Friday, July 29, 2022

DC League of Super-Pets

FamilyFaire: DC League of Super-Pets (2022) PG  Krypto has always been by Superman’s side, in thick and thin, even when he started dating Lois Lane because that’s what a dog does. When Lex Luthor captures the Justice League, it’s up to Krypto and a few of his shelter-pets friends to defeat the evil Lex and save Superman. Because that’s what’s Superman’s ‘best friend’ does. This is a fun and enjoyable film for the whole family. Kids will enjoy Krypto and his ‘super friends,’ and adults will enjoy the fast and funny jokes. Dwayne Johnson is a blast as the voice of Krypto, a dog convinced that Superman is about to dump him for Lois Lane. Krypto meets a motley group of shelter animals, including their leader Ace, voiced by Kevin Hart. Besides Lex (voiced by Marc Maron), there is another evil mastermind, but I won’t ruin the surprise on that one. The storyline is a blast, the action will keep the kids interested, and the interplay between Krypto and his shelter friends is full of laughs and a few surprises. Be sure to stay through the first end credits, as with many super-hero films, there is a surprise scene setting up the next film.  My Rating: Full Price   DC League of Super-Pets Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Vengeance (2022) R  A podcaster (B.J. Novak) travels from New York City to Texas to attend a funeral of a woman he casually dated. While there, he discovers that she was murdered and decides to make a podcast out of the experience. Texas may never be the same. I loved this fish-out-of-water mystery with a twist. Like The Office (Novak was one of the main writers of the show, as well as one of the cast members), this is a dark comedy with a lot of pokes at conservatives and liberals, gun control, and the culture/myths of Texas. I loved the exploring of the cult of Whataburger (I’m a member) and the correct use of the Southern phrase “Bless Your Heart’. Novak plays a character that you will both love and hate (he can be a selfish jerk and condescending as heck), but you are willing to go on this journey with him to solve a murder while learning a bit about himself and the importance of family in your life. Vengeance is a fun film that gets very dark by the end, but I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.   My Rating: Full Price  Vengeance Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View: Thirteen Lives (2022) PG-13  Thirteen boys, and their soccer coach become trapped in a cave in Thailand. Now it’s up to a group of rag-tag cave divers to rescue them while the world is watching. I had a funny experience at the screening of this film. I knew the story, having seen the excellent documentary The Rescue last year, and about 45 minutes into this film, a woman behind me remarked, ‘they just found the boys. What’s the rest of this film about then?’. This remarkable story, told skillfully by Ron Howard, is more about the incredible rescue in the 2nd half of this film than the first half set up. It’s a fantastic tale of a seemingly impossible rescue by a group of cave divers who, on the surface (no pun intended), don’t look like they could dive in a pool, much less in a cave of every expanding, rushing water. The film is led by the two divers brought in due to their expertise in cave diving, played by Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen. Farrell is the heart and soul of the expedition, but it’s Mortensen, playing the cynic old pro driver, who steals the movie, as he is convinced that what they are doing is doomed but is willing to follow Farrell’s character and his ideas on how to rescue the boys from an impossible situation. Even knowing the story, I was glued to my seat during the rescue attempts (yes, that is plural), and you will be too. Thirteen Lives is an inspiring film about a group of courageous men who risked their reputation and their lives to rescue a group of boys who got stuck in a cave across the world.   My Rating: Full Price  Thirteen Lives Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide and on Amazon Prime on Friday, Aug. 5th.

