My View: Causeway (2022) R Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence) has done something she said she would never do: return to her hometown of New Orleans. After being injured while fighting in Afghanistan, Lynsey has moved back home to rehabilitate a traumatic brain injury, living with her mother, Gloria (Linda Emond), and finding a job as a pool cleaner. With the help of a new friend in James (Brian Tyree Henry), Lynsey is determined to get back into the army and heck out of New Orleans. There is a reason why Jennifer Lawrence has been nominated four times for an Oscar and has won it once. She is truly one of our finest actors on the silver screen today. This is a beautiful, moving, and powerful performance of a woman haunted by a horrible war incident and also her life before the army. We first meet Lynsey, she is almost an invalid, not able to speak or do much on her own, but we soon learn that Lynsey is a determined person whose goal is to go back to a world that accepted her, where she felt safe, the army, even if it was Afghanistan. Lynsey has her mind set on returning to the army and getting the heck out of New Orleans. Along the way, she meets James (Brian Tyree Henry), a car repair shop owner. Brian Tyree Henry gives us a man who is just as tortured by his past as Lynsey is. James sees someone who needs his help and is more than willing to extend his hand in friendship, but Lynsey isn’t a person who lets people into her life easily. Brian Tyree Henry works off of Lawrence with such an easy, carefree persona. It is a beautiful experience to see this friendship between two hurt people develop before our eyes. I am guessing that Lawrence will get another Oscar nomination for this role, and she will deserve it, but it will be hollow if Brian Tyree Henry doesn’t get a nomination also. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Causeway Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: Enola Holmes 2 (2022) PG-13 After solving her first case, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) has decided to be like her famous brother, Sherlock (Henry Cavill), and become a detective-for-hire. After no work, Enola chooses to take a case of a poor match-girl and find the match-girls sister. Little did Enola know that the mystery would involve a deadly conspiracy, and Enola may need help from her brother to get her out of what could be a deadly jam. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, and I am glad that this series has continued. In fact, I think this is a much better film than the first Enola Holmes feature. Millie Bobby Brown is delightful as the spunky and a little bit stuck-up Enola, who desperately wants to be seen as an equal to her famous brother, Sherlock. I loved the mugging that Enola does to the camera, making this a fun romp as Enola runs, climbs, and fights to solve a mystery that gets more complicated and involved the more Enola starts digging. Cavill holds his own as the pompous Sherlock, who sees his younger sister almost as an annoyance. Along for the ride are two characters from the first film, Helena Bonham Carter as Enola’s trouble-making mother and Louis Partridge as Lord Tewkesbury, Enola’s love interest. Added to the cast as the villain is David Thewlis, who plays a police investigator who is convinced that Enola is a murderer and must be caught. Brown looks to be having a blast in the part and puts a ton of energy and whimsy into a character that is just fun to watch on the screen. Oh, and by the way, the mystery is much better than the first one, and just maybe, someone else from the world of Sherlock shows up to stir the mystery up a bit. My Rating: Full Price Enola Holmes 2 Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View: Armageddon Time (2022) R It’s 1980, and Paul (Banks Repeta) is starting sixth grade at a public school. Paul’s best friend is Johnny (Jaylin Webb), a Black student who always gets into more trouble, even when the two are caught doing the same thing. When the two get into trouble again, Paul’s parents ((Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong) decide to send Paul to a private school, and Paul must choose whether or not to disobey his parents and stay friends with Johnny. This is a movie about adolescence and learning that life isn’t always fair or doesn’t go our way just because it should. Paul is a character that you may not like at first. He acts up and always seems to get his way. He is the center of his family, with a mother, played by Anne Hathaway, and a grandfather, played by Anthony Hopkins, who is the apple of their eye. Paul meets a fellow troublemaker at school, Johnny, and they delight in seeing the world as ‘us vs. them. However, Paul soon learns that Johnny’s world is very different from his own. Paul is convinced that his family is rich and powerful and that whatever trouble he gets into, his family will get him out of it. Johnny knows that in the world he lives in, because he is Black, Johnny can only depend on himself to get out of any trouble and that he will always be the first to be blamed. This is a film where Paul learns that the world is a very messy place and that what we say and do can hurt others. I liked this film and the cast, including brilliant performances by both Hathaway and Hopkins, make this a movie to watch. Life is not easy, and we are asked to make tough choices. The film explores those choices and how the characters must live and deal with the results. My Rating: Full Price Armageddon Time Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Indiefest: Good Night Oppy (2022) PG Documentary about Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover, known as Oppy by the scientists at NASA. Oppy was supposed to explore Mars for only 90 days but lasted almost 15 years. Is it too weird for a group of scientists to fall in love with a little robot in outer space? Movies have long figured out that we can fall in love with robots. I mean, look at Star Wars, older sci-fi, and a bunch of Pixar films. But can you fall in love with real robots that are on another planet? Yes, you can. You will fall for the scrappy 5 foot 2-inch twin robots named Opportunity and Spirit. This is an absolutely charming film about a group of scientists who dreamed of exploring Mars to find out if water ever existed on Mars, meaning life could have been present. I was struck by how both the scientists and I got attached to these remarkable little machines and how much I enjoyed their sometimes mundane and, other times, heroic adventures. If surviving an incredible journey, storms that seemed to pop up at the wrong times, exploring an unknown world with temperatures unbearably hot and cold is not heroic, then I don’t know my classic tales. The film does a brilliant job of letting us get to know the scientists and engineers behind the robots and how they dreamed as kids to one day get to work on something so incredible and awe-inspiring. But it's the film’s credit that also lets us think of these two robots as something more than a bunch of gears and computer parts but an almost living thing with a heart and a will to explore. I hope this film inspires more young people to become engineers and scientists. We could sure use the help. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Goodnight Oppy Website Now playing in select theatres and on the Amazon Prime platform.
