Friday, March 6, 2020

The Way Back

My View:  The Way Back (2020) R   A former high school basketball star, Jack (Ben Affleck), is struggling to overcome his alcoholism and is offered a job to coach at his alma mater. When his team starts on a winning stream, his old demons resurface to try to stop his road to redemption. While technically a ‘sports’ film, the movie focuses more on the struggles of Jack, who is dealing with demons from his past through alcohol, and the relationships he develops with the members of the team he takes over. Affleck gives one of his best performances as a man who reluctantly takes over a team that barely has enough players to fill out a team. Jack deals with coming back to the place of his glory days and tries to inspire his team to play for each other and believe in themselves. The beauty of this film is the emphasis on the people in the story and not the outcome of the games themselves. My guess is that this might get Ben Affleck the two-time Oscar winner the Academy Award nomination for acting that he has long deserved.   My Rating; I Would Pay to See it Again     The Way Back Website
Familyfaire:  Onward (2020) PG    Two brothers (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) go on a magical quest to try and revive their dead father for one day, a father the two barely remember. While not quite the gold standard that past Pixar movies (Toy Story franchise is the model) have brought us, Onward is still a fun and at times, moving tale that is perfect for young children to learn about the importance of family and how we have to believe in ourselves in order to succeed in life. The film has quite a few funny moments and takes a couple of twists and turns to keep the storyline moving at a quick and smart pace. Pratt, as the older, almost bumbling brother and Holland as the younger and less adventurous younger brother, make a great pair and play off each other with ease. While not a home run, Onward is still an enjoyable film that lets us tag along on a journey of two brothers who would do anything to bring their father back, even if it’s for a brief instant.    My Rating: Full Price     Onward Website
My View:  Burden (2018) R   When a museum celebrating the Ku Klux Klan opens in a small South Carolina town, the Reverend Kennedy (Forest Whitaker) tries to broker a peace all the while sheltering a former Klansman, Mike (Garrett Hedlund), much to the shock of his family and his church. While its heart is in the right place, Burden just doesn’t quite hit the mark, making the film feel a little too long and slightly flat in tone. I enjoyed Hedlund as Mike, a man who’s troubled past he must overcome with the help of the Reverend and Mike’s long-suffering girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough). I thought Hedlund went a little too far in his performance until I saw the real Mike talk in the closing credits, and I realized that Hedlund had captured the essence of the man. The film feels a little too much like a Lifetime movie, going for some of the easy emotional pulls, especially when Mike turns his back on the Klan. Whitaker is enjoyable as the Reverend, but this is a part that he probably could have played in his sleep, as the Reverend is portrayed as a one-trick pony, a man who never wavers in his beliefs that he can overcome evil with love and kindness.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Burden Website
Indiefest:  Greed (2019) R    Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan), a billionaire fashion mogul, is determined to celebrate his 60th birthday in the grandest scale on the Greek island Mykonos, even if it kills him. This satire badly misses the mark, making the film feel shallow and way too long. Coogan gamely gives the part of the very unlikeable Sir Richard, but he can’t overcome a script that feels like it wanted to be a harder hit on the super-rich and their life of excess but never quite has power or message to hit its mark. The ending of the film feels very unsatisfying and rushed, with a setup that takes way to long to come to its climax.    My Rating: Cable     Greed Website
My View:   The Banker (2020) PG-13    Two African American businessmen, Bernard (Anthony Mackie) and Joe (Samuel L. Jackson), devise a plan to help other African Americans get bank loans. The two men hire a working-class white man, Matt (Nicholas Hoult,) to pose as the face of the banking empire, while the two businessmen pose as his janitor and chauffeur. Their plan succeeds beyond their wildest dreams, that is, until the federal government begins snooping around. I loved the relationship between the straight-laced Bernard and the free-wheeling, hard-drinking Joe, making them the ‘odd couple’ of banking. Mackie and Jackson seem to enjoy being on screen together, and the two play off each other with an ease that makes their success and their friendship seem real and genuine. I wish the film wasn't so slow in developing and so bland in its storytelling. I had a bit of a problem with Nicholas Hoult in the part of the ‘aw shucks’ Matt, who is pretty dull in the part, especially when on the screen with Mackie and Jackson. The film seems to be on the verge of making some real and exciting points about race in America but never quite can figure out how to deliver that message.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     The Banker Info
Indiefest:  Seberg (2019) R I  nspired by real events, Seberg chronicles the life of actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart), an actress that rose to fame during the French New Wave films of the 1960s. Hoover’s FBI targeted her because of her politics, and the fact that she was dating black activist Hakim Jamal. When I was a kid, I saw the 1969 film Paint Your Wagon and fell in love with Jean Seberg. As an adult, I always wondered what happened to her and her promising career, so I read several books about her. I am sad to report that though Kristen Stewart valiantly tries, this film falls way short in bringing anything new to the story of Seberg, a woman who was deeply troubled. The film never really explores or even tries to explain Seberg’s mental troubles, seemingly blaming all her misfortunes on the harassment by the FBI. A great many people tried to help her throughout her short life, but Seberg never scratches the surface of this complicated, talented woman. Instead of this film, watch her landmark performance in the 1960 classic Breathless or heck, even Airport (1970). Anything in her early career would be better than this film.    My Rating: Cable    Seberg Website

Forgotten Film: The Killer (1989) R    An assassin (Chow Yun-Fat) accidentally blinds a singer during a hit gone wrong. He falls for the singer and decides to take one last hit in order to pay for an operation to hopefully restore the singer’s sight. He is double-crossed and must now team up with a cop to take down the mob boss who was out to kill him. Written and directed by John Woo ( Broken Arrow, Face/Off), this is a movie that blends perfectly action (which can get quite bloody) and drama. The reason to see this film is the final gunfight, one of the best gunfights that I have ever seen.    My Rating: Full Price     The Killer Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Way Back: Face Painter

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The New Mutants (2020) PG-13   Five young mutants, who are still discovering their abilities, are held against their will and now must learn to fight on their own. The cast includes Anya Taylor-Joy, who just wowed us in Emma. and Maisie Williams, who I loved in as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones.      The New Mutants Website
Until Next Time!

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