Saturday, March 26, 2022

Mike's Fearless 2022 Oscar Picks

I am picking who I think will win, not who I think should win. If I think there could be an upset or another winner, I’ll give you that alternate pick. 

Best Picture: CODA       Possible: The Power of the Dog

Directing: Jane Campion - The Power of the Dog

Lead Actress: Jessica Chastain - The Eyes of Tammy Faye     Possible: Penélope Cruz - Parallel Mothers

Lead Actor: Will Smith - King Richard     Possible: Benedict Cumberbatch - The Power of the Dog

Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose - West Side Story

Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur - CODA  

Adapted Screenplay: Siân Heder - CODA      Possible: Jane Campion - The Power of the Dog

Original Screenplay: Kenneth Branagh - Belfast      Possible: Paul Thomas Anderson - Licorice Pizza  

Animated Feature: Encanto      Possible: The Mitchells vs. The Machines

Documentary Feature: Summer of Soul      Possible: Flee

International Feature: Drive My Car      Possible: The Worst Person in the World

Cinematography: Greig Fraser - Dune     Possible: Ari Wegner - The Power of the Dog

Costume Design: Jenny Beavan - Cruella

Fim Editing: Joe Walker - Dune     Possible: Myron Kerstein,Andrew Weisblum - tick, tick…Boom!


Makeup and Hairstyling: Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, and Justin Raleigh - The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Production Design: Dune

Score: Hans Zimmer - Dune

Original Song: No Time to Die - No TIme to Die     Possible: Dos Oruguitas - Encanto

