Friday, May 28, 2021


Note to readers: I have started going to movies in the theaters, having received my two shots and passed the two-week standby period, wearing a mask at all times and following social distancing. Most of the films I am reviewing are still movies that I watched at home, but I will note in the review if I saw them in a theatre. 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: Cruella (2021) PG-13   The origin story of how a young girl named Estella (Emma Stone) became the legendary villainess Cruella, the woman who wanted a coat made up of puppies. But first, Estella must learn the ins and outs of the fashion world from the cold-hearted Baroness (Emma Thompson). I loved the interaction between Thompson’s character The Baroness and Stone’s Estella. The fashion in the film is just stunning, and the outfit Estella/Cruella wears to a big event is breathtaking (especially the kind of ‘Mockingjay’ like quick change that she does to make her big entrance. The two sidekicks, played by Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser, are a lot of fun, though they are overshadowed by an incredibly cute dog named Winks, that steals not only items for the gang but steals the movie as well. I enjoyed the film, but I have two problems: I thought the film was too long, taking its time to get to the big caper at the end as I found my seat squirming a few times in the theatre, and the soundtrack of the film, using popular songs became a distraction, as every few moments, a new song would start to accompany a scene in the movie. Overall, Cruella is an enjoyable romp, and it looks like Stone and Thompson had a blast making it.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Cruella Website  The film is currently playing in select theatres and on the Disney + Premier Access  platform.

My View: A Quiet Place Part II (2020) R   After escaping from their home, now the family (Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Noah Jupe ) must go into the outside world and soon realize that the world is far more dangerous than they ever experienced or imagined. You cannot often say that a sequel is better than the original, but I think this is one of those times. From the very start of the film, the terror doesn’t let up until the last shot. Since we already know the stakes, this film doesn’t mess around with setting things up; we just jump right into as Evelyn (Emily Blunt) has decided to go out into the world with her family to try to reach out to other survivors. The aliens are just as terrifying as they were in the first film; we get to see how it all started and now how devastated the world is a year and a half later. Millicent Simmonds, as Regan, is fantastic in the role of the headstrong daughter who is determined to do everything she can to save mankind. The action sequences are thrilling, and the tension doesn’t let up, even in the film's smaller moments. This film experience was as thrilling, scary, and so well done. If you have been waiting for the right time to get back to the theatre, this is it. I saw it in a theater, and I am so glad that I did to get the film's full impact. So go on a roller coaster ride of terror with a small family that can kick some Alien butt. You won't regret it.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   A Quiet Place Part II Website  The film is currently playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: The Human Factor (2019) PG-13  Documentary on the effort in the past 25 years that the United States has tried to negotiate peace between Israel and its neighbors. Riveting and sometimes jaw-dropping documentary about the American involvement with peace in the Middle East. The film interviews are eye-opening and frustrating in how close peace has come to this area of the world, and yet, that peace seems so far away. The film takes us on a behind-the-scenes look at the political process of negotiation and how without truth-telling and trust, nothing will be accomplished. The film offers no easy solutions, nor does it tell us what to do in the future; it only showcases what has and hasn’t been done in the past, so that maybe we won’t make the same mistakes and can somehow, someway bring peace to an area that has seen so much conflict and bloodshed. The Human Factor is a must-see for anyone who wants to understand all the factors and players in this process.    My Rating: Full Price   The Human Factor Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres.

IndiefestPlan B (2021)   After an unfortunate first sexual encounter, straight-laced high-school student Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) and her best friend, Lupe (Victoria Moroles) are on a mission; they have 24-hours to find the Plan B pill in America’s heartland. This is a funny, witty coming-of-age comedy about the trials and tribulations that go along with having sex for the first time and all the feelings that happen afterwards. The film is a little long and loses its way a few times, but overall, this film has created two real and interesting characters in the best friends who go on an adventure to find love and maybe a contraceptive. The film is bolstered by two winning performances by Kuhoo Verma and Victoria Moroles, who have great chemistry together and give us two best friends who know, no matter what, they have each other’s back. I loved how real these characters felt and how the film shows adolescent problems in a way that is both funny and respectful at the same time. So go on a trip with Sunny and Lupe to find the Plan B pill and you just might have as much fun as they do.   My Rating: Full Price  Plan B Website  The film is currently available on the Hulu platform.

