Friday, December 20, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My View:  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) PG-13   The surviving Resistance faces the First Order in a showdown to close out the final chapter in the Skywalker saga, as both Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) struggle with the power of the Dark Side. I wanted to love this film as I did with The Force Awakens, but alas, I only liked it. The film feels somewhat incomplete and, at times, rushed, especially the ending sequence. I did thoroughly enjoy the fighting sequences that Rey is involved with, and it’s always a blast to watch Driver do anything on the screen. There are some significant plot holes in this film, and I felt terrible for Oscar Issac playing Poe, whose big scenes seem overshadowed by the other characters in the movie. Unfortunately, the film clumsily incorporates the scenes with the late Carrie Fisher (Leia), making them stand out for how badly they were patched together (Fisher died before she could film her part, so they used old footage of her). I am a big fan of the Star Wars saga, but I felt a little let down by this film. It just didn’t deliver everything I wanted in a conclusion to an epic series.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Website
My View: Bombshell  (2019) R   A group of women, including anchors Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman and Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), decide to take on Fox News chief Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) and the toxic atmosphere he created and presided over at the network. The film is a certainty to make the Oscar nomination for makeup, because Charlize Theron, as Megan Kelly is one of the best impersonations of a real person I have ever seen in a film. The film starts a little unnerving as Theron as Kelly gives us a tour of the Fox News building, breaking the fourth wall. The film teeters between drama and comedy, sometimes to the determent of the movie. Bombshell is an interesting film to watch, but I wonder who is the audience this film is meant for. Fans of the Fox Network won’t want to watch it, and people who don’t like the network already know the story of Ailes and his downfall. I thought it was fascinating that the film used a lot of very familiar actors to round out the cast, even in smaller parts, like Jennifer Morrison as Juliet Huddy, a former Fox reporter who was demoted when she spoke up about Ailes plays on women. I enjoyed this film, especially the performances of Theron and John Lithgow as the villain of the film, Roger Ailes himself.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee      Bombshell Website
My View: Cats (2019) PG   A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide every year which one of their clan will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life. Ok, if you love the Broadway musical, you will probably like, maybe even love this film. For the rest of us, it is just a bizarre movie-going experience. With the only human character in the film showing up at the beginning to toss a cat into an alley, the movie is populated by singing and dancing cats. There is almost no plot to this film, as we go from song to song, introducing us to the cast of characters in the movie. The most famous song, Memories, is sung several times, by Jennifer Hudson, playing the down and out cat Grizabella and Francesca Hayward as the innocent newcomer, Victoria. At times, the film feels like a bad parody that Saturday Night Live might put on, as some of the songs/dances are just unbelievably campy. There is a lot of talent in this cast, but most, including Idris Elba and Ian McKellen, are given roles that are on the verge of embarrassing. And yes, Taylor Swift sings a song, Golden Globe nominated 'Beautiful Ghosts', as the cat, Bombalurina, where she gets everyone high on catnip. My viewing of this film was not helped by several of the audience members who thought the film was a comedy (it’s not) and were laughing out loud throughout the film. Stay at home and watch a classic musical like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, you will have a much better viewing experience.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again     Cats Website
Indiefest: A Hidden Life (2019) PG-13   Bl. Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter (August Diehl), with the support of his wife, Fani (Valerie Pachner) and his children, refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II, even when threatened with execution for treason. I am not a big fan of filmmaker Terrence Malick ( Tree of Life, Knight of Cups). A Hidden Life is another Malick film that takes forever to tell the story as Fraz gets jailed about an hour into the film and spends the rest of the two hours languishing in various prisons. As with most Malick films, he tells his story through a plethora of shots, so many so that it must have taken over a year to shoot this film. I also did not enjoy the fact that sometimes the cast said their dialogue in English, but at other times, especially in times of anger or anguish, the exchange was in German, making us in the dark on what was being said. The film moves at an incredibly slow pace, and because Franz is never going to back down to the Nazi’s, we know how this film is going to turn out. The two leads are outstanding in their roles; I just wished I had seen quite a bit less of them and the numerous shots of the Austrian countryside.   My Rating: Cable    A Hidden Life Website
Forgotten Film: Victor Victoria (1982) PG   A struggling singer (Julie Andrews) in 1934 Paris, with the help of a gay cabaret singer Toddy (Robert Preston), pretends to be a man named Victor and gets a job at a club as a female impersonator named Victor, with his on stage persona named Victoria. Victor becomes the hit of Paris. Things get complicated when Chicago nightclub owner, King (James Garner), falls head over heels for Victoria, only to find out that Victoria is a man, or is he? Andrews is brilliant in the role, and Garner is perfect as the man who has to reconcile his romantic feelings for ‘Victoria.’ Lesley Ann Warren practically steals the movies as King’s very jealous girlfriend, Norma, who is determined to take Victor/Victoria down. A great cast with some beautiful and fun cabaret songs makes this film so much fun to watch.   My Rating: Full Price      Victor Victoria Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Cats: Magic Consultant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Call of the Wild (2020)   A grizzled explorer (Harrison Ford) finds a dog named Buck, and they go on an adventure of a lifetime in the wilderness of the Yukon. I am a sucker for a movie that features a dog, plus its got Karen Gillan and Harrison Ford, so I am going to make sure I see this one.    The Call of the Wild Website
Until Next Time!

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