Friday, September 25, 2020

Enola Holmes

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 follow the instructions to the letter.  

My View:   Enola Holmes  (2020) PG-13  Enola Homes (Millie Bobby Brown), the great detective Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill) teen sister, discovers her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) is missing and sets out to find her and discovers a mystery that her famous brother can’t solve. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, and I am excited to say that this film did not disappoint. Right from the start, the film uses the winning personality of Millie Bobby Brown to its advantage as in the opening scene as she breaks the fourth wall to address the audience directly. Enola has been raised by her mother, played by the always captivating Helena Bonham Carter, in a large manor with few servants and little outside interference. Enola’s famous brothers are both considerably older and have gone on to live their lives in London, leaving Enola to be home-schooled by her widowed mother. To say that Enola’s schooling is unconventional is stating it mildly as Enola is taught how to do hand to hand combat, fire weapons, and read about every subject under the sun. When her mother disappears, Enola, much to her brothers’ dismay, decides to go to London to find why she left with only a few clues behind. The film is fun, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and moves at a rousing pace with lots of chases, escapes, and a few fistfights. Can the plucky Enola make her mother proud and show her brothers that she is just as an accomplished detective as they are? You will have to watch to find out as Enola goes on this rousing adventure.    My Rating: Full Price     Enola Holmes Website     The film is available on the Netflix platform.

IndiefestKajillioaire   (2020) R   Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) has spent her whole life doing one low-level scam after another with her parents (Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins). Old Dolio’s life is changed when Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) joins the group for a major heist. If you have seen ‘Indie darling’ Miranda July’s films Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) and The Future (2011), you know that July doesn’t make conventional films. Kajillionaire is a film that, if you give it some time, will grow on you. Old Dolio (what a name) and her parents are strange, to say at the very least. Old Dolio and her parents go through life from one scam to another, taking other people’s mail, trying to rig how to win contests, and telling story after to story to people who they owe money to. To say that Old Dolio has grown up to become a strange and quirky adult is putting it mildly. Evan Rachel Wood is the star of the film, and she gives us a character that is a combination of simpleton, one who doesn’t know how to relate to the world, and someone who is desperate for more out of life than what her parents give her. Old Dolio world is changed when by chance, the trio encounters a young woman, Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) who instantly takes to the wacky family and is willing to join them in on their scams. This isn’t a film for everyone, but I think that if you can wait it out until Rodriguez shows up in the plot, you will be rewarded with a movie that quietly will delight you.    My Rating: Full Price     Kajillionaire Website     The film is currently in select theatres. 

Indiefest Public Trust  (2020)    America’s Public Lands make up over 640 million acres of the US. The Public Lands make up the last large-scale public asset on the planet, and there are powerful forces that are aligning to attempt to sell off either the land or its mineral/gas/water rights. Men and women from all over the country are gathering to try to stop the largest land grab in modern history. As with a lot of other documentaries being released right before the election, if you are a Trump supporter, you will not enjoy this film. The film gives us a history of the creation of the Public Lands and how, from the beginning, corporations and big business have been trying to buy or exploit those lands. The film highlights what seems like a losing battle of the ordinary man or, in the case of many of the Public Lands, the American Indian tribes against both the government and greedy businesses, wanting to exploit the lands for money and oil/gas. My favorite moment in the film, one that will fill you with rage, is the shot of an Indian tribal leader, who during the Obama administration, won a long-standing battle to save her native lands from destruction from giant mineral companies, to only shake her head when the Trump administration reversed those decisions in the name of making America ‘Great Again.’ As a person who has greatly enjoyed the Public Lands, some of which were created by my favorite President, Teddy Roosevelt, I urge you to see this film and get as mad as I did watching it, and hopefully, will do something to keep these lands where they belong, in the hands of the American public.    My Rating: Full Price     Public Trust Facebook Page    The film is currently in select theatres. 

IndiefestOttolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles  (2020)    Documentary that follows world-renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi on his quest to bring the art and decadence of Versailles to life in cake form at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Chef Ottolenghi brings together a group of chefs from around the world, all of them known for creating incredible works of art with food, in an effort to celebrate the palace of Versailles. The film doesn’t spend a lot of time with any one subject, giving us a quick background on both the Chefs and Versailles history. I must say that after building up the Chefs and their astounding work of the past, the film seems to skim over the final results a little too fast, making the film seem a bit of a tease. I have a feeling that the displays the Chefs created were much more impressive in person than on the screen, and I also did not like the way the film ended, where it tried weakly to make some sort of statement about greed and opulence. I think foodies will enjoy this film, especially all the behind-the-scenes work that goes on before for the event, but I felt a little like a meal that I had at a diner last year; it was pleasing but not memorable.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee     Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles Website     The film is currently in select theatres. 

My View:  Ava  (2020)  R Ava (Jessica Chastain) is an assassin who works for a black ops organization, traveling across the world, specializing in high profile hits. When a job goes sideways, Ava is forced to go on the run and fight for her survival. Ok, the good: Jessica Chastain is, as always, worth watching work on the screen, this as a cold-blooded assassin whose flaw is that she wants to know what her targets did to get themselves killed. The bad: the plot, the dialogue, and a secondary story that is so dreadful that it has to be seen to be believed. I am guess the fact that Chastain produced the film got her the cast that includes John Malkovich, Colin Farrell, and Gena Davis. Malkovich phones in his performance, Farrell, as usual, overacts with scene-chewing gusto and Davis, is in a part that belongs on a prime-time soap. The action sequences are boring, and thirty minutes in you wonder why am I watching this film. Ava ends, none too soon, with a nod to a sequel that I hope never gets made.   My Rating:  Cable     Ava Website     The film is currently in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Forgotten Film10 Rillington Place  (1971)  GP    Based on the true story of a serial killer named Christie (Richard Attenborough), who during and after WWII, drugged, raped, and murder at least eight women, all the while living in with a wife and another couple on his property. Christie, wonderfully underplayed by Attenborough, is a soft-spoken older man who is able to frame his boarder (John Hurt), who is uneducated and poor, because the police and Christie’s wife believe that the lodger is the man behind the crimes. I mean, an educated man wouldn’t do such things, would he? The film was shocking at the time of release, especially with Attenborough’s casting, who had before this always played the upright guy and many times the hero. The film is perfectly paced, and both Attenborough and Hurt give brilliant performances. The film concludes a little clumsily at the end, but I think it is because the outcome was so well known at the time.    My Rating: Full Price     10 Rillington Place Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Enola Holmes:  Child Licence Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Save Yourselves!  (2020) R    A young Brooklyn couple (Sunita Mani, John Reynolds) decide to turn off their computers and cell phones and spend a week in an upstate cabin to unplug and reconnect with each other.  The couple, blissfully unaware, have picked the wrong time to disconnect with the world; a world that has fallen into chaos as aliens invade the planet. The movie looks like a lot of fun, and I am a fan of Sunita Mani from her roles in the TV shows Mr. Robot and GLOW.       Save Yourselves! Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, September 18, 2020


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: Antebellum (2020) R   Bestselling author Veronica Henley (Janelle Monáe) has everything going for; a successful career and a loving family. Veronica finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality from the past and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late. This film wants to be in the tradition of Jordan Peele’s horror films, with a lot to say about race in America today while pushing the boundaries of horror. Unfortunately, it fails badly in both cases, especially in the horror side. The first third of the film takes place on a plantation during the civil war, where the white Southern soldiers gravely mistreat slaves. We then jump to modern times where a famous author, played by Janelle Monáe, is the toast of the media world, selling books on the empowerment of women of color. There is a twist in this film that is so dissatisfying that I can’t explain how frustrated I felt at the end of the movie. The film never develops into any style of horror film and almost seems to be a throwback to the exploration films of the 70s, with villains so severely drawn that the movie practically becomes a comedy. Antebellum tries to make a statement about race but is so horribly executed that it becomes an absolute failure. Skip this film and go back and watch Get Out or Us instead.   My Rating: Cable    Antebellum Website      The film is currently in select theatres.