Familyfaire: Blue Miracle (2021)   After a massive hurricane, a guardian (Jimmy Gonzales) of an orphanage and his kid's team up with a washed-up boat captain (Dennis Quaid) for a chance to win a lucrative fishing competition. While it follows a plotline that is pretty easy to figure out, I still enjoyed the film, as watching Dennis Quaid act up as the cranky captain was a lot of fun and brings some life to the film. The kids are ok, though no one in the cast of orphans stands out, and the message is uplifting, but it is a story we have seen time and time again. Blue Miracle not a bad film, and you will enjoy how it ends; it just doesn’t bring much more than what it is, a feel-good film for the family.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Blue Miracle Website  The film is currently available on the Netflix platform.

My View: Endangered Species (2021) R   An American family is on their dream vacation in Kenya when an attacking rhino overturns their safari van. Now the family is stranded in the vast African wilderness, and they are at the bottom of the food chain. This film is gorgeous to look at, as it was shot on location in Africa; I just wish that they had spent a little money on the script. The setup takes forever; we get it in the first ten minutes of the film that the family is falling apart, with a father being too hard on his son, the mother not knowing that the father is having trouble at work, and the daughter being a brat and not respecting her parents. The problem is that they keep hammering this dynamic all the way until the accident, and even then, it keeps coming up. The special effects are not well done, with most of the wild animals CGIed into the film looking like animals from a 80s video game. The bad guys are obvious from the start of the film, and the conclusion is almost laughable. The biggest problem with the film is that there really isn’t a likable character in the family, so you don’t want to spend too much time with them. The film's intentions, like the Eco-friendly boyfriend of the daughter, are in the right place, but like the boyfriend, they just don’t pan out.   My Rating: Cable   Endangered Species Website  The film is available for rent on participating on-demand services and will be available on Blue-Ray and DVD on June 1st.

Familyfaire: Dog Gone Trouble (2019)   Trouble is a dog living the good life when his world is turned upside down when he gets lost and must learn to survive on the streets of the big city. This is a fun animated adventure film about a pooch who goes from living in the lap of luxury, pampered at every turn, and is suddenly out in the real world, with no idea how to get home or how to survive on the tough streets. Dog Gone Trouble is a funny, bright film for kids who will love the cast of characters, including a gang of squirrels that break out in a Michael Jackson ‘Beat It’ strut at a moment’s notice and an animal tracker who has quite a resemblance to a certain ‘pet detective.’ Trouble meets a lot of dogs along the way, including Rousey, terrifically voiced by Pamela Adlon, as a street smart dog that reluctantly takes Trouble under her wing. So join up with Trouble and help him find his way back to his mansion.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Dog Gone Trouble Website   The film is available on the Netflix Platform.

Forgotten Film: Heaven & Earth (1993) R Torn from her family home during the Viet Nam War, Le Ly (Hiep Thi Le) struggles to survive in a country torn apart. Abused by both the Viet Cong and the Americans that say they are there to help her, Le Ly’s life is on a dangerous path until she meets Steve (Tommy Lee Jones), an American soldier who seems to be her knight in shining armor. Steve persuades Le Ly to marry him and come to America, where things go bad all over again. I am not a big Oliver Stone fan, but the performances in this film make it one to watch. Tommy Lee Jones is solid as the soldier who doesn’t know how to live without conflict, and Le Ly is mesmerizing as the woman who is determined to live no matter what the cost. An added bonus, there is a brilliant performance by Debbie Reynolds as a relative of Steve that puts the term Ugly American to good use.    My Rating: Full Price    Heaven and Earth Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Blue Miracle: Swing Dressers

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021) Just when Michael (Ryan Reynolds) thought his job was done, Darius’s (Samuel L.Jackson) wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), is up to no good and Michael is back trying to protect someone everyone wants dead. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one, so I am up for this one, especially with Salma Hayek in the mix.     The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, May 21, 2021

