Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Dragon Con 2022 Sept. 1 - 5

It’s Labor Day Weekend, which means it’s time for Dragon Con! Located in 5 downtown hotels at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Sheraton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree Plaza, and AmericasMart. Dragon Con brings together actors, writers, comic book artists, singers, dancers, and cosplayers to celebrate all things pop-culture-related. 

There is a fantastic lineup of creators, writers, artists, and actors at this year’s Dragon Con, including writers Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files) and Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark-Hunter), voice actors Cristina Vee (Lady Bug), Kaitlyn Robrock (Minnie Mouse), comic artists Afua Richardson (Black Panther) and Stephen Green (Sea of Stars). 

The stars will be out at Dragon Con with a lineup that includes William Shatner (Star Trek), Danielle Panabaker (The Flash), Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13), Morena Baccarin (Deadpool), Holly Marie Combs (Charmed), and Anthony Rapp (Star Trek: Discovery).

While you need a pass to get into Dragon Con, you can watch the famous Dragon Con parade on Saturday morning for free. You will see just about every cartoon, anime, and superhero character, along with a variety of other delightful cosplayers in the procession. The parade's highlight is the legion of “Star Wars” Stormtroopers that finish the parade. The Parade is a fan favorite, with the festivities starting at 10 am. Check the Dragon Con website for details of the parade route. Be sure to get to the parade site early, as the sidewalks along the parade route fill up quickly, and taking Marta to the parade is highly suggested. If you can’t make it to the parade, stay home and watch it on Atlanta’s CW starting at 10 am. You will beat the crowds and still have all the fun of watching the fantastic costumes and floats in a uniquely Atlanta parade.

The cool thing about Dragon Con is that no matter what your interest is in, there is probably a panel or even a track (panels and events that fall under one subject like Star Wars, Star Trek, or even just Space) that will peak your knowledge of your favorite Sci-Fi subjects.

The Dragon Con Dealers Hall, located in AmericasMart, is where you can buy just about anything your geeky heart desires – from Steampunk clothing to comic books and rare collectible artwork.

Cosplay is an integral part of Dragon Con, and costumes will always be out and about. There are many Costume Contests during Dragon Con, including the Star Wars Costume Contest, the Page to Stage Costume Contest, the Animation/Anime Costume Contest, and the ever-popular Masquerade Costume Contest.

There are a ton of panels throughout the weekend. Some are located in enormous halls, while others occupy smaller conference rooms. You can find panels on almost everything you can imagine covering the gambit of fandom, from your favorite current and past Sci-Fi shows.

 Gaming runs throughout the con, with some gaming contests going on 24 hours a day. No matter what kind of gaming you are into, Dragon Con has it, including Board Games, Collectible Card Games, LAN Gaming, Live Action Role Playing, Table Top Gaming, and of course, all types of Video Gaming.

Dragon Con Dealers Hall, located in AmericasMart, is where you can buy just about anything your geeky heart desires – from Steampunk clothing to comic books and rare collectible artwork.

If art is your thing, you will want to go to the Comic and Pop Art Alley. You can talk to and buy work from comic book writers, artists, and publishers. Panels and how-to-workshops on comics are held throughout the con. There are also a bunch of live performances by bands of just about every genre, including jazz, punk, rock, and folk.

In the spirit of the Dragon and with infinite admiration, Dragon Con has created The Dragon Award as a vessel to recognize excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy. These awards will be by the fans, for the fans, and are a chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics, and movies.

And, of course, the Walk of Fame will be ongoing throughout Dragon Con, where you can get an autograph of your favorite personality.

Dragon Con is in downtown Atlanta, GA, from Thursday, Sept. 1st, through Monday, Sept. 5th.

