Friday, April 30, 2021

Tom Clancy's Without Remorse

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:  Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021) R   After a mission that went wrong, Navy SEAL John Clark (Michael B. Jordan) is attacked in his home, and his wife is murdered. Realizing that he and his fellow SEAL team are being targeted, he goes on a mission to pursue the assassins at all cost. I had high hopes for this film because it’s Michael B. Jordan, and yes, he does some serious ass-kicking and looks good doing it, but man, is he let down by a script that could have been a reject from a straight to video Stallone film of the 90s. There is a ton of gunfights and hand-to-hand combat, so action film fans will be somewhat happy. The problem is that the plot is hard to understand, something about the Russians wanting to start a war with the US, or just make us look bad, or the CIA is bad, or heck if I know. I know that this character is a favorite of Tom Clancy fans, but we never quite get a feel of why that is with this film. Also, it reminded me of those Stallone films, where Sly would get hurt, be on death’s door, and then in ten minutes be back to super-soldier like nothing had ever happened. Michael, do us all a favor and go back to the Creed movies or maybe some other superhero, just not this one.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Without Remorse Website  The film is available on the Amazon Prime platform.

Indiefest: Limbo   (2020) R   Omar (Amir El-Masry) is a promising young musician who has fled Syria and is looking for asylum. He is located to a remote Scottish Island to wait with some fellow refugees, all awaiting their fate for their asylum request. I enjoyed this strange, funny, but also dark little film about a bunch of refugees stuck together on an island in a country that doesn’t know what to do with them. The film starts with Omar landing in this tiny, remote town and being thrown into a living situation with a cast of oddball characters. This is a small, slow-moving film about Omar and his experience as a refugee, far from home, guilty about leaving his family and dealing with the depressing existence of being a man without a country and having the prospect of being sent back hanging over his head like a death sentence. El-Masry gives a beautiful and moving performance of Omar, a man who doesn’t like showing his emotions on the outside but inside, we know that he is hurting, mostly because he doesn’t even touch his musical instrument, other than to carry it around everywhere in its case. Sometimes funny, as with a great sequence where two instructors show how to treat a woman through dance, and sometimes incredibly sad, as when Omar talks to his mother on the phone, this film will pull you through the emotional ringer. Limbo is a loving and touching look at the refugee situation that is happening throughout the world as seen through the eyes of people just looking for a better life, one filled with hope, love, and freedom.    My Rating: Full Price    Limbo Website    The film is currently playing in select theatres.

My View: Things Heard & Seen (2021)   A couple, Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) and George (James Norton), moves from Manhattan to a historic home in the Hudson Valley. Jane soon learns that not only does her new home have a sinister past, but her husband also may not be the nice guy she thought he was. The film never delivers the scares that it needs to make this horror film work. The plot is pretty easy to see where it’s going; it's laid out for you in the first thirty minutes as Catherine finds clues to the mysterious and possibly murderous past that the house they live in has. I kept flashing back to Rosemary’s Baby, because like the husband in that film, George is hiding something from his wife, and it’s more than just what happened to the former inhabitants of the house. Most of the scares are the ‘jump out of the dark’ kind, and the film does try to throw you off the path a few times, but by then, you have the plot already figured out. Catherine comes off as being pretty stupid about her husband (hint, he’s not all that great of a guy), and the ending is incredibly frustrating. Thing Heard & Seen is an attempt at a gothic horror story that just never delivers.    My Rating: Cable    Things Heard & Seen Website  The film is available on the Netflix platform.

Familyfaire: The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021) PG   The Mitchells are a quirky, weird, and, yes, slightly dysfunctional family whose road trip is suddenly upended by a robot invasion that is about to overtake the world. Can the Mitchells ever get it together enough to save the world? Oh, how we need this film and what a joy to watch as the film literally blows up on screen in front of you. I wish I could have seen this film in a theatre because I am sure I missed some things, as it is so full of jokes and visual pranks that you can’t see them all in one viewing. The hero of the story is Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson), a young filmmaker who hasn’t always fit in with her fellow classmates but is hopeful and excited about going off to college. In one last attempt to reconnect with his daughter, her father decides that the family is going to drive across the country to take Katie to college, something that Katie does not want to happen. Unfortunately, they pick a time when the world is being taken over by robots who are unleashed upon the world by an unknowing Steve Jobs-like tech guru (voiced by Eric Andre). The film uses Katie’s filmmaking experiences to add to the fun, and I don’t want to let too much out of the bag, but let’s just say that those films are incredibly funny. This is an excellent film for both young kids (who will enjoy the colorful animation and the fast-moving action) and adults, who will understand that the parents want what is best for their kids and for them to be happy. Film lovers will go nuts over the visuals and the inside jokes as the film uses Katie’s knowledge of film to make fun of everything from Zombie films to the latest Indie hits. And I haven’t even mentioned that Olivia Coleman does the voice of the leader of the robot insurrection. Why does she start it? Well, you will just have to go on a little road trip with the Mitchells to find out.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    The Mitchells vs. the Machines Website  The film is available on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: The Outside Story (2020)   Charles (Brian Tyree Henry) is having a bad day. After breaking up with his girlfriend, he has decided to live a solitary life by staying inside his apartment. His plan has been working until one day, he locks himself out and must now interact with the outside world and his neighbors. Before the pandemic, there were people that chose to stay inside their apartments and not deal with the world. Charles is one of those guys, a video editor, who likes the fact that he doesn’t know his neighbors, can get food delivered to his door, and can work from home as a video editor. One day, Charles gets locked out of his apartment and is what he considers hell; he is outside and has to deal with people. This is a small film that uses the talents and like-ability of Brian Tyree Henry to make this film work. Charles is a good guy at heart, and he deals with the people of his neighborhood with a wiliness to help people out, even when it seems that he will never get back into his place. Charles becomes the glue that makes the neighborhood function on this day, and he soon realizes what he has been missing by being stuck inside. The Outside Story isn’t a perfect film (there is a sequence where Charles is mistaken for a burglar that becomes very uncomfortable because of recent events with the police). Still, Brian Tyree Henry is so lovable, and the characters in the film are so broad and fun that we can just enjoy our time out on the street with Charles and his new found friends.    My Rating: Full Price    The Outside Story Website  The film is  available for rent on participating on-demand services. 

