Friday, October 25, 2019


My View: Countdown (2019) PG-13 When a nurse (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app that claims to predict the moment a person will die, she discovers that she has only three days to live. Now she must figure out a way to save her life before the countdown strikes zero. This is your typical, run of the mill, jump out of the dark movie where our heroine is racing against time to figure out how to defeat an app that counts down when you are going to die. The ‘scary’ moments in the film were very predictable, never creating any tension that the movie sorely needed. P.J. Byrne does a horrible job as the comic relief priest that is sought after to find a solution to defeat the app.   My Rating: Cable   Countdown Website
My View: Black and Blue (2019) R   A rookie police officer, Alice West (Naomie Harris), witnesses dirty cops, including her partner, kill a man. West now is on the run from both her fellow officers and her community that she has sworn to protect and serve. Despite the acting chops of Naomie Harris, this film feels very long with endless chase sequences where our hero, the plucky army vet, Officer West, is able to elude police officers on both foot and in cars, time and time again by just hiding in various spots in the neighborhood. The film tries to add in commentary on the Katrina aftermath, police brutality, and several other issues that it tries to quickly wrap up at the end of the film. I love that Hollywood gave Harris a starring role in a movie, but can we provide her with something more than this full of holes plotline and a supporting cast that feels like it was in a bad 90s cop TV show.   My Rating: Cable   Black and Blue Website
MyView: The Current War: Director’s Cut (2017) PG-13    The story of the race between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch), Nikola Tesla (Nichoas Hoult), and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to determine whose electrical system will be adopted by the modern world. I would first like to mention the cinematography in this film, which is beautiful and amazing. The film does a great job of making it look like it is in the late 1800s. I love the fact that we see both sides of the story. The film goes back and forth, telling equally the stories of two gigantic figures of the time, Westinghouse, who knew his system was the correct one and Edison, who had the advantage over Westinghouse in the fact that he was already a household name, signing autographs right and left. My favorite character in the film was the eccentric Nikola Telsa, who worked at different times for both men. Hoult gives a multilayered performance of Telsa, a man who knew he was the smartest man in the room and would let you know it. The harnessing of electricity was one of the greatest achievements that man has ever had, and this film lives up to those lofty ideals.   My Rating: Full Price    The Current War Facebook Page
Indiefest: The Lighthouse (2019) R   Two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson) work together, and the isolation takes a toll on the two men’s minds. This film reminded me of the European avant-garde movies that my college professors made me watch in my History of Cinema classes, an experience that I did not enjoy. This is the story of two men: Pattinson’s character, Winslow, is a wet behind the ears teetotaler of a man who is just there to make a buck and Dafoe’s character, Wake, is a hard-drinking former seaman who lost his leg and now takes his job as custodian of the lighthouse as serious as if he was piloting a ship. The two men barely make it to the end of the two weeks' stay when due to weather, their relief does not show up and may not for several months. The film early on hints that both men are troubled. Pattinson’s character has dreams/nightmares about a mermaid based on a small carving he finds hidden in his bed, and Dafoe’s character is ultra-protective of the light in the lighthouse, to the point of threatening violence if Winslow ever goes to the top. The second half of the film delves into how the two men are taking their continued isolation, and many of the remaining scenes of the film are hard to distinguish if they are real or just figments of the men’s minds. This is a film from Robert Eggers, the writer/director of The Witch (2015), another film that never was clear what was an actual event and what was only in the minds of its characters. I am just not a fan of this style of film and did not enjoy the movie, though I thought both actors were brilliant in their roles. This is a film that I will never re-watch and kind of wish that I hadn’t seen it to begin with.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Lighthouse Website
Indiefest: Parasite (2019) R A down on their luck family’s fortune changes when their out of work son, Kim Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi), poses as an English tutor for a wealthy teenage daughter of a very affluent family. I loved this film right from the start! A family, who when we first meet them, is more concerned with their free wi-fi going way than their living conditions, slowly but surely weasel their way into the lives of a well-to-do family. This is a masterpiece of filmmaking that moves back and forth from comedy to drama with a heavy hand on the implications of a society that is deeply divided between the haves and have nots. Do not read any detailed reviews of the film until you see the movie due to the incredible plot devices that are used. If this film is not nominated for not just Best Foreign Film but Best Picture at the next Academy Awards, it will be a failure of the highest magnitude. Perfectly shot with an impeccable cast make this film an incredible piece of cinema to watch. This is a film that I will probably go see again during its opening week because I want to experience it in all its glory.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Parasite Website
Forgotten Film: Cop Land (1997) R   Sheriff Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone) comes to realize that though his New Jersey community is populated by New York City police officers, it has become a front for the mob and the police officers he thought he could trust are in on the corruption. Written and directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line (2005), Logan (2017)), the film gives Stallone a chance to against his normal ‘superhero’ type, playing a slow to act Sheriff who learns too late that he may have bitten off more than he can handle. The cast is impressive with Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Annabella Sciorra, Cathy Moriarty, Edie Falco, and Peter Berg, but it’s the performance of Ray Liotta, playing the town’s coke head that becomes the only man that the Sheriff can trust. Liotta jumps off the screen and dominates every scene he is in, which is hard to do with this cast. Saddled with a horrible title and a slumping star, the film didn’t do great at the box office, but it is such a great film to discover.   My Rating: Full Price   Cop Land Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Current War: Horse Masters

