Friday, April 29, 2022


My View: Memory (2022) R   An assassin-for-hire, Alex (Liam Neeson), becomes a target himself after he refuses to complete a job for a notorious criminal organization. Now Alex must hunt down the people who hired him. However, Alex is hampered by a memory that is beginning to falter, blurring the lines between right and wrong. We have all seen this plot before; an aging hitman wants to quit but decides to take one last job, then decides not to go through with it because it involves killing a kid. The twist in this film is that the hitman is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s. Neeson has, of late, been doing the hitman done wrong in quite a few films lately, and it's getting really old. Sure it has a nice twist where our hero is having such trouble with his memory that he writes stuff on his arm with a sharpie to help him on his hits, but this film drags on and on. There is so much exposition with characters explaining every detail of what they find out (or don’t) that it probably makes this film last 15 minutes longer than it should. What could have been an interesting look at an aging hitman becomes a dull story of revenge that just seems to go on and on.   My Rating: Cable   Memory Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

My View: Crush (2022)    Page (Rowan Blanchard) is a talented art student in her senior year of high school. In order to be close to her ‘crush,’ Gabby. Page joins the track team. Although Page stinks at track, she is about to discover that love can be complicated when she finds that she is falling for someone else, Gabby’s sister AJ (Auli’i Cravalho). It’s fun to see a film where ‘coming out is not the main subject and is even used a couple of times as a source of jokes. Instead, being gay is just a part of the high school way of life. This is a pleasant and funny look at high school crushes and romance with a cast that has fun with it. Rowan Blanchard is delightful as Page, a slightly goofy, clumsy girl who has a crush on a fellow high school student. Page joins the track team to be close to Page, but instead of being paired with Gabby, she seems always to be paired with Gabby’s twin, AJ. I had fun watching this film, and while it’s not anything to get excited about, it’s still a blast to watch Page try her best to get close to Gabby, all the while, we know that she will end up with AJ in the end.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Crush Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Indiefest: Anaïs in Love (2021) R  Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier) is a 30-year-old woman floundering in life. She meets Daniel (Denis Podalydes), an older man who almost instantly falls for her. However, Daniel lives with his long-term girlfriend, a writer named Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). Anaïs becomes obsessed with Emilie and makes it her mission to have Emilie fall in love with her. Anaïs is a young woman you will fall in love with despite being impulsive, self-centered, and flighty. She is the type of young woman who thinks nothing of letting a boyfriend know that she is pregnant and will have an abortion while breaking up with him. She gets by because she is beautiful and is full of life, the kind of young woman who can talk her way out of owning back rent or taking off at the last minute to go to a conference that she hasn’t been invited to. Anaïs is floating by in life until she meets Emilie, an older woman who is a distinguished writer. It doesn’t matter that Emilie is involved with Daniel, a man that Anaïs has had an affair with. She has set her sights on Emilie, and nothing will get in the way of getting close to her. Anaïs Demoustier is perfect in the role, an actress that fills the screen with life and self-confidence, something that Anaïs, the character, is abounding with. Anaïs in Love is a fun and lovely film that makes you want to fall in love and have that excitement and thrill of seeing a person who makes your world go around.   My Rating: Full Price   Anais In Love Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Charlotte (2021)   Charlotte is a young German-Jewish painter who comes of age in Berling on the eve of the Second World War. Charlotte has dreams of becoming a famous artist but realizes that her world is changing quickly and dangerously, and she leaves Berlin for the safety of the South of France. She finds new love and begins painting again, but a family secret threatens her work and life. This is an animated story of Charlotte Salomon, an artist who died in a concentration camp but not before creating 1000 paintings that told her life story. Charlotte is a gorgeous film that lovely tells her story and gives us an insight into many of her paintings. It’s a sad story but one that is also full of love and beauty.   My Rating: Full Price   Charlotte Website  Now playing in select theatres.
My View: The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes (2022)    The life and death of Marilyn Monroe has fascinated the world. Now a documentary explores the end of the icon with unheard interviews with both Marilyn and her inner circle. Will these previously secret tapes uncover the mystery of Marilyn? The life and death of Marilyn is probably one of the world’s most documented lives. Marilyn continues, even after so long to fascinate us, and her death has always been shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories. Does this film give us much more insight into her life and her untimely death at age 36? Not really. I didn’t learn much more about Marilyn than I already knew. There certainly isn’t anything shocking or revealing about what was most likely an accidental overdose or a suicide. We do get to hear interviews with some somewhat shady individuals, but mostly they only confirm that Marilyn had affairs with both the Kennedy brothers while John was the President and maybe long before. Overall, if you don’t know much about Marilyn’s life, it’s a good primer, but will you learn anything new? The answer is no as I think the mystery has long been solved.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Forgotten Film: The Art of Getting By (2011) PG-13   George (Freddie Highmore) is a high school kid who just doesn’t try to do anything in life. He is proud of the fact that he has never done anything in high school because George doesn’t see why he should. Then he meets two people, Sally (Emma Roberts), a fellow student who suddenly takes a liking to him, and his art teacher (Jarlath Conroy), who thinks that George has talent and could be an artist if he just found some inspiration. George has a lot of people in his life that want him to apply himself, but until Sally, there was never a reason to do so. I love this movie because of the chemistry between Highmore and Roberts, who work incredibly well on screen. The plot is a little predictable, and I am not totally happy with the 2nd half of the film, but Roberts and Highmore make it a movie worth watching.   My Rating: Full Price   The Art of Getting By Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Crush: Mural Scenic

