Friday, August 28, 2020

Bill & Ted Face the Music

Note to readers: I currently am not willing to risk my health (I’m 62 and an asthmatic) by visiting a theatre. All films that I have seen for review have been screened in my home. I am not going to tell you whether or not to attend a theatre. Just be aware of the risks, do your research, and please, if you do, follow all the safety procedures to the letter. 

My View: Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) PG-13    Bill (Alex Winter), and Ted’s (Keanu Reeves) lives haven’t quite turned out the way that they were told they would. Both are middle-aged dads who have never produced that big hit song they thought they were destined to. Now it’s time for the guys to dream big and fulfill their destiny. Moviemaking is a tough business, and it’s hard enough to bottle lightning once. The first film, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, was a fun ride, with some lovable characters and a plot that was delightful. Unfortunately, you can’t say the same for this sorry excuse of a film that fails miserably on almost every aspect of trying to capture that magic again. The film is painful to watch, especially watching Reeves, who of late has had quite a film career revival, attempt to make Ted lovable again. The jokes are bad, the acting seems wooden, and the plot is just downright stupid. Like the song that is supposed to be the big finale, the film lays a big fat flat note that so severely executed that I wanted the film to end ten minutes into it. George Carlin must be so sad looking down from heaven, going ‘Dudes, don’t do this again!’    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again    Bill & Ted Face the Music Website   Now playing at a theatre near you and  available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Get Duked! (2019) R   Three teenagers (Rian Gordon, Lewis Gribben, and Viraj Juneja) are given one last chance to turn their lives around by completing a grueling trek across the highlands. They are joined by an overachiever (Samuel Bottomley) who just wants to pad his curriculum to get into school. Their first assignment is to work together to find their campsite before dark. The problem is, there are some wealthy aristocrats (Georgie Glen and Eddie Izzard) who intend to hunt the boys down for sport. This comedy doesn’t always work, as with a well-worn gag about psychedelic rabbit pellets, but it is on the floor funny when it does. There is a gag (that I won’t ruin) near the end of the film that I literally did a ‘spit take’ when it happened. The four main actors play well off each other (I kept having flashbacks to the old BBC TV show The Young Ones) and that chemistry helps keep the film going through a few rough spots where the action/comedy starts to wain a bit. The film is a wild ride that, if you are in the mood for a bit of absurdist fun, is an adventure that you may not soon forget.    My Rating: Full Price     Get Duked! Website  Available on the Amazon platform.

Indiefest: Centigrade (2020)    A married couple (Vincent Piazza, Genesis Rodriguez) gets stranded in a frozen vehicle after a blizzard in the arctic mountains of Norway and must struggle to endure amid plunging temperatures and incredible odds of survival. I will warn you this is not an easy film to watch as a couple snuggles to survive in their car as they slowly realize that no one is coming to save them. The film is a character study as the couple goes through the torture of living in a confined space with nowhere to go and resources dwindling down, like the few emergency candles the couple has to light their cold, lonely nights. The film does do an excellent job of creating tension, especially in the latter stages of the film, when things look their bleakest. The film will keep you guessing if they will survive this ordeal, and there are a few times when you will look at the clock and wonder how much more can these characters suffer.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Centigrade Website     Now playing at a theatre near you and  available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View:   The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019) PG  The story of David Copperfield (Dev Patel), whose rag to riches story is a journey of the triumph of life’s many obstacles. I have always loved the work of Charles Dickens, whose work offers commentary on the human condition, that is just az revenant today as it was when Dicken's work was first published. I have always admired how Dickens was clever in bringing his point across, sometimes with humor, sometimes with sadness, but still moving. Director/co-writer Armando Iannucci perfectly captures Dickens's magic in this fantastic adaptation of David Copperfield. With the comic timings of Dev Patel, Iannucci brings us a tale that, while set in Dicken's time, feels contemporary with a look at the times we are living in now. Patel as Copperfield isn’t your ordinary hero, instead, he is one that is somewhat a buffoon but has a heart that sees people for what they are, and is able to make friends no matter the circumstances. The film moves at a quick pace as we watch David go from riches to rags and back to riches so many times it makes your head spin a little but all the while David is learning about life, friendship and even love. The Personal History of David Copperfield is a film that will make you feel good and wonder at its sheer cleverness, much like Charles Dicken's writings.    My Rating: Full Price     The Personal History of David Copperfield Website    Now playing at a theatre near you.

