Friday, February 21, 2020

The Call of the Wild

My View: The Call of the Wild (2020) PG   Buck is a beloved family dog whose heart is even bigger than his enormous size. Buck is kidnapped and sent to the frozen tundra of the Yukon. Buck learns to be a sled dog and eventually a companion to John Thornton (Harrison Ford), a man who wants to get lost in the winter wilderness, leaving his former life behind. The film starts out with an introduction of a dog, who is clumsy, running amuck in a large household, destroying the reception of a wedding, and showing up for the family photo with a Turkey leg in his mouth. Is this the latest Scooby-Doo movie? No, it’s an adventure film starring a dog that is created entirely by CGI at the cost of at least 120 million dollars (possibly up to 150 million after retakes). Buck, the dog, never looks real throughout the film, because the filmmakers constantly go to closeups of the dog as he gives expressions that an actual dog would never give us. If you are a fan of Harrison Ford, please note that he is only in about half of the film, the rest of the film is Buck’s experiences of being abducted to be sold as a sled dog in the Yukon and his attempts to become a sled dog for a mail delivery team. The film tries to pull the heartstrings every chance it can, mostly relying on those facial closeups of Buck, but it never comes close to delivering any sort of emotion. Young kids may enjoy some of the action sequences, but even those fail to create any tension as too often they end in attempts at humor. I recommend that you watch the 1935 version of the film instead. While not great movie, it at least has Clark Gable and a real dog as Buck.   My Rating: Cable   The Call of the Wild Website
Indiefest: Ordinary Love (2019) R   Joan and Tom (Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville) have been a happily married couple for years. Their relationship and their marriage are threatened when Joan is unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer. Ordinary Love is one of those small, intimate films that handles the relationship between two people with compassion and exploring how a severe illness can break down even the most robust and most secure couple. Neeson and Manville give us honest and sometimes brutal performances as two people trying to help each other deal with a horrible situation, where the cure (chemotherapy and extensive surgery) are as bad as the disease itself. Underneath the trials and tribulations that they are going through, the couple has already suffered a serious blow in the past. A serious blow which rears up in their relationship to compound the potential tragedy they are presently going through. This isn’t a big, splashy film but one that lets two masterful performers give us something extraordinary.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See This Film Again    Ordinary Love Website
Indiefest: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) R   On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a young artist, Marianne (Noemie Meriant), is hired to paint a wedding portrait of a mysterious, silent woman, Heloise (Adele Haenel). A beautiful and magnificent look at the love between two women who know that no matter how deep their love is for each other, they are doomed to only experience their togetherness for a brief period of time. The film is a slow and steady look at a relationship where the two women gradually, almost too deliberately, explore their budding feelings for each other through short glances or slight touches of their hands. Writer/director Celine Sciamma shrewdly handles the relationship through the eyes of Marianne as she becomes enchanted by the young woman she has been hired to create a portrait of Heloise so that a nobleman can see her beauty and marry her. Marianne's job is to finish a painting that a male artist wasn’t able to complete because Heloise would not sit for him. There is a secret that the family is Heloise is hiding from the nobleman, one that hangs over Heloise’s almost every move. The film is a movie, much like the painting, that takes time to complete but is worth seeing the finished product.   My Rating; I Would Pay to See it Again     Portrait of a Lady on Fire Website
Indiefest: Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art (2020)   Documentary on the world’s most infamous and mysterious street artist, Banksy, and the revolutionary art movement that he/she has inspired around the globe. You got to love a film that opens up with one of Banksy’s famous pranks. A Banksy art piece is auctioned off, with the winning bid of over a million dollars. As soon as the gavel goes down for the final sale, the artwork starts to shred itself. The film, while concentrating on the life and artwork of Banksy, gives us a great background of the history of the graffiti and street art scene that not only Banksy but other artists came from. The film contains excellent footage of Banksy as a young artist, always hiding his identity. I am guessing that Banksy is a male due to the footage in the film, but that’s as close as you get to figuring out who he is. The film contains interviews from some of the leading street artists, including Steve Lazarides, who, for many years, was Banksy’s, right-hand man. If you are a fan of Banksy and his art, you will want to see this film and revel in how Banksy has become one of the most famous artists of the modern age.   My Rating: Full Price    Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art Website
My View:  Brahms: The Boy II (2020) PG-13   Unaware of the horrific history of Heelshire Mansion, a young family (Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman), moves into the guest house on the estate. The couple’s son (Christopher Convery) soon discovers on the grounds a new friend, a life-like doll he calls Brahms. Oh, Katie Holmes, I had so much hope for your career back when you were playing that sweet kid on Dawson’s Creek. Now you are stuck doing horrible horror films, which is sad to me. I will admit the doll is pretty creepy for about the 1st five minutes of the film, but after that, the movie resorts to a lot of music that is meant to be scary and not much else. The ending of the film feels rushed and isn’t satisfying at all, with almost everything leading up to that point predictable. The film never builds any tension, and Convery as the son just isn’t creepy enough to make it interesting. My advice to Ms. Holmes, get a new agent and my advice to you, the moviegoer, skip this sleep-inducing plot of a film.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again     Brahms: The Boy II Website
Forgotten Film: The Addiction (1995)   A New York philosophy meek grad student, Kathleen (Lili Taylor), who is obsessed with how evil is portrayed in literature, encounters a stranger (Annabella Sciorra) who it turns out is a vampire. This black-and-white film is hard to describe (part horror/part comedy) but is worth watching just for the performance of Christopher Walken as a vampire that becomes Kathleen’s guide to the blood-sucking life and a college mixer that turns into a party of vampires.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     The Addiction Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Call of the Wild: Buck On Set (a man is listed, not an animal).

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Hunt (2020) R  Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing and don’t have any idea where they are or how they got there. They are about to find out why they have been chosen, chosen for 'The Hunt.' I don’t know if it’s true, but the trailer says that The Hunt is the most talked about film of the year.    The Hunt Website
Until Next Time!

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