Coming Soon to a Screen Near Your:  Senior Year (2022) A cheerleading accident left her in a coma for 20 years. Now she is awake and ready to return for her senior year of high school…as a 37-year-old. Senior Year stars Rebel Wilson, and that’s enough for me to see it.    Senior Year Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, April 22, 2022

The Bad Guys

Familyfaire: The Bad Guys (2022) PG   The Bad Guys is about a gang of master thieves led by the Big Bad Wolf (voiced by Sam Rockwell). When the gang is caught trying to steal a priceless award, Professor Marmalade (voiced by Richard Ayoade) vows to turn the gang into ‘The Good Guys.’ Undoubtedly, Wolf and his gang will turn the attempt into another way to steal the award back. I liked the Ocean’s Eleven aspects of the plot with slow motion and split screens, and I loved Craig Robinson’s Shark character, who though a giant shark, is a master of disguise. Kids will love the not stop action and the silly characters, though I quickly got tired of the farting piranha. There is enough substance to the plot, including a very cool twist at the end, to keep parents from getting bored. Overall, not a bad way to spend some time with a motley group of thieves led by a big, bad wolf who has a weakness for a little kitty.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Bad Guys Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

My Take: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent   (2022) R  A cash-strapped Nicolas Cage (yes, that Nic Cage) has decided to retire from acting and agrees to make an appearance for 1 million dollars at a billionaire’s (Pedro Pascal) birthday party. It gets complicated when Nic learns that the billionaire is not only a fan but is a drug kingpin, and the CIA wants Nic to spy on him and save a kidnapped teenager. I am a big fan of Nicolas Cage (having discovered him in a Forgotten FIlm of mine, Valley Girl), and I love it when actors aren’t too full of themselves to be able to make fun of their personas. Well, Mr. Cage, I salute you. Unbearable Weight is a fun film full of letting Nic Cage be Nic Cage. If you are a fan of any of his movies, this is one for you. There are constant references to Cage’s films, both good and bad. Pedro Pascal is hilarious as the billionaire with a Nic Cage crush. The scenes where Cage and Pascal go to town while on LSD had me constantly cracking up. The plot is a little silly, and I had a tough time with Tiffany Haddish’s over-the-top portrayal of a CIA agent who forces Cage to become a spy looking for a kidnapped girl. However, this is too much fun of a film to be ruined by one bad performance. So go and take a ride on the Nicolas Cage experience. You won’t be disappointed.   My Rating: Full Price   The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

My Take: Polar Bear (2022) PG  Polar Bear is about a new mother as she raises her cubs in a world that has become increasingly hard due to the polar bears shrinking habitat. I am going to warn you right off the bat that you will need some tissues while watching this film. Nature can be cruel, and this film is about how polar bears are quickly losing their habitat, and very soon, if things don’t change, they won’t be able to survive. Yes, there are some beautiful shots of the two cubs playing with each other in the snow and scenes where we see just how much the mother loves her cubs. And there is a wonderful scene where two adult bears play and dance about on the snow and ice. But, and this is big, there is also hardship and death, where the film doesn’t pull any punches in its hard-hitting reality. The film is beautifully narrated by Catherine Keener, who lets us experience the movie through the eyes of one of the young cubs as they grow up under the protection and guidance of their fierce but loving mother. Polar Bear is a film that will touch your heart and maybe, just maybe, inspire you to help protect these magnificent creatures. My Rating: Full Price   Polar Bear Website  Now playing on the Disney+ platform.