Indiefest: You Cannot Kill David Arquette (2020) R   David Arquette 20 years ago became the WCW World Wrestling Champion, considered by most wrestling fans and historians as one of the worst events to ever happen in the wrestling world. In this documentary, Arquette decides that after ten years of not getting any acting jobs, to go back into wrestling and try to atone for his wrestling sins. I have to admit that I have never been a fan of David Arquette, the actor or the person, I just never liked him and his I’m still a kid routine. I am a big wrestling fan, and when Arquette won the WCW Championship belt as a publicity stunt for a horrible movie (Ready to Rumble), I was shocked and a not happy. The documentary starts with Arquette trying to mend fences with both the wrestlers and the fans, and it doesn’t turn out well. I didn’t enjoy the first 20 minutes or so of the film, as I wasn’t sure just how serious and committed Arquette was to fixing his place in the wrestling world. As the movie went along, I slowly became a fan of both Arquette and this film, as he really does love the world of wrestling and is willing to put his body through the pain and agony of taking hits and bumps in and out of the ring. You will question his sanity, but you won’t question Arquette’s heart by the end of the film.    My Rating: Full Price     You Cannot Kill David Arquette Website      Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View: All Together Now (2020) PG   Amber (Auli’i Cravalho) is a musically gifted high-school-student who has hopes of attending Carnegie Mellon. Amber spends her time between her beloved high school drama club helmed by Mr. Franks (Fred Armisen), her job at the donut shop, and her volunteer time at a local retirement community. When Amber’s dreams are threatened, she learns to lean on the strength of her family and friends to move forward. Amber is a bubbly high school student that everyone loves to be around, but she is hiding a secret, she and her mom (Justina Machado) are homeless. All Together Now is one of those films that just tries too hard to tug on the heartstrings but guess what, we don’t care because Auli’i Cravalho is mesmerizing on the screen. Machado gives us a performance that feels real, and we can see the love and sometimes hurt in her expressive eyes as she pushes forward, even as things start to come apart for Amber. The film is aided by an excellent supporting cast including Justina Machado as Amber’s troubled mom, Judy Reyes as the warm-hearted mom of Amber’s best friend and Carol Burnett as a cantankerous senior at a retirement community that Amber volunteers at. The film is relatively predictable, but Machado is such a gem to watch that all we can do is root for Amber to overcome her troubles and succeed.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     All Together Now Website    Available on the Netflix platform.

Forgotten Film: The Efficiency Expert (1992) PG   A productivity expert (Anthony Hopkins) is brought in to try and get the Ball moccasin factory back on track before the old man (Alwyn Kurts) has to shut the place down. To say that the inmates run the asylum would be an understatement as the employees spend more of their time on lunch and racing slot cars than making shoes. Complicating things is Mr. Ball’s daughter (Rebecca Rigg), who has two of the factory workers in love with her: Carey (Ben Mendelsohn), a great guy, and a rouge named Kim (Russell Crowe). Carey is oblivious that the woman who is perfect for him, is a fellow worker named Wendy (Toni Collette) who loves Carey even though he seems to not even notice her. The film is set in the mid-60s, has a brilliant cast that fills out the wacky factory, and is a blast to watch as Hopkins, a workaholic, who is so wrapped up in the factory that he is about to lose his wife (Angela Punch McGregor) and doesn’t realize it.    My Rating: Full Price      The Efficiency Expert Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Bill & Ted Face the Music: Movement Coach for Mr. Winter

