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.
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.