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: Freaky (2020) R Millie (Kathryn Newton) is just a teenage girl trying to survive the rigors of high school. She becomes the target of The Butcher (Vince Vaughn), her town's infamous serial killer, and then they switch bodies. Millie has 24 hours before the change becomes permeant. Freaky isn’t your typical slasher film as it has quite a bit of comedy in it. Taking a premise stolen from every teenager switches bodies with an adult, this film also makes fun of all the horrible deaths that we see in the normal teenagers are in trouble horror films. Vaughn and Newton are hilarious as they portray each other’s character inside their bodies. Vaughn does a masterful job of playing a man who is now inhabiting a teenage body. The film is buoyed by Millie’s ‘Scooby gang’ of her best friend (Celeste O’Connor), Josh (Misha Osherovich), her gay sidekick, and the boy Millie is secretly in love with (Uriah Shelton). Freaky is fun, sometimes silly, and the plot has a few holes in it, but who cares when trying to bring down a serial killer who is inhabiting your body. My Rating: Full Price Freaky Website The film is currently playing in select theatres.
My View: Come Away (2020) PG Alice (Keira Chansa) and her brother, Peter (Jordan A. Nash), let their imaginations take them on fantastic journeys while enjoying the summer in the English countryside. When their older brother (Reece Yates) unexpectedly dies, Alice seeks temporary refuge going down a wondrous rabbit hole, while Peter escapes the harsh reality of the real world by entering the magical realm of the ‘Lost Boys.’ Come Away is one of those films that you want to love because the premise is so cool, but boy does it fail to capture any magic whatsoever. This is a beautiful looking movie, with some gorgeous scenes, but the story never quite gets on track, making the film seem incredibly long with an ending that is meant to inspire but fails to make sense. The film flirts with both the Peter Pan storyline and the Alice in Wonderland plot, but every time it visits those places, the film just doesn’t deliver the charm and wonder that it needs so desperately. I thought Keira Chansa carried the film, and she needed to because, unfortunately, Jordan A. Nash as Peter doesn’t have the charisma that the part requires. The movie is undoubtedly helped by the presence of David Oyelowo and Angelina Jolie as the parents, but they aren’t the focus of the film, the kids are. Ultimately, the story doesn’t deliver the wonder and amazement that Wendy and Peter deserve. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Come Away Website The film is currently playing in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.
Indiefest: The Climb (2019) R Mike (Michael Angelo Covino) and Kyle (Kyle Marvin) are best friends, that is until Mike sleeps with Kyle’s fiancee (Judith Godreche). For a while, Mike and Kyle are enemies, but they can’t stay mad at each other too long, and soon they make up their friendship. Now Kyle has a new fiancee (Gayle Rankin), and Mike is determined to break that romance up also. First, let me say that there is one long tracking shot in this movie that has to be seen to be believed. This is a buddy picture where the two ‘buddies’ don’t always like each other. In fact, several times during the film, at least one of the two hates the other. The movie's humor is harsh and biting, as the two men always seem to be on a collision course filled with tension and words that often hurt. Covino and Marvin play off each other with incredible timing, making the film fun to see what they will say or do to each other next. As Kyle’s fiancee, Gayle Rankin almost steals the movie as she is determined to make sure that no matter what Mike does, she will be married to Kyle. The Climb is a film to watch and enjoy, filled with characters that you soon won’t forget. My Rating: Full Price The Climb Website The film is currently playing in select theatres.
Indiefest: The Life Ahead (2020) PG-13 In a small seaside town in Italy, a Holocaust survivor, Madame Rosa (Sophia Loren), with a daycare business takes in a street kid, Momo (Ibrahima Gueye), who recently robbed her. Sophia Loren gives a beautiful and heartfelt performance as the tough but caring Madame Rosa. Madame Rosa has made her living taking care of the children of local prostitutes, something she has done since she quit the business. Rosa is in need of money when her doctor (Renato Carpentieri) brings the hard to handle Momo to her with a proposition that he will pay Rosa to take in the boy for a few months. Rosa reluctantly lets Momo stay with her, and an uneasy beginning starts a relationship between the aging madam and the street-smart boy. I enjoyed the slow warming between Rosa and Momo, as the two learn about each other, both learning to respect each other’s boundaries, with Rosa treating Momo like a young adult and Momo treating Rosa like a mystery that is needed to be solved. The Life Ahead is sure to bring a tear or two as the story is filled with love and heartbreak, just as it is in life. My Rating: Full Price The Life Ahead Website The film is currently playing in select theatres and on the Netflix platform.
