Friday, September 27, 2019

Abominable

FamilyFaire: Abominable (2019) PG   Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet), a young girl, finds a friendly Yeti that longs to go back to his mountain. Yi and two other friends make it their mission to help ‘Everest’ return to its homeland. The gang will have to avoid a wealthy man named Burnish (Eddie Izzard) who wants to put Everest in his collection. While very predictable and at times a little slow, the film is warm look at friendship and how those friends will try their best to make their friends dreams come true. This is a sweet film that families will enjoy and kids will love the action sequences. Sure the plot is a little too paint by numbers kids film, but Everest and his buddies may just make you forget that.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Abominable Website
My View: Judy (2019) PG-13   A penniless and considered washed-up Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) arrives in London to restart her career with a series of sold-out concerts. She must deal with the demons of the past while battling her ex-husband over the custody of her children. The film is let down a bit by its storyline that centers on Judy’s self-destructive behavior but it’s the performance of Renne Zellweger, who stunningly brings Judy Garland back to life with an incredible performance. Zellweger is brilliant in the role and her singing a ton of Judy’s hallmark songs brings this film to life. I loved the flashbacks to when Judy (played by Darci Shaw) is in the middle of filming The Wizard of Oz. We see that the young Judy just wanted to spend a day or two being a normal kid but the Hollywood system wouldn’t let her. I just wish there had been a few more flashbacks in the last third of the film when Judy’s downward spiral becomes almost too much to watch.   My Rating: Full Price    Judy Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray): Yesterday (2019) PG-13   A musician, Jack(Himesh Patel) who realizes he’s the only person to remember The Beatles. He then starts performing their songs and becomes a big star. Patel has a fine voice and what I like about this film is Patel puts a new take on some of the Beatles songs. His version of Help near the end of the film is a perfect example of this; it’s full of anger and angst. I loved Lily James, who plays Ellie, Jack’s manager, who at times is the only one that believes that he can succeed as a musician. I enjoyed the music in the film, seventeen songs of The Beatles are sung, showing just how prolific they were. This is a sweet film that doesn’t always work. The film never quite finds its footing and I hated the ending. You get the feeling that screenwriter Richard Curtis didn’t quite know how to get his characters out of the predicament they find themselves at the end of the film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Yesterday Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Playing with Fire (2019)   A crew of wild-land firefighters, led by tough as nails Jake Carson (John Cena) meet their match when they rescue a trio of rambunctious children. Why does every action star feel the need to make a movie where they get bested by children that ultimately teach the action hero a lesson on how to let people into your heart?  Playing with Fire Info 
Forgotten Film:   The Big Country (1958)   A New Englander (Gregory Peck) arrives in the old west, where he becomes embroiled in a feud between two families who both claim a piece of land. This film is one of those big, larger than life films with a huge all-star cast that only someone like William Wyler could direct. Two reasons to see this film, Burl Ives, who won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance and the amazing shot after shot of the ranch lands in the film. While a good movie, it’s more known for how Wyler pissed off almost the whole cast, including Peck who would never talk to Wyler again after making the film.   My Rating: Full Price    The Big Country Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Judy: Immigration Consultant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Doctor Sleep (2019) R   Years after the events of The Shining, a now-adult Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) meets a young girl (Emily Alyn Lind) who has similar powers as 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. The words ‘based on a novel by Stephen King’ is enough to get me to see this film.    Doctor Sleep Facebook Page
Until Next Time!