My View: Four Good Days (2020) R   Molly (Mila Kunis), a long-time drug addict, has to stay clean for four days before she can enter a life-saving drug program. She asks her mother (Glenn Close) to help her work through those four crucial days of recovery from substance abuse and the scars they have created, both emotionally and physically. This is one of those films that if you are a fan of Close or Kunis, you might have an ok time with this film, but if you are hoping for something other than seeing the two work together on the screen, you can just skip this film. The plot, based on a true story, isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. A mother who wants to believe this time is when her daughter will go clean and a daughter who is so strung out that she will do anything to appear willing to go through with it. I thought that did a good job of giving us an inside look at the torturous relationship of an addict and her mother, but when the film goes outside the house, it feels a bit of manipulation to get our hopes up before possibly dashing them. This film has its heart in the right place but can’t quite figure out how to end the movie, making it feel a little hollow in the attempt.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Four Good Days Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Wet Season (2019)   Ling (Yann Yann Yeo) is a teacher who is in an unhappy marriage where they have become even further apart, brought on by their fruitless attempts at becoming pregnant. Ling becomes slowly drawn towards a promising student (Koh Jia Ler), who his parents have seemingly abandoned. Anytime I hear or read about another teacher/student romance, I wonder just how did that happen. Wet Season attempts to show us just how and why this might happen as two lonely people, who have been abandoned by their loved ones, might turn to each other for kindness and solace. The film shows us slowly just how these two people are drawn to each other, and the film does a masterful job of building up the relationship between the two in small stages. We see how alone the teacher feels as she struggles to get pregnant while being ignored by her husband. The film doesn’t over-romanticize the relationship, and I give points to the movie for doing that. Wet Season is a slow slide down in a relationship that we see coming and dread that it is going to happen. It doesn’t matter the teacher, along with us, knows that the union is doomed before it starts. I found the ending a little disturbing and abrubt but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the film.    My Rating: Full Price      Wet Season Website    The film is currently playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Music Within (2007) R   Richard (Ron Livingston) comes back from the Vietnam War deafened and discovers that the government is not going to help him find or train for a job. He meets Art (Michael Sheen), a wheelchair-bound man with cerebral palsy, and they instantly hit it off, becoming fast friends. Richard meets other people in the disabled community and realizes that the government isn’t doing enough, and he becomes a disability rights activist. The film has a few flaws, mostly due to making Richard the sole reason the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act passed (watch the incredible documentary Crip Camp to get more on this subject) but what I love about this film is the friendship that Richard and Art have. Their friendship is a joy to watch, making this film enjoyable that you can forgive its flaws.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Music Within Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse: Webbing Master

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Dream Horse (2020) PG   Jan (Toni Collette) lives in a small Welsh town, working two jobs, dreaming of doing something different. She decides to breed a racehorse and get her neighbors to chip in, raise the horse and race it. Against all the odds, this small band of neighbors take a horse called Dream and try to make it to the big race. The film also stars Damian Lewis (Homeland, Billions) and is based on a true story. Hey, Toni Collette and horse racing, what more do you want in a movie?    Dream Horse Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, April 23, 2021

Mike's Fearless Oscar Picks

As with past years I am picking who I think will win, not who I want to win.  I will also give you a possible winner if I feel that the category isn’t a lock.  Actual winners highlighted in green.