P!nk: All I Know So Far

Note to readers: I have started going to movies in the theaters, having received my two shots and passed the two-week standby period, wearing a mask at all times and following social distancing. Most of the films I am reviewing are still movies that I watched at home, but I will note in the review if I saw them in a theatre. 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: P!nk: All I Know So Far (2021)  This is a documentary that gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Pink as she balances her family life with her performing life as she prepares for her first Wembley Stadium appearance on the 2019 Beautiful Trauma tour. Fans of Pink will love this film as it gives you an inside look at life on the road for her and her family. We get to see all the hard work that it takes to put on a stadium show like Pink’s, but we also see the hard work that Pink and her husband, Carey Hart, put into raising their two young children. I loved Pink’s sense of humor and how she let us see her in very intimate moments behind the scenes. The film takes you on a travelogue of sorts as we follow Pink and her family as they go from city to city, all building up to the big Wembley Stadium shows. There is a ton of concert footage from the tour, so much so, I wish I had seen the film in a theatre so that the spectacle of Pink’s concerts could wash over me. I did want more of the concert from Wembley, as the film constantly talks about the venue. We don’t quite get enough to experience what it was like to be a part of an 80,000 packed house. Overall, this is an enjoyable film, primarily due to both the talent and the humor of Pink and the fact that she let us into her and her family's lives during a time before COVID. My Rating: Full Price     P!nk: All I Know So Far Website  Available now on the Amazon Prime platform.

Indiefest: 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. I saw this movie in a theatre at the 2021 Atlanta Film Festival and fell in love with it. This is a fun, funny, and warm movie that, while it doesn’t surprise you with its plot, it is inventive with its cast of characters. Toni Collette is marvelous as the determined Jan who comes up with the idea that this small town, down on its luck, can develop a racehorse that can succeed against the big racing corporations. What makes this film more remarkable is that it is based on a true story, and there is a beautiful scene at the end where the real people of the town mix with the cast to sing a Tom Jones song (he is Welsh, after all). Dream Horse is a film made to be seen with a crowd in a theatre because of the racing sequences, which are well done and exciting. Make a bet with your ticket, and you are guaranteed a winner at the finish line of Dream Horse.   My Rating: Full Price    Dream Horse Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest:  The Dry (2020) R    Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) is a Federal Agent who returns to his hometown after a twenty-year absence. For the last ten years, the town has suffered a horrible drought that has brought its people to a breaking point. While in town to attend a funeral for a boyhood friend, Falk reluctantly agrees to investigate an old murder mystery, one that has caused as much damage as the drought itself. The Dry is a well-done mystery that interweaves the past with the present. Aaron left town as a teenager with his dad after the mysterious death of a girl that Aaron was dating. He has come back to town to go to the funeral of his best friend from his school years. The friend, sick over the continued drought, has apparently killed his family than himself in a murder/suicide. His friend's elderly parents ask Aaron to investigate the deaths, as they are convinced that his friend would never do such a thing. There are some nice twists and turns to the story that keeps you guessing on both mysteries. Eric Bana has a pleasant screen presence that makes you want to root for him, and he has some great chemistry with Genevieve O’Reilly, who plays an old school friend with whom he starts up a relationship. The Dry slowly reveals the town's secrets, and I was guessing who did what up until near the end of the film.   My Rating: Full Price    The Dry Website   Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Final Account (2020) PG-13   The documentary follows the last living generation of German participants in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. It was a fascinating and sometimes horrifying look at how Hitler and Fascism took over a country told by the people who experienced it. The film interviews men and women who were teenagers when Hitler took over Germany, exploring how they experienced life in a country ruled by a dictator. The film uses interviews conducted over the last ten years interspersed with footage and photos from the time. A great deal of the footage appears to be home movies, some shot in color, that hits home how much the Nazi propaganda bombarded the life of an ordinary German. Some of the people in the film are horrified and ashamed by what they did during this time, but there are other people in the movie that won’t admit that they knew about the horrible things going on in concentration camps or flat out deny that the divisions of the army they belonged to were involved. There is a heartbreaking portion of the film where a former army officer confronts some young people about what went on in Germany during that time. He almost breaks down, full of grief and shame, as he argues with a young person who thinks that he has it wrong, that he shouldn’t apologize for what Germany did during that time. Final Account is a hard film to watch due to its subject matter, and some of the footage is highly disturbing, but that is the way it should be. It should be hard to look back at this time where a country lost its grip on humanity.   My Rating: Full Price   Final Account Website   Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Dead Again (1991) R   A woman (Emma Thompson) has lost her memory, and a private eye (Kenneth Branagh) is hired to try to track down her identity. The P.I. soon finds that the women may be connected to a crime committed in a past life. The plot is a little out there, and Branagh’s attempt at an American tough-guy accent is pretty bad, but the cast, including Andy Garcia, Robin Williams, and Derek Jacobi, makes this film worth watching. Plus, the chemistry between then real-life husband and wife Thompson and Branagh are off the chain good. I fell in love with Emma Thompson from this film, and that love is still there to this day. My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Dead Again Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Dry: Archival Cricket Team Photo