Friday, September 20, 2019

Rambo: Last Blood


My View: Rambo: Last Blood  (2019)  R  John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone has been living peacefully and staying out of the man’s gaze. When a friend’s daughter is kidnapped, Rambo crosses the U.S.-Mexico border to bring her back home, but he will find himself up against one of Mexico’s biggest cartels. The cartel has no idea who they are dealing with, but they will soon find out. This reminds me of the days when I would walk into my local video rental store and I would find a straight to video movie that starred an action star that had once been big but now was an afterthought. The big difference between this movie and those has-been pictures of the past is none of those old VHS specials would be this gory. The level of just horrible violence is shocking in this film. Only the die-hard Stallone fans will enjoy this badly written and over the top bad guys filled film. And just so you get the meaning, we get to see the border wall twice right before Rambo kills about 100 bad guys.   My Rating: Cable    Rambo: Last Blood Website
My View: Ad Astra (2019) PG-13  Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) undergoes a mission into deep space to find out the truth about what happened to his father (Tommy Lee Jones) who went on a mission 30 years earlier and apparently is still alive and may have a weapon that can destroy half the solar system. Some critics are going to go nuts over this film, but I found that while the film is incredible looking, reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, I found the film void of almost any storyline. After the film finished, I had more questions than answers, making me feel that I had seen an uncompleted film, that the writer and director were going to keep working on the film until it made sense. Howeverr, alas, all you get is this mess of a film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Ad Astra Website
My View: Downton Abbey (2019) PG  The continuing story of the Crawley family, owners of a vast estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century. The estate is thrown into a frenzy when the family learns that King George V will be coming to visit. I have never seen an episode of the BBC/PBS television series of the same name and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the storyline but after about fifteen minutes into the film, I pretty much figured out the cast of characters and their relationships with each other. After that first section, I really enjoyed this film about a family dealing not only with a royal visit but all the politics and relationships that a house that size has going on. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the performance of Dame Maggie Smith, who as the feisty Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, is brilliant, funny, bringing a much needed comic relief everything she says a sarcastic line.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and I think the fans of the show are going to think this film is everything they could want in a film about their beloved series.  My Rating: Full Price    Downton Abbey Website
Indiefest: Aquarela (2018)   Documentary where the main protagonist is water. Water and ice are captured on screen from around the world, showing just how powerful water is. This is a gorgeous looking film but I got bored with the film after the first twenty minutes. How many shots of water or icebergs can you watch for minutes at a time? There isn’t any narration or titles for the film, so often you have no idea what you are looking at. After an opening sequence that piqued my interest, the rest of the film was an on-slot of shot after shot of water doing what water does, move on, just like I wanted to.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Aquarela Website
Indiefest: Ms. Purple (2019)   A young woman, Kaise (Tiffany Chu) works as a karaoke hostess in Koreatown. She reconnects with her estranged brother (Teddy Lee) when their father is on his deathbed. This is a story about a family that is torn apart not only from the past but also the present. Both siblings are trying to doing right by their father, but it’s not the life that either one envisioned for themselves. Kaise is a woman who is willing to sell her body and soul to provide for her dying father. Her brother, Carey, can’t seem to do the right thing, even when he is trying to. This is a sad and gut-wrenching film about two people trying to come to terms with their lives while being tortured seeing their father waste away in silence.   My Rating: Full Price    Ms. Purple Website
Forgotten Film: Anatomy of a Murder (1959)   A small-town lawyer (Jimmy Stewart) defends a Lieutenant in the army (Ben Gazzara) accused of murdering a man that he claims raped his wife (Lee Remick). The movie is worth watching if just for the opening credits and the incredible score by jazz legend Duke Ellington. Stewart is perfect as the lawyer who doesn't think he is up for the job and Remick is dazzling as the wife that maybe the key to the whole mystery.  This Otto Preminger directed film will keep you guessing until the end to see if the Lieutenant is guilty of committing out and out murder. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Anatomy of a Murder Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Downton Abbey: Ballroom Technician

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Irishman (2019) A mob hitman recalls his involvement in the disappearance of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa. Are you ready for a mobster film directed by Martin Scorsese that lasts 210 minutes and stars Robert De Niro, Anna Paquin, Al Pacino, and Jesse Plemons?     The Irishman Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, September 13, 2019

