Friday, June 25, 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: F9: The Fast Saga   (2021)  PG-13  Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are living on a remote farm with Dom’s young son, happy with their life out of the spotlight, when they get a mysterious call from help from Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). Dom assembles the team back together to find out that Dom’s brother Jakob (John Cena) has broken Cipher (Charlize Theron) out of custody and has a plan to take the world hostage. Many films ago, the Fast & Furious filmmakers left the world of reality and decided to make the F&F gang superheroes who can fall 50 feet off a building and land on a car hood without a scratch. I knew we were in a Fast and Furious movie right from the start when the first scene is a stock-car race and a car comes into the pits (while the race is still going on), the driver talks to a bunch of people, a guy makes an adjustment to the car beneath the hood and the car, after several minutes have passed, goes back out on the track and gets on the lead lap. That is the kind of altered reality that the Fast films live in, and I’m ok with that. While the plot is held together by chewing gum and baling wire, and Diesel is spouting dialogue that makes you wince, you will still have a fun time seeing all the crazy, and I mean crazy, stunts that go on in this film. There are plenty of car crashes, cameos, fights, and shootouts to keep you interested. I have no clue why the bad guy has to carry out part of his plot in a giant, caterpillar-like super truck, but who cares. We just know that somehow, someway, the Fast team will defeat the bad guys and maybe, just maybe, bring back people from the dead. I saw this in the theatre, and you will too, as you want to see this on the big screen with a deafening sound system. And be sure to stay through the first part of the credits as there is a bonus scene to set up the next film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   F9 Website   Now playing in a theatre near you.

My View: False Positive  (2021)  R Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and Adrain (Justin Theroux) have it all; great jobs, a loving relationship, but one thing is missing, a baby. Having trouble conceiving, they go to Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan), who promises them they will get pregnant. The couple celebrates when Lucy gets pregnant, but as the pregnancy goes along, she suspects something is wrong and is determined to uncover the unsettling truth about their fertility doctor. I really liked the idea behind this film, wanting to be a ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ type of film for the world of in-vitro fertilization. Pierce Brosnan is perfect as the doctor who spends a little too much time preparing his instruments, giving off just enough a creepy vibe, all the while being charming and reassuring. Unfortunately, the film goes a bit off the rails in the 2nd half of the film, trying too hard to fool us into thinking either our hero, Lucy, is crazy or the rest of the world is. By the time the movie ends, you have no idea what exactly happened, and by then, you may not care.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    False Positive Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Indiefest: Werewolves Within   (2021) R   A new forest ranger, Finn (Sam Richardson), moves into a small community during the dead of winter. Finn finds that the town is full of strange and eccentric people, but things get stranger when the town loses power, all the generators break, and he discovers a dead body. I loved this film filled with quirky and nutty characters, like an episode of Northern Exposure on acid. We meet Finn on the road to a new job, listening to a program to boost his confidence while leaving a weak and sad message for his girlfriend. Finn soon discovers that the small town he has moved to has some rather strange residents, including a hunter who doesn’t seem to care who he shoots. Finn quickly becomes involved with the mail delivery person (played by the funny and talented Milana Vayntrub), and they become immersed in a mystery that may involve a werewolf. Werewolves Within is a film that plays off many horror tropes of the last few years and keeps you guessing on who or what the killer is. I had so much fun watching this film and you will too. I never played the video game that this film is based on, but I would be tempted to if it as much fun as this silly, fantastic film is.   My Rating: Full Price    Werewolves Within Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest:   Mary J. Blige’s My Life   (2021)   Grammy-winning recording artist and actress Mary J. Blige gives you an up-close and personal look at what inspired her ground-breaking 1994 LP ‘My Life’ as she celebrates the 25th anniversary of her work by performing the album live for the first time. For her fans, this may be something that you will want to watch, but I came away from this film only knowing how much Mary means to her fans and not a lot about her. This is a movie about Mary’s early life and the making of the My Life album. It’s a film about where she came from and what was her mindset when she wrote and performed the songs on the album. Sadly, we never quite get the emotional impact that we need from the film, as the concert footage is a lot of her fans in the audience singing the songs and not Mary herself. The film feels that it keeps covering the same ground, and I never felt a real connection to the movie or the artist. For such an important and groundbreaking work that the My Life album is, this film feels like a letdown. I love that her fans feel her emotion and her journey so profoundly, but the film never gets us to feel that with them.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Mary J Blige's My Life Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform.

