Familyfaire: The Adams Family 2 (2021) PG Your favorite family of ghouls are back! Gomez (voiced by Oscar Isaac) is concerned that the kids are growing up too fast. Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) are skipping family dinners and are always on their iPhones with ‘scream time.’ Gomez decides the kids need a change, so the family goes off on vacation to see the sites of America. America may never be the same again. Charles Adams is one of my favorite cartoonists, and he created the weird and morbid family headed by Gomez and Morticia. The problem with making a movie about these characters is Charles Adams’s family in the cartoons think fun is spilling a vat of molten tar from the heights of their mansion on Christmas carolers, something that a ‘family animated’ picture would never show. So what we get is watered-down characters and cause mayhem primarily by accident and only scare people by mistake. The family goes on vacation and visits such landmarks as Niagara Falls, where Gomez puts each family member in a barrel to go over the falls or the Grand Canyon that Pugsley blows up (why I have no clue). The film isn’t much fun, and I kept wanting to put the family members into the guillotine that in the Adams cartoons, Wednesday used to put her dolls in just to end this film. Kids might find some fun in the action sequences, but adults will be as bored as Gomez is at a play that doesn’t have any dead bodies in it. My Rating; Cable The Adams Family 2 Website Now playing in theatres nationwide and On Demand.
My View: The Many Saints of Newark (2021) R Young Anthony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) is growing up fast, under the influence of his uncle, Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), who is struggling to keep his hold on his power as rival gangs are rising up and challenging the powerful DiMeo crime family. What Anthony learns now will serve him later when we know him as Tony Soprano. I was not a regular viewer of The Sopranos, having watched enough episodes that I know the characters, and like most people, I know how the show ended. So I was interested to see the origins of Tony Soprano, especially since James Gandolfini’s son was playing a young Tony in the film. I was severely disappointed by this film as it is more about Anthony’s uncle, Dickie, played by Alessandro Nivola, and less about Anthony himself. In fact, for most of the film, Anthony is a bystander in the actions of his family and the mob. He stumbles across a few things but is left on the sidelines for most of the film, a secondary character that we get to see do some really stupid crimes like running numbers at his elementary school or hijacking an ice cream truck. In fact, all the publicity of the film made it seem like Michael Gandolfini would be a prominent point of action in the movie, but the actor is in maybe half of the film, with the rest of the film taking place when he was a kid in elementary school, played by William Ludwig. Sure we get to see his home life with his sister, his thug of a father (played by Jon Bernthal), and his crazy mother (played by always impressive Vera Farmiga), but even this home life is a background for interaction with Dickie, who while Tony’s father is in prison, becomes a surrogate father to Tony. I was disappointed that one of my favorite actors, Ray Liotta, was somewhat wasted in the duel role of Dickies father and imprisoned uncle. There are a bunch of scenes between Dickie and his uncle where the uncle spouts wisdom from Buddhism and his love of jazz that do nothing to move the plot along. Maybe if I was a rabid fan of The Sopranos, I would enjoy seeming all the characters as they were in their younger days, but for me, it was one long trip of mob life that I never really cared enough about to feel anything when a character (or two) dies. Maybe filmmakers of The Many Saints of Newark should have taken the advice given in the first Godfather film ‘Leave the gun - take the cannoli.’ My Rating; Bargain Matinee The Many Saints of Newark Website Now playing in theatres nationwide and on the HBO Max platform.
My View: Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) PG-13 Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) has learned to live with the alien symbiote inside him named Venom, but they haven’t met Carnage, a fellow alien living inside the body of Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), a dangerous criminal who understands who and what Eddie is and wants to destroy him and Venom. I liked the first film, and they have taken what worked the best in that film, the interaction between Venom and Eddie, and made it even funnier. The action is fun, and it looks like Tom Hardy is having a great time playing this character (he co-wrote the story for the film). The ending is a little haphazard, with the final battle result feeling a little weak. Still, overall, this is a fun film that fans of Venom won’t be disappointed and yes, make sure to stay through the first section of the closing credits to see a big, and I mean big, bonus scene that is going to have everyone talking. I can’t wait to see what Eddie and Venom get into next! My Rating; Full Price Venom: Let There Be Carnage Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Indiefest: I’m Your Man (2021) R Desperate to obtain funds for her studies, a scientist, Alma (Maren Eggert), agrees to participate in an unbelievable experiment; live for three weeks with a humanoid robot (Dan Stevens) designed to make her happy. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The casting of the two leads is terrific, and they make you believe that a robot and a human are having conversations. There is a lot of humor in the film, but it isn’t a film that is played for laughs but for the romance that develops between the two despite the fact that Alma doesn’t want a relationship with anyone, much less a robot who has been created for her. The writing is incredibly well done, and the characters feel real (even the robot) and are richly drawn. I was afraid that the film would put itself into a corner that it couldn’t get out of, but I was blown away by how this film ended. I can see why Germany has nominated this film to be their selection to this year’s Academy Award Best International Feature Film. I can’t recommend this film more as itt gave this hopelessly romantic a thrill. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again I'm Your Man Website Now playing in select theatres.
