Friday, April 7, 2023


My View: Air (2023) R   The story of shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon), who convinced Nike and its chairman Phil Knight (Ben Affleck) to sign and develop a shoe for a new up-and-coming basketball player, Michael Jordan. Before Nike became the force of sneaker-dom, they were a company known for good running shoes, and that was about it. Nike’s weren’t fashionable. That was Adidas, with shoes a part of the rap music scene. Converse made the shoes that your basketball heroes wore. And Nike had a few stars, but the basketball line was doing so poorly that Phil Knight was considering shutting the line down. In walks Sonny, who comes up with a way to save the Nike basketball line. Develop a shoe around Michael Jordan, a college player who wasn’t even the number one draft choice. The big problem was that Jordan hated Nike shoes and wanted to wear Adidas. This is a fun, exciting film about the shoe industry. You heard me right. A movie about the shoe industry and where Nike is the little underdog: that’s what makes this film work so well, as it takes all your expectations and turns them upside down. From the brilliant direction of Ben Affleck to the winning performances of the cast, this is a film that could easily win next year’s Academy Award Best Picture. As Michael Jordan’s mother, Viola Davis alone is worth the admission price. From Sonny’s first meeting with Mrs. Jordan to the make-or-break scene with her on the phone to Sonny, it’s a performance that makes this film go from good to great. The rest of the cast is excellent and makes this enjoyable to watch from start to finish, including Jason Bateman as Sonny’s boss, Chris Tucker as the company closer, and Matt Maher as the shoe designer who came up with the first Air Jordan design. And I couldn’t go on without talking about a soundtrack that is maybe one of my favorites of all time. Whether you are a sneakerhead, a sports fan, or just a movie fan, you will love this film.   My Rating: I Would Pay To See it Again  Air Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Familyfaire: The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) PG  A Brooklyn plumber named Mario (voiced by Chris Pratt) finds himself in the world of the Mushroom Kingdom, where he is searching for his brother Luigi (voiced by Charlie Day). Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) will help Mario in his quest. However, an evil force in the world threatens to take over the entire kingdom, a ruthless, fire-breathing Koopa named Bowser (Jack Black). I am not a big gaming fan and have only played Mario Kart, so watching this film was like watching one of those Japanese animated films that are part of a TV series and expects you to know who are all the characters and get all the in-jokes. Some of my fellow film critics that have grown up on Nintendo and the Mario Brothers world had a much better time than I did. That being said, this movie is for kids, and they will love it. The film is one long video game, with the characters constantly having to do tasks taken directly from video games, like riding supped-up go-karts or having to go through elaborate obstacle courses. I found the film boring, the plot almost pointless, and most of the characters are one-dimensional. I enjoyed Jack Black as the evil Bowser, who is doing all his evil things just to get Princess Peach to marry him. Bowser is pretty funny as the love-sick bad guy who likes to serenade anyone while playing the piano. I was a bit disappointed by the voice performance by Chris Pratt, who brought nothing to the role and is only saved by his character’s interaction with tough-as-nails Princess Peach, voiced by the Anya Taylor-Joy. The film is from the Illumination studio, which gives us the very unfunny Minion films (I find them funny for about a minute, then they wear me out), and The Super Mario Bros. Movie feels like just one of their usual let’s throw everything up on the screen and hope some of it’s funny. Fans of Nintendo games and young kids are going to love this movie; the rest of us are searching for the cartridge on our Nintendo 64 to put in our GoldenEye 007 game. There are two bonus scenes in the credits, one at the very end of the final credits.   My Rating: Cable  The Super Mario Bros. Movie Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Praise This (2023)   A group of students at a performing arts school find that their love of music brings them together to compete for the chance to perform at a legendary music festival. The best way to describe this film is its Pitch Perfect for the Hip-Hop crowd, with lots of God and Jesus thrown in. The reason to see this film is Chloe Bailey, who plays Sam, who is sent by her father from LA to her relatives in Atlanta after one too many times acting out and getting into trouble. Sam is taken in by her cousin Jess (Anjelika Washington), who immediately gets her to join the church praise team gearing up for singing competitions. Sam figures out this could be her ticket out of Atlanta to become a singer. Like Pitch Perfect, there is a ton of singing, both in competition and in public, like when a DJ goads Sam in a club to prove she can make up lyrics to popular songs. The film does an excellent job of not pushing the religious angle too much, letting the songs do most of the message. Chloe Bailey dominates the movie with a singing voice that blows you away and a fabulous stage presence. That being said, I found that the film spent a lot of time on the performances (it has three or four competitions; I lost count) and very little time on character development. Still, Praise This a fun ride for the Hip-Hop for Jesus crowd.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Praise This Website   Now playing on the Peacock platform.

