Friday, August 12, 2022

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

My View: Bodies, Bodies, Bodies (2022) R  In Bodies, Bodies, Bodies Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) have just arrived at a remote mansion to meet a bunch of Sophie’s friends for a hurricane party. While there, the group decides to play the game Bodies Bodies Bodies. Evidently, someone is taking the game too seriously because dead bodies soon start showing up. I may be getting much too old to enjoy films like this, but I think this movie wastes the talents of some up-and-coming actors in Rachel Sennott (Shiva Baby) and Maria Baklova (Oscar-nominated performance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) and instead gives us a slasher film that goes on excessively long and tries way ridiculously hard to be cutting edge. Maybe I didn’t like this film because the characters feel like they are right out of those old MTV Real World houses that used to annoy the crap out of me. Or maybe it’s how the pacing of this film just halts to a stop constantly, as we get one scene after another of someone crawling on the floor with their iPhone flashlights, waiting for the next body to show up. All I can say is that I was happy that a certain cast member was the first to go. Now if the rest of the characters had died that quickly maybe it would have gotten this film over with faster.   My Rating: Cable  Bodies, Bodies, Bodies Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

Indiefest: Summering (2022) PG-13   It’s the last days of summer, and four friends decide to spend the weekend doing as much as they can before school starts. Unquestionably, the four are about to go on an adventure that will change how they look at each other and their lives. I am a huge fan of filmmaker James Ponsoldt, with his 2013 film The Spectacular Now, one of my all-time favorites. While better than the 2013 Apple computer-inspired film The Circle, this film still didn’t hit the mark for me. The idea is fun, with four friends not wanting to waste their last days of summer when they discover a secret that changes their plans drastically. I think the filmmaker wrote himself into a corner that he couldn't quite get himself or his characters out of without a bit of a mess. As always, I did enjoy the performance of Lake Bell, who plays a cop who is a mother to one of the kids. Her kind of a bull in a china shop performance is fun to watch and helps move some slow sections along. Summering is a lovely, safe film about coming of age and friendship that doesn’t deliver the goods that we are used to from this filmmaker.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Summering Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Laal Singh Chaddha (2022) PG-13   Meet Laal Singh Chaddha (Aamir Khan), a simple man who will change the world through kindness. So this is a remake of Forrest Gump (done with Paramount’s stamp of approval) set in India in more modern times (not the 60s/70s that the original Forest was primarily set in). Does it follow the plot of the original? Sometimes shot for shot, but mostly it retells the story from an Indian point of view, using Indian history as the focal point. Yes, Laal meets a like-minded individual in the Army, but instead of shrimp, it’s underwear, and instead of an act of God, it’s a name change that saves the company. This is still a funny and sweet story of love, understanding, and redemption, but I didn’t connect with this film as I did with the original. I don’t know if it was the changes in the plot or possibly the music. The original used music exceptionally well. I point to the use of Freebird in the suicide scene, which fits the film's mood and helps set the setting. With this film, I never got caught up in the emotional pull of the film, even with all the (sorry, sort of spoiler alert) death scenes. However, it’s still a fun story; it just didn’t have the impact I wanted.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Laal Singh Chaddha Info  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: A Love Song (2022) PG   At a little used campground in the West, Faye (Dale Dickey) waits for a high school flame from her past to show up. The question is will he show up? Dale Dickey is one of those actors who has been working steadily for years, showing up in TV and movies constantly in roles that are never the star, always the supporting role, usually as the hard-living older woman who causes trouble. So it’s fun to see Dickey in a lead role that lets us see a softer side, a woman who has lived a life but has some regrets, and one of those is never entirely falling through with someone she thought she could love. A Love Song is a slow-moving film, letting us live with Faye, getting to know her. I loved her laying in her trailer, waking up to a bird singing, and instantly knowing what kind of bird was serenading her. This is a beautiful performance by Dickey, a woman with hopes and dreams of love, willing to put herself out there to connect with someone. I loved Dickey's scenes with Wes Studi, in which more is said between them during the bits of silence than when they actually talk. A Love Song is one of those films that moves slowly, but that just makes the scenes when something happens much more impactful and meaningful. It’s a film full of moments to savor, just as Faye does as she sits on the picnic table eating her dinner as the sun goes down once again.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again A Love Song Website Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Emily the Criminal (2022) R  Emily (Aubrey Plaza) is drowning in debt and is barely making it working for a catering company. Consequently, through a friend, she becomes involved in a credit card scam and sees it as her ticket out. Instead, Emily may be in way over her head. Right off the bat, this film lets you know that this is Aubrey Plaza’s film, and she doesn’t let us down with a captivating and multi-layered performance, filled with angst and humor, sometimes at the same time. It’s a great role, and Plaza is perfect as the woman who seizes a chance to make some easy money and then gets addicted to the rush of the con and its danger. Emily the Criminal is a film that takes you on a ride with a character you want to root for but know that she is going down a path she may not return from. The film is full of great twists and turns, and it feels like you might need a shower after seeing it because it takes you into a world chock full of grit, grime, and unsavory characters. Luckily for us, Emily fits right in.   My Rating: Full Price  Emily the Criminal Website Now playing in select theatres. 

