Friday, February 26, 2021


Note to readers: I currently am not willing to risk my health (I’m 63 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: Cherry (2021) R  Cherry (Tom Holland) is an Army medic suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who becomes addicted to drugs and starts robbing banks to feed his addiction. This is an interesting pick for the Russo brothers to make after their incredible run of Marvel films (including one the best of the series Avenger: Endgame) with one it those Marvel stars, Spider-man’s own Tom Holland. This is a sometimes funny but mostly dark look at how someone who seemed to have a promising life ahead of him went into a dive down a hole of addiction and crime. Tom Holland gives a magnetic performance of Cherry, who meets the love of his life, Emily (Ciara Bravo), while in college, and their fate is tied together when the two decide to get married right before Cherry goes into the Army. Cherry comes back from war, a wrecked man, and their life together begins a downward spiral that no one would have seen back when they were in college together. Holland leaves behind the squeaky-clean Peter Parker behind and gives a gritty performance of a man who is so broken, he must escape, no matter the cost. Ciara Bravo is brilliant and moving as the woman who falls for Cherry and sticks by him, even if it means she goes down that dark rabbit hole along with Cherry. Cherry isn’t a perfect film, and I felt the ending felt a little rushed, but I look forward to what both Holland and Russo brothers can do beyond the superhero world.   My Rating: Full Price   Cherry Website    The film is currently playing in select theatres and is available on the Apple TV+ Platform on March 12th. 

My View: Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry  (2021) R We ride along as Billie and her brother Finneas are shown behind the scenes as they go from writing and recording Billie’s debut album in their parent’s home to winning six Grammy’s. I didn't know much about Billie Eilish, having only seen her perform on SNL, but I fell in love with her and her family. The film is a little long, and the first part of the film starts very slowly, as we see her and her brother write and record the songs for her debut album. It’s a fascinating look at the process, and I am sure fans of Billie are going to eat it up but having very little knowledge of her or her songs, I found this part a little slow. The second half of the film is more about Billie dealing with the rigors of touring and dealing with fame and nagging injuries, both that overwhelm her for a time. After seeing the Britney Spears doc, the best part of this film is how wonderful and supportive her family is. Besides the fact that she writes and performs with her brother, they have a loving and fun relationship that gives her a great deal of support, which makes Billie feel real and not some manufactured pop star. I loved the concert footage where we see the impact that Billie’s music makes on people, especially young women. Because of this film, I am now a fan of Billie Eilish and her music, and I think you will be too.    My Rating: Full Price    Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry Info     The film is available on the Apple TV+ Platform.

My View: Crisis (2021) R   Three stories about the opioid’s crisis: an undercover agent posing as a drug trafficker (Armie Hammer) arranges a complicated smuggling operation, an architect (Evangeline Lilly) recovering from an OxyContin addiction tries to find the truth about her son’s disappearance and his involvement with drugs and a university professor (Gary Oldman) finds out that the research he is working on is about to bring a highly addictive drug to the market. This film never quite fits all its pieces together, with Lily's storyline as the grieving mother out for revenge the weakest of the stories. Hammer is fine as the undercover agent trying to take down the source of the illegal drugs, but his storyline is hampered by his attempt to keep his sister off drugs while conducting the big hit. Oldman is given much to do as the college professor who uncovers something wrong about a new pain drug, and the film tries too hard to bring all three stores together in the end. Like its characters, Crisis is well-intentioned but never fully delivers the gut punch that it needs to make the film feel successful.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Crisis Info   The film is currently playing in select theatres and  is available to rent on participating on-demand services on March 5th. 

