Friday, September 16, 2022

The Woman King

My View:  The Woman King   (2022) PG-13   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. What an action movie this is! Incredible action sequences combined with a powerful tale of courage, redemption, and the need to feel a part of something bigger than you are. This is an uplifting story of a strong leader and the women she guides in battle and life. Besides an out-of-this-world performance by Viola Davis, the film's score by Terence Blanchard is just riveting. I loved the storyline, and the battle sequences are incredible. The film is buoyed by a gutsy performance by Thuso Mbedu, who plays Nawi, a defiant teenager who wants to become a warrior but on her own terms. The Woman King is a film that anyone can be excited by, and you, too, will root for these fearless women warriors who work together to defeat anyone who stands in their way.   My Rating: Full Price The Woman King Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: See How They Run (2022) PG-13   Set in 1950s London, See How They Run is about a Hollywood film producer who sets out to turn a popular play into a film, but one problem, members of the production are being murdered, one by one. The world-weary Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and his over-enthusiastic rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) are sent in to solve the mystery and catch the killer. I was looking forward to this film, and Saoirse Ronan doesn’t disappoint in her portrayal of the rookie cop who wants desperately to convince everyone that she has the good to become a detective. Ronan is the bright spot in this film that never quite is as much fun as it thinks it is. It’s a clever premise, using the Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap as the play that the film is set around. Christie wrote it into the contract that a movie could not be made of the play until the play had stopped its run for six months (something it has never done since its premiere in the 50s on the West End). The cast, including Rockwell, give it their all, but the film misses its mark, trying to be primarily a comedy, with a mystery and a bit of a satire on the backstabbing that goes on in the theatrical world thrown in. The film sometimes tries to be too cute and never figures out the right tone, letting us jump around too much to make it the romp it should have been.   My Rating: Cable  See How They Run Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Pearl (2022) R  Trapped on her family’s isolated farm, Pearl (Mia Goth) must tend to her invalid father while being tormented by her bitter and overbearing mother. Pearl wants to lead the glamorous life she has seen in the movies. Consequently, Pearl will do anything to make that happen. This is a prequel to Ti West’s horror film X that came out earlier this year. That film was about a group of people coming to an isolated farm to film a porn film in the 70s. In this film, we get to see how the killer became who and why they were in X. Mia Goth is why you would want to see this film, as she gives us a compelling and sometimes funny look at a young woman who wants to leave her drab life behind. This is a slasher horror film with a bit of humor thrown in. Lots of blood and gore with some surprising kills along the way. While I didn’t enjoy Pearl as much as X, it is still fun to watch Goth run rampant throughout the film, and I loved the ending.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Pearl Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Goodnight Mommy (2022) R When twin brothers (Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti) arrive at their mother’s (Naomi Watts) country home, they discover their mother’s face is covered with bandages from recent cosmetic surgery. However, their mother is acting strangely, and the boys begin to suspect it isn’t their mother behind those bandages. This is a remake of an award-winning Austrian film from 2015. I liked this version, but maybe because I had already seen the original movie (and knew what would happen), I felt that even with Naomi Watts, this wasn’t up to the original version. This is a creepy story that sometimes tries to become a horror film (it’s not) and has trouble building the tension it needs to work fully. Still, I enjoyed the performances of the main three, with the twin Crovetti boys making a convincing performance as the loving sons who begin to feel that the woman behind the bandages isn’t their mom.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Goodnight Mommy Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform. 

