Friday, October 28, 2022

The Good Nurse

My View: The Good Nurse (2022) R   Amy (Jessica Chastain) is a single mom who juggles caring for her daughter and working the overnight shift as a nurse in a hospital. She befriends a new nurse, Charlie (Eddie Redmayne), and they are soon fast friends. Amy is hiding a secret, and soon she finds out that Charlie is too. Which secret will come out in the open first? Jessica Chastain plays the nurse you want in your service when you end up in a hospital. Amy is a warm, loving person who tries to learn about her patients' lives and make them as comfortable as possible, even if it means breaking a rule or two. Amy is on the overnight shift, and she soon finds a fellow worker who feels the same way that she does in Charlie, who, in a time of need, offers to help Amy. Charlie seems too good to be true, and then we learn that maybe he is. This film is based on a true story, which makes it much more horrific when we learn about what is going on in this hospital and others in the area. Redmayne is perfect as the soft-spoken Charlie, who seems like a nice guy, but you, as the viewer, feel a bit wary about him, especially how quickly he becomes important in Amy’s life. As usual, Jessica Chastain is remarkable as a woman with a secret that could destroy her life. The Good Nurse is a film that will keep you guessing until the end if our Amy will come out of this story with her life still in one piece.   My Rating: Full Price  The Good Nurse Website  Now available on the Netflix platform.

My View: Run Sweetheart Run (2020) R  Cherie (Ella Balinksa) is excited to go on a blind date set up by her boss. However, her date Ethan (Pilou Asbaek), who seemed perfect at the start, has become a monster and has told Cherie that if she can survive the night, he will forever leave her alone. It’s a night Cherie will never forget if she lives. This is a fun, scary romp of someone trying to escape from the bogeyman from the viewpoint of a woman who isn’t afraid to kick a bit of butt. Ella Balinksa is terrific in the role of Cherie, a single mom who has an idea of what she sees for herself and her daughter. But we get almost from the start that Cherie is dealing with a man’s world, where ride-share drivers can be openly creepy, and bosses can demand that you figure out how to get them out of overbooked situations. Along comes Ethan, who seems like a guy Cherie could enjoy dating until things turn quickly wrong. We get to try, along with Cherie, to learn the rules of this deadly game and how she can escape what seems to be an escapable scenario. While the ending feels a little too easy, I enjoyed this horror/run-for-your-life film with a definite female twist.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Run Sweetheart Run Website  Now available on the Amazon Prime platform.

