Friday, August 27, 2021

Candyman

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:  Candyman  (2021)  R   The supernatural killer Daniel Robitaille, aka the Candyman, used to terrorize the residents of the Cabrini Green neighborhood. It’s been ten years since the Cabrini towers have been torn down, and Candyman has been forgotten. Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is an artist whose career is on the downswing, and looking for inspiration, he unknowingly opens the door to the Candyman, and Anthony’s sanity begins to unravel as a terrifying wave of violence is unleashed. I was excited when I heard that Jordan Peele, who won an Oscar for Get Out (2017), was writing the screenplay for this film. I liked the original 1992 film that starred Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd, thinking it was a creative work on the horror/slasher film. I just wish this film has more of that horror in it and less of trying to make too many points on gentrification and how urban planning has always hurt the low-incoming households. I did love the stick-figure animation that gave us clues to the past of the Candyman, and be sure to stay through all the credits as the animation gives you a history lesson on all the people throughout history that the characters in the film talk about. This Candyman never was scary enough for me; in fact, the scary scenes in the film aren’t due to the ‘’Candyman’ but to the police force, that beat or shot first and asked questions later. And maybe, that is the point of this film, that no matter how scary someone or something like the ‘Candyman’ is, it’s not anywhere close to being as frightening as living in that urban dwelling.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Candyman Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest:   Flag Day   (2021) R   When growing up, Jennifer (Dylan Penn) looked up to her father, John (Sean Penn), a man that seems larger than life to her. John taught his daughter about love, joy, and how to make life feel like a grand adventure. However, John had a secret; he was one of the most notorious counterfeiters in American history and always on the run. Now Jennifer must confront her father’s past and reconcile the bond between a daughter and her father. This film felt a bit like a vanity project for Sean Penn, as he lets the film wander all over the place, creating a lot of pretty scenes which looked great in the theatre (but slow down the pace of the film), as his daughter thinks back and idolizes what it was like growing up in her father’s (played by Sean) large shadow. The film is worth watching for the performance of Dylan Penn, who gives a moving and powerful look at a daughter who, until she became an adult, never knew the true nature of her father. At times, Dylan looks incredibly like her mother, Robin Wright, and has that same screen presence that you must follow her, no matter who else is on the screen, ever her real-life dad. Flag Day is based on a true story, one that the realize Jennifer wrote into an acclaimed book, and like a lot of movies based on books, I am betting the story is better told on paper than on the screen.      My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Flag Day Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View:  Vacation Friends (2021)  R   Marcus and Emily (Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji), while on vacation, meet a couple (John Cena, Meredith Hagner) who are wild and thrill-seekers. Marcus and Emily decide to let loose and have a blast with their new ‘vacation friends.’ Months later, Marcus and Emily are back at home and about to get married when guess who shows up uninvited at their wedding? It seems that what happens on vacation doesn’t always stay on vacation. Look, I like John Cena and Lil Rel Howery. They can be funny with the right material, but this isn’t it. If you think watching two guys walk around a animated forest for two minutes while laughing, high on mushrooms is funny, then this is the movie for you. We have seen this all before. Stuck up couple meets outrageous couple and by the end of the movie, they are best friends and all their lives have been changed for the better. I actually kind of enjoyed the Cena/Hagner couple, as they weren’t as annoying as this type of storyline usually makes that couple out to be, but the Marcus character is so unlikable and the material never lets Lil Rel have fun with the part. The plot is predictable, the laughs are few and far between, making this film feel much longer than its hour and forty-five minute run time. I will say this for everyone that has never been to Atlanta. The film is right, there are Waffle House's on almost every corner.  My Rating: Cable    Vacation Friends Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform. 

