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