My View: Call Jane (2022) R  In the 1960s. Joy (Elizabeth Banks) is a married woman with an unwanted pregnancy that endangers her life at a time in America when abortion is illegal. Joy meets a group of suburban women who have created a safe but underground network to give women the help they need. Joy gets the help she needs and then decides to join the other women to help people in need. The problem is this story is based (loosely) on true events, and the film’s story is better told in the HBO documentary The Janes that came out earlier this year. The film decides to center the movie around Joy, an upper-middle-class woman who, before her pregnancy, biggest decision was to have a second drink with her next-door neighbor or if she should start cooking now for her husband and teenage daughter. Joy becomes involved with the Jane organization when she is in need of an abortion. She is told she has a 50/50 chance of surviving the pregnancy due to a heart condition but is turned down by the medical staff (all men) of a hospital for the abortion because it might cause problems for the hospital (sound familiar right about now?). I would have loved for the film to be more focused on the woman who formed this amazing underground group of women who wanted to give women a way to make a decision about a life-altering choice. I wanted more scenes between Banks and Sigourney Weaver, who runs the Jane group. Their interactions are the best part of the film, but instead, we get a lot of Joy’s home life, with a husband who is more concerned about his own job and that his wife has his dinner ready, and a daughter who feels that her mother is spending too much time away from home. The film takes a turn that I did not like (I won’t go into what that turn is) and makes the film more about Joy and less about the amazing group of women who risked everything to keep women safe and given a choice.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Call Jane Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Familyfaire: Wendell & Wild (2022) PG-13   Kat (Lyric Ross) is a 13-year-old orphan living at a boarding school. Little does Kat know that she has a connection to two scheming demon brothers, Wendell (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Jordan Peele). The two brothers hatch a plan to get Kat to summon them to the land of the living, but they have never met someone like Kat. This is a film that I wanted to love because I so enjoy stop-motion animation, and I admire the filmmaking that Jordan Peele is creating. Unfortunately, even with a standout voice cast and stunning animation, the film is packed with too much storyline, too many characters, and a plot that sometimes comes off the rails. Kids will enjoy the antics of Kat and the two demons but may get a bit bored by the plot. Still, it’s a fun film to watch, especially around Halloween time. I just wish the story had been a little simpler.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee Wendell & Wild Website   Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues (2022) R Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues is a documentary on the life and legacy of the man, the myth, and the legend Louis Armstrong. Armstrong was not only a ground-breaking jazz artist but was America’s first pop star and a cultural ambassador to the world. Most people today know Armstrong from his singing songs like Hello Dolly or What a Wonderful World. That is a shame because Armstrong was one of the greatest jazz trumpet players of all time. To hear other jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Wynton Marsalis not only sing his praise but are out and out astounded by his ability to hit high notes or capture phrases of music that they could only dream of achieving is mind-blowing. An incredibly popular artist who became an icon, his musical talent shines most in this documentary. The film does a magnificent job of giving us insight into the man behind the myth, letting us in behind the curtain through his own recordings of conversations he had in his home and around the world with friends and loved ones. I loved that Louis Armstrong created picture books and decorated his home walls with cutouts of quotes and pictures of his life and the film uses this technique throughout the film to highlight what Louis is saying in his interviews/talks. There is a decisive moment where the legendary actor Ozzie Davis talks about what he thought about Armstrong when Davis was younger and how that changed when he made a film with Louis and saw the man behind the mask that he usually held up to the world. We could all use more of Louis Armstrong, both in his music and his outlook on life and this film helps us discover the joys of his music and life.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Louis Armstrong's Black & Blues Website  Now playing in theatres and on the Apple TV+ platform.

My View: Prey for the Devil (2022) PG-13 Sister Ann (Jacqueline Byers) is a nun who has been allowed to attend the School of Exorcism at St. Michael The Archangel as an observer. She becomes involved with an exorcism that has her come face to face with a demonic force from her past. This is a pretty ordinary exorcism film with a few ‘jump out of the dark’ moments but overall is rather bland in the scares department. The plot is relatively easy to figure out, and other than seeing a couple of favorite actors of mine in Virginia Madsen and Ben Cross, there wasn’t much to this film. I enjoyed that the church has a high-tech headquarters in Boston to combat the devil. I kind of was hoping Q would pop up and give us a demo of a cross that can shoot holy water over distances. But no, just a nun who wants to be an exorcist and a little girl who has to be a demon.  My Rating: Cable   Prey for the Devil Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Forgotten Film: Pascali’s Island (1988) PG-13  Basil Pascali (Ben Kingsley) is a spy on a small island in 1908. Basil has been on this island writing reports for over 20 years that no one probably reads. He is secretly, or so he thinks, in love with an artist, Lydia (Helen Mirren), who sees men as a way to spice up her life. Basil’s life is turned upside down when an archeologist named Anthony Bowles (Charles Dance) is instantly interested in Lydia. This is one of those films in which you don’t know who to root for, for all the characters in the film have secrets and flaws that make them almost unlikable. Still, we want to stick around and see what happens, especially when an archaeological find could change everyone's lives. This is a masterful performance by Kingsley, who is much happier being behind the scenes, looking on as others lead their lives. He is a man who would rather dream about life than live it.   My Rating: Full Price   Pascali's Island Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues: Detroit Filed Producer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Empire of Light (2022) R Hilary (Olivia Colman) is a troubled woman who is having an affair with the married boss (Colin Firth), who owns the movie theatre she manages. Hilary’s life is changed when a new worker is hired, Stephen (Michael Ward), and they quickly form a bond that will change their lives forever. Written and directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1917), cinematography by two-time Oscar winner Roger Deakins and a cast composed of Oscar winners in a movie about the power of film. Yeah, I think I would watch this.   Empire of Light Website  In theatres in early December.