Indiefest: The Way I See It (2020) PG-13   This documentary looks at the eight-year Obama presidency through the eyes of former Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza. Souza worked in the White House once before during the Regan years as a photographer and was given the job to be the official photographer for the Obama administration, giving him access to every meeting, event, and speech that involved the President. The job gave Souza a unique look at the workings of both the presidency and the man and his family. When Souza left the job at the end of the Obama term, he because an outspoken critic of President Trump, using his pictures of the Obama presidency to comment on what he says were the failings of the Trump presidency. The film does an outstanding job of letting Souza narrate his dealings with Obama during the presidency while also showing Souza on a book tour, giving talks to both the public and the media. Trump supporters are not going to be happy with this film but history buffs are going to have a blast seeing a glimpse into the world of the White House.    My Rating; Full Price     The Way I See It Website     The film is currently in select theatres.

Indiefest: H is for Happiness (2019)   Candice (Daisy Axon) is a bit of a loner in her school, as she asks too many questions, but this doesn’t keep Candice from a boundless optimism that gives her a unique view of the world. With the help of her newfound friend, Douglas Benson from Another Dimension (Wesley Patten), Candice is determined to mend her parent's relationship after they are still giving at the loss of Candice’s baby sister. I never quite got into this film, and it’s not because it doesn’t try to charm or that it’s bad; it just never quite finds its footing, never finding its voice. The film tries very hard to make Candice a likable character, and her relationship with Douglas is adorable, but the film tries too hard to make the movie a little too cute in its handling of the storyline. There just isn’t a lot of substance to the story and the film tries too hard to tie everything up in a neat, tight bow at the end of the film. I think kids, especially young girls, will enjoy Candice and Douglas' adventures, but adults will be very bored with the long and pointless plot.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     H is for Happiness Website     Available for rent on participating on-demand services,

Indiefest: Last Call (2019)   Scott (Daved Wilkins) is a bitter and lonely man who calls the Suicide Prevention Hotline but accidentally calls Beth (Sarah Booth), a janitor. It’s a phone call that both won’t ever forget. The film is shot in one long take using two cameras, one centered on each character, using a split-screen to show what each character is doing. The film is a serious and heartfelt look at one person in pain and another person, a total stranger, who tries to help with compassion and caring. What I loved about this film is that frequently the camera doesn’t give us all the information, as often a character will wander off the screen and we, along with the person on the other line, don’t know what is happening. Last Call is a film that, at first, you will be more into how the two storylines connect, but by the end of the movie, you will be enthralled by the action on the screen and not how we see it. This is a well done, beautifully acted film that builds the tension slowly, to where you become immersed in the two people and their conversation. Director/co-writer Gavin Michael Booth gives us a powerful film perfect for September, Suicide Prevention Month.    My Rating: Full Price     Last Call Website     Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View: The Nest (2020) R   Rory (Jude Law), an ambitious entrepreneur, decides to move his family from suburban America to his native England so that he can rejoin his former firm. They lease a centuries-old country manor, and everything seems to be working out until Rory and his wife (Carrie Coon) soon have to face the unwelcome truths lying beneath the surface of their marriage. This film works as well as it does because of the lead performances of Jude Law and Carrie Coon, playing a couple that on the surface have everything and below that surface, have almost nothing. The film is a psychological drama about a marriage falling apart as a husband blindly keeps trying to capture the magic of the past. At the same time, the wife is no longer willing to go along for the rollercoaster ride that has become their lives. Coon and Law have a brilliant chemistry up on the screen, as their scenes turn from loving to contempt in almost a moment's notice. The characters are complex, and the film uses this to its advantage, making us slowly put the pieces together, clawing away at the truth, a truth that, at times, neither character wants to acknowledge. The Nest is a film about unhappy people and the lies they tell themselves to keep that sadness buried, even at the expense of their family's welfare.    My Rating: Full Price      The Nest Website     The film is currently in select theatres.

My View: The Secrets We Keep (2020) R   Maja (Noomi Rapace), after suffering horribly in Europe during World War II, has relocated to America and is living happily in the suburbs with her husband (Chris Messina). One afternoon Maja encounters a man she believes attacked her and her family during the war. On impulse, Maja kidnaps the man and seeks vengeance for the heinous war crimes she thinks he committed. I have been a big fan of Noomi Rapace since her groundbreaking role as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Swedish film series, so I was excited to see this film. Rapace doesn’t disappoint in an intense and complex role of a woman who is a prisoner of her memories. She gives us a gritty and thought-provoking role in which we are asked are what she does justified or not. From the moment that Maja hears a man's whistle from her tortured past, we are captivated by what Maja will do and how far will she and her husband go. The Secrets We Keep gives an electrifying thriller that keeps us guessing if the man Maja has kidnapped is her man from her past, and if she finds out he is who she thinks he is, what will she do to him.   My Rating: Full Price      The Secrets We Keep Website    The film is currently in select theatres.     