Indiefest: Summer of 85   (2020)   Alexis (Félix Lefebvre) is a 16-year-old teen who has to soon decide to go back to school or quit and get a job. One afternoon in a seaside resort in Normandy, Alexis takes a sailboat out, and it capsizes. Alexis almost drowns but is saved by David (Benjamin Voisin), a young man from the area. They soon become friends, but that friendship gets very complicated very quickly in the summer of 1985. This is a delightful coming-of-age film about summer love, the kind that is quick, all-consuming, and burns out way too fast. The two leads have incredible chemistry right from the first meeting, where the older David takes Alexis under his wing and opens up Alexis to feelings he didn’t know he had. The story is well told in a series of flashbacks that let us see the relationship through the eyes of Alexis, as he very quickly falls for David. How ever, David has a troubled past and is far more complicated than Alexis can handle. I liked this film, but like many summer romances, once it’s over, it doesn’t stay with you.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Summer of 85 Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation  (2020)   A documentary that looks at two iconic American writers, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote, who were at times best of friends and other times the worst of enemies. Both men left their stamp on the American literary scene. Before seeing this film, I knew a lot more about Truman Capote than Tennessee Williams because I loved the book In Cold Blood, and Truman had appeared on a lot of late-night talk shows. The film does a fantastic job of going back and forth between the two men’s lives, letting the writers tell us their stories in their own words. When the film doesn’t have audio from the authors themselves, it uses actors Jim Parsons as Truman Capote’s voice and Zachary Quinto as Tennessee Williams. Both actors do an excellent job of making their voices sound very similar to each of the writers. Both writers found incredible success very early on in their careers, so much so that they were fewer successes later on; in fact, it seems Capote never quite recovered from his masterpiece of In Cold Blood. Truman & Tennessee is a well-done and insightful documentary that tells the story of two gifted writers haunted by demons that they could never entirely escape from.   My Rating: Full Price    Truman & Tennessee Website  Now playing in select theaters and available for rent on participating on-demand services.   

Forgotten Film: Summer of 42  (1971)   R  During a summer vacation on Nantucket Island, a teenager, Hermie (Gary Grimes), finds himself thinking of sex all the time. He befriends a young woman, Dorothy (Jennifer O’Neill), whose husband has gone off to fight in WWII. Hermie develops a massive crush on Dorothy and hopes that some way, someday, she will feel the same for him. This is a warm and almost innocent film about young love. Jennifer O’Neill is just mesmerizing and lovely in this film, the perfect pick for the beautiful, vivacious Dorthy, who may have married her soldier too quickly and too soon. The film treats the relationship between the two with affection. The film gets a little sappy, and there are a couple of scenes about adolescent sex that are a little cringy to look at, but overall, the film is an affectionate look at a coming of age story.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Summer of 42 Info  

Weird Credits: From the credits of F9: Crowd Mistress

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You:  Pig  (2021)  R  A famous truffle hunter, Rob (Nicolas Cage), lives alone out in the Oregonian wilderness, isolated from the world he left behind many years ago. When he is brutally attacked, and his prized truffle hunting pig is kidnapped, Rob returns to his past in Portland in search for her and the people responsible. Big Hollywood has forgotten about Nicolas Cage, but the Indie world hasn’t, and Cage has been busy making interesting and sometimes strange films these past few years, and we are all the better for it.    Pig website

