Friday, February 24, 2023

Cocaine Bear

My View: Cocaine Bear (2023) R  An odd group of people, from cops to criminals, tourists, and teens, all converge in a Georgia forest where a 500-pound black bear goes on a rampage after ingesting cocaine. Rare is a movie where the title tells you everything you need to know about the film. This is a film about a bear who not only ingests cocaine but then seeks it out. I love how the film unfolds, letting us in on how the cocaine got dropped in the forest and the setup of letting us know all the people who will encounter the coked-up bear. But what I really liked was that we never see how the bear initially discovered the coke; we just see the results, and boy, is it bloody. I better use a stronger word. This film is gory. Gory with a capital G. Cocaine Bear is right up there with some of your horror films in gore and violence, with a bear that doesn’t just kill; it’s a bear that destroys. The film is off-the-wall funny, with many great lines and some scenes that will have you on the floor, laughing while also going, ‘that’s so gross.’ The cast is a lot of fun, with Margo Martindale as a horny park ranger, an almost unrecognizable Jesse Tyler Ferguson as the nature environmentalist the park ranger lusts for, and Christian Convery as Henry, a kid who has something to say about everything. We also get to see the late Ray Liotta in his last role as a crime lord who won’t back down to find his missing cocaine in the woods, even though it’s got a bear in it that has gone nuts. The film, directed by Elizabeth Banks, is fast, funny, and a blast to watch. Make sure to see it in a theatre, where the crowd will help you enjoy it even more. The women seated behind me started laughing almost from the title sequence and didn’t stop laughing until the final credits. And by the way, stay through the first bit of credits to see a couple of bonus scenes that will top off your viewing experience. And remember, friends don’t let bears do drugs!   My Rating: Full Price  Cocaine Bear Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: We Have a Ghost (2023)  We Have a Ghost takes place when Kevin’s (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) family moves into a new home that neighbors call ‘The House of Death.’ It turns out that a ghost haunts their new home in the attic named Ernest (David Harbour), a trapped soul from the 70s that Kevin recorded on his phone. When Kevin’s father, Frank (Anthony Mackie), attempts to cash in on Ernest, now a social media sensation, it opens an entire world of attention, including the CIA and a washed-up paranormal scientist (Tig Notaro). We Have a Ghost is a fun, family comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Ernest is a ghost who can’t speak but makes friends with Kevin, who isn’t happy moving to a new home again. He has a father who hasn’t found business success; his businesses are usually bad ideas that fail quickly. Ernest becomes an Internet sensation, and that’s when all the trouble begins. You have added to the mix a possibly evil scientist, a bad guy government, and a girl next door that Kevin is trying to impress. Harbour is fun as the ghost with a comb-over and an ugly bowling shirt, and Jahi Di’Allo is likable as Kevin, who wants to stay in one place and make some friends, even if one of them is a ghost. Ernest is never scary, so kids of all ages can have fun with Kevin and his ghost. Join Kevin, climb up to the attic, and join Ernest in having some fun.   My Rating; Bargain Matinee  We Have a Ghost Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My Take: Jesus Revolution (2023) PG-13  It’s the 70s, and Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) is head of a church that is dying slowly as his congregation gets older. One day, Lonnie (Jonathan Roumie), a long-haired street preacher, comes into Chuck’s church, and his life and community are never the same. Jesus Revolution is a little better than your ordinary Christian inspirational film because of the music (which includes The Doobie Brothers and The Edgar Winter Group) and performances from Kelsey Grammer, the preacher who opens his church and home to the hippie culture, and Joel Courtney, who plays Greg, a troubled young man who has to deal with an alcoholic mother (Kimberly Williams-Paisley). Greg becomes the film’s center as he tries to make his place in the world with the constant fear that wherever he finds a home, it will be taken away from him. Grammer does a great job as the preacher who is open to new ideas to reach more people with the word of God and Jesus. I liked that this film shows a different side to the 60s/early 70s when there was such a significant movement of young people to churches that Time magazine even did a cover story. If you are into this type of film, you will enjoy its message of hope and finding faith in something bigger than yourself.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Jesus Revolution Website Now playing in theatres nationwide. 