My View:   He’s All That   (2021)   Padgett (Addison Rae) is a famous influencer who has just suffered a breakup with a boyfriend that went viral, a boyfriend that she made a star. She decides she can do it again and accepts the challenge of taking loner Cameron (Tanner Buchanan), considered her high school’s biggest loser, and give him the ultimate makeover. Oh, where to start? How about the fact that Addison Rae is not a very good actress (she is mainly known as a Tik Tok personality). You would think she could carry off the role of an influencer, but she can’t. The storyline is a reverse of the 1992 film She’s All That, which starred Freddie Prinze Jr. and Racheal Leigh Cook. Fans of that film (hey, it wasn’t a great film but worth a watch on a Saturday afternoon with a likable cast and some good lines) are going to be disappointed with this update. I lost count on the product placements in the film, though maybe the best line in the whole film is ‘Hey can I have some of that Pizza Hut pizza?’ The loner kid, Cameron, doesn’t seem to be much of a loser, just someone that doesn't try to get along with most of the high school crowd and looks pretty good in the long hair and plaid shirts. The plot is predictable, the dialogue isn’t creative, and the acting is wooden at best. Skip this version and rent the '92 film, or better yet, something else using the Pygmalion formula, like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady or Sabrina.     My Rating: Cable    He's All That Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest:   Together     (2021)  R   A couple(James McAvoy, Sharon Horgan) are only together because of their child. Now because of COVID, they are stuck in lockdown and must re-evaluate their relationship and themselves. This is a fun movie to watch, as the two characters, who at times hate each other, are forced to live together while in lockdown. The film takes place over a year, with the characters either talking to us, the audience directly, or to each other. The young son is rarely in the picture, though he seems always to be listening off on the stairs, kind of looking down at his parents as they fight or discuss what is happening to themselves and the world around them. We get to see just how personal the pandemic got as the couple discuss their lives, both in the past and in the present. At times this is a funny film, and at other times, as you would expect, it is painful and sometimes incredibly sad. Still, Together is a wonder to watch brilliant actors in McAvoy and Horgan banter off each other, making us believe in their hate and love for each other.   My Rating: Full Price    Together Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed     (2021)    The untold story of painter Bob Ross, the host of longtime TV series The Joy of Painting, who brought us an appreciation for nature with his kind and gentle demeanor. Beyond the soothing voice, the hair and the nostalgia for his series is a mystery that many have yet discovered. Almost everyone knows who Bob Ross is; that afro-headed guy who talks softly and paints landscapes really fast, but to a lot of us in the 80s and 90s, he was a staple of weekend television on your local PBS station. He always seems like a happy guy, painting his ‘happy little trees,’ but there was also something kind of strange about him that you just couldn’t put your finger on. Well, this documentary gives you all the details of his life and what happened to his painting empire after he died. The filmmakers were hampered by the fact that over a dozen of Bob's closest friends and co-workers did not want to be interviewed for the film (which becomes very evident why as the film goes along), but it does a brilliant job of giving us insight into the man who loved to paint his favorite subject, nature. I don’t want to give too much of the film away because there is some juicy stuff in it, as the filmmakers do interview Bob’s son, his first wife, and several close friends and co-workers to fill out the missing pieces of a man that we knew almost nothing about, other than he loved his ‘happy little trees.’    My Rating: Full Price   Bob Ross: Happy Accidents Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest:   Summer Days, Summer Nights   (2018) It's the summer of 1982, and life is good on Long Island. JJ (Pico Alexander) is working for his dad (Edward Burns) at the Beach Club when he falls for Debbie (Lindsey Morgan), while Frankie (Anthony Ramos) reconnects with the girl who got away (Caitlin Stasey). Summer is coming to a close, and will those relationships last or just be a summer fling. The film is a loving look at the summer romance films of the 70s and 80s (without the T&A that those films almost always had). The film is helped by the fact that not all the cast is of high school years; a bunch are in their 20s, including an impressive performance between the two long lost lovers (Ramos and Stasey) who broke up right after high school and now after seven years have rekindled their romance. Summer Days, Summer Nights is a fun, lighthearted film with some great music that captures a time in a youth’s life where the summer seemed like it would never end and romance was always in the air.    My Rating: Full Price    Summer Days, Summer Nights Website  Now available for rent online. 

