Friday, December 6, 2019

Playmobil: The Movie

FamilyFaire: Playmobil: The Movie (2019)  A brother and sister, Charlie (voiced by Gabriel Bateman) and Marla (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy), are still getting over the death of their parents. Charlie sneaks out to visit a toy museum with a Playmobil exhibit. Marla goes after Charlie, and after she scolds him, a lighthouse in the display illuminates them and transports them to the Playmobil world. The film is an attempt to ride the coattails of the Lego series of movies but fails on almost every count. The starts and ends with live-action, before the two kids are transported into the world of Playmobil. The songs in the film, making this a quasi-musical, are boring, except for a Meghan Trainor song where she plays, yes, the kid’s Fairy Godmother. Very young kids may enjoy the brightness and colors of the Playmobil world, but adults will be looking for the exit as soon as the first song starts.    My Rating: Cable     Playmobil: The Movie Facebook Page
My View: The Aeronauts (2019) PG-13   Scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) is convinced that he if learns more about the weather conditions in the upper atmosphere that he can eventually predict the weather, helping farmers know when to plant/harvest their crops and warn citizens of impending bad weather. James convinces a balloon pilot, Amelia Rennes (Felicity Jones), to build and fly the largest ever gas balloon to fly almost into outer-space. It turns out that the flight will be an epic fight for their survival, a trip they might not return from. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which took the difficult task of making a balloon flight seem mysterious and deadly. As you would expect, there is outstanding chemistry between Redmayne, as the meek scientist and Jones as the bold, outspoken pilot. The film unveils the flight in real-time, as we watch both the clock and the altimeter as the balloon flies up to heights that no one had ever gone before. I loved Felicity Jones’ character of Amelia, a woman who overcomes a tragedy in her life to push the boundaries of science.    My Rating: Full Price    The Aeronauts Website
Indiefest: Little Joe (2019)     Alice (Emily Beecham) is a single mother and a scientist who specializes in plant breeding. She has been working on a plant that she has called Little Joe, which can ‘make you happy.’ Alice brings one of the plants home to her son, Joe (Kit Connor), as a gift. Alice notices that as the plant grows, it begins changing her fellow worker’s personalities, and ‘Little Joe’ might be not as harmless as the nickname suggests. Little Joe is an exciting suspense film with a bit of Sci-Fi thrown in. Emily Beecham gives a moving and multifaceted performance as a woman who knows something is wrong with the plant she created, having seen the changes in her child first had, but she can’t get anyone to acknowledge that anything could be wrong. The film effectively builds the tension through the film, with us the audience wanting Alice to find a way to win what seems to be an impossible fight. The film does the unthinkable, makes a beautiful little flower an evil force that could ultimately destroy humankind.    My Rating: Full Price    Little Joe Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Ready or Not (2019) R   A bride, Grace(Samara Weaving), is told that she must participate in a game of hide and seek before coming a part of the groom’s family. What she doesn’t know is if they find her in the family home before sunrise, she will be killed. This film is the perfect example of the definition of a ‘dark comedy,’ a movie that makes light of a subject that is generally considered taboo. In this case, the family that is hunting her is made up of a bunch of crazy individuals, all who believe that if they don’t kill Grace, something horrible will happen to the family. You will be laughing one moment at the ridiculous events that occur, and other moments you will be scared at the jump out of the dark moments in the film. This film does an excellent job of building the tension until the end of the film. The performance of Sara Weaving makes this film worth watching, as she shows she has the chops for both comedy and drama, all in one character. Weaving is a delight to watch on the screen as she starts as the innocent bride, then turns into a victim who is running for her life, and finally, an in your face antagonist who is willing to fight for her life. Go see this film, it’s so much fun to watch and the audience I saw it with had as good a time as I did.   My Rating: Full Price   Ready or Not Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  My Spy (2019)  PG-13   A legendary CIA agent, JJ (Dave Bautista), has been demoted and is sent undercover to surveil a 9-year-old, Sophie (Chloe Coleman) and her family. Sophie is a tech genius, and she discovers where JJ’s operation is set up. She blackmails him into letting her hang out with him and learn what it means to be a spy. I love Bautista in the Guardians series, but I don’t think he has the acting chops or the charisma to overcome this horrible plot.    My Spy Website
Forgotten Film: Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) G    Three brothers go into World War I with hope and love of country only to discover that the songs they sing in the trenches gloss over the reality of death and destruction of trench warfare. Directed by two-time Academy Award-winning director Sir Richard Attenborough, this is a rather strange musical where all the songs that are sung are from the time period of WWI. Many of the scenes depicted are critical moments in the war, showing the folly of warfare and how it destroys lives. The film is full of some of the most significant British stars of the time and was made at a time that America and the world were discovering the horrors of the Vietnam War. One of the great films in the history of cinema that dealt with the madness and atrocities of war.   My Rating: Full Price      Oh! What a Lovely War Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Aeronauts: Knitted and Crochet Textile Artist


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  1917 (2019) R    Two young British privates (Sam Mendes, 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. This film is already gathering awards, including a top ten listing on the Atlanta Film Critics Circle 2019 Awards.     1917 Website
Until Next Time!