Indiefest: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song (2021) PG-13  Documentary about the life of singer-songwriter extraordinaire Leonard Cohen, centering around his powerful, mesmerizing song Hallelujah. Fascinating documentary about a man and his relationship with a song that became a staple of all the TV music competition shows. Cohen was a master of telling a story through song. I always felt that when I listened to his songs, I was experiencing a short movie told through music. The film makes his inspirational and powerful song Hallelujah the center of the story. It’s a tale of a song that took him seven years to write, going through over 150 versions of the lyrics, and then there are different versions of the song. The most interesting bit of the film is how the song became such a hit and how so many people think it’s another artist’s song (both John Cale and Jeff Buckley recorded the song that became bigger hits than Cohen’s version). Fans of Cohen are going to go nuts over the number of interviews with Cohen and his numerous performances in concert, including his groundbreaking five-year tour in his seventies. If you don’t know much about the man or his songs, this is a great way to be introduced to a man who could tell a whole story in just 4 minutes of a song.   My Rating: Full Price  Hallelujah Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Resurrection (2022) Margaret's (Rebecca Hall) orderly life is about to unravel as a man from her past (Tim Roth) comes back into her life and brings the horrors of her past with him. First, the good: both Rebecca Hall's and Tim Roth's performances are brilliant. Hall is both steely in one moment ready to kick ass, and in another moment, a quivering mess, and only someone as talented as Hall could pull this off. Roth is perfect as the creepy guy that comes back into Margaret’s life after 22 years. This film is part horror, part suspense, as we go into a dark past that includes abuse and mind control. I will warn you that some parts of the film are disturbing, and I think the film went a little too far into the extreme for me. But still, Resurection is worth seeing for the performances as we go down a bumpy road that just could lead to madness  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Resurrection Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: My Donkey, My Lover, and I (2020)   When Antoinette’s (Laure Calamy) trip is canceled due to her married lover going on a vacation with his wife, she decides to follow them on a hiking trip with the help of an overprotective donkey named Patrick. This is a fun film to watch, and you will fall in love with Patrick, the donkey that goes on this journey of self-discovery with Antoinette. The film is a light comedy that is a breeze to watch, helped along by the winning performance of Laure Calmay, who gives life to a self-centered, over-the-top woman who is head over heels in love with a married man. Calmay is delightful, but she is upstaged by Patrick, a donkey who lets Antoinette know when she is doing something bad, whether it's taking the wrong trail or picking the wrong man. My Donkey, My Lover and I isn’t a groundbreaking film of self-discovery like Wild, it's just a fun romp with a headstrong donkey that has more sense than his traveling companion.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   My Donkey, My Lover, and I Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest:  Not Okay  (2022) R  Danni (Zoey Deutch) wants to be a writer, but no one will take her seriously. She decides to make everyone jealous and fakes a trip to Paris, claiming she won a writers’ retreat. However, after posting fake pictures, Paris is attacked by terrorists, and Dani is caught up in a lie about to go viral. It’s hard to make a comedy where the main character is unlikable from start to finish but Not Okay does that. Danni gets caught up in a lie that goes viral, and she enjoys the result. This is a character that doesn’t think; Danni just goes with the lie because telling the truth would cost her the fame she has suddenly taken. I like Zoey Deutch, and she has a flare for comedy, but this film never lets Deutch show that talent. Instead, the film is too busy making fun of and saying how bad the Internet fame game is. Deutch is overshadowed by an outstanding performance from Mia Isaac, a young woman Danni meets who has suffered a real tragedy and befriends Danni, thinking she is a kindred spirit. Isaac has a speech near the end of the film that is the only redeeming factor in this film that uses a terrorist attack as fodder to make fun of how bad the Internet and influencers are. My Rating: Cable  Not Okay Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Forgotten Film:  Smashed (2012)  R   Married couple Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul), whose love is built on their drinking habits, are tested when Kate decides to get sober. This is a tough film to watch, just because the characters go through so much pain. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is outstanding as Kate, who lies at the drop of a hat to cover up her drinking but realizes, after waking up too many times in strange places, that she must change her life. Aaron Paul doesn’t do a bad performance as her husband, but this is Winstead’s movie, and she runs with it. You genuinely hope that she can get her life together, but you also know that it’s going to take some major changes and sacrifices, including, probably, the sacrifice of her marriage. Smashed was the 2nd featured film that one of my favorite filmmakers, James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour), made, and it was such a great film with an outstanding cast. My Rating: Full Price   Smashed Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Thirteen Lives: Thai Looping

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Blonde (2022) NC-17   The story of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas). The film is based on the fiction novel by Joyce Carol Oates and directed/written by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Killing Them Softly). Dominik has stated that fans of Marilyn may be upset by this film’s content. Also, note that the film contains very little dialogue, and the director has said that the film is an ‘avalanche of images and events.’ I am excited to see this film because of Ana de Armas, who, in the last few years, has become a big star with outstanding performances in Knives Out (2019), No Time to Die (2021), and The Gray Man (2022).   Blonde Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 22, 2022


My View: NOPE (2022) R   A brother and sister (Daniel Kalyuua and Keke Palmer) are working on their family ranch that supplies horses to Hollywood films. Things start getting strange on the ranch as it looks like aliens are flying around, and the duo decides to document these occurrences. Consequently, their actions are to the dismay of the forces behind the flying saucers. See this on the big screen. I mean, see it in a theatre on a screen as big as you can with a sound system to match. A UFO lover’s dream come true, NOPE is a fun, well-done thriller with a few scares along the way that will fulfill your wish for a big blockbuster ride. And I will tell you, this film will also shock you, almost from the start. With a great cast, incredible sound effects, and cinematography that fully utilizes the IMAX camera to its glorious beauty and NOPE is a film that will thrill and amaze you. Like any Jordan Peele film, it is filled with humor, some of which is pretty dark but allows you to release a bit of the tension that builds throughout the film. The film has a lot to say, touching on the entertainment industry, our reliance on electronics, our attempt to train animals against their will, and how hard it is to follow our dreams, especially if it's not your own. So please sit down and get ready to be amazed, and I warned you, shocked.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   NOPE website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: The Gray Man (2022) PG-13  Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling), whose true identity is known to none, is the CIA’s man when someone needs to die, the Agency-sanctioned merchant of death. After accidentally uncovering dark Agency secrets, Court is being hunted by Lloyd Hasen (Chris Evans), a former fellow assassin, who has been given the task to hunt Court down and take him out. Now the only person he can count on is Agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas), but the odds are against him…just the way that Court likes it. I enjoyed this film, but I am a big fan of action films, especially ones that feature a lot of hand-to-hand combat, and this has a lot. Ryan Gosling plays an assassin with a soul who won’t cross a line, even if it means it will piss some people off. Gosling’s agent six is a superhero, someone who can take on an army single handily, fall off a roof with only a few scratches and take a pounding but keep on fighting. He is up against Chris Evans's antihero, a man who doesn’t mind collateral damage as long as he gets what he wants, and in this case, he wants Agent Six dead. Evans is the surprise of the film, playing a creepy bad guy with a fun flair for the dramatic. Ana de Armas holds her own in the action sequences and makes a good companion for Gosling’s deadpanned Agent Six. The film goes on a little too long, but it's a good time with a ton of action sequences, including a thrilling fight inside a giant transport plane as it slowly falls apart. So join in on the action and enjoy the duel between Evans and Gosling.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Gray Man Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform and in select theatres. 