Forgotten Film: Untamed Heart   (1993)   PG-13   A waitress, Caroline (Marisa Tomei), works at a diner and never notices the shy busboy, Adam (Christian Slater), who never talks. One night, on her way home, she is attacked, and the busboy comes to her rescue. This sparks the relationship (he has been secretly in love with Caroline all this time), but the busboy is hiding a secret, one that could mean disaster for the newly found lovers. Untamed Heart is your typical 90s romance, except that the cast is outstanding. Tomei is a delight to watch on the screen, and Slater is, as always, good as the brooding, silent guy with a secret. The film is also helped by a terrific performance by Rosie Perez, as Tomei’s sidekick, constantly smoking, best friend.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Untamed Heart Info


Weird Credits: From the credits of Candyman: Stitcher 


Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Spider-Man: No Way Home   (2021)    Spider-Man (Tom Holland) has been unmasked, and now everyone knows who he is, making it hard to separate his private life from being a superhero. He turns to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell that everyone will forget who he is, only that spell has lasting consequences, including bringing back an old enemy. I am always up for a Spider-Man movie, and this one promises to be a good one with it setting up some of the next few Marvel Universe films.      Spider-Man: No Way Home Info

Until Next Time!




Friday, August 20, 2021

Reminiscence

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:  Reminiscence  (2021) PG-13   Set in the near future, Private Investigator Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) uses a machine to explore the past of his clients. His life is changed when a new client of his, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), goes missing, and Nick fights to learn the truth about Mae and what happened to her. I loved the world that this film has created with Miami being flooded by rising seas and the population becoming nocturnal due to the heat, the film has a look all of its own, and I am glad I saw this in a theatre on the big screen. Unfortunately, it is all for show as the storyline is weak and drags on forever. I have always liked Hugh Jackman, but he looks uncomfortable in the role of a vet who is haunted by the war he fought and now is making his living as a P.I. There is very little flame between Jackman and Ferguson, and that is where the movie starts to fall apart because we have to believe that Jackman’s character is so in love with Ferguson’s Mae that he is willing to lose everything to find out what happened to her. I just never cared about either character and, in fact, kind of wish that the film had been about Nick’s assistant Watts, played by Thandie Newton, whose character of a sharp-shooter war vet with a drinking problem is far more interesting than Nick or Mae. At almost two hours, Reminiscence takes too long to get to the chase, and once that chase begins, I didn’t care who won.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Reminiscence Website  Now playing in theatres and on the HBO Max platform.

My View:   The Protege  (2021)  R  Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), Anna (Maggie Q), has been brought up to be an assassin herself, becoming the world’s most skilled contract killer. When Moody is brutally killed, she goes out on her own to get revenge. This is one of those action-adventure films that you just sit back and enjoy. Have fun with Samuel L. Jackson doing Samuel L. Jackson stuff as the killer with a heart of gold. Watch Maggie Q kick serious butt and get in and out of some sticky situations. And have a blast watching Michael Keaton play the bad guy as James Bond has gone to the dark side. There is plenty of hand-to-hand combat and a few explosions to liven up the place as the plot moves along at a quick pace with not too much setup. I enjoyed The Protege for what it was, a good action film with a lot of butt-kicking.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Protege Website    Now playing in theatres.

My View: Habit (2021) R  A street-smart party girl (Bella Thorne) and her friends louse the money they owe to a violent drug dealer (Josie Ho) and decide to get the money back while hiding out…as nuns. This film reminds me of the schlocky movies that used to be made for cheap that would play at the drive-ins in the 60s and 70s. With a wafer-thin plot, an over-the-top performance of Josie Ho as the demented drug lord, and an attempt to be provocative (Bella’s character at one point has sex with a good-looking priest in a confessional), this movie fails on every aspect and at times is unwatchable. Add in a bizarre cameo of Paris Jackson as a female Jesus, Gavin Rossdale, chewing up scenery right and left, and some very strange appearances by Hana Mae Lee and Ione Skye, and we have a film that will make my bottom ten list of bad films of ’21.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Habit Website   Now available to rent on online platforms and on DVD/Blu-Ray Aug. 24th.

