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.
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