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Cruella (2021) PG-13   The origin story of how a young girl named Estella became the legendary villainess Cruella, the woman who wanted a coat made up of puppies. The cast includes Emma Stone as Estella/Cruella, Emmas Thompson as fashion maven The Baroness, Mark Strong as The Baroness’s valet, and Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser, as Estella/Cruella’s partners in crime. The costumes alone from the trailer make this a film you will want to see.      Cruella Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Army of the Dead

Note to readers: I have started going to movies in the theaters, having received my two shots and passed the two-week standby period, wearing a mask at all times and following social distancing. Most of the films I am reviewing are still movies that I watched at home, but I will note in the review if I saw them in a theatre. 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: Army of the Dead (2021) R   Following an outbreak of zombies in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries venture into the quarantine zone to pull off the heist to end all heists. Let me tell you upfront; this is a bloody, gory, brains flying everywhere, bodies being destroyed in every way possible type of movie. The film has possibly the bloodiest credit sequence in the history of cinema but make no mistake; I loved every minute of it. The film does a magical job of giving us background on the story's main characters, showing us how their lives were before Zombies and then how good they were at killing the Zombies once the invasion had commenced. Dave Bautista is the leader of the gang sent in to recover 200 million in cash from the vault of a Las Vegas casino. It seems to be an impossible task, but it seems that most of the gang that Bautista gathers is either bored with their post-zombie life, or they have nothing to live for after losing most of their loved ones via Zombies. The music is a blast, making some of the scenes funnier and helps give us a bit of hope from a rather bleak foregone conclusion that most of the gang isn’t going to survive. Army of the Dead is a little too long, coming in at almost two and half hours, but once the action starts, it doesn’t let up until the end, or does it?   My Rating: Full Price   Army of the Dead Website    Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021) R   A teenage murder witness (Finn Little) turns for help from a forest firefighter (Angelina Jolie) in the Montana wilderness as he is being pursued by two assassins who are determined to kill him, even if it takes burning down the whole forest to do it. This is a film that met my expectations, which weren’t very high. It’s fun to watch Jolie do a few action sequences that remind you that it used to be her genre, but the film is very weak in plot, with the few twists and turns the script does being seen a mile away. Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen play the bad guys (I think they are brothers, but it never was quite clear about that), and for professional assassins, they kind of suck at their jobs. They seem to mess up just about everything, letting the kid escape from what should have been an easy target, and the chase is on. There is a nice turn of events about halfway through the film that made the ending feel a bit better but still, this is one of those films that feels it was put together from the parts of other movies. As my first film coming back into the theatre, I wanted more of a spectacle with the forest fire, but as with much of the film, I was a bit let down by it.    My Rating; Bargain Matinee    Those Who Wish Me Dead Website   Now playing in select theatres and on the HBO Max Platform.