My View: Sweet Girl (2021) R   Cooper (Jason Momoa) finds out that a big pharmaceutical company denied his wife a life-saving drug, and he vows to bring justice to the people responsible for his wife’s death. There are big stakes involved, and now Cooper and his daughter, Rachel (Isabela Merced), are trying to escape from the people that want to shut him up permanently. This is your ordinary action-adventure ‘on the run’ film with a few twists and turns to make it interesting. While a great deal of the action is centered on Jason Momoa, the film's real star is Isabela Merced, who has already shown us that she can be an action star in the Dora movie. Merced has a pleasing screen prescience that when even pared with a big guy like Momoa, your eye moves toward her. The film allows her to do some action sequences that are, frankly, more exciting than seeing Momoa’s fight sequences. The film does get a little messy with the plot and an ever-evolving target that Cooper and his daughter are chasing. Sweet Girl isn’t a bad action film, just one weighed down by a story that becomes very confusing on exactly who is responsible for Cooper’s wife’s death. That being said, I wouldn’t mind seeing a film with Rachel out dealing justice on her own.   My Rating; Bargain Matinee    Sweet Girl Website  Now available on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Demonic (2021) R   Carly (Carly Pope) hasn’t seen her mother, Angela (Nathalie Boltt), in years since Angela was put in prison for setting fire to a nursing home and killing twenty-one people. Carly finds out that her mother is in a coma, but an experimental procedure will allow Carly to visit her mother in a kind of second reality. Carly soon learns that Angela might not have been responsible for the deaths, that some sort of demon was involved, and now it has set its sight on Carly. This is one of those films that you wonder what happened to the filmmaker like Neill Blomkamp, who seemed so promising with his early work (Academy Award nomination with District 9) but has hit a wall and just doesn’t deliver the goods anymore. That is the case with Demonic, a film with an exciting start that gets bogged down in details and a plot that makes less and less sense as it goes along. Demonic is a horror film, but the scares aren’t there, with a bad guy that we don’t really meet until the end, and then it’s a big letdown. The plot is easy to figure out (even the big twist near the end) and never ramps up the tension, leaving the film any sense of horror, something a so-called scary movie needs.   My Rating: Cable   Demonic Website  Now playing in select theatres including Landmark Midtown Art Cinema and available to rent on online platforms.

Forgotten Film: Proof   (1991) R  Martin (Hugo Weaving) has been blind since birth. He takes photographs and has them developed and then has people tell him what the photograph is about. Celia (Genevieve Picot) becomes Martin’s caretaker and is obsessed with him. Andy (Russell Crowe) pops into Martin’s life and soon becomes his best friend, but Celia is jealous of their friendship and is willing to do anything to break them up. Proof is a strange little film that is helped by three outstanding and interesting performances. You don’t know where the film will end up, but it's fun watching these three actors on the screen work their magic. Add in the fact that Weaving and Crowe are so young and this is a film to enjoy.   My Rating: Full Price    Proof Info


Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Protege: Patina Artist


Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Eternals (2021)   An unexpected tragedy forces the Eternals, an ancient band of aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years, to come out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, the Deviants. The film is based on a comic book series by my favorite artist, Jack Kirby, and is co-written and directed by two-time Academy Award winner Chlo├ę Zhao (Nomadland). Add in a cool trailer and a cast that is headlined by Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie, and this makes it a film not to be missed.     Eternals Facebook Page

Until Next Time!