Best Picture Nomadland

Best Achievement in DirectingChloé Zhao - Nomadland

Best Actor:  Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom   Could win Anthony Hopkins - The Father

Best Actress:  Viola Davis - Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom    Could win Frances McDormand - Nomadland

Best Supporting ActorDaniel Kaluuya - Judas and the Black Messiah    Could win:  Sacha Baron Cohen - The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Supporting ActressYuh-Jung Youn - Minari   Could win:  Olivia Coleman - The Father

Best Original ScreenplayPromising Young Woman - Emerald Fennell    Could win:  Aaron Sorkin - The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Father - Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller

  Could winNomadland - Chloé Zhao 

Best Animated Feature Soul    Could winWolfwalkers

Best Production Design:   Mank - Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale

Best CinematographyNomadland - Joshua James Richards   Could win Mank - Erik Messerschmidt

Best Costume DesignMa Rainey’s Black Bottom - Ann Roth   Could Win: Mank - Trish Summerville

Best Film Editing:   Sound of Metal - Mikkell E. G. Nielsen

Best Makeup and HairMa Rainey’s Black Bottom – Mia Neal, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Jamika Wilson

Best Sound Sound of Metal – Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés, Phillip Bladh    Could winSoul – Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker

Best Visual EffectsTenet – Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley, Santiago Colomo Martinez

Best Original ScoreSoul – Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Best Original Song:  Speak Now from One Night in Miami – Leslie Odom Jr., Sam Ashworth  Could win:  Húsavík from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga - Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson  (Fight For You - Judas and the Black Messiah)

Best Documentary Feature My Octopus Teacher  Could winCollective

Best International FeatureAnother Round    Could winQuo Vadis, Aida 

Best Live Action Short Two Distant Strangers   Could winFeeling Through

Best Animated ShortIf Anything Happens I Love You   Could winOpera

Best Documentary Short A Concerto Is a Conversation   Could win: Colette

Mortal Kombat

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

My View: Mortal Kombat (2021) R   MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) goes on a quest to find the Earth’s greatest champions in order to stand against the enemies of the Outworld to battle over who will control the universe. Short on plot and filled with plenty of blood and gore, the film is one long video game. I never played, but I watched my friends spend hours after hours on this game to be familiar with the characters that I knew who had what kind of fighting style and power. The film is not for young kids as the death scenes are over-the-top brutal, and there is a lot of cussing. The fight sequences are fun to watch, but this film is way too long at almost 2 hours in length. I enjoyed some of the banter between the fighters, especially Josh Lawson, who plays the rough and tumble Kane and Jessica McNamee has some flair as one of the heroes, Sonya Blade, making her scenes fun to watch. Lewis Tan plays the main hero of the story, and though he lacks some acting skills, he does pull off the fighting sequences with flash and skill. The dialogue is cheesy, especially when the bad guys show up, and the storyline is pretty simplistic, but you came for the spurting blood, the gnarly deaths, and lots and lots of fighting, and that’s what you get with this film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Mortal Kombat Website  The film is currently playing in select theatres and on the HBO Max Format.

Indiefest: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (2021) PG   Documentary on the creators, artists, writers, and educators who started one of the most influential children’s program in the history of television. It is just a wonderful documentary on how a group of educators, TV people, and some puppeteers changed the world of television for children and their parents. The film has excellent interviews from both the past and the present that helps tell this fantastic story. Is it nostalgic? You bet it is, but I thought I knew a lot about Sesame Street and the Muppets, and yet, I found that this film kept bringing up new information about the show that I had never known. There is a ton of behind-the-scenes footage, including a hilarious bit of outtakes when the puppeteers go way off-script. The film gives you great insight into the making of the show, both creatively and technically, and lovingly lets us go back in time when people like Jim Henson was making the world a brighter and better place. We should all spend a little time on that magical place called Sesame Street.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     Street Gang Website  The film is currently playing in select theatres including in Atlanta at the Landmark Midtown Art

Indiefest:  Tu Me Manques  (2019)   Following the death of his son, Jorge travels from Bolivia to New York City to confront Sebastian, his son’s boyfriend. While Jorge works to accept the death of his son, Sebastian decides to channel his grief into a play to honor the love that he shared with his boyfriend. This is a wonderful but, at times, strange film about two things; a father going on a journey to try to understand who his son was and why he ended his life and a former lover of the son who wants to put on a play in Bolivia about his lover to explore what it means to be a gay man in a world that doesn’t accept you or your lifestyle. One thing to fully understand about this film is that the play, also called Tu Me Manques, was a massive hit in Bolivia and was groundbreaking in getting a conversation going about homophobia in that country. The film, at times, feels a little overbearing with some of the tricks that it employs; going back and forth in time, using different actors to portray the same characters, and the meshing of the play and real-life together, all of which can be a little confusing. The film, though, with these tricks, makes the film's message of acceptance, understanding, and that all people deserve to find love so meaningful and emotional.   My Rating: Full Price    Tu Me Mangues Info  The film is currently playing in select theatres.