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Connected (2020)    Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) is about to leave her family to go off to film school. Her dad (voiced by Danny McBride) decides to take the whole family on a road trip to take Katie to college. Along the way, this family will have to pull together to defeat a robot army threatening to take over the world. The robots never had a chance. Hey, the main character is going off to film school, so the filmmakers got me right from the start.       Connected Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, August 21, 2020


My View:  Unhinged (2020) R   After a minor traffic confrontation with an unstable man (Russell Crowe), a woman, Rachel (Caren Pistorius), and her son become a target of his rage. Not exactly the type of film you want to re-open movie theatres with, this feels like it was meant for a drive-in. With a script that is about as thin as the weird accent Crowe tries to use (slightly Southern, maybe New Orleans adjacent), this film has plot holes that a mac truck could drive through. The film opens with a ton of news reports about how society is falling apart and how that is reflected on our roadways. We cut to Russel Crowe, murdering his ex-wife and her partner, then setting their house on fire. Russell is having a bad day, and when Rachel honks her horn at him, it sets him off to make her life a living hell. Crowe gets to go over the top, and it looks like he is having fun with the performance, I just wish the script had given him a little more to work with. The film ends about how you expect, with a cringe-worthy final line that had me wincing. If you have been waiting for theatres to open up to see a new movie, you might want to wait a bit and let a few other films open before taking that trip to your local movie palace.    My Rating: Cable     Unhinged Website     Now playing at a theatre near you.

My View:   Words on Bathroom Walls (2020) PG-13   Adam (Charlie Plummer), halfway through his senior year, has a breakdown in his chemistry class and is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Adam doesn’t just hear voices, he sees the people talking to him. Adam transfers to a new school, with thoughts of graduating and going on to cooking school. He then meets Maya (Taylor Russell), and she gives him hope that together he can make it in the world. Words on Bathroom Walls isn’t your typical teen romance film, as it goes deep into what it is like to be a teenager with schizophrenia. From the start, I rooted for Adam as Charlie Plummer gives us a multi-faceted performance that provides us with insight on a complicated and perplexing world, one that is hard to stay grounded in. It’s a world that most of us can’t even come close to understanding, but the film tries to give us some insight into just how much a scary world it is for someone with this illness. Russell and Taylor have an excellent rapport together and makes the off-kilter romance believable. The film has a few nice twists and turns, making the film moving at an interesting pace, keeping you guessing a bit on how Adam is going to survive high school and the outside world.   My Rating: Full Price    Words on Bathroom Walls Website     Now playing at a theatre near you.

My View:   Chemical Hearts (2020) R   Seventeen-year-old Henry (Austin Abrams) has never been in love. On his first day of senior year, he meets transfer student Grace (Lili Reinhart), and his luck changes when they are picked to co-edit the school paper. Grace is hiding a secret that deeply impacted her life and will come between her and Henry. I enjoyed this film that features Lili Reinhart in an impressive performance as a damaged (both physically and mentally) teen, Grace, who Henry falls for. Sure the film is a little cliched in its plot, but I think fans of Young Adult romance will enjoy the pull of heartstrings at the two young people find love and heartbreak.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Chemical Hearts Website    Now playing on the Amazon platform.