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 21, 2022

Black Adam

My View: Black Adam (2022) PG-13   Nearly 5000 years have passed since Black Adam was bestowed with the powers of the Egyptian gods and then imprisoned in a tomb. Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson)has been freed and is willing to unleash his form of justice on the world, and the world isn't ready. I don’t know if it's the fault of the writers, the director, or Dwayne Johnson himself, but the character Black Adam is just dull. I am a huge wrestling fan, having started watching it when I was a kid with my dad. My favorite wrestler of all time is The Rock because he was terrific on the mic, had great dramatic/comic timing, and had charisma to burn. Unfortunately, other than the Fast and the Furious films, the things I loved about The Rock have never entirely translated to the screen. In Black Adam Johnson is, to put it bluntly, boring. Maybe it’s because this superhero seems to have very little chinks in his armor, meaning there is little that can hurt or defeat him, other than a ‘kryptonite’ like substance that shows up a few times. The problem is mainly that Black Adam is a one-dimensional character who doesn’t want to be a superhero. That’s what's wrong with this film is that we are constantly being told over and over that Black Adam isn’t a hero by both himself and others. Maybe that’s the problem; if the hero doesn’t want to be one, should we want it just because he looks like one? For someone who fought so hard for this film to be made, Dwayne Johnson looks like a man who doesn’t want to be there. And yes, there is a mid post-credits scene at the end of the film to set up a next Black Adam film.    My Rating: Cable  Black Adam Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide. 

My View: Ticket to Paradise (2022) PG-13 A long-time divorced couple (Julia Roberts, George Clooney) travel to Bali to stop their only daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) from marrying. They don’t want their daughter to make the same mistake they made 25 years ago. This is one of those films that you will enjoy just because of the cast, even though the script is incredibly weak and the film's second half falls apart very quickly. Roberts and Clooney are obviously having a great time making this slight rom-com of a movie, which helps. Their bickering throughout the film's first half is the highlight, but once the film gets a little warm-hearted, it starts to crack at its seams. The film is incredibly predictable, but that’s ok because Cooney and especially Roberts have the acting chops to make it work. This film would probably be unwatchable if it had been anybody else in the leads. By the way, other than a drunken party scene where Clooney and Roberts are dancing and playing beer pong, the most fun of Ticket to Paradise is during the credits, where we see the outtakes where the two are riffing just to crack each other up, never a good thing.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Ticket to Paradise Website  Now playing the theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Raymond & Ray (2022) R Half-brothers Raymond (Ewan McGregor) and Ray (Ethan Hawke) go on a road trip to bury a father they both hated. It’s a trip where they will learn much about their father and, in return, learn about themselves and each other. I liked but didn’t love this film about two brothers haunted by their past with a father who seemed to delight in making their lives as miserable as possible. I enjoyed the two performances of McGregor and Hawke, who play off each other as two brothers who share a dark past, where the two were very different but bonded over a shared fear of their father and what he would say or do. The film is filled with a cast of colorful characters, sometimes going a bit overboard, but it’s always fun to see how the two brothers will react to each person they interact with. Raymond & Ray is a film about dealing with the past, finding a way to heal, and go forward. Something we could all afford to do at some point in our lives.   My Rating; Bargain Matinee  Raymond & Ray Info Now playing on the Apple TV+ platform.

