Friday, October 30, 2020

Come Play

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: Come Play (2020) PG-13   Oliver (Azhy Robertson) is a lonely little boy who feels different from everyone else. Desperate for friends, Oliver turns to his cell phone and tablet. There he discovers Larry, a mysterious creature using Oliver’s devices to break into our world. I enjoyed the nice play on using modern-day devices to access horror folklore, but this film is filled with scares that never really develop. Oliver is a boy whose communication problems are so severe he has to use an iPhone to talk and have a helper keep him on track at school. I never could figure out if Oliver was scared of Larry or if he genuinely thought Larry could be a friend because it seemed that every time Oliver could have run away, he instead went toward Larry. I liked the last ten minutes of Come Play, but the film is so poorly paced and takes so long to set everything up (how many times must we see the Larry story on an iPhone or other device?) that the film never ramps of the tension to make the movie feel scary. Sure there is a message about kids and too much time on iPhones in there somewhere, but what we really care about is just how scary Larry is or isn’t.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Come Play Website     The film is currently playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Martin Eden (2019)   Martin (Luca Marinelli) is a humble sailor who saves a man, Arturo (Giustiniano Alpi), from a beating. Arturo takes Martin to his family home, where he meets Elena (Jessica Cressy), Arturo’s beautiful sister with whom Martin falls instantly in love with. Martin decides to become the man that Elena is worthy of and pursues his dream of writing for a living. However, these are challenging times, and Marin begins to write about things he cares about, all of which will bring him in conflict with Elena and her world. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I never got into this film. I don’t know if the fact that this film is highly political in nature, as the main character slowly evolves into a spokesperson for individual rights, or if I just haven’t cared for the study of philosophy, because that is all that Martin does, study and talk about philosophy. I found some of the direction jarring, with some strange edits that tried but failed to set a mood for the film. Martin starts a likable character, but by the end of the film, he tends to scream and shout about things that he thinks everyone should think are important. I never could connect with Martin, and that took me down a long road of a film where I didn’t care what happened to him and his ideas.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Martin Eden Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Radium Girls (2018)    Bessie (Joey King) and Josephine (Abby Quinn) are two sisters who work in a watch factory painting a radioactive liquid to the faces of watches so that they glow in the dark. When Josephine becomes deathly ill, Bessie leads a group of factory workers to advocate for safer work conditions after Bessie discovers the effects of radium poisoning. This true story is one that needed to be told, I wish the writing on this film was better. Bessie is the main focus in the movie, and she is probably the weakest, least interesting character. Josephine, her sister, is far more engaging, but because she is hit early on with an illness, her character is more of just a supporting one. The film uses quite a bit of footage from newsreels of the twenties, but instead of giving us a feel of the times, it just slows down the storyline. The last third of the film feels rushed, giving us some closure on a storyline that needs a little more time to develop. It’s a valiant try, but it just never finds its footing, and we don’t get that emotional pull we need from the story.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Radium Girls Website     The film is currently playing in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View: The Craft: Legacy (2020) PG-13   When Lily’s (Cailee Spaeny) mother re-marries, Lily moves into a new home, feeling like an outsider. After a horrible first day, she meets three fellow students (Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna) who invite Lily to join their group, a group of witches. Soon the four discover that their newfound powers are more than they bargained for. I enjoyed the first two-thirds of the film, which seemed to find a new angle to the storyline of four outcast girls coming together to become powerful witches. There are some fun moments in the film, and I enjoyed the modern take that the film goes on, with a few enjoyable twists and turns. With such a great start, it's sad that the last third of the film became highly predictable and almost laughable. You will see the ending coming from nearly ten minutes into the film, and unfortunately, the ending you predict happens. The cast is fun, and Cailee Spaeny is likable in her role as the spunky Lily. I just wish the film didn’t end like a bad episode of Charmed.  My Rating; Bargain Matinee     The Craft: Legacy Website   The film is available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View:  Bad Hair (2020)   In 1989, Anna (Elle Lorraine) works for a music television station. She has the talent but is told that she doesn’t have the right hair, the right face, or the right look to make it in the image-obsessed world of TV. She strikes a bargain with the new head of the music network, Zora (Vanessa Williams), who sends her to get a weave, but Anna soon discovers that this new hairstyle has a mind of its own and people around her are dying. Bad Hair is a strange, sometimes funny, sometimes weird horror film that feels like a B-picture from the 70s with an 80s vibe. Is it campy? Yes, but in a fun way with some rather inventive deaths that always don’t make sense but is still enjoyable to watch. I wish the film was a little shorter than its 115 minutes, but there are enough campy horror bits to go around.  My Rating: Full Price    Bad Hair Website    The film is available on the Hulu platform. 

Indiefest: Us Kids (2020)   Documentary on the student activists that came out of the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The film follows the March For Our Lives movement from the point of view of three of the students; Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and Samantha Fuentes. This is a fascinating look at the lives of the students who started a movement that swept the country, a movement which shocked the political system and hurt the powerful NRA. The film does an outstanding job of letting us inside look at how the students mobilized, what their motivations were, and just how deeply they were affected by not only the shooting but the aftermath of all the attention that they got. We get to see the pressure that these kids were under and how a horrible event changed their lives. That they survived not only the shooting, but the spotlight is remarkable, and Us Kids gives us a beautiful and moving look into their lives, letting them tell us in their own words what it meant to them. For once, adults and politicians weren’t telling them how to feel or react; instead, the students of Parkland showed us the way.   My Rating: Full Price   Us Kids Website   The film is available to view for free on the Alamo Drafthouse Virtual Cinema Website


Forgotten Film: Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997)    As a boy in Germany, Dieter Dengler, witnessed firsthand the bombing of his city. In fact, he tells us that at one point, an American airplane flew so close to where Dieter was that he could see the pilot’s eyes as he rumbled by. Dieter emigrated to America and joined the air force, where he flew during the Viet Nam War. Dieter was shot down and captured by the Viet Cong and became one of the few American soldiers to escape from the prison. Little Dieter Needs to Fly is a remarkable tale of sorrow and triumph as director Werner Herzog masterfully brings us Dieter’s tale in his own words. It is an unbelievable story about a impressive man told by a master storyteller. A deeply moving and sometimes funny tale that needs to be seen.    My Rating; I Would Pay to See it Again    Little Dieter Needs to Fly Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Holidate: Security Badge Support 

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Sound of Metal (2019) R   A heavy-metal drummer’s (Riz Ahmed) life is changed when he begins to lose his hearing. Film critics who have seen this movie are raving about Ahmed’s performance and say that this film is one of the best of the year. Sound of Metal Website 

Until Next Time!


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