Indiefest: The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile (2022) R Decades after Tanya Tucker seemed to disappear from the spotlight, singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile decides to write an entire album with her hero based on Tanya’s extraordinary and sometimes controversial life. Could this be the most incredible comeback in country music history? Tanya Tucker is one of those artist whose career was overshadowed by a rocky personal life. That she hadn’t done an album in 17 years was wrong, and super-fan Brandi Carlile was determined to bring Tanya back into the studio and get the singer back to where she needed to be. The best parts of this film are the interactions between Carlile and Tanya, showing the collaboration that goes on during the album-making. Carlile is the perfect person to bring Tanya back into the studio. Someone who knows what it's like to put your heart and soul into your music. The film goes on a little too long, trying a bit too hard to tug on the heartstrings, but it's worth it for those moments of magic in the studio where you see what a talent Tucker is. My Rating: Full Price The Return of Tanya Tucker Website Now playing in select theatres.
Indiefest: Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me (2022) R Selena Gomez wanted to be a star from age four. Just when she reached unimaginable stardom, Selena was sent down a dark journey that took her nearly six years to come back from. However, back she is, and she is here to stay. I have been a fan of Selena Gomez, both the actor and the singer. Still, after seeing this beautiful and powerful documentary, I am an even bigger fan of Selena Gomez, the person. It’s a sometimes raw and moving look at life in the fishbowl of being a celebrity and dealing with not only a disease like Lupus that attacks your body but also mental health problems, all the while being such a focus of the celebrity life. Much like the recent docs on Billie Eilish and Amy Winehouse, this is an intimate look at what it’s like to be a celebrity while also dealing with mental health issues. I applaud Selena for allowing Alek Keshishian into her life and showcasing Selena and her passion for trying to help everyone with mental health issues. In what I am sure started out as a behind-the-scenes look at a tour back in 2016 when it took a turn after Selena had broken up with Justin Bieber and quit her tour midway to get help. The film looks at how one person decides to take control of her life and health while using her influence to help others. I can’t tell you how much I loved this film and admire Selena Gomez for letting us see her struggles and the joys in her life. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me Info Now playing on the Apple TV+ platform.
Forgotten Film: Piranha(1978) R A government research facility accidentally releases a school of flesh-eating and very hungry piranhas into a summer resort’s river. What happens next is not pretty and really bloody. Directed by Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins) and co-written by, wait for it, John Sayles (Eight Men Out, Lone Star), this is a blatant rip-off of Jaws. So much so that Universal was going to sue legendary producer Roger Corman until Steven Spielberg saw the film, fell in love with it, and had them call off the lawyers. Shot at a small water-based amusement park outside of San Antonio called Aquarena Springs (look up Ralph the Swimming Pig), this schlocky horror film is a blast to watch. The film was a big hit and had a sequel (which was really bad). It’s got teenagers, 70’s nudity (not much but enough to get teens to go to the theatre), and lots of fake blood in the water. It’s got a holdover ‘mad scientist’ from the Vietnam War, a government coverup, and, did I mention, lots of blood. The poster is a direct rip-off of Jaws, which you can see why Universal thought about suing. Oh, and one of the film stars is Barbara Steele, one of the great horror film stars of the 60s and 70s. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Piranha Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of Causeway: Weather Service
Coming Soon To a Screen Near You: Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) Sequel to the 2009 film (the biggest box office winner of all-time), Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his family are living on Pandora. When his family and way of life are threatened again, Jake must work with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and the army of the Na’vi to protect their planet. It seems like we have been hearing about this film for ten years, and we have. James Cameron is returning us to a world we fell in love with. With a cast that now includes Kate Winslet (who did all her own underwater stunts) and Michelle Yeoh, shot with a camera invented just for the film(s), the first of who knows how many sequels (at least one more) and a budget over a billion dollars, this is a film that is expected to break all box office records. The question will be, how many of the screens at your local theatres will be showing this film? Avatar: The Way of Water Website Coming to theatres in mid-December.