Indiefest:  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 entirely told, and legendary two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple brings us a documentary that will explore both sides of the story. When student radicals in Iran invaded the American Embassy, it shocked the American public and became a huge story, so much so that the late-night news program Nightline was created to give us a daily report on the crisis. President Carter was running for reelection and was running against a strong and outspoken Ronald Regan, who wanted military action to save the hostages. This documentary explores the little known rescue effort that ended in disaster, with 8 Americans losing their lives and the hostages remaining at the mercy of Iran and bringing Carter an overwhelming defeat, one he never recovered from. The film uses footage from the time and never before heard communication between President Carter and his military advisors, giving us an insider look at an essential part of American history. The film is a fascinating look at how the rescue attempt came about, with incredible interviews with most of the principals, including President Carter, Vice President Mondale, and the soldiers who went on the mission and the families they left behind. It is time that we salute and celebrate the brave men who went willingly on a mission that failed but not because they didn’t give the mission everything, including their hearts, their minds, and in some cases, their lives.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Desert One Website      Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest:  Tesla (2020) PG-13   Visionary inventor Nikola Tesla (Ethan Hawke) fights to bring his revolutionary electrical system to fruition, battling fellow inventor Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan), who is determined that his system will win the battle to bring electricity to the US. I knew we were in trouble right away when J.P. Morgan’s daughter gave us background information about the main characters of the story using Google. The film isn’t your ordinary bio-pic as it uses unique sets (such as a green screen of cattle on a plain, as Hawke as Tesla, is in front of the green screen offering the cattle an apple) and jump cuts to show us that this isn’t your orthodox story. I have a feeling that some film critics are going to love this offbeat movie that has Hawke, as Tesla, singing a modern-day song, but I found the film taxing and tedious. The film continually hits you over the head that Tesla is an inventor, not a businessman. While he might be smarter than Edison, Tesla has no way to match Edison in money-making or getting publicity. The underlining theme of the film is that greed is bad, that a man like Tesla was doomed from the start because he couldn’t compete with the greed of Wall Street. The film also does a horrible job of letting us know exactly what Tesla was working on and whether his inventions were indeed better than Edison’s ideas. I never felt I never knew what made Tesla tick and, therefore, never quite got in his corner to root for him.   My Rating: Cable     Tesla Website    In theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View:  The Sleepover (2020)   Two siblings ( Maxwell Simkins, Sadie Stanley) discover that their mom (Malin Akerman) has a big secret, she used to be a high-end thief who has been in the witness protection program. When their mom is forced to pull one last job, the two kids decide to rescue her over the course of an action-packed night. Lately, Netflix has given us some quality films that have been hitting them out of the park; this isn’t one of them. In fact, when Netflix first talked about creating its own movies, I worried that they would go the low budget, low-quality route, and this film gives us just that type of product. The film goes for the easy joke, including a horrible sequence in which Ken Marino, playing the clueless dad, gets sick a number of times, always for the easy, atrocious bit. The film wants to be a poor man’s Spy Kids, but it fails on almost every level, including several fight sequences that feel like the kid actors themselves choreographed them. Kids may enjoy some of the highjacks, but I guarantee that parents are going to bored senseless.    My Rating: Cable      The Sleepover Website    Now available on the Netflix platform.

Forgotten Film: Defending Your Life (1991) PG   Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) unexpectedly dies and is sent to Judgement City where your life goes on trial to determine if you can move on to the ‘next stage’ of existence or are sent back to earth to spend another life as a human. While on trial, Daniel meets Julia (Meryl Streep), who is also there to defend her life. Daniel and Julia fall in love, but it seems that Julia is destined to move on, and it sure looks like Daniel is heading back to earth. One of my favorite movies of all time, Albert Brooks, not only stars in this beautiful comedy/romance, but he also directed and brilliantly wrote the screenplay. I can’t tell you how many lines of this film I can recite, and I have the original movie poster hanging on my wall. The storyline is creative and funny, and the chemistry between Brooks and Streep is off the wall. The film is greatly enhanced by an outstanding performance by Rip Torn as Daniel’s defense attorney. So go on a journey with Daniel, maybe visit the Past Live Pavillion (hosted by Shirley MacLaine) and have fun watching him defend his life.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Defending Your Life Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Unhinged: Grip Nifty 50

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) PG-13 Bill (Alex Winter), and Ted’s (Keanu Reeves) lives haven’t quite turned out the way that they were told they would. Both are middle-aged dads that have never produced that big hit song they thought they were destined to. Now it’s time for the guys to dream big and fulfill their destiny. I didn’t like the sequel, but I sure enjoyed the first Bill & Ted, and Keanu has been on a hot streak lately, so let’s˜Party on Dudes!’    Bill & Ted Face the Music Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Project Power