My View: On a Wing and a Prayer (2023) PG  Doug White (Dennis Quaid) and his family are flying back home on a small airplane when the pilot dies during the flight. Now Doug must fly and land the plane, with only the help of a fellow pilot on the radio (Jesse Metcalfe). This is a faith-based movie that throws just about everything it can at our hero. Doug is a likable guy who, in the opening scene, can’t come close to landing a single-engine plane, all while his brother is in the backseat egging him on. Doug’s life goes bad when his brother dies, and the family has to fly to the funeral. On the way back, the pilot dies of a heart attack, and now Doug has to fly the plane by himself, with his family on board, no less. I won’t go into what more can go wrong; just know that it does. Doug’s faith is wavering even before the flight, and now he has to put his faith in God to get his family back safe and sound. The film never finds the right tone and no matter that it is based on a true story, it feels fake, with the film never making us scared that Doug won’t be able to land the plane. It’s sad because during the credits, we see the real Doug giving a speech about the flight, and it’s much more entertaining than the film it follows.   My Rating: Cable  On a Wing and a Prayer Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime platform.

Familyfaire: Chupa (2023) PG  Thirteen-year-old Alex (Evan Whitten) is visiting his grandfather (Demián Bichir) and his cousins in Mexico. There Alex learns of the legendary mythical creature named El Chupacabra. Alex soon discovers that the legend is true as he finds a young chupacabra cub living under his grandfather’s shed. Alex finds out that the family has a secret history with the chupacabras, and some people are hunting the misunderstood creature to harness the power of the chupacabra. I liked this family film mainly because it combined two things I love about Mexico; the legend and lore of the Chupacabra and Mexican wrestling called Lucha Libre. Chupacabras are mythical beasts that are a combination of a mountain lion with a bird, who come out at night and drink the blood of goats. Alex learns about not only the legend of Chupacabras, but also that his grandfather was a legendary wrestler who had to retire because of a ring accident that damaged his brain. Chupa is a film for kids, and they will fall in love with the little adorable ‘Chupa’ hiding in the family barn. They will also enjoy the wrestling antics Alex, his cousin, and his grandfather go through. Adults will have fun with the evil scientist (Christian Slater) who wants to find and capture a Chupacabra due to the legend that their blood has magical healing powers. Slater chews up the scenery in his scenes as he threatens to take Chupa away from Alex and his family. So put on your wrestling tights and get ready to go on an adventure with Alex and Chupa.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Chupa Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