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard

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:  Hitman’s Wife Bodyguard  (2021)  R   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 really liked the first film, The Hitman's Bodyguard, enjoying the banter between the two leads, and thought the action sequences were fun and thrilling. This film feels like a cash grab. The film isn’t entertaining, the dialogue, which was one of the best things about the first film, is crass and stupid. And the plot is such a mess I had a hard time figuring out what exactly was going on in the movie, other than letting Salma Hayek say some outrageous stuff and kill a lot of guys. I started looking at my watch about twenty minutes into the film, hoping that we were close to the film ending and then being crushed that I had much more to watch. I just wanted the endless car crashes, gunfights, and shouting to come to a close. If you make it to the end, and if you do, you should get a metal, there is a small, unfunny scene after the end of the first portion of credits. I saw this film in a theatre, but that didn’t make any difference to my dislike for this film and its sorry and boorish attempt at humor.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again     The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard Website  Now playing in select theatres.

FamilyfaireLuca   (2021)  PG   Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) is a sea monster who dreams of exploring the world, but his parents are worried that the humans living on the ground will hunt and kill Luca. One day Luca discovers that he can change into human form, and with help from his fellow sea monster friend Alberto (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer), Luca sets out to travel the world of the humans. What more could you want than a small Italian coastal town, plenty of pasta, good friends dreaming of a Vespa to take them on adventures? That’s what the animated joy of a film called Luca delivers. What a fun, fantastical movie to watch as we follow Luca on his journey to discover the world and the hero inside him. Kids will love the bright, colorful animation and the whimsical action sequences, and adults will fall in love with the little sea monster who is scared of the real world but finds out that the world is a whole lot less scary when you have friends to help you along. I wish Pixar/Disney did not decide to release this film only on the Disney + platform and not in the theatres because it deserves the big screen in all its glory. Regardless, you and your family will have a blast riding along with Luca on his adventures in the wide, wide world, even if it all happens in a small, cozy Italian town. And oh, by the way, there is a funny bonus scene at the end of all the credits!    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Luca Website   Now playing on the Disney + Platform.

My View: 12 Mighty Orphans  (2021)   PG-13   Set in the Great Depression, a small group of orphans are put together by a football coach (Luke Wilson) and lead them to the state championship, inspiring a tired and broken nation along the way. This is a film that feels a little too earnest for its own good. The story of the Mighty Mites is a good one as a group of orphans who, against unbelievable odds, made it all the way to the high school football championship game in the huge football-loving state of Texas during the depression, giving a community and eventually a nation a cause to back during a tough time in our history. It’s an inspiring story, but the film hits us over the head at every chance it has to make this point. Its villain, a man who runs the school's work program printing press, played by overacting Wayne Knight, is so sadistic and evil that it seems he is right out of a Charles Dickens novel. Luke Wilson plays the coach who sweeps into the orphanage to give the young men hope and a purpose, a hero who is haunted by his past, one that includes being an orphan himself. It’s an inspiring true story that the film never quite knows when to quit pouring on the sappiness. 12 Mighty Orphans isn’t a bad film and has an excellent message for young teens, but it can’t find a tone other than sappiness and over-the-top earnestness that never delivers the inspirational and emotional feeling that the film needs to carry out its message successfully.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   12 Mighty Orphans Website  Now playing in select theatres.  