Indiefest: A House Made of Splinters (2022)  Documentary about a special kind of home: an institution in war-torn Ukraine for children who have been removed from their homes while awaiting court custody decisions. This documentary will tear your heart out as we follow some of the children while they spend time (up to 9 months) in this kind of holding orphanage. The children here are mostly from families where the parents or, in many cases, a lone parent have lost their rights to their children due to neglect. In most cases, it seems, the parent has given up and spend their time drinking. We get to know children being forced to be the adults in the situation, questioning if their mothers are still drinking or asking to be placed in foster homes rather than returning to their homes. One scene really hit me, where a couple of kids were getting under a blanket fort with a starry light and telling stories. Instead of ghost stories, they told each other the horror stories of their lives where their father beat their mother and was drunk all the time or left them to fend for themselves for days. While it is a hard film to watch, there are some bright spots that the documentary shines its light on, including the loving and kind staff that take an interest in each child and try to give them the love they so desperately want and need. Furthermore, a few children are given to foster parents, and both the new parent and the child seem happy about it. Still, watching some of these kids go through so much and the damage that has been caused is heartbreaking. A House Made of Splinters is incredibly worthy of its Academy Award nomination and should be seen, though you will need a good cry afterwards. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  A House Made of Splinters Website  Now in select theatres and available for rent on iTunes.

Indiefest: Bruiser (2022)   Darious (Jalyn Hall) is a fourteen-year-old boy who always seems angry. His parents, Malcolm (Shamier Anderson) and Monica (Shinelle Azoroh), have sent him to a private school so Darious can get the best education they can afford. The problem is that Darius doesn’t fit in with the rich kids and constantly gets beat up. Darious then meets a charismatic and muscular drifter named Porter (Trevante Rhodes), who promises to change Darious’s life. But Porter is holding on to a secret that will shatter the world of Darious and his family. This is a film where every character has flaws, some out in the open and others hidden away, only to rear their ugly heads when things get tough. This is a film about masculinity, about feeling like you don’t belong and trying to find someone to connect with. Darious seems to have a great life, but that life is built on a very shaky foundation that easily crumbles when Porter shows up in his life. The film constantly questions what it means to be a parent and how that parent should treat their child. Bruiser is a film that makes you wonder who is right and who is wrong, only to understand in the end that only one thing is sure, the child will suffer.   My Rating: Full Price  Bruiser Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Indiefest: Emily (2022) R  The story of Emily Brontë (Emma Mackey), which follows how her life as a rebel and a misfit, full of pain and lost romances, inspired her to write Wuthering Heights. Emma Mackey shines in her portrayal of Emily Bronte and what inspired her to write one of the great British novels. Emily is a complex person who, sometimes, seems incredibly fragile but, at other times, strong and determined. She sees herself as an oddball who doesn’t fit the mold of what others expect from her (especially her father) and hides from dealing with people and situations that she doesn’t want to confront. Emily’s world changes when a new preacher, William Weightman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), comes to town and is hired to tutor Emily in French. The two soon start a forbidden romance that will shake Emily’s world to the core. Emily’s life is also filled with both admiration and sometimes hatred for her sister Charlotte (Alexandra Dowling), who seems to do everything with grace and their father’s constant respect and pride. Emily’s life is also complicated by her brother, Branwell (Fionn Whitehead), who she deeply loves, even though he seems lost in drink and big ideas that never come to fruition. Mackey puts everything on the screen for us to see as Emily strives to make her voice heard while also trying to find love in a relationship that will be doomed. Emily is a film you can get lost in, much like the book her character wrote many years ago.   My Rating: Full Price  Emily Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