For more information go to dragoncon.org 

Friday, August 26, 2022


My View: Breaking (2022) PG-13   Brian (John Boyega) is a Marine war veteran who faces the mental and emotional challenges of returning to civilian life. Conversely, Brian is at a breaking point, both financially and mentally. Something has to go his way. Sometimes a performance overcomes a weak script, which is the case with Breaking. Based on a true story, John Boyega gives an outstanding and moving performance as the troubled vet who just wants the money the government has promised him to be put back into his bank account. Brian is a disturbed man who has never adjusted back into civilian life after a stint in the Marines. He is a good man but troubled just the same, someone, who loves his daughter but has too many demons to fit into this world. The film is greatly helped by powerful performances by the late Michael K. Williams as a hostage negotiator and Nicole Beharie as the branch manager of the bank that Brian is holding hostage. The film is based on a true story, much like the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon that starred Al Pacino, but this film doesn’t quite have the emotional impact that the Pacino film hit us with. Breaking, while its heart is in the right place and has some powerful performances, it never gives us enough of Brian’s inner torment to understand the pain he was under to do something so bold and doomed.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Breaking Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Samaritan (2022) PG-13   It’s been twenty years since super-powered vigilante Samaritan was killed in a fiery warehouse battle. Since then the city has declined to the brink of chaos and needs a savior. Thirteen-year-old Sam (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) is convinced that Samaritan didn’t die but went into hiding and is his mysterious and reclusive neighbor Mr. Smith (Sylvester Stallone). I have always been a fan of Stallone, and I have enjoyed some of his choices in the last few years. While not a great film, I did enjoy the movie because of the chemistry that Walton and Stallone had on the screen. Stallone plays a man who just wants to live his life in the shadows, but heroes can’t always choose to stay there. Mr. Smith becomes involved with Sam’s life not because he wants to but because he has to. It’s in Smith’s blood to do the right thing and stand up for the kid, even if it means he will reveal his true super-human self. The plot is a little sketchy, with a crime boss discovering a long-lost tool of Samaritan’s alter-enemy, Nemesis, and deciding to take over the streets using Nemesis's weapon and identity. The action is sometimes a bit ragged, but I loved that Stallone is playing a superhero that needs to take a breather from time to time before continuing the battles with evil. Samaritan has a few nice twists and turns, and though the CGI of a youthful Stallone doesn’t work at all, it’s a fun film to watch.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Samaritan Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform.