Indiefest: The Vigil   (2019)  PG-13   Yakov (Dave Davis) agrees to provide an overnight watch to a deceased member of his former Orthodox Jewish community. Soon after his watch starts, Yakov discovers that something in the house is very, very wrong. I really enjoy horror films that create their scares not from the j’ump out of the dark’ action but build tension by making you wonder if what you are seeing and hearing is real or just a figment of the character’s imagination. Dave Davis is perfect in the role of Yakov, a man who reluctantly takes the job of ‘shomer,' someone who watches over the dead body and reads prayers to protect the person until they can be put to rest. From the start, we realize that Yakov is a damaged individual as he is meeting in a support group. Yakov must watch the body for 5 hours, which will become to longest 5 hours in his life. The film lets us settle in and learn not only about Yakov but also about the man who he is protecting, slowly giving us information that builds the tension that comes to a thrilling conclusion.   My Rating: Full Price    The Vigil Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres and  is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

My View: The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)   The Feds target blues singer Billie Holiday (Andra Day) with a sting operation led by an undercover Federal Agent (Trevante Rhodes), with whom Billie has an affair with. Andra Day is wonderful in the role, but boy, is she let down by a script that is just downright bad. I cringed very early on at some of the dialogue, and the story never finds a hold of you the way it should. Billie Holiday was a tragic figure, done in by both the time she lived in, her demons (both past and present), and the men she kept getting involved in. Unfortunately, the film never can figure out how to present Billie’s life, and the film comes off feeling stale and unemotional. Skip this film and go listen to Billie's songs instead. You will get more information and get to know more about Billie from those songs than you will ever get from this bloated, slow, badly done film.   My Rating: Cable    The United States vs. Billie Holiday Website   Available on the Hulu platform. 

Forgotten Film: The Host   (2006)  R  Don’t confuse this film with the 2013 film of the same name starring Saoirse Ronan; this film is written and directed by three-time Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho (Parasite). After the US Army has polluted a river in Korea, a monster emerges from the depths to cause death and mayhem. When the monster takes a young girl, an ordinary family resolves to get her back at any cost. The monster is scary, the storyline is compelling and brilliantly told, and it out do’s any Godzilla film you have ever seen.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Host Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Cherry: Boot Camp Tech Advisor 

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Boogie (2021) R   Alfred ‘Boogie’ Chin (Taylor Takahashi) is a basketball star in the making in Queens, New York, who dreams of playing in the NBA. Boogie has battle prejudices while navigating high school, on-court rivals, and his parent's expectations. The film is written and directed by Eddie Huang, the man whose story is told each week on the great TV series Fresh Off the Boat.     Boogie Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, February 19, 2021


Note to readers: I currently am not willing to risk my health (I’m 63 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.

Indiefest: Nomadland (2020) R   After her company town is devastated by the economic recession, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs up her possessions in her van and sets off on the road to take a journey through the American west, living as a modern-day nomad. The first thing that stood out was the outstanding cinematography as Fern travels across America and its vast and changing landscape. Fern is a modern-day explorer, one who would rather be on the road, sleeping in her beloved van, than inside a house on a plush bed because no matter how comfortable that bed is, it’s not her home; the road is. Set in the aftereffects of the 2008 housing collapse, Fern is not alone on the road, and one of the great things about this film is the characters that she encounters and befriends. Some, she only meets once, but others keep popping up, making Fern feel a part of something big, something that she explores as the film goes along. Nomadland is a quiet movie, and McDormand, with her expressive face, gives us a moving performance from a woman who spends a great deal of her time alone. There is tension throughout the film because we, along with Fern, are very aware of how dangerous it is for anyone on a road trip by themselves, but the film seems to let us, and Fern know that help is just down the road. It’s a road that Fern will likely go down until the end.   My Rating; I Would Pay to See it Again    Nomadland Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres and is available on the Hulu Platform.

