Friday, December 30, 2022

White Noise and Mike's Top Ten Films of 2022

My View: White Noise (2022) R   Jack (Adam Driver) and Babette (Greta Gerwig) are the parents of a blended family, including anxiety-ridden Denise (Raffey Cassidy) and known-it-all Heinrich (Sam Nivola). Jack is a professor and one of the world’s experts on Hitler but worries that people will judge him because he doesn’t speak German. Babette drops things at a moment's notice to chase storms and seems to be forgetting a lot lately. Adding to the chaos is a major accident that will shake the very essence of their family foundation. This comedy combines a mystery with a possible crime and a whole lot of misunderstanding to make for a fun and enjoyable watch. I loved the dialogue in this film, with the entire family sometimes talking simultaneously. Driver and Gerwig have great chemistry on screen together, and Raffey Cassidy is brilliant as Denise, who is focused on figuring out what is going on with her mother. You may never look at a grocery store the same way again after this film. So go on an adventure with a crazy family that loves each other, sometimes a little too much.   My Rating: Full Price    Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Mike’s Top Ten Films of 2022

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) R Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is an unhappy laundry-mat owner, married to Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), and has an adult daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), of who she disapproves of. While at an IRS audit, Evelyn is suddenly thrust into an adventure where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led. I will start this review by telling you, run, don’t walk to your theatre, and see this film! I can’t tell you the last time I had so much fun watching a movie and how much it kept surprising me with every scene. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a joy to watch, a film that is hard to describe but is a fast-moving adventure that explores what it means to love, to believe in not only yourself but your loved ones, and how one person, no matter how unimportant they feel, can make a difference in the world. I have been a big fan of Michelle Yeoh, in such action films as Supercop and The Stunt Woman, before she hit the big time in America with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yeoh gives us a multi-faceted performance as a woman who is so unhappy in her life that she takes it out on the people that she loves. An ordinary shop owner is asked to save the world from destruction, and Yeoh’s character goes on a journey that takes her to many alternate lives and worlds, where Evelyn discovers that she does have it in her to battle for the safety of the world and the people who she loves. This is one of those magical films that, five minutes in, you won’t want it to end. So sit down in a theatre seat and go on an adventure that you soon won’t forget with Evelyn as she battles to save our reality.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Everything Everywhere All At Once Website

2).  Top Gun: Maverick (2022) PG-13   Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise) has for 30 years served his country but has done it his way as one of the Navy’s top aviators, pushing the envelope as a test pilot. Maverick has been able to dodge the advancement in rank that would ground him until now. Maverick is back where he started, and he is still flying by the air tower, rank be damned. First, see this film on as big a movie screen as you can find (I saw it in IMAX and am so glad I did) because, incredibly, most of the stunts in this film were done in real planes making the flying sequences an absolute blast to watch. I was physically tired after seeing this film because I felt like I was in those fighter jets along with the characters in the movie. Secondly, this is one of the best sequels ever made, and yes, I know it’s 36 years after Top Gun. The first Top Gun was a fun, enjoyable movie that capitalized on the then-growing movie theme of mixing current top 40 hits with a film to create music videos within a movie. The plot was stitched together (some of it after the principal shooting had been done) and leaned heavily on Tom Cruise’s charisma and lots of good-looking young men (sometimes with their shirts off). Not only that, but we kicked the Russian’s butts in a dogfight (something huge in the 80s), and you also had a great cast of primarily up-and-coming stars, including an adorable Meg Ryan. So comes this movie, and it blows that Top Gun out of the park. First and foremost, Tom Cruise is brilliant as the man who has lived his life like his nickname, Maverick. After doing what Maverick does, breaking the rules to prove a point, he is forced to return to the school which made him a true fighter pilot, ‘Top Gun.’ He will lead a mission with the best pilots in the Navy that is dangerous and may be impossible, but of course, that is what Maverick does, the impossible. Add to this is a cast that rivals the original. First, we have Jennifer Connelly, playing a former flame of Maverick, who now runs the famous bar that everyone hangs out in, and Maverick has a history of trying to pick up women in. Connely is perfect as the one that got away, someone who can stand up to Maverick’s antics and give him a run for his money. And she is someone who has lived a life both before and after Maverick. Next, we have perfect casting in Miles Teller, who plays a certain someone’s son and is now a pilot who has a big chip on his shoulder because of it. When Miles walks into the bar, our first scene to see him is a fantastic moment, which I thought was a flashback at first. Finally, we have a new ace named Hangman, played with gusto and bravado by Glen Powell, a cock sure pilot who outdoes Mavericks’ old rival, Iceman. Speaking of Iceman, Val Kilmer makes a vital appearance in the film, and they explain his inability to talk normally (in real life, Kilmer had throat cancer, see his documentary Val for more). The plot is fast-paced, hitting all the right notes and emotions; the romance between Cruise and Connely feels real and genuine, the action sequences are truly superb, and there isn’t a bad performance in the bunch. All in all, Top Gun: Maverick is sure to be in my top ten films of the year and is not to be missed. And once again, see it in a big-screen theatre! You won’t be disappointed.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Top Gun: Maverick Website