My View: Fall (2022) PG-13  Becky (Grace Caroline) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner) are all about conquering their fears and pushing their limits. Consequently, when they climb a 2,000-foot abandoned tower, they may have pushed the limits a bit too far. I, unfortunately…wait, on second thought…fortunately saw this film on my computer instead of in a theatre, because if I had, I don’t know if I could have stayed still, or maybe I would have had to watch the film through my hands in front of my face because even though I’m don’t have a big fear of heights, this film will give you one. The film is 90 percent on the tower, and most of it is harrowing and stomach-churning in its selection of shots which keep you saying, “Oh my! NO, NO, NO!’ It’s a film that keeps giving you impossible situations for our two climbers to escape, and once they do, they are still on that damn tower. There are a couple of plot items I could have used without, and the film goes on just a little too long, but it's a thrill ride from almost the first shot of the movie to the last, with a couple of twists that will shock you, that is if you can still see the screen from looking away so much.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Fall Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Day Shift (2022) R  Bud (Jamie Foxx) is a hard-working guy trying to make ends meet so his ex-wife and daughter won’t leave town. Bud has a secret; he works for an organization that hunts and kills vampires. As a fan of vampire books and films, I looked forward to this film, but I was a little letdown. There is a car chase that is supposed to be funny and fun because Bud’s daughter is in the front seat, playing a chase game on her iPad as her dad is driving 90 miles an hour on the streets of LA, trying to outrun some vampires in muscle cars and motorcycles. The fight sequences become too repetitive, and the rapport between Foxx and Dave Franco, who plays a mild-mannered desk jockey forced to go out into the field, is almost non-existent. Franco is meant to be the comic relief, but peeing his pants every time he gets scared gets old fast. I enjoyed Snoop Dogg as the respected veteran vampire killer with a powerful machine gun to blast his way through a group of fang bangers, but he’s not in the film enough to make it as much fun as it should be. I don’t know, maybe it was all the sunlight, but this film didn’t have much of a bite.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Day Shift Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Familyfaire: Secret Headquarters (2022) PG   Charlie (Walker Scobell) thinks his dad (Owen Wilson) is an IT guy constantly called out of town on jobs. While hanging out after school, Charlie and his friends discover that Charlie’s dad has a secret headquarters and is a superhero. Shortly the headquarters is attacked, with Charlie and his gang having to defend his home and save his dad from evildoers. This is a fun family adventure film with cool gadgets, an Ironman-like superhero, and kids taking on and beating adults at their own game. The film is greatly helped by the performance of Walker Scobell, who is an actor to watch. As in The Adam Project with Ryan Reynolds, Scobell holds his own with the adults in the cast, including Michael Pena and Jesse Williams, the two bad guys who want to take down the hero, The Guard, whose headquarters Charlie has discovered. The kids get to play with all sorts of gadgets, and the action sequences are fun, where the kids use the technology to defeat a group of bad guys out to steal The Guard’s power source. So take the elevator, push the button and enjoy the fun in the Secret Headquarters.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Secret Headquarters Website  Now playing on the Paramount+ platform.

Forgotten Film: In the Company of Men (1997) R  Two businessmen, Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy), are traveling together and will be spending six weeks working at their company's regional office. They decide they are tired of women who break their hearts and want revenge. The two decide to find a woman in this new city who doesn’t have much of a social life, and then both men will date her, then dump her. They find Christine (Stacy Edwards), who fits their profile and is deaf. They began to each date her showering her with attention and gifts. The question: is will they go through with their plan, or will Christine figure out something is wrong? I liked this film because all three performances are well done, and the film takes a few twists along the way, with the storyline going in a different and longer direction than you think it will take.   My Rating: Full Price  In the Company of Men Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Bodies, Bodies, Bodies: Intimacy Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Don’t Worry Darling (2022) R  A young housewife, Alice (Florence Pugh), is living in a community with her husband Jack (Harry Styles) in the 50s that seems to be perfect. But this community is hiding secrets, and the more Alice looks into it, the closer she comes to unveiling secrets that may cost her marriage and maybe, even her life. The film has been getting a lot of buzz and is directed by Olivia Wilde, who gave us the 2019 film Booksmart.    Don't Worry Darling Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Bullet Train