Indiefest: The Sparks Brothers  (2021)  R  Documentary on the legendary band Sparks, made up of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, who made music for the past five decades, releasing an astounding 25 albums and inspiring generations of pop and rock stars. I never was a Sparks fan, always thinking their music was a little too weird and ever-changing, only interested in their music when they teamed up with my Go-Go’s crush Jane Wiedlin. I have changed my mind due to the brilliance of this Edgar Wright-directed documentary. The film is a Sparks fan’s dream as it gives you not only a full rundown of each album that Sparks released but gives you rare concert footage of early performances and behind the scene photos of the band from the when the band started to form to the present. The film uses a mix of highly amusing animation with the band's music videos (remember when MTV used to be essential and necessary to a band's success) to give you an overwhelming and fantastic experience. The film interviews everyone from Beck and Todd Rundgren to Gilmore Girls creators Daniel and Amy Sherman-Palladino and Weird Al Yankovic. This film has something for everybody, including in-depth interviews on camera from the brothers themselves that lets the film show you their wild and creative voices. I’m still not sold on all their music, but that’s what is great about the band is they were so creative and prolific that you can find something in their vast song library that you are sure to like, and I am sold on what a brilliant documentary The Sparks Brothers is about a strange and inventive band that we all need in our lives.    My Rating: Full Price    The Sparks Brothers Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It  (2021)   Documentary about the legendary dancer/actress who, over a 70-year career, defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism to become a celebrated and beloved actor, one of the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) Award Winners of our time. When I was a kid, I fell in love with Rita Moreno when she dazzled me on the screen with her fiery dancing in West Side Story. I am happy to say that I am still in love with Rita Moreno and this documentary only confirms it. She is delightful telling her tale of a beautiful young girl who had a talent for dancing, lucked into an audition with a big Hollywood mogul, and then had to claw her way through the Hollywood system to become one of the great performers of our time. It’s a fascinating tale that Moreno tells us with both humor and candor. Some of its shocking, like after she won the Academy Award, she didn’t work for seven years because the roles she was offered were too small or too demeaning. Or that Rita was the long-time lover of Marlon Brando during his glory days as not only Hollywood’s leading actor but also its most beautiful. The tales of men in Hollywood trying to have their way with her are horrifying, especially her painful encounters with her agent, a man she trusted with her career.  I was also amazed at how often I have seen Rita in films during her early years and not realized it was her because she was always playing the ‘native girl’ or the ‘Indian princess’ with her makeup, making her almost unrecognizable. I love how Rita kept her sense of humor and that passion for life, even when she went through hard times. It’s a beautiful documentary about a remarkable woman who is a treasure to the world of dance and acting.   My Rating: Full Price   Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For it Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Enfant Terrible  (2020)   This is a film based on the life of the award-winning, controversial German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who in a short span completed 40 feature films, two TV series, and twenty-four plays. I never was a big Fassbinder film fan. His movies were too raw, where he didn’t often care about camera angles or realistic cutting sequences, wanting the audience to focus more on the emotion and faces of his characters. This film does the same thing with Fassbinder’s life story. It doesn’t care that the scenery is fake or that the acting is overbearing at times; it wants to show you how Fassbinder lived his life and made his movies; raw, emotional, and scenery-chewing to excess, and it does this. However,  a little goes a long way, and I got tired of the fake scenery and the feeling that I was watching a stage play that was filmed. A word of warning, there are some sex scenes that, like Fassbinder’s life, are rather graphic and uncomfortable to watch. Also, I was not too fond of the idea that the film plays a little loose with the facts of Fassbinder’s life. It ignores that he was married twice to women who didn’t mind or care that he was gay. And it totally ignores the facts about the death of one of the loves of Fassbinder’s life, actor El Hedi ben Salem, who killed himself after Fassbinder helped him escape from a city where Salem had stabbed three people in a drunken rage. It was a death that was kept from Fassbinder in real life because his friends felt it would have destroyed him, but in the film, not only does he not personally help Salam escape the city where the stabbing happened, but he finds out about the death overhearing two crew members talking about the suicide. Like many of the  Fassbinder films I have seen, I never could connect with the film or its characters, always bothered by the surrealistic feel of the film itself.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Enfant Terrible Info   Available for rent on participating on-demand services.

