My View: Disenchanted (2022) PG Ten years after her happily ever after, Giselle (Amy Adams) and her family have moved to the suburb of Monroeville. However, the community isn’t as ideal as it seems, and soon Giselle wishes that their lives were the perfect fairy tale. Be careful what you wish for. Can it really be since 2007 that we all fell in love with Amy Adams playing Giselle, the young maiden from the fairy tale land of Andalasia, who an evil queen sends to New York City, where she falls in love with a lawyer? The film was like a breath of fresh air as Adams dazzled us with her charm and singing. Now we revisit Giselle, ten years after her happily ever after happened, and it’s not everything she thought it would be. Her husband (Patrick Dempsey) isn’t happy commuting from the suburbs to the city, they have a daughter who is now a surly teen in Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), and Giselle is finding that it’s hard to figure out how to get along with the suburban homemakers, led by Malvina (Maya Rudolph). What made Enchanted such fun was it took the Disney fairy tale story and turned it on its ear, with a character in Giselle, who was used to talking to animals and breaking out in song. It’s hard to capture the magic twice, and Disenchanted tries very hard to, with a few memorable songs, one thanks to Idina Menzel, who has married the prince (James Marsden). One of the problems with this movie is that in the first film, the wicked queen was played by Susan Sarandon, and now the villain of the story is played by Maya Rudolph, who can’t give us that dripping with evil regality we need. Adams is once again the star of the film, and she delivers, but the film overall doesn’t have that same charm and whimsy that the original movie had. The magic has died a bit in this tale, though it's not the star's fault. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Disenchanted Website Now playing on the Disney+ platform.
My View: She Said (2022) R Two reporters at The New York Times, Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan), break the story of Harvey Weinstein and his years of sexual assault in Hollywood. She Said is told through the eyes of two reporters, both women, who can’t believe the stories they hear about a man who for decades terrorized women who worked for him, using his power to cover up his crimes by using lawyers and intimidation. The film does a brilliant job of letting us see how the story unfolds slowly as the two reporters start peeling back the facts and learn that this wasn't something that happened once or twice but continually happened over decades. She Said is a powerful story of two women who kept after the story, even when it seemed that no one would come forward. I loved the dynamic of Kazan and Mulligan, two very different reporters in their style. The two have incredible chemistry on the screen and work off each other to make us understand how deeply they felt about the story and how much they wanted to bring Harvey Weinstein down. My Rating: Full Price She Said Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Familyfaire: Slumberland (2022) PG A young girl named Nemo (Marlow Barkley) is missing her late dad. Nemo discovers in her dreams the land of Slumberland, and with the help of a magical man named Flip (Jason Momoa), Nemo hopes to see her late father again. I am a massive fan of Windsor McCay, who was a cartoonist and ground-breaking animator who created some of the earliest animation for motion pictures and drew a magical comic strip called Little Nemo in Slumberland. So I was excited to see this attempt to bring that magical world of McCay to life. Unfortunately, other than a breathtaking scene very early in the film (where Nemo is atop her bed as it grows very long legs and travels through the city), the film disappoints on almost every level. One of the great things about McCay’s Little Nemo was the sense of danger that always seemed to be present. A dream could become a nightmare at a moment's notice, but this film never gives us that sensation. Instead, we get a lot of comedy, which Jason Momoa carries off with broad strokes that are fun to watch, but the problem is the storyline never seems to get going and becomes predictable, something that a film that takes place mostly in dreams should never be. I never felt a connection to Nemo, and the film takes too long to get fully into the Slumberland world. Kids in the audience were sometimes bored because the film jumped back and forth from Slumberland to the real world. Someday, someone will figure out a way to make McCay’s Nemo come to life, but unfortunately, this isn’t it. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Slumberland Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View: 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. This black comedy sendup of the food-obsessed culture is a delight. Ralph Fiennes is perfect as the ‘Chef’ who considers his artistically crafted food a work of art and thinks of himself as a storyteller. The patrons of this dining experience are people you would never want to dine with, except Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), who isn’t impressed by the food or the ‘Chef.’ Anya Taylor-Joy again shows why she commands your attention when she is on the screen. Her timing is perfect, and she gives us a person we can root for in this horrible group of wealthy, pompous diners. The film takes a while to get going, but once you figure out what is going on and why it’s fun to see how far this film will go. And I thought the ending was picture-perfect or maybe i should say it deserves a ‘Chef’s Kiss.’ My Rating: Full Price The Menu Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Indiefest: Bad Axe (2022) Documentary about an Asian-American family smack dab in the middle of Trump’s rural America as they fight to keep their restaurant in the face of a pandemic, Neo-Nazis, and generational scars for the “Killing Fields.’ This is a brilliant look at a close-knit family who, like the rest of us, was dealt with the blow of the pandemic, threatening their livelihood and, at times, their lives. It would be hard to find another documentary that covers so much ground, showing us an inside look at a fantastic group of people who love, fight and try to survive in a community that isn’t always welcoming. Not only that, but the group's father is a survivor of the Killing Fields of Cambodia, which still haunts him in the present. This is an unflinching look at a family that survives through tough times by not only hard work and strong convictions but the support of each other. The film is from David Siev, the son of Chun and Rachel. This allows us access that an ordinary filmmaker wouldn’t get, and we see that even David, behind the camera, is sometimes the story's focus. The main focus, though, is on Chun, who came to this country with his mother and his fellow brothers and sisters, escaping the horrors of Cambodia, and on the oldest daughter, Jaclyn, who has come back to help her family survive the pandemic. Bad Axe is a beautiful and touching story about a family that will inspire you and, at times, makes you angry. But wasn’t that life in 2020 when the world came to a stop? My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Bad Axe Website Now playing in select theatres and On Demand.
My View: The Wonder (2022) R Lib (Florence Pugh) is a nurse who has been brought to the countryside to watch over a young girl named Anna (Kila Lord Cassidy). Lib has been given strict instructions not to interfere with Anna’s life, only to observe because Anna hasn’t eaten anything in four months. Is this the work of God, the Devil, or a trick? Florence Pugh gives a spellbinding performance as a nurse who is asked to confirm that a young woman is surviving without food but is flourishing on just her faith in God. Pugh’s Lib is a determined woman who is given a thankless job but will do her best to ensure that what Anna claims is the truth. This is a slow-developing story that lets you try and figure out if Anna is a fake or really is a miracle. We get to know Anna and Lib as they interact with each other and start to bond as a nurse and a patient. The mystery is secondary to our understanding of Liv, getting to know her as we watch her interact with both Anna and the townspeople. Is Anna’s condition a miracle or a sham? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure. Lib will never be the same after her experience. My Rating: Full Price The Wonder Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
Forgotten Film: A Small Circle of Friends (1980) R Set in the late 1960s, three students start college with their futures bright and set. Leo (Brad Davis) is determined to accomplish big things, including being the editor of the Harvard student newspaper. Jessica (Karen Allen) is just as relentless and becomes Leo’s girlfriend. Nick (Jameson Parker) is a premed student who becomes the two’s best friend, though Nick is secretly in love with Jessica. As they go through their college years, they learn the world is very different than what they thought it was, and it is changing before their eyes. I love Karen Allen in this film, full of fire and passion, as Jessica becomes aware that her sheltered world wasn’t real life. A Small Circle of Friends is an excellent look at the late 60s and what it was like to go through an America that seemingly was coming apart. My Rating: Bargain Matinee A Small Circle of Friends Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of Slumberland: Swamper
Coming Soon to Screen Near You: Spoiler Alert (2022) PG-13 Michael Ausiello (Jim Parsons) is a famous and successful media critic but has never had success with love. He meets Kit (Ben Aldridge), a man who falls for Michael, even his rather large Smurf collection. Then Kit comes down with cancer, and everything changes. Michael Ausiello (Ausiello to his fans) is one of my favorite TV critics, and I can’t wait to see this movie. Spoiler Alert Website In theatres in mid-December.