My View: The Devil All the Time (2020) R   Taking place between World War II and the Vietnam War, Arvin (Tom Holland) fights evil forces that threaten him and his family. This is a hard film to describe because there are a lot of moving and connected parts. The film revolves around Arvin and his family, as we see how his parents met, along with other characters in the movie, that will keep popping up throughout the years. The film is a profoundly disturbing look at how much religion hung over rural America in the ’50s and 60s and how evil seems to be always just around the corner. I liked some of the film's performances, including Bill Skarsgard, who plays Arvin’s father, a man who has come back from World War II deeply scared but finds hope in a young woman (Haley Bennett) he meets and marries. Alvin has a stepsister, Lenora (Eliza Scanlen), who has a scary connection with a local couple (Jason Clarke, Riley Keough) who love to pick up hitchhikers. Lenora gets involved with a preacher, played by Robert Pattinson, who takes advantage of his power and post. I don’t want to get too involved with telling the story because I did enjoy how all the parts come together by the end of the film. It’s a complicated tale, bloody and, at times, gruesome, but besides the film feeling a bit long, I enjoyed the outcome and was glad that I spent time watching Alvin grow up in such a weird and troubled world. My Rating: Full Price       The Devil All the Time Website     The film is available on the Netflix platform.

Forgotten FilmThe Devil’s Backbone (2001) R   Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is a 12-year-old boy whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War. Carlos arrives at a boys’ orphanage run by opponents of Franco’s fascists. The boy soon discovers that the bed he has been assigned to belonged to Santi, a boy who died and is said to haunt the grounds. This horror film is from two-time Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and is well worth the watch. The movie is full of creepy images and, at times, is truly scary. I will warn you that if you don’t know the history of the Spanish Civil War, which took place right before WWII, there are a few things that will go over your head. But del Toro is a master of creating suspense, and this film might be his best in the horror category. Hey, any movie with a giant unexploded bomb hanging out in the middle of the courtyard ticking away is a film filled with tension.   My Rating: Full Price     The Devil's Backbone Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Antebellum: Police Advisor

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Friendsgiving (2020) R Molly (Malin Akerman) and Abbey (Kat Dennings) host Thanksgiving that is meant to be a small affair and turns into a whole slew of close friends and acquaintances making a dinner that becomes more and more bizarre, dysfunctional and comical as the day goes on. Besides Akerman and Dennings, the cast includes Aisha Tyler, Jane Seymour, Chelsea Peretti, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, and Ryan Hansen. Hey, I need a little comedy in my life about now.     Friendsgiving Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Broken Hearts Gallery

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: 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. All you need to know is that as soon as Geraldine Viswanathan appears on the screen, you will fall in love with her as the lovelorn but determined Lucy. The film doesn't have a great plot (how the gallery will ever make money is beyond me), predictable, and takes a little too long to conclude, but none of that matters because Viswanathan is just a force to be reckoned with. Viswanathan is a type of actress who makes you happy to be seeing her on-screen, with such a warm and winning presence that it almost overpowers her romantic lead, Dacre Montgomery; however, there is some great chemistry between the two. I thoroughly enjoyed Lucy’s two roommates/sidekicks (Phillipa Soo, Molly Gordon), who make the film even better to watch as they add some brilliant comic relief. I rolled in the aisle as they bet each other on how long each of Lucy’s relationships will last or described how they were going to hurt one of her boyfriends by a couple of outlandish means. The two are always there to not only pick up the pieces after each Lucy boyfriend breakup but also are remarkable wing women, ready to sing karaoke with the best of them. You are going to have a great time helping Lucy fill out her gallery of broken hearts.    My Rating: Full Price     The Broken Hearts Gallery Website  The film is currently in theatres.