Sound: Dune

Visual Effects: Dune

Animated Short: Robin Robin

Documentary Short: The Queen of Basketball      Possible: Audible

Live Action Short: The Long Goodbye      Possible: Please Hold

Friday, March 25, 2022

The Lost City

My View: The Lost City (2022) PG-13  Romance novelist Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is on a book tour with her dimwitted cover model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum). While on tour, Loretta is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), an eccentric billionaire who is convinced that Loretta’s latest book is the key to a lost fortune. Consequently, Alan sets out to rescue Loretta…good luck with that. Too often, romantic comedy films that add in action/adventure have been poorly done and overacted (I'm looking at you, Melissa McCarthy). I am happy to say that The Lost City is a fun and well-done comedy with two stars who know how to do physical comedy, an art that has been all but forgotten. Fans of the 1984 film Romancing the Stone will love this film, as it plays on that type of film, both making fun of that type of action film and, at the same time, lovingly referencing it. Bullock and Tatum look to be having a blast making the film, though I have a feeling that Bullock got very tired of the purple, sequined jumpsuit that she spends most of the adventure in. The action sequences are well done and very funny. The playful banter between the two is hilarious, and Daniel Radcliffe, as the off-the-wall nuts billionaire, is a blast to watch. I had a great time going on an adventure with Loretta and Alan, and you will too.   My Rating: Full Price   The Lost City Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Topside (2020)    Deep in the underbelly of New York City, a five-year-old girl (Zhaila Farmer) and her mother (Celine Held) live among a group that has claimed the abandoned subway tunnels as their home until authorities discover them. Now, mother and daughter must go on the streets of NYC, a world the young girl knows nothing about. One of the oldest subjects in the history of film is the story of a mother trying to decide if her child is better off without her. In the case of Topside, Nikki, a woman who has a drug problem and leaves her daughter alone for hours at a time to support her drug habit, must decide to keep battling the system and her homelessness to keep her daughter or let the system take her daughter because she can’t provide much more than her love for the daughter she calls Little. Celine Held gives a powerful and moving performance of Nikki, a troubled woman who loves her daughter but can’t cope without drugs to survive. The film is a gut punch from the start, as we see Little exploring the lonely and dangerous world of the abandoned tunnels on her own as she waits for her mother to return. We are torn, as is Nikki, because we see how much Nikki cares for and loves Little, but we know, like Nikki, that it isn’t enough. When the two are forced to go ‘topside’ into the real world, the film comes to a crashing, emotional end that just might wreck you, much like it does with Little and Nikki.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Topside Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: 7 Days (2021)    Ravi (Karan Soni) and Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan) are two single people being set up by their mothers through a dating website. After a very uncomfortable pre-arranged date, they must shelter in place together after the COVID pandemic lockdown forces them to stay in Rita’s apartment. This is a funny, sweet film about two people who have very different outlooks on life and love. Ravi is best described as a mama’s boy who is desperate to fulfill his family's dream of him getting married and having a family. Rita is an independent woman who only goes along with the whole arranged marriage ordeal to keep her mother happy, while Rita carries on an affair with a married man. The film puts these two people together and lets them figure out that maybe, just maybe, they can find love in an unexpected place with someone who isn’t their perfect mate on a website. I loved the chemistry between Karan Soni and Geraldine Viswanathan, who worked together on the Daniel Radcliffe TV series Miracle Workers. The two play off each other with a light touch, making us believe that they could and should end up together in an unconventional love story for unconventional times.   My Rating: Full Price    7 Days Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: You Are Not My Mother (2021) R  In a North Dublin housing estate, Char’s mother, Angela (Carolyn Bracken), returns after mysteriously going missing, her personality radically changed. Despite her grandmother's objections (Ingrid Craigie), Char (Hazel Doupe) decides to uncover the truth of her mother’s disappearance and in turn, unearth the dark secrets of her family. Char is a young woman who is dealing with a lot. She is doing well academically but doesn’t have any friends and is constantly threatened by the school's bullies. She is shy and is very affected by the scar on her face, which she claims is a birthmark. She is being raised by her elderly grandmother, as her mother rarely comes out of her bedroom. Char’s life becomes complicated when her mother, after a disaster of a trip to take her daughter to school, almost ends in a car wreck disappears without a trace. When Char’s mother reappears without an explanation, Char notices that her mother’s personality has changed, so much so that Char can’t decide if it’s a good or a bad thing. Things began going badly in the house as Angela starts acting weird, and Char starts to feel that her mother may be dangerous. You Are Not My Mother is more of a suspense film than a horror film. Though Angela can be scary at times, it’s the psychological effects on Char that are most pressing in this film, as she realizes that the mother she once knew is no longer in the body of Angela. What we, along with Char, have to figure out is Angela’s change has been brought about by a mental breakdown, or is there something more sinister going on?   My Rating: Full Price    You Are Not My Mother Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View: Infinite Storm (2022)    Pam Bales (Naomi Watts), an experienced climber, is forced to turn back on her climb of Mt. Washington due to a massive blizzard that is fast approaching. On her way down, she encounters a lone, stranded man and takes it upon herself to get the both of them off of the mountain before nightfall and certain death. Infinite Storm is a harrowing story of survival and how one person can give another person help both physically and spiritually. We meet Pam, and we can tell that she is a determined woman who has had something painful happen in her past. We are given clues to what but don’t know the details. Then, just when Pam is about to turn back due to the conditions on the mountain, she finds a man dressed like he was going out on a summer hike, on top of a snowy mountain, freezing to death. Pam puts her survival skills to work and makes it her job to get this man, who is out of his mind, down the mountain before it becomes dark. Watts gives us an emotional and physically draining performance of a woman who, despite her problems, is so driven that she will do anything to get this man back down to safety. Be sure to wear a sweater to the theatre, as you will feel the constant coldness of the mountain, even as you are warmed by the determination of Pam to get you off the damn mountain.    My Rating: Full Price  Infinite Storm Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Prefontaine (1997) PG-13  Steve Prefontaine (Jared Leto) was a man who was determined to beat the odds, no matter what the cost. Prefontaine was a runner who was a superstar in the long-distance running for a very short time. Leto is captivating as Pre, a man who didn’t care who he beat or how he got there, just that he was in first at the finish line. As the film shows us, Pre was a man that wasn’t always likable, and that is what I enjoy about this film. Too often, films based on sports stars make heroes out of their subjects and don’t show us who they really were. Prefontaine gives us a tragic hero who wasn’t afraid to run on his terms and not conform to what people thought he should be.   My Rating: Full Price   Prefontaine Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Lost City: Cutter-Fitter