Friday, August 13, 2021

Respect

 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: Respect (2021) PG-13    The life story of Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson), who went from singing in her father’s church to one of the world’s greatest singers, the ‘Queen of Soul.’ With most bio-pics based on singers, I usually complain that they don’t contain enough songs, are with the 2020 film David Bowie bio-pic Stardust, none at all. This isn’t one of those films. In fact, I could have used a few fewer songs to cut down this film’s almost two and a half hour running time. Now, don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Hudson does an incredible job of recreating Aretha’s voice, matching the late singer’s power and range. You can see why Franklin handpicked Hudson for the role, and she doesn’t disappoint. I just wish the writing matched the talent of Hudson, but sadly, she and the rest of the cast is let down by a storyline that constantly goes too far into becoming a melodramatic mess. The film concentrates on Franklin’s childhood and first marriage to a shady music producer/hustler played by Marlon Wayans. Wayans is fine in the role, and at times, I didn’t even recognize him due to a much deeper voice than he usually uses. The film drags quite a bit, only picking up when we get to Aretha finding her voice when she goes to record with the Muscle Shoals session group. I loved the recording sessions that let us see just how the session guys blended their style with what Aretha was trying to do. Unfortunately, we get too much of Aretha interacting with her father, played by Forest Whitaker, who attempted to control Aretha for as long as he could. There is a wonderful scene at the end of the film during the credits, when we get to see Aretha perform at the Kennedy Center for Carole King, singing the legendary song ‘A Natural Woman.’ I might suggest that you should just buy the soundtrack and skip all the melodrama, plus you won’t have someone singing along to all of Aretha’s hits like the person next to me did in the theater.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Respect Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: CODA   (2021)  PG-13   Ruby (Emilia Jones) is a gifted seventeen-year-old girl with a talent for singing, with a voice that her family has never heard because she is the sole hearing member of a deaf family: a CODA, Child of Deaf Adults. Her life revolves around working on her family's fishing boat after school, and now she must choose between two things she loves, her family and her music. Go right now and see this film in a theatre! You won’t be disappointed, though you need to be warned that you will need a box of tissues and a few spare bucks to buy the soundtrack. This is one of those rare films that comes along that you know how it will end, but you want it to keep going because you are enjoying every moment. The cast is brilliant, let by Emilia Jones as the daughter who finds out that she loves something as much as she loves her family, singing. Inspired by a caring music teacher, played perfectly by Eugenio Derbez, Ruby figures out that her future just might give her a chance to do something different than work on her family’s fishing boat. Jones has a beautiful singing voice, and the film lets her showcase it, whether singing on the boat or in a duet with her potential love interest, played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo (who we all loved from Sing Street). CODA pulls all the right heartstrings and makes this a movie that might replace In the Heights as the ‘feel good’ film of the summer. Just remember to have that tissue box handy.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    CODA Website  Now playing in select theatres including Landmark Midtown Art in Atlanta and on the Apple + platform.

My View: The Kissing Booth 3   (2021)    It’s the summer before Elle (Joey King) heads off to college, and she wants to spend every minute having fun. She and her BFF Lee (Joel Courtney) have a ‘Beach Bucket List’ that they put together when they were kids, and they are determined to fill it out. However, Elle has a tough decision to make, does she go to the college that her dreamy boyfriend Noah (Jacob Elordi) is attending or not break her promise to go to college with her best friend Lee. Whose heart will Elle break at the end of the summer? I enjoyed the first Kissing Booth movie, mainly on the strength of how much you like the character of Elle and the actress, Joey King. It fit the bill of a good romantic film where the girl gets the guy at the end. The second pushed the limits a little too much with the introduction of a rival of Elle’s affections, Marco (Taylor Zakhar-Perez). Well, Marco is back for this third installment of the series to mess things up again. The film feels a little too slapped together, with the bucket list primarily done in front of a ‘green screen’ and a plot that tries too hard to created problems for Elle in her quest to figure out where to go to college. Elle must be a ‘super student' for two prominent colleges to keep her spot open for so long before the fall semester, but that’s just one plot point of many that stretches reality beyond believability. I am sure that fans of the series will enjoy all the high jinks that Elle and the gang do, but for the rest of us, it’s just one long movie of Elle trying to decide who to disappoint. It turns out Elle disappoints us the most of all.    My Rating: Cable    The Kissing Booth 3 Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Buckley’s Chance (2021)    A year after the loss of his father, Ridley (Milan Burch) and his mother (Victoria Hill), move from New York City to Australia to live with Ridley’s estranged grandfather (Bill Nighy). After fighting with both his grandfather and his mother, Ridley becomes lost in the Outback and makes an unlikely friend, a wild dingo he names Buckley. Can Buckley help Ridley survive in the wilderness and find his way back home? This is an earnest film about a young boy who misses his father and needs to learn how to grow up. The film is hampered a bit by the lead, Milan Burch, who has trouble with the dramatic scenes and is asked to carry a movie that he isn’t equipped to do. But any movie is greatly helped by Bill Nighy’s appearance, and while not asked to do a whole heck of a lot, Nighy still gives us a few moments to savor as the tough but heart in the right place rancher who has never gotten over the fact that his son couldn’t wait to leave the ranch and his family. The film tries too hard to pull on the emotional strings that never quite connect. Young children may enjoy the movie, especially when the Dingo shows up to become Ridley’s companion, but the rest of us will want more of Bill Nighy and less of Ridley.     My Rating : Cable    Buckley's Chance Website  Now playing in select theatres including Studio Movie Grill in Atlanta.