My View: Anything’s Possible (2022) PG-13  Kelsa (Eva Reign), a confident young woman who is trans, is just trying to survive her senior year of high school. All she wants to do is blend in and get this year over with, but love has another idea. However, when a classmate, Khal (Abubakr Ali), gets a crush on Kelsa, he decides to go for it and ask her out, even though he knows they will be the center of attention. I really like this film, with its take on a teen romance, where instead of the hot guy dating the nerdy girl (or visa-versa) causing trouble within their friends, we get the hot guy dating someone that no one see’s coming, Kelsa. The film does a great job of giving us a young woman who doesn’t want to be a trailblazer; she wants to live her life like anyone else. I loved the relationship between Kelsa and her mother, who have a rule that Kelsa and her mother can only discuss things the average mother would ask her average daughter. The two leads are just what you want in a teen romance; adorable, slightly klutzy and have great on-screen chemistry that makes you want their characters to be together. And yes, Kelsa being trans is a big deal in the film, but it’s handled with compassion and with a character that just wants to be seen as Kelsa, nothing else. As it should be.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Anything's Possible Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform.

Indiefest: Fire of Love (2022) PG  Documentary about scientists Katia and Maurice Krafft, who fell in love over their research on volcanoes. They were known worldwide as daredevils who brought us some of the most explosive imagery ever recorded. Significantly, they died doing the thing that they loved. Right off the bat, I’m going to tell you that this film is sure to be in my top ten films of 2022, and I predict it will be nominated for the Documentary Academy Award next year. Yep, this film is that good. The film tells the story of two of the world’s greatest volcanologists, Katia and Maurice Krafft, who just happened to be married. This is not only a story about Volcanos but also a love story between two brilliant and interesting people who bonded instantly over their love of volcanoes. Ninety percent of the footage in the film is from the personal archives of the Krafft’s. To say that there are shots of volcanos that are simply breathtaking is an understatement. The film is summed up by an amazing shot of an erupting volcano, with hot, red lava spewing up into the air, as the two scientists, in silver protective suits, almost dance in front of the awesome display of earth’s mighty power. You can see just from that one shot why they both knew that it wasn’t how they would die but when. However, yes, they did die, but it is very evident from this beautiful and moving film that they died doing what they loved, and they died as they wished, together.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Fire of Love Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Alone Together (2022) R  What happens when two strangers (Katie Holmes, Jim Sturgess) book the same Airbnb during the start of the lockdown of the pandemic. Katie Holmes wrote, starred, and directed this film about two people who are in bad relationships, who then find out that maybe, just maybe, their failed relationships aren’t their fault. This is one of many films I’ve seen in the past year where people are stuck together at the start of the pandemic when everything was shut down, and everyone was told to stay home and not go out. This is a very predictable romance between two likable characters, who we know are meant for each other, and it’s only a matter of time before they both realize it. There isn’t anything new in this film, and both actors are fine in their roles. Holmes does let her character express a few feelings and opinions about being allowed when you are in a relationship, to being yourself and following your dream. The film delivers what you think it will, a romance that finds two people in the middle of a worldwide crisis; I just wish that the plot had a few more surprises in it.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Alone Together website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Murina (2021)  Julija (Gracija Filipovi─ç) lives with her parents on a Croatian island, who she increasingly doesn’t get along with. When a handsome older man, Javier (Cliff Curtis), comes to the island, Julija sees it as an opportunity to escape the boredom of her life and her parents. This is a film about a power of wills between a father, Ante (Leon Lucev), and Julija, a headstrong young woman who wants to get as far away from her father as possible, whether it be overseas or in the ocean. Ante is a man who is controlling and has an overpowering ego that won’t take anyway but his. Julija is happiest when she is in the water, it’s her escape from reality. Ante is driven by a visit from an old friend, Javier, who he hopes will buy his land and he and his family can move to the mainland. Julija sees Javier as her savior, someone who can rescue her from her father and his oppressive rule. Julija’s mother, Nela (Danica Curcic), is caught between her husband, whom she has stood by all these years, and her daughter, whom she is proud of. This is a movie that constantly builds the tension between father and daughter, and we know that the hopes and dreams of both are doomed almost from the start. I loved Gracija Filipovic’s performance of Julija, as she continually pushes the boundaries that her father has set for her, whether it’s wearing an old dress of her mother’s against his wishes or leaving out a line about her father in a poem that he forces her to recite in front of a crowd. Murina is a film where everyone’s dreams are seemingly just out of reach, even when those dreams were in the past.   My Rating: Full Price    Murina Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Murder by Numbers (2002) R A 'by the book' police detective (Ben Chaplin) and his loose-cannon partner (Sandra Bullock) are investigating a murder. Little does the detective know that the murder has been committed by two high school kids (Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt) who only did the killing to see if they could commit the perfect crime. This is a forgotten Sandra Bullock film that is quite good. Bullock plays a character a little different from what our Sandy plays typically, a character that you might not like. In fact, I think you will like Ben Chaplin’s character much more than Bullock’s, but that’s why I like this film. Plus, Gosling and Pitt are creepy as heck, making two terrifying and clever criminals who will not be easy to catch. The film also has one of my favorite unappreciated actors, Chris Penn in it.  My Rating: Full Price   Murder by Numbers Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of NOPE: Mask Maker