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Ford v Ferrari (2019) PG-13 Tired of being dominated by the car-maker Ferrari, Ford gives the American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) six months to build a car that takes on the world at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. Shelby believes that only one car driver can man his race car, the hot-headed, brash Ken Miles (Christian Bale). I can’t wait to see this film, it looks like so much fun to watch.     Ford v Ferrari Website 
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

My View:  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  (2019) PG    Family ties will be questioned between Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), as they are pulled in different directions by an impending wedding, unexpected allies and the dark forces that are always in play. As with the first Maleficent film, this movie is all show and no substance. The CGI is once again outstanding, but the plot is even shakier than the first film, and the ending is so patched-worked that it feels the writer/directors of this film just decided to throw everything they could into the finale and hope people wouldn’t notice the giant plot holes the ending exposes. Once again, Angelina Jolie is the best thing about the film, but it’s not enough to save this film. By the way, at our critic's only screening, Disney showed us a ‘Don’t use your cellphone during the movie’ PSA that gave away most of the funnier bits in the film. Great thinking Disney!    My Rating: Cable    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Website
My View: Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) R The gang (Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Jessie Eisenberg, 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. Ten years after the first film, the director and cast have reassembled to bring us another fun adventure of following rules, killing zombies and trying to survive the dynamics of this small group of misfits. While not quite as much fun as the original, the film still is full of hilarious zombie kills, including the Zombie Kill of the Week, and is greatly helped with the addition of a pink wearing Barbie doll of a woman named Madison, played with incredible comedic chops by Zoey Deutch. To say that Deutch steals the movie from the four main actors is an understatement, as she gum chews and hair plays into your heart. I had a great time watching this film, and it made me want to see the first film again. Make sure to stay through all the credits, as there are two bonus scenes that are some of the funniest moments of the movie.   My Rating: Full Price    Zombieland: Double Tap Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  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. However, 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 Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Spies in Disguise (2019) The world’s best spy (voiced by Will Smith) is turned into a pigeon, he must join forces with a low-level inventor (Tom Holland) to save the world. Did I mention that Will Smith’s character turns into a pigeon?    Spies in Disguise Website
Forgotten Film: In the Electric Mist (2009) R   Months after Hurricane Katrina has hit New Orleans, Detective Dave Robicheaux (Tommy Lee Jones) is investigating a murder of a hooker with ties to a mobster (John Goodman) who is producing a Civil War movie in the area. When the lead actor of the Civil War film, Elrod Sykes (Pete Sarsgaard) discovers a corpse on the swamp movie set, and his investigation begins. Robicheaux starts another investigation into what he thinks is a murder of a black man in 1965. If you like moody, full of twist’s murder mysteries, then this film is for you. What makes this film outstanding is the supporting cast, including Kelly Macdonald, Mary Steenburgen, Ned Beatty, Buddy Guy, John Sayles, and the great Levon Helm.   My Rating: Full Price    In the Electric Mist Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil: Horse Masters

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Current War: Director’s Cut (2017)   The story of the race between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch), Nikola Tesla (Nichoas Hoult) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to determine whose electrical system will be adopted by the modern world. The film got caught up in the Harvey Weinstein scandal and has been sold several times since then. It has finally gotten a release date, and with this cast, I am hoping for great things.    The Current War Facebook Page
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Addams Family

