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