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Morbius  (2022) PG-13   Biochemist Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is trying to find a cure for a rare blood disease, one he has himself. In his attempt to find the cure, he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead. This much-delayed film is finally being released, and we can see what all the fuss has been about. Recently Leto has given us The Joker and Paolo Gucci, so let's see what he can do with a vampire.    Morbius Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, March 18, 2022


My View: Master (2022) R  Gail Bishop (Regina Hall) has been named dean at a prestigious New England university, the first Black dean in the school’s history. Jasmine (Zoe Renee) is a new student at the university, and she learns that the students at this school believe that the campus is haunted. Both Gail and Jasmine aren’t just dealing with systemic racism at the university because there is something far more sinister in these hallowed halls. Something that could prove deadly. This is not your ordinary horror film as it only makes up half of this film’s content. The other half is about racism, white privilege, and how institutions of high learning are more about politics and less about higher education. The film follows two stories connected by a sinister force that is alive and well on the campus; the question is, is it a supernatural force, or is it just underlying racism that hides under the surface. I liked this film for the first two-thirds, but then the storyline fails to come to a satisfying ending, leaving me wanting more from its resolution. The film doesn’t quite deliver on the scares, and I didn’t think the character of Jasmine was ever in mortal danger that the film wants you to feel that she is in. Still, there is quite a bit that you will be discussing afterwards about this film and its subject matter.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Master Website   Now playing in select theatres and on the Amazon Prime platform.

Indiefest: The Outfit  (2022) R  Leonard (Mark Rylance) is an English tailor who used to work on London’s Savile Row. After a personal tragedy, Leonard now makes his home in Chicago, in a part of town where only mobsters can afford his hand-crafted suits. Basically, all Leonard wants to do is be left alone to make clothes with his assistant (Zoey Deutch), but his life is about to get complicated when two killers show up on his shop’s doorstep. This is an absolute thrill ride of a film where you are kept guessing until the end. Buoyed by a brilliant performance by Mark Rylance and a script that values words more than actions, this film is a mystery inside another mystery. It slowly peels back its layers of plot woven together better than any other fine suit that Leonard constructs. The Outfit is a film that lets Rylance show us just how good an actor he is, giving us a far craftier and wise character than the people around him. I can’t tell you how much fun I had watching this film, making me think of some of the great Hitchcock films of the 30s and how a character can get them in and out of impossible situations, taking us along for the thrilling ride.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Outfit Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Deep Water (2022) R Vic (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (Ana de Armas), on the surface, have the perfect marriage. However, both love to play mind games, and their marriage is holding on by a thread. Vic allows Melinda to take any number of lovers, as long as she doesn’t desert her family. Their marriage is about to fall apart when one of Melinda’s former lovers is discovered murdered. While I don’t think this is a great film, I still enjoyed going on this weird, strange, and sometimes horrifying journey with two very messed-up people. Directed by Adrian Lyne (Flashdance, 9 1/2 Weeks, Fatal Attraction) and based on a book by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley), this is a mystery/suspense film about two people who are in a twisted and peculiar relationship. The film is sure to be compared to Gone Girl (2014) and possibly the Harrison Ford film Presumed Innocent (1990), this film is about two people who are in a relationship that is complicated, messy, and dangerous. Affleck and de Armas portray to beautiful people that do very ugly things to each other. This film takes a lot of twists and turns, with you wondering if you saw something that was real or fantasy until the very end.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Deep Water Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Familyfaire: Cheaper by the Dozen (2022) PG  Zoey (Gabrielle Union) and Paul (Zach Braff) are parents of a large blended family, the Bakers. Whoever thought living in this family of 12 would be easy thought wrong. This is the third version of Cheaper by the Dozen. The first is an excellent classic film from the 1950s that stars Clifton Webb. The second was a mildly funny film starring Steve Martin from the 90s. And now we have a modern-day version that is painful to watch. Incredibly dull, not a bit funny, and so long it seems to last for days, this version is an attempt to pack a lot into a film that doesn’t work as a comedy or as a commentary on race relations. Add into the mix some horrible acting by some of the kids and a script that is so poorly constructed I almost got whiplash from the events of the film (the family goes from barely paying their bills to a mansion in an exclusive neighborhood in a matter of days) and you have a film that is just dull to watch. Go watch one of the latest animated films from Disney or the wonderful Mitchells vs the Machines if you want some family fun because this version of Cheaper by the Dozen doesn’t even come close to being entertaining.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Cheaper by the Dozen Website  Now playing on the Disney+ platform.