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Smile (2022) R   After a patient, who claimed she was seeing something that no one else could see, killed herself in front of Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon), Rose begins to experience frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. Rose must confront her troubled past in order to survive this new horrifying reality. The trailer looks like it could be terrifying.    Smile Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 15, 2022

Where the Crawdads Sing

My View: Where the Crawdads Sing  (2022) PG-13   Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is an outsider in her community. Kya is called the ‘Marsh Girl’ by the locals since she was abandoned in the marshlands of North Carolina and raised herself to adulthood. Kya begins exploring outside her marsh's world when a young man she befriended is found dead and is immediately cast by the community as the main suspect. Kya’s life will be under the microscope, and many secrets of the marsh are about to be revealed. I have a feeling that this is one of those movies where the book is much better than the film. I liked this film, primarily due to the performance of Daisy Edgar-Jones, but the film feels very slow in its storytelling and the core of the story, one of mystery and romance, feels a little forced, with a love story that feels too much like a bad Young Adult novel. I had trouble liking either of the two men whom Kya becomes romantically involved with, and that’s a problem with a film that is part romance. The film also tries hard to bring in feelings from past movies such as Nell and To Kill a Mockingbird, especially with the nice Southern lawyer, played by David Strathairn. So much so that I kept waiting for Scout to show up in any scene Strathairn is in. Still, I enjoyed the film, I just wish there had been more to it than a lot of scenes where Kya looks longingly at the marsh, thinking thoughts about a past love.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Where the Crawdads Sing Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Familyfaire: Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022) PG   Ever since Hank (voiced by Micael Cera), as a young pup, was saved from bullies by a mysterious samurai, he has wanted to become a samurai himself. Hank is hired to become the samurai of a small town being threatened by an evil overload. The only problem, Hank is a dog, and the townspeople are cats. You know this is a bad film when the audience I saw the movie with, filled with kids, only laughed when there was a farting scene. The film is a takeoff of samurai films and the Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles (hence the fart scene). In fact, Mel Brooks (who wrote some of his own lines) voices one of the characters, The Shogun, reminiscent of his performance as Governor Lepetomane in Blazing Saddles (‘work, work, work’). The film is a bore (kids at my screening were more interested in the whoopee cushions that were handed out before the film), the animation is flat and lifeless, and the storyline quickly becomes old. I had high hopes when I found out that Samuel L. Jackson was doing a voice, but unfortunately, he isn’t given much to work with a character that gets drunk on catnip (once again, think Blazing Saddles). Skip this one and let the older kids watch Spaceballs instead.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Paws of Fury Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022)  PG   A widowed cleaning lady (Lesley Manville) in 1950s London inherits a pile big of money, falls madly in love with the dresses of Dior, and decides to fly to Paris and buy one for herself. It’s a tale of adventure that will change her life and possibly the very future of the House of Dior itself. We all need a bit of Mrs. Harris in our life. Lesley Manville is a positive force for good in this film about a woman who follows her dream and won’t let anyone put her down on her way. You will fall in love with Mrs. Harris as she strives to put together the money to not only go to Paris but buy a Dior dress. This is a feel-good film that is funny, sweet, and has a bit of romance thrown in. The film gives us a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most fabulous couture houses in the world, seen through the eyes of someone who wouldn’t usually be welcomed to a place that relies on the rich and the privileged. It seems that everywhere Mrs. Harris goes, she spreads her love for life and adventure, even in a stuffy and class-oriented climate. I love that Mrs. Harris visits Paris during a strike where the garbage collectors are protesting low wages by not collecting the refuse of the city, making one of the most beautiful and iconic cities of the world a little dirty and smelly, one that only someone like Mrs. Harris could turn into a lesson of learning and acceptance. And by the way, even a guy like me knows that the classic Dior dresses look fantastic. So, pinch a few pennies and save up to take a journey to Paris with Mrs. Harris, and you are guaranteed a smashing good time.   My Rating: Full Price   Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Gone in the Night (2022) R  Kath (Winona Ryder) and her boyfriend Max (John Gallagher, Jr.) are going on a weekend trip to a remote cabin in the wilderness. However, when they arrive, they find that the cabin has been double-booked, and a young couple (Brianne Tju, Owen Teague) has already moved in. The two couples decide to share the cabin, and after a night of partying, Kath wakes up to discover that both her boyfriend and the other woman have disappeared. When Max doesn’t show up, Kath goes on the hunt to find him with the help of the owner of the cabin (Dermot Mulroney) and discovers that the truth is stranger than she could have ever imagined. I enjoyed the first part of this film, but by the 2nd half of the film, I got tired of how the plot was being revealed in a series of flashbacks that gave away too much information, and I figured out the mystery way too early in the film. I always enjoy Winona Ryder’s performances, but she isn’t asked to do much in this film other than being bewildered and scared. I wasn’t shocked at the ending (the film wants us to be), and I wish it had lived up to the promise that the first 20 minutes had, but it doesn’t.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Gone in the Night Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide. 