My View: I Care a Lot (2020) R   Marla (Rosamund Pike) has a nice racket going; she becomes the legal guardian of the elderly and then drains their savings as she puts them in nursing homes. Marla has just picked the wrong woman, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), to swindle. Marla is a force to be reckoned with, taking what she feels is hers, no matter who or what is in her way. Rosamund Pike is having fun playing such a fearless and ruthless role, blowing out smoke from her vape like a dragon as she bullies and plots her way to success. Marla has created a great little racket and is enjoying the spoils of her labors when she thinks she has discovered a pot of gold in old Mrs. Peterson. Little does Marla know that Mrs. Peterson has friends in powerful places, like Roman (Peter Dinklage), a man with a short temper, and the money and guns to back that temper up. I Care a Lot is a blast to watch as you wonder who is going to win this match of guts and wits between two people who are used to getting what they want, no matter who or what they run over to get it. Pike takes you down a road, with her finely cut hair and her gleaming smile, that you don’t know where it’s going, but you know there are going to be some bodies lying by that road when she is done.    My Rating: Full Price   I Care a Lot Website  The film is available on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Blithe Spirit (2020) PG-13   Charles (Dan Stevens) is a writer suffering horrible writer’s block. He decides to invite a spiritualist medium (Judi Dench) to hold a seance to get the writing juices flowing again. Unfortunately, for both Charles and his wife of five years, Ruth (Isla Fisher), the Medium brings back Charles's first wife, Elvira (Leslie Mann), and she won’t or can’t leave Charles's side, even if only he can see her. This is a remake of a classic film, and when you do that, you try to bring something fresh to the story. Unfortunately, this film brings nothing new; in fact, it takes the storyline and makes such a mess of it that I never quite could figure out who I was supposed to root for, Charles, his new wife, or the wife that died and has come back as a ghost. The problem is that by the end of the film, you don’t like any of them, and worse yet, you don’t care what happens to them. Even such a great actor as Judi Dench playing the lovesick Medium can’t save this film.    My Rating: Cable    Blithe Spirit Website  The film is currently playing in select theatres.

Familyfaire:  Flora & Ulysses  (2021)  PG   Flora (Matilda Lawler), the daughter of George (Ben Schwartz), a comic book creator, and Phyllis (Alyson Hannigan), a romance writer, is upset about her parent’s separation. When Flora rescues a squirrel from a robot lawnmower, she discovers that the squirrel, she has named Ulysses, has developed magical superpowers. Now can Ulysses help bring Flora’s parents back together before the evil animal control officer (Danny Pudi) catches Ulysses? This is a light, fun film for the family to enjoy. Ulysses is pretty darn cute, and the idea that a squirrel can be a superhero is a great plot point. The film is silly but in the right way, and Matilda Lawler is delightful as the spunky, determined young girl who is convinced that Ulysses will save the day. Sit back and enjoy the adventures of Flora and Ulysses as they save the day or, at least, save the cheese-balls.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Flora & Ulysses Info   The film is available on the Disney+ platform.

Indiefest: Test Pattern (2019)   The film follows an interracial couple (Will Brill, Brittany S. Hall) whose relationship is put to the test after being sexually assaulted, and her boyfriend drives her from hospital to hospital to get someone to administer a rape kit. This is a heartbreaking tale of whether a relationship, no matter how strong, can survive with so many obstacles are laid in their path. The film handles a bunch of subjects, including racism and how we see and treat victims of sexual assault while taking us on a frustrating and painful journey. I loved the editing of this film and its use of music and, at times, unrelenting silence to hammer into us the desperation and loneliness that the two characters experience as this journey goes on.   My Rating: Full Price    Test Pattern Website   The film is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Days of the Bagnold Summer (2019)   Daniel (Earl Cave), a heavy-metal teenager, wanted to spend his summer with his dad in Florida, but instead, he is stuck, once again in England, with his mom, Sue (Monica Doland), a mild-mannered librarian. There isn’t a lot to this film, which is fine because the two leads are so much to watch. Sue, is a single mom that loves her son but wants him to be happy like he was when he was young. Daniel is sullen and depressed, wanting to be left alone to listen to his heavy-metal music in his room. His world has come crashing down because his father, who left them when Daniel was eight, has reminded his invite for Daniel to visit him in the states. Monica Doland is magical as the dumpy but lovable mom who tries to look on the bright side of things, something so hard when you have a son who tends to look at life as one, long dark passage of time. Not a lot happens to the characters in this film, just enough for there to be an understanding in the end that no matter what happens, they have each other.    My Rating: Full Price   Days of the Bagnold Summer Info   The film is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

Forgotten Film: Alice in the Cities (1974)   From the creative mind of Wim Wenders comes a wonderful film about friendship and lost lives. Philip (Rüdiger Vogler) is a German journalist who wants to return to Germany after a failed writing stint in the US. He meets Alice (Yella Rottländer) and her mother at the airport, also looking to go back to Germany. Alice is left with Philip temporarily, but it soon becomes apparent that Philip will have to take responsibility for Alice. After returning to Europe, the two travel through European cities on a quest to find Alice’s relatives. Highlighted by incredible black-and-white cinematography and moving performances by the two leads, the film is an exploration of how a friendship can develop over time. The film is a wondrous time capsule of America and Europe's contrasts in the 70s and a road-trip film that you constantly wonder if this will end happily.    My Take: Full Price   Alice in the Cities Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Blithe Spirit: Skipper