Indiefest: Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) R  Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a world-renowned scholar specializing in myths and legends. While in Istanbul, Alithea buys a small lidded jar in a local shop. When cleaning it, the lid comes off, and a magical Djinn (Idris Elba) appears with an offer to grant her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. If this film had ended about 2/3 of the way through, I would probably be putting Three Thousand Years of Longing in my top ten films of the year. The film is filled with beautiful stories (think 1001 Arabian Nights) as the Djinn tells his story to Alithea as she ponders what three wishes she would like. It’s a magical tale that the Djinn weaves as we discover who has imprisoned him in the bottle and why. The film is filled with beautiful scenes, flowing with lush landscapes of magnificent palaces and tales of intrigue and lost loves. Unfortunately, the film can’t sustain the magic throughout, and the last third of the film is a bit of a letdown (which I won’t go into, so I don’t give away too much of the story). Let’s say that when the Djinn is weaving his tales of mystery and magic, it’s worth going on the journey with him. It’s always sad when reality seeps its way into fantasy.   My Rating: Full Price   Three Thousand Years of Longing Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Alienoid (2022)   Two swordsmen are on a search for a legendary blade that is said can bend time. They are about to encounter people from the future chasing after an alien prisoner who has escaped and could alter the world's fate. Ok, so this film is a combination of martial arts film and sci-fi film. It has time travel, aliens, robots, space ships, wizards, gunfights, flying kung fu battles, and some kung fu cats (sort of). What more could you ask for? The film is almost impossible to explain, but I can say that it travels back and forth between present day and the 1300s. There is some humor, lots of fight sequences, including battles between aliens and robots, and of course, humans versus humans with lots of jumping in the air and magical fans. I had fun watching this wild film that seems not to care how much they throw into the plot, as this is part one of a two-part series. Both parts have already been filmed, and a bonus scene at the end of the first credits gives you a taste of what is coming in part two. So if you like martial arts and robots, Alienoid is for you.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Alienoid Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View: Running With the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee (2022): Documentary about John McAfee, best known for developing the first commercial anti-virus software. He later ran for president and was wanted for murder and tax evasion at the time of his death by suicide. Or was he murdered? This is one of those films where you wanted more. I wanted more background on John. I wanted to know more about why he did what he did or didn’t do. Instead, we got a travelogue of a man who was nuts, full of drugs and alcohol. Watching the film, I could never get a handle on what John claimed. Why was he on the run, and why did he do what he did? We don’t get much information on what happened with the murder of a neighbor of John. In fact, we don’t get a lot of information about just about anything. This is more of a story of the men who tried to document John’s attempt to escape than to document what John did or didn’t do, and that’s the frustrating part of this film. I understand that we may never get all the answers, but this film never even tries to answer anything other than that it was nuts being on a camera crew around John. That’s not enough to make a movie interesting or enjoyable (in a macabre way). Instead, it makes it one frustrating and maddening ride about the people who shot the footage and not about the subject that wanted desperately to be the center of the story. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Running With the Devil Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: Me Time (2022) R  Sonny (Kevin Hart) is a husband and a dad to a loving family. When his wife takes the kids on a trip, Sonny finds that he is alone for the first time in a long time. He decides for some ‘me time and reconnects with a long-lost friend (Mark Wahlberg). It’s a wild week Sonny will never forget. Me Time is one of those movies I call a ‘Watch film.’ It’s a film that I keep looking at my watch, wanting to know how soon it will end and being disappointed that the film still has many more minutes before its end. First off, it takes forever for the film to get moving, as we get so much setup to the story that it drags the film down from the beginning. Sonny is a stay-at-home dad, overly involved with his kids’ lives, while his wife is a successful architect who has a client that Sonny is worried is too interested in his wife to be real without other motives. In walks Huck, played by Mark Wahlberg, a wealthy playboy known for his wild and adventurous birthday extravaganzas. Sonny decides to take Huck up on his offer, and the high jinks occur. If you think vomiting, using buckets for bathrooms, running over animals, and people taking their clothes off for no reason, then you will enjoy this film. For the rest of us, as I did, you will be looking at your watch; asking when is this going to end. The answer: not soon enough.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Me Time Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Funny Pages (2022) R  Robert (Daniel Zolghadri) is a seventeen-year-old who decides to quit high school and go out into the real world to become a comic book artist. Robert is about to meet a group of people that could either change his world or make him go back to his parent's house. This was a tough film to watch. Filled with characters right out of an R. Crumb comic and takes a very dark and rough look at a kid who desperately wants to be a comic book artist but loses the one person that believed in him. Robert is a character you don’t like, almost from the beginning, who thinks too highly of himself and not about anyone else. It’s a bizarre film, filled with people you wouldn’t want to spend any time with. Too often, the filmmaker goes overboard trying to shock or show you something revolting, making it a very uncomfortable film to watch. I can’t even recommend this film to comic book fans, as it tends to hate the people who love the medium. For that reason, I can’t recommend it to anyone.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Funny Pages Website  Now playing in select theatres and On Demand.
My View:
The Invitation (2022) PG-13  Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) has discovered through a DNA test that she has a long-lost cousin, who, after meeting her, invites her to a lavish wedding in England. Evie is about to discover that her new-found family has deep dark secrets. I liked this film because it reminded me of the old Hammer horror films of the 70s, with a creepy mansion full of dark hallways, some suspect relatives lurking about, and a possible romantic partner (Thomas Doherty) that seems too good to be true. The film needed a few more scares to make you put yourself on the edge of your seat, but I loved the setup and the stuffy British relatives, especially ice queen Viktoria (Stephanie Corneliussen). Nathalie Emmanuel does a fine job as the woman who could quickly be in a lot of trouble. I especially enjoyed the ending, and I think you will have a bloody good time. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Invitation Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Forgotten Film: Auggie Rose (Beyond Suspicion) (2000) R John (Jeff Goldblum) is a successful insurance salesman whose life takes a drastic turn when he witnesses the death of a grocery store worker named Auggie, who dies in his arms. John decides to investigate the man’s life and soon assumes his identity, taking the place of a man many didn’t know. Along the way, he meets the man’s girlfriend (Anne Heche), who only knows Auggie through his letters. John goes deeper and deeper into Auggie’s life, and it's one that is full of secrets and hidden dangers. I am a big fan of the late Anne Heche, and she gives one of her better performances as the woman who loved Auggie without really knowing him. Auggie Rose is a moving and thoughtful film that questions what we are doing with our lives. Note that the film was released on DVD under the title Beyond Suspicion after its theatrical release.   My Rating: Full Price   Auggie Rose Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Three Thousand Years of Longing: Octopus Wranglers

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Amsterdam (2022) R  Set in the 1930s, three friends (Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie) witness a murder. They become suspects and, in the attempt to clear their names, uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American History. You look at the cast and then see that it’s been written/directed by David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook), and you go; yes, I want to see this! In fact, please give it to me now!   Amsterdam Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, August 19, 2022