Indiefest:  Together Together (2021) R Matt (Ed Helms) is a man in his forties who is alone but wants to have a baby. Anna (Patti Harrison) is in her twenties and decides to become the gestational surrogate for Matt. Now two strangers have to come together to challenge their perceptions of boundaries, connections, and love. This is a sweet and lovely film about two people who are alone and fine with that, no matter what everyone around them thinks and says about it. What I loved about this film is we start off with the interview between Matt and Anna, so we slowly find about them through their discovery of each other. This film has a lot to say, mainly in a funny, smart and kind way, about gender roles and how we see single parents, especially ones that choose to take on that role. As you can imagine, Ed Helms is simply superb in the role of Matt, a man who wants to become a father, deciding that he is ready for the challenge. Matt is a man with a good heart and, yes, a little goofy (calling the TV show Friends ‘the godfather of sitcoms’ tells you a lot about the man). Patti Harrison is perfect as the independent woman who slowly warms up to Matt but has to figure out just what role she plays in the relationship as the surrogate. Harrison plays Anna as a woman who has a sly sense of humor and is cautious on how much she shares about herself with others.  Together Together is a fun, witty look at a couple of people who get together to have a baby and maybe, just maybe, make a friend along the way.   My Rating: Full Price    Together Together Website  The film is currently playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Gambit (1966) A con man/cat burglar (Michael Caine) involves a dancer (Shirley MacLaine) in a plot to pull off the perfect heist, but then everything goes wrong. I can’t give too much of the plot away because there is a massive twist at almost the beginning of the film, but this is a fun caper film with a great sense of humor. Add in Michael Caine at the start of his career and MacLaine as the perfect companion for Caine’s character, and you have a movie that is a blast to watch. The film was nominated for 3 Oscars but didn’t win anything that year. Don’t fall for watching the much, much less fun 2012 remake with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz.   My Rating: Full Price   Gambit Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Tu Me Manques: Barber/Groomer

Where Have I Seen You Before?: Matt Robinson was the original Gordon on Sesame Street. He is the father to actress Holly Robinson Peete (21 Jump Street, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper).

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Here Today  (2021) PG-13  A veteran comedy writer, Charlie (Billy Crystal), meets New York street singer Emma (Tiffany Haddish), and they form an unlikely friendship. Billy Crystal directed the film and co-wrote the film with legendary comedy writer Alan Zweibel. If that wasn’t enough to see it, the cast includes Sharon Stone, Kevin Kline, and Barry Levinson.      Here Today Info

Until Next Time!


Friday, April 16, 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.

My View: Monday (2020) R   Mickey (Sebastian Stan) and Chloe (Denise Gough), two Americans on vacation in Greece, meet by chance and have a great weekend together. When it's time to go back to her boring world, Chloe decides to give up her job back home and find out if this passion for Mickey can turn into something real and lasting. This is a film that begins light and fun, as many romances do, especially ones that start as one extended, sex-filled date. Like romances that start fast and quick, reality soon makes itself known in the relationship, as the two lovers discover more about each other. We learn that Mickey has a son from a messy relationship and that Chloe is hiding a secret on why she wanted to leave Greece. I enjoyed the first half of the film, but the second half drags a bit as problems start developing in the relationship, some of which are major, some seem very minor, but all are seen by the two characters as almost deal-breakers, as we have two characters that are just not meant to be in a long-term relationship with each other. I found that I had very little interest in Mickey and Chloe staying with each other because the film never makes it evident that they should be together. Yes, life is messy, and relationships are complicated, but sometimes it is a better result if both parties figure out they shouldn’t be together and cut their losses. Unfortunately, the film never quite figures this out, and we are left as Monday ends with the couple continuing their downward slide on their own. My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Monday Website   Now playing in select theatres. 

My View: Vanquish (2021) R   Victoria (Ruby Rose) is a former drug courier for the Russians known for doing anything to get the job done. When retired cop Damon (Morgan Freeman) kidnaps Victoria’s daughter, she must go on five courier jobs, or her daughter will be killed. You know you are in trouble with a film when the filmmaker takes the point of view of a rat, not just for a quick glance but for multiple shots while the dialogue is trying to set up the storyline. Speaking of storyline, there is a scene near the beginning of the movie where Damon (Morgan Freeman) is in a church confessing his sins to a priest. I have not a clue what Damon tells the priest or why, but we get it; Damon is a dirty cop. The action sequences are horrible, and the car chase scenes are so dull I thought I was watching a traffic cam from a local highway. There are some genuinely mind-numbing scenes where Victoria is on her way to do another pick-up, and we see flashbacks to scenes we just saw a minute ago, along with a closeup of her daughter crying out for her mother. The ending is predictable from almost the beginning of the movie and has one of the worst special effects I’ve ever seen in a film or TV show. I kept flashing back to when I was younger and would go into a video store and rent a straight-to-video movie with some action star whom I barely knew; only those films had some fight sequences that I wanted to watch…this one, not so much.     My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again    Vanquish Website   Now playing in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services on April 20th.