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) PG-13 Two of the icons of monster movies are going to battle against each other; the massive, mighty Kong and the fearsome monster Godzilla. Who will win, and will the human race survive this battle?    Godzilla vs. Kong Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, February 12, 2021


Note to readers: I currently am not willing to risk my health (I’m 63 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: Land  (2021) PG-13   Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, House of Cards, Wonder Woman) makes her directorial debut about a woman, Edee (Robin Wright), who, after suffering an unfathomable event, decides to cut herself off from society and live on her own in the wildness of the Rockies. After a local hunter, Miquel (Demian Bichir), discovers Edee on the brink of death, he decides to teach her how to survive in this harsh but beautiful land. Edee must find a way to live again and put her past behind her. This is an enjoyable film about a woman who wants to escape and goes to the extreme of living by herself in an unforgiving wilderness. If you are expecting something like the Reese Witherspoon 2014 film Wild, you will be disappointed, as this is a much slower burn of a movie. Wright doesn’t let us know too much about her character; we just know that she is unhappy, misses her family, and doesn’t want to be around people. The film slowly reveals her makeup, but it’s not through talking, even when Miquel is around. The reveal is through her actions, as she develops the skills to live on her own, living off the land and immersing herself in the beauty that surrounds her. Land is a small, one character-driven story that allows us to connect with Edee as she connects with the land around her.   My Rating: Full Price   Land Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres.  

Indiefest: Minari (2020) PG-13  Jacob (Steven Yeun), with his loving wife, Monica (Yeri Han), moves his family to Arkansas to start a farm in hopes of creating their own American dream. They are soon joined by Monica’s mother, Soonja (Yuh-jung Youn), and their lives will never be the same. Minari is one of those films filled with extraordinary, small moments that make watching a movie so enjoyable and moving. We fall in love with this brave and flawed family as they work to fulfill what they think is the American Dream. The film is full of sometimes funny but often also heartbreaking moments about a family that is fighting to survive on their own against the odds. We see much of this film through the eyes of the children, who are thrown into this new world, as they watch their parents argue, struggle and react to the harsh realities of trying to succeed against the odds. Steven Yeun gives a brilliant and impactful performance of a man who is sure he is right, determined to succeed. Also outstanding is Monica’s mother, played by Yuh-jung Youn, who dominates the screen every time she is on as the headstrong but loving and funny older woman who wants the best for her daughter and grandchildren. Minari has been a staple on the best movies of the year critics lists and deservedly so. It’s a magical film about a family that you will marvel at their strength and love for each other.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Minari Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres and available to rent on participating on-demand services.  

My View: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (2021) PG-13 Mark (Kyle Allen) is living the same day over and over. He thought he was the only one who realized it when he meets Margaret (Kathryn Newton), who also knows they are reliving the same day. They decided to join forces and have fun, but soon, will they get bored with living the same day or each other? Have we seen this before where a character is stuck in a loop? Why yes, we have, and the characters bring up Groundhog Day over and over to let us know; they know we have. This is a fun romp that is a modern-day rom-com between two people who realize that they are the only ones who know that the same day is playing out every morning. Allen and Newton are perfect as the two people who decide to have fun in this crazy world, looking for ‘perfect moments’ in their town while enjoying each other company. Romance is sure to follow, but there is a reason why Margaret is fine reliving the same day over and over, and she isn’t willing to share it with Mark. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things isn’t a flawless film, but I enjoyed its mix of nerd and romance, wanting to spend more time with these two characters, hoping that they will one day find what each one is looking for.   My Rating: Full Price     The Map of Tiny Perfect Things Website   The film is available on the Amazon Prime platform.