My View: Persuasion (2022) PG   Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson) has never gotten over the man she was persuaded not to marry eight years ago due to his humble origins. Now that man, Captain Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis), is back in her life. However, there is a new suitor for Anne’s heart, the dashing Mr. Elliot (Henry Golding), and Anne is torn between an old love who got away and a new one who promises to give her the world. I liked this film a lot, but I wonder if my judgment has become a bit murky because I have become such a fan of Dakota Johnson. She is delightful in this adaptation of a Jane Austin novel. Throughout the film, Anne narrates the film, giving us direct asides, like letting us see her reaction to something she told us would happen. This is a story of a love lost and the regrets of both parties. In typical Austin fashion, there is a lot of dancing around the two lovers' true feelings, miscommunications, and of course, another suitor who causes a bit of a problem or two. Does this have the biting wit of a film like Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility? No, not even close but Johnson and Jarvis gives us a couple that we can root for and a heroine who has a wicked sense of humor.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Persuasion Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: The Deer King (2021) R  Van is the last of a group of soldiers fighting for their lands against an evil empire. After becoming the lone survivor of a slave camp, Van meets a young girl, and they go on an adventure that may save the universe. This fantasy epic gets lost in its attempt to build a world that is too complex to be told in one film. This is not a film for young kids as there is quite a bit of violence and bloodshed, though anime and fantasy teens may enjoy the epic tale of revenge and finding a purpose. Besides a highly complex storyline (that gets confusing at times), the film has an animated look that is bland and doesn’t deliver the wonder and beauty it needs. There are sub-plots among other sub-plots, and I never quite got which side was the good guys and which were the bad ones. The ending feels weak and almost too quick, making it seem as though the story isn’t finished, and maybe it's not, but I don’t think I will care.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Deer King Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

Indiefest: Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down (2022) PG-13   Documentary about the former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her battle to overcome the effects of an assassination attempt in 2011 that left her partially paralyzed and with a language impairment. This is a film where you are going to experience a range of emotions as you watch it. You will cry, get angry, but also laugh as you follow the life of Gabby Giffords, a woman whose spirit and love of life wasn't shut down by an assassin's bullet. The film gives us an intimate look at Giffords and her journey to get not only her ability to walk but also to talk. Due to her husband, Mark, we see the highs and many lows of her recovery, as Mark was determined to let his wife and us see just how far she had to come back from death’s door. It’s a fantastic film about a remarkable woman and the man who believed in her recovery. This is not a film about outlawing guns but does have a message of how we can make gun ownership safer and keep them out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. Gabby was and is a gun owner; there is even a scene of her recently firing a handgun at a gun range. My favorite scene of the film is during the closing credits as we follow Gabby as she peddles a recumbent bike around her neighborhood while joyfully singing a John Denver song. By the film's end, you won’t feel sorry for Gabby but will be happy that she is still around to make us smile.    My Rating: Full Price   Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View:
Don’t Make Me Go (2022) R  Max (John Cho) is a single father who discovers he has a fatal brain tumor. Straightaway, Max decides to take his daughter, Wally (Mia Isaac), on a road trip. This is Max’s last chance to try and teach his daughter everything she might need to live her life on her own. At the start of the film, Wally tells us, ‘You’re not gonna like how this story ends, but I think you are going to like this story.’ Well, Wally, you would be wrong. I liked this film for the first two-thirds of the movie, mainly because the relationship between Max and Wally feels natural, and the chemistry between the two actors is delightful. A few scenes seem a little forced, and it tries a bit too hard for us to love Wally from the start, but I can overlook this film’s early faults due to the winning relationship between the father and daughter. However, without giving away the ending, I hated the last 15 minutes of this film. I mean, I really hated it. It soured the whole movie for me, a real punch in the gut. Let me make it clear; I hated the ending.   My Rating: Cable   Don't Make Go Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform. 

Forgotten FIlm: Shoot the Moon (1982) R   This is a film about a long-time marriage falling apart. George (Albert Finney) is unhappy and wants out of his marriage to live with his new love, Sandy (Karen Allen). Faith (Diane Keaton) feels abandoned by her husband, having left her and their four children for another woman. Faith finds a way to get back at George by having an affair with a young man (Peter Weller), and the fireworks begin. This movie is about unhappy people who don’t care who gets hurt, as long as their spouse gets hurt the most. Keaton and Finney play people you won’t like, and we never quite know why the marriage fell apart after so many years. Shoot the Moon isn’t about why they fell in or out of love; it’s about the pain and destruction a failed marriage can cause.   My Rating: Full Price   Shoot the Moon Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris: Toad in the Hole Prepared By

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Invitation (2022)   Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) knows nothing about her family’s past, so she sends off her DNA to find out more. Through the test, she meets a cousin (Hugh Skinner) who invites her to a family wedding in England. Evie goes but soon learns that her newfound family has a secret, one that may cost Evie her life. The Invitation looks like it could be a fun watch.    The Invitation Info  The movies is scheduled to be released in late August, 2022.