Indiefest: Profile (2018) R   An undercover British journalist named Amy (Valene Kane) uses the Internet to bait and hopefully expose a terrorist recruiter (Shazad Latif). Things start to get real when she begins to be sucked into the world by her recruiter and soon must decide whether she will be lured into becoming a militant extremist herself. The film is an interesting watch because it takes place all on the computer of Amy, as we see just how she creates a false identity to try to become a recruit of a terrorist. It’s a well-done premise, letting us experience Amy’s point of view from the birds-eye of the computer, as she juggles her real-life (can she pay the rent, should she move in with her boyfriend, is that dress the right one to wear out to dinner) with her fake life of a young, impressionable woman who is unhappy with her life and wants more, just the type a terrorist recruiter is looking for. The problem I had with this film is that very quickly, Amy starts making more and more unreasonable decisions. We are supposed to believe that Amy is falling for the recruiter, but the problem is Amy is not a naive, young high-school student but a seasoned freelance journalist who has a good support group of friends and a loving boyfriend. I just didn’t believe that this woman would, in just a series of days, turn from an intelligent, level-headed, careful woman to one who is willing to risk her life making horrible decisions.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Profile Website  Now playing is select theatres. 

My View: The Woman in the Window (2021) R   Anna (Amy Adams) is a woman confined to her apartment by her agoraphobia. She befriends a neighbor, Jane (Julianne Moore), who tries to help Anna overcome her fear. One night, Anna looks out her window and sees Jane being assaulted. She calls the police to report the crime, only to discover that everything she knows about her friend Jane is not true and worse, Jane could be a figment of her imagination. I love Amy Adams, but boy, she is asked to do a lot with very little. I had more fun trying to figure out all the old movies that Anna watched then working out the plot in this film. The biggest problem is that Anna fears open spaces, limiting what your main character, the hero of the story, can do. This film is being compared to Hitchcock’s Rear Window because both characters are housebound and witness a crime looking out through a window into someone else’s home. The difference (besides the superior filmmaking of Hitchcock) is that we never doubt that Jimmy Stewarts' character witnessed something terrible; wherein this film, we question if anything Anna sees is real or a figment of her imagination. The plot is razor-thin, with so many twists that it becomes a joke that something else has been added to the storyline to make us doubt Anna. The Woman in the Window is one case of murder that I really didn’t care if it got solved or not.   My Rating: Cable    The Woman in the Window Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: The Djinn (2021) R   Dylan (Ezra Dewey) is a mute boy who has just moved into an apartment with his father (Rob Brownstein). When his father leaves him alone to work the overnight shift, Dylan discovers a book that promises to give him his greatest desire. However, that wish is granted only with a price. This film is an interesting little horror film that loses steam about halfway through. The setup is well done. We know that Dylan is troubled by the loss of his mother and is forced to do what all kids dread doing, stay at home at night in a new house alone. The film has a few good ‘jump out of the dark’ scenes once Dylan decides to use the book, but the film starts dragging as Dylan is forced to battle the Djinn in the apartment. I loved the 80s feel score of the film, and Ezra Dewey is excellent as the strong-willed Dylan; I just felt that the film could have been a much better short film than trying to drag out the storyline for a feature.    My Rating; Bargain Matinee    The Djinn Website  Now playing in select theatres and is available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: The Killing of Two Lovers (2020) R   David (Clayne Crawford) is a father who is struggling to keep his large family together. He is separated from his wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi), and things get complicated when Nikki starts up a new relationship. I can’t express just how good Clayne Crawford (who I loved in the TV series Rectify) is in the part of David, so torn up about his broken marriage that he is questioning if he can let it continue. This is a film that pulls you in from the start, and you want to stay to the end to see just how it will turn out. Crawford gets everything out of every scene, when in loud, angry arguments with his wife Nikki, or just his silence when on a date gone wrong. This is a film about love and how it changes over time, as relationships and people age and learn. We see the pain and anguish in the couple's faces as they try to figure out if what they once had is worth reviving or are they just in it for the love of their children. The Killing of Two Lovers is a film that makes you understand that relationships aren’t easy, that they take work, and sometimes things are just too overwhelming to deal with.   My Rating: Full Price    The Killing of Two Lovers Website   Now playing in select theatres and is available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Forgotten Film: A Woman Under the Influence (1974)    When alone, Mabel (Gena Rowlands) and Nick (Peter Falk) have a fun and loving marriage. However, when in public or around other people, including kids, Mabel shows a different side, suggesting that Mable is dealing with a mental illness. This film was written and directed by John Cassavetes, stars his real-life wife Gena Rowlands, and was nominated for two Academy Awards. Rowlands is brilliant in the role of Mabel, a woman who has problems but so does her husband; it's just that Mabel is expected to be one way and Nick another. When Nick brings his work crew home to have dinner at 7 in the morning, he is seen as funny and spontaneous. When Mabel has trouble relating to other people or acts like a kid, she is seen as troubled. I have always felt that as good as Ellen Burstyn was in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Rowlands was better in this film and deserved the Oscar that Burstyn won.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    A Woman Under the Influence Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Djinn:  No Fish Were Harmed in the Making of this Film