My View: To All the Boys: Always and Forever (2021)   Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo) are seniors and dreaming about going to college together, but two long-distance trips could change their lives forever. I loved the first film of this series; the big Netflix hit To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I liked the 2nd film (To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You), but this third film sure feels like they are pushing things. The film feels much longer than the one hour and forty-nine-minute run time. The chemistry that made the first film work so well is still there, but the storyline feels very padded, especially the trip at the beginning of the film to South Korea. I am sure that young girls are still going to love this film (I noticed at one point the film made a cut just to show what shoes Lara Jean was wearing), but I just didn’t find this film as much fun to watch as the first two. I like Lara Jean and her family but let's let her go off to college on her own, we don't need another film in the series.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    To All the Boys: Always and Forever Website    The film is available on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) R   The story of the Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaiuuya), and his betrayal by FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield). This is one of those films that you know how it will end, but you keep hoping against hope throughout that it will turn out differently. Daniel Kaluuya gives us a gripping and powerful performance of Fred Hampton, a man whose charisma and speeches instilled people of all types to follow him. That very ability to turn enemies into allies made him so dangerous in the FBI's eyes and especially J. Edgar Hoover (portrayed by a heavily made-up Martin Sheen). The story is told through William O’Neal, a two-bit car thief who is wined and dinned into becoming an informant for the FBI. Through a little luck and a lot of bravado, O'Neal becomes the right-hand man of Fred Hampton, giving vital information to his handler, FBI agent Mitchell, played by the always interesting Jesse Plemons. We see that the impressionable O’Neal is talked into betrayal by Agent Mitchell, and O’Neal is happy to play his role until the stakes get too serious and messy. Judas and the Black Messiah is a forceful film that shows just how far the FBI was willing to go to take down the man they called the ‘Black Messiah.’ Like many before him, Fred Hampton was a man who pushed boundaries, and because he could move people to action, he was deemed too dangerous to be allowed to continue. Judas and the Black Messiah is a film that brings to light a story of American history that has been kept in the shadows for too long.   My Rating: Full Price    Judas and the Black Messiah Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres and the HBO Max platform.

Indiefest: The World to Come (2020) R   Along the mid-19th-century American East Coast, Abigail (Katherine Waterston) is grieving and is in a loveless marriage to Dyer (Casey Affleck). Abigail’s world is changed when Tallie (Vanessa Kirby) moves with her husband (Christopher Abbott) near their farm. Tallie bristles at the jealous control of her husband, and the two women start a friendship that leads to something much, much more substantial. It's a beautiful tale of the love between two women, who, however slowly, start a relationship that each one needed but never thought could exist. From the first scene, when Tallie and Abigail steal glances at each other across a field, we see the sparks that the two characters have for each other. That underlying passion makes this film work, as we wait for the two women to discover the love that we know is there from the start. It’s a fleeting romance that will stay with you as long as it does for the characters involved.    My Rating: Full Price   The World to Come Website     The film is currently playing in select theatres and will be available to rent on participating on-demand services Mar. 2nd.

My View: The Mauritanian (2021) R   Captured and believed to be the chief recruiter for 9/11, Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) has been in prison for years without a trial or even charges leveled against him. After losing all hope, attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Terri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) come to Slahi’s defense. They are opposed by military prosecutor Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), who eventually uncovers a shocking, far-reaching conspiracy. This film never quite delivers what it needs, feeling a bit clunky at times, about a story that needed to be told. Tahar Rahim gives us everything he can in a role that had to be hard for him to do both mentally and physically. The weak point of this film is the editing, which never allows the film to flow and makes some of the supporting characters seem very small and un-noteworthy, not what you want when you have a cast that includes Shailene Woodley (who isn’t allowed to do much more than push a few papers around and stumble in a few key scenes) and Zachary Levi. I have always loved Jodie Foster, but she isn’t given that much to do either, and when she is asked to really emote, it feels right out of the Foster bag of tricks, just nothing special. I wanted more from this film, wanted to feel the outrage and the sorrow I felt when I found out what was happening in Guantanamo, but I never got that feeling from this film. It’s like it swung for the fences and missed.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     The Mauritanian Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres. 