Hustlers

My View: Hustlers (2019) R When financial hard times hit a strip club, the crew of strip club employees decide to band together and turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. A lot of critics that were at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival were talking up how good Jennifer Lopez in the role of the ringleader of the crew (so even mentioned Oscar nomination) but I think Constance Wu, whose character Destiny is the center of the film, acts rings around Lopez’s Ramona. Wu is a force on screen and demands, even when Lopez is sharing the screen, that you pay attention to her character. Some of the film is very funny, especially a running gag that involves Lili Reinhart’s character, Annabelle. I enjoyed the film, though the last act did drag a bit and the film seemed a little too long. Still, go have a fun time learning how to steal rich guys blind from Romona, Annabelle, and Destiny.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Hustlers Website
My View: Official Secrets (2019) R True story of a British whistleblower (Keira Knightley) who leaked information on a spy operation that was designed to push the UN Security Council into sanctioning the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This is based on a true story of a whistleblower that saw something that her country (and the U.S.) were telling lies to start a war and the incredible sacrifices she endured to bring those allegations to light. Knightley gives an outstanding performance of the woman who dared to risk everything to let the world know that a conspiracy was afoot. The film is an earnest attempt to tell a story of one person against a system that tried everything to discredit a brave woman willing to take on the system.   My Rating: Full Price     Official Secrets Website
Indiefest: This is Not Berlin (2019)   Set in 1980s Mexico City, seventeen-year-old Carlos (Xabiani Ponce de Leon) does not fit it, whether it is his family or his school. His world changes when he is invited to a nightclub where discovers the underground nightlife scene. Other than the multi-layered performance of Xabiani Ponce de Leon, there is little to recommend this film. The film is one long orgy of music, art, and drugs as we watch Carlos think that he has found his place in the world, only to find out that the world isn’t what he thought it was. Be warned there is heavy drug use in the film and quite a bit of nudity. This is one of those films that having watched it for almost 2 hours, we know less about the characters in the film than when we first started it.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee
   This is Not Berlin Website 
Indiefest: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019)  PG-13 Documentary on one of the greatest voices of the 20th century. Linda Ronstadt trail-blazed a career that spanned everything from country to rock to folk to Spanish Language albums. I loved this film, mostly it doesn’t fall into the mistake that a lot of bio’s of musicians do, too many interviews and not enough music. This film does a great job of giving you lengthy segments of music followed by interviews with some of the most iconic singers of Ronstadt’s generation like Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, Jackson Browne, Don Henley, and Emmylou Harris. The film lets Ronstadt do the narration and we get to see the wit and humor of Ronstadt’s personality. The biggest thing I took away from this film is how important family was and is to Ronstadt and how much her family influenced her music and her voice.   My Rating: Full Price     Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice Website
My View: The Goldfinch (2019)  R  A young boy named Theodore (Oakes Fegley) is taken in by a wealthy family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of the Art. Life is going to be a bumpy road for Theodore who desperately clings to the image of his mother. Some books are just meant to be books and nothing else. The Goldfinch is a bestselling Pulitzer Prizing winning book that has plenty of fans. The problem is that the storyline makes for a rather boring and almost unwatchable movie. The film never gets going after the first couple of minutes and keeps going back and forth between present-day and Theodore’s very messy childhood. The film never really lets us connect with Theodore and the bombing is never explained why or how it happened. The other problem is that other than Theodore’s surrogate father, Hobie (played by the brilliant Jeffery Wright), we don’t like any of the characters in the film, especially Theodore. Skip the movie and settle down with a good book, maybe even The Goldfinch.   My Rating: Full Price    The Goldfinch Website
Forgotten Film: The Young Philadelphians (1959) An up and coming lawyer, Anthony (Paul Newman) seemingly has a very bright future. Anthony is on the fast track for partner at his law firm, winning cases right and left and he has a fiancee (Barbara Rush) who loves him, His life is turned upside down when he takes the case of his best friend, Gwynn (Robert Vaughn) who has been accused of murder, a case that looks like a sure thing that Anthony’s friend is guilty. Anthony must decide to stay the course or break his comfortable ties and defend his best friend. While Newman gives his usual great performance, it's Robert Vaughn, in an Oscar-nominated role, that makes this film work as the flawed friend of Anthony who believes and trusts that his friend can get a not guilty plea against the odds.   My Rating: Full Price     The Young Philadelphians Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Hustlers: Pole Trainer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Jojo Rabbit (2019)  PG-13   A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home. If anyone can make a comedy about Nazi’s and Hitler work, it’s the director of Thor: Ragnarok (2017), What We Do in the Shadows ( 2014) and one of my all-time favorite movies, Boy (2011), Taika Waititi.    Jo Jo Rabbit Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, September 6, 2019