Juniper (2023)   Sam (George Ferrier) is a young man who has been suspended from his boarding school and has been sent to look after his alcoholic grandmother (Charlotte Rampling) as a way to try to straighten him out. The time they spend together will turn their lives around, or maybe not. Juniper is a film about life, death, and regrets. Lots of regrets. Sam is a troubled young man who has never gotten over the death of his mother or how his father shipped him off to boarding school almost as soon as she died. Into his life comes his grandmother, a woman he knows almost nothing about other than she drinks a lot. As they spend time together, this hurt young man and a feisty, pissed-off, hard-drinking old woman; begin to understand each other and have a relationship. The reason to see this film is Charlotte Rampling, who, as the grandmother who doesn’t seem to give a flip about anyone or anything, provides us with a performance that is far better than the script is giving her. These are challenging people to like, which makes Rampling’s character work; otherwise, this would be a very sappy tale. Juniper goes along, letting Rampling snidely work her way into our hearts. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Juniper Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
My Happy Ending (2023) R  Julia (Andie MacDowell). is a world-famous actress with a big problem: stage 4 colon cancer. She finds herself in a British hospital room, hiding from the press and sharing her cancer treatment in a room with three other women. Three women that will be the only ones who can help Julia deal with the most difficult role she has ever played. Herself. A wonderful performance by Andie MacDowell helps the film, but she can’t overcome a script that is too rooted in its stage origins. The story is about Julia, who is coming off a disaster of a stage performance who is given the news that she has cancer and must get treatment. So she picks an English hospital where she can hide from the press. Used to getting her way, she is upset when she finds out that she must share her treatment with three other cancer patients. So starts a path to discovery for Julia, who learns each of the three other women’s stories. The film takes place mostly in one room, and the dialogue sometimes feels like it needs the energy of a live audience to get the proper response from us. My Happy Ending deals with all the baggage that comes with getting sick, including all the people you have to deal with and still try to stay in the fight.   My Rating; Bargain Matinee  My Happy Ending Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
Forgotten Film: Lady Jane (1986) PG-13  When the death of King Henry VIII throws his kingdom into chaos and his son Edward on his deathbed, a plot is hatched by minister John Dudley (John Wood) to marry off his son, Gilford (Cary Elwes) to Lady Jane Grey (Helena Bonham Carter), who is then placed on the throne soon after Edward dies. The young couple are thrown together, hostile to the circumstances and each other, but soon realize that maybe their relationship could turn to love. Unfortunately, their love cannot stand during this time of struggle for power. Part Romeo and Juliet, part Lion in Winter, this film is about the romance of two doomed people who cannot escape the intrigue and power-grabbing of the times. Elwes and Bonham Carter have incredible chemistry on screen; their scenes are the film’s highlight. As Lady Gray’s evil father, Patrick Stewart is brilliant in the role, and the cinematography perfectly captures the mood and tone of the times. Break out the tissues and enjoy this all-too-brief romance with two star-crossed lovers. My Rating: Full Price  Lady Jane Info The film is available to buy or rent on Amazon and iTunes.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Cocaine Bear: Bear Performer