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: P!nk: All I Know So Far (2021)   Documentary that gives us a behind the scenes look at Pink as she balances her family life with her performing life as she prepares for her first Wembley Stadium appearance on the 2019 Beautiful Trauma tour. I love Pink and can’t wait to see this doc.    Pink: All I Know So Far Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Wrath of Man

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:  Wrath of Man (2021) R    A man only known as H (Jason Statham) is hired by a delivery company responsible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars around Los Angeles each week. On one such job, H’s truck gets held up at gunpoint, and H handles the robbers alone with advanced combat skills and training. There is more to H than meets the eye. Of course, there is, otherwise it wouldn’t be a Jason Statham film. First, the dialogue is horrible, and there are a few scenes meant to show us how H is a man not to be messed with that are downright laughable, but you don’t go to a Statham movie to see those. You go to see Jason Statham kick butt, and he does it quite a lot. The film can be a little confusing at times, and there is a scene that is the key to the reason H is the way he is, that we see way too many times in flashbacks, but you do get to see H kill a whole lot of bad guys. Up until the final battle, there isn’t a lot of hand-to-hand fighting that H does, which may disappoint Statham fans, as H is more a gunfighter than a fist-fighter. Still, I enjoyed Wrath of Man for what it does well, let Jason Statham be tough, menacing, and kill a whole bunch of people without breaking much of a sweat.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Wrath of Man Website   Now playing in select theaters.

My View: Here Today (2021) PG-13   A veteran comedy writer working on a TV show with a group of writers 50 years younger than he is, Charlie (Billy Crystal) meets New York street singer Emma (Tiffany Haddish), and they form an unlikely friendship. My first problem with the film, like many films before it that try to show the world of comedy, is that the skits that the writers come up with just are not funny, not even close. Charlie has a problem; he is at the start of oncoming dementia. In walks Emma, who he meets a lunch where she has an allergic reaction to something she eats. This is meant to be funny and cute but comes off so heavy-handed that it is painful to watch. Emma becomes friends with Charlie, and the film starts to fall apart when Emma gives up a promising career to take care of Charlie. The film feels too much like Billy Crystal, who directed and co-wrote the film, is patting himself on the back all the time. Emma doesn’t know anything about Charlie initially, but he is quick to tell her about all the famous people he has worked with and shows off all the awards he has won. Haddish tries to save the film, especially when she gets to sing a few numbers, showing off that charisma and talent that we love her for, but Here Today tries way too hard to tug on the heartstrings and the ending is just too sappy to endure.    My Rating: Cable   Here Today Website    Now playing in select theaters.

Indiefest: The Truffle Hunters (2020) PG-13   Documentary about a handful of men in Italy, all between seventy and eighty, that use dogs to hunt the rare and expensive white Alba truffle. This is a sweet and, at times, hilarious film about a group of complex, eccentric characters who love the hunt of finding truffles almost as much as they love the dogs that find the buried treasure. These are men who are a dying breed, who have honor and would rather die than give up where they find their precious bounty. The cinematography is breathtaking, and you haven’t lived until you go on a truffle hunt from the perspective of the truffle sniffing dog. The film at times feels as if you are back in time, with men who would be at home in the 1800s until things like money and greed rear their ugly heads to tell you that you are in the modern world. It’s an occupation that we knew little about where the prize is a delicacy that most of us will never experience, but for a while, we can experience the joy that a dog has in finding that treasure.   My Rating: Full Price    The Truffle Hunters Website     Now playing in select theaters.