My View: Project Power (2020) R     A pill that gives its users superpowers for five minutes hits the streets of New Orleans. A teenage dealer (Dominique Fishback), a local cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and an ex-soldier (Jamie Foxx) team up to get the drug off the street before people start dying. The film asks, would you take a pill that could give you a superpower, if you didn’t know what that superpower would be and oh, by the way, can kill you, sometimes instantly? The film moves at a quick pace as the lives of the three principals merge together (sometimes pretty awkwardly), and the action becomes at us at an almost blinding speed. Foxx and Gordon-Levitt are fun to watch, doing their badass bits but its Fishback, as a quick-talking, wannabe rapper, who deals in the pills that give the superpowers. Fishback, who delivers wisecracks with a rapid flurry, has excellent chemistry with both Foxx and Gordon-Levitt, making up for the shaky plotline that stretches incredibly thin to keep Fishback’s character involved in the attempt to find the source of the super-pills. So, sit back and go on a ride with quite a few thrills and spills, just don’t take the pill because you might blow up.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Project Power Website    Currently available on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Boys State (2020) PG-13    Every year, a thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas come to Austin to build a representative government from the ground up, culminating in the elections of their government. This is one of those films that takes what could have been a boring subject and makes it into magic, holding your attention and suspense until the end. The program takes boys, separates them into two political parties, then the boys must decide party platforms, create legislation, and nominate boys to run against each other for various statewide offices, including the most significant office of all, governor. The film centers on four boys; the first two are running against each other in the same party. Steven, an underdog candidate who is earnest and willing to talk about issues, Robert, Steven’s primary opponent who is all about being popular and talking about what he thinks his voters want to hear. We also meet Rene, who has the charisma and the speaking ability to go far, and Ben, a double-amputee, whose run for governor dies before it even starts and realizes he can do more behind the scenes with a dirty tricks campaign to get his conservative ideas across. The film has you rooting for Steven, who is just marvelous as someone who wants to make a difference in the world, contrasting with the almost Darth Vader villain in Ben, willing to do anything to get his party elected. It’s a brilliant and compelling film that will give you hope for our political future.     My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Boys State Website    Available on the Apple TV+ platform.

Indiefest: Sputnik (2020)    During the height of the Cold War, a lone survivor (Pyotr Fyodorov) of a Soviet spaceship accident has returned home, but he didn’t come back alone; inside, his body is a parasite, and a scientist (Oksana Akinshina) is charged with separating the two. An enjoyable and sometimes quite scary film that reminded me of the classic Sci-Fi horror films of the 70s and 80s. Taking place in the 1980s, this Russian film, perfectly sets the tone from the start, with a harrowing trip home by two astronauts. We don’t know exactly what happened, but we know it wasn’t good, with one of the astronauts killed and the other barely hanging on to life. The hero of the story is a headstrong scientist who is brought to a remote location, not told anything about her subject other than he is an astronaut who doesn’t remember what went on when his fellow spaceman died. As the film continues, a sense of dread and suspense starts building as we learn, along with the scientist, that there is something sinister going on. The film is more suspenseful than horrific, though there are a few killings that are quite graphic and bloody. The film will keep you guessing until the end, filled with outstanding performances by the two leads, which will keep you on the edge of your couch.    My Rating: Full Price      Sputnik Info      Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959)   Legendary documentary on the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. The film is considered the first concert film ever made and was named to the National Film Registry in 1999. The film has been newly restored funded by the Library of Congress in time to celebrate the film’s 60 anniversary. The film is a classic jazz lover’s dream with performances by some of the greatest jazz masters of the 20th century, most at the height of the artistic genius. The lineup includes Chico Hamilton, Anita O’Day, George Shearing, Jack Teagarden, Thelonius Monk, and even Chuck Berry. The film splendidly captures the sights of the Newport jazz fest scene, with plenty of closeups of people enjoying the performances. The highlights are a brilliant set by Gerry Mulligan, several songs by the wonderful Louis Armstrong, and a powerful performance by one of the greatest gospel singers ever, Mahalia Jackson, who closes out the film and the night as Saturday turns into Sunday morning. The film is a marvelous trip back to a time when jazz was the music of its time. Now, through the magic of cinema, we can experience one of the greatest music documentaries of all time.     My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Jazz on a Summer's Day Website      Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Martin Margiela: In His Own Words (2019)    Influential fashion designer Marin Margiela has been called the ‘Banksy of fashion,’ as he has famously avoided publicity and interviews throughout the years. Now through this documentary, Margiela has decided to come from behind the curtain and share his drawings, notes, and personal items in this intimate profile of his vision. I’m not big into fashion or clothes, but I have always been fascinated by the spectacle of the Paris/New York fashion scene. This film gives a fashionista and insiders look at a legendary designer who, for twenty years, created groundbreaking designs that people are still talking about. Margiela was a mysterious man at the time (and still is), as his face has never been seen by the public, hence the Banksy reference. I will admit, at times I got a bit bored by all the clothes that we see before our eyes, but the film does a brilliant job of giving us the look and feel of what Margiela’s almost mythical runway shows were like and while we don’t get to see the man, we do get to see inside the mind that created fabulous and storied creations year after year.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Martin Margiela: In His Own Words Website     Available for rent on participating on-demand services and on the Plaza Theatre Atlanta Website.

