Friday, July 17, 2020
My View: Fatal Affair (2020) Ellie (Nia Long) is in a marriage to Marcus (Stephen Bishop), that is having some rocky times. Ellie runs into a flame from her past, David (Omar Epps), and though she is tempted, she does not stray. The problem is that David won’t give up on Ellie, no matter how much she tries to avoid him, and David doesn’t like to be denied. The plot is pretty much what you expect, a crazy stalker goes after a former love and attacks her and her family, first with deception and possible blackmail, followed by stalking and then the final confrontation. Fatal Affair isn’t a bad movie, just a highly predictable storyline that doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, and the chemistry between Long and Epps is nothing spectacular. If you are into the ‘Lifetime’ style plot, you might want to spend the hour and thirty minutes watching this. If this type of genre is not your thing, it’s fine to skip it. My Rating: Cable Fatal Affair Website Available on the Netflix website.
My View: The Sunlit Night (2019) After her boyfriend breaks up with her, and her art is rejected by the critics, Frances (Jenny Slate) travels to faraway Norway to help a painter (Fridtjov Saheim) with his latest art project. I love Jenny Slate, and she doesn’t disappoint in this lighthearted and a quirky film. The film is filled with some zany characters like the surly painter Frances is assisting in helping paint an abandoned barn in really bright yellow and orange colors. Zack Galifianakis is funny as an American who somehow has become the Viking chief of the town. A few performers are wasted with smaller parts, like David Paymer as Frances’s father, a frustrated illustrator who is talented but is forced to do illustrations for medical journals and Gillian Anderson, who shows up and says maybe two lines. However, this is Slate’s movie, and she is up to the task as the flighty painter who rediscovers her passion for painting in this weird little town. The Sunlit Night is just a fun time with a character that you will enjoy watching her figure out not only this strange small town but her life as well. My Rating: Bargain Matinee The Sunlit Night Info Available for rent on participating on-demand services.
My View: Father Soldier Son (2020) R Documentary on a former platoon sergeant and his two young sons spanning over a decade, chronicling his return home after a severe combat injury. The filmmakers were given unprecedented access to the family over a span of ten years. We see the Eisch family deal with all sorts of obstacles that test the family is its will to carry on. It was hard seeing a single father (the wife left years ago, never seeing her two young sons) having to leave his sons behind as he gets deployed once again to Afghanistan. That is heartbreaking enough, but the sergeant, a highly decorated soldier, gets severely injured and has to go through years of hard and agonizing rehab. There are some good times, as the family deals with life, but I will warn you, there will be a lot of times you will pull out multiple tissues. The film gives us an inside look on just how tough it is to be a military family, dealing with the aftereffects of war. It’s hard enough raising a family, but this film shows just how almost impossible it is in these tough times. The film will keep you watching as you will want to see how the family overcomes all its struggles. My Rating: Full Price Father Soldier Son Website Available on the Netflix website.
Indiefest: The Painted Bird (2019) A young Jewish boy (Petr Kotlar) is left with a relative in Eastern Europe during World War II, and after that relative dies, the boy goes on a quest to find his family. I knew that this was going to be an incredibly tough film to watch based on the amount of press the film got at several film festivals where people walked out of screenings and the legendary reputation of the graphic content of the 1960s book the film is based on. I will warn you that it is a hard watch, with lots of very uncomfortable situations that this young boy has to go through to survive the war. I won’t go into detail, but if you get upset over graphic material dealing with the welfare of children, then don’t watch this film. Shot in black and white, which makes the film feel stark and harsh, the film is brought to life by an incredible performance of Petr Kotlar, who almost goes the whole movie without saying a word. It’s a film full of tragic events, but it shows just how much the human spirit will endure to survive. My Rating: Full Price The Painted Bird Website Available for rent on participating on-demand services.
Indiefest: Two Ways to Go West (2020) Gavin (James Liddell) is a recovering addict who survives testing his sobriety on the Vegas Strip. Returning to their hotel rooms, the bachelor party escalates, and Gavin and his friends go down a road he never wanted to confront. I wanted to like this film, but it felt too much like a stage play, as the film is primarily set in one hotel room where three friends discuss life. The plot is incredibly predictable, and the dialogue feels forced. I never really cared about Gavin, a TV star who we quickly see go down a road of self-destruction. The film feels like a student film project that the lead actor wrote to show off his acting talents to other filmmakers. The film ends with a dull thud as nothing is settled or even close to being resolved. My Rating: Cable Two Ways to Go West Facebook Page Available for rent on participating on-demand services.
Indiefest: Blessed Child (2019) Filmmaker Cara Jones attempts to finally break free from the cult that she belonged to that dominated her childhood: Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. The filmmaker was part of what could be considered the preeminent American family that belonged to the Unification Church, as her parents, who had four kids, were high ranking members of the Church. I wanted more from this film, as we are continually told that the Church is a cult, but the film takes such a soft approach to the subject, mostly due to the fact that while all the children are no longer members of the Church, their parents are still heavily involved. The film is a personal look at how the church impacted the filmmaker and one of her brothers, Bow, who in his teens realized that he was gay (considered a sin in the church). I just never quite connected with Jones on her exploration of the church and how it affected her life. There are so many unanswered questions, so much that isn’t explored in the film, that I came away feeling that I really didn’t learn much about the church and why it was such a bad influence in people’s lives. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Blessed Child Info Available for rent on participating on-demand services.
Indiefest: We Are Freestyle Love Supreme (2020) Before Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical smash Hamilton, he was in a comedy improv hip-hop freestyle group called Freestyle Love Supreme. What a fun film to watch as Lin-Manuel and his friends perform in front of paying adoring crowds or by themselves as they walk down the street. Fans of Miranda are going to love this film as we see just how Miranda found his voice that he turned into Broadway magic. The film covers how the group was formed and goes over some of the group's changes during the years. What never changes is how much fun the cast has and how they delight in each other's performances. Pull up a seat and let these freestyle comedic talents run wild with words and song. My Rating: Full Price We Are Freestyle Love Supreme Website Available on the Hulu website.
Forgotten Film: Last Orders (2001) R Jack (Michael Caine) was a butcher who, for over fifty years, enjoyed a pint with his friends. Before he died, he requested that his ashes be scattered in the sea. Three friends (Bob Hoskins, David Hemmings, and Tom Courtenay), along with Jack’s son (Ray Winstone), go on a journey to celebrate Jack’s life and respect his last wish. The film is about love and friendship, told in flashbacks, as the four travel. Jack’s widow (Hellen Merrin) goes on her quest to visit a daughter who has been committed to an institution. Great performances by the cast make this a film hit all the right notes. My Rating: Full Price Last Orders Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of Fatal Affair: Netflix move app operator
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Summerland (2020) PG During World War II, a single English writer (Gemma Arterton) is given an evacuee child to raise as his father fights the war. Both the child and the woman will discover friendship and how time can repair anything, including past loves. I absolutely adore Gemma Arterton, so I can’t wait for this film. Summerland Website
Until Next Time!