Indiefest: Undergods (2020)   In a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, K (Johann Myers) and Z (Géza Röhrig) roam the streets on the lookout for corpses and something even more valuable — fresh meat. This is a collection of loosely connected tales of a world where things have gotten really bad. A world that is permanently grey, with lives full of sadness and doom, where one false move could get you killed. Where greed and capitalism has taken over everyone's lives, and there seems no hope. I really enjoyed escaping into this world of despair, though I wouldn’t want to stay there. The stories the film tells were all different, but they all had that feeling that things wouldn’t turn out well. Some of the stories told have endings, and others just end, which seems to be a way of life in the Undergods film world.    My Rating: Full Price    Undergods Info   Now playing in select theaters and is available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Queen Marie (2019)   Devastated by the First World War and with a country divided into political controversy, Romania’s only hope is if its Queen (Roxana Lupu) can persuade the world to recognize its unification at the 1919 peace talks. It's hard to make a biopic about a subject where most of the action took place in a meeting room where men make speeches to each other. The storyline is filled with exposition to tell us just what the stakes are and how rare it was that a woman would be sent on such a critical diplomatic mission. The problem with the film is that it takes forever to get to the Paris Peace talks, with lots of speeches given about what will or could happen, and then the final result is so anticlimactic that you wonder if it was worth it. Queen Marie is a dull, slow ride down, a piece of history that is incredibly important to the country of Romania but, on-screen becomes unimportant to us in the movie theatre.   My Rating: Cable   Queen Marie Website   The film is available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View: Monster (2020)    Steve (Kelvin Harrison, Jr. ) is a brilliant, well-liked film student from Harlem attending an elite high school when he is charged with felony murder. Now Steve is in the battle for his life that, if he loses, could leave him spending the rest of his life in prison. Steve is a high-school student whose favorite movie is Dead Presidents and knows the locations of every movie filmed in New York City. Steve dreams of making movies, and his fate is changed when he meets and befriends a local dealer (ASAP Rocky). Steve has a good life; his parents (Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson) have given him a loving, stable family home, and he goes to a prestigious high school. But Steve, wanting to experience life on the streets, falls into a friendship with the dealer, and because of that, he becomes a suspect in a murder of a shopkeeper. Kelvin Harrison Jr. gives a strong, poignant performance that can’t quite overcome a script that takes too long to develop and at times feels like an episode of a generic lawyer show on TV. The film gets a little too caught up in Steve’s obsession with filmmaking, making the narrative like it was part of a script Steve has written, filled with shots of Steve always looking through the lens of his camera. Monster is a story about a young man who is being tried by the system before he even gets into the courtroom but gets lost in its storytelling technique and can’t find its way back in what could have been a powerful film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Monster Website  The film is currently available on the Netflix platform.

Forgotten Film: Candleshoe (1977) G   Candleshoe is a once-stately English manor that has seen better days. It’s the home of Lady St. Edmund (Helen Hayes), and with the help of her butler Priory (David Niven), is a home for orphans. Rumor has it that the manor is the resting place of a fortune in Spanish doubloons that a swashbuckling pirate hid long ago. Bundage (Leo McKern) is a con man who recruits Casey (Jodie Foster) to pose as Lady St. Edmund’s long lost granddaughter so that she can search for the location of the treasure. This is one of those live-action films that Walt Disney did a lot of in the 60s and 70s. It's not a great film, but it sure is fun watching Josie Foster work her magic on the screen, and David Niven has a blast as the butler who puts on disguises to fool Lady St. Edmund that she has a more significant staff to keep her from knowing how badly things have gotten. The film is notable for being the last feature film that legendary actress Helen Hayes was in and also that Jodie Foster turned down the role of Violet in Pretty Baby to make this film (the part then went to Brooke Shields).  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Candleshoe Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Wrath of Man: Balloon Electricians

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Finding You (2021) PG   Finley (Rose Reid), an aspiring violinist, is spending a college semester abroad in a small coastal village in Ireland. There she meets Beckett (Jedidiah Goodacre), a famous young movie star, in town to shoot a movie. Beckett takes the uptight Finley on an adventurous reawakening, and a romance blooms. Unfortunately, life and stardom get in the way. Hey, a romantic film set in Ireland? I’m in!      Finding You Website

Until Next Time!