Forgotten Film: French Postcards (1979) PG   A group of exchange students from America come to Paris to study the language and the culture for a year. The film centers on three students; Alex (David Marshall Grant) who is in love or is it lust with his instructor (Marie=France Pisier), Joel (Miles Chapin) who falls for a cute assistant at a bookstore and Laura (Blanche Baker) who misses home and her boyfriend. Add in a very young Debra Winger, and this is a highly enjoyable film about Americans in one of the world’s most romantic cities. The film feels a little dated, but the performances are delightful, and the film feels more like a romance than one of those quirky Americans going nuts in a foreign country kind of film.   My Rating: Full Price     French Postcards Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Project Power: Phantom Technician

Coming Soon to a Screen Near YouWords on Bathroom Walls (2020) PG-13   Adam (Charlie Plummer), halfway through his senior year, has a breakdown in his chemistry class and is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Adam doesn’t just hear voices, he sees the people talking to him. Adam transfers to a new school, with thoughts of graduating and going on to cooking school. He then meets Maya (Taylor Russell), and she gives him hope that together he can make it in the world. The trailer looks fantastic, and the supporting cast includes Molly Parker (Lost in Space), Walton Goggins (Justified), and Andy Garcia (Ocean’s Eleven).       Words on the Bathroom Walls Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, August 7, 2020

Made In Italy

My View: Made in Italy (2020) R    An estranged father, Robert (Liam Neeson) and son, Jack (Micheal Richardson), travel to Italy to sell a family home in Italy. The house brings up a tragic past, including the death of Robert’s wife and Jack’s troubled childhood. I enjoyed this film, but I am not sure it was the storyline that I enjoyed but the scenery. The plot is pretty thin and predictable, and as soon as Jack meets Natalia (Valeria Bilello), a local divorced restaurant owner, we know that they will end up together. The question is not when Robert and Jack will solve their relationship (a little too quickly with all the baggage involved if you ask me), but how. But hey, maybe this is just the fun, warm, romantic film we need.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Made in Italy Website    Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