My View:   Fatherhood   (2021) PG-13   After what was one of the happiest days of his life, the birth of his daughter, his wife dies, and a new father, Matt (Kevin Hart) is faced with raising a child, Maddie, on his own, something he was never ready for but must succeed because he is in it…together. Kevin Hart gives a touching and heartfelt performance as the single dad trying to raise a daughter on his own. The film does a better job in the second half of the film, once we get past the new father with a baby phase, which goes for the easy laughs way too many times. The film's heart is the relationship between Matt and Maddie, how they struggle through life together, as not only a team but as father and daughter. The film is greatly helped by a thoroughly enjoyable performance by Melody Hurd as the daughter Maddy, who is adorable in the role. The chemistry between Hurd and Hart is beautiful and makes the film work. The supporting cast isn’t given much to work with characters that are too cartoony and predicable, like Paul Reiser as the boss who gets upset when Matt puts Maddy in front of his job but then allows Matt to keep it because he is good at it or Lil Rel Howery’s character, Jordan, the friend who tries but always doesn’t do or say the right thing. Fatherhood doesn't have a  groundbreaking storyline, nor does it quite reach the heartstrings that you want it to, but Kevin Hart and Melody Hurd together make it a film worth watching.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Fatherhood Website    Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Forgotten Film: Blue Collar  (1978)  R  Three co-workers (Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto) at a Detroit auto plant are frustrated with their job, their lives, and their union. They decide to make a little money by breaking into their union’s headquarters, only to discover a few hundred dollars and a ledger. That ledger and what it contains will change the three friends' lives forever. First, please ignore one of the worst movie posters of all time that was surely developed to try to cash in on Richard Pryor’s sudden red hot career. Blue Collar is a drama, and Pryor is magnificent as the family man who all he wants is to give his wife and kid a life where they don’t have to worry about how much their weekly grocery bill is. Blue Collar is a gritty film that doesn’t go for the easy win, showing that life can be challenging and get rich quick schemes usually don’t work out.   My Rating: Full Price    Blue Collar Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard: Cliff Jumpers

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Old (2021)  PG-13   A family is out on a tropical holiday, then they discover after spending a few hours on the beach that something is causing them to age by the hour. If this keeps going, they will be dead by the end of the day. Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is hit or miss these days, but it's always interesting to see what he has come up with.     Old Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 11, 2021

In the Heights

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: In the Heights  (2021)  PG-13   Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) lives in the neighborhood of Washington Heights, just on the northern tip of Manhattan. Usnavi owns a bodega and dreams of winning the lottery and escaping to the shores of his native Dominican Republic. Nina (Leslie Grace) has come back home from college with some upsetting news for her parents. Life is hard, but with help from friends in the Heights, you can survive. It's hard to take the magic and energy of a live stage performance and put it on the screen successfully, but the team of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegria Hudes, and Jon M. Chu have done a fantastic job with a film that will have you dancing in the aisles. Anthony Ramos is brilliant as the storyteller/bodega owner who dreams of opening his grandfather’s place back in the Dominican Republic. Full of energy and charisma, it’s a magical performance that carries this film along. Leslie Grace, as Nia, is perfect as a girl who feels she doesn’t fit in with the West Coast college life and wants to come back home. Melissa Barrera has a beautiful voice and is mesmerizing as the love of Usnavi’s life, a woman who dreams of becoming a fashion designer and moving out of the neighborhood. The music is fantastic, the dance sequences are fun and exciting, including one done on the rooftops of the neighborhood, and the songs are so good you may, like the audience I saw it with, clap out loud at the end of the big musical numbers. Please don’t wait to see In the Heights at home, go and experience it like I did, in a theatre where the music and the spectacle can overwhelm you. And be sure to stay through all the credits, there is a bonus scene you don't want to miss.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   In the Heights Website  Now playing in select theatres and on the HBO Max platform.