My View: Bullet Train (2022) R   Brad Pitt plays an assassin, code name Lady Bug, who has been given an easy task by his handler (Sandra Bullock), steal a briefcase and get off the train at the next stop. The only problem, Lady Bug has the worst luck of any person on the planet. Add to that burden is that the train is full of assassins, some of who are out to kill him, and others just want what he wants. I was worried about this film as I read the book by Japanese writer Kôtarô Isaka. The book was a funny thrill ride to read, and I am happy to say that David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde) has done a masterful job of adapting the book into a fast and hilarious film which continues to surprise you until the end. Pitt looks to be having so much fun in the role of the bad luck assassin who just wants to complete his mission while maintaining his zen. The film is full of characters that will delight you with their quirkiness, including the twin assassins Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), who have a bit of bad luck on their own. Tangerine is a no-nonsense killer who takes pride in his work but is somewhat hampered by his cohort in crime, Lemon, who finds solace in relating everything they do to the children's show Thomas the Tank Engine. It seems that everywhere Lady Bug goes on the train, he encounters another assassin, some he has met before, and others are new, but all are out for blood or revenge. The film is full of action, great fight sequences, humor, and a ton of surprises (even for someone like me who knew the storyline). I had so much fun watching this film and seeing what next problem Lady Bug would have to get out of. Be sure to get your ticket and find your seat on a train that will make a few stops, but know that not everyone will be able to get off this fast-moving and deadly ride. By the way, there is a short but very funny bonus scene after the first round of end credits.  My Rating: Full Price   Bullet Train Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

My View: Easter Sunday (2022) PG-13  Joe (Jo Koy) is returning to his crazy mess of a family for the Easter weekend, coming off the road as a standup comedian. What could go wrong? Well, with Joe’s family, just about everything. Joe is on the cusp of getting a supporting role in a sitcom, but before he can get the job, he has to clean up a few things; his cousin is in trouble again. His mother and her sister are fighting again, and his son is disappointed in Joe, again. You know you have a problem with a paper-thin plot when a movie about a standup comedian playing a standup comedian does three standup routines during the film, including a very unfunny and uncomfortable set during an Easter Sunday church service. This film reminded me of those bad TBS comedies that the cable network ran when they tried to get away from all those Braves baseball games. The storyline is weak, and the comedy is even weaker, with an ending that tries too quickly to tie up everything in one happy bow. We have all been there for those times when you are at a comedy club, and the comedian’s material isn’t working. You get up and go to the back bar to get away and give yourself a break. If only we could do that for most of this film.   My Rating: Cable  Easter Sunday Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Familyfaire: Luck (2022) G  Sam (voiced by Eva Noblezada) is the unluckiest person in the world. Despite Sam’s continual bad luck, she, along with a Scottish black cat named Bob (voiced by Simon Pegg), must join with some magical creatures to battle the forces of bad luck to save the world. Luck is an overlong, bland animated film that starts promising but, in the end, becomes predictable and, at times, boring. The idea that there are creatures responsible for both good and bad luck is amusing in concept, but this film spends too much time giving us a tour of the Good and Bad Luck worlds and not enough movement in the plot to keep us interested. I think kids will enjoy the relationship between Sam, the 'bad luck' human, and the cat named Bob, but they will become, like me, bored as the story keeps going, stopping and starting too many times for us to care what happens. It’s too bad, as the idea of luck being put out into the world is a funny idea, just not told for this long.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Luck Info  Now playing on the Apple TV+ platform. 

My Take: Wedding Season (2022)  Asha (Pallavi Sharda) and Ravi (Suraj Sharma) are both being pressured to find spouses, so they decide to pretend to date each other to survive a summer of weddings. However, Asha and Ravi just might be hearing wedding bells, for real, with each other. Wedding Season is a fun, enjoyable rom-com that doesn't disappoint. Sure it’s predictable, with the two falling in love (sorry for the spoiler, but it’s a rom-com), and of course, a problem develops, but that’s why we watch this type of film. The two leads, Pallavi Sharda and Suraj Sharma, are adorable together and make a great couple, and yes, they dance…a lot. The film has plenty of ‘feel good’ moments and, of course, plenty of falling love montages to go around. So fill out that wedding invitation and join in the fun.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee Wedding Season Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Indiefest: I Love My Dad (2022) R  After his son, Franklin (James Morosini), blocks him online, Chuck (Patton Oswalt) creates a fake account. Consequently, Chuck has just catfished his own son. So the plot will make you wince, a lot, as Chuck decides to create someone online that Franklin is sure to interact with, a young, attractive woman. Stealing the pics and profile of a friendly waitress Chuck meets at a diner, he starts interacting with his son as ‘Becca,’ and very quickly, Chuck has gone down a rabbit hole that gets weird and icky almost from the start. Patton Oswalt makes this film work, taking some risks that work only because he is such a comedic talent. The film is funny and uncomfortable simultaneously, and yes, this is based on a true story. The film does paint itself into a corner that it quite doesn't come out of, but it’s fun to see Oswalt squirm as he keeps applying those coats of paint.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  I Love My Dad Website   Now playing in select theatres.

