Friday, November 6, 2020

Let Him Go

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: Let Him Go (2020) R   Retired Sheriff George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) and his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) leave their Montana ranch to find their dead son’s wife, Lorna (Kayli Carter), and their grandson. Lorna has moved to an isolated ranch in North Dakota with her new husband, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), where the family's matriarch, Blanche (Lesley Manville), lives. George and Margaret soon discover that the Weboy family have no intention of letting the child go and that the Blackledge’s are going to have to fight for their family. I am a fan of modern westerns and of Kevin Costner, and in both cases, I was not let down. The movie moves at a slow pace (until the third act), letting us get to know George and Margaret’s relationship with both each other and their daughter-in-law. I love the performance of Diane Lane, who plays Margaret as a strong, independent woman who is going to rescue her grandson with or without George’s help. Costner gives a subtle, understated performance as a former lawman who wants what his wife wants but wants to try reason instead of hard action. The interaction between the two is perfect, and we see that they will always back each other up, no matter what obstacles mount in their way. The ease that the two work together on the screen makes this film worth watching. The Weboy family is effectively creepy, and Lesley Manville gives us a family leader who is ruthless and downright nasty. Let Him Go does have some rather disturbing violence, but I feel that it makes its impact even stronger as George and Margaret’s world comes crashing down on them.   My Rating: Full Price    Let Him Go Website     The film is currently playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Love in Dangerous Times (2020)   With the world shutting down due to the pandemic, Jason (Ian Stout) and Sorrell (Tiffany Groben) meet on a dating app. Can their relationship be built on the fact that they may never meet in person? Love in Dangerous Times is an interesting experiment of making a film about relationships during a pandemic. Shot mostly in Jason’s apartment as a base, we see most of the rest of the cast via Zoom or FaceTime on iPhones and computers. The film uses this premise to show us the slow but steady up building of the relationship between Jason, a struggling playwright, and Sorrell, a teacher, both who are not necessarily looking for love but more like a buddy to help ride out the boredom of a pandemic. I liked the chemistry between the two leads of Stout and Groben, which felt real as they explored each other’s likes, opinions, and personalities. Overall, Love in Dangerous Times has a pleasant feel to it, and I enjoyed seeing Jason and Sorrell court online.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The film is available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View: Kindred (2020)   When her boyfriend, Ben, suddenly dies in an accident, Charlotte (Tamara Lawrance), a mom-to-be, is taken in by his family in a crumbling manor house in the middle of nowhere. Ben’s family is determined to take care of Charlotte until the baby arrives. The grief-stricken Charlotte is increasingly haunted by visions that intensify as she begins to doubt Ben’s family’s intentions, feeling that they are trying to control her and her unborn baby. Kindred isn’t a horror film but more a thriller, where our heroine can’t trust anyone. Is her boyfriend’s family trying to keep her under lock and key because they care about her, or are they trying to keep her under wraps in order to steal the baby from her and claim the child as their own? The film slowly brings to the screen of impending doom with her constant nightmares, a blackbird that keeps appearing when she is alone, waking up without knowing how she got there, and a domineering twice-widowed matriarch, Margaret (Fiona Shaw), who rules her family and her home with an iron hand. To further complicate matters, her dead boyfriend did not have the best relationship with his family before his death, making Charlotte distrust them even more. Added to the mix is Thomas (Jack Lowden), Margaret’s devoted stepson (from another marriage) who goes back and forth between being a servant of Margaret’s wishes and trying to be, at times, Charlotte’s friend. Kindred is a creepy and sometimes unpredictable film that will have you guessing its outcome all the way to the end.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Kindred Website     The film is currently playing in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest:   Chuck Leavell: The Tree Man (2020)   Chuck Leavell has played piano and keyboards with some of the most extraordinary acts of the last 40 years, including the Allman Brothers Band, the Black Crowes, Blues Traveler, Pink Floyd, and The Rolling Stones. For sure, Chuck Leavell has had an impressive career. The film shows him with the Allman Brothers Band, and he played the piano on the legendary track ‘Jessica’ from their Brothers and Sisters album. That would be enough, but then we learn that in 1981 he joined The Rolling Stones and not only played with them but became their Musical Director for their legendary tours. But wait, the film tells us, there is more. He’s played with Train, The Black Crowes, Blues Traveller, and not only played keyboards/piano on Eric Clapton’s iconic MTV Unplugged performance but also played with Clapton on George Harrison’s last tour. Chuck’s story is told by giving us his three loves; music, the environment (especially forestry), and his long-time marriage. All that said, the film doesn’t give us enough of the music and too much of Chuck talking. The film has some interviews with some all-time great musicians, including Mick Jagger, Clapton, and David Gilmour but other than praising Chuck’s style, we never get any interesting stories from the road, nothing about the recording sessions and the legendary songs he has played on. Ultimately Chuck Leavell: The Tree Man leaves you wanting more.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Chuck Leavell: The Tree Man Website      The film is currently playing in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services

Forgotten Film: Searching for Sugar Man (2012)   Documentary that won the Oscar in 2013, this is a fabulous film about a man who was an incredible singer long forgotten until he was re-discovered in all places, South Africa. It perfectly uses Rodriguez’s music to highlight the story with interesting interviews and an intriguing use of animation to recreate scenes in the past that builds a fantastic story and makes this a film one to be enjoyed. Searching for Sugar Man is a great film that celebrates a long-lost musician who was never appreciated in America but became an important musical figure for so many people worldwide and helped bring down a government. This is a story that will put a smile on your face, and you will fall in love with Sugar Man.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Searching for Sugar Man Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Let Him Go: Key Dyer Breakdown Artist

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Life Ahead (2020) PG-13   In a small seaside town in Italy, a Holocaust survivor (Sophia Loren) with a daycare business takes in a street kid show recently robbed her. You had me at Sophia Loren, her first acting role since 2010. Added to the mix is that this is a remake of the 1978 Best Foreign Language Film Madame Rosa.     The Life Ahead Website

Until Next Time!

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