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 8, 2022

Thor: Love and Thunder

My View: Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) PG-13  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? However, 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. Sometimes it’s nice to sit down to a film and just enjoy it for what it is, instead of what we critics do, analyze the crap out of a movie. I’m not going to lie; this is a step down from the brilliance of Thor: Ragnarok, which exploited the fact that Chris Hemsworth has the ability to be an action hero with a comic flair that makes watching his Thor so much fun. Ragnarok was a breath of fresh air, a revelation that action movies could be fun again. And because of that, this film can’t quite meet film, but Love and Thunder is still a funny, fun ride as Thor has to deal with the love of his life, Jane (Natalie Portman), coming back into his life and boy, does she make an entrance. I’m not giving away too much (it's not only in the trailer but on the poster) that Jane is now in possession of Thor’s old hammer, Mjolnir, and has become The Mighty Thor. I loved Jane trying to come up with a catchphrase (as all superheroes must) and how she settles so quickly into becoming a superhero before Thor’s amazed eyes. I have missed Jane (Portman has taken off the last almost ten years away from the MCU, but I am glad she came back and had fun in the role that lets her be more than someone to rescue from the bad guy. I enjoyed this film, filled with humor and plenty of action, including Jane Foster kicking some serious butt. Add in Christian Bale as a bad guy, screaming goats, and a bunch of angry Gods, and you have a tale that is a blast to watch. So buy a giant soda and some overpriced popcorn, sit down, and have a good time. I promise that in the next MCU film, I’ll go back to overanalyzing how many 'Easter eggs' are too many in a movie before it becomes annoying. And yes, there are mid and final credits scenes to stay for.   My Rating: Full Price   Thor: Love and Thunder Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Familyfaire: The Sea Beast (2022) PG  In a time when giant, terrifying beasts inhabited the seas, a great monster hunter, Jacob Holland (Karl Urban), sailed the waters seeking adventure and fortune. When young Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) stows away on Jacob’s ship, he is given an unexpected ally to embark on an epic journey to uncharted waters and hunt a legendary sea beast. With an animation style that continues to astound with its complexity and beauty, an original story filled with creative monsters and colorful characters, and enough action scenes to make any adventure film fan notice, you have a family film that all ages will love. The film tells the story of courage, filled with heroes swashbuckling their way across oceans, living their lives like every day could be their last. But this is also about learning what’s written in history books isn’t always the whole story. That the victors write the story, and it’s often one-sided. Kids will fall in love with Maisie, an orphan who wants to follow in her parent's footsteps and hunt sea monsters. She is the story's hero, a kid willing to see both sides of the story and realizes that maybe what she has been told all her life is tilted toward making people think the sea beasts are monsters. With Jacob’s help, which comes slowly, Maisie is able to find a way to see the monsters for more than just the killers they have been labeled. The Sea Beast is a fun, rollicking tale that is a feast for the eyes and will lift your spirits and maybe bring a tear or two.   My Rating: Full Price   The Sea Beast Website  Now playing in select theatres and on the Netflix platform.

My View: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between (2022)   Claire (Talia Ryder) and Aidan (Jordan Fisher) have been high school sweethearts, in love and having a great time together. However, they made a pact; they would break up before going off to college. Before they break up, they will spend one last night revisiting important places that made their relationship meaningful. The question is, will they break up or stay together before the end of the night? I have a feeling that fans of the book will enjoy the film; the rest of us might be a bit bored with a predictable storyline and, at times, pushes the sappiness factor to the limit. This is a story that has been told before, young love, where one of the lovers has issues that must be overcome if their love is going to last. The story is told in a series of flashbacks, showing how their love developed and grew; all the while, Aidan is trying to show Claire, through recreating their year, that their love can survive being apart when they go off to separate schools. The couple of Ryder and Fisher does have some chemistry, and both are fun to watch, but they are let down by a storyline that fails to keep the spark going for long. By the film's end, will you care if the two stay together? I know I didn’t.   My Rating: Cable   Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: The Road to Galena (2022) R   Cole (Ben Winchell) has everything you could want: a beautiful wife, a successful career as a lawyer on the fast track, and a wonderful house in a big city. However, Cole has always done what was expected of him, what his powerful father wanted him to do. Now Cole has a chance to return to the small community he grew up in and do something he has dreamed of since he was a child: become a farmer. This is the story of Cole, a man who, for years, followed the dreams of others instead of following his own. When I saw the trailer, I expected this to be another one of those films where the hero of the story finds God and turns his life around after years of following the wrong path. I was pleasantly surprised that this isn’t one of those stories but rather a film about following one's dreams, even if it takes a bunch of missteps to find it. The film takes a little too long to tell the story, as we go backwards to see Cole at his happiest, in high school, with his girlfriend. Elle (Aimee Teegarden) and his best friend, Jack (Will Brittain) at his side. Cole sees college in his future but is sure he is coming back to become a farmer and marry Elle. Instead, Cole lets life get in the way, making choices that pull him further and further away from the life he thought he was destined to live. Cole follows the path that his father wants for his only son, feeling pressure from his parents and unable to resist the lure of making money. Along the way, Cole loses his girlfriend and his dream of farming. The film loses a bit of steam in its second half, as there are a couple of ground-shattering events that shake up Cole’s life, but he doesn’t seem to let them affect his continued path of being a lawyer, and that keeps the story from ending when it should. Still, I enjoyed this story of a man who loses his way, only to find it when most would have given up and stayed the course.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Road to Galena Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Apples (2020)   Apples take place in a time of a worldwide pandemic that causes sudden amnesia, where the sick don’t remember anything, including their name. Aris (Aris Servetalis), a middle-aged man, is enrolled in a recovery program designed to help patients build their lives from the ground up. This is a hard film to describe, but I will try. Think of it as a film starring a man with the deadpan face of Buster Keaton combined with the sad-sack posture of someone who is just sleepwalking through life. Aris is a man who has lost his memory, he doesn’t know who he is, and no one comes to claim him while he is recovering in the hospital. So Aris is sent out into the world to live on his own, with a tape player giving him daily tasks to undertake and an instant camera to record his completed tasks. Aris completes these tasks, each one sillier than the next, with a determination that feels more like resignation than someone who wants to recover his past. Apples is a film that slowly builds, letting us into Aris’s world, a world that doesn't make much sense, but he is willing to go along for the ride. This is one of those films that moves along at its own pace, letting us see how silly this world is. And by the way, this film has an ending that makes it all worth watching.   My Rating: Full Price   Apples Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View: Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (2021) PG   I was a little early in reviewing this film, so I am rerunning this review, so you won’t miss how good this film is. Marcel the Shell (voiced by Jenny Slate) lives in an Airbnb with his grandmother Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). Marcel and Connie were separated from the rest of their family when the homeowners broke up, and Marcel’s family and friends were accidentally packed away in the move. Marcel’s luck is about to change when a filmmaker (Dean Fleischer-Camp) moves into the Airbnb and begins filming Marcel, putting his adventures on the Internet. Can Marcel’s newfound fame help him find his lost family? I am a fan of the Marcel the Shell shorts that got a massive reception on YouTube. They were funny, adorable, and highly creative. I am happy to say that making the shorts into a full-length feature film hasn’t lost any of the magic of those shorts. You will fall in love with Marcel and his adorable outlook on life. Jenny Slate is perfect as the voice of Marcel, giving him a personality full of hope, wonder, and kindness, along with a wicked sense of humor. Like in the shorts, the film lets Slate riff on many subjects, especially when she is talking with the filmmaker documenting Marcel’s life, making this film a joy to watch. There were times I was laughing so hard that I didn’t get all the dialogue that Marcel was spouting. The storyline is sweet and heartwarming as Marcel goes on a quest to find his long-lost family. You will fall in love with Marcel and want to experience more of his adventures after seeing this film. And if you are still not convinced about seeing this film, Isabella Rossellini, as Marcel’s grandmother, will fill your heart with warmth and love. Bring the whole family and see the world through the eyes of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.   My Rating: Full Price    Marcel the Shell with Shoes On Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: The Opportunists (1999) R  Vic Kelly (Christopher Walken) is a man struggling to do the right thing, but life often puts up roadblocks, and Vic may have to return to doing what he has done in the past, stealing. Vic is dealing with an aunt in a nursing home, a wayward daughter (Vera Farmiga) who is dating the wrong type of guy, and a woman (Cyndi Lauper) who is interested in Vic, but only if he stays on the straight and narrow. In walks Michael (Peter McDonald), a maybe cousin from Ireland, who has heard stories about Vic and wants to do a job with him. As debts mount up, Vic decides its fate and will do one last job. The Opportunists is a slow-burn film with excellent performances by Walken and a very low-key Lauper, whose characters have a relationship that is real and moving. The film has an ending that is a bit of a surprise, but it's the performances that make this film worth watching.  My Rating: Full Price    The Opportunists Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Thor: Love and Thunder: Creature Suit Standby