                                   Indiefest: Red Penguins (2019) PG-13    Shortly after the Soviet Union's collapse, an NHL team, the Pittsburgh Penguins bought a fifty percent interest in the infamous Red Army hockey team. Pittsburgh sent a young, New Yorker marketing executive to oversee the operation that became a wild ride of high jinks, including strippers and live bears on the ice, an attempted overthrow of the government, and the Russian mafia. In 2014, filmmaker Gabe Polsky brought us one of the best documentaries of that year, a film called Red Army about the story of the infamous Soviet Union’s Red Army hockey team that dominated the Olympics (except for that little ‘miracle on ice’ game). Well, Polsky has done it again in telling this story of a wild and brash marketing guy, Steven Warshaw, who traveled to Russia and tried to bring American know how on how to promote a team to the icy and broken area in Moscow. You are not going to believe some of the stories that are told in this film. Some are so unbelievable that if they were part of a Hollywood comedy, you would go, ‘that would never happen.’ This film is a blast to watch and no, you don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy it. In fact, I was sorry that the experiment went on for such a short time. I would have loved to see what would have happened when Warshaw had to deal on a regular basis with the Russian mafia.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Red Penguins Website     Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: The Burnt Orange Heresy (2019) R   James (Claes Bang), an ambitious art dealer, is hired by a wealthy art collector (Mick Jagger) to steal a rare painting from one of the most mysterious painters of all time (Donald Sutherland). I went into this film hoping for a stylized thriller about a heist pulled off by a sophisticated thief; instead, this is more of a psychological drama that turns very dark. I have never been a fan of Mick Jagger’s acting, and there is a reason he hasn’t been in a film for almost twenty years…he’s pretty bad at it. The plot is razor thin from the start, and then as the film goes along, that thin line begins to unravel, and by the end, the film wants to shock, but the only shock is how badly this film ends. I wish the film had taken a different route with James’s love interest, played by the always engaging Elizabeth Debicki. I kept waiting for a twist to happen, one that would have made this film enjoyable to watch, but instead, those twists never made it to the screen, and the ending left me feeling like a saw a movie that needed a few more drafts in the screenplay.    My Rating; Bargain Matinee     The Burnt Orange Heresy Website    Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View: The Secret Garden (2020) PG   Mary (Dixie Egerickx) has just come from India, where she lost her whole family to cholera. She is sent to a manor in Yorkshire to live with her uncle (Colin Firth) and his housekeeper (Julie Walters). Mary soon learns that the estate is home to a treasure trove of secrets, including a hidden garden locked away by her uncle for years after his wife's death. Sometimes we need to believe in magic, and that is one of the messages of The Secret Garden. You know the story (it has been made into countless films), but this film perfectly captures the book's essence with some additions of its own. The cast is led by Dixie Egerckx, who gives an enchanting and delightful performance of a young girl who has lost her parents and feels abandoned. We get to see the hidden garden in Mary's eyes, as it works its powers of rejuvenation on not only Mary but everyone who enters its grounds. The Secret Garden is filled with beautiful scenes, as Mary’s presence seems to bring the garden to its former glory. This is a story that the whole family can enjoy, and you will want to explore the special grounds with Mary and her fellow group of misfit adventures.    My Rating: Full Price     The Secret Garden Website     Available for rent on participating on-demand services.