Familyfaire: Wish Dragon  (2021)  PG   Din (voiced by Jimmy Wong) is a delivery boy who longs for a better life and to meet up with his long-lost childhood friend, Lina (voiced by Natasha Liu Bordizzo). Din finds a teapot containing an all-powerful dragon named Long (John Cho), who can grant wishes. Can Long grant Din his wish to be reunited with his long-lost love Lina? This is a well-done, funny retelling of the genie and the lamp tale. All Din wants is to reunite with his childhood friend. All Long wants is for Din to hurry up and make his three wishes so that he can end his curse and go off to heaven. John Cho, voicing the dragon Long, is hilarious as he discovers the wonders of the modern world, all the while trying to get Din to hurry up and make his three wishes. The story is a joy to watch and has a few small twists and turns that, while a little predictable, still make the storyline move along at a brisk pace. The animation is colorful, and there is enough action and adventure to keep little ones involved. By the way, they made this in China and recorded a version in Mandarin with legendary action star Jackie Chan as the voice of Long the dragon.    My Rating: Full Price    Wish Dragon Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Queen Bees   (2021)  PG-13   After a fire at her home, Helen (Ellen Burstyn) is temporally moved into a senior’s home, where she encounters a group of mean-spirited women led by Janet (Jane Curtin). Helen decides to make the best of a bad situation and meet the clique head-on while being romanced by a dashing new resident (James Cann). I had high hopes for this film with a cast that includes my childhood crush Ann-Margret, Jane Curtin, and Christopher Lloyd. Unfortunately, the cast is wasted on a script that never delivers. The plot is razor-thin, with plot twists that you can see coming, even without your glasses and dialogue that is so clunky, you might wish for hearing aids so you can turn them off. Burstyn gives everything she’s got but is let down by a plot that would be rejected by some of those Hallmark cable channel knock-off movies. Queen Bees a warmhearted movie with good intentions that just can’t seem to find any way out of a lousy script.   My Rating: Cable    Queen Bees Website  Now playing in select theatres and is available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Holler   (2020)  R   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. I loved this film because of the spellbinding performance of Jessica Barden as the headstrong, smart young woman who wants more out of life than her small town can offer her but is torn by the love of her brother and how he has done everything for her. The film is bleak, with a town being destroyed by the factories that keep closing and the drugs that its townspeople turn to for an escape. Barden is captivating on-screen, and we root for her right from the start, even when she breaks the law because we know that it’s the only choice she has. This is a film about loyalty and family and how the choices we make can have lasting ramifications for our future. Holler is a film that will cause you to fall in love with Ruth and then break your heart when she makes decisions that she feels are right, even though we know they are wrong. Barden’s performance will stay with you long after you have finished your journey with Ruth and her family.   My Rating: Full Price     Holler Website   Now playing in select theatres and is available for rent on participating on-demand services.

Indiefest: Censor  (2021)   Enid (Niamh Algar) spends her days as a film censor, watching gore-filled movies and decided what should be taken out. Enid is assigned a film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood, one where her sister disappeared so long ago. This is a movie that would be perfect to see at a midnight showing at a film festival or a drive-in, the ideal places to see a shock and scare horror film. The film takes place in 80s Britain when movies being released on video were subject to being heavily edited or outright banned. Enid is a prim, lonely woman who is haunted by her past. Enid was a child when her sister went missing and does not remember what happened. When Enid watches a horror film that seemingly mirrors her sister's disappearance, she begins a deep, dark dive into the world of horror films. I loved the look of this film, with its bland colors and almost murky look, where a walk a night for Enid is as scary as the horror films that she watches every day for work. If you are a fan of horror films, Censor is a film to watch as Enid tries to find out what happened to her sister and discovers that reality sometimes does mirror film.    My Rating: Full Price    Holler Website   Now playing in select theatres and is available for rent on participating on-demand services on June 18th.