Forgotten Film: White Fang (1991) PG  The story of a young man who goes to the Yukon to find gold and a dog who was raised by wolves. The two find each other in the wilds of Alaska and make a great team to survive the wilderness together. I loved this book as a kid, and though the film doesn’t quite match the book in the storyline, it’s still a great adventure film. I think we forget just how good an actor Ethan Hawke was at such an early age. The film is one of the better wilderness action films and has a dog you will fall in love with. What more could you want?   My Rating: Full Price    White Fang Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Outfit: Rushes Runner

Coming Soon to Screen Near You: The Northman (2022) R A Viking prince (Alexander Skarsgard) has come back to avenge his father’s death and rescue his mother. From filmmaker Robert Eggers (The Witch) comes an epic tale with a cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Anya Taylor-Joy. Add in Bjork as a character named Seeress, and you have a movie that could be really interesting to watch.    The Northman Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, March 11, 2022

Turning Red

Familyfaire: Turning Red  (2022) PG   Mei Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) is a 13-year-old who has her best friends always at her side, and unfortunately, her overbearing mother, Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh), watching her every move. It’s bad enough to be a teenager, but suddenly, Mei Lee is turning into a giant Red Panda every time she gets excited. What’s a girl to do? I am a huge fan of Pixar, as they constantly bring us films that are funny warm and make you think about your place in the world. Turning Red is about puberty, an event that, when growing up, no one ever warns you about but hits everyone with a bang. In this case, Mei Lee is hit with a curse that turns her into a big Red Panda when she gets overly excited, something hard to avoid when your body and mind are put into overdrive by puberty. This is a beautiful, brilliant, and laugh-out-loud film that gives us a profound look at a young woman who survives the heartbreak and stress with the help of her family, friends, and maybe just a little help from a boy band. Filmmaker Domee Shi gives us a tale that, like Mei Lee, is both unique and relatable at the same time, one that will be treasured.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Turning Red Website  Now playing on the Disney+ platform.