Family Faire:  The Addams Family  (2019) PG   The creepy, ghoulish, and peculiar Addams Family is back, terrorizing their neighbors in hair-raising fun. No movie or TV show has come close to the very funny but also very dark humor that cartoonist Charles Addams put into his New Yorker cartoons. This animated family film doesn’t come close to match the inventiveness that those cartoons displayed. Instead, we get a PC version of those characters he created and a storyline that is predictable and boring. Most of the kids around me at my screening were no longer paying attention to the film by about ten minutes in. I did like that fact that the film tends to center on Wednesday, the young Addams daughter whose best friend is a tree that can move its branches to grab people and transport them around the grounds. To me, Wednesday has always been the most interesting character of the bunch, with her deadpan delivery and almost superior outlook about the world than the rest of her family. Unfortunately, this is a movie that both parents and kids will want to leave the theatre soon after it starts.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   The Addams Family Website
My View:  Gemini Man  (2019)  PG-13   An over-the-hill hitman (Will Smith) takes on his worst nightmare, a younger clone of himself bent on killing him. Let's get right to what everyone will be talking about, the CGI younger Will Smith in the film. At times, the CGI does a great job and looks like a real person, but there are times, especially when we first meet the clone that looks fake and very animated. This takes away from the film, as you are consistently taken from the storyline or the action, looking at how well or not the film is carrying off this gimmick. I call it a gimmick because, as one of my fellow critics noted after the film screening, it would have been easier (and less costly) to cast a young actor in the part and then add makeup for the older version. The action is well done, but the storyline is weak, and the ending is just stupid and an easy out. Throughout the film I kept asking, why did two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee want to do this film, and how could it be this bad directed by him.   My Rating: Cable   Gemini Man Website
Indiefest:   Dolemite is My Name   (2019)  R  Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) is a has-been singer/comedian who now works in a dingy club as an MC. He decides to create a character called Dolemite and records numerous successful ‘blue’ comedy records. Rudy decides that to take his Dolemite character to the next level, he will star in a ‘Blaxploitation’ film. Giving what may be his best performance ever, Eddie Murphy fills the screen with a character that is so full of confidence and heart, he is sure that his vision will triumph. The great thing about his film is that Murphy is totally emersed in Rudy Ray Moore that you never see Eddie Murphy the comedic entertainer, sneak out at any point. Be warned, the film is filled with cursing and nudity but if you have seen any of the 70/80s Blaxploitation films, you will find this film an incredible ride. From the very start, this film sets a comedic tone that lasts through the closing credits when we see the actual Rudy Ray Moore star in the original Dolemite, and yes, the ceiling does fall on him as he makes love.   My Rating: Full Price    Dolemite is My Name Website
Indiefest: Lucy in the Sky  (2019)  R  Astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) returns to Earth after having an otherworldly experience in space. Now Lucy begins to lose touch with reality as she strives to return to deep space. This film felt more like the woman goes nuts Lifetime movie of the week than a major motion picture. After about the first ten minutes, I just didn’t care about Lucy and her drive to get back to space, no matter the cost. The film goes from Lucy wanting, actually needing to get back to space, to suddenly needed to be with a fellow astronaut (Jon Hamm) Lucy has had an affair with and has dropped her for a new and younger recruit. It just didn’t make sense to me how, for two-thirds of the film, she is all consumed by getting back into space, and then she gives it all up for a man who doesn’t want her. Portman gives it everything she has but she can’t overcome a messy script or her bad Texas accent.   My Rating: Cable   Lucy in the Sky Website
My View:  Jexi    (2019)  R   Phil (Adam Devine) has no friends, a dead-end job, and his love life is just wishful dreams. His life changes when he gets a new phone that has an A.I. life coach named Jexi (voiced by Rose Byrne) that helps Phil get his life in order. Things change when Jexi (think a Siri that has gone rogue) becomes in love with Phil and will do anything to keep him hers. This could be my number one worst film of the year. The shocking thing is that right from the start Jexi is gross, crass, and horrible to Phil, and he takes it as the phone is being helpful. The amount of not just profanities but almost obscene material that comes from Jexi is amazing. Nothing about this film is funny, and several running gags (Jexi asks Phil to keep pulling the power cord in and out as she has an orgasm) are just drop dead dumb. The ending feels like the film ran out of money, as Jexi just gives up and lets Phil have a girlfriend, played by Alexandra Shipp (the only breath of fresh air in this stagnant film). I didn’t hear one laugh from the audience, and I would have heard it because there were only four other people in the audience.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again     Jexi Website
Forgotten Film: The Three Musketeers   (1973)   Having been trained by his father, a young D’Artagnan (Michael York), heads to Paris to join the King’s musketeers. Brashly, D’Drtagnan challenges Athos, Porthos, and Aramis (Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay, and Richard Chamberlain) to separate duels. When the Three Musketeers find out that all three of them have been challenged by the same young fool, they take pity on him and take him under his wing. The Three Musketeers enlist D’Artagnan to help them take on the evil Rochefort (Christopher Lee) and Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) and stop a plot to gain power by proving to King Louis XIII that his wife is cheating on him. I love this film as it is part swashbuckling sword-fighting action, but it is also part comedy, with someone of the comedic bits, out and out slapstick, especially the part of the clumsy and bumbling Constance de Bonacieux, played by the hilarious Raquel Welch. What is so much fun about this film is actors like Lee and Heston play their parts very straight and narrow, while others around them are almost camping it up. Oliver Reed stands out as the lead Musketeer, but the whole cast does an incredible job of making this a wonder to watch.   My Rating: Full Price    The Three Musketeers Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Gemini Man: Toolman