Indiefest: All In: The Fight for Democracy (2020) PG-13   The documentary takes a look at the history and current activism against voter suppression in this country, putting a spotlight on a threat to the fundamental rights of citizens of the United States. This is a must-watch film about what we all take for granted, the right to vote, and how, if you look at America's history, just how hard that right is to achieve. The film does a superlative job of giving us an insight into how fragile the idea of voting by everyone is. The film centers on Stacy Abrams, who ran a hard-fought race for Georgia's governorship, losing by an incredibly narrow margin, even though the odds had been stacked against her. All In is a film that will piss you off at all the injustices which have occurred to keep the status quo in power and how important your vote and voice are in a world determined to stack the deck against democracy.    My Rating: Full Price     All In: The Fight for Democracy Website     Currently in select theatres and available on the Amazon platform starting Sept. 18th.

Indiefest: Rent-a-Pal (2020)   Set in 1990, David (Brian Landis Folkins) is a lonely bachelor who is stuck caring for his aging mother (Kathleen Brady). While seeking a partner through a dating service, he discovers a VHS tape call Rent-A-Pal. Hosted by Andy (Wil Wheaton), the service seems to fit David’s needs for company and friendship until David realizes that Andy’s friendship comes at a price, a price that David might not be able to afford. Rent-A-Pal is a strange, creepy film that takes a few steps in the right direction but ultimately falls apart by the third act. Some of the film is interesting as David slowly becomes under the spell of the idea that the only person in the world that understands him is on a pre-recorded videotape. I never felt fully engaged with the film, though at times I did enjoy the performance of Brian Landis Folkins, a sort of sad-sack everyman who can’t seem to get a break. The film’s final third doesn’t work as it becomes an attempt to become a horror film. The ending feels forced and predictable, taking away some of the enjoyment that I had during the film's early portions.    My Rating: Cable      Rent-A-Pal Website    The film is available in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Red White & Wasted (2019)   The film follows a family as Florida’s redneck culture is threatened as Orlando's last mud-hole is being shut down. This documentary follows a divorced dad, Matthew, who is raising two teenage daughters as he laments his glory days as a video hound who documented the pastime of mudding (big trucks running around in the mud). The film is a look into the world of the redneck, racist Trump supporters whose life revolves around guns, trucks, and the confederate flag. The film follows Matthew as he struggles to make a living finding metals for recycling, often going into trash containers behind warehouses and businesses. Matthew’s biggest concern seems to be not his older daughter that gets pregnant or his younger daughter, who has epilepsy but the fact that he can’t find a place in Orlando anymore to go mudding. I got tired of watching Matthew digging through trash while complaining about how Trump would get rid of all the ‘illegals’ that take jobs away from ‘us taxpayers.’  Red, White & Wasted is a depressing look at an ugly side of America, with no sign of ever changing.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee      Red, White & Wasted Website   Available for rent on participating on-demand services