Indiefest: The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) R  Two lifelong friends, Padraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), have been meeting for years every afternoon to walk down to their local pub and have a conversation. Until one day, Colm refuses to answer the door, claiming he has no more time to have stupid conversations with Padraic. Things go downhill from there. To say that this film is Irish to the core would be an understatement. At times it’s a hilarious comedy, and other times it goes incredibly dark. This may be the best performance that Colin Farrell has ever done, as Padraic, a simple man who can’t understand why his best friend has decided to shun him. It’s beautiful to watch as Farrel's character stumbles through life, not understanding that what has worked in the past won’t work anymore. As you would expect, Brendan Gleeson is phenomenal as Colm, a man who has decided to change his life and try to accomplish something lasting before he dies. I expect an Oscar nomination for Gleeson, but I want one for Farrell also, who has never gotten an Oscar nod. What makes this film stand out is the supporting cast. The film is richer because of the just outstanding work by Kerry Condon, who plays Siobhan, the sister of Padraic, who is smart and fiery but is constantly reminded by everyone that she has never married. Condon is a delight to watch as Siobhan knows that she will continue to live a miserable life if she stays on the island. And then there is Barry Keoghan, who plays the lovable village idiot Dominic. Dominic isn’t the most intelligent guy in the world, but he is good at telling people what they need to hear, whether they want to hear it or not. So, visit Padraic, Colm, and the rest of the gang on an island that seems to be in its own little world, for better or worse.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  The Banshees of Inisherin Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: My Policeman (2022) Set in England in the 1950s, Tom (Harry Styles) and Marion (Emma Corrin) have just started dating when they meet Patrick (David Dawson), a museum curator. The three become fast friends sharing a love of art. However, Marion soon discovers that Tom and Patrick share much more, which could change everything. The film starts in the present time with the older couple (Gina McKee, Linus Roache) bringing stroke victim Patrick (Rupert Everett) into their home. Marion discovers Patrick’s diaries and begins to read and relive their early life. We see how the relationship between Tom and Marion starts, but then we also see that Tom and Patrick share a secret also. Much has been made of late of Harry Styles's acting ability, and to say he is the weak link in the cast would be an understatement. I have a feeling that was known ahead of time, as the older cast does most of the heavy lifting of the storyline. The plot is very thin other than showing off Harry’s butt (at one point accompanied by the singing of Glory), and the ending feels rushed. Other than the fans of Harry Styles, I don’t see many people checking this film out.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  My Policeman Website  Now playing in select theatres and on Amazon Prime on Nov. 4th.

My View: The School for Good and Evil (2022) PG-13  In the village of Gavaldon are two unlikely best friends, Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie). Sophie dreams of becoming a princess, and Agatha of becoming a witch. Under a blood-red moon, the two girls are swept away to a school where fairy tales come true, The School for Good and Evil. I had a good time watching this film about a school which is divided by whether you are considered a candidate to be a ‘hero’ or a ‘villain .’ Other than the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games, few films have been able to capture the magic and enchantment of the fantasy worlds of YA novels, but I think this does a great job translating the feeling and scope that the author of the books intended. I enjoyed the world this film creates, and it’s helped by a stellar cast that includes Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, and Michelle Yeoh. The two leads hold their own as the two best friends are thrown into this world, one who wants to be there and the other who desperately wants to return to reality. The movie is a little too long to hold young kids' attention, but I think fans of YA books will enjoy this film about how you think you fit into the world isn’t how others see you fitting in.  My Rating; Bargain Matinee  The School for Good and Evil Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Decision to Leave (2022)  Hae-Joon (Park Hae-il) is a detective investigating the death of a man who has fallen from a mountain. The death is suspicious, and the main suspect is the dead man’s wife, Seo-Rae (Tang Wei). The mystery has just started, and more deaths may be on the horizon if Hae-Joon can’t solve the case. In the 80s, there was a slew of erotic thrillers where a guy, usually a detective, would get caught up in a relationship with a woman connected to a crime. She was usually the prime suspect, but our ‘hero’ couldn’t resist her and would get caught up in a web of lies and subplots. Well, in filmmaker Park Chan-Wook’s latest film, we have all that, though the erotic part is mostly through glances, small gestures, and even eating. This is a film that you will be asking, ‘did she or didn’t she’ as our hero, an hard-working, married detective who suffers from insomnia, falls for a prime suspect in a possible murder. Decision to Leave is a beautifully shot film where we often go into the detective's mind as he sorts through what this mysterious woman is saying and doing. I loved the chemistry between the two leads, as they rarely even touch, but the pull between the two is so sharp it almost cuts the screen. Park Chan-Wook has given us a movie about obsessive love and the consequences that it can cause. Love can be incredible, but it can also be deadly. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Decision to Leave Website  Now playing in select theatres.
: Triangle of Sadness (2022) R  Model Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) have been invited for a luxury cruise on a yacht full of super-rich passengers. A storm is brewing, and these passengers may find that their trip won’t be as smooth sailing as they hoped. In fact, it just might end badly. I always have a hard time describing a film like this. It’s part comedy, part satire, and at times, way over the top in absurdity. The film deals with many subjects, from the class system, Marxism, and patriarchal and matriarchal societies, with a little bit of Lord of the Flies and a dash of Zoolander for good measure. The movie spends too much of its first half exploring the dynamics of Carl and Yaya, then takes its time setting up the class system on the yacht before things go all to hell. A fair warning, there is a lot of throwing up, among other nasty things, as the boat starts to fall apart. I enjoyed some of Triangle of Sadness, but the almost two and half hours run time was just too much to keep me interested for the whole shebang.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Triangle of Sadness Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: A Christmas Carol (1951) The Charles Dickens story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim), a man whose only love in his heart is for money, is visited by three ghosts to learn about his life and the error of his ways. I consider this the best of all the ‘Christmas Carol’ movies, with a brilliant performance by Alastair Sim as Scrooge. The film is in black and white, which it uses to its advantage, making the film seem much scarier than others that came after this one. Plus, this film has one of my all-time favorite character actors, Hermione Baddeley, who had a great career, including an Oscar nomination for her role in the 1958 film Room at the Top.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  A Christmas Carol Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ticket to Paradise: Brushhand