My View: Paint (2023) PG-13  Carl Nargle (Owen Wilson) is Vermont’s number-one public television painter who is adored by his fans. He has it all with a signature perm, a custom van, a rocking studio, and a TV show where everyone watches his every stroke. Then a new painter comes to town, a woman named Ambrosia (Ciara Renée), and it all comes crashing down. If only the film had half as much personality as the PBS painter Bob Ross that Owen Wilson’s character is based on, it might work, but sadly it doesn’t. I was looking forward to this film based on the cast, which includes Stephen Root, Michaela Watkins, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Lusia Strus, Denny Dillon, and Lucy Freyer. Unfortunately, this film is a one-joke pony that goes downhill after the first five minutes and never recovers. The film can never decide if it is a satire or an out-of-the-box comedy, and it fails at both. Paint isn’t funny, flat from the start, and doesn’t like its subject. This painting doesn’t contain any ‘happy little clouds’ and feels more like a paint-by-the-numbers canvas with the numbers all faded out.   My Rating; Cable  Paint Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: One Day as a Lion (2023) R  Jackie Powers (Scott Caan) is a nice guy but a terrible hitman. When Jackie is sent to take out a local rancher (J. K. Simmons), he misses the target, only pissing off the rancher, kills the cook by accident, and takes a bored waitress, Lola (Marianne Rendón), as a hostage. Things then get complicated. This is a fun little film about a guy who gets in way over his head, involving a power play between a local tough guy rancher, played by J. K. Simmons, and a mobster, played by Frank Grillo. Scott Caan is likable as the sad sack wanna-be killer who botches the hit and then tries to figure a way out with the help of the waitress he has kidnapped. It turns out Lola, played by the fantastic Marianne Rendón, has another idea to get Jackie the money he needs to bail his son out of jail and help Lola out, too. It’s fun to watch J. K. Simmons and Frank Grillo try to out bravado each other. The reason to see this film is Marianne Rendón, who gives life to the scenes between her and Caan, as the spunky and sarcastic woman who wants to get out of Oklahoma any way she can. Caan is fine as the everyman Jackie, bringing a bit of humor to his role of a man who can’t get a break. Will Jackie and Lola escape, or will they be part of the battle brewing between the rancher and the mobster? My Rating: Bargain Matinee  One Day as a Lion Info  Now playing in theatres and available On Demand.
My View:  
Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields (2023)   Documentary on actor, model, and icon Brooke Shields who, from a very early age, became a sex symbol appearing at age 12 as the child prostitute in the film Pretty Baby (1978). Living in the spotlight so young was not a simple life, but Shields survived to let the world know the dangers of too much too soon. I was never a big fan of Brooke Shields, the actor, but I have always been a fan of Brooke Shields, the person. This two-part documentary lets you into the life of Shields, who, from her first appearances in ads as a baby, grew up before our eyes and, at one time, was the most famous model/actress in the world. The film does a wonderful job of letting Brooke tell her own story, giving us insight into what she was experiencing and thinking as she went from a young model to the center of controversy, starring as a young 12-year-old prostitute in an award-winning film. We thought we knew her, and how could you not believe it because her every move was documented in the tabloids and on the news? We didn’t realize, or even have a clue, that Brooke was dealing with an alcoholic mother, one with which she had to, at times, become the adult in the relationship. I came away from this fascinating film about the pressures of being constantly in the public eye a bigger fan of Brooke Shields the person. I loved the end of the film, where she sits around the dinner table discussing her movies and seeing the interactions between Brooke and her daughters. Remarkably, she made it out of the media spotlight alive, and against the history of child actors, she became the outstanding person/wife/mother that she is today.   My Rating: Full Price  Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields Info  Now playing on the Hulu platform. 

Forgotten Film: Affliction (1997) R  Wade (Nick Nolte) is a small-town sheriff who doesn’t like himself or his job. He drinks and smokes pot on the job, is despised by his father (James Coburn), hated by his ex-wife (Mary Beth Hurt), and his daughter wants nothing to do with him. He is forced into action when a friend returns from a hunting trip with blood on his clothes and a story that makes little sense. This film is about a murder mystery that gets so complicated that Wade will question his sanity, especially when more dead bodies start showing up. The cast is top-notch, with Sissy Spacek as Wade’s girlfriend and James Coburn as Wade’s horrible, alcoholic father, making this film one to watch. Nick Nolte gives one of his best performances of a man who doubts himself at every point of his life and can’t escape the fact that his life has been wasted until now.   My Rating: Full Price  Affliction Info  Available for rent or buy on Amazon and iTunes.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Air: Floor Coverer Foreman

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Master Gardener (2022) R A horticulturist, Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton), is devoted to tending the grounds of a beautiful estate owned by a wealthy dowager, Norma (Sigourney Weaver). When Norma’s estranged grandniece Maya (Quintessa Swindell) shows up unexpectantly, Norma decides Narvel should take on Maya as his apprentice, something that Narvel does reluctantly. Maya doesn’t know that Narvel has a past about to rear its ugly head and everyone is in danger. Directed by legendary director Paul Schrader (America Gigolo, Cat People), who of late has been hit (First Reformed, The Card Counter) and miss (Dog Eat Dog). Master Gardener Info  Releasing in Mid-May 2023.

Until Next Time!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.