Friday, July 26, 2019

Once Upon a .Hollywood

My View:  Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood  (2019)  R  During the final years of the Golden Age of Hollywood, a struggling television actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Brad Pitt) try to mount a comeback. Underneath the glamour, there is a darkness coming in the form of Charlie Manson. This film is two hours and 41 minutes in length and feels like it is longer. I did enjoy the nostalgia factor of this film, getting to see L.A. in the last years of the vast studio system. Pitt and DiCaprio do play off each other well but there is a lot of shots of Pitt driving around listening to music. Be warned that this is not a true story but a fable about DiCaprio’s character who is on the downward spiral of an actor who once was a big star and is forced to take guest roles of television. As with any film that Quentin Tarantino does there is a good bit of humor and some rather repulsive violence. The story just takes too long for the payoff at the end and there were times that I was bored with the plot.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood Website
Indiefest:  The Farewell  (2019)  PG  A Chinese family discover that their grandmother has only a short time to live. They decide not to tell her and stage a wedding as an excuse to gather the family together to say goodbye. Based on writer/director Lulu Wang’s own life, the film is a loving tribute to families and how we will do anything for our loved ones. Awkwadina wows us with her dramatic performance of a woman who is the black sheep of the family and has a hard time understanding why they are lying to her grandmother. I saw the film at the 2019 Atlanta Film Festival and fell in love with it. Go see this funny and warm film that will make you feel good about your family and yourself.   My Rating: Full Price   The Farewell Website 
Indie fest:  Sword of Trust  (2019)  R  Cynthia (Jillian Bell) and Mary (Michaela Watkins) show up to collect Cynthia’s inheritance from her grandfather’s estate. The only item she receives is an antique sword that her grandfather swore proved that the South won the Civil War. Mark Maron gives a brilliant performance as the grumpy pawnshop owner who decides to help the two women sell the sword with a healthy cut for himself. This is a quirky little film whose dialogue feels real and genuine. There isn’t a lot to the story but it’s a fun ride with a surprise ending. The film is full of strange characters that seem to fit right in with the plot.   My Rating: Full Price    Sword of Trust Website
Forgotten Film:  The Boy Friend  (1971)  G  When the leading lady of a low-budget musical gets hurt, her understudy (Twiggy) takes over the role and becomes a star. This is a musical that writer/director Ken Russel did as a tribute to the 1930 musicals that Busby Berkeley made. Twiggy is fine as the lead but the reason to watch this film is the singing and dancing of Tommy Tune who is amazing in the role. The film won several awards and was a nominee for Best Music at the 1972 Academy Awards.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    The Boy Friend Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood:  Stunt Department Office Manager

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Nightingale  (2018)  R  Set in 1835 Tasmania, a young woman named Clare (Aisling Franciosi) chases a British officer through the wilderness bent on revenge for the terrible things that the officer did to her family. Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, who made The Babadook, so I’m in.    The Nightingale Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Lion King