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Spirited (2022) PG-13 A musical retelling of A Christmas Carol starring Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, and Octavia Spencer. If the trailer is any indication, this is going to be a fun one. We could all use a funny, delightful Christmas film.  Spirited Info  In theatres Friday, Nov. 11th, and on Apple TV+ on Friday, Nov. 18th.   

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 14, 2022

Halloween Ends

My View: Halloween Ends (2022) R Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) has finally found peace and put the whole specter of Michael Myers behind her. When a young man, Corey (Rohan Campbell), is accused of killing a boy he was babysitting, igniting a cascade of violence and terror that can only be the work of one person…Michael. I am a huge fan of the 1978 original film, and I loved the 2018 film where Laurie and Michael square up once again. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t even come close to the magic of those films. Michael Myers is almost a side-piece character in this film, as the movie centers on Corey, a young man troubled by a past that the town won’t let him forget. The film is taken down from the start by the romance between Laurie’s granddaughter (Andi Matichak) and Corey, who she sees as a fellow soul hounded by their past. Their meetup is painfully set up, and the attraction is there from the moment they lock eyes, just like a rom-com (which it most definitely isn’t). The film has a bunch of killings, but they are neither imaginative nor scary, and it has an ending that is jaw-droppingly bad. I hope Jamie Lee got a big check and stands by her statement that this is the last Halloween film she will do. Halloween Ends? Yes, please end it.  My Rating: Cable   Halloween Ends Website Now playing in theatres nationwide and on the Peacock platform.