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre (2023) R   Special agent Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) and his team blackmail one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars, Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett), into helping them take down an evil arms dealer (Hugh Grant) who has his hands on a deal new weapon that could disrupt the world’s balance of power. From filmmaker Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes (2009), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) comes a new twist on the secret agent game with a cast that includes Aubrey Plaza, Eddie Madsen, Cary Elwes, and Bugzy Malone. Just Aubrey Plaza as a secret agent alone makes this a film to check out.  Operation Fortune Website  In theatres on Friday, March 3rd. 

Friday, February 17, 2023

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

My View: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) PG-13  Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is adjusting to being a recognized superhero and is still figuring out where he stands with Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and his daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton). When Cassie investigates Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) work with the Quantum Realm, she inadvertently opens a door into that multiverse. Now, Scott and the gang face an unknown threat, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), who will do anything to get out of the Realm. I have liked all three Ant-Man films, mainly because Scott knows he isn’t your typical superhero, but someone who got lucky getting these powers and knows he doesn’t fit the superhero mold. The problem with this film is that it is the start of the next wave of Marvel stories, and it buckles a bit at trying to give us insight into where the story will go from now on. I am a huge fan of comic book artist legend Jack Kirby, who created a ton of Marvel characters. Kirby had a unique look to his artistry, one which, up to now, Marvel films haven’t been able or maybe even tried to capture. This is the first Marvel film where I felt some of Kirby’s influence is shown on the screen, especially in a character named MODOK, and that thrilled me. While Jonathan Majors is absolutely brilliant in the role of bad guy Kang the Conqueror, the film seems in a hurry to get to the end and let us know more of this world is coming. So much so, that Evangeline Lilly’s character, whose name is in the title, seems like she is barely in the picture. Overall, this is the weakest of the three Ant-Man films, which doesn’t bode well for the future of Marvel films. Still, it is a beautiful-looking film with some fantastic action scenes and a very complex villain. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania needed more story and less talking.  And yes, as usual, stay through all the credits for a bonus scene.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Of an Age (2022) R   Set in the Australian summer of 1999, 17-year-old Kol (Elias Anton) moved with his family from Serbia when he was a kid. Kol dreams of leaving it all behind, and his only escape is attending a dance school with his best friend, Ebony (Hattie Hook). When Ebony gets stranded in a nearby town, Kol enlists Ebony’s older brother Adam (Thom Green), to help him get Ebony in time for a dance recital. Thus starts a relationship that the two men won’t ever forget. This film is about first love and how that first love can hit you at your core. This film has two charismatic leads that allow this relationship to slowly develop with a bit of a sizzle underneath. Of an Age is a romantic tale about love found and lost on a day that the two don’t want to end. I wanted the film to end at a certain point, but it continues on a little too long, making the film give us too much information about the characters and where they end up in life. I would have preferred to make up my own ending about the two.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Of an Age Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

My View: Marlowe (2022) R Set in the 1930s, private detective Philip Marlowe (Liam Neeson) is hired by a glamorous heiress (Diane Kruger) to find her ex-lover. It’s a job that is guaranteed to get messy. I would try to explain the plot in more detail, but that would take a book. Oh wait, this film is based on a book, and it feels like we see every chapter on screen. There are so many twists to the plot that I didn’t care what happened to the ex-lover and all the other characters that pop up in this attempt to bring back the Philip Marlowe character. With a cast that includes Jessica Lange, Alan Cumming, Danny Huston, and Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, along with the usually reliable Liam Neeson, I was hoping for more but got a mess of a plot and a Philip Marlowe character without any charisma.   My Rating: Cable    Marlowe Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Winnie the Pooh: Blood & Honey (2023)  After being abandoned by Christopher Robin, Pooh and Piglet go rogue and start a killing rampage, seeking revenge on someone they thought was their everlasting friend.  I will not spend too much time writing about this mess of a bad horror film. Needless to say, the low-budget shows on the screen with the bad guys in horrible Pooh and Piglet masks, along with a cast that has trouble reciting the insipid dialogue. I’ve seen better horror films on student night at a local film festival than this mess of a movie that even fails to gross out the audience with very unimaginative killings. The sad thing is that this film has become big enough to warrant a sequel, one I won’t be looking forward to.  My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Winnie the Pooh: Blood & Honey Website  Now playing in Fanthom Events theatres

Indiefest: The Other Fellow (2022)   Author Ian Fleming created the ultimate alpha male in 007, James Bond. What people don’t know is that he took that name from a real person, a British Ornithologist named James Bond. This documentary explores the impact on men who, throughout the world, share the same name with the world’s most famous secret agent. From a Swedish 007 super-fan to a New York theatre director, the film explores and examines the role of masculinity, gender, and race in living in the shadow of such a famous name. The Other Fellow is a fascinating and enjoyable movie about people living with this famous name. Some accept it, some hated it so much that they have changed it, and others love it so much that they have continued the family tradition of naming their sons James Bond. I enjoyed the stories they tell, some of which are kind of horrifying (don’t tell a cop your name is James Bond if you can’t prove it), and there is a brilliant story near the end of the film that makes this documentary worth watching.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Other Fellow Website  Now playing in select theatres and available On Demand.

Forgotten Film: Queen of Hearts (1989) PG  Eddie (Ian Hawkes) is the youngest son of a family of Italian immigrants who moved to London. Eddie’s parents left Italy to run away together and now, through some luck and determination, own a small cafe. Their life is threatened when an old enemy comes into their neighborhood, bent on getting revenge on Eddie’s family. I love this film as it is told from the viewpoint of Eddie, an eleven-year-old boy with a vivid imagination. He loves his family and believes the stories that they tell (no matter how impossible). Eddie is convinced that he can save the day when his family is in trouble. And maybe, just maybe, he can.   My Rating: Full Price  Queen of Hearts Info  The film is available on several online platforms including TUBI.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: Physical Assets Assistant

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)  Your favorite butt kicker, John Wick (Keanu Reeves), is back, and he has uncovered a path to defeating The High Table. However, before he can get back to earning his freedom, there is a new enemy that Wick must defeat. An enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and has ways to make old friends into foes. I love the John Wick series, but the running time of over two and a half hours scares me.  John Wick: Chapter 4 Website In theatres mid-March.