Indiefest: The Social Dilemma (2020) PG-13   Documentary on how a handful of tech designers control the way we think, act, and live. After watching this film, you may never look at your smartphone the same way again. A genuinely fascinating film about how Internet companies like Facebook and Twitter use data to custom your experience on the Internet, whether you want it or not. This is a film that has quite a bit of alarming information on just how influential these companies are, including the incredible rise of things like suicides by teens (especially girls) and how some of the platforms may have started as a way to reach out to people but have become increasingly a way that isolates us. The film is packed full of information, some of it jaw-dropping, but never seems dull or slow. Not everything works in this film, and I did not enjoy the attempt to create drama by having us follow a fictional family as they go down the Internet rabbit hole, concentrating on the teenage boy of the family who becomes obsessed with some things he finds on the Internet. The film does a great job explaining the science of the Internet, as told to us by some of the very people who worked for the companies that now fill up your online life.   My Rating: Full Price     The Social Dilemma Website   The film is available on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President (2020)   Documentary about how Jimmy Carter, a little known governor from the state of Georgia, used a tight bond with musicians to fund his campaign and give him a crucial boost in the Democratic primaries. No matter your political leaning, you have to admit that Jimmy Carter is a kind and spiritual man. Knowing of his vast history of humanitarian work, that didn’t surprise me. What blew me away was how cool Carter was and is when it comes to music. Carter’s love and appreciation for music came from his time in Southern churches during his childhood. The film does an incredible job letting us into Carter’s time as a governor of Georgia and his unexpected rise to become the President. Carter used his connections with Southern musicians, like Charlie Daniels or Greg Allman, to get people to his political rallies. The film gives us insight into just how close Carter was to musicians like Allman or Willie Nelson, and when some of them got into trouble that Carter would stand by them. The film is full of extraordinary archival footage of concerts and rallies and interviews with Dylan, Allman, and Nelson. One of my favorite parts throughout the film is when some of these great, iconic musicians read poems that Jimmy Carter has written, punctuating the man and his beliefs. Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President is the feel-good, joyful film we need during this time or heck, anytime. Rock on Jimmy!    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President Website     In select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Forgotten Film: Feeling Minnesota (1996) R   Freddie (Cameron Diaz) is a former stripper who is forced to marry Sam (Vincent D’Onofrio) to pay off a gambling debt by a local drug kingpin named Red (Delroy Lindo). Things get complicated when Freddie meets Sam’s brother, Jjaks (Keanu Reeves), and they instantly fall in love with each other. Freddie and Jjaks go on the lam together, with Sam and Red hot on their heels. This is a fun and peculiar romantic comedy that has murder, shoot-outs, and a ton of twists and turns that keep this film moving at an almost breathtaking speed. The reason to see this film is just how good an actress Cameron Diaz was. There are very few actors who could pull off this role, making you fall in love with Freddie and hope that she and Jjaks somehow get out of the mess they have gotten themselves into. Feeling Minnesota is a blast to watch and has an awesome scene-stealing cameo by Dan Ackroyd that you have to see.   My Rating: Full Price     Feeling Minnesota Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Broken Hearts Gallery: Executive Producer Selena Gomez

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Secrets We Keep (2020) R   Maja (Noomi Rapace), after suffering horribly in Europe during World War II, has relocated to America and is living happily in the suburbs with her husband (Chris Messina). One afternoon Maja encounters a man she believes attacked her and her family during the war. On impulse, Maja kidnaps the man and seeks vengeance for the heinous war crimes she thinks he committed. I have been a big fan of Noomi Rapace since her groundbreaking role as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Swedish film series (so much better than the Hollywood version). I won’t miss this one.     The Secrets We Keep Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, September 4, 2020


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: Mulan (2020) PG-13   A young Chinese maiden, Mulan (Yifei Liu) disguises herself as a male warrior when her ailing father is called into the Army to protect the country from the Huns. This is a live-action remake of the 1998 animated Disney film, with some significant changes; this isn’t a musical and sorry to disappoint a few people (and kids), there isn’t a talking/flying, wisecracking dragon. Most of the rest of the story is the same as the animated film, with a young woman deciding to become a warrior in her father’s place, hiding that she isn’t a ‘he’ from her fellow soldiers. I was never a huge fan of the animated film, as I was not too fond of the Eddie Murphy voiced dragon, Mushu, finding the comedy relief wanting, and the music seemed a little bland to me. This film has some spectacular cinematography, and the fight/battle sequences are a wonder to watch, so much so that I wish we could all see this film on the big screen where it belongs. The film’s fight sequences reminded me of the 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as our hero Mulan soars through the air, doing acrobatic feats to defeat her opponents. It’s a sweeping film about courage, inspiration, and finding that you can succeed if you believe in yourself and your friends no matter the obstacles.  Be sure to look for a appearance by Ming-Na Wen, the original voice of Mulan in the 1998 Disney film.  My Rating: Full Price    Mulan Website     The film is available on the Disney + Platform.