My View: Till (2022)  PG-13 In 1955 Emmett Till, while he was visiting relatives, was murdered in a brutal lynching in Mississippi. His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler), vowed to show the world what they did to her son and, in doing so, undoubtedly changed a nation. The film centers around Mamie, the mother of Emmett, who made some incredibly hard choices and decided to let the world see what evil did to her beautiful son. Danielle Deadwyler gives us a powerful and multi-faceted performance that is heartbreaking to watch, giving us a woman whose life and love have been destroyed by men who wanted to show how above the law they thought they were. The scene where Mamie meets Emmett’s coffin at the train station is gut-wrenching, making it the most moving part of the film. The movie does a great job of letting us see the horrific results of Emmett’s torture without letting it overpower the story of one woman standing up to the horrors of the world. Till is Mamie’s story and Danielle Deadwyler gives us a performance worthy of her character and what she stood for.   My Rating: Full Price   Till Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Rosaline (2022) PG-13  Rosaline is a comedic retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ told from the point of view of Romeo’s jilted ex, Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever). Rosaline was the woman Romeo first claimed to love before he dumped her for Juliet, and Rosaline isn’t too happy about it. This is a fun romp of a film, where the characters are in Shakespeare’s time but talk and act like they are living among us now. There is an amusing scene at the beginning of the film, where Romeo is courting Rosaline on a balcony, of course, and starts spouting off Shakespearian lines. Rosaline looks at him like he is an idiot and asks him what the heck he is saying. Kaitlyn Dever is perfect in the role of Rosaline, who loses her love, Romeo, to Juliet and then tries to scheme ways to get him back. The film rambles on a bit, but Dever is a blast to watch in this role, making it a joy to watch.   My Rating: Full Price   Rosaline Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Indiefest: Stars at Noon (2022) R  Stars at Noon takes place in 1984 Nicaragua, where an English businessman (Joe Alwyn) and an American journalist (Margaret Qualley) meet at a bar and start a passionate romance. Be careful who you fall into bed with. It could get you into a dangerous labyrinth of lies, murder, and conspiracies you might never escape. With two main characters you don’t like, a plot that gets more confusing and convoluted as it goes along, almost no chemistry between its two leads, and you get a film that seems to go on forever and still get nowhere. You never can figure out what the Englishman is up to (I don’t even know if he has a name), and you don’t like the American journalist (to call her a journalist is pushing it) from the start, so it’s hard to root for these two lost people who don’t seem to belong to anyone or anywhere.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Stars at Noon Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Familyfaire: The Curse of Bridge Hollow (2022) TV-14  Sydney (Priah Ferguson) and her family move to a new town that takes Halloween very seriously. Unfortunately, Sydney has accidentally released an ancient curse that causes all the decorations to come alive in the town. It’s up to Sydney to save the town, but she will need help from the last person she wants to team up with, her dad (Marlon Wayans). This is just a fun, goofy, sometimes stupid, and enjoyable family film that will have the kids watching for the monsters and the silly jokes. The plot is predictable; some of the come-to-life monsters are enjoyable to watch, and the film moves along at a brisk pace. Nothing is too scary, and as you would think, Marlon makes a lot of wisecracks and outlandish reactions in the movie. Priah Ferguson is fun to watch, especially when she is battling some of the monsters, but this is a film you will see once and soon forget.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Curse of Bridge Hollow Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Tár (2022) R Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and has recently become the first-ever female chief conductor of a major orchestra, but Lydia’s world is about to come crashing down around her, and there may not be anything she can do to stop it. Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and has recently become the first-ever female chief conductor of a major orchestra, but Lydia’s world is about to come crashing down around her, and there may not be anything she can do to stop it. Blanchett gives a tour de force performance as the talented but flawed Lydia Tar, a woman so sure of herself that she doesn’t see her downfall coming. It’s a masterful performance in which Blanchett speaks several languages without a hitch, plays the piano, and even sings while accompanying herself on an accordion. This is the story of someone who believes that they can get away with just about anything because they are talented and gifted, even when their world is crumbling around them. Tar is a classical music fan’s dream, giving you an inside look at how an orchestra works under a conductor and the power that they possess. Equally impressive is the use of the camera. There is a remarkable sequence where Lydia is teaching a class at Julliard, and the camera seems to follow her around effortlessly as she puts a student in his place, giving us a lecture that encompasses everything from music to race relations. Lydia is not a person you will like; in fact, by the end of the film, you will probably despise her and probably revel in her downfall. You will also be reveling in the performance of Blanchett, something that we will be talking about for a long time.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Tar Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Running on Empty (1988) PG-13 The Popes (Christine Lahti, Judd Hirsch) are a married couple who have been on the run since the 1960s when as part of a radical group, they blew up a building that, unknown to them at the time, had a janitor inside. They have raised their son, Danny (River Phoenix), by changing towns every few years, using their fake names, and always being careful never to stand out. Danny, though has a talent. He is a gifted piano player, and a local high school teacher gets him a scholarship to Juilliard. Now the Popes must decide; should they go back on the run or let Danny tell everyone who he is and get the future he deserves? Running on Empty is a beautiful and moving film directed by five-time nominated Sidney Lumet and has an outstanding supporting cast, including Martha Plimpton, who plays Danny’s girlfriend, L.M. Kit Carson as a former radical partner of the Popes and Steven Hill as the long-estranged grandfather of Danny’s. River Phoenix gives a powerful performance as the kid who has never known a future that didn’t involve lying and running and now must decide to stick with his parents or go on his own. The late River Phoenix got his only Oscar nomination for this role, and it’s a great one.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Running on Empty Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Till: Rigging Medic

Coming Soon to Screen Near You: The Fabelmans (2022) PG-13 Growing up in post-World War II Arizona, Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) begins making home movies and learns how the power of film can help us see the truth about each other and ourselves. The Fabelmans is Steven Spielberg’s film about how he fell in love with movies. The cast includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch.  The Fabelmans Website  The film will open in theatres in late November. 