My View: Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021) PG-13   Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time and go on an adventure to Vista Del Mar. Oh, the trouble they will get into. I am convinced that the two stars, when writing the script, were high because the only way you will enjoy this mess of a film is also to be high. It’s a mix of a bad rip-off of spy films with a dash of a failed SNL sketch mixed in with some odd musical numbers (not enough to call it a musical). Jamie Dornan plays Edgar, the spy sent to kill everyone at the Vista Del Mar Hotel (not to be confused with the Vista Del Mar Motel, one of the fine jokes this film makes) by an evil mastermind (also played by Kristen Wiig) via poisonous mosquitoes. To show you the quality of the jokes in this film, there is a running gag of a lounge singer at the hotel, who only sings songs about ‘boobies.’ I wanted this film to stop as soon as the first musical number went on but if you must see Jamie Dornan (the Fifty Shades guy) sing and dance, then go ahead and see this film. I wish I hadn’t.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again    Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar Website   The film is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Happy Cleaners (2019)   The Choi family is losing their dry-cleaning business, and the family, especially the young adult children, struggles to find a way to survive the crisis. The film does a wonderful and moving job giving us insights into the immigrant experience, from both the perspective of the first generation that came here with hopes and dreams and the children that grew up in America, watching their parents struggle every day to make their dreams come true. The parents are trying their best to survive a challenging world, and their adult children are torn between the obligations they feel to help their parents out while wanting to branch out and make their own choices in life. Happy Cleaners is a film that shows, while there are heartbreaking moments, the love for each other will help them survive, no matter what the future brings.   My Rating: Full Price     Happy Cleaners Website    The film is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

In Celebration of My Ten-Year Anniversary of this Review Blog, Here is the First Forgotten Film I Published: My Bodyguard (1980) PG   Chris Makepeace plays a kid going to a new school, trying to fit in and gets on the wrong side with the school bully. He decides to hire a bodyguard played by Adam Baldwin, the meanest, toughest guy in the school. A friendship ensues with both learning about life and each other. A great supporting cast, including Martin Mull and Ruth Gordon, helps make this film stand out from some of the other coming of age films of the '80s.   My Rating: Full Price    My Bodyguard Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: Swing Assistants 

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Yes Day (2021) PG   Allison (Jennifer Garner) and Carlos ( Edgar Ramirez) are parents who decide to give their kids a ‘yes day’ where for 24 hours they have to say yes to everything their kids suggest they do. I don’t know about you, but I have watched a ton of serious, downer films this past year. It’s about time to just have fun with a movie, and this looks like one we all could use right now.     Yes Day Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, February 5, 2021

Little Fish

Note to readers: I currently am not willing to risk my health (I’m 63 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:  Little Fish (2020)   As a virus that causes severe memory loss runs rampant across the world, one couple (Jack O’Connell, Olivia Cooke) fights to hold onto their relationship before the disease can erase all memory of their love. I will warn you; you will need some tissues to watch this movie as it will continually pull at your heartstrings. O’Connell and Cooke make a charming couple, who we follow through flashbacks on how they met, almost instantly falling in love. The problem is that there is a virus that makes you forget, wipes away your memories. For some, it is almost in an instant; for others, it is a slow drain of those memories, but in both cases, the people you love will soon become strangers. Little Fish is a wonderful film about love and how our relationships are based on our memories, our experiences that become the building blocks of our connections to each other. The film gives us a couple that is deeply in love but is that enough to keep their memories from fading away?   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Little Fish Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres and available to rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest:  Saint Maud (2019) R   Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a devout hospice nurse who has a mysterious past and becomes obsessed with saving her dying patient’s (Jennifer Ehle) soul against her belief that sinister forces are threatening to put an end to her holy calling. The film follows Maud, a young woman who is on the verge of going down a slippery slope in madness. From the start, we have doubts about Maud, who seems to devout in her belief that God has picked her to do something great. Maud is thrown into the role as a full-time live-in nurse for a former dancer/choreographer, Amanda, who has had some sort of horrible accident and now does not have use of her legs and is slowly dying. Amanda is homebound and is a handful, drinking and smoking up a storm. Maud sees Amanda has someone she can ‘save’ and makes it her life’s work. The problem is Maud is slowly but surely being taken over by the voices inside her head. Saint Maud is a psychological horror film, and it works because Clark gives us a performance that is intense and scintillating, making Maud a character who is troubled but convinced what she is doing is God’s work.    My Rating: Full Price   Saint Maud Website  The film is currently playing in select theatres and available on Epix on Feb. 12th