It Chapter Two

My View: It Chapter Two  (2019)  R   Twenty-seven years after first encountering the horrific Pennywise, the Loser Club has come back to town to try and stop him again. There are three big problems with this sequel: it is way too long (2 hours 49 minutes), it isn’t scary, and it has way too many flashbacks to the first film. It’s as if the writer/director knew that we might not like the adult Loser Club, so they decided let's bring back the kids, ‘everyone loves the kids.’ I hated the special effects in this film as most of the creatures looked like they came from a 90’s cheap horror flick. I just don’t understand how you can have a cast that includes Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and Bill Skarsgard and make a boring picture but It Chapter Two is one. Skip this film and go watch the first film instead.   My Rating: Cable   It Chapter Two Website
My View: Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) R   Brittany (Jillian Bell) is a very unhappy 27-year old woman living in New York. She is overweight, parties too much and has a nowhere job in a theatre. When a doctor tells her to get healthy, she decides to take up running. With the help of a neighbor (Michaela Watkins), she doesn’t really like and a fellow out of shape beginning runner (Micah Stock), Brittany begins to succeed in losing weight and decides to set a goal of running a marathon. Unfortunately, Brittany is her own worst enemy and really doesn’t have any trust for anyone, a trust she will need if she is going to meet her goals. This is one of those films that while not a great film, is a great deal of fun, mostly because Jillian Bell is so good in the role of the woman who is tired of being overweight and overlooked. Brittany is her own worst enemy and we struggle sometimes to like her but she keeps plugging away and we hope that eventually, she will decide that she matters and that people do care about her.   My Rating: Full Price    Brittany Runs a Marathon Website
Indiefest: Vita & Virginia (2018)  R   The scandalous love affair of socialite and popular author Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) and soon to be famous author Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki). The film is incredibly slow-moving and it seems that throughout the film we keep waiting for Virginia to have a mental breakdown but it just never really comes. This is a beautiful looking film and Arterton and Debicki have great chemistry on the screen but the film seems lifeless and I just didn’t care about any of the characters in the film. The film starts slow and just never really finds its footing.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Vita & Virginia Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Booksmart   (2019)  R   Two high school overachievers (Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein) have always placed academics over anything else. They decide they have missed the fun of being a high-school student and decide to cram four years of fun into one night. Dever and Feldstein have incredible chemistry on the screen and their timing, finishing each other’s sentences. The dialogue reminded me a little of the Gilmore Girls, where the two leads just keep it up with non-stop dialogue. The film is sidesplitting funny and what I really like, it’s an original storyline, unique in this day and age of the remake. If you want a fun time at the cinema with some winning characters, go see this film.   My Rating: Full Price     Booksmart Website
Forgotten Film: The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)    A nineteenth-century New Hampshire farmer, Jabez Stone (James Craig) has hit hard times. A mysterious man named Mr. Scratch (Walter Houston) shows up at Jabez’s doorstep and offers Jabez a deal, his farm will prosper but he has to give up his soul to the devil. Jabez makes the deal and sure enough, his farm becomes successful beyond his wildest dreams but Jabez realizes the price to pay for success is too much. Jabez talks the world’s most famous orator, Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) into taking his case and go up against the devil himself. The film contains one of the best film scores of all time by the infamous Bernard Herrmann and Walter Houston is perfect as the devil who knows he will win, no matter how great Webster is. Great film with some incredible scenes makes this a film to be savored.    My Rating: Full Price     The Devil and Daniel Webster Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of It Chapter Two: Costume Breakdown Artist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)   The gang (Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Woody Harrelson) move to the heartland and have to keep fighting off zombies, all while dealing with a makeshift family that always doesn’t get along. I loved the first film, so I am hoping this one will be fun too.    Zombieland: Double Tap Website
Until Next Time!