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 7, 2022


My View: Amsterdam (2022) R  Set in the tough times after WWI, 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. For a film that boasts 3 Academy Award winners (Christian Bale, Rami Malek, Robert De Niro) and three Oscar nominees (Michael Shannon, Margot Robbie, and writer/director David O. Russell), you would have thought this would be a film for the ages. However, it's a bit of a mess, an enjoyable mess, but still a mess. Based very loosely (and that’s being kind) on a true story, the film tries to show us that history has a way of repeating itself. With a cast this big, it’s hard to stand out, but I must say that Margot Robbie tends to dominate every scene she is in, in a good way. Robbie plays a nurse who gets involved with two soldiers during WWI as they are both recovering from injuries. They become great friends and pledge to always have each other's back, in good times and bad. Fast forward, and the two former soldiers (Bale, Washington) are set up to look like they have murdered a woman. What the two discover is a plot that could have far-reaching consequences, and oh, by the way, that nurse is involved in some way too. Russel seems to have tried to give every actor in this impressive cast something significant to do, that there is the problem. The film gets bogged down in letting every cast member have a moment in the sun. Now, is it worth seeing? Yes, just because everyone looks to be having a great time, including Christian Bale as the soldier who now tries to help his fellow vets, sometimes in unconventional ways. Amsterdam is a film that could have used a few more rewrites and maybe a few less scenes. Disappointing but still watchable.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Amsterdam Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Luckiest Girl Alive (2022) R   Ani (Mila Kunis) has everything going for her, with a great job and a wedding just around the corner. Despite appearances, Ani is harboring a secret. Something in her past could threaten everything she has worked for. It could all unravel before her eyes. When I first started watching this film, I thought it might be going down the horror angle because we constantly see Ani either having flashbacks to some sort of traumatic event or she fantasizes about knives (either bloody ones or her stabbing somebodies hand). However, the film is about dealing with trauma and how people reinvent themselves to deal with their past. In Ani’s case, she is someone who has figured out how to play the rich, even though she isn’t. I think this is the case of where a book (a NY Times best-seller) is probably better left as the written word. The film does a horrible job with the traumatic events that Ani suffers, showing us in too graphic detail what she went through, making those scenes feel like we are a voguer looking on and not someone sympathetic to Ani’s plight. I can’t fault Mila Kunis for the mistakes of the film, as she gives us another one of her multifaceted performances, playing a woman who is sharp, witty, and trying to deal with her ugly past. I just wish the script (written by Jessica Knoll, who also wrote the book) and the director would have taken a more sensitive approach to the subject and not made it feel like another night of watching a true-crime story on TV.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Luckiest Girl Alive Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: Hellraiser (2022) R  A young woman named Riley (Odessa Z’zion) is struggling with addiction, and she comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box. Riley is unaware that if she solves the puzzle, she will unleash an evil that could destroy her and everyone around her. The original Hellraiser came out in 1987 when slasher films with bad guys like Michael and Freddie ruled the horror landscape. Hellraiser was different because the bad guys weren’t some troubled, wronged man from the past but some sort of explorers. Clive Barker, who wrote the book that he then turned into the film, created one of the iconic looking horror icons of all time, Pinhead. I like horror films, and that film was a new take, though an incredibly bloody one, and was worthy of joining the hallowed halls of past scary movies. After numerous sequels, this is a relaunch of the series, and it doesn’t work. The film takes too long to get going, and other than Riley, we don’t care about the people the evil box is targeting. I found that Hellraiser wasn’t scary, just gory, and it never gave me the chills I wanted. Fans of the original, I think, will be disappointed in the new ‘Pinhead’ and its world of blood and guts.   My Rating: Cable  Hellraiser Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