My Take: The Northman  (2022) R   The Northman is a tale about a Viking prince, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), who, after years away, has come back to avenge his father’s (Ethan Hawke) death and rescue his mother (Nichole Kidman). Filmmaker Robert Eggers is known for making films that are a little strange, a little weird. I was expecting a whole lot of strange, but instead, I got a fantastic Norse tale that has some magic and a few horse-riding gods, but overall it’s a bloody story of revenge and fate, with a little bit of Shakespeare thrown in. Alexander Skarsgård fills the screen with his hulking body as he fights his way, one bloody step at a time, to get revenge on his father’s brother, who killed his father, stole his crown, and took Amleth's mother as his bride. Amleth witnesses all this as a boy, and as he escapes, he vows revenge. We skip to years later, and Amleth is on the search for his mother and his uncle. Along the way, he meets a slave, Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is eager to help Amleth in his quest, and little by little, Amleth starts killing his uncle's tribe, all the while hiding out as a slave. The Northman is a magical tale full of blood and chopped-off heads, along with a healthy dose of Viking lore and a landscape that is beautiful but harsh. The fight sequences are savage, and the revenge is ruthless, but so are the people that inhabit this world. This is a tale of one man’s obsession and how far he will go for that revenge he can almost smell and taste.    My Rating: Full Price  The Northman Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Forgotten Film: Birth (2004) R   It’s been ten years since losing her husband, Sean, to a heart attack while jogging, and now Anna (Nicole Kidman) is about to get re-married. At the party to celebrate a family birthday, a mysterious young boy shows up uninvited and tells everyone that he is Sean, Anna’s late husband. And so starts the strange and captivating film Birth. As you can imagine, Anna is so slow to believe that her husband has been reincarnated into this little boy, but as she gets to know the new ‘Sean,’ she learns that he knows facts about her and her family that only the original Sean could know. The question is, will you, the viewer believe that Sean the boy is Sean the husband. Kidman gives a spectacular performance of a woman who loved her first husband and wants that feeling to return. Cameron Bright is convincing as Sean, who takes his place in the world very seriously and wants Anna back in his life. Birth is a film that takes a turn near the end that may or maybe not answer all your questions.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Birth Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Bad Guys: Wolf’s Car Design

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is trying to deal with the aftermath of the Avengers' battle with Thanos. Should he retire and give up being a superhero? But there is a new foe to fight, Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), and Thor asks his friends to help take down Gorr, who intends to make the gods extinct. Directed by Taika Waititi, appearances by the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Christian Bale? I think that’s enough to see this next Marvel film, don’t you?   Thor: Love and Thunder Website

Until Next Time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

46th Annual Atlanta Film Festival and Creative Conference April 21 - May 1, 2022


It’s time for my favorite event in Atlanta, the Atlanta Film Festival! With 29 feature-length films, including 11 Marquee screenings and a total of 155 creative works from around the world, the Atlanta Film Festival is an event film lovers won’t want to miss. ATLFF is presenting some of the best upcoming films that Hollywood has to offer, including movies from top studios and films that previously played at Sundance.  

ATLFF 2022 will be more accessible than ever, offering a mix of in-person and virtual screenings and virtual Q&A sessions with filmmakers. Screenings will be held at three venues, the Plaza Theatre (1049 Ponce De Leon Ave NE), Dad’s Garage (569 Ezzard St SE), and The Carter Center (453 Freedom Parkway). All virtual screenings and events will be presented via Eventive. 

The long-running festival has always been a distinguished event, recognized as the ‘Best Spring Festival’ by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and one of the ’25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World’ and one of the ’50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee' by MovieMaker Magazine.

The Opening Night Presentation, taking place at the Plaza Theatre on Friday, April 22, 892, is a dramatic thriller starring John Boyega, the late Michael K. Williams, Nicole Beharie, and Connie Britton. 892 follows a Marine war veteran who faces mental and emotional challenges when he tries to reintegrate back into civilian life. Screenwriter Kwame Kwei-Armah will be on-hand for the red carpet screening. 

The Closing Night Presentation on Saturday, April 30, at the Plaza Theatre is the Disney+ documentary Mija. Directed by Isabel Castro, the film follows Doris Muñoz, who began a career in music talent management and met Jacks Haupt, an auspicious young singer, and both share the ever-present guilt of being the first American-born members of their undocumented families.

The narrative features lineup is outstanding, including Cha Cha Real Smooth starring Dakota Johnson and written and directed by Cooper Raiff, Emily the Criminal starring Aubrey Plaza and Theo Rossi, and Summering, a coming of age story directed by Georgia-native and celebrated ATLFF alumni James Ponsoldt. Documentary feature highlights include Look At Me!, an inside look at a gifted young rapper's tumultuous rise to fame before his death at the age of 20, with never-before-seen footage as XXXTentacion's inner circle speaks out, and REFUGE, a story about fear and love in the American South from local Atlanta directors Erin Levin Bernhardt and Din Blankenship. 

The festival is also known for its short film categories and is one of the few festivals in the country that offer Academy Award-qualifying for all three of the short categories: Narrative, Documentary, and Animated. One hundred twenty-four short films make up the festival, 24 of which are from Georgia.

