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: 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