Indiefest: Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts   (2020)   Bill Traylor was born into slavery on a cotton plantation in rural Alabama. After the Civil War, he worked as a sharecropper, then moved to Montgomery, where he did odd jobs until in his 80s, he started drawing and painting. This documentary looks at the man and the remarkable drawings and paintings Bill did between 1939 to 1942 that took on the art world and shook it to its core, with Traylor being recognized as one of America’s greatest self-taught artists. This is such an interesting film about a man I knew very little about other than he was some sort of folk artist. Traylor did most of his art in the last decade of his life and mainly used scrap pieces of cardboard that he found on the street. The film uses a mix of interviews with art historians, relatives, and people who knew Bill, along with actors reciting works by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston and a performance by tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith to illustrate Bill Traylor’s life and work. Bill was a fantastic artist, capturing his past life on the farm and his life living on Montgomery's streets, with drawings that seem almost to move because they are filled with his energy and life. I am so happy that I got to experience Bill Traylor’s art and come to understand what was behind those beautiful, brilliant pictures.    My Rating: Full Price     Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts Website    Available for rent on virtual cinema through Kino Marquee  which benefits local theatres. 

Indiefest: In the Earth (2021) R   The world is in ruins as a dangerous virus is plaguing the world. A scientist, Martin (Joel Fry), and a park scout, Alma (Ellora Torchia), venture deep into the forest for a routine equipment run. Their journey soon becomes a terrifying trip through the unknown as the forest comes to life around them. This is one of those films that I wished I had seen at a film festival (preferably at a midnight showing) with a big crowd wanting to be scared. The film needs that energy from the crowd to create creepiness and ramp up the scares. Watching this at home, I know I didn’t have the same experience. I enjoyed that Alma is the stronger of the two, the leader, and Martin is a weak, meek follower who is way out of his element. The first two-thirds of the film are creepy as hell, as we get introduced to just how dangerous and mysterious the forest is. The film tries to build toward an ending that it doesn’t quite pull off. For all the fun and scares of the first portion of the film, the end feels lackluster as it becomes slowed down by its attempt to create a mythology about the forest and then justify that mythology as truth. For such a promising start of a film, the ending becomes a confusing and unsatisfying conclusion that makes you feel that the film could have been much more.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     In the Earth Website     Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: melvin goes to dinner (2003) R Melvin (Michael Blieden) makes dinner plans to meet an old friend, Joey (Matt Price), who then invites an old friend, Alex (Stephanie Courtney), to come along. Alex runs into a friend of hers, Sarah (Annabelle Gurwitch), and invites her to the dinner. The four then over a lot of wine, discuss everything from death to dating to sex, all while waiting for their menus. Directed by Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul), this funny and charming film is like you are allowed to tag along and be at a table with four strange and hilarious people. The dialogue is real and witty, the camera work makes you a part of the dinner, and the stories they tell will have you laughing out loud. melvin goes to dinner is a film that deserved a bigger audience when it was released, winning a bunch of awards on the film festival circuit but never made it on the map. Grab a glass, or maybe a whole bottle of wine, and have fun with four people discussing life. Be sure to watch for all the soon-to-be well-known actors playing bit parts in the film like Jack Black, David Cross, and Jenna Fisher.    My Rating: Full Price    melvin goes to dinner info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Vanquish: Hair for Morgan Freeman

Where Have I Seen You Before?: Ellora Torchia, who plays Alma in In the Earth, was in the 2019 Indie hit Midsommar in the role of Connie.

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Eat Wheaties! (2021) Sid lives an under-the-radar life when it begins to unravel after he claims that he was friends with actress Elizabeth Banks in college. This looks like so much fun, and the cast includes Alan Tudyk, Sarah Chalke, Robbie Amell, Elisha Cuthbert, Paul Walter Hauser, Danielle Brooks, and David Walton.     Eat Wheaties! Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, April 9, 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

My View: Voyagers   (2021) PG-13    The future of mankind is at stake when a group of young men and women, bred for intelligence and obedience, are sent into space to colonize a distant planet. Christopher (Tye Sheridan), Sela (Lily-Rose Depp), and Zac (Fionn Whitehead) discover that the mission has a secret; that they are being drugged to make them comply with the mission. The three decide to defy their training and explore their most primitive natures, something that may lead them into chaos. Voyagers is one of those movies that had a lot of promise and is well made, but just never jells, never finds its footing and therefore becomes a very predictable and slow-moving film that feels like a rip-off of every ‘Lord of the Flies’ film made before it. The film never builds the tension that it needs, and some of the scenes feel forced. Due to the effects of the drug they are taking, it takes a long time to understand each character and what they are made of. When the drug wears off, the effect is too quick, too sudden, and we are suddenly asked to take sides when we don’t really know who to root for. I came away from watching this film feeling as if I didn’t care if they survived or not.    My Rating: Cable    Voyagers Website    Now playing in select theatres.

