My View: Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret (2023) PG-13 Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Fortson) is 11 going on 12 when her family moves from New York City to the suburbs of New Jersey. Margaret’s mother, Barbara (Rachel McAdams), is ready to become a model suburban housewife. Margaret is determined to survive this move, make friends, and maybe even decide what religion to follow. Hopefully, it will all work out. If not, Margaret can always ask, ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.’ It’s only taken over 50 years to make a movie from the best-selling book, but I am happy that the wait was worth it. Are You There God? is an amazing adaptation of the beloved book. First, the casting is perfect. Rachel McAdams wonderfully portrays Barbara, a mom who wants desperately to fit into the suburban mom mold, but we know almost from the start that it will not work. McAdams is just the right combination of quirkiness and likability, making McAdams Barbara a perfect fit for her daughter. The movie wouldn’t work if Abby Ryder Fortson wasn’t as good in the role as she is. Fortson works the room as Margaret, a kid just like her mom, who is nice and wants to desperately fit in, even when she knows she also isn’t quite a fit for what is expected of her by friends. We get to follow Margaret for an entire year, starting with her coming back from summer camp to get the devastating news, for an 11-year-old, that they are moving to, gasp, New Jersey. We follow Margaret as she makes new friends, gets a crush on a boy, and tries to figure out how she feels about God and religion. Are You There God? is full of teen angst, where problems are magnified, and there seems to be a crisis because of the expectations of both her friends and Margaret herself. So get ready to discover what it is to be an 11-year-old girl who talks to God. And enjoy this incredible ride as a friend of Margaret.My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Now playing in theatres nationwide. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: Polite Society (2023) PG-13 Ria (Priya Kansara) is a young woman who practices martial arts, often with the help of her older sister Lena (Ritu Arya), in order for Ria to become a stuntwoman. Lena has gotten engaged, but Ria thinks something is fishy about the family that Ria is marrying into. Rita and her friends decide they must find out what is up with the groom’s family, and maybe, just maybe, Rita will have to use all her martial arts skills to save her sister from something evil. This is such a fun film to watch with a cast that is a delight and a plot that kept me guessing what was going to happen next. Priya Kansara is fantastic as Ria, who dreams of being a stuntwoman and is convinced that her sister is making a horrible mistake and must be stopped with any schemes Ria can devise. The film is about believing in yourself and your dreams, no matter what obstacles stand in your way. The last fifteen minutes is a joyful jump into action movies with a flair for cool visuals. Fans of martial arts films will love all the action sequences as Ria fights the good fight, even when even her best friends doubt her. Add in a fun soundtrack, an incredible dance sequence, and a truly evil potential mother-in-law, and you have one action-packed thrill ride. The audience at the Atlanta Film Festival I saw it with had a great time watching Ria fight with the best of them. My Rating: Full Price Polite Society Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: SISU (2023) R SISU takes place during the last days of WW II when a prospector (Jorma Tommila) finds a motherlode of gold. When the prospector crosses paths with a group of Nazi soldiers, a legendary death squad, and they steal his gold, the soldiers soon discover that they have messed with the wrong man. No matter what the Nazis throw at him, this one-man death squad is determined to get his gold back, and he doesn’t care if he has to kill every last Nazi to get it back. If you hate Nazis, then this is a film for you because our hero kills a lot of them, often in very creative ways. The prospector is a legend. He is a fighter, so feared that he is called by the very people he was killing, ‘The Immortal’. A group of Nazi soldiers are retreating through Finland, burning down everything in sight, killing civilians, and taking women hostages for the soldiers to enjoy as they try to get back to Germany. They make the mistake of trying to steal the prospector’s gold, and he goes on a killing spree that would make Jason pale in comparison. The action is fast and bloody, with the prospector a superhuman who can’t seemingly be killed. I had a blast (no pun intended) watching this film, as the prospector keeps coming for the Nazis, no matter what they do to him. Yeah, you have to suspend your disbelief a lot when watching SISU, but don’t you do that when watching the last four Fast and Furious films? Hey, I’m all for killing a bunch of Nazis plus, you may never look at another pickaxe the same way. My Rating: Full Price SISU Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: Peter Pan & Wendy (2023) PG On one magical night, Wendy (Ever Anderson) and her two brothers (Joshua Pickering and Jacobi Jupe) meet Peter Pan, a boy who can fly and refuses to grow up. Wendy and her brothers agree to travel to the world of Neverland, where they will meet Peter’s gang, The Lost Boys, Peter’s best friend, the fairy Tinker Bell (Yara Shahidi), and do battle with Captain Hook (Jude Law) and his band of pirates. This is a story that we all know well. Wendy and her brothers are whisked away to Neverland to go on adventures with Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and the Lost Boys, who are constantly fighting with Captain Hook and his pirate gang. The difference between this film and its predecessors is that there is more emphasis on the backstory of Captain Hook, a man who is more human than past Hooks. Captain Hook is hurt by Peter Pan and wants revenge, but it’s based on sadness and how Hook feels left behind by his once friend Peter. I loved the fact that this film has a diverse cast, including girls in the Lost Boys crew. Ever Anderson is terrific as the headstrong and fiery Wendy, who wants to be more than what her parents want her to be. Neverland is shot beautifully, so much so you want to go there and join Peter and his gang. Just remember to think happy thoughts, and you, too, can fly with Peter and defeat Captain Hook and his pirates. My Rating: Full Price Peter Pan & Wendy Website Now playing on the Disney+ website.