Indiefest: The Meaning of Hitler (2020)    This documentary explores the decades of cultural fascination with the Nazi leader and how this continued fascination impacts present-day politics. This is a fascinating and insightful film that explores the continued cult of Hitler and how today's politics have continued to carry on, in one way or another, his platform. The film goes on a travelogue of places that Hitler lived at or visited during his lifetime. I loved how the film uses a camera mounted on a Mercedes Benz hood, as the trademark hood ornament becomes almost a gun sight for the movie as the filmmakers go across Europe to visit Hitler’s points of interest. The film allows everyone from a cultural anthropologist to legendary Nazi hunters to talk about Hitler and how to combat or expose the continuing influence that the man still has to this day, so many years after his death. Sometimes amused, other times horrified, the filmmakers try to look at every aspect of Hitler’s influence while attempting to dispel some of the myths behind the legend. I was hooked from the start, and The Meaning of Hitler makes a great point of talking about the idea that maybe Hollywood and TV should do less to prop up the legend (just look at how many ‘documentaries’ on done on Hitler and the Nazis on TV) and more to expose the real man behind the myth.   My Rating: Full Price      The Meaning of Hitler Website  Now playing in select theatres and available to rent on available online platforms.

My View: Beckett     2021) R  Following a horrific traffic accident in Greece, American tourist Beckett (John David Washington) becomes a target of a manhunt. Beckett is forced to go on the run, desperate to get to the American Embassy before the police close in, and the country becomes enveloped in political unrest. I liked the start of this film, but it feels a little strained by the third act. Beckett is primarily a film about a man on the run, trying to piece together why someone wants him dead, all the while trying to go across a foreign country to the safety of the embassy. Washington has the star power to carry the film and make you want for him to succeed and get back home, but the third act feels very messy and has an ending that doesn’t deliver the needed impact. In the tradition of chase films of the past, this one doesn’t have the main evil guy who we can fixate on, instead of a possible shady group of political activists that never quite instill the fear we need to create the tension in the film so that it can succeed fully.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Beckett Website  Available on the Netflix platform.


My View:   Free Guy (2021) PG-13    Guy (Ryan Reynolds) happily lives as a bank teller until he becomes self-aware and discovers that he is a ‘non-player inside of a video game. With the help of Millie (Jodie Comer), a program developer, he decides to become a super-hero and save the world he lives in before the game’s owners can shut it down. I had a blast watching this film, and I don’t play video games. Reynolds is hilarious and has the I’m good looking, but I’m also everyman feel about him, making this film work. Sure it’s a little over the top and a bit too long, but Reynolds has excellent chemistry with Jodie Comer, and she has just the right amount of spunk to make her character work. There are some out-and-out hilarious moments in this film and some great cameos (be sure to listen for a few that are just appearing through voice work). The action is fun and exciting, and the plot is creative. There is a joy and almost innocence to this film that makes the film seem sweet while having a few things to say about our reliance on technology. I found this film great fun and loved its view of the world, whether it is the make-believe one or the real one.    My Rating: Full Price     Free Guy Website   Now playing in theatres.

Forgotten Film: Coogan’s Bluff (1968) R    Arizona Deputy Sheriff, Coogan (Clint Eastwood,) is sent to New York City to escort an escaped fugitive back for trial, but there are a lot of people who don’t want Coogan to get out of New York alive. Eastwood, hot off his Italian western hits like For a Few Dollars More, plays the stoic cowboy character, this time on the side of the law. The movie poster even makes him look like his 'man with no name' character from the Italian westerns. Coogan's Bluff is an old-fashioned ‘fish out of water' tale of a man whose code of honor is stronger than anything put in his way. The film is helped by an outstanding supporting cast, including the brilliant Lee J. Cobb and Susan Clark. The film was the basis for the long-running TV series McCloud starring Dennis Weaver and is well worth seeing Mr. Eastwood in is prime.   My Rating: Full Price      Coogan's Bluff Info

  

Weird Credits: From the credits of Respect: Background Tailor


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Cry Macho (2021)  PG-13   A washed-up rodeo star (Clint Eastwood) takes a job to transport a young man’s son home and away from his alcoholic mother. It will be a journey where the cowboy and the kid learn about each other and about what it takes to be a man. Eastwood, as a director, has been very hit and miss, but I feel that he knows this subject matter so well, it has a great chance to be a good film.    Cry Macho Website

Until Next Time!