Until Next Time!

Friday, February 10, 2023

Magic Mike's Last Dance

My View: Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023) R  Mike (Channing Tatum), after a business deal that has gone bust, is bartending when he meets a woman, Maxandra (Salma Hayek Pinault), who could change his life, again. Maxandra persuades Mike to come to London and do what he does best: dance. This is the third and possibly final dance for Magic Mike. Unlike the first two films, this film doesn’t revolve around Mike but around Max, a fiery, wealthy woman who wants to prove to her soon-to-be ex-husband that she can be powerful and successful. As with the first two films, there is plenty of dancing done by men with their shirts off. The best is early in the movie when Mike dances/seduces Max at her house. The plot is not as fun as the first two films, and the plot of Mike creating a show-stopping dance revue in four weeks is a little unbelievable. Still, Tatum looks like he is having a blast, and he does, surprise, surprise, takes off his shirt and dances quite a bit for a character that claims he has given up performing.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Magic Mike's Last Dance Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide. 

My View: Sharper (2023) R  Madeline (Julianne Moore) is a woman who sets out to seduce and bag a famous and wealthy financier (John Lithgow). Her adult son, (Sebastian Stan) is a conman known for planning scams that earn big payouts. Set among New York City’s wealthiest bedrooms, bars, and boardrooms, nothing is as it seems in a game for riches and power. I loved the first third of the film, where we get to know the players in this con and how they know each other. Sharper is a movie, like most films about conmen and women, that has a ton of twists and turns. The problem with Sharper is the last third is not as smart, interesting, or thrilling as the first two-thirds of the film. Still, it’s a fun ride with Julianne Moore and Sebastian Stan as two characters who seem to be competing on who can out-con who.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee Sharper Info  Now playing in select theatres and on the Apple TV+ platform on Friday, February 17, 2023. 

My View: Somebody I Used to Know (2023) R  On a trip to her hometown, Ally (Alison Brie) meets up with her old flame, Sean (Jay Ellis), and it seems like old times. The only problem, Sean is engaged to Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons), and it’s like Ally is meeting the person she used to be. The film, an old rom-com plot of a girl wants the boy back who is about to be married, is fun because of Alison Brie. Brie has terrific comedic timing, and even though Ally is very self-centered, we still want her to figure out how to be happy. The film puts a nice spin on the rom-com plot when Ally realizes Cassidy is lovely, talented, and needs a friend, not a rival. There is some excellent chemistry between Brie and Ellis, with a get-together near the film’s beginning that shows just how well their characters interact. Somebody I Used to Know is one of those films where you can tell the cast had fun making it. And by the way, stay beyond the initial credits for a bonus scene.   My Rating: Full Price  Somebody I Used to Know Website Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform. 