Friday, November 29, 2019

Knives Out


My View:  Knives Out  (2019) PG-13   World famous mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) has committed suicide, throwing his extending family into a jumbled mess. Private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is on the case and thinks that Harlan’s death might just be murder, with a house full of relatives who are all suspects. I love a film where the cast looks like they are having as much fun making the film as you are watching it. This film is a blast to view right from the start. It’s a murder mystery, or is it just a simple suicide? We follow along as PI Benoit Blanc, played with great comic timing by Daniel Craig, uses his powers of deduction to try to figure out what really happened in HarlanThrombey’s room that night of his death. The stellar cast includes Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and Katherine Langford, each of whom brings their rather eccentric and loopy band of characters to life. The plot takes plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, and the ending shot is one of the best of the year. I can’t recommend this hilarious and witty film enough.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Knives Out Website
My View:  Dark Waters   (2019) PG-13   A corporate defense attorney on the fast track to partner, Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), as a favor to a relative, takes on an environmental lawsuit against one of the biggest chemical companies in the world that exposes a history of pollution and cover-up. This is a film about a lawyer, and Robert Bilott does what a lawyer does; looks at a lot of paperwork and digs to find the truth. This is a film about the little guy taking on a big corporation and through dogged perseverance and a little luck, is willing to gamble his job and reputation to try and right a wrong. Mark Ruffalo gives a passionate and consummate performance as the everyman lawyer. The film will piss you off and maybe make you want to go out and help take on someone more significant than you.   My Rating: Full Price    Dark Waters Website

Indiefest:  White Snake  (2019)   Snake spirit Blanca (voiced by Stephanie Sheh) loses her memory while being disguised as a woman. She falls in love with a mortal enemy, a human snake hunter, Ah Xuan (voiced by Paul Yen). The union with a human greatly displeases Blanca’s sister, Verta (voiced by Vivian Lu), the green snake demon who has been sent to find and bring her sister back. This Chinese animated film is not for kids, as the heart of the film is a very adult love story. I loved the lush animation, but I was let down by a storyline that seemed to be put together clumsily on a story board, where scenes don’t always transition smoothly. I was also confused a bit by all the villains of the story. It just seemed that there was one too many bad guys in this film for the two star-crossed lovers to overcome. I have a feeling that if I was familiar with the Chinese folk tale that the story is based on, I might have enjoyed it a little more.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    White Snake Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (2019) PG-13   Bernadette (Cate Blanchett) quit a promising career to raise her daughter (Emma Nelson) along with her loving husband (Billy Crudup). But Bernadette can’t be held down for long and goes on an epic adventure that will jump-start her life and lead her to happiness. Despite a strong performance by Cate Blanchett in a very unlikeable role as the difficult to deal with Bernadette and a subtle comic relief performance by Kristen Wiig and the put upon next-door neighbor, I found the film very hit and miss. I think the primary problem is that until the end of the film, you find that you don’t like Bernadette very much, even when she is dealing with some really stupid people. The film takes way too long to get going, although I did enjoy the last 1/3 of the film, once the plot starts moving forward. I think the film spent way too much time setting up the story and way too little resolving it.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Where'd You Go, Bernadette? Website
Forgotten Film:  Ali: Fear Eats the Soul  (1974)   A chance meeting in a German city sparks a romance between a woman in her mid-sixties (Brigitte Mira) and a Moroccan migrant worker (El Hedi ben Salem), a man who is twenty-five years younger. Tensions rise as both their family and friends think this romance is doomed from the start. This is a beautiful, sometimes funny and at the same time, sad film about two lonely people who find love in an unlikely place. Directed by the legendary filmmaker, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the film is a fascinating look at relationships that come together even though the world doesn’t seem to want them to be a couple. Keep some tissues nearby when you watch this film, you will need them.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Ali: Fear Eats the Soul Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Knives Out: Talent Driving Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Seberg  (2019) R Inspired by real events, Seberg chronicles the life of actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart), an actress that rose to fame during the French New Wave films of the 1960s. She was targeted by Hoover’s FBI because of her politics, and the fact that she was dating black activist Hakim Jamal. You had me at Kristen Stewart, who was the only thing that made the last Charlie’s Angels film watchable.   Seberg Website 
Until Next Time!