My View: Beast (2022) R A father (Idris Elba) and his two teenage daughters (Iyana Halley, Leah Sava Jeffries) are in the African Savannah to go on a photo safari. Instead of a fun outing, they encounter a rouge lion determined to show that there is only room for one apex predator. So it’s man vs. beast, or should I say Elba vs. CGI? With some dialogue that seems to be right out of a bad TV soap and a CGI lion that doesn’t always look real, this film is a bit of a disappointment. There are some cool action sequences, but you can’t overlook that the last third of the film feels very contrived and goes to an ending you can see from a Savannah away. I just wanted more thrills and scares from Beast; instead, I got a few roars and a lot of whimpers.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee Beast Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Look Both Ways (2022)   On the eve of her college graduation, Natalie (Lili Reinhart) discovers she might be pregnant. We follow Natalie’s story as she takes two different paths: she is pregnant and stays in Austin to have the baby, or she isn’t pregnant and moves to LA to pursue her dream job. The reason to watch this film is the performance of Lili Reinhart, who makes Natalie someone you like and can root for. Reinhart has an effortless grace to her, making her performance seem real and fun. This is a strange film that flows back and forth without any warning between the two stories of Natalie’s life. In both cases, it's her choices that keeps the film moving along, whether it’s pining for the man who got away or having to decide on what she wants in life with her job. Look Both Ways could have ground to a halt very easily, but Reinhart keeps us interested in what happens to Natalie, with or without the child.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Look Both Ways Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: Orphan: First Kill (2022) R  Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) has escaped from a psychiatric facility in Estonia. Esther finds her way to America and cons her way into impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family. We know what the family doesn’t; she isn’t their daughter and isn’t well. The original 2009 film, Orphan, was a darn good horror movie with a great cast, including Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard as the married couple who has suffered a tragedy and decided to fill the void by adopting. Isabelle Fuhrman made the film work, who scared the crap out of you with a performance so creepy it's downright horrific. But it’s hard to capture magic twice in this prequel to the first film. Not to give too much away, Fuhrman plays Esther again, and despite a plot that tries to tie up a few loose ends from the first film, the film doesn’t deliver. The film isn’t scary, with Esther more of a sadistic killer than a disturbed young girl. The film, after the setup, goes off the rails about halfway through the film and never gets back on track. A disappointing revisit with one of the great horror characters in the history of scary movies. My Rating: Cable  Orphan: First Kill Website  Now playing in select theatres and on the Paramount+ platform.

Indiefest: Spin Me Round (2022)   Amber (Alison Brie) is a manager of a chain Italian restaurant who dreams of a better life. When Amber is selected to travel to Italia and take an immersive cooking course, she thinks her life has turned a corner. Boy, was she wrong. I was disappointed in this film, as it never quite got going, leaving a lot to be desired. The film starts out well with Amber in a dead-end job and no life to speak of; she is given the chance of a lifetime to go to Italy and spend a week learning about the craft of cooking, Italian style. Right off the bat, it's one disappointment after another until she meets the CEO and founder of the company, who begins to whisk Amber off her feet. Soon Amber feels that she is living a dream, but that dream turns into a nightmare. This should have been a better film, with all the heavy hitters in the cast, including Aubrey Plaza, Molly Shannon, and Fred Armisen, to name a few. Instead, we get a plot that tries too hard to make points right and left and a mystery that comes out of left field. I did enjoy the interplay between Brie and Plaza, but even that became a bit tired by the end of the film. I wanted Spin Me Round to be funnier, but instead, the comedy came out a little too al dente.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Spin Me Round Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Central Station (1998)   Dora (Fernanda Montenegro) is a former school teacher with a small stand in the rail station where she makes her living writing letters for illiterate people. One day she is asked to write a letter for a mother of a young boy. When the boy’s mother is killed in an accident, the young boy, Josue (Vinicius de Oliveira), finds the only adult that he knows, Dora. This starts a journey that will change Dora's and Josue's lives. Central Station isn’t a feel-good, happy movie, but at its core, it's a film about people finding out that they need each other to survive in this hard, harsh world. To tell you how good this film is, the movie garnered two Academy Award nominations, including one, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Montenegro, a rare thing for a foreign film actor in the 90s. I don't know if you will even like Dora, but I guarantee that you will fall in love with the relationship between a hardened woman and the boy who she decided to help.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Central Station Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Spin Me Round: Ballon Tech

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: See How They Run (2022)  R A Hollywood film producer sets out to turn a popular play into a film, but one problem, members of the production are being murdered, one by one. In to solve the mystery and catch the killer are the world-weary Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and his over-enthusiastic rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan). This looks like so much fun, with Ronan possibly stealing the film from a great cast.   See How They Run Info

Until Next Time!

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!