My View: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022) PG Mourning the loss of his only son, Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley) makes a boy puppet named Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) that magically comes to life. Now Pinocchio, with the help of his father and his friend, the talking Cricket (Ewan McGregor), must learn what it is to be a boy in the real world. This isn’t your father’s (or should I say my) Pinocchio, which may be a little too advanced for young kids. The stop-motion animation is some of the best I have ever seen and the storyline, which includes death and Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy, is simply magnificent. The film has del Toro’s imprint all over it, from the, at times, very dark subject matter, to the mysterious talking Death (voiced by the terrific Tilda Swinton). You do have some fun comic relief with Pinocchio’s sidekick and mentor, Sebastian J. Cricket (voiced by Ewan McGregor), who constantly gets smushed, and a hilarious monkey named Spazzatura (voiced by Cate Blanchett), who at first is a bad guy but becomes an ally of Pinocchio in the later stages of the film. The film still has the heart and soul of a young boy who makes mistakes but wants to be real because he loves his father so much. It’s a beautiful film, both cinematically and story-wise, that gives you hope about love and humanity conquering evil, even if you have to lie a little bit. My Rating; I Would Pay to See it Again Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio Website Now playing in select theatres and on the Netflix platform.
Indiefest: The Whale (2022) R A reclusive English teacher (Brendan Fraser) attempts to reconnect with his long-estranged teenage daughter (Sadie Sink). The film is based on a stage play, and at times, it feels that way. That being said, the performances of both Brendan Fraser as the recluse father named Charlie and Sadie Sink as Ellie, the daughter he left behind and wants to desperately reconnect with, make this film worth watching. Fraser gives the performance of a lifetime as a man who thinks he doesn’t have much time and wants to make one last effort to make things right with his daughter. It’s a profoundly moving performance that is fierce and touching, giving us a man who makes a huge mistake with his daughter and wants to make amends somehow. Fraser provides us with a man who has never recovered from a lost love, one that cost him his daughter and his marriage, and he wears the scars of the past on his tortured face. It’s a brilliant performance, and I wish the writing was better. There is a character that I would cut out entirely in the film, Charlie’s ex-wife (played by Samantha Morton), that is there just to give us some background. It’s a part that should have been cut, as it gives us nothing but someone to yell at Charlie for a few minutes. I loved Sadie Sink in the role of Ellie, a daughter who is angry at the world, and Charlie, someone who Charlie sees has potential, if only she can realize that potential herself. The question will become Academy Award time if the members can overlook the lousy writing and see the performance that Fraser gives us, which is the best he has ever given us. My Rating; Bargain Matinee The Whale Website Now playing in select theatres.
My View: 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. When a new worker is hired, Stephen (Michael Ward), Hilary's life is changed, and they quickly form a bond that will change their lives forever. I wanted to like/love this film but feel let down by a script that never figures out exactly where it is going. As expected, Olivia Colman is the best thing in this film, playing a woman who, on the surface, seems ok but, beneath, is a deeply troubled soul that can’t find happiness or peace. The film suffers from trying to make statements about racism, sexism, and many other issues that it seems to throw up on the screen every few minutes. As a film buff and someone who loves going to the cinema, I did enjoy the trip down memory lane when films were shown on film, and it was an art to project them correctly. Unfortunately, I left the film feeling like there was a good movie somewhere in the plot but that it never found it up on the big screen, unlike all the films that were projected in the Empire movie house. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Empire of Light Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Indiefest: Aftersun (2022) R A young girl named Sophie (Frankie Corio) spends a holiday with her father, Calum (Paul Mescal). It’s a time that both want to desperately connect but can’t seem to find common ground. The movie is told from the framing of an adult Sophie looking back at the footage she and her father shot on vacation in a low-rent Turkish resort. The film explores the relationship between the father and daughter, which at times is lovely and strong, and other times distant and aloof. Sophie is at the age where she is starting to want to be treated more like a teen than a child, and unfortunately, Calum isn’t a strong enough father to put boundaries on her, letting her go out alone and fend for herself. I loved Frankie Corio in the role of Sophie, as she brings Sophie to life and is someone we instantly root for. While I loved Corio’s performance, I was sometimes bored by the constant shots of the two of them just staring out at the ocean or the almost nonexistent plot of the film. Aftersun is a film that I felt let down by a storyline that expects us to just wallow along with the characters in the movie. That’s something that I just didn’t want to keep doing. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Aftersun Website Now playing in select theatres.