My View: The Adam Project  (2022) PG-13   A time-traveling pilot (Ryan Reynolds) teams up with his 12-year-old younger self (Walker Scobell) and his father (Mark Ruffalo) to stop time travel and save the Earth from destruction. First, let's give Netflix some props for putting together one of the most likable casts ever with a group including Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Ganer, Catherine Keener, Zoe Saldana, and Walker Scobell. The film lets Reynolds riff like we know he can, but he has met his match in Walker Scobell, who plays Reynolds's younger self as the wise-cracking young Adam, a kid who makes up for his lack of size with his wit and humor. Scobell is perfect in the role of the young Adam and is able to keep up with Reynolds, making their interactions the best part of the film. Keener is a bit wasted as the villain of the piece, and it’s never quite clear what her master plan is, but the film moves a such a quick pace, with quips flying across the screen, that you probably won’t notice it. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the film constantly makes fun of sci-fi tropes like the multiverse, and the sacred timelines from the future can’t intersect with the past. It helps that Zoe Saldana comes in to kick some butt while giving us a romantic partner for Reynolds to pine after. While not a great film due to its rather flimsy plot, it's a blast to watch because Reynolds and Scobell are having such a fun time trying to save us from the evils of time travel.   My Rating: Full Price   The Adam Project Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: All My Friends Hate Me  (2021) Pete (Tom Stourton) reluctantly goes on a birthday weekend trip with his old college crew. Soon, Pete notices that his friends are slowly turning against him. Is he being punished, paranoid, or is this some sort of sick revenge for something he did in the past? This is one of those films that will take me a while to figure out if I liked it, but I'm glad I did watch it. Part horror film, part dark comedy, it's a film that you, like Pete, are trying to figure out if Pete’s friends are just out and out mean, or is it all in Pete’s mind? All My Friends Hate Me is a film that plays on our expectations of how things should go versus how things turn out. Is it Pete’s fault for feeling his friends don’t like him, or are they truly turning against him? You won’t find out until near the end, but it’s worth the experience the get the answer.   My Rating: Full Price   All My Friends Hate Me Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Tyson’s Run (2022) PG   Tyson (Major Dodson) is a teen with autism who, up to now, has been home-schooled by his mother (Amy Smart). He decides to go to the high school where his father (Rory Cochrane) is the football coach. To try to be close to his father and with the help with a fellow student (Layla Felder) and a professional runner (Barkhad Abdi), Tyson decides to run a marathon. It’s a decision that will change Tyson and his family forever. I have a soft spot in my heart for films like this, a movie that doesn’t quite deliver but is so earnest in the attempt. Tyson’s Run is a story that never get the tug on the heartstrings that it needs and a plot that is incredibly thin in its story. The film is helped by a strong performance by Amy Smart, as the mother who believes in her son, and a welcomed performance by Barkhad Abdi, who plays a former professional runner who takes Tyson under his wing. The film has an ending that pushes reality to almost a breaking point, but it’s a movie with a good heart. I just wish the writing was better.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Tyson's Run Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

Indiefest: Compartment No. 6 (2021) R  An archeology student from Finland, Laura (Seidi Haarla), is taking a train all the way up to the arctic circle in Russia to visit an archeological site. Unfortunately, on this long train trip, she has to share a tiny sleeping compartment on the train with a gruff Russian stranger, Ljoha (Yurly Borisov), with whom she has nothing in common with. Hollywood has been making this story for as long as movies have been around; the two strangers, who have no common ground, and against the odds, find love and friendship with each other. Except, in this case, the two characters, unlike most Hollywood tales, aren’t very likable and at no time during this film do we believe that they should be together. What makes this film worth watching is just that; two characters that shouldn’t be together stuck on a long train ride in cramp quarters and through their time together, find out that maybe, just maybe, they have something in common that they can share with each other. Hollywood would have turned this into a rom-com, a film full of laughs and a happy ending. However, Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen gives us a more realistic movie, with two unhappy, ordinary people finding common ground to connect with long enough to survive a brutal trip into the unknown. My Rating; Full Price   Compartment No. 6 Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Ironweed (1987) R   In 1938 Albany, New York, two lost souls, Francis (Jack Nicholson) and Helen (Meryl Streep), find each other, and for a time, that is enough until the sins of the past come back. This is a hard film to watch as Streep and Nicholson, at the height of their acting profession, play two alcoholics who use liquor to hide from their past. Francis is haunted by the deaths he has caused, and Helen is tormented by what she could have become. It’s a film filled with two performances that will astound you and make you shake your head in despair. Streep’s performance is one of her best, and her entrance, thirty minutes into the film, is jaw-dropping. Ironweed is a film that you probably will only watch once, but it is one that will long stay with you.   My Rating: Full Price   Ironweed Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Turning Red: Sweatbox Manager

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Twin (2022) A mother (Teresa Palmer) is still grieving for her dead son when the surviving twin starts acting strange around her. She must now confront the unbearable truth about her surviving son. I am a fan of Teresa Palmer, and I hope that this horror film will give us a scare or two.   The Twin Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, March 4, 2022