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Thirteen Lives  (2022) PG-13  The rescue mission that captured the world’s attention is now a feature film! A youth soccer team and its coach are trapped in a system of underground caves that are quickly flooding. A rescue mission is formed, and an unlikely group of divers is assembled to try to figure out a way to save the boys from an impossible situation. The story has already been told in an outstanding documentary, The Rescue, but the film stars Viggo Mortensen, Joel Edgerton, and Colin Farrell and is directed by two-time Oscar-winner Ron Howard, so I am willing to see this story told again.   Thirteen Lives Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 1, 2022

Mr. Malcolm's List

My View: Mr. Malcolm’s List (2022) PG   Mr. Malcolm’s List takes place in 1800s England when a young woman helps her friend to get revenge on a man who has rejected her because she didn’t meet the requirements on his list for a bride. Fans of Jane Austin and Bridgerton will be happy with this romantic comedy, though the film is not quite as witty as Austin’s work or as steamy as the Netflix hit. This is an enjoyable tale of trickery and finding love in the most unexpected places (though you can see what will happen from almost the first frame). The film is helped by a winning cast led by Freida Pinto as Selina, the friend who reluctantly helps her best friend, Miss Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton), get revenge when Miss Thistlewaite is quickly rejected by England’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Malcolm (Sope Dirisu). Of course, plans turn into romance and betrayal, as with any period romance of this time. It’s up to fate and maybe a little meddling to help everyone figure out who loves who and achieve that happy ending we all want. While it might not meet all your ‘Bridgerton’ needs, Mr. Malcolm’s List is a fun romp that just might tide you over until the next season appears.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Mr. Malcolm's List Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide

My View: The Forgiven (2021) R  A wealthy London couple (Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain) are on their way in the Moroccan desert to a lavish weekend party when their car strikes and kills a local teenage boy. Consequently, the couple, with the help of their friends, cover up the incident. However, trouble arrives when the boy’s father arrives seeking justice. This is a dark tale about the rich, where they are proud of their lack of morals if only to give them something to do because they are so bored with life. Fiennes and Chastain are a couple that can barely stand each other. She is a failed children’s book writer who hasn’t written a thing in eight years, and he is a doctor whose practice is falling apart due to his alcoholism. They are on their way to a party in a remote location in the desert hosted by a gay couple, Richard (Matt Smith) and Dally (Caleb Landry Jones). Along the way, the doctor and his wife hit and kill a young man with their car. Once the couple finally arrive at the party, with the dead body in their backseat, the story branches off into two stories; the seduction of the doctor’s wife by a wealthy American playboy (Christopher Abbott) and the doctor’s journey to go with the dead boy’s father back to their home to bury his son. This is a story full of people you don’t like, making shallow and self-serving choices, with the only question being, will the father of the dead young man get his revenge, or will somehow the doctor talk/will his way out. I enjoyed the dance of seduction that Chastain and Abbott have, but I got tired of the bashing over the head that the rich are horrible, ugly, and shallow. The ending can be seen from a sand dune away, and the film gives one a bit of a feeling like the aftereffects of a party that didn’t quite meet your expectations.   My Rating; Bargain Matinee   The Forgiven Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: The Princess (2022) R  A young princess (Joey King) refuses to marry a man she does not love and is locked away in her father’s castle. Now the man she spurned is hell-bent on taking her father’s throne, and the Princess must escape and fight back to save the kingdom. They have no idea who they are messing with because she is The Princess. Let me say that I was surprised, almost shocked at the start of this film, when little Joey King, star of The Kissing Booth series, killed 7 or 8 bad guys in very bloody ways in the first five minutes of the film. Kind of a ‘The Raid’ in reverse, The Princess must escape from the very top of the castle and fight her way down to the ground to rescue her family from the evil wanna-be King, played by Dominic Cooper. Little does this man, who is trying to steal a kingdom, know that our heroine has been training her whole life for this occasion. The Princess fights her way, killing and maiming numerous soldiers until she meets her match in the evil wanna-be King’s lead assassin, Moria (Olga Kurylenko), a woman who wields a deadly whip with the best of them. I love sword fights, and this film has plenty of them, with a bit of martial arts thrown in. The action is fast and heavy, and King makes a nimble and fun action hero kicking bad guy butts all over the place. Fans of King will have fun with The Princess as she fights through a gauntlet of bad guys on her way to a showdown that won’t disappoint.   My Rating: Full Price   The Princess Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Indiefest: Doula (2022)   When a couple’s (Troian Bellisario, Arron Shiver) midwife suddenly dies, the couple decide to hire the late midwife’s son, Sascha (Will Greenberg), to replace her. It’s a decision that could change all of their lives. This is a film that explores relationships and how the trials and tribulations of pregnancy can affect them. Deb and Silvio are a couple who found out that Deb was pregnant three weeks into their relationship. Silvio is dealing with an ex-wife and son, while Deb is realizing that her world has quickly changed from being the center of her life to one that will be responsible for another life. Add in that Silvio is pretty spineless when dealing with his ex-wife and tends to forge ahead with plans without consulting Deb. Adding to the tension is Sascha, who seems to just go with the flow, willing to allow Deb to do just about anything she wants, including smoking weed and drinking. Deb is a woman who doesn’t want to give up her very active life, including playing basketball with her friends so close to her delivery date. The film doesn’t always hit the right notes ( there is a bizarre set of scenes where Silvio goes to a party and gets high on mushrooms), but it does a great job of giving us a look at all the emotions and stresses that pregnancy can provide us with, making a mess of things until a certain someone makes an appearance and changes their outlooks forever.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Doula Info Now available on most digital platforms.

Indiefest: Accepted (2021)   Accepted is a documentary about the students of the TM Landry Prep School, a learning institution where a remarkable 100% percent of its students go on to college, most to some of the elite and prominent colleges in the nation. However, an explosive NY Times article exposes the controversial teaching methods of the school and the possible cheating that the school fosters. This is three documentaries in one. The film starts as a documentary about an unlikely success story of how a small school, using unconventional methods, is getting students into college at an astounding success rate. Then the documentary turns when a NY Times report (along with some other red flags) tells a different story of not only the possible fabrication of records but also abuse. When the documentary crew is no longer given access to the school, the filmmakers then turn to the students who were left behind to deal with the mess of a school that begins to fall apart at the seams. This is an exploration of the college admissions scandal from not the rich and privileged side of the story but from those who don’t have the resources or the money to make it into the top schools. This is a film that gives us a look at just how hard it is to get into ‘the best schools’ and how the early success of a small school may have bred a culture of immense pressure to live up to an almost impossible standard to keep. The film is full of heroes and villains, but sometimes it's hard to tell which is which. All we learn from this emotional and powerful film is that the children are the victims.   My Rating: Full Price  Accepted Website   Now playing in select theatres and On-Demand.

Forgotten Film: 28 Weeks Later (2007) R  Six months after a virus that made people into zombies moved across England, the US Army has secured a small area of London to allow people to start living their lives again. Unfortunately, the best-laid plans can’t anticipate the ruthless march of the zombies. Rare is it that a sequel matches the original, but in this case, 28 Weeks Later matches the glory of 28 Days Later (2002). The two films do feel different (Danny Boyle directed the first film with built suspense slowly), as this film, directed by Juan Carlos Frenadillo) right from the start hits you hard with zombies attacking a farmhouse and then doesn’t let up. The film is aided by a great cast, including Jeremy Renner, Imogen Poots, Rose Byrne, and Idris Elba. You can see this film without seeing the first one (though it does help a bit), and the action is both scary and thrilling as the zombies seem to be multiplying in both their population and their determination. However, a warning; this film may create a few nightmares for you.   My Rating: Full Price    28 Weeks Later Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Princess:  Phantom Camera Operator

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Beast  (2022)  R  A father, Dr. Nate Samuels (Idris Elba), and his two daughters (Leah Jeffries, Iyana Halley) are on vacation in Africa. They soon find themselves hunted by a massive lion that has gone rogue and is on a killing spree. Nate and his daughters encounter a lion that is hell-bent on proving that the Savanna has but one apex predator. I think all I need to know is in the trailer. I’m in!  Beast Website