The popular Creative Conference will be ongoing again at the festival, with workshops, panels, talks, and demos will delve into the world of filmmaking, focusing on topics such as screenwriting, pitching, acting, producing, casting, funding, and distribution, and how they all come together to make a film or television episode. The highlights include Masterclasses, panels, and conversations with actress Antonia Gentry (star of Netflix’s Ginny and Georgia), actress Priah Ferguson (Stranger Things), actor Atkins Estimond (Hightown), producer/director Cherien Dabis (Only Murders in the Building, Ozark), actress Danielle Deadwyler (The Harder They Fall), showrunner Nick Antosca (Candy), cinematographer Daniel Patterson (The Last OG), director Stacey Muhammed (Black-ish, Queen Sugar), comedy writer Robert Peacock (Mad About You), VFX editor Barry Murphy (1883), and many more.

The full schedule of films and events is now available at Festival passes and tickets for individual events are on sale now on the site.

The Atlanta Film Festival is the chief annual operation of the Atlanta Film Society (ATLFS), one of the oldest and largest organizations dedicated to the promotion and education of film in the United States, which enriches the community through screenings, classes, workshops, and other events year-round.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

My View:  Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore  (2022) PG-13   Professor Dumbledore (Jude Law) has entrusted Newt (Eddie Redmayne) to lead a team of wizards, witches, and one brave Muggle baker to go on a dangerous mission to stop the powerful Dark wizard Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) from seizing control of the wizarding world. Newt and his team will encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s legion of followers to save the world. The question is, just how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines? So this is the third (and possibly final) film in the Fantastic Beasts series. I enjoyed the first film but didn’t like the 2nd one, finding it confusing and lacking the wonder and fun of the first film. I am also not a fan of Johnny Depp, who, after a stellar career early on, has become someone who mails in his performances and brings a campiness to films that don’t need it. I’m happy to say that for this third installment, Depp has been replaced by Mads Mikkelsen in the role of Grindelwald, the villain of the story. Mikkelsen gives a much more restrained version of Grindelwald and makes the villain more menacing than Depp’s cartoonish interpretation. That being said, while I enjoyed this film much more than the 2nd installment, it is very evident that J.K. Rowling, who wrote the script of the first two films and the Harry Potter books, is making this film about the politics of the last ten years and the film suffers for it. I also had trouble with the fact that Porpentina ‘Tina’ (Katherine Waterston), the love interest of Newt and his main supporter in the previous two films, is barely in this film, with almost no explanation. Now, all that being said, I still enjoyed the movie, primarily because of Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Newt, who has this wonderful screen presence, making Newt someone who sees the wonder in the world and wants to protect these fantastic, magical creatures. Also, the film is helped by Dan Fogler, as the love-lorn Jacob Kowalski, the Muggle baker who, with his good nature and humor, helps the team in sticky situations, all the while morning that his beloved Queenie has gone to the bad side. It is rumored that there will only be more Fantastic Beasts films if this one does well at the box office. I’m ok, either way, as this is a fine ending to the Fantastic Beasts saga.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Fantastic Beasts Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Father Stu  (2022) R  Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg) has been a boxer and a wannabe actor, constantly failing and getting into trouble. After a near-fatal accident, Stu decides to become a priest. Along the way, Stu will be given many more obstacles to overcome along his journey from self-destruction to redemption. Father Stu is one of those films whose heart is in the right place but can’t deliver the power or emotional impact that this film sorely needs. It is very evident that Wahlberg put a lot into the role of Stuart, and it has come out that Mark also put a lot of his own money into the film. I wish that passion made it to the screen. The film moves along at a barreling pace, packing Stuart's life into a series of ups and downs (mostly downs), including getting drunk a lot and getting arrested even more. The film wants us to love Stuart, but it’s hard even to like the guy, as we wonder what Carmen (played by the fantastic Teresa Ruiz) sees in him, as Stuart clumsily romances a woman who will only consider dating Stuart if he becomes Catholic. The film is helped by an outstanding supporting cast, including Jacki Weaver as Stuart's long-suffering mother and Mel Gibson as Stu’s not-so-loving deadbeat father. The film is based on a true story, and I wish that Stuart’s remarkable transformation from a troubled young man into an inspirational priest was made into a better, more nuanced movie. But instead, we get a predictable film that never captures the magic of what the real Stuart must have been like.