My View: Renfield (2023) R Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) has spent centuries doing the bidding of his master and would love to find a way out. After a chance meeting where he saves a feisty, perennially angry traffic cop (Awkwafina), he decides to find a way to escape and live an everyday life. One problem, his master is Dracula (Nicolas Cage). If you are a fan of Nic Cage like I am, this is a film for you. If you aren’t a fan of Mr. Cage (and his non-subtle acting), stay away because this is a full-tilt Cage performance. I loved the opening of this film, where the movie used scenes from the 1931 black-and-white classic Dracula, subbing Cage and Holt into scenes from the film, giving us background on how Renfield became what he is today, the servant of Dracula. Like many of the films in the Dracula films of the 70s/80s, Renfield is campy and has lots of blood pouring out all over the place. Cage, a fan of horror films, is having a blast playing the ultimate narcissist, Dracula, who thinks that the world is his for taking and expects his lackey, Renfield, to bring him a group of nuns or a bus full of cheerleaders for him to feed on. I liked Hoult as the servant of Dracula, who has grown tired of his demanding lifestyle. Renfield happens on a support group of codependents and sees this as a way out from under Dracula’s mighty claws. Along the way, Renfield meets and saves the life of a police officer (played by the always funny Awkwafina), who sees Renfield as a hero and not a monster. The film is fun, a bloody (lots of horrible deaths, some hilarious) play on the horror movie. The film suffers a bit from a relatively weak third act, but hey, Nic Cage in the Dracula cape is all I need. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Renfield Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: The Pope’s Exorcist (2023) R Father Gabriele Amorth’s (Russell Crowe) title is officially the Chief Exorcist of the Vatican. Unofficially, Father Gabriele is known as ‘The Pope’s Exorcist.’ Father Gabriele is sent to investigate a young boy’s possible possession and ends up uncovering a centuries-old conspiracy that the Vatican has tried to keep hidden for years. Russell Crowe gives it his all but can’t overcome a clunky script along with very few scares that make this film seem longer than its runtime. Crowe, with a weird Italian accent and an even stranger sense of humor, makes this film at least watchable. However, the film never gets the horror going, and it tries to tie in a rather flimsy plot about the past (wait until you hear that bit) with the grounds of an old Abby being renovated. The ending seems to promise a sequel, but we can only pray to God that it doesn’t happen. My Rating: Cable The Pope's Exorcist Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: Mafia Mamma (2023) R Kristin (Toni Collette) has a full life dealing with a son leaving for college, a horrible boss, and a husband she has recently discovered is cheating on her. To add to Kristin’s troubles, she is told that her grandfather has died, and she is requested to attend his funeral in Italy. Her friends convince Kristin to attend the funeral because what could go wrong? How about a near assignation because her grandfather has wished for Kristin, his last living descendant, to take over the family business and become a mafia boss? I am a fan of Toni Collette, but I am sad to report that a film that she personally picked and produced is one of the worst of the year. The film is meant to be a comedy, playing on the tropes of mafia movies (I lost count of how many times The Godfather is mentioned), but it sadly misses with horrible jokes hitting on everything Italian, including their love of pasta and affairs. In what must be one of the weirdest attempts of comedy, at one point, a hit-man is aiming a gun at Kristin, about to assassinate her, but first, he wants to rape her, and she kills him in a bloody and horrible fashion that is supposed to be funny. Collette plays Kristin as a dumb American who leaves her cheating husband and literally gets off the plane and starts up an affair with an Italian man she meets in a cab line. It’s like this film is trying to out-bloody the Italian mob films while also trying to hit our funny bones with jokes about sex and meatballs (sometimes in the same sentence). Mafia Mamma is a film directed by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, where it never figures out what kind of film it is other than it’s not funny. My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again Mafia Mamma Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: Suzume (2022) A 17-year-old girl named Suzume lives in a small, quiet town when she meets a mysterious man who tells her he needs her help to stop a series of disasters from happening across Japan. Suzume is about to go on an adventure where the two will try to save the world from an evil force that could devastate the land. Suzume is one of the better Japanese animated films of the past few years. The film is an adventure tale of a young woman who goes on a quest to close a series of doors across Japan with the help of a mysterious stranger and a cat who talks. Along the way, Suzume is helped by strangers who go out of their way to keep her trip moving and lend a helping hand. Suzume is a story about courage, love, making peace with the past, and finding goodness in ordinary people, even when it seems hope is fleeting. The animation is breathtaking, and the storyline keeps moving along. Filled with humor, Suzume tells a tale of courage and determination by a young woman whose past has haunted her for her whole life. My Rating: Full Price Suzume Website Now playing in theatres nationwide. Forgotten Film: Clockwatchers (1997) PG-13 Iris (Toni Collette) is a new temp at an office and is freaked out by office politics and procedures. Iris is shown the ropes by Margaret (Parker Posey), a temp who knows what to do and, better yet, what not to do to survive in this world. Soon, Iris is part of the temp world of workers that includes Jane (Alanna Ubach) and Paula (Lisa Kudrow), a world where no boss knows your name, and if you keep your head down and put everyone who calls on hold, you might survive the day. Things go from bad to weird when someone steals office supplies and personal stuff like pictures. I love this film, and Collette is perfect as the timid Iris, who at the start is so afraid that she waits for hours for someone to get her from reception after being told to wait for a manager. The film was way ahead of its time in pointing out the horrible conditions that people have to work in offices when no one knows your name and, half the time, doesn’t even care if you do anything. Until you didn’t do something, you weren’t told to do. Then it’s your fault, and you’re fired. My Rating: Full Price Clockwatchers info Clockwatchers is available to rent or own on iTunes and Amazon.
Weird Credits: From the credits of Renfield: Drunk Dancers
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Barbie (2023) Living in Barbie Land is the perfect place for a perfect person in a perfect world. That is, until you have a full-on existential crisis. Or you’re a Ken. The film sounded horrible until I found out that it’s from the writing team of Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, and it stars Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as one of the Ken’s (apparently, there is more than one Ken). The movie has been in development since 2009, with everyone from