My View: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (2022) PG-13  Craig (Jaeden Martell) befriends an older man named Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland). When Mr. Harrigan dies, Craig has Mr. Harrigan’s phone in his procession. Soon after, Craig is beaten up by a classmate, and Craig calls Mr. Harrigan’s phone just to vent. Then people start dying, and Craig thinks he knows how and why. Based on a Steven King novella, I liked this film, though if you are looking for a movie to scare you, this isn’t one. It reminded me a bit of the Ray Bradbury story Something Wicked This Way Comes, in how the two main characters bond over their love of books and the stories they tell. Craig is a kid who tries to keep a low profile in school, but there is a bully (Cyrus Arnold) who delights in tormenting Craig. When Craig asks Mr. Harrigan how he dealt with bullies, he tells Craig ‘Harshly.’ A foreboding line if there ever was one. Though I was disappointed that it wasn’t scary, I enjoyed this film due to the chemistry between Jaeden Martell and Donald Sutherland, whose character, Mr. Harrigan, reluctantly and slowly takes Craig under his wing. After Mr. Harrigan dies (spoiler alert, not really, the poster has Craig lying on Mr. Harrigan’s grave), things get weird, and the film loses a bit of the momentum it had earlier. Still, Mr. Harrigan's Phone is an enjoyable film about a young man wishing for things that maybe he shouldn’t wish for.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Mr. Harrigan's Phone Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.
Family Faire:  
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile  (2022)  PG  Lyle the Crocodile (voiced by Shawn Mendes) lives in New York City. He grew up under the care of a wannabe entertainer, Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem). After Hector has to get out of town, Lyle is left with the Primm family, helping out with chores and taking the Primm’s young son, Josh (Winslow Fegley), under his wing or should I say, stumpy arm. However, not everyone is happy with Lyle living in the city, and Lyle’s neighbor, Mr. Grumps (Brett Gelman), feels Lyle belongs in a zoo. Lyle will do his best to prove to Mr. Grumps that he isn’t as bad as others might think. This is a fun and charming tale of a crocodile who can sing but can’t talk. All Lyle wants to do is belong to someone while doing his favorite thing, singing, and dancing. The songs are a mixture of original and some pop favorites, with the best one a rousing duet between Lyle and Hector, as Hector tries to get Lyle to perform in a theatre. Kids will enjoy Lyle, a ham at heart, and the songs, sung by Shawn Mendes, are catchy. The film falls a bit in the second act, when the bad guy, Mr. Grumps, gets involved with putting Lyle away from his new family, but the big number near the end makes up for it. Overall, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a good time; parents will enjoy the music, and the kids will enjoy a rather large crocodile singing his heart out. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Forgotten Film: Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) PG   The life of singer Loretta Lynn (Sissy Spacek), who grew up poor, married when she was 13, and had, by age 18, four children. Her husband, Doolittle (Tommy Lee Jones), gave her a guitar, and Loretta began singing songs she wrote about her life. Those songs would propel her into a career that would make her a superstar and one of the country's greatest singer/songwriters. Loretta Lynn died this week, and I thought of this movie where Sissy Spacek gives the performance of a lifetime and an Oscar-winning one to boot. Tommy Lee Jones is perfect as the country-bred man who saw greatness and believed in his wife's talent. Beverly D”Angelo is magical as the legend Patsy Cline, who takes the raw talent of Loretta Lynn under her wing and shows her how to handle fame both on and off stage. Full of beautiful songs, most of which are sung by Spacek, this is a tale of grit, determination, and love. Coal Miner's Daughter is one of those rare films worthy of the great artist it depicts.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Coal Miner's Daughter Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Hellraiser: Gender and Sexuality Consultant 

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Menu (2022) R  An obsessed foodie (Nicholas Hoult) and his girlfriend (Anya Taylor-Joy) are a last-minute addition to a trip to a secluded island, where a world-famous chef (Ralph Fiennes) is to serve them the meal of a lifetime. Unfortunately, it just might be their last. The film is from two-time Emmy Award winner Mark Mylod (Succession) and is getting great word of mouth from its screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.    The Menu Website  Scheduled to be released in Mid-Nov. 2022.

Until Next Time!