My ViewThe Lion King  (2019)  PG  After the murder of his father, Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones), the young prince, Simba (voiced by JD McCrary) leas the area to hide. He encounters Pumbaa (Seth Rogan) and Timon (Billy Eichner) who help Simba heal. This is an amazing looking film that utilizes the Disney CGI magic to it’s fullest. There are times that you are going to swear that portions of this film are live-cation but the film is all CGI. Besides how gorgeous the film looks, the other reason to see the film is Pumbaa (voiced by Seth Rogen) and Timon (voiced by Billy Eichner). They steal the film with their antics and their dialogue, which was all improvised. Some of their back and forth banter will have you on the floor laughing. And yes, Beyonce is wonderful as Nala.  While I did like this film, I do have a problem with it. With the ultra-realistic animation, there is very little emotion shown on the faces of the animals. It is hard to tell looking at their faces if they are happy or sad and that takes away from having you related to the animals. But you should go see this beautiful looking film because as they say “Hakuna Matata.’    My Rating: Full Price   The Lion King Website
Indiefest:  Maiden  (2018)  PG  Documentary about Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook on charter boats, who became a skipper and led the first-ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. An incredible story of a group of women led by a very determined Tracy Edwards who dare to enter what at the time was an almost exclusively man sport (women might be on board as a cook/servant). Most of the skippers of the yachts felt that the women would not even finish the first let, much less the whole trip of 3000 nautical miles that would take over 160 days to complete. The film does an outstanding job of how the team was formed and then an inside look at what it was like to compete in this race. The film documents the highs and lows of the women as they did what was considered impossible, to not only survive the sea but to be competitive. You will come away from this film admiring the gritty courage that Edwards and her crew displayed.  My Rating:  Full Price    Maiden website
My ViewThe Art of Self-Defense  (2019)  R  Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) is beaten by a group of thugs on the street. He decides to enlist in a dojo and learn how to protect himself. The dojo is ur by a charismatic but strange sensei (Alexandro Nivola) who see potential in Casey. These lessons will change Casey’s life forever. This is a dark comedy, sometimes incredibly funny and other times horrific and shocking. Eisenberg is perfectly cast as the weak guy who takes karate classes and transforms into someone else. Alexander Nivola is superb as the very weird sensei that takes a special interest in Eisenberg’s character. It’s a cat and mouse game the two play throughout the film and we wait until the end to see who will be on top. This film isn’t for everyone but if you like strange, dark comedies then you will want to see this film.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    The Art of Self-Defense Website
Indiefest:  Three Peaks  (2017)  Aaron (Alexander Fehling) wants to become a family with his girlfriend, Lea (Berenice Bejo) and her 8-year-old son Tristan (Arian Montgomery). The problem is Tristan doesn’t like Aaron and will do just about anything for break Aaron and Lea up. I enjoyed that the film slowly builds, letting us see the dynamic of the three of them. The problem is that Aaron isn’t Tristan’s father but wants to be. Tristan is conflicted by his loyalty to his father but Aaron treats Tristan well and they have fun together. The tension builds as Tristan slowly starts rebelling against Aaron. Lea, as you would expect the mother to do, often sides with Tristan when he acts out, much to Aaron’s disappointment. By the time we get to the final scenes, the air seems to be crackling with tension. This is not your usual drama and it doesn’t end with us getting all the answers but we don’t need them, we were along for the ride of three people trying to figure out if they belonged together.  My Rating: Full Price    Three Peaks Website
Forgotten FilmDeep Cover  (1992)   A by the books police offer (Laurence Fishburne) is recruited in infiltrating a drug-smuggling organization seeking to expand their reach. The cool thing about this movie is that it not only explores the drug trade but also issues of race and how we see our place in the world. This is reminiscent of the 40’s film noir movies where the hero is drug deeper into a world he wants no part of. Fishburne gives an outstanding performance and is matched by Jeff Goldblum as a crazy drug dealer.    My Rating: Full Price    Deep Cover Info
Weird Credits:  From The Art of Self-Defense:  Action Designer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Art of Racing in the Rain   (2019)  A dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner) shows us the life lessons he learned from his race car driving master (Milo Ventimiglia).  I am a sucker for movies about dogs, so I am looking forward to seeing this one.    The Art of Racing in the Rain Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, July 12, 2019