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Based on the true-life story of the friendship between the beloved Fred Rodgers (Tom Hanks) and journalist Tom Junod ( Matthew Rhys). Anybody (including me) that saw the brilliant documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018) is going to have to see this film.     A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 4, 2019


My View:  Joker  (2019) R   The origin story of The Joker, one of Batman’s most evil combatants. Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a man who just wants to make the world smile but instead, he is a man disregarded and looked down upon by society. No matter how hard Arthur tries he ultimately cannot deny the evil that is lurking deep inside him. Joaquin Phoenix gives an absorbing and spellbinding performance that will probably get him an Oscar nomination, but I just don’t think he will win because he is let down by a film that is too long, takes way to long to set up the Joker character and when the Joker does appear, is not all that threatening from other men and women that have killed on the screen. It is hard to believe that this man, Arthur Fleck, becomes one of the most feared criminals in the DC Universe and a villain that many times almost destroys the mighty Batman. Overall, in spite of Phoenix’s mesmerizing take, I found the film dull and in no way, shocking. This is a film that is going to divide critics, and I am on the side that this film just didn’t work. Note: Unlike a lot of comic book films, this film is not for children and the hard R is warranted for language and very real violence.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee
Indiefest: Always in Season (2019)  Seventeen-year-old Lennon Lacy was found hanging from a swing set in a small rural North Carolina town in 2014. This documentary explores the search by his mother for the truth of how her son died while also exploring the history of lynching in America. This heartbreaking film that shows that the sins of the past are the sins of the present. The film uses this modern-day lynching and others, to highlight that these horrible crimes have a deep-seated history in the South, and that justice still turns a blind eye to its continual happening. This is a tough film to watch and will make you sick to your stomach, but it’s a subject that needs to come out of the past and be dealt with. My Rating: Full Price
Indiefest:   First Love (2019)   A young boxer, Leo (Masataka Kubota) loses a fight he was sure he would win, and this triggers a chain of events that involve drug dealers, and a double-cross. Complicating things is a call girl addict (Sakurako Konishi) that Leo must protect with his life. This film has just about everything that you would want in an action film. There is the Yakuza fighting the Chinese mob, there is a female assassin, a drug deal gone wrong, a one-armed hit man, samurai swords, car chases, and a shoot-out in a warehouse that almost takes a scorecard to keep track of all the participants. On top of all this violence, there is a sweet, gentle romance going on between a woman who has been sold to the mob to settle a debt and a boxer who thinks his life is over. I thoroughly enjoyed this wild ride of a film that has touches of Quentin Tarantino mixed in with classic Japanese mob films.   My Rating: Full Price   First Love Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  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 
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Jexi (2019) R   Phil (Adam Devine) has no friends, a dead-end job and his love life is just wishful dreams. His life changes when he gets a new phone that has an A.I. life coach named Jexi (voiced by Rose Byrne) that helps Phil get his life in order. When things start going good for Phil, he begins ignoring the phone, and that’s when his life becomes a nightmare as the A.I. is determined to keep Phil at all costs. Watching the trailer of this comedy, I didn’t laugh once. 
Forgotten Film: Speak (2004) PG-13  Melinda (Kristen Stewart) is a popular high-school student until, at an end-of-summer party, she calls the cops and a number of her fellow students are arrested for under-age drinking. After that, Melinda is ostracized by her fellow students as no one in school will even acknowledge her existence. Melinda decides to stop speaking; to her parents, her teachers and especially, her fellow students. Soon the reason why Melinda called the cops will come out, and it will change everyone’s opinion of her. Stewart gives a compelling performance in her first leading role, and she is more than up for this role. Stewart is aided by Elizabeth Perkins, as Melinda’s mother who desperately wants to help her daughter and Steve Zahn, who as Melinda’s art teacher tries to figure out why Melinda has gone silent. Speak is a film to check out now that we know that Kristan Stewart is more than just that ‘Twilight girl.’  My Rating: Full Price

Weird Credits: From the credits of Joker: Prosthetic Renaissance Lab Supervisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Little Monsters (2019) R Dave (Alexander England) decides to accompany his nephew on a school trip, with Dave sets his sights on one of the teachers, Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o). Everything seems normal until a Zombie outbreak happens and now Dave, Caroline and Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad) must use every resource, including a guitar to ward off the Zombies and save the school children. You had me at Zombies and Oscar winner Lupita Nuong’o.
Until Next Time!