My View: Something From Tiffany’s (2022) PG Rachel (Zoey Deutch) isn’t pleased with how her life is going, but that’s all about to change. Rachel’s life is turned upside down with an engagement ring that was meant for someone else is given to her by mistake as a Christmas gift. Was it a mistake or fate? Reese Witherspoon and her production company better be glad that Zoey Deutch is so damn cute; otherwise, this film would be even worse than it is. The biggest problem is that Rachel is the only likable character in the whole darn film. OK, that’s not true because the kid of the love interest, Daisy (played by Leah Jeffries), is also pretty cute. But that’s it. Even the love interest, Ethan (played by Kendrick Sampson), isn’t all that great of a guy. I mean, he seems to be proposing (it’s his ring that gets switched) just so that Daisy can have a mom, not because he loves her. Rachel’s guy, a tattoo artist named Gary (Ray Nicholson), sucks even more than Ethan, and we see from the start why he isn’t right for Rachel. The plot is easy to predict, and there are holes in it the size of a bagel including that Rachel seems to have a lot of time on her hands for a woman who is running two locations that sells fresh baked goods. Still, this isn't a horrible film if you need a quick romance fix (run time was less than 90 minutes). Did I mention that Zoey is pretty darn cute? My Rating: Cable Something From Tiffany's Website Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform.
My View: Spoiler Alert (2022) PG-13 Michael Ausiello (Jim Parsons) is a famous and successful media critic who 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. The film is based on a true story, and Michael Ausiello is my favorite TV critic. One of the great things about Ausiello (that’s what we, his fans, call him) is that through his writing, we really get to know him, his sense of humor, and his taste in TV programs. That is what is lacking in this film; we never get a sense of what makes Michael tick, and his sense of humor never really gets to shine. Jim Parsons was an excellent pick to portray Michael, and Parsons does a good job with what he is given, but this film could have been as good as Michael’s book (also titled Spoiler Alert), but it’s not. The film never connected for me, and other than a fantastic scene in the hospital (think Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment), we never get the touching of the heartstrings to make the impact of the illness and loss hit home. Stay at home and read the book. You will be much happier, or maybe not because you will probably cry a lot. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Spoiler Alert Website Now playing in theaters nationwide.
Indiefest: The Eternal Daughter (2022) PG-13 A middle-aged daughter and her elderly mother return to their former family home that is now a hotel. This once-grand manor now is only full of long-buried secrets in a place brimming with mystery. Tilda Swinton is undoubtedly one of our finest actors, and in this film, we see two of her, as she plays both the daughter and the mother who are visiting the old homestead, reliving memories of a past that isn’t always so happy. The daughter has brought the mother to the hotel so that she can write a screenplay based on her mother’s experiences growing up in the home, but it’s not a happy time for either of them, and they struggle to find a way to revisit the past. The daughter is also hit with insomnia, which fills her nights with her mind racing and worrying about her mother. I was expecting more of a ghost story, but it is primarily a tale of two women trying to connect and not doing a very successful job. The film is full of dread and the feeling that something terrible will happen. Swinton is marvelous in the duel role, conveying the underlying depth of a story that isn’t what is on the surface. My Rating; Full Price The Eternal Daughter Website Now playing in select theatres.
Forgotten Film: Rocket Science (2007) R Hal (Reece Thompson) is a kid who has a crush on the girl next door, Ginny (Anna Kendrick) but feels she is out of his league because he stutters. After her debating partner quits, Ginny, to Hal’s stunned surprise, talks Hal into becoming her debate partner. Why? Well, that’s to be determined. I love this movie, mainly because it has real high school characters and not someone's lousy idea of what high school is about. This is one of Anna Kendricks's first film roles, and she is lovely as the girl who may have a few tricks up her sleeve. The film continues to surprise you as it goes along, making it a fun watch. My Rating: Full Price Rocket Science Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio: Laser Cutter
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Alice, Darling (2022) R A young woman (Anna Kendrick) is in an abusive relationship that could become deadly but doesn’t want to see the warning signs. Her friends stage an intervention at a weekend getaway to make her realize that she is in trouble, but her boyfriend shows up unexpectedly, which could get ugly. Anna Kendrick is a favorite of mine, and I am hearing great things about her performance in this film. The film will be released in Mid-January. Alice, Darling Website