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Father Stu Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Choose or Die (2022)   Down on her luck, coder Kayla (Iola Evans) finds a mysterious 1980s video game that has the possibility of having unclaimed prize money. Straightaway, Kayla, with the help of a fellow coder, Isaac (Asa Butterfield), fire up the game, and they step into a surreal world of next-level terror where the game brings pain and death to reality. I think that people who will enjoy this film are the older viewers who remember the early years of computer gaming, where you used a cassette tape and a monochrome monitor to play games that mostly asked you questions like ‘Do you want to go left or right?’. Otherwise, this film is a pretty ordinary horror film where the characters are forced to choose one bad choice versus another bad choice. Like a lot of horror films of the past ten years or so, this is another in a long line of horror films where the hero of the film must make hard choices, often where the hero must decide who dies while trying to figure out how to get the game to stop. While not a horrible film, Choose or Die doesn’t bring much to the horror table other than an initial nostalgic look at a gaming past that kind of sucked.   My Rating: Cable    Choose or Die Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Dual   (2022) R   Sarah (Karen Gillan) has been given a terminal diagnosis and has opted for a cloning procedure. After the procedure is done, Sarah finds out that she isn’t dying. Consequently, Sarah tries to have her clone decommissioned, only to be told by a court that she will be dueling her clone to the death in one year. This is a strange little film about a woman who doesn’t seem to care that she is dying until she realizes her replacement double is a better version of herself and that even her mother likes her more than the real Sarah. This is a dark comedy that doesn’t always work, a film that skims the line too much between being deadpan and outlandish. I am a fan of Karen Gillan, especially her work on Doctor Who, but the film seems to have lost that Gillan can play with her roles, making them seem fun and energetic. Gillan’s Sarah is lost in restraint, and that makes this film feels slow and dull, even in a quite funny sequence where Sarah’s ‘duel’ trainer, played by Aaron Paul, tries out ‘killing dancing’ with Sarah as another way Sarah can attack her double in the upcoming duel. I never could get into this film where the main character was so dull, even when she wasn’t supposed to be.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Dual Website   Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: House of Sand And Fog   (2003)  R  Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) is a woman whose life is slowly crumbling around her. She is a woman who has had a drinking problem in the past, her husband has left her, and now, her family home has been taken away from her. Behrani (Ben Kingsley) is a man who once was successful in his home country of Iran but now works two jobs to support his family here in America. He buys Kathy’s house in an auction hoping that his fortunes have turned around. Instead, the two people are on a collision course that could destroy both their lives. House of Sand and Fog is a film where the two main characters are both right, and that’s the problem. One or both most lose in this game. Jennifer Connelly gives a brilliant performance as the troubled woman who sees Behrani as the enemy, someone who has taken her life from her. As only he can, Kingsley gives us a man who is full of grace until he is pushed to the edge and his family is threatened. House of Sand and Fog is a film that will stay with you and make you wonder who was right and who was wrong.   My Rating: Full Price    House of Sand and Fog Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore: Animal Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You:  Top Gun: Maverick  (2022) PG-13  Maverick (Tom Cruise) has for 30 years served his country but has done it his way, as one of the Navy’s top aviators, pushing the envelope as a test pilot. Maverick has been able to dodge the advancement in rank that would ground him until now. Maverick is back where he started, and he is still flying by the air tower, rank be damned. Finally, we get a film that has been pushed back due to COVID for what seems like forever. Can Tom capture the magic again? We all will be there to see it.   Top Gun Website

