Friday, March 31, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

My View: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) PG-13 A charming thief (Chris Pine) and a band of unlikely adventurers are hired to retrieve a lost relic. However, things go dangerously wrong when they run afoul of some bad people who want the relic and its power. I loved this film because it just has fun. D&D has fun with Pine gathering a motley crew, with the fact that, like the game, things keep changing at a moment’s notice, and fun because the cast is having a blast. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves works because of the charisma and charm of Chris Pine, the badass butt-kicking that Michelle Rodriguez does, and the ultimate scene stealer in Hugh Grant. The film moves at a quick pace, so fast that a few times I went ‘what just happened,’ and the laughs kept coming throughout the film. I kept thinking that Billy Crystal was going to show up in his Miracle Max outfit because he would have fit right in. Yeah, it has a few plot holes and an ending that doesn’t quite make sense, but that’s ok because it was a blast to watch. And by the way, stay through the first ending credits for a quick, funny scene to round out your screening.   My Rating: Full Price  Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Spinning Gold (2023) R  The story of Neil Bogart (Jeremy Jordan), who, against the odds, created the record label Casablanca Records, home of the iconic musical acts of the 70s, including Donna Summer, Kiss, the Village People, the Isley Brothers and Gladys Knight and the Pips. Neil Bogart was an amazing record executive with an ear for finding new talent and knowing how to get the most out of them. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t do his story justice. Timothy Scott Bogart, Neil’s son, wrote and directed the film, and it feels like it. Over two hours, the film focuses on Bogart’s struggles to succeed in the record business, with the last hour spent on how Bogart’s Casablanca Records was a colossal failure at the start, with bands like KISS and singers like Donna Summer not selling any records. The film is full of songs sung by the actors, including a ton of songs sung by Jeremy Jordan. Bogart wanted to be a singer (he had a small one-hit wonder song in the 60s), and the film constantly has Bogart sing his way into sessions with other artists. The film is sloppily done, with several scenes done in front of a very obvious green screen. The film constantly brings in Bogart’s father (played by Jason Isaacs), reminding us every time that Neil’s father was a man who had a gambling problem and was always looking to his son for a handout, scenes that the film could easily done without. I found the film boring and the dialogue tedious. There are a few fun scenes in the film, including a couple of KISS concert scenes and a recording session when Donna Summer recorded her disco hit ‘Love to Love You Baby’ while on the floor, moaning into the mic. I would have loved more of the story of the successes of Bogart and less of how he was a failure in both his marriage to his wife and his first years at his beloved Casablanca.   My Rating: Cable  Spinning Gold Website  Now playing in select theatres.  

My View: Tetris (2023) R  Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton) discovers a game named Tetris at a gaming convention in Japan. Henk learns that a man named Alexey Pajitnov (Nikita Efremov) invented it in Russia. Henk gambles everything he owns to try to buy the rights to the game, but that means going to Russia during the fall of the Soviet Union and dealing with not only the world of organized crime but the KGB. Part story of an overly optimistic salesman and part spy film with a couple of chases in it, Tetris is a fun ride about how somehow, someway, an American businessman could outsmart and outplay the Russians for the rights to what became one of the world’s most popular video games. Taron Egerton is hilarious as Henk, a man who thinks he can talk anyone into anything and usually does. It’s an unbelievable true story of one man taking on what seems like the whole KGB and the Soviet Union government to get the rights to a game invented on a computer that was even old in the 70s. The supporting cast is a lot of fun, including Toby Jones as a businessman caught up in the middle of this war over the game and Sofya Lebedeva, an innocent translator who becomes part of Henk’s team to win the contract. So, warm up your GameBoys and go on an adventure to win with Henk on his quest to win this game against the bad guys of the KGB.   My Rating: Full Price   Tetris Website  Now playing on the Apple TV+ platform.

Indiefest: A Thousand and One (2023) R Inez (Teyana Taylor) is a single mom who has lost custody of her son, Terry. Inez, desperate to stay connected with her son, kidnaps him from the foster-care system, and they set out to make a family home for themselves. This movie is about broken people trying to give their child a better life. It’s about the bond between a mother and her child. It’s about what a mother will do and endure to make sure that child survives and flourishes, no matter who the mother hurts to accomplish that. Teyana Taylor gives a beautiful, heartfelt, and punishing performance as Inez, a woman who wants more for her child than she ever had herself. It’s a challenging and sometimes almost savage role because we don’t always like Inez, but somehow we know that what she is doing, she feels in her heart that it’s the right thing. Through the eyes of Inez and her son, we see life in Harlem and how it changes through the years, both for good and bad. A Thousand and One is a powerful film that will have you talking about it long after the credits are finished.   My Rating: Full Price  A Thousand and One Website   Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: Rye Lane (2023) R  Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah) meet at a photography exhibit and instantly connect. They will spend the night talking and exploring the London neighborhood of Peckham and realize that their past bad relationships give them a lot to talk about. This is a delightful tale about two people who have a strange ‘meet cute’ at an exhibit and get along so well that they spend the day/night together talking, exploring, and involving themselves in each other’s lives. Dom and Yas are two characters you will like almost from the get-go (though Dom’s intro is slightly cringy). David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah have incredible chemistry together, making their flirting seem natural and enjoyable. Vivian Oparah is a bundle of energy and plays off of Jonsson’s reserved and shy Dom exceptionally well. I loved seeing parts of London that a tourist wouldn’t see as Dom and Yas explored the streets of everyday life, going to shops and local restaurants along the way. Rye Lane is one of those charming, lovely films that makes you feel good after seeing it. So go on a date with these two as they get over past relationships and forge a new one, all in one long day.  My Rating: Full Price   Rye Lane Info Now playing in select theatres.