Forgotten Film: Stuck Between Stations   (2011)  R   Casper (Sam Rosen) is on leave from the Army and is about to return to Afghanistan. Rebecca (Zoe Lister-Jones) is a grad student who has messed up her life with bad relationship after bad relationship. Casper has always thought about the girl he had a crush on in high school, and they meet a decade later by chance in a bar. They will spend an evening together touring the nightlife of Minneapolis and maybe change their thinking about life and each other. I love the performances in this film, especially Zoe Lister-Jones as the grad student who perhaps is too smart for her own good. Stuck Between Stations is one of those small indie films that never got the attention it deserved.   My Rating: Full Price    Stuck Between Stations Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of In the Heights: Environmental Stewards

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You:   Ron’s Gone Wrong   (2021)  Barney (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) is an awkward middle-schooler who just wants to fit in. He is given a Bot, a new walking, talking, digitally connected device meant to be your best friend. The problem is right from the start, Barney’s Bot, named Ron, is defective. Can Ron and Barney still be friends? The trailer looks like this will be a lot of fun, highlighted by the fact that Zach Galifianakis voices Ron.   Ron's Gone Wrong Info

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

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:  The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It   (2021) R  Ed and Lorraine (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) are back, and this time, they are fighting for the soul of a young man who has been charged with murder, and his defense is that a demon-possessed him. First a note: This was my second screening to see with an audience (others have been critics only), and it was not a good experience. Between the people who cannot go an hour and a half without checking their phones and the guy who did a running commentary on every scene to his seat mate, I did not enjoy being back in the theatre. That being said, you need to see horror films in a theatre with an audience to get the full effect. I have enjoyed this series, some films less than others, but the films that involved the Lorraine’s have been fun and scary. This one puts the series back on track, where the focus is not just the frightening thing they are investigating but also the love and respect that the couple has for each other. The plot is a little weak, and unlike many horror films, you are asked to believe that this film is based on fact. Still, it’s a fun ride and has quite a few scares, most of which aren’t based on the ‘jump out of the dark’ kind. And it’s always enjoyable to watch Vera Farmiga, and Patrick Wilson work on the screen together, as their on-screen chemistry is excellent. Overall, I had fun on another adventure into the strange and weird with the Lorraine’s.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Conjuring Website  The film is currently playing in select theatres and on the HBO Max platform.

Familyfaire:  Spirit Untamed  (2021)   Lucky Prescott (voiced by Isabela Merced) lost her mother and now has been sent by her father from the city to a small frontier town. Her life will be changed forever when she meets a wild mustang named Spirit. This is one of those animated films where young kids will have a good time, but parents will be bored. While the film has a good heart, the plot feels like it is a movie based on a TV series. The animation is nothing to get excited about and looks a little dated. If you have someone who is crazy about horses in your family, then by all means, check it out, but it’s a relatively simple story that could have been told in 30 minutes…or wait, maybe it was.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Spirit Untamed Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet (2021)   Legendary broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough and scientist Johan Rockström examine the collapse of the Earth’s biodiversity and how this crisis can still be averted. We see the world through the eyes of Attenborough and scientist Rockström, which give us a rather bleak picture that we, humans, have pushed the Earth’s delicate tipping point to the wrong way, a way that will lead to our inevitable destruction. The things that we have done, such as car emissions, over-farming, over-fertilizing, overfishing, have put us on a destructive course that will be hard to overcome. The first two-thirds of the film is incredibly disturbing, showing us how our greed and self-worth have destroyed the climate balance of the planet we live on and that we have ignored scientists' pleas for the last 50 years to stop these catastrophic ways. The last third of the film does give us hope, telling us that, hey, you can get it together and make things better, but it’s going to make sacrifices and work in order to do it. I came away from this film depressed and angry, with not a lot of hope, but maybe that’s what we need. We need a hard kick in the butt and perhaps a slap across the face, like this film, to get us to realize that we must act now and not later.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Breaking Boundaries Website  The film is currently available on the Netflix platform.  