My View:  Stuber  (2019)  R  Detective Vic (Dave Bautista) has been chasing his partner’s killer for two years without success. Vic gets a tip that the killer is going to be at a drug drop-off but it comes at the worst possible time as Vic has just got laser surgery and can’t see to drive. So gets an Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), who is hired to take Vic on an adventure they both will remember for the rest of their lives. Ok, so this is not a great film but it is a lot of fun to watch. Bautista and Narjaiani have great chemistry and play off each other really well. I will tell you that I was a little shocked at how violent the film is with lots of blood and a ton of headshots. I also loved that one of my favorite actresses, Natalie Morales has a fairly big part in the film of playing Vic’s daughter. If you want to just go watch a film that is fun this film is for you.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    Stuber Website
Indiefest:  The Spy Behind Home Plate  (2019)  Documentary on baseball catcher Moe Berg, who played during the Golden Years of professional baseball. But Moe Berg led a double life, he was a spy for the US government, gathering intel on both the Japanese and the Germans. This film explores a man who was not just a ballplayer but was one of the smartest men of his time. Berg when he traveled always had an extra suitcase with him filled with books and newspapers. The man also was fearless, during WW II he traveled throughout Europe spying on the Nazi’s and recruiting scientists to come to America to work on the Atom Bomb. This film has incredible footage of Berg playing baseball and has great interviews, including interviews with Berg’s brother. You will be amazed at what this man accomplished.    My Rating: Full Price    The Spy Behind Home Plate Website
Indiefest:  Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppqble  (2018)  PG  Documentary on surfer Bethany Hamilton, who at a very young age it was thought that she was so talented she was sure to win a World’s Championship sometime in her pro career. Seemly Bethany’s dream of becoming a pro surfer was cut short when at age 13 her arm was bitten off by a 14 foot Tiger shark. Amazingly not only did Bethany take up surfing again she won tournaments. This is a beautiful and inspiring film about a remarkable woman who is such an amazing athlete but also an inspiration to young people around the world. What I enjoyed the most about the film is the remarkable footage of Bethany surfing. Using all sorts of camera angles, including underwater cameras and cameras mounted on her surfboards, you are right there watching Bethany’s high’s and lows. The starts and ends with Bethany attempting to surf ‘Jaws’ an area of surfing in Hawaii that has 60-foot waves that almost always do what is called a ‘barrel’ (where the wave curves over the surfer. I loved the drone shots that show Bethany surfing big waves from high above. Experience what it is like being a professional surfer. I guarantee you will be amazed by Bethany’s perseverance and talent.  My Rating: Full Price    Unstoppable Facebook page
My View:  Crawl  (2019) R    A Category 5 hurricane is about to hit. having not heard from her dad, Maley (Kaya Scodelario) goes to his house and finds that he is injured. But there is something down in the basement with them and it’s out for blood. This is quite a good horror film while there are a few ‘jump out of the dark’ scares, most of the film is building terror. You also can’t figure out how the father/daughter are going to get out of this situation. I liked the performance of Kaya Scodelario, who is very believable as a college swimmer, which the pilot uses to its advantage. There is no rhyme or reason why the gators are killing people but the shark in Jaws didn’t have a reason either, he just killed.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Crawl Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Shazam!  (2019)  PG-13    Billy Baston (Asher Angel), a newly foster kid, s picked to become a superhero named Shazam (Zachary Levi). All Billy has to do is say the word ‘Shazam’ and he becomes the world’s greatest superhero. This film is a blast to watch as the makers of the movie decided that they were just going to have fun with these characters. The film is hilarious and you may have to see it twice because you will be laughing so hard you won’t hear some of the dialogue. Zachary Levi is perfect in the role of Shazam, who throughout the film, keeps learning new powers he has. Mark Strong, as the evil Dr. Sivana, makes a good bad guy who wants to take Shazam’s powers for his own. The film is a little slow at first but really gets going once Shazam shows up and then it just takes off for plenty of thrills. The action is fast-paced and the fight sequences are well done. But it’s the humor that makes this film work and boy, does it ever. Be sure to stay through all the credits as there are two bonus scenes.    My Rating:  Full Price    Shazam! Website
Forgotten Film:  The Verdict  (1982)  R  A washed-up lawyer (Paul Newman) seeks redemption with taking on a malpractice case to trial rather than settling. Directed by five-time Oscar-nominated Sidney Lumet and written by two time nominated writer David Mamet, the film is an intriguing tale of a case that has plenty of twists and turns. The reason to see this film is the performance of Paul Newman, who starts out as a boozing loser who we begin to root for by the end of the film. It’s a riveting performance by Newman, one of his best (and that is saying a lot).  My Rating: Full Price    The Verdict Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Stuber:  Rain Effect

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw  (2019) PG-13  Lawman Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and outcast Shaw (Jason Statham) form an alliance in order to take on cyber-genetically enhanced villain who threatens the future of humanity. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Furious franchise since they decided to escape reality and make the cast superheroes. This one should be a lot of fun.    Hobbs and Shaw Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home

My View:  Spider-Man: Far From Home  (2019) PG-13  Peter (Tom Holand) just wants to enjoy his school trip to Europe but Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has other plans for Spider-Man. I loved this movie, especially the comedic tones that this film uses to bring across Peter’s reaction to things. I enjoyed the action sequences and felt that they were fun to watch. What this makes this film is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, who gives a commanding performance. Be sure to stay through all the credits due to two bonus scenes that set up the next film in the series.   My Rating: Full Price   Spider-Man: Far From Home Website 
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Pet Sematary  (2019)  R  A family relocates from Boston to rural Maine. They soon discover that their house is located near a pet cemetery that has a mysterious past. This was a highly disappointing film. Almost all the scary stuff is the jump out of the dark category. It is a very violent movie and there are a couple of gruesome scenes. This film fails as a horror film, in fact, several times, the audience laughed at scenes that were not meant to be funny. It’s sad when the best performance in the film is by the cat, though I will say that I also liked Jete Laurence, who plays the daughter. This is one of those films that after you see it, you wonder why they even bothered to make the movie because it feels like they were just going through the motions.   My Rating: Cable   Pet Semetery Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've only seen in Trailers but just looks like a bad idea):  Trespassers  (2018)  Two couples are at a rental property when a woman shows up saying she has car trouble, then violence starts. The trailer doesn’t look like something you would want to watch, much less experience.    Tres[assers Website
Forgotten Film:  The Wanderers  (1979) R  A gang led by Richie (Ken Wahl) tries to survive in 1963 New York gangland subculture. The reason to see this film is the performance of Ken Whal, who is amazing in the role of the gang leader who wants to lead his gang to prominence.  My Rating: Full Price   The Wanderers Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Spider-Man: Far From Home: Personal Hair Stylist for  Tom Holland

Coming  Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable  (2018)  Documentary on Hamilton who lost an arm to a tiger shark and went on to become a world class surfer.    Bethany Hamilton: Unstopable Website
Until Next Time!