My View: Your Place or Mine (2023) PG-13 Debbie (Reese Witherspoon) and Peter (Ashton Kutcher) are best friends but live on opposite coasts. Peter is headed to LA and convinces Debbie, a single mom, that he will take care of her kid, Jack (Wesley Kimmel), while she travels to New York City and takes a vacation in his apartment. Peter is about to find out that taking care of a kid is hard, made more challenging when Debbie meets someone in New York. The problem with this film is that there isn’t a lot of chemistry between Witherspoon and Kutcher, but I am not sure that it’s their fault, as for most of the film, the two either talk on the phone or FaceTime. I enjoyed the fact that the two main characters have a great relationship, but we can see from a mile away that Peter is in love with Debbie, and we also know how all this will play out. The film never finds its footing and wastes the talents of the two leads, though it is worth watching if just for the sidekick deadpan lines of Tig Notaro, who plays an old friend of Debbie and Peter.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Your Place or Mine Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Indiefest: Seriously Red (2022) R Red (Krew Boylan) is a realtor who isn’t happy with her life. Red quits/gets fired from her job and discovers that she has a genuine talent; she is a fantastic Dolly Parton impersonator. I want to like this film. I mean, who doesn’t love Dolly Parton? However, the problem with the film is that you come off not liking the main character, the person you are supposed to be rooting for. Red isn’t a likable person. She is unreliable, lets her friends/family down constantly, and will do anything to get into a relationship. I will say this: Krew Boylan does a great job when her character is on stage as Dolly, but isn’t very funny when she is Red. Seriously Red is a strange film with Rose Byrne as an Elvis impersonator who hits on Red/Dolly and then becomes her rival and Bobby Cannavale, as the man who owns the celeb impersonator business and is a Neil Diamond impersonator himself. Dolly fans might enjoy the film (her inspirational quotes are featured throughout the film), but for the rest of us, the Dolly impersonation gets a little old.  My Rating: Cable  Seriously Red Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
My View: At Midnight (2023) R Sophie (Monica Barbaro) is a world-famous actress who has been dating another famous star for five years, and they are starring in a superhero movie together. When she catches him cheating on her on the set, she breaks up with him. At the hotel the cast is staying at, she meets Alejandro (Diego Boneta), who works at the hotel, and these two are destined to begin secretly meeting ‘At Midnight.’ When you do a rom-com, you need two things: a chemistry that shows up on the screen between the two leads and a good plot where we know we will get a happy ending, but we still worry the two won’t end up together. In At Midnight, we get the first. Monica Barbaro and Diego Boneta have some magic going on between them, making us like their characters and want them to fall in love. The problem is the script is so weak, with plot holes that make you shake your head in wonder that the stars can’t overcome it, along with a soundtrack that wants us to relive the screen romances of the past but seems so out of place. Also, for a film that wants us to fall in love with Mexico, other than a brief musical montage of an outing in Mexico City, the film could take place in just about any coastal or island resort. I think it will take a few more margaritas ‘at midnight’ before I want to see this film again. My Rating: Cable  At Midnight Info  Now playing on the Paramount+ platform.
: Consecration (2023) R After the alleged suicide of her brother, the priest, Grace (Jena Malone), travels to the remote Scottish convent where he fell to his death. There she discovers that the Church’s account makes little sense and that the convent has a deadly and disturbing past. I thought this would be more a jump out of the dark horror film, but it’s mostly a slow suspense film. The film starts out promising as Grace experiences ghosts from her past in both flashbacks and actual ghosts showing up at both her apartment and when she visits the convent. The scares are few, and the plot slows down to a crawl when Grace stays at the convent to discover what happened to her brother. Jena Malone has a fabulous presence on screen as Grace but can’t overcome a film that never finds its way to make the movie feel and look scary. I wanted more scares and chills from Consecration and instead I got less. My Rating: Cable  Consecration Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Antwone Fisher (2002) PG-13 Antwone (Derek Luke) is a young man who is a good sailor but has trouble controlling his temper. He is forced to see a Navy psychiatrist (Denzel Washington) who slowly peels back the layers of Antwone’s past and finds out why Antwone is so damaged. Directed by Denzel Washington and written by the man whose story it tells, Antwone Fisher is an amazing film about a man who has to confront his past and find a way to heal. This is an emotional rollercoaster of a film that is beautifully acted and directed. Derek Luke holds his own while performing with Denzel. And the film features a role for Viola Davis, who plays Antwone’s mother in a scene you won’t forget.  My Rating; I Would Pay to See it Again  Antwone Fisher Info  The film is available to rent on most online platforms.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Somebody I Used to Know: River Safety

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Air (2023) R The story of a shoe salesman, Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon), who convinces the head of Nike, Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), to develop and market a shoe around a basketball player that has never played a professional game. That player, Michael Jordan. The cast includes Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, and Viola Davis, and is directed by Ben Affleck. Lace-up your shoes! I am betting that this will be fun.  Air Info  Film will be in theatres in early April.

Until Next Time!