Indiefest: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) R   A young woman (Jessie Buckley) is having second thoughts about dating her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) and against her better judgment, agrees to a road trip to visit his parents (Toni Collette, David Thewlis) at the family farm. The young woman is about to question the nature of everything she knew or understood about herself and the world around her. I wrote that description before I saw the movie, and now that I have viewed the film, I am not quite sure I could write another one. To say the film bends time and logic is an understatement. This film is not for everyone, including me. The film starts as our couple head out on the road with the young woman (we never get her name) thinking to herself that she is about to break up with her boyfriend. When we arrive at the farm, things go from weird to bizarre as characters go out of a room and come back in a different age. The main character, the girlfriend, is trying to make the best of a very awkward visit as subject matters change almost at a moment's notice. I am not a fan of films like this, that go so far to challenge the viewer's viewpoint that it makes the experience uncomfortable and puzzling. If you enjoy the theatre of the absurd or watching characters debate the finer points of a vocabulary word, then you might enjoy this film. I, on the other hand, did not. I will say that Jessie Buckley is a major acting talent that made this film at least watchable. Buckley’s character had to pivot through the mind-blowing experience, and she handles the role with impressive agility and pathos. I just don’t enjoy this type of film and found myself wanting the whole experience to be over with.   My Rating: Cable     I'm Thinking of Ending Things Website     The film is available on the Netflix Platform and in select theatres.

My View:  Critical Thinking (2020)   In 1998, a group of intercity teenagers from Miami, inspired by their high school teacher (John Leguizamo) form a chess club and make it all the way to the National Chess Championship. This is an inspiring tale from director/actor John Leguizamo, about a group of misfits who buck incredible odds to make it to the top. I have always been a big fan of chess, impressed by the mental fortitude that it takes to become good at such a complicated game. Based on a true story, the film, at times, plucks on the heartstrings and, occasionally, lays it on a little thick with the us vs. the world plot, but Leguizamo has the charisma to carry it off with an outstanding supporting cast of young performers. The film shows us that no matter how hard the student’s lives are, existing with drugs and death, they still come together and believe in each other to conquer a world that they could never imagine. The film gets a bit bogged down in all the chess moves that the teacher goes on about, but even if you don’t know much about the game, you will be inspired on how a group of kids from a rough neighborhood overcame an incredible amount to become a team.   My Rating: Full Price     Critical Thinking Website    Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest:  The Mole Agent (2020)   A private investigator places an ad for a senior citizen to go undercover at a retirement home where a client suspects the caretakers of elder abuse. This film’s description sounds like a work of fiction, but it is a delightful and, at times, incredibly moving film centered on a wonderful man, Sergio, who has a huge heart and is someone you will fall in love with. The film starts with the PI going through the interview process, and this part of the film is quite funny, as the PI has to find the right person for the job. Anyone with elderly parents/grandparents will love the part where the PI is trying to teach Sergio how to use not only his spy gear, which are pretty cool but also his phone (including how to do FaceTime). The heart of this film is not about trying to catch someone neglecting the people at the home, it’s about just how tough it is to grow old in our modern-day society. The film explores just how lonely it can be at a retirement home, how hard living day to day without someone to care about you is. The film isn’t all about heartbreak and loneliness as Sergio is a bit of a flirt, and the women, who vastly outnumber the men in the home, love his attention. It’s a film that is heartbreaking at times, but it is also uplifting because there are people like Sergio to brighten our world, even when it seems that no one else cares.    My Rating: Full Price     The Mole Agent Website     Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Forgotten Film: Tigerland (2000) R    A group of recruits in 1971 go through advanced training in Louisiana at a place to look and feel like Vietnam, a place called Tigerland. Jim Paxton (Mathew Davis) is a man who dreams of becoming a great writer and volunteers for the Army at a time when serving in the military was a hotbed in a troubling time for the nation. Paxton befriends a fiery young man named Bozz (Colin Farrell) who has a gift for getting into trouble. This is a small, gritty film about how the military and war can break any man, no matter their moral compass. The film is less about action and more about the people in the combat troupe. Farrell gives a breathless performance full of bravado, and Davis, as the intellectual writer, is a perfect companion, making them a dynamic couple that the film revolves around.   My Rating: Full Price     Tigerland Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Mulan: Speciality Jeweler

Coming Soon to A Screen Near You: Hearts (2020) PG-13   Two couples (Radha Mitchell, Tiera Skovbye, Adan Canto, Jacob Elordi) from different decades are connected in a way that no one could ever guess or predicted. I am a sucker for a romance, and we just don’t get enough of them, so I can’t wait for this one.      2 Hearts Website

Until Next Time!