Friday, April 8, 2022

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Familyfaire: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022) PG  Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) is living the life with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter). Things are great until Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) finds his way back to Earth with a new ally, the mean and strong Knuckles (Idris Elba). However, Sonic has allies of his own, including a new friend named Tails (Collen O’Shanussy), and they are ready to take on Robotnik and save the Earth from his madness. I will start off this review with a bold statement: No film whose primary audience will be children should be over 90 minutes. Sonic 2 breaks this rule with a running time of 2 hours and 2 minutes. Think about that before spending good money taking your six-year-old to see this film. Then add in the fact this film has a sub-plot which takes so long to connect to the main plot that you will wonder why it’s there, and even after the connection, you will still wonder why? Most of the fun of the first film was Jim Carey going nuts with the ab-libs. The filmmakers seemed to forget that when making this unfunny, slow, tiresome film. Carey is wasted as he is sometimes forced to play 2nd banana to another animated character, Knuckles, voiced by Idris Elba. To show how low this film stoops to make a joke, the first sequence in the movie is filled with fart jokes, which I know, will make the kids chuckle but may make their parents regret paying for a ticket to sit in a theatre for 2 hours. By the way, there is a mid-credits sequence that sets up the next film. Yea!….no one in the theater said.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again    Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Ambulance (2022) R   Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is desperate for money to cover his wife’s mounting medical bills. Will goes to a man who he knows he shouldn’t trust, his adoptive brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal), a man with a criminal past. Danny talks Will into helping him rob a bank, but things go wrong, and they are now running from the police in an ambulance with a wounded cop clinging to life and an EMT (Elza Gonzalez) on board. In the 90s, filmmaker Michael Bay ruled with hits such as Bad Boys, The Rock, and Armageddon. Then he went down the rabbit hole of the Transformers movies (five in all) and got lost in the giant machines from outer space and childhood. Now he returns with an action film taking place in the streets of LA, with a bank heist that goes wrong. Half (seems like more) of the film is a chase sequence between the police and an ambulance in the streets of LA. To say that this film is over the top would be an understatement. Using way too many drone shots, we go a fast race through the streets of LA, a town that Michael Bay loves (the opening scene tells us that when the name Los Angeles then shrinks down to just LA on the screen). I felt sorry for the other two main actors, Eiza Gonzalez and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who had to put up with Jake Gyllenhaal going nuts on the screen for the entire movie. The action sequences are sometimes thrilling, but how many times can you see a cop car crash? I will say this; this film has some of the shortest credits I’ve seen in a long time, I think, because most of the action was done with real cars and not done with special effects. If you love car crashes, you will get your fill in this film. The plot is way beyond the point of ridiculous (I can’t tell you how many times I shook my head in wonderment), the acting is horrible, and the ending is so unbelievable that it seems to be taking place in an alternate universe. Let's just put this out there; can you really carry 16 million dollars in cash in two backpacks? Well, in Michael Bay’s LA, you can.   My Rating: Cable   Ambulance Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) R  Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is an unhappy laundry-mat owner, married to Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), and has an adult daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), of who she disapproves of. While at an IRS audit, Evelyn is suddenly thrust into an adventure where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led. I will start this review by telling you, run, don’t walk to your theatre and see this film! I can’t tell you the last time I had so much fun watching a movie and how much it kept surprising me with every scene. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a joy to watch, a film that is hard to describe but is a fast-moving adventure that explores what it means to love, to believe in not only yourself but your loved ones, and how one person, no matter how unimportant they feel, can make a difference in the world. I have been a big fan of Michelle Yeoh, in such action films as Supercop and The Stunt Woman, before she hit the big time in America with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yeoh gives us a multi-faceted performance as a woman who is so unhappy in her life that she takes it out on the people that she loves. An ordinary shop owner is asked to save the world from destruction, and Yeoh’s character goes on a journey that takes her to many alternate lives and worlds, where Evelyn discovers that she does have it in her to battle for the safety of the world and the people who she loves. This is one of those magical films that, five minutes in, you won’t want it to end. So sit down in a theatre seat and go on an adventure that you soon won’t forget with Evelyn as she battles to save our reality.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Everything Everywhere All at Once Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Mothering Sunday   (2021) R  Jane (Odessa Young) is a maid working for a wealthy family in post-World War I England and has many secrets. She has ambitions to be a writer and is having a long-term affair with an up-and-coming lawyer (Josh O’Connor) who is about to marry another woman. Mothering Sunday is a film about love lost and how being left behind can be the hardest blow. Odessa Young gives a subtle but powerful performance about a young woman who dreams of something more than being a maid. She has the drive and the talent to be a writer, but she must believe in herself, and it’s a love lost that finally gives her that push. This is a film about how grief can destroy us, overpower us, or it can be what propels us to move on, honoring those lost with our acts and deeds. Mothering Sunday is a film that is a slow burn, revealing its tale like the lazy Sunday morning that it takes place in.   My Rating: Full Price  Mothering Sunday Website  Now playing in select theaters.

Indiefest: The Rose Maker (2020)   Eve (Catherine Frot) is a rose grower that inherited her farm from her famous father. The farm is now on the verge of bankruptcy, and Eve is trying to hold off being bought out by a powerful competitor. Nevertheless, Eve is determined to turn her fortunes around and just might have found the help she needs in the form of three men who come to the farm on a work-release program. The Rose Maker is a charming tale about perseverance, learning new things, and being willing to take a chance on people you might typically not want to be around. Catherine Frot gives us a woman in Eve who is headstrong and set in her ways but knows deep down that to survive, she must adapt. She takes on a group of people who society has beaten down and gives them a purpose and challenge that makes not only them but Eve herself a better person. The film is a little formulative, and its’ plot is predictable, but that’s fine because the performances overshadow the film’s flaws and make it a worthy journey to find the perfect rose, even if it appears in the most unexpected places.   My Rating: Full Price   The Rose Maker Website   Now playing in select theatres.