My View: Thunder Force (2021) PG-13   In a world where super-criminals are taking over, two former best friends, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) and Emily (Octavia Spencer), reunite after one of them devises a treatment that gives ordinary people superpowers. With Lydia’s super strength and Emily’s invisibility, the two take on the villains threatening their city. Where to start with this mess of a film? The film wastes the talents of McCarthy and Spencer, putting them awkwardly into unfunny situation after unfunny situation. This is one of those films that loves to keep going back to a one-note joke until it has taken that joke and broken it into pieces. There is a running gag (no pun intended) where because of the superpower treatment, McCarthy only enjoys eating raw chicken, and the film keeps bring this up, time and time again, without a laugh anywhere to help. There is a dance sequence that I have no clue why it’s in there and what it was trying to accomplish, other than to make the film stop entirely for two minutes. The film feels much longer than its hour and forty-five-minute length, with a script that lacks any sense of humor or creativity. If you watch this film, and I’m sorry if you do, please explain to me what Jason Bateman’s characters super-power is? Nah, don’t bother, I want to forget this film as soon as I can.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Thunder Force Website    Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Moffie (2019)    In 1981, South Africa’s white minority government was in the midst of a conflict on the southern Angolan border. Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer), like all white men over the age of 16, must complete two years of compulsory military service. Not only does Nicholas have to face the horrors of war, he must also deal with the fact that he is hiding a secret, the secret of his homosexuality. Kai Luke Brummer is brilliant as the troubled Nicholas, a young man who is confronted during his stint in the army with brutality, racism, and homophobia on a constant basis. Nicholas is a man who is just trying to survive and not bring attention to himself, knowing that if he is found out, life will become even more of a hell than it already is. Nicholas is constantly being reminded that his race and way of life is being assaulted by both blacks and Communists. The world that Nicholas has entered into is full of pain, ugliness and is filled with very few people he can trust. The film constantly builds tension, even in its quieter moments, so much so that it seems that Nicholas may take the route that some of his fellow soldiers take, trying to find an escape from this horrible world with drugs and alcohol, or even worse, a permanent escape. This is a film that will stay with you long after you watch it and will have you wondering what became of Nicholas after his stint in the army.   My Rating: Full Price    Moffie Website    Now playing in select theatres and is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: The Enormity of Life (2021)   Casey's (Breckin Meyer) life is so messed up, he even fails at a suicide attempt. When he receives a substantial inheritance from a long-lost relative, he embarks on a journey with a struggling single mom, Jess (Emily Kinney), and her eccentric young daughter, Jules (Giselle Eisenberg). To say that this strange little film is quirky would be an understatement. When your lead character is someone who wants to end it all because he doesn’t enjoy life, it makes it a little hard to want Casey to get what he wants. I loved Jess and the relationship she has with her daughter. Emily Kinney playing the effervescent Jess with a lovely and captivating presence makes her character just the person that Casey needs to meet at this time of his life. Jess is someone that can see the potential in a person, no matter if that person can’t see it themselves. Giselle Eisenberg is a bundle of fun as the girl obsessed with school shoots, able to spout facts and figures about them with an almost computer-like response. Breckin Meyer is fun as Casey, a sad-sack character of a man who doesn’t quite understand why he needs to be here on the planet, until he meets Jess and Jules. I had fun going on a small adventure with Casey, Jules, and Jess, and I hope you will too.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee The Enormity of Life Website    The film is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

Forgotten Film: The Hidden (1987) R   When normal, law-abiding people suddenly become violent criminals, a cop (Michael Nouri) and an FBI agent (Kyle MacLachlan) team up to try and stop this puzzling outburst of murders and robberies. This film starts out as your ordinary crime spree movie but soon, you realize that there must be something behind all the crimes being committed. The film has a ton of twists and turns, some you won’t see coming, and the chemistry between Nouri and MacLachlan to fun to watch, with MacLachlan playing the strange acting FBI agent as only he can. The Hidden is one of those films that nobody went and saw but should have because it’s well done and very creative.    My Rating: Full Price    The Hidden Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Voyagers: Breakdown Artist

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You:  Things Heard & Seen (2021)   A couple, Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) and George (James Norton), moves from Manhattan to a historic home in the Hudson Valley. Jane soon learns that not only does her new home have a sinister past, but her husband also may not be the nice guy she thought he was. Hey, a horror film with Amanda Seyfried? I’m in!    Things Heard & Seen Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong

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: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) PG-13   Just as a squadron embarks on a mission to try to unearth clues to the Titans’ origins, a conspiracy is about to threaten the creatures that could wipe them out forever. Ok, you aren’t going to see this film for its fantastic dialogue or the brilliant acting, though Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) is a lot of fun as the Millie Bobby Brown sidekick. No, you go to this type of film to see the monster or, in this case, the kings of the monsters, Godzilla and Kong. We want to see Kong and Godzilla duke it out, this time on both land and sea. We want to see Kong with a battle axe in the middle of the earth, a lost land of wonders, screaming out his jungle roar. And we want to see a final battle sequence full of destruction and mayhem with giant bodies flying through the air. Well, you get it in this film. Is it a great film? Heck no, but is it a lot of fun? Yes, yes, it is. I think Kong comes off a little better in this film, aided by the adorable Kaylee Hottle, who plays Jai, an orphan who has been adopted by Dr. Andrews (Rebecca Hall) after Jai’s parents were killed in the Skull Island fight. Jai has a special bond with Kong, and this makes Kong far more relatable than Godzilla, who just seems pissed all the time. Yeah, there is a bad guy, played by Demián Bichir, who wants to…I have no idea; we just know he is a bad guy. The plot is tough to figure out; there are some spaceships that belong in the Star Trek franchise, not this film, and some characters that are just thrown in the movie to make it connect to the other two (I’m looking at you, Kyle Chandler). But hey, you don’t go to see this film for the imaginative plot points or the sparkling dialogue, do you? You go to see Godzilla and Kong destroy a ton of stuff and look good doing it.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Godzilla vs. Kong Website  The film is available on the HBO Max platform and in select theatres. 

