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) R 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.
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.