3). 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. Sometimes 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

4).  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. Steven Spielberg brings us his most personal film that he has ever made. A movie that is a love story of both film/filmmaking and his family, especially his mother. We get to witness how it all started, a trip to the movies with his parents to see a spectacle of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth. Having trouble dealing with a traumatic car crash detected in the film, Sammy’s mother suggests that he film with his father’s home movie camera, a recreation of the scene using his toy train. This sparks the filmmaker in Sammy, and we see through his childhood and into his teenage years just how making movies became a passion for Sammy. This passion is beautifully expressed when Sammy’s Uncle Boris, played by the fabulous Judd Hirsch, tells Sammy how he is different from most people. That Sammy loves his family, but his love and passion for art supersedes everything else. It’s a small but moving scene that lets us know making movies is the thing that drives Sammy. The film is filled with brilliant performances, but it’s the role of Michelle Williams as Sammy’s fiery, funny, and sometimes slightly insane mother that drives this film and creates all the drama in the movie. Williams, channeling a bit of Judy Garland, is absolutely breathtaking as Mitzi, a woman who, like Sammy, has a fire for art. In her case, it’s music, but she sees that same love of creating in Sammy, encourages him to explore it, and becomes his biggest fan. It’s a role that dominates the scenes Williams is in and is sure to bring her another Oscar nomination (her 5th) for her role as this madcap, emotional woman who thinks nothing of taking her children in the car to follow a tornado that has suddenly appeared in their town. This film is filled with incredible performances throughout the film, including Gabriel LaBelle, who portrays Sammy in his teen years, giving us a moving and funny look at a boy turning into a man who loves his mother but is torn by a secret he discovers about her. Paul Dano gives us a father in Burt who loves science and loves his wife but can’t quite connect and understand both his wife’s and his son’s obsession with something that isn’t practical or, in his eyes, useful. I think by reading my reviews over the years, you know I share this same passion for film, and I love that Steven Spielberg has given us a film that so wonderfully and beautifully expresses that love. Please go see The Fabelmans in a movie theatre where it deserves to be seen so you can immerse yourself into the magical world of Sammy and his madcap, funny, and loving family. And maybe, discover that you also share that love of movies.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  The Fabelmans Website

5). Fire of Love (2022) PG  Documentary about scientists Katia and Maurice Krafft, who fell in love over their research on volcanoes. They were known worldwide as daredevils who brought us some of the most explosive imagery ever recorded. Significantly, they died doing the thing that they loved. Right off the bat, I’m going to tell you that this film is sure to be in my top ten films of 2022, and I predict it will be nominated for the Documentary Academy Award next year. Yep, this film is that good. The film tells the story of two of the world’s greatest volcanologists, Katia and Maurice Krafft, who just happened to be married. This is not only a story about Volcanos but also a love story between two brilliant and interesting people who bonded instantly over their love of volcanoes. Ninety percent of the footage in the film is from the personal archives of the Krafft’s. To say that there are shots of volcanos that are simply breathtaking is an understatement. The film is summed up by an amazing shot of an erupting volcano, with hot, red lava spewing up into the air, as the two scientists, in silver protective suits, almost dance in front of the awesome display of earth’s mighty power. You can see just from that one shot why they both knew that it wasn’t how they would die but when. However, yes, they did die, but it is very evident from this beautiful and moving film that they died doing what they loved, and died as they wished, together. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Fire of Love Website

6).  RRR (2022)   The story of two men, Rama Raju (Ram Charan Teja), an Indian cop serving the British, who will stop at nothing to get the promotion he desperately thinks he deserves, and Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.), who pledges to find Malli, a small girl, who has been taken away from her family by a British governor and his wife. The two men are on a collision course that could bring down the rule of the British. The film combines the joy of singing and dance (a staple of Bollywood) with incredible action sequences involving not only gunfights and swords but also tigers. The two leads are incredibly talented dancers and both are charismatic as heck. Be sure to watch this film without the dubbed English version (which is awful). RRR is a film that needs to be seen on the big screen with an audience that will cheer and shout. Even if you watch it at home, you may find yourself standing up and yelling too!   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   RRR Info

7). TAR (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 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

8). Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) PG-13 Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is back and has a new mystery to solve. He has been invited to an exclusive private island to play a murder mystery game hosted by a wealthy tycoon (Edward Norton). Things are going great until a real murder happens. Rian Johnson is back with his Knives Out format, bringing back our favorite pompous detective, Benoit Blanc, this time to solve a murder or two with a cast of strange and wonderful characters. This is such a fun movie to watch, and I had a blast with it. The cast is terrific, with actors such as Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, and Kate Hudson filling out the strange and wonderful group of people that Miles Bron, played Edward Norton, playing a sort of Elon Musk character, has invited to his island. Out of this cast, Janelle Monae stands out, playing a mysterious woman with a grudge, who the rest of the group is surprised has shown up for the festivities. Monae is brilliant in the role, and I think she could get an Academy Award nomination for the performance. The film is funny, filled with incredible sight gags, and has a mystery that isn’t easy to solve. I can’t wait to see the next movie that Johnson and Craig bring us because the world needs more of Benoit Blanc solving mysteries.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Glass Onion Website

9). The Batman (2022) PG-13 The Batman is about the Caped Crusader, Batman (Robert Pattinson), in his second year of fighting crime, uncovering corruption in Gotham City that connects to his own family while battling a criminal known as The Riddler for control of his city. When I was a boy, my favorite comic book character was Batman because he wasn’t a person with superpowers, but he used his gadgets and mind to solve crimes. Like the other hero of my childhood, Sherlock Holmes, Batman solved crimes using his intellect. What filmmaker Matt Reeves has brought us a Batman who is fighting a losing battle for control of a city that he loves. Pattinson is brilliant as the brooding crime fighter trying to figure out who is killing the city’s most important and influential powerbrokers, as each gruesome killing is left with a riddle in a greeting card. Zoë Kravitz lights up the screen as Selina Kyle, Catwoman, who enlists The Batman to help her find her missing lover/roommate. Even so, it’s Paul Dano, who steals the film with his performance as The Riddler. For most of the film, we only see The Riddler in videos he releases, as he hides behind an odd bit of masking. Dano is scary as the mad, evil Riddler, who leaves clues for Batman at every murder he has committed. The Batman is not an origin story. We don’t get the usual flashback to when Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered before his eyes; instead, this is a Batman that we already know, a crime-fighter battling his own demons as he takes on the worst of humanity. And know this: you will not recognize Colin Farrell as The Penguin. It is a fantastic bit of screen magic with The Penguin looking more like a gangster than the quacking cartoon character of other Batman films. I will warn you that you will want to hold off on drinking anything before or during the film as the running time is almost 3 hours long, and you won’t want to miss anything on the screen to take a pee break. And yes, the film sets up another Batman film, and of course, there is a tiny surprise at the end of the final credits. So go on a journey with the Batman to solve crimes and defeat the criminals that threaten his beloved Gotham City.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Batman Website

10). 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

Almost Made It List: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, All That Breathes, The Woman King, Broker, Decision to Leave, Turning Red, The Quiet Girl, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Goodnight Oppy, All Quiet on the Western Front, Moonage Daydream, Louis Armstrong’s Black and Blues, Bad Axe, Causeway, Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, After Yang, Sidney, A Love Song, Black Phone, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, The Janes, Watcher, Montana Story, Armageddon Time, Close.

Forgotten Film: Pauline at the Beach (1983) R  I thought that I would suggest a French comedy about life at the beach since the weather has been freezing. Marion (Arielle Dombasle) is about to divorce her husband and decides to go on vacation and take her 15-year-old niece Pauline (Amanda Langelt) along for the ride. Pauline observes the goings-on of the adults with disdain and sometimes amusement, as the adults seem to go from relationship to relationship, all the while talking about how bad or good they are at them. The plot gets a little complicated, but it's all in good fun, and there are some sublime performances, including Amanda Langelt. My Rating: Full Price   Pauline at the Beach Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of White Noise: Prosthetic Artist to Mr. Driver

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023) Mike (Channing Tatum) is bartending when he meets a woman (Salma Hayek Pinault) who could change his life, again. I loved the first Magic Mike, but the 2nd one wasn’t very good. Maybe getting the gang back together again will work this time. Hey, it’s got Salma Hayek, so I’m in.   Magic Mike's Last Dance Info   The film is out on Valentine's Day, 2023.

Until Next Time!

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