Indiefest: Undine (2020)   Undine (Paula Beer) works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development, and she has a secret. When the man she loves leaves her, she is bound by an ancient myth that she must kill him to survive. I loved this dark, rich fairy-tale of a film about a mysterious woman and her quest for love. We are enchanted by Undine, played by the magical Paula Beer, right from the start when we see her meet her lover, who wants to break up with her. She gives him an ultimatum; stay at the cafe while she gives a lecture, or if he leaves, she will be forced to kill him. The film never goes out of its way to tell you who or even maybe, what Undine is. We just know that she is someone or something not to be messed with. Beer is perfect in the role of a woman seeking love and is caught up in all its wonder while knowing that this love might have a price. Undine has everything, mystery, the hint of possible murder, lust, longing for love, and the magic that it can bring.   My Rating: Full Price   Undine Website  Now playing in select theatres including Landmark Midtown Art Cinema

Indiefest: All Light, Everywhere (2021)   This documentary explores how we see and use surveillance technologies and how they have become a fixture in our world, often changing our point of view. This fascinating and engaging film covers a wide range of subjects from the history of photography and how it influenced police work on criminal behavior, the ethics of surveillance, and an inside look at the world of Axon, a company that created the Taser and now is the supplier of body cams to the majority of police departments across the country. The film opens to let us know that our eyes have a ‘blind spot’ and that our brain fills in the blind spot. Cameras, on the other hand, aren’t supposed to have a blind spot. They are supposed to record things accurately and without prejudice. However, what this film shows us is that surveillance cameras also have a blind spot, and that can have consequences. This film shows us that there is always a point of view, and that perspective can be controlled….a blind spot.   My Rating: Full Price   All Light, Everywhere Website   The film is currently playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest:  The Courier (2020) PG-13   British businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) is enlisted to be a spy, going undercover to get intelligence on a potential nuclear missile attack on Cuba. Under the leadership of Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan), Greville forms an alliance with Oleg (Merab Ninidze), a Russian source, to try to stop the end of the world as we know it. What if you were an ordinary British citizen, with a wife and a young son, working as a salesman who travels overseas a lot because of his job. Your home life is good after a bit of trouble due to an affair you had, but that is all behind you. One day you are invited to lunch and meet with two people who want you to travel to Russia, meet a high ranking official and bring back a piece of paper. Oh, and by the way, that piece of paper might save the world from a nuclear war.  What would you do?  So starts the well done and interesting spy drama The Courier based on true events on how a salesman became one of the most important spies of the Cold War. Benedict Cumberbatch is so well cast as somewhat rigid and slightly snooty Greville Wynne, a man who’s one talent is that he can sell anything to anybody and uses that advantage to become a courier, bring secrets about the Russian missiles being established in Cuba. The tale is gripping and as the film goes on, builds the tension as Greville becomes more involved with the spy mission. The film lags a bit near the end but that can be expected as his job as a spy winds down.I saw this in the theatre but it will work just as well at home on a DVD or Blue-Ray. Overall, The Courier is an intriguing and exciting spy thriller that doesn’t disappoint.    My Rating: Full Price     The Courier Website   Now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Forgotten Film: In Bruges (2008) R  After a hit on a priest has gone horrible wrong, hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are told to go to Burgees, Belgium to hideout. While Ken sees it as a perfect vacation, Ray is miserable, and things start to go bad, very bad. Harry (Ralph Fiennes), the man who hired Ray to do the hit, decides that Ray must be done away with. I don’t want to go too much into the plot because some of the surprises are so much fun, but this is a blast to watch. Farrell does some of his best work as the hitman that would rather be anywhere else in the world than this beautiful city, and Gleeson is a wonder to watch as the hitman who decides to take advantage of this holiday. As the crime lord who can’t stop cussing, Fiennes is hilarious, and the action sequences are incredibly well done. And wait until you see the ending.   My Rating: Full Price     In Bruges Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It: Environment Artist

Coming Soon To A Screen Near You: Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain        (2021)  A documentary on Anthony Bourdain, the beloved yet cranky man who peeled the curtain back on the world of the chef’s kitchen and became a media superstar in his approach to travel, food and culture. I hope to get just a bit of an insight into such a complex and interesting but troubled man.    Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain Website 

Until Next Time!