My View: Metal Lords (2022)   Two friends, Hunter (Adrian Greensmith) and Kevin (Jaeden Martell), decide to form a heavy-metal band in order to enter a Battle of the Bands contest. Consequently, they need a bass player, and their only hope is a cellist with a bad attitude named Emily (Isis Hainsworth). This is a fun little film about three misfits that find each other and, against the odds, work to make music together, although that music is heavy-metal. I loved these characters, reminding me of some of the people I knew in high school when music was one of the most important aspects of our lives and defined who we were. Hunter is a one-track kid who believes that he is destined to become a ‘Metal God .’Keven, a mild-mannered kid, who joined the band to get out of P.E., is just happy that he has a friend and is willing to go along with Hunter’s dream just so he can support his friend. Along comes Emily, a young girl who is also an outcast, primarily due to her outbursts of anger and profanity. Kevin sees that there is more to Emily than anger and tries to convince Hunter that she would be perfect for their band. Metal Lords is a film about finding your place in the world and trying to be the best you can, even if the world thinks you are nuts. So join the band and shake your head violently because we can all use a little metal in our lives.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Metal Lords Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Aline (2020) PG-13 Aline is about a young woman (Valérie Lemercier) who dreams of becoming a singer. With the support of her large family and the man she loves, Aline will become one of the most famous singers in the world. So the best way to describe this film is that it is a fan film of Celine Dion. The singer isn’t Celine Dion, but in almost every way, from being discovered as a child singer to a marriage to a man way older than her to her singing My Heart Will Go On at the Academy Awards, it is Celine’s career. The film does a strange tiptoe following the life of Dion without saying it’s her. A lot will be written about the bizarre start to this film, including a just a jaw-dropping scene where a four-year-old Aline appears with Lemercier’s face on it (it happens a few times more until Aline gets into her 20s). The film jams a bunch of Dion’s career into it, most of which we know. It’s a strange film about a person who is real, but the film wants us to believe it is fiction. The biggest problem isn’t the blurring of fact, and fiction is that Valerie Lemercier doesn’t have the star power or singing talent to pull off what made Celine Dion a star.   My Rating: Cable   Aline Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Pop Aye (2017)   Thana (Thaneth Warakulnukroh) is an unhappy man in a job that he doesn’t like. Thana has a chance encounter with an elephant. As strange as that sounds, Thana knows this elephant as they grew up together on a farm. Thana decides to leave his life behind and take the elephant named Popeye on a journey across Thailand to the home that they both love. Pop Aye is a warm and moving film where the best actor in the movie is the elephant, which isn’t to say that the actor playing Thana is bad. It’s just that the elephant is the best thing about this film, making this film work, as the two have a connection on screen that makes this walkabout go a long way.   My Rating: Full Price    Pop Aye Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Everything Everywhere All at Once: Raccoon Fabricator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Duke (2020) R  A priceless painting has been stolen from the National Gallery, Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington. Was it a master thief? A gang of thieves working for an underground collector? No, it was Kempton Bunton (Jim Broadbent), a 60-year-old taxi driver who has hidden the painting in his wife’s closet. The film is based on a true story and stars Broadbent and Helen Mirren. I think that’s all you need to know to see this film.    The Duke Website

Friday, April 1, 2022


My View: 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. I have no clue why this film was made or why Jared Leto, who has done some impressive stuff lately, would want to be in this film. Morbius isn’t your typical Marvel film, as our hero, when he becomes a vampire, is more about killing than saving people. The second half of this film is such a mess that I didn’t care who lived or died; I just wanted the film to end. Add in the fact that it makes vampire bats out to be killers that tear apart animals (which they are not, and Bat Conservation International must be pissed) makes this film feel so out of touch, making it feel like the schlock-horror films of the 60s. The ending is a mess of a battle between two vampires who have powers that are never really explained. And yes, there are two mid-credit scenes that set up the next film and are connected with the upcoming Multi-verse films like Dr. Strange, but I don’t care what this character does in the future.   My Rating: Cable   Morbius Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: You Won’t Be Alone (2022) R  Set in a 19th-century mountain village, a young girl is kidnapped and transformed into a witch by an ancient spirit. Subsequently, the witch accidentally kills a woman (Noomi Rapace) and takes her form to learn about what it means to be a human. This is one of those films that I just never could connect with. It’s a film narrated by the young person who has been taken and transformed into a witch. When the witch gets mad at the young person, the witch abandons her, and the girl goes and takes the place of a young woman she accidentally kills. It’s a distributing film to watch as the person goes through many lives, trying out life in different bodies, all the while the witch keeps showing up checking up on her, reminding her that she isn’t one of them. It’s a story of someone who longs to belong but never quite fits in and is constantly reminded that they aren’t a part of the humanity they desperately want to understand and live with.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   You Won't Be Alone Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Familyfaire:    Better Nate Than Ever (2022) PG   13-year-old Nate Foster (Rueby Wood) dreams of being on Broadway. Despite losing out on the lead in his middle school’s production, Nate and his best friend, Libby (Aria Brooks), travel to New York City to try out for a new Broadway musical. It’s a trip that Nate hopes will bring him the stardom he thinks he deserves. This reminds me of the Disney films that the studio used to put out in the 60s, full of energy, schmaltz, and good, wholesome family entertainment. Nate is a little over the top, but Rueby Wood carries it off with such enthusiasm and energy that you kind of forgive him for it. Wood shows his Broadway chops in several musical numbers; the best is a rousing number in Times Square that gets Nate noticed on YouTube. Lovers of Broadway musicals will eat this up, as Nate is a walking, talking Broadway kid at heart. I enjoyed going along with Nate and Libby in Nate’s dream of making it on Broadway. Break a leg, Nate!    My Rating: Full Price   Better Late Than Ever Website  Now playing on the Disney+ platform.

