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