Indiefest: Ammonite (2020) R In 1840s England, Mary (Kate Winslet) lives in a seaside home with her aging mother. Mary is a well-respected fossil hunter. One day Roderick (Jame McArdle) and his wife, Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan), come into Mary’s shop with a proposition. Roderick will pay Mary to teach Charlotte about fossils while he is away on a scientific expedition. That fateful day will change Charlotte and Mary’s lives forever. First, the good: Winslet is terrific as the stone-faced, reserved Mary, who wants to be left alone with her fossils. Winslet often doesn’t speak with words but with just the slightest movement or facial expression, and we get precisely what Mary is thinking and feeling. Saoirse Ronan is up to the task as the depressed Charlotte, a woman who has lost the light inside her that her husband adored. The problem with this film is that it is incredibly predictable. Each move that is made by the characters is so laid out, it takes away from any spark the film has with the chemistry of the two leads. It’s always fun to watch Kate Winslet weave her spell on the screen; I wish I didn’t know what her character was going to do throughout the whole film. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Ammonite Website The film is currently playing in select theatres.
Indiefest: Fatman (2020) R Times are hard for Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson), also known as Santa Claus. He takes a one-time deal to deliver some items for the U.S. military, but there is a problem. After getting a lump of coal for Christmas, a kid hires a hitman (Walter Goggins) to kill Santa. Little does the hitman know that this isn’t the first time someone has come after the jolly fat man. I don’t think this film will get you into the mood for Christmas, maybe a trip to the shooting range, but Christmas, no, I don’t think so. Santa is an unhappy old man who is worried that he has lost his touch and is about to go broke. Billy (Chance Hurstfield) is a ‘Richie Rich’ kind of kid who isn’t above hiring a hitman so that he can win a science fair. That hitman is someone who hates Santa (we find out why near the end of the film) and eagerly takes up the hit when Billy gets a lump of coal for Christmas. The film doesn’t always work, especially the second story of Santa having to work for the government. I kind of wish they had just left that out of the storyline. Goggins is just flat funny as the grumpy, Santa-hating hitman, as his character hits the road determined to bring down Christmas and everything it stands for. Fatman is an amusing idea that probably would have been better as an SNL skit, the plot doesn’t justify the feature-length treatment. My Rating: Cable Fatman Website The film is currently playing in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services on Nov. 17th.
Familyfaire: Wolfwalkers (2020) PG A young apprentice hunter, Robyn (Honor Kneafsey), and his father journey to Ireland to wipe out the country’s last wolf pack. Once there, Robyn befriends Mebh (Eva Whittaker), a member of a mysterious tribe rumored to have the ability to transform into wolves. Robyn uncovers a secret that could make her turn against her father. The team that brought us the Academy Award-nominated films The Secret of the Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014) bring their animated talents again to the screen to bring us the imaginative and visually striking Wolfwalkers. This is a fun play into the land of myth and legends, as our hero Robyn discovers that there are always two sides to a story. Convinced by her father that wolves are to be killed because they are evil, she soon finds herself alone in the forest, confronting the very beasts her father seeks to kill. This is a dazzling coming of age tale that is perfect for children, especially young girls, to try to understand those who you oppose. Wolfwalkers is a superb film filled with bewitching animation and a brave girl who takes a chance on friendship. My Rating: Full Price Wolfwalkers Website The film is currently playing in select theatres.
Forgotten Film: The Ipcress File (1965) Several vital scientists have been kidnapped and, after a few days, are released, with each scientist brainwashed with all of their knowledge gone. The British send counter-espionage Agent Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) to investigate. Palmer feels that he has been chosen for this mission because he feels he is expendable. The Ipcress File is a fascinating spy thriller with a very un-James Bond character. Caine is perfect as a spy with a weird sense of humor, tries too hard to impress the ladies, and isn’t the dapper spy that we think of when picturing a British agent. The storyline is intriguing, and there are plenty of twists to keep you interested. I love this film's feel and look, making it seem more like a film noir type of movie than just a spy caper. My Rating: Full Price The Ipcress File Info
Weird Credits: Credits from Come Away: Coffee
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: News of the World (2020) PG-13 Five years after the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks) makes his living going town to town as a storyteller, reading from news accounts, telling stories of all kinds. In the plains of Texas, he finds Johanna ( Helena Zengel), a ten-year-old girl who was raised by the Kiowa people as their own. Against her will, the Captain agrees to take Johanna to her relatives in a remote town hundreds of miles away. The two will travel a great distance to meet the tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces to find Johanna a home. Hanks is reunited with his director from Captain Phillips (2013), which is all I need to know to want to see this western. News of the World Website