Indiefest: 2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films (2021)   The collection of short films that have been nominated for the 2021 Academy Awards. The films are broken up into three categories: Animation, Live Action, and Documentary, as shown in theatres as separate film packages. 

  In the Animation Shorts selection, the two films that stand out are Burrow, a delightful tale about a bunny trying to find the perfect place for his new home, and the heart-wrenching If Anything Happens I Love You, a beautiful film about a couple in mourning over the loss of a child told threw their shadows. The Animation short film collection also has three bonus films, including an incredible production of the classic book, The Snail and the Whale with voice work from Diana Rigg, Sally Hawkins, and Rob Brydon.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See Them Again    2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films Website   Now playing in select theatres including Landmark Midtown Art in Atlanta and is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

  The Live-Action Shorts are an incredibly strong selection this year highlighted by Feeling Through, a remarkable story of a young man looking for a place to sleep and meeting a blind/deaf man who changes his outlook on life and The Letter Room, starring Oscar Isaac, about a corrections officer who becomes involved with trying to reconnect a lost love with a prisoner on death row. I also immensely enjoyed the sci-fi-themed Two Distant Strangers about a man trying to get home to his dog after a one-night stand.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See Them Again   2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films Website    Now playing in select theatres including Landmark Midtown Art in Atlanta and is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

  The Documentary Shorts selection are tougher to see in theatres this year due to their length (total run time is 136 minutes). It is also one of the weakest selections that I have seen in the last ten years in this category. I have seen far better documentary short films at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival than the French doc Colette, about a 90-year-old former resistance fighter that goes to Germany to visit the death camp her brother perished at. The two documentaries that will undoubtedly vie for the Academy Award are Hunger Ward, a crushing, heartbreaking look at hospitals treating malnourished children in war-torn Yemen, and A Concerto is a Conversation, a warm, inspiring look at the love of a grandson, award-winning composer Kris Bowers, has for his grandfather, Horace Bowers, Sr., a man who came from the depths of Jim Crow Florida to own a chain of dry cleaners in the Los Angles area. The film revolves around a concerto piece that Kris wrote for Horace that was performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films Website  Now playing in select theatres and is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: French Exit (2020) R    Frances (Michelle Pfeiffer), an aging Manhattan socialite, is used to living the good life. When she finds out that she is about to run out of money, she decides to take her son, Malcolm (Lucas Hedges), out of school and take a trip to Paris to move into a friend's apartment. The reason to see this film is Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Frances as a controlled, stylish woman on the outside, but inside, we know that she is one pissed-off woman who wants to live her life to the fullest the only way she knows how lavishly. Unfortunately, Pfeiffer’s performance can’t totally save this film from becoming somewhat of a bore. I’m not sure that the director knew what type of film she wanted to make; a comedy (there is a cat that may be the reincarnation of France’s husband) with a cast of strange characters that Frances accumulates throughout the film? A drama doubt a woman who loves her lifestyle more than her life? Or maybe a satire, commenting on the excess of the idle rich? In any case, it fails to find a footing and also a third act (one that is desperately needed). However, if you are a fan of Michele Pfeiffer, then you might enjoy watching her in her exquisite costumes go from one lovely apartment to another with little plot in between.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   French Exit Website    Now playing in select theatres.