Indiefest:    Creem: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine      (2019)       Documentary on the legendary music magazine in 1969 to the untimely death of its publisher Barry Kramer in 1981. I was always a bigger fan of Rolling Stone, but that’s because they paid attention to movies as well as music. Creem was all about rock ’n’ roll and maybe a little sex also. It is a fantastic story about a bunch of music lovers who decided they would put out a magazine, and they didn’t care who they offended. Home to some of the greatest music critics of their generation, the magazine was on the cutting edge of music, often deciding who or what type of music was worthing checking out. The documentary does a great job of giving us an inside look on how crazy it was to work there, especially the early years where just getting to the office every day was a matter of taking your life into your own hands. The film is bittersweet as, like many of the rock stars the magazine wrote about, the magazine also burned bright for a time but ultimately died too soon. If you love great stories about the rock scene of the 70s and the legendary people who wrote about it, this is a film you will want to see.    My Rating: Full Price     Creem Website     Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: She Dies Tomorrow (2020)    Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is convinced that she is going to die tomorrow, and it sends her on a downward spiral. Amy’s friend Jane (Jane Adams) soon discovers that Amy’s feeling of imminent death is contagious, and they start a journey that might be their last day on earth. I feel that this is another one of those films that many critics are going to love because it is so mysterious and existential. On the other hand, I was bored throughout the film, not caring what happened to any of the characters and continually looking at the clock to see how much more that I had to watch of this movie. The film takes forever to get going as we spend the first fifteen minutes of the film following Amy around her house as she keeps playing the same song repeatedly on the record player. The film gains a little ground as Jane, Amy’s friend, shows up, but that momentum is soon over as the malaise that Amy is feeling also takes over Jane. I’m just not a fan of this type of film, one that never really answers any questions and revels in being mysterious about what it is trying to say and feel. I kept thinking as I was watching this film, can it be tomorrow already?    My Rating: Cable      She Dies Tomorrow Website     Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View: Work It (2020)   When Quinn’s (Sabrina Carpenter) admission to the college of her dreams depends on her performance at a dance competition, she decides to form a dance troupe to take on the best squad in the school. The only problem, Quinn needs to learn how to dance. If you are a fan of one of the many dance competition TV shows, then this is a movie for you. The plot is pretty weak, as Quinn’s entrance into Duke depends on if she can make the dance team (even though she has a 4.0 and a ton of extra-curricular stuff), but Carpenter is fun as the spunky Quinn and its fun to see her transformation from a klutzy amateur to someone who can dance. The dance numbers are fun, though I must admit, the final dance-off numbers didn’t really wow me too much, but you will enjoy watching Quinn and her band of misfits try to bring win and maybe find a little romance to top it off.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee        Work It Website      Available on the Netflix platform.     

Indiefest:     I Used to Go Here (2020)   Kate (Gillian Jacobs) is at the top of the world. She just completed her new novel and is about to go on a big book tour; that is until the reviews come in, and her book is a big flop. Kate, with nowhere else to go, accepts a speaking engagement at her alma mater. The question is always, can you go home again? The answer is yes, but you might not like what you find there. Gillian Jacobs gives a charming and engaging performance of a woman returning to where life was exciting and full of promise and possibilities. Filmmaker Kris Ray provides us with a story that is fun to watch unfold, as Kate attempts to impress a former professor while also trying to relive the past. I loved the cast of this film, especially the college kids who Kate kind of latches onto when things spiral a bit. Like a weekend visit to an old haunt, this film scratches a very pleasant itch, and overall gives us an enjoyable ride.    My Rating: Full Price     I Used to Go Here Info    Available for rent on participating on-demand services.   

Forgotten Film: Return to Paradise (1998) R   Sheriff, Lewis, and Tony (Vince Vaughn, Joaquin Phoenix, David Conrad) meet up in Malaysia and have a great time. Sheriff and Tony return to New York, and right after they leave, Lewis, unbeknownst to the other two, is arrested for possession of hash and is sentenced to death. Two years later, Sheriff and Tony are contacted by a lawyer (Anne Heche) and told if they go back and testify, Lewis will receive a life sentence, and the other two will have to serve three years in prison, if only one of them returns, it will be six years. The movie is about choices and how far you are willing to go to do the right thing. Heche is the reason to see this movie as she does everything she can to try and persuade the two men to save Lewis’s life. This is an incredibly interesting film that will have you questioning what you would do in their place.   My Rating: Full Price     Return to Paradise Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Secret Garden: Head Cutter

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020)  PG-13  Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan), an art gallery assistant, has horrible taste in men and has a memento from every lousy relationship she has been in. She decides to start up her own gallery where people can leave items to display that have been left behind by former lovers. This might be the fresh start that Lucy and all other romantics out there need. I loved Viswanathan in the TV show Miracle Workers, so I can’t wait for this one.       The Broken Hearts Gallery Info

                                                      Until Next Time!