Friday, August 6, 2021

The Suicide Squad

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 Suicide Squad  (2021)  R   The squad of misfit criminals is back on another mission that is bound to get them killed. This time, they join the super-secret and possibly shady Task Force X as they are dropped off on the remote, enemy-filled island of Corto Maltese. I will warn you from the start that this is one of the most bloody and gruesome films I have seen in a long time, and I loved every minute of it. I thoroughly enjoyed that we are dropped right into the film, with no lengthy setup or trying to explain anything. We are just shown and told that the squad of misfit bad guys have another mission that they probably won’t come back from, but a few years will be taken off their sentence if they do. Oh yeah, and that nasty bomb set inside their head will explode if they vary off of their mission. This is nothing like the last Suicide Squad film, as it has a sense of humor, lets Harley Quinn be all her lovable, crazy Harley, and there isn’t The Joker or Jared Leto to gum up the works. The action is almost non-stop, The plot is fun, and there are some great new characters, including a wonderfully deadpanned John Cena as Peacemaker and Sylvester Stallone, who steals the movie as the voice of the stupid but mighty King Shark (think giant shark with legs and a voice). I could go on and on about the cast of the fantastic group of characters that the film contains, but that would spoil the fun. And what fun it is. In the last Suicide Squad review, I said I wanted more Harley Quinn, and this film gave me her, in all her butt-kicking glory. By the way, see this in the theatre like I did because you want those special effects to wash over you and make sure to stay through all the credits as there is a bonus scene you won't want to miss.     My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again     The Suicide Squad Website  Now playing in theatres and on the HBO Max platform.

My View: Nine Days   (2020)  R   Will (Winston Duke) is an arbiter who judges souls before they inhabit the bodies in the living. He is interviewing over a span of nine days a group of candidates who have the opportunity to be born. If they are not selected, they will be given a parting memory before their existence is erased. This is one of those films that can truly be appreciated and savored in a time of great anxiety, sickness, and conflict. Nine Days is a film that slowly moves along, letting you absorb its world and its characters. The film explores what it means to live and how we choose to experience our lives. Along the way, you meet a group of people, some of which you will root for and others you just might root against, as they examine what makes up a life and why we make the choices we do. Winston Duke is brilliant as the arbiter who has to make the tough choices, but as, we learn, those choices weigh on him and that he cares, sometimes too much about the people he both judges and watches. Nine Days is a magical movie from a director, Edison Oda, that I can’t wait to see more from.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Nine Days Website   Now playing in theatres.