My View: The Unholy (2020) PG-13  Alice (Cricket Brown), a young hard-of-hearing girl, begins healing the sick and impaired after a supposed visitation from the Virgin Mary. As word spreads of her ‘miracles,’ a disgraced journalist (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) heads out to investigate, hoping the story will revive his career. As he begins to uncover the story, he learns that the phenomena may not be the result of the Virgin Mary but of something sinister and evil. This is your run-of-the-mill, ordinary horror film about a demon who uses a girl to try to come to power under the disguise of the Virgin Mary. We all love Jeffery Dean Morgan, who can play in his sleep, the down on his luck, willing to fabricate a story guy but still has some goodness in him to eventually do the right thing. Unfortunately, Jeffrey never really wakes up, sleepwalking through this role as a plot weakly moves along. The scares are your normal ‘jump out of the dark’ variety with a few religious overtones thrown in. I never found the demon scary enough, and the ending seemed too easy to come about. Overall, the film never delivers on what it starts out as a promising premise, never delivering the horror that the film needs and wants.   My Rating: Cable    The Unholy Website   Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn (2021)   Behind the scenes look at a company that was worth an incredible amount of paper, almost 47 billion, and then in six weeks lost everything. Was it a great idea gone bad or just a scam with a cult-like following? This is a fascinating documentary that follows the astonishing rise and fall of a company based not on facts and figures but more on the charisma of its founder, Adam Neumann. The film uses footage of not only the many interviews that Adam did over the years but also the company's own videos that were produced to show just how great WeWork was. The idea was to create working environments where instead of everyone is stuck inside offices, everyone is out on a vast floor, with large communal spaces to encourage people to interact and possibly collaborate. The film shows how this clever idea soon became almost a cult, with the company not only offering working space but also living spaces and summer camps. The film interviews both clients and former employees of WeWork, showing how almost blindly they followed Adam, thinking that they would change the world. Unfortunately, the company was grossly overvalued, and Adam, while a master pitchman, was not a great businessman. It is astonishing how many people were fooled by Adam and his cult of personality. By the end of the film, you will wonder; would I have fallen for this too?    My Rating: Full Price  WeWork Movie Website   Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Indiefest:   Shiva Baby (2020)   Danielle (Rachel Sennott) is a floundering college student who is wrangled into going to a Jewish funeral (Shiva) with her parents (Polly Draper, Fred Melamed). There to her horror, not only does Danielle encounter her ex-girlfriend, Maya (Molly Gordon), that no one knows she was involved with, Danielle also is in the same house with all her relatives and her ‘sugar-daddy' (Danny Deferrari). Shiva Baby is a witty, funny comedy about a young woman who is kind of lost in life and must confront both her past and present lovers at the worst possible time, a Jewish funeral. Rachel Sennott is magnificent as the college student who thinks she has it all together but soon discovers that being an adult isn’t all it's cracked up to be. The film follows Danielle around in a house that at times seems too small to hold the amount of people or egos that fill it, making it a land mine at every turn Danielle takes. The film is greatly helped by a deft supporting cast, including Molly Draper, as Danielle’s mom, who is more in tuned than Danielle knows with what is going on in Danielle’s life, and Fred Melamed, who plays the clueless father. I loved the music in this film, done by Ariel Marx, which at times feels more like a horror film score than a comedy, as the wall that Danielle has constructed for herself, keep falling down as the afternoon goes on. Shiva Baby is about a good of a time that you can have at a funeral.   My Rating: Full Price     Shiva Baby Website  The film is available to rent on participating on-demand services.

My View:   Concrete Cowboy (2020) R Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) has just been kicked out of high school. His mother leaves him off on his estranged father’s doorstep in North Philadelphia. Cole discovers that his father, Harp (Idris Elba), is involved in the city’s dynamic urban cowboy subculture. The Fletcher Street Stables has existed for more than 100 years, providing an oasis for the neighborhood despite the poverty, violence, and encroaching gentrification. Cole soon learns about life, responsibility, and how to survive in a harsh world through the ‘cowboy life.’ I really enjoyed this film, and I loved that our first introduction to Idris Elba’s character Harp is when he lets Cole into his apartment, which has a horse living in it. The film does a brilliant job of giving us insight into this unknown world, where the only thing that makes sense sometimes is the bond between a human and their horse. The film's best moments are when these real cowboys are talking about life around the fire in the parking lot. It helps that you have such a wonderful actor in Elba, who makes the moments between Harp and Cole powerful and meaningful. Some of the dialogue is a little too preachy for me, but Concrete Cowboy has heart and soul that more than make up for any weakness in the script.    My Rating: Full Price   Concrete Cowboy Website    Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Forgotten Film: Sugar & Spice (2001)  PG-13   When head cheerleader Diane (Marley Shelton) is knocked up by the captain of the football team (James Marsden), things get complicated and messy. Diane comes up with a plan to make money; she and her fellow cheerleaders will rob a bank. This is a fun and funny film with some vibrant characters. The girls decide to watch bank robbing movies as research, and since Hannah (Rachel Blanchard) has strict god-fearing parents, she can only watch G-rated films, so she watches the Disney family classic, The Apple Dumpling Gang. The film’s narrator, Lisa (Marla Sokoloff), has a crush on Conan O’Brien and often fantasizes about Conan’s head on the bodies of other actors in the movies that the gang watches. I love how the gang makes it all ok by saying that they will give some of the bank robbery money to charity, like ‘buying one of those starving little kids that Sally Struthers auctions off on TV.’    My Rating: Full Price   Sugar & Spice Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Unholy: Bidding Manager

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Holler (2020)   Ruth (Jessica Barden) has gotten a way out of her small, dying Southern Ohio town; she has been accepted to college. She joins a scrap metal crew with her brother, Hank (Austin Amelio), to pay her way to college. The two work the dangerous job of the scrap metal crew during the day and then break into abandoned factories at night to steal valuable metal. Ruth soon finds that the ultimate cost of an education may be more than she bargained for, and she will have to choose between that promising future and the family she will have to leave behind. This film has done well on the film festival circuit, nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival and winning the Directors to Watch Award at the 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival.     Holler Info