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.
Indiefest: Kajillioaire (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.
Indiefest: Ottolenghi 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 Film: 10 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