Friday, June 26, 2020
My View: Irresistible (2020) R Gary (Steve Carell) is a Democratic strategist who was responsible for the Hillary Clinton campaign loss to Donald Trump. He discovers a retired veteran named Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) and persuades him to run for mayor in his small, conservative Midwest town. Things look good until Gary's political rival, Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), rolls into town, and democracy in this tiny town will never be the same. I was disappointed in this film as it goes too many times for the cheap laugh. I knew we were in trouble when early on, Steve Carell’s character leaves a press conference to go move the cows in the background into a better photo opportunity. I think the film missed its mark by going for an all-out comedy instead of going the satire route, which would have made the storyline work. Instead, the film never finds its footing and goes the easier route. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Irresistible Website Available for rent on participating on-demand services.
My View: My Spy (2020) PG-13 A legendary CIA agent, JJ (Dave Bautista), has been demoted and is sent undercover to surveil a 9-year-old, Sophie (Chloe Coleman) and her family. Sophie is a tech genius, and she discovers where JJ's operation is set up. She blackmails him into letting her hang out with him and learn what it means to be a spy. While not a great film and I am not sure exactly what the target audience is as it has a strange PG-13 rating due to some language and violence, I still found myself enjoying the film. I think it is because Dave Bautista is so likable and is willing to have the movie make fun of himself. He has some nice chemistry with Chloe Coleman and also the adorable Kristen Schaal, who plays Bautista’s nerdy tech partner. My Spy is predictable, and you can see the ending from a mile away, but it’s still a fun ride. My Rating: Bargain Matinee My Spy Website Available on the Amazon Prime website and in drive-ins around the country.
My View: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) PG-13 Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) have been dreaming since they were kids to representing Iceland in the world's biggest song competition, Eurovision. Their dream just might come true. Oh, how I wanted this film to be good, but it's not. Instead, it's long, the comedy is weak, and some of the songs are downright grating to watch. This is Ferrell’s movie as he co-wrote the film, inspired when he watched the real Eurovision contest with family and friends a few years ago. The problem is that Ferrell’s character is the weak link to the film, a (no pun intended) one-note character who is clueless about everything, including how silly he and his songs are. The film wastes the comedic talents of Rachel McAdams, who plays the lovestruck Sigrit. McAdams is used mostly to make Ferrell’s character look even stupider. Some of the songs are fun, and I will say there is a rousing song that takes place at a party where all the contestants sing a mash-up of several songs that is fun and enjoyable. I just wish that the film had captured that fun and enthusiasm throughout the storyline. Instead, we get a lot of bad songs and unfunny dialogue, like a horrible night at a karaoke bar. My Rating: Cable Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Website Available on the Netflix website.
Indiefest: The Ghost of Peter Sellers (2018) In 1973, Peter Sellers was the biggest comedy actors of his time, and he embarked on a comedy for Columbia Pictures. Sellers, notoriously temperamental and difficult to work with, lost confidence in the film and got the producers of the film fired. This is a documentary about a movie, Ghosts in the Noonday Sun, that never should have been made because it was doomed almost from the start. Peter Medak, a young director, was coming off a hot film, The Ruling Class, that got star Peter O’Toole an Oscar nomination. Peter Sellers was an international star of the Pink Panther films, and Spike Milligan was a comic genius who, with Peter Sellers, had become famous in Britain on the radio show The Goon Show. They came together to film a movie about 17th-century pirates to be filmed almost totally on a fully functional sailing ship off the coast of Malta. The documentary tells the behind the scenes stories of a shoot that went from bad to worse, with Sellers acting up so much, he caused a movie crew mutiny, a shooting schedule that was wrecked by rotten weather, faulty equipment and a script that was being re-written as it was being shot. The film suffers a bit because the original director of Ghosts, Peter Medak, also shot the documentary, so the story is one-sided, with Medak making himself the forlorn hero. There are quite a few shots in the documentary where we see Medak actually directing the shooting, and there are some interviews that he does with friends that seem to be in there only so they can commiserate with his experiences on the Sellers film. Ghosts in the Noonday Sun was such a disaster, it was never released and seeing footage from the film, I can see why as the comedy looks forced and downright stupid. I got bored about 3/4 of the way through the film, and like Medak’s experience shooting Ghosts, I just wanted the experience to end. My Rating: Bargain Matinee The Ghost of Peter Sellers Website Available for rent on participating on-demand services.
Indiefest: Disclosure (2020) Documentary that looks at Hollywood's depiction of transgender people and the impact those stories had not just on the American culture but the lives of transgender people. Watching this documentary was quite fascinating and made me go back and think about films/tv shows that I have watched with transgender characters in them. So often in our culture, a person that is depicted as trans is either the but of a joke or seen as a degenerate, often times a maniac or a disturbed person. Using interviews with trans contributors makes the film feel personal and impactful. Laverne Cox, a three-time Primetime Emmy nominated actress, is one of the main interviews in the documentary and is also the executive producer of the film. This is a critical and groundbreaking film that looks at a subject that has rarely been even talked about, much less explored. The film uses extensive clips from tv shows and moves giving the film quite an impact on what it is saying. I will tell you that some of the clips contain full-frontal nudity, so be warned. I think this documentary is an outstanding addition to the history of cinema and will be shown in film classes from now on. My Rating: Full Price Disclosure Website Available on the Netflix website.
Familyfaire: One Small Step (2020) A collection of family-friendly animated short films including the Academy Award-winning Bear Story. Every year I look forward to the release of the Oscar-nominated Animated Short films. It is always fun to see some of the world’s best animation up on the big screen. While not on the big screen, the company behind those releases have a new short film compilation, One Small Step, and it is a blast to watch. The incredible, inventive, and touching Bear Story is worth the price of the rental alone, but you get ten other incredible animated shorts to boot. Some are silly like Gopher Broke (think Looney Tunes), and others are a little bit sad like Borrowed Time, but all are worth watching. My favorite is One Small Step, a 2018 nominee for the Academy Award about a young girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut. The film is beautifully told, and you will need a couple of tissues by the end of the short film. Do yourself a favor and rent this visit with animation from around the world. This is the first of a series of feature-length compilations of the best short films that will be released every two weeks and will be available to consumers in partnership with at least sixty independent theatres across the US and Asia. My Rating: Full Price One Small Step Website Available for rent on participating on-demand services.
Forgotten Film: The Eagle Huntress (2016) G Documentary that follows a 13-year-old Mongolian girl named Aisholpan, as she trains to be the first female eagle hunter. The cinematography of this film is striking and remarkable as time after time, we see scenes of ravishing beauty that at the same time are overwhelmingly isolated, as Aisholpan and her family seem to be the only people on that planet. The scenes of Aisholpan and her father traveling across snow-packed mountains and frozen streams are both beautiful and terrifying as you wonder if they will ever make it back alive to their home and family. The Eagle Huntress is a film filled with bravery, determination and the human spirit filled with confidence that nothing can stop someone who knows she will succeed. That Aisholpan succeeds is not the question, it’s how well this 13-year-old girl does might surprise you, and then again, once you get to know her, it just might meet your expectations for her. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again The Eagle Huntress Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of Eurovision Song Contest: H O D Plasterer
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Desert One (2019) Documentary on the daring and failed mission in 1980 to rescue the 52 hostages being held in the American Embassy in Iran. The story up to now hasn’t been fully told, and legendary two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple brings us a documentary that will explore both sides to the story. I can’t wait to see this. Desert One Info
Until Next Time!