My View: Clock (2023) Ella (Dianna Agron) is constantly asked, ‘When are you having kids?’ However, Ella has never felt the need, want or urge for children in her life. Thinking something is wrong with her, Ella decides to undergo a new and radical medical procedure before it’s too late. Ella will discover that not every woman needs her biological clock started, at least not this way. The idea of couples trying for years to get pregnant is not an unusual story. This is that story. Instead, it’s about a woman who has never felt her biological clock go off. Ella has no desire to have kids and is made to feel by her friends and even her boyfriend that something is wrong with her. She decides to go and try a new medical procedure that will start the ‘clock’ going, making her desire the feeling of wanting to be pregnant and have a child. However, almost from the start, Ella has disturbing reactions to the treatment, with horrible dreams and even scarier incidents of seeing things, including a ghoulish woman in black. Clock is a horror film that centers on the industry of getting pregnant, with some rather graphic and ugly displays of horrific images that Ella starts seeing. More of a psychological thriller than a horror film, the film left me feeling that it never delivered the message that it wanted to convey. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Clock Website Now playing on the Hulu website.
Indiefest: R.M.N. (2022) Matthias (Marin Grigore) returns home to Romania after losing his job in Germany. He returns to a wife who doesn’t love him anymore, a son who he has trouble connecting with after something the son saw in the forest, a father who is dying, and a village that is in turmoil after a group of Sri Lankan immigrants move in town to take the minimum wage jobs no one wanted at a bread factory. This is a film about a close-knit community where outsiders aren’t welcome, and bigotry rears its ugly head from the start. R.M.N. showcases a world where, although Europe has become smaller through open borders and trade, people are still building walls in their community. Into this world, Matthias returns. No one seems happy to see him, including his own wife or even his mistress. Right from the start, when Matthias assaults a boss because he is called a gypsy, we don’t like him. Matthias is a man who cheated on his wife, who clearly detests him, and has a child who is constantly afraid, so much so he doesn’t talk, and Matthias wants his son to get over it. Matthias’s mistress heads a local bread factory that can’t find local help due to low wages. She reluctantly hires immigrants from Sri Lanka. Even though no one in the town wants the jobs the new workers have taken, the community acts like they are being invaded. R.M.N. is an uncomfortable film where tensions are constantly being raised, culminating with a town meeting that lasts in one remarkable fifteen-minute shot. R.M.N. is a film that examines the psychological reasons why it’s hard to accept outsiders while dissecting the relationships within the community. My Rating: Full Price R. M. N. Website Now playing in select theatres.
Forgotten Film: Rosewood (1997) R The story of the community of Rosewood, a small town in 1920s Florida, was destroyed in one night when dozens of its Black residents were shot to death or lynched by a mob fueled by racist rumors. Directed by John Singleton, the film shows how the white residents groomed their children to hate while the Black residents, the majority of the people in the town, were hunted down by a mob. Some were able to escape with their lives because of the heroic actions of a few brave people. The film has some brilliant performances. Michael Rooker plays the local sheriff, who knows that the mob is doing something horrible but is helpless to stop it. Esther Rolle plays a Black midwife who is convinced that the children she helped raise won’t hurt her family. And Don Cheadle is a man who risks everything to help people get out of town before it’s too late. Rosewood is a brilliant film about a little-known event in American history that needed to be told. My Rating: Full Price Rosewood Info Available to rent on most on-line platforms.
Weird Credits: From the credits of Polite Society: Fight Arranger Assistant
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Fool’s Paradise (2023) A man (Charlie Day) who cannot speak is released from a mental hospital and is picked up off the street because he looks exactly like a big Hollywood star who is on a bender and refuses to leave his trailer. The star’s publicist (Ken Jeong) and a powerful producer (Ray Liotta) help the man become even a bigger star, even marrying his beautiful leading lady (Kate Beckinsale). However, fame and fortune aren’t all they are cracked up to be, especially when you say nothing. I just want to see this for the cast, which includes Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Katherine McNamara, Jillian Bell, Adrien Brody, Edie Falco, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, and John Malkovich. Fool's Paradise Website Coming to theatres in Mid-May.