My View: The Bubble (2022) R   A group of actors are stuck inside a pandemic bubble in a hotel making a sci-fi film called Cliff Beasts 6, where anything and everything will go wrong. As most of us know, even the best Judd Apatow film goes a little too long, but this unfunny film feels about twice as long as its 126 minutes running time. The problem is that this is a one-joke film; is it funny how a bunch of Hollywood actors behave when they don’t get everything they think they are entitled to. Most of the impressive cast is wasted, especially Maria Bakalova, who was so good in the Borat movie and is badly misused as a hotel worker who lusts after one of the cast. The first time we see the cast making the Cliff Beasts movie in front of a green screen is pretty funny, but that it keeps happening just gets old fast. I did enjoy two characters in the film; Leslie Mann is funny as the vapid actress who in the Cliff Beast films plays some sort of Southern archeologist who continually spouts off horrible lines, and Iris Apatow as a Tik Tok star who has been hired with no acting experience to give the film a boost in the social media. I don’t think it would be a surprise that Mann is married to Judd, and Iris is their daughter in real life. Funny how that worked. Skip this film and watch one of Apatow’s older films when he let other people edit his movies.    My Rating: Cable   The Bubble Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform>

My View: Apollo 10 1/2 (2022) PG-13 The first moon landing in the summer of 1969 is about to happen, and we see it through the eyes of a kid growing up in the home of mission control, Houston, Texas. I will confess that I loved this film because what we see in this film was not only filmmaker Richard Linklater’s childhood, it was also mine (without all the brothers and sisters). I loved this slice of life in 1969 Texas, with all its late 60s glory. The film follows a young man growing up in a new suburb of Houston. His father works for NASA, but instead of building rocket ships, his dad makes sure that things like pencils are ordered for the facility. Apollo 10 1/2 is a film not only about growing up in a time where landing on the moon dominated everything, but it’s also about imagination, as the young boy also creates his own story in his imagination, one where NASA has picked him to test out the lunar lander (because they made it too small for adults). Linklater lets us experience the young boy's world, full of TV, playground games, and stealing wood from construction sites to make forts. The film uses animation to give us a look into not only the daily life of a boy in Houston but an inside look at what every young boy was thinking at that time, that maybe, somehow, someway, they could fly to the moon also.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Apollo 10 1/2 Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Indiefest: Gagarine (2020)   Youri (Alseni Bathily) has lived his whole life in the Gagarine Towers, a vast housing project on the outskirts of Paris. When Youri learns of plans to demolish his beloved Gagarine, he decides to take on a mission. With his friends to help, a mission that just might save his home. This is a beautiful and moving tale of a young man who his mother and the system have forgotten. Youri wants to protect the only place where he has been happy and feels loved. But the city wants to tear his beloved community apart, and he decides to stay behind, retreating into a world of creative fantasy, where Youri dreams of his apartment turning into a spaceship that will take him away from all the bad things that are happening in his life. Bathily is brilliant as the intelligent and likable Youri, who will do anything to stay in the only home he knows.   My Rating: Full Price   Gagarine Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Beautiful Dreamers (1990) PG-13 Dr. Maurice Bucke (Colm Feore) is the new superintendent of a Canadian insane asylum. Dr. Bucke believes in using compassion and understanding when dealing with his patients instead of treating them like caged animals. Dr. Bucke and his wife soon meet the writer Walt Whitman, who champions the young doctor’s ideas, but that has a price as the poet’s reputation could be a hindrance rather than a boost. The film is highlighted by a brilliant performance by Rip Torn as Walt Whitman, as he dominates every scene that he is in. Don’t be fooled by the horrible trailer; this is a beautiful film about a real, groundbreaking doctor who started to change how we think about mental illness.   My Rating: Full Price   Beautiful Dreamers Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Morbius: Graffiti Artist

Coming Soon to A Screen Near You: Firestarter (2022) Based on the Stephen King novel, a young girl has the ability to set things on fire with her mind. She is the result of a secret government experiment, and they want her back. The film was first made in 1984, starring a very young Drew Barrymore. It wasn’t a good film then, so will it be good this time around?    Firestarter Website

Until Next Time!