a lovely film that will make you think and maybe shed a tear or two.  My Rating: Full Price   Mary and Max Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: Hair Technician


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You Creed II  (2018)  With Rocky’s help, newly crowned light heavyweight champion Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) faces off against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of the man that killed Adonis’ father. I loved the first film, so I am hopeful that this will be good. I am a little worried because the writer/director of the first Creed film, Ryan Coogler, is not involved with this film.   Creed II Website
Until Next Time!