Indiefest: Moonage Daydream (2022) PG-13 Documentary about the life and artistry of singer/actor David Bowie. If you are a Bowie fan, see this in the theatre, on a big screen, surrounded by a great sound system, and watch an artist who had us in the palm of his hand every time he hit the concert stage. The film does not have a narrator and jumps a bit back and forth in its timeline, but man, oh man, the concert footage is just magnificent, and Bowie was always an interesting interview (he basically narrates the film using the numerous interviews that he did throughout his life). It’s a blast seeing Bowie’s progression from the Ziggy character to the Let’s Dance character and then onto the polished performer of his last period. The film uses lots of multimedia clips, something that Bowie continually experimented with, and you get the feeling that he would have loved this film. I also enjoyed the progression of the man, someone whose idea of love was very selfish until he met his match in his wife, Iman. The film touches a bit on his stage work (when he did The Elephant Man on Broadway) but doesn’t go much into his film career, which is a bit surprising, but the concert footage is fantastic, and I loved that we didn’t just get snippets of his concerts but almost full songs. Moonage Daydream is a must for any fan of Bowie or anyone wanting to know why he was so reserved and loved. My Rating: Full Price  Moonage Daydream Website The film is now showing in the IMAX theatres before going wide into other theatres on September 30th.

Indiefest: God’s Country (2022) R A college professor, Sandra (Thandiwe Newton), confronts two hunters trespassing on her property out in the wilderness. Soon Sandra is drawn into an escalating battle of wills, but these hunters have messed with the wrong woman. Thandiwe Newton gives a mesmerizing performance as a woman who is being pushed to the edge both in her professional and private life. She is a woman who is not used to the backdoor politics of college academia and also is not used to letting people on her property to hunt, seeing it as a personal attack on her home. She is destined to lose these battles, and no matter who tries to tell her differently, she is determined to fight to the end. I loved Newton in this film, but the bad guys (both in academia and the hunters) are just a little too cliche, bringing the movie down a bit. Still, it’s fun to watch Newton work on screen, making us want to reach through the screen and tell Sandra to quit before things get out of control. But Sandra wouldn’t hear us anyway, and we watch as she struggles to keep her life righted.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  God's Country Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View: Do Revenge (2022) Drea (Camila Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke) are tired of being picked on and made fun of at school. They decide to team up, take down their bullies, and get revenge on each other’s enemies. I enjoyed the first half of this film, where two unlikely people, two young women who typically wouldn't give each other the time of day, decide to join forces and take down people that have wronged them in the past. It’s a fun ride with Drea giving Eleanor a makeover to fit in with the cool crowd and Eleanor giving tips on how to get inside the non-cool kid's group. Then the film takes a turn I wasn’t expecting and starts to slide into situations that seem too contrived and ridiculous (even for a movie about privileged high school kids at a private school). It was fun seeing Sarah Michelle Gellar in an adult bad guy (sort of) role, paying homage to her roles in her youth. Still, I just didn’t have as much fun over the two hours run length to justify the constant plot changes that didn’t work.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Do Revenge Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Forgotten Film: Princess Mononoke (1997)  PG-13   On a journey to find a cure for a curse slowly killing him, Ashitaka becomes involved in a war between the forest gods, led by Princess Mononoke, and a mining colony that is destroying the forest. Ashitaka tries to see both sides of this conflict, but both sides see him as the enemy. This Studio Ghibli film was a massive hit in Japan, but because of its length (2 hours 15 minutes) was little seen in the states. Princess Mononoke is a stunning film (animated by hand on cells) by the Studio Ghibli master Hayao Miyazaki, and the film is a powerful piece of filmmaking (Neil Gaiman did the writing of the English dubbed dialogue). When Harvey Weinstein wanted a shorter version of the film to distribute to the states, Miyazaki and his producer sent a katana sword to Weinstein with the words “NO CUTS’ drawn on the blade. As with most Studio Ghibli movies, Princess Mononoke is worth seeing more than once. One of the great animated films and one of the last animated films done on cells. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Princess Mononoke Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Pearl: Burn Master

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Greatest Beer Run Ever (2022) R One man (Zac Efron) has a crazy idea in 1967 to leave New York and bring beer to his buddies in the Army while they are fighting in Vietnam. The cast includes Bill Murray, Russell Crowe, and is from filmmaker Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary (1998), Dumb and Dummer (1994)). You had me at Bill Murray.   The Greatest Beer Run Ever  The film is scheduled to be released at the end of September.

Until Next Time!

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