Indiefest:  A Glitch in the Matrix (2021)   Documentary filmmaker Rodney Ascher asks the question, “are we living in a simulation?’, just like the film The Matrix. Sci-fi fans will get excited to see this film because one of the great writers of the genre, Philip K. Dick (his books have been the basis for movies like Blade Runner, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau), is at the core of this film, from a speech he gave about his theories on how we are living in one big simulation. The idea is that the principles that propelled the Matrix films are real; we live in one huge video game. I have enjoyed filmmaker Rodney Ascher’s films in the past, including the funny and sometimes mesmerizing film Room 237, but this film never quite got me to believe, even a little bit, in the theory. The film interviews people who think they're living in a simulation, including a horrifying interview with a young man who believed that The Matrix was real and, because of his belief that this world wasn't real, ended up murdering his parents. I got very tired of listening to the four main interviewees and their views on how our world is like the video games they have devoted their lives to.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    A Glitch in the Matrix Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres and available to rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest:  Two of Us (2019)   Nina (Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (Martine Chevallier), are two retired women who have a secret that they have been living with for decades; they are in love. To everyone else, the couple are simply neighbors who share a hallway that connects their two apartments. However, their lives are about to be turned upside down, and their long relationship will be tested when the truth comes out. This is a beautiful story about love, secrets, and how life can be so complicated that it can threaten even the strongest relationships. Nina is the long-time lover of Madeleine and is trying to get Madeleine to move away from their apartments to where they first met, Rome. The two have kept separate apartments because Madeleine’s grown children do not know of the relationship, as Madeleine is afraid of what will happen if/when she tells them the truth. This is a film about love, aging, and the secrets that we keep, some that could come back to haunt you. The two leads are marvelous in the roles, with Sukowa standing out as the fiery Nina who will not give up on her love for Madeleine, no matter how many obstacle’s life puts in her way.    My Rating: Full Price    Two of Us Website    The film is currently playing in select theatres and available to rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest:  Dara of Jasenovac (2020)   In the summer of 1942, the family of ten-year-old Dara (Biljana Čekić) was taken and placed in two Nazi-occupied Croatian fascist government-controlled concentration camps. Dara is a witness to the horrors of the camp, and after her brother and mother are killed, she tries to save the lives of others in the camp, including the life of her brother. I had a hard time watching this film, not because the violence was so brutal (which it was) but that the film seemed to enjoy showing these brutal attacks so often in the movie. Some of the movie's villains are so over the top, like the camp’s commanding officer killing inmates during a game of musical chairs while his sister has sex with her husband while watching the killings go on from the back seat of a car. We are supposed to rally around the ten-year-old girl Dara, who tries to keep her younger brother alive, but I never got connected to Dara and couldn’t get invested in her plight. The film can be summed up in the scenes that soon after a character dies at the hands of the monsters that run the camp, they symbolically show up in a snowstorm and climb onto a rail car and join others that have also been killed. The scene is supposed to be touching and meaningful but ends up being just another scene of this poorly done Holocaust movie.    My Rating: Cable    Dara of Jasenovac Info   The film is currently playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Friday Night Lights (2004) PG-13   Because of the much-loved (and rightly so) TV series of the same name, we forget that there was a movie based on the same book a few years before. And yes, Billy Bob Thornton isn’t the dreamy looking man that Kyle Chandler is, but Thornton gives a moving, brilliant performance as the coach trying to do the right thing while putting a whole town on his back trying to win a championship. Derek Luke is fantastic as the player who thinks his talent is ‘God-given,’ but when an injury gets in the way of his glory, he sees only failure in his future. It’s hard to pack this much emotional impact in a movie that is just two hours long, but director Peter Berg has managed to make this a film that, like the players on the team, stands up proud all by itself.    My Rating: Full Price    Friday Night Lights Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Little Fish: First Aid Craft Service

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) R   The fans demanded it with the hashtag “ReleaseTheSnyderCut, and now they get what they wanted. Zack Snyder has recut and, in the case of a few scenes, re-shot four years after the original release of Justice League (2017). Be sure to pack a lunch when you watch this one (in theatres and on HBO Max on March 18th) because it's four hours long.     Zack Snyder's Justice League Website

Until Next Time!