The Batman

My View: The Batman  (2022) PG-13  The Batman is about the Caped Crusader, Batman (Robert Pattinson), in his second year of fighting crime, uncovering corruption in Gotham City that connects to his own family while battling a criminal known as The Riddler for control of his city. When I was a boy, my favorite comic book character was Batman because he wasn’t a person with superpowers, but he used his gadgets and mind to solve crimes. Like the other hero of my childhood, Sherlock Holmes, Batman solved crimes using his intellect. What filmmaker Matt Reeves has brought us a Batman who is fighting a losing battle for control of a city that he loves. Pattinson is brilliant as the brooding crime-fighter trying to figure out who is killing the city’s most important and influential powerbrokers, as each gruesome killing is left with a riddle in a greeting card. Zoë Kravitz lights up the screen as Selina Kyle, Catwoman, who enlists The Batman to help her find her missing lover/roommate. Even so, it’s Paul Dano, who steals the film with his performance as The Riddler. For most of the film, we only see The Riddler in videos he releases, as he hides behind an odd bit of masking. Dano is scary as the mad, evil Riddler, who leaves clues for Batman at every murder he has committed. The Batman is not an origin story. We don’t get the usual flashback to when Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered before his eyes; instead, this is a Batman that we already know, a crime-fighter battling his own demons as he takes on the worst of humanity. And know this: you will not recognize Colin Farrell as The Penguin. It is a fantastic bit of screen magic with The Penguin looking more like a gangster than the quacking cartoon character of other Batman films. I will warn you that you will want to hold off on drinking anything before or during the film as the running time is almost 3 hours in length, and you won’t want to miss anything on the screen to take a pee break. And yes, the film sets up another Batman film, and of course, there is a tiny surprise at the end of the final credits. So go on a journey with the Batman to solve crimes and defeat the criminals that threaten his beloved Gotham City.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Batman Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Fresh (2022) R    Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is tired of the dating scene and has given up trying to find a good guy until she meets Steve (Sebastian Stan), a charming guy who seems to be perfect. However, Noa is about to discover that dating can be horrible, even horrific. With an opening credits scene that doesn’t start until 30 minutes into the film, you know you are in for something different. Let’s just say that Steve isn’t who or what he says he is and that Noa is in a lot of danger. To say that this film has a big twist in it would be an understatement, and some viewers will give up when they encounter that twist. Still, if you have the stomach for it, the rewards are worth it. With two outstanding performances by Sebastian Stan, as the ever-charming Steve and Daisy Edgar-Jones as the down on dating Noa, who becomes our fearless hero, Fresh is a strange and wonderful film full of surprises. It is more commentary on dating and the power of relationship dynamics than a horror film. But don’t kid yourself; it can be pretty horrific. You may never look at a ‘meet cute’ get-together the same way again.   My Rating: Full Price  Fresh Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

My View:  The Weekend Away  (2022)   Beth (Leighton Meester) is on a weekend vacation, far from her husband and baby, to visit her best friend Kate (Christina Wolfe) in Croatia. After a night of partying, Beth discovers that Kate has been murdered. Consequently, Beth is in a foreign country with no friends, the main suspect for Kate’s death, and no way of knowing what happened. The Weekend Away is a standard murder mystery that is helped by an excellent performance by Leighton Meester, playing a woman who is taking a break from her family to party with her best friend. Meester is the only thing that saves this from becoming your ordinary basic cable mystery. The story is as old as Lifetime has been making movies, with a plot of a woman who can’t remember what happened after a night of partying and her friend disappearing. Add into the plot with your usual fear tactics thrown in about our hero all alone in a foreign country, having to trust a stranger, and the deck continually stacking against her. There are a few twists to the story, but anyone who has seen any number of true crime stories on TV can figure out who the killer is by the time our hero does. Is it worth an afternoon on a weekend to watch? Sure, but don’t expect much.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Weekend Away Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Lucy and Desi    (2022)  PG  This documentary explores the life and love of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who became one of the most prolific power couples in entertainment and changed TV forever. I will admit that I have never been a fan of I Love Lucy. I didn’t enjoy the characters, the wacky situations, and the constant mistrust between Lucy and Desi. While I admired Lucille Ball’s ability to make any scene funny, I just never was a big fan of the series. Having watched this outstanding documentary from Amy Poehler, my admiration for Lucille Ball has grown. Poehler utilizes home movies and tape recordings that Lucy made during her lifetime to give us an inside look at a couple that changed the way TV was produced and had such an impact on network television. So much so that it is still using the model that Lucy and Desi created, both in front and behind the camera. Lucy's fans will go nuts with all the behind-the-scenes photos and home movies (in glorious color the see that flaming redhead)  along with the amazing bits of publicity photos and films that were made during their careers. The film doesn’t just concentrate on Lucy but gives Desi a much-needed run in the spotlight, letting us see the man who was a driving force behind the scenes of what became a TV-producing machine that dominated the TV landscape for years. The film doesn’t put the blame on one person for the marriage falling apart. The film makes it clear that both parties had faults that made the marriage doomed from the start. That’s made even more evident when both Lucy and Desi found a second love that they spent the rest of their lives with. Lucy and Desi is a brilliant documentary about a couple whose love and partnership changed how people watched television. It is also a love story that will bring you much laughter and a few tears, just like their groundbreaking show did.    My Rating: Full Price   Lucy and Desi Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform.