Friday, November 22, 2019

Frozen II

My View: Frozen 2 (2019) PG   Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), and Sven leave Arendelle to find the origin of Elsa’s powers to save the kingdom. While not quite measuring up to the wonder and brilliance of the first Frozen film, this movie still hits all the right spots and makes it an enjoyable experience for you and your family. The film doesn’t have a showstopper song like ‘Let it Go,’ it does have several songs that hit the mark, including ‘Into the Unknown’ sung by AURORA and Idina Menzel. What makes this film such fun to watch is the antics of Olaf, expertly voiced by Josh Gad. Olaf, the dim but always overly optimistic snowman, provides just the right amount of comic relief that will make you not only giggle but laugh out loud. The film’s animation is stunning, and many of the scenes are just draw-dropping gorgeous. I think families will enjoy this film with its central message of girl power and how family is there to stand right by our sides when faced with obstacles that seem bigger than maybe we can handle.    My Rating: Full Price     Frozen II Website
My View:  A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood   (2019)  PG  Journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a hard-hitting reporter who is known to ruffle the feathers of the people he interviews. Lloyd’s outlook on life is about to change as his next assignment is to interview the legendary nice guy, Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks). Let me tell you right off that Mr. Rogers is not the focus of this film. In fact, Tom Hanks will probably be nominated for a Best Supporting Actor for his role and not leading role. The film centers around the journalist, Lloyd, a disliked reporter who doesn’t want to do a profile on someone he considers beneath his journalistic skills. Lloyd, while in a loving relationship with his wife (Susan Kelechi Watson) and just born baby but is troubled by his past with a father (Chris Cooper) who abandoned Lloyd and his mother early in Lloyd’s childhood. Matthew Rhys gives a winning performance as the reporter, but it's Tom Hanks that makes this film work. It would be hard to pick an actor who could do a better job in this role as a fascinating and lovely man who only wants to help children deal with their feelings and how to interact with the world around them. While it takes a little while to warm up to the structure of the film (which I won’t go into so I don’t ruin it), you will enjoy this film that has a mission at its core, to make you, the viewer, a better person.    My Rating: Full Price     A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Website
Indiefest:  Waves  (2019) R   The story of a suburban family, led by a domineering father (Sterling K. Brown), that starts to fall apart when an accident turns deadly. Writer/director (It Comes at Night (2017), Krisha (2015)) brings us a film that is separated into two parts. The first part centers around Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a popular high-school student who seemingly has everything going for him until it comes crashing down. The second part revolves around Tyler’s sister, Emily (Taylor Russell), who struggles to keep going in the aftermath of a horrible accident. The performances in this film are powerful and moving, with Sterling K Brown standing out as the father who knows he pushed his son too hard and too fast. This is a deep and weighty dive into a family's dynamics, where each member must ask the question, ‘Is there something I could have done to prevent this from happening to my family?’. You will be thinking about this film long after the final credits roll.    My Rating: Full Price     Waves Website
My View:  The Report (2019) R A Senate staffer (Adam Driver) is given the lead in an investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program. What he finds will cause shockwaves across the nation. This isn’t a film that you can just sit down and let it wash over you. You are going to have to think, sometimes really hard, while watching this film that is less about action and more about reaction. Adam Driver once again proves that he is one of the best actors out there, giving a complex and multi-faceted performance of a man who is driven to find out the truth, no matter the cost. It’s a intricate tale that will make you mad at times on how our government could have made the choices that it did in a quest to find terrorists, even if they weren’t always there. This isn’t a film for everyone, but for those that choose to see it, it will keep you interested until the end.  My Rating: Full Price     The Report Website
Indiefest:  Marriage Story (2019) R   The story of a couple (Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson) whose marriage is falling apart, told from the separate viewpoints of the husband and the wife. The heartbreaking story of a marriage that is crumbling before the eyes of both the parents and their young son. The story starts out with two people trying to make this break as quick and painless as possible, but as soon as lawyers get involved, the divorce becomes messy and ugly, with both sides making horrible mistakes that they both will regret. Driver and Johansson do remarkable jobs as the couple, with Johansson shining in a role that sometimes makes her the bad guy. Laura Dern is brilliant as Johansson’s characters lawyer, a woman who is all about taking as much as she can from the father, even if its not in wishes of her client. This is a devastating and powerful film that is often very painful to watch as two people we learn to care about are going through something that can destroy not only a relationship but the family dynamics as well.     My Rating: Full Price   Marriage Story Website 
Forgotten Film: Comfort and Joy (1984)   Just in time for the Holiday season is this film about a depressed Scottish morning radio host, Alan ‘Dicky Bird’ (Bill Paterson). Alan is the witness of an attack on an ice cream truck by a bunch of vandals (one who stops to make a song request for ‘Dicky Bird’ to play on the radio). Alan becomes enamored with the truck’s worker, a woman named Charlotte (C. P. Grogan) and because of her, he decides to find a solution to the great ice cream van wars, where two Italian families are battling over the rights to sell ice cream on the streets of Glasgow. Paterson gives a winning performance as the DJ that just may lose his mind over trying to solve this problem, and the film is greatly enhanced by a brilliant score by Dire Straights frontman Mark Knopfler.   My Rating: Full Price      Comfort and Joy Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Waves: Crafty Assistant


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Knives Out (2019) PG-13 World famous mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) has committed suicide, throwing his extending family into a jumbled mess. Private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is on the case and thinks that Harlan’s death might just be murder, with a house full of relatives that are all suspects. An all-star cast that includes Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and Katherine Langford make this mystery/comedy one of the holiday’s must-see films.     Knives Out Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, November 15, 2019

Ford v Ferrari


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

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


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



Friday, November 8, 2019

Doctor Sleep

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

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

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


Friday, November 1, 2019

Terminator: Dark Fate

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

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


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