Indiefest: Falling for Figaro (2020) Millie (Daniele Macdonald) seems to have everything; a great job, a good-looking but stuffy boyfriend, and a love for opera. Millie decides to chuck everything to pursue a career as an opera singer and leave her boyfriend behind to go to the Scottish Highlands to be taught by the legendary Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop (Joanna Lumley). This decision will change Millie in more ways than she could ever have thought. Macdonald, who wowed film festival audiences with her performance in Patti Cake$, has a fabulous presence on the screen, and I loved her in this role, except when she sang, mainly because it was annoyingly obvious that she wasn’t singing at all. Falling for Figaro is a film for opera lovers and anyone who wants a crash course in the big hits of the genre. While under the tutelage of the former opera diva played by Joanna Lumley, Millie slowly falls for the only other student that Meghan has, the surly, handsome Max, played by Hugh Skinner. The two have a nice chemistry together, and from the first meet, you know they are destined to be with each other. I usually like Joanna Lumley’s performances, but the film never gives us a reason to think that her unconventional methods would ever take a novice singer like Millie to become a success so quickly. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Falling for Figaro Website Now playing in select theatres.
Indiefest: Old Henry (2021) Henry (Tim Blake Nelson) is a widower, working a farm with his teenage son, Wyatt (Gavin Lewis), when a badly hurt man, Curry (Scott Haze), shows up on Wyatt’s farm with a satchel full of cash. When three men who claim that they are lawmen show up looking for the injured man, Henry must decide who to believe. The men and Henry’s teenage son will soon discover that Henry has hidden a past that he wishes had never happened. I am a big fan of westerns, and this one did not disappoint. The history of western films has many a reluctant hero, but Henry may be one of the most reluctant ever on the silver screen. A farmer who is happy in the hard work and is constantly being disappointed by his son’s lack of enthusiasm for the work. Into their lives comes a man Henry instantly dislikes and wants him gone as soon as possible, but fate has brought trouble to Henry and his son, and there is nothing that Henry can do to avoid it. Time Blake Nelson gives us a powerful but restrained performance of a man who just wants to work his land and be left alone. Nelson is brilliant in the role of the gruff Henry, who sees things very clearly for what they are, having lived a life that has seen many things. Old Henry has a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and a compelling and potent ending. Like its title character, this film packs a punch that you just might not see coming. My Rating: Full Price Old Henry Website Now playing in select theatres
Indiefest: The Jesus Music (2021) PG-13 From its humble beginnings at the Calvary Chapel in California to a multi-billion-dollar industry, the story of Christian Contemporary Music is a story that needs to be told about the soundtrack of a movement. I am a big fan of CCM and groups like Barlow Girl, Bethany Dillon, and Everlife, so I was really looking forward to this film. I enjoyed the insight into the early days of ‘The Jesus Revolution’ of the 60s and the look back at one of the vast music festivals of the 70s, Explo72, which brought contemporary Christian music to the forefront. The film is a good starting point for anyone interested in the genre, though they barely touch on some of the big acts, such as Point of Grace and Sandi Patty. The film is a little too close to the subject matter (it's from the directors who gave us the Christian movie I Can Only Imagine), so they only touch on a few subjects that aren’t positive (the backlash when mega-star Amy Grant got divorced and how the CCM music is dominated by white artists). Still, I enjoyed the stories from the early years, the fact that Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant are still close to this day, and that the music continues to inspire. My Rating: Bargain Matinee The Jesus Music Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Forgotten Film: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) R When a shark kills his partner, world-famous ocean explorer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) sets out with his team to get revenge. It will be an expedition that the world will soon not forget. The film is co-written and directed by Wes Anderson, and the outstanding cast includes Owen Wilson, who plays his long-forgotten son, Anjelica Huston as his estranged wife, Cate Blanchett as a reporter sent to chronicle the expedition, Willem Dafoe as Steve’s troubled right-hand man, and a few more characters played by Jeff Goldblum, Bud Cort, and Matthew Gray Gubler. This is a strange film to watch, and unlike a lot of Murray films recently, this one he is in almost every scene, but sometimes you feel that he is bored with the plot, which at times feels almost non-existent. Why do I want you to watch this film? Because Willem Dafoe is hilarious as Zissou’s weird German servant. I almost wish that he was the featured character of the movie instead of Steve Zissou. I will also say that the cinematography during the underwater sequences is stunning and breathtaking. So if you are a fan of Bill Murray or just have an afternoon to kill, watch this film and relish the Dafoe antics. My Rating: Bargain Matinee The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of Venom: Let There Be Carnage: Lead Face Modeler
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: A Mouthful of Air (2021) R Julie Davis (Amanda Seyfried) is a best-selling author who writes children's books that deal with unlocking your fears. She is warm, kind, and loving to her husband and her child. However, when her second child is born, she discovers that her past is catching up to her, and there is a secret which will reappear that will take everything Julie has to overcome. A Mouthful of Air Website