Indiefest: After Yang   (2021) PG  In the near future, a family deals with the breakdown of their A.I. helper named Yang (Justin H. Min). Jake (Colin Farrell) searches for a way to get Yang repaired, who has become an integral part of their family and Jake’s daughter’s beloved companion. Jake will soon discover that this life is full of wonder and revelations. This is a film about love, loss, and what it means to be a parent. Jake goes on a quest first to find a way to get his A.I. helper Yang repaired. Finding roadblocks after roadblocks, he gives up in his quest to restore Yang, and instead, discovering a secret memory chip in Yang, Jake goes on a journey to find out what made Yang who he was. After Yang is a film about a family and how its dynamic is threatened by the loss of a loved one, even if that person is a robot. Yang is an essential part of the family; part teacher, part nanny but most of all, a friend who helps the family discover things about themselves. After Yang is a powerful and meaningful film about a family that learns how to reconnect with each other after depending on someone else to do the connecting. Incredibly, this film is being released the same week that Colin Farrell gives an entirely different performance as The Penguin in The Batman. In After Yang, Farrell provides us with a man in Jake who has lost his way but finds his place back in his family by discovering what made Yang so unique. And by the way, the opening credits of the film make it worth the price of admission by itself.   My Rating; Full Price    After Yang Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: Huda’s Salon (2021)  PG  Reem (Maisa Abd Elhadi) is a Palestinian woman with a newborn and an abusive husband. Reem's life changes forever on a routine visit to her hairdresser, Huda (Manal Awad). This is a film about two stories. One is the tale of a woman who is being blackmailed, and the other is the story of the blackmailer. In both cases, the two women are stuck in impossible situations, with nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help. Both women are tools of a system that keeps feeding on itself in a war that no one can win. Huda's Salon is a psychological thriller where you have no idea if or when these women can escape from their predicaments, and you realize that even if they do escape their present situation, their lives will never be the same. Of the two actresses, Abd Elahid, as Reem, the innocent mother who finds herself in an impossible situation, gives the better performance of a woman who looks for help but can only find that help from within.   My Rating: Full Price   Huda's Salon Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film:  Paperhouse   (1988)  PG-13   A lonely young girl (Charlotte Burke) draws a house with a young boy in a window. She then has a dream where she visits the boy, a boy who is disabled. The more she draws and dreams, the more she becomes immersed in a world that she may never escape. Paperhouse is a fascinating and lovely film about imagination and dreams and how they can come true and is one of those films that once you see it, it will stay with you a long time.   My Rating: Full Price    Paperhouse Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Batman: Virtual Reality Illustrator  

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Umma (2022) R  Amanda (Sandra Oh) and her daughter (Fivel Stewart) live on an isolated farm, raising bees without modern technology. Their world is shaken when Amanda receives the cremated ashes of her estranged mother, and their lives are taken over by a restless, evil spirit that will stop at nothing to come back. Sandra Oh in a horror film? Count me in!    Umma Info

Until Next Time!