Friday, February 14, 2020

The Photograph

My View:  The Photograph (2020) PG-13  Mae (Issa Rae) is the daughter of a famous photographer, a mother she has a troubled past with. Mae falls for a journalist named Michael (Lakeith Stanfield) when a writing assignment crosses their paths. Will the past come between the two lovers? When I see Atlanta based producer Will Packer’s name in the credits, I always know that I will be getting a film that will satisfy in the end, and with this romantic film, we get just that. What I liked about this film is that it treats both sides to the story of Mae and Michael equally, as both fall for each other pretty fast even though both lovers have been burned recently by past relationships. A solid date movie that is perfect for Valentine's Day weekend, the film has just enough twists and turns in the story to keep us interested to see if the couple is going to end up in the end together. The film is greatly helped by the chemistry of the two leads, and Issa Rae is an actress whose presence on the screen demands our attention. I get asked all the time why Hollywood doesn’t make more romantic films, and all I can say is every once in a while they get one right.   My Rating: Full Price    The Photograph Website
My View: Downhill (2020) R  After escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation, a married couple (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell) are forced to reevaluate their marriage. Based on a Swiss film that I loved called Force Majeure, this Americanized version misses the mark on almost every level. The film has no idea if it is a comedy, a drama or maybe a black comedy and rarely doesn’t it succeed in any genre. Audiences will be disappointed due to the casting of Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell, expecting an all-out comedy, and it fails to garner many laughs. The audience I saw the film with was desperate to enjoy the movie, laughing early on at scenes that weren’t funny, nor were they meant to be. Ferrell’s character is so unlikeable that almost from the start of the film, you can’t figure out why Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s character puts up with him. The ending feels forced and unsatisfying, but that is par for the course of this dreck of a film. Go out and rent the Swiss version of the film and skip this one.   My Rating: Cable    Downhill Website
Indiefest: What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (2018)   Documentary on the life and work of controversial film critic Pauline Kael whose work championed new filmmakers in the 60s and 70s. I was never of a fan of Kael’s writing as I found that I rarely agreed with her reviews, but I will say that while I almost always disagreed with her views, I read them every week. A feisty critic who loved to champion the underdog, Kael was a rare breed of critic, a female writer in a field dominated by white males, and a person who wasn’t afraid of putting down any film or filmmaker, no matter how big and mighty. Her reviews could make or break a film, and studios hated her so much that often they wouldn’t screen their films for her. The movie goes into all these factors, as well as pointing out that she struggled to make a decent lying as a critic. I hope that this documentary makes a few of you go back and read some of her film reviews as they are fascinating and incredibly entertaining, even if you don’t agree with what she had to say.   My Rating: Full Price     What She Said Website
Indiefest: The Assistant (2019) R   A day in the life of an assistant, Jane (Julia Garner), to a powerful entertainment mogul. As we see her perform her duties, we discover just how horrible a boss Jane truly has. The question is, will Jane ever fight back? The Assistant is a small, quiet film that follows a young woman who tries her best to perform the duties of her job, all the while waiting for the boss to blow up at her at a moment's notice. The film is quite unassuming in the way it shows just how horrible Jane’ s job is. It's not only that she is expected to be perfect in every way but also must handle the continual beatdown that she suffers not just from her boss but from her coworkers as well. The film doesn’t have any significant moments in the movie, but that’s the point of this movie. It’s the continual degrading, exausting job with a promise that all Jane’s hard work and suffering will pay off someday. The question that Jane must answer is it all worth it?   My Rating: Full Price    The Assistant Website
Familyfaire:   Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) PG   After discovering a blue, incredibly fast hedgehog named Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz), Tom (James Marsden), a small-town police officer, joins forces with the hedgehog to try to defeat an evil genius named Dr. Iva Robotnik (Jim Carrey). I think kids will enjoy this film as the main character is fun, colorful, and a little goofy. Parents, on the other hand, maybe bored when Jim Carey isn’t on the screen. Carey is hilarious as the evil Doctor. I guess that Carey probably ad-libbed about 90% of his lines, and he looks like he is having a great time playing the part. Is the film slightly stupid, sure but you probably already knew that. It’s worth the price of admission to see Carey have fun on the screen. Do stay through the first series of credits as there is a bonus scene that several of my audience actually applauded for.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee      Sonic the Hedgehog Website

My View: Fantasy Island (2020) PG-13   Guests come to Mr. Roarke’s (Michael Pena) island to have their wildest dreams and fantasies come true. The Island isn’t what the guests expected, and now they will have to solve the island’s mystery to escape with their lives. The original Fantasy Island was a crappy TV show from the 70s that did incredibly in the ratings even though the writing was horrible, the plots were stupid, and the acting was 2nd rate. I am sad to report that the 2020 film version keeps the tradition of crappiness going. A horrible film that never is scary and has a plot which took so many twists that I have no idea, nor do I care, what the heck was behind all the drama of the film. The film just keeps going, seemingly twice as long as its hour and fifty-minute length. Like the TV series, the film has a bunch of characters that have come to the island to fulfill some sort of fantasy, most of which you won’t care if their fantasies come true or not. There is a reason why the studio didn’t screen this film for critics, and if I had a fantasy granted by Mr. Roarke, it would be that this film was never made.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again     Fantasy Island Website
Indiefest: Shared Legacies: The African-American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance (2020)   A modern alliance between African-Americans and Jewish Americans grew to a massive strength during the 60s Civil Rights era as Jewish leaders backed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts to bring racial equality and harmony. Through interviews with activists, Holocaust survivors, and leaders of the movement, the film shows how important was this alliance was, with both sides finding common ground in the blatant racism and segregation that ruled the South. The movie does an outstanding job of setting up the reasons the two sides banded together with leaders of both groups working closely in such landmark protests, such as the March on Selma. Using archival footage, combined with interviews with prominent leaders such as Congressman John Lewis, Rabbi Peter S. Berg, and Ambassador Andrew Young, the film drives home just how moving and vital the fight for civil rights was and how that fight must continue today.  Note: I saw this film at the 2020 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.    My Rating: Full Price    Shared Legacies Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Website
Forgotten Film: Breaker Morant (1980) PG In 1901, as the Boer War is close to ending, three Australian soldiers (Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Edward Woodward, Bryan Brown) are court-martialed for the murder of Boer prisoners and a German missionary. The three soldiers claim that they were following orders, and the British government is prosecuting them to cover up further war crimes. A thrilling courtroom drama that shows the horrors of war and how honorable young men are ordered to do horrible things, things that they know are unjust but must follow through with their orders. Edward Woodward gives an outstanding performance as the soldier who joined the army under his ideals of what army life is about, only to learn that romanticism has no place in a warrior’s life.   My Rating: Full Price    Breaker Morant Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Photograph: Fixtures Foreman

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The French Dispatch (2020) R   The description is pretty vague with the story something to do with an English paper published in Paris. All you need to know is that it is written and directed by Wes Anderson and the cast includes Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson.      The French Dispatch Info
Until Next Time!

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