My Take: Prey (2022)   Naru (Amber Midthunder) dreams of being recognized by her tribe as a fierce warrior. Naru dreams of proving herself worthy, and when a mountain lion threatens her people, she sets out with her trusty dog to hunt it down. The hunter becomes the prey when she encounters a fierce alien Predator, a warrior that has an arsenal at his side that Naru has never seen before. Set in the early 1700s, this is a story of someone who, because they are fighting not only for their survival but also for their people, must overcome the odds and defeat what seems like an undefeatable monster. Prey is a thrilling and exciting tale of battles and bravery, and both the camera work and the cinematography make the film come alive. Amber Midthunder is magical as Naru, making one fierce warrior we can root for from the start. I love how the film lets us know that evil exists in many forms. Prey is a story of one woman’s journey to prove to herself and her tribe that she is up to the task. Proving that evil can be defeated through cunning and perseverance. And lots of blood. Lots and lots of blood.   My Rating: Full Price   Prey Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform. 

Indiefest: My Old School  (2022)   In 1993, 16-year-old Brandon Lee enrolled at a secondary school in the well-to-do suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. Incredibly, two years later, a huge secret is revealed about Brandon. Needless to say, this is the stuff of legends. My Old School is a fascinating documentary with more twists and turns than one of those true murder mysteries on Dateline. The film's subject didn’t want to show his face, so actor Alan Cumming appears on camera when Brandon is interviewed, with Cumming mouthing the words. I don’t want to talk too much about the film’s subject, and please, don’t do a Google search before seeing this movie. I didn’t even watch the full trailer, as I could tell it was one of those films that going in was best not to know too much. The film is funny (some of Brandon’s classmates are hilarious in their interviews), touching, and a study into human behavior and motivation. My Old School is an entertaining true tale you will discuss long after it is done.   My Rating: Full Price   My Old School Website   Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest:  Sharp Stick (2022) R Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth) is a 26-year-old living with her mother, and all she wants in life is to be seen. Consequently, Sarah Jo starts an affair with a married man (Jon Bernthal), who happens to be her boss, and her world will never be the same. Sharp Stick is a film where writer/director Lena Dunham (Girls, Tiny Furniture) has created a character just for the shock value. I am unsure if Sarah Jo is on the spectrum or if Dunham has made her a 26-year-old virgin who doesn’t know about internet porn, sex, or relationships. Sarah Jo is a likable person with a talent for dealing with a special-needs boy named Zack. Zack’s father is a stay-at-home guy named Josh (Joe Bernthal), whom Sarah Jo targets to take her virginity (the first of many things Sarah Jo does without rhyme or reason). It’s a very icky and uncomfortable scene where he seems to be doing the right thing for about 2 minutes, then succumbs to her charms (I guess). While Sarah Jo is 26 and, therefore, is of age, she seems mentally about ten making the act seem wrong. After the affair is broken off, Sarah Jo is convinced she is bad at sex and goes on a weird goal-setting challenge to do every sex act she has seen in porn with random guys she meets on the internet. Combine this with an older sister (Taylour Paige) and mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who have no clue or interest in what Sarah Jo is doing in her life. It’s a lazy and uncreative world that Dunham has given us, full of stick figure characters that are there to shock you without substance or thought. Sharp Stick then tries to end on a happy note, but even that is ruined by a final scene that I have no idea what the film was trying to say. My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again Sharp Stick Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Second Best (1994) PG-13  Graham (William Hurt) is a man who has always been alone. Even living with his father, he is alone, a man who has never gotten close to anyone. Now in his forties and with his father dying, Graham decides he needs someone in his life, and he adopts James (Chris Cleary), a troubled young man with a past that haunts him. Together they will figure it out. William Hurt has always been a favorite actor of mine, and he is brilliant in the role of the slightly awkward and off-kilter Graham, a man who decides to make room in his life for another lost soul, someone who is just as damaged as he is. Second Best is a lovely film about people who have difficulty accepting love and reap the rewards when they finally do.   My Rating: Full Price   Second Best Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Bullet Train: Japanese Lyric Consultant

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Woman King (2022) The story of Nanisca (Viola Davis), a general of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors trained to take on an enemy determined to steal their people and destroy their way of life. All you need to know is that Viola Davis has a sword in this film and is kicking some serious butt in the trailer.   The Woman King Info

Until Next Time!