Friday, February 3, 2023

Knock at the Cabin

My View: Knock at the Cabin (2023) R  Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathan Groff), along with their adopted daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), have rented a cabin in the woods for a little weekend getaway. Their vacation is interrupted by a man (Dave Bautista) who appears out of nowhere, along with three other people. Andrew, Eric, and their daughter are going to be confronted with a task that, if not completed, could end the world. This is an intense film where the tension keeps building, with little flashbacks to Andrew and Eric’s relationship as our only release. A brilliant performance by Dave Bautista bolsters the film, giving us a character that differs greatly from most of the parts Bautista has played before. Bautista's character is the center of the film, and he does a masterful job of guiding us through what is happening. The film takes place mainly in the cabin, contributing to the feeling of dread and claustrophobia that permeates the film. Knock at the Cabin is more a character study with suspense than a horror film, though there are a few horrific moments. It is more about questioning moral problems, problems that your mind will have a hard time coming to grips with. I enjoyed this film, and while not M. Night Shyamalan’s best work, it still is a journey worth taking.  My Rating: Full Price  Knock at the Cabin Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: True Spirit (2023)  Jessica Watson (Teagan Croft), who, against the odds and despite many doubters, sets out to be the youngest person ever to sail solo, non-stop around the world. I liked this film, mainly because it can inspire young women to take a chance and go out into the world and chase their dreams. Based on a true story, this is a movie for the whole family about Jessica, who, very early in her childhood, decided that she wanted to sail around the world. Teagan Croft is perfect in the role of Jessica, a headstrong teen who is determined to do something that no one that young has ever done. The film is best when Jessica is on the boat, battling both the sea and her own very personal demons. The film pulls on the heartstrings a bit too much during times of trouble, with flashbacks to a young Jessica being cute and determined. Overall, due to the performance of Teagan Croft, with some support from Anna Paquin as her mom and Cliff Curtis playing her gruff but lovable mentor, True Spirit is a winning look at a person who dreamed of doing the impossible and the world watch her succeed.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   True Spirit Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: Pamela, a Love Story (2023)   This documentary allows Baywatch star and pop culture icon Pamela Anderson to tell her story, letting us know what really happened in her own words. Pamela Anderson has been in the spotlight since the early 90s, first as a Playboy centerfold, then as the ultimate Baywatch lifeguard, and finally, as a woman who always seemed to pick the wrong guy to marry. The documentary lets her give us a look at her life, now returned to her childhood home in Canada and back when she was running in slow motion on the beach. The film skips around a bit; for instance, it makes it look like her first acting job was Baywatch, while I remember her as the first ‘Tool Time Girl’ on Home Improvement. Pamela has had a troubled life, and it seems she was always looking for someone or something to take away that pain. The film does a great job of making us see the person and not the almost cartoon character that she portrayed on TV and for the tabloids. It is ultimately a sad tale, but one that she seems to have survived. You may think you know her, but even after watching this in-depth look at her life, I don’t think we ever will.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  

Indiefest: One Fine Morning (2022) R  Sandra (Léa Seydoux) must make the tough decision of moving her father, who is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease, from his home to a nursing home. Amid this horrible time in her life, she runs into a married friend (Melvil Poupaud) and begins a torrid affair. I will warn you right from the start: the movie will break your heart into a thousand pieces by the end of the film. Seydoux gives us a fantastic performance of an ordinary woman dealing with being a widowed single mom dealing with one of the hardest things we do as an adult, deciding when to move your parent out of their home into assisted living. While keeping a job and being a mom, Sandra is forced to confront this. When a chance encounter with an old friend turns into an affair that almost consumes Sandra, we know that this is something she needs, but it also might turn out bad because he is a married man, a man who still feels the draw of his wife and son. Lea Seydoux gives us a real woman who meets most of her responsibilities head-on, but maybe not in her love life. Seydoux is an actor who gives us her feelings and emotions through her expressive face, as we see just how Sandra is thinking through all that life puts in her way.  My Rating; Full Price   One Fine Morning Website  Now playing in select theaters. 