My View: Murder Mystery 2 (2023) PG-13 Your favorite sleuths, Nick (Adam Sandler) and Audrey (Jennifer Aniston), return to solve another mystery. As they struggle to get their private eye agency off the ground, they are invited to a remote island to see their friend, The Maharaja (Adeel Akhtar), get married. Nick and Audrey soon find themselves at the center of a mystery when The Maharaja is kidnapped, and everyone at the wedding is a suspect. I’ve said this before. Adam Sandler is an actor who frustrates me to no end. He can do extraordinary work (Uncut Gems, Hustle, Punch-drunk Love, Spanglish) and absolute crap (Grown Ups, Jack and Jill, Blended). Sandler makes the crappy films so that he and his buddies (which now includes Aniston) can go make a movie while they enjoy the sights. This is one of the latter. You know you are in trouble when one of the jokes is that The Maharaja is so wealthy that he can have diapers on the animals on his island. Sandler plays a former cop who has gone into the private eye business with his wife after successfully solving the murders in the first Murder Mystery movie. Nick is such an annoying, self-centered person you wonder how he ever got Audrey to marry him, much less why she would stay with him. The plot is stupid, the jokes are horrible, and the characters are annoying. I only kept watching this film because I am a huge fan of MĂ©lanie Laurent, who plays the fiancĂ© of The Maharaja. Sure hope everyone enjoyed their time in Paris and their paychecks. I didn’t enjoy my time watching this film.   My Rating: Cable  Murder Mystery 2 Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Smoking Causes Coughing (2022) The group of costume-wearing vigilantes called the ‘tobacco forces’ are falling apart. To rebuild their team spirit, their leader suggests they meet for a week-long retreat before returning to save the world. However, the evil Lizardin is planning to destroy our heroes and then take out the whole human race. Can the tobacco forces get it together long enough to save the world? This strange and fun little film is a cross between Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and a horror film. Our heroes are all named after their superpowers. They all can give the bad guys cancer by shooting off fumes of the properties of cigarettes: Benzene, Nicotine, Ammonia, Methanol, and Mercury. When we first encounter our heroes, they are fighting a giant monster-like creature they defeat by blowing it up into bloody pieces by shooting their smoke at it. Their leader is a rat that constantly drools and is a playboy and only talks to them via a video phone. The gang is sent to a retreat to reconnect with each other, and there they tell each other scary stories around the campfire. I enjoyed this weird, campy film that has one of the worst bad guys ever. This is one of those films that would be great to see as a midnight showing at a film festival or a college campus. Be sure to stay through all the credits for a bonus scene.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Smoking Causes Coughing Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Enys Men (2022)   Set in 1973 on an uninhabited island off the Cornish coast, a wildlife volunteer (Mary Woodvine) goes out daily to observe a rare flower. However, she is soon visited by ghosts from the past, which makes her question what is real and what is a nightmare. I loved the look and feel of this film as it was shot on 16mm, with an aspect ratio of 4:3 (think almost box-like), and is sometimes overexposed or has scratches on it. What I didn’t like about the film is that it has virtually no plot, and if you are looking for some sort of horror or suspense film, you will not find it here. The film has brief dialogue scenes, and other than when the volunteer is visited by ghosts of the past; it’s all about her exploring the island and doing everyday things like making tea or reading. It’s a story about a woman in an isolated place whose mind unravels (though we don’t know why, possibly a tragic event in her past). Enys Men isn’t a film for everyone; some will be bored by it, but I enjoyed the movie’s camerawork/cinematography, which kept me interested and engaged.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Enys Men Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Heavy (1995) R Things have been the same for a long time at ‘Pete and Dolly’s,’ a restaurant/bar. Dolly (Shelley Winters) is the owner. Her son Victor (Taylor Vince) is the tavern’s pizza chef, and Delores (Deborah Harry) is the longtime waitress. Adding to the usual mix is Leo (Joe Grifasi), the local barfly with a crush on Delores. In walks Callie (Liv Tyler), who comes to work at the tavern and quickly changes the dynamics of the place. Heavy is a wonderful character-driven film about people who are set in their ways and who are introduced to a person who takes them out of their ruts. However, the regulars aren’t the only ones changed, so is Callie for working there, which makes this film special.   My Rating: Full Price   Heavy Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Tetris: Prosthetic Eyebrows

Coming Soon to Screen Near You: Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 (2023) PG-13 Still hurting from the loss of Gamora, Peter/Star-lord (Chris Pratt) and his team are adjusting to life on Knowhere when parts of Rocket’s past resurface. In order to protect him, the Guardians must go on a dangerous mission that could lead to the team disbanding forever. I love this series and can’t wait to see this one. I think we could see some more deaths on the team.  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Website The film releases in theatres in early May.  

Until Next Time!

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