Family Faire: Vivo   (2021)  PG  Vivo (voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda), a one-of-a-kind kinkajou, goes on a quest, with the help of a little girl named Gabi (voiced by Ynairaly Simo), to deliver a letter from his owner Andres (voiced by Juan de Marcos Gonzalez) to Andres’s long-lost love, Marta (voiced by Gloria Estefan). Too often, I am disappointed by animated films, especially ones that are musicals, with lackluster songs and stories lacking real emotions or feelings. I am happy to tell you that Vivo isn’t one of those. Instead, we get a beautiful story of a love lost and a quest to reunite that love. As you would expect, Lin-Manuel Miranda's songs are fun, full of rhymes that flow so easily, and tunes that are creative and pleasing. Vivo is a wonderful character that kids are going to fall in love with, and Ynairaly Simo does a fantastic job of not only keeping up with Miranda on the songs but has a great solo one of her own I which might be the best song of the film, though I am sure the love song that Gloria Estefan sings at the end will get some Oscar push). I loved this film and had a great time watching it, especially enjoying all the Latin and Cuban flavored songs, including a song or two from the legendary Juan de Marcos Gonzalez (Buena Vista Social Club). Join Vivo and Gabi on their quest, and you just might find yourself dancing to a toon or two in your living room.  My Rating: Full Price     Vivo Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest:  Annette    (2021)  R  Henry (Adam Driver) is a stand-up comedian who falls in love with a renowned opera star, Ann (Marion Cotillard). They form a passionate couple that soon is blessed with a young child, Annette. Annette is a little girl who has an exceptional destiny in front of her and will change Henry and Ann’s lives forever. I was somewhat prepared to see this film, having just reviewed The Sparks Brothers documentary and having seen the director of the film, Leos Carax, work before (the strange and wild Holy Motors). Still, I wasn’t ready for the fact of how much I disliked Henry, a performance comic who makes antisemitic jokes, shows disdain for his audiences, and is so self-centered, he destroys lives whereever he goes. That being said, the music is brilliant and well performed, with a rousing opening number that starts in the studio and ends with the two leads taking off in vehicles on the street. The singing was done live, making the songs feel genuine and heartfelt. There is an almost lusty chemistry between Driver and Marion Cotillard (who has a lovely singing voice), which makes the film work on every level. Not everyone will enjoy this film, with such a dislikable main character, the use of an animatronic doll for most of the appearances of Baby Annette, and a shockingly abrupt ending. Still, I enjoyed this film and the performances of Driver and Cotillard. I do know one thing; I would never want to see Henry do his stand-up ever again.   My Rating: Full Price      Annette Website  Now playing in select theatre and available for rent on the Amazon Prime platform on Aug. 20th.

Indiefest: Ailey (2021)    Documentary that paints an immersive portrait of an icon, the trailblazing dance pioneer Alvin Ailey, through his own words and a new dance inspired by his life. I was very fortunate to see the Alvin Ailey dance company perform while I was in college at the University of Texas in Austin back in the late 70s. It was a unique and inspirational experience. The film wonderfully blends in a ton of interviews that Ailey did throughout his life with footage of his most famous dance creations, some as early as the late 50s, early 60s. We also get some insightful interviews about the man from the people who knew him best, his dancers, and his staff that gives you a look into the world of Alvin and the beautiful and moving work he produced. Fans of dance and of Alvin Ailey will be trilled at all the stunning dance footage that is in this film, and while Alvin was a very private person, we do get some sense of how and why he created the incredible work that he did.    My Rating; Full Price    Ailey Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest:  John and the Hole (2021)  R   John (Charlie Shotwell) is a kid growing up in a family of four, with a loving mother (Jennifer Ehle) and father (Michael C. Hall), and an older sister (Taissa Farmiga). So why would John drug his family and hold them captive in a hole in the ground? We get right from the start that John is a troubled child. He is that kid that doesn’t seem to care about anything or anybody. He lives a good life, but we can see that his family life may have some problems, with a father who would instead buy than show his love to John. John is a kid who wants to be an adult but, at the same time, not have any of the responsibilities of an adult. The movie does drag a bit at times, but I did enjoy the performances in this film, especially Taissa Farmiga, who plays John’s older sister, the one person in the family that tries to understand John and seems to care about him. We never quite get why John does what he does, and that may be the point of the film. John is a person that we may never really know or understand.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     John and the Hole Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Death and the Maiden  (1994) R   When Paulina’s (Sigourney Weaver) husband, Gerardo (Stuart Wilson), unexpectedly brings home a guest (Ben Kingsley) to their house, Paulina believes that this man is the horror that raped her when the government-held her. I don’t want to give away too much from the film's plot as it is slowly revealed to you as the movie moves along. There is a speech by Ben Kingsley near the end of the film that makes this movie worth watching and experiencing. Plus, the film's opening is such a beautiful and moving way to begin a film that it alone is worth the price of admission.    My Rating: Full Price     Death and the Maiden Info


Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Suicide Squad: Witness Camera Wranglers


Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Respect (2021) PG-13   The life story of one of the greatest performers we have ever had, the legendary R&B singer Aretha Franklin. Just the fact that Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson is portraying Aretha is enough to see this film, but the cast also includes Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, Saycon Sengloh, Marlon Wayans, Tituss Burgess, Kimberly Scott, Marc Maron, Hailey Kilgore, and Tate Donovan, make this a must-see film.     Respect Info

Until Next Time!