Indiefest: Ocean Boy (also known as Bosch & Rockit) (2021)  Ocean Boy takes place during the summer on the Australian coast when Bosch (Luke Hemsworth) goes on the run, wanted for dealing drugs with his surf gang. In tow is his son, Rockit (Rasmus King), who does not know what his father has done and thinks he is on a magical vacation with his dad. The film is mostly about the relationship between Bosch and Rockit, a father and son who act more like salty-talking brothers. I had a hard time getting into the film because I didn’t like Bosch, a drug dealer who seems to treat his kid as a sidekick rather than a son. Rockit has a good heart, but growing up as a wild child, he is all over the place; at times, he is a moody kid, and other times an understanding and loving one. The film is beautifully shot, with some fantastic surfing scenes, but overall the film has trouble with pacing, losing momentum every few minutes. The plot gets a little convoluted; at one point, Rockit is convinced his father is a spy, and if/how Bosch will get out of all the trouble he is in is never explained. Still, there are some amazing shots of surfing, and it once again tells me I must visit Australia. I just hope that I don’t run into either Bosch or Rockit while there. My Rating: Cable  Ocean Boy Info  Now playing in select theaters.

Indiefest: Let it Be Morning (2021)   Sami (Alex Bakri) is a Palestinian-born Israeli citizen whose brother’s wedding has forced him to return to the Arab village where he grew up and vowed never to return. After the wedding, the town is put under a military blockade from which Sami can’t escape from. As he is stuck behind the town’s walls, secrets come out, and Sami watches everything he holds dear fall apart. Let it Be Morning was Israel’s film submission to last year’s Oscars, and it is worthy of that nomination. Part comedy, part drama, the film is about a man who is stuck with his family when all he wants to do is go back to the safety of his home, where his mistress and his cushy job are waiting for him. Instead, he is in a nightmare situation where the walls are closing in on him. It’s a subtle comedy where the threat of violence and oppression keeps appearing with each day as tensions mount for Sami and the townspeople. Let it Be Morning is a bittersweet film about life, marriage, and dreams for the future.  My Rating: Full Price   Let it Be Morning Website  Now playing in select theaters. 
The Amazing Maurice (2022) PG A talking tomcat named Maurice (voiced by Hugh Laurie) is running a scam with Keith (voiced by Himesh Patel) and a group of talking rats, where the rats invade a town, and Keith plays a pipe, for a price, to lead the rats. Maurice is the mastermind, and things are going well until they come to a town where food is mysteriously vanishing. There the gang meets Malicia (voiced by Emilia Clarke), who joins the crew to find out what is happening to the missing food. I enjoyed this film, though I think small kids may find it a bit scary. The animation isn’t very flashy, but the jokes are fast, and the film breaks the fourth wall constantly as Maurice and Malicia have a battle over who the narrator of the story is. David Thewlis does a fantastic job voicing the bad guy in the film, ' Boss Man,’ a mysterious figure who is up to no good, giving him an evil quality that just drips with badness. The ending is pleasing, and Hugh Laurie voicing Maurice is having a blast with the part. Oh, and by the way, The Amazing Maurice has some cool messages for kids, including books are fun to read! My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Amazing Maurice Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Forgotten Film: Double Dare (2004)  This documentary focuses on two stunt women, Zoe Bell, and Jeannie Epper. Epper is the veteran who used to do the stunts for Lynda Carter on the old Wonder Woman TV series, and Bell is an up-and-coming stuntwoman who has worked as the stunt person for Lucy Lawless on the Xena series. The film gives us an inside look at how Hollywood treats women in the industry; where Jeannie Epper has all the experience but can’t get a job as a stunt coordinator, and Bell is expected to be in better shape than the women getting paid millions of dollars that she is doing the stunts for. Double Dare is a fascinating look at a job few people can do and how they don’t get the credit they deserve.   My Rating: Full Price

Weird Credits: From the credits of Knock at the Cabin: Color Science

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Creed III (2023) PG-13  For the last seven years, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) has gotten everything he ever dreamed of, with both a career and a family life thriving. However, when a childhood friend (Jonathan Majors) shows up unexpectantly, the past rears its ugly head, and Adonis will have to fight for not only his career but for his life. Directed by Michael B. Jordan, it will be interesting to see if the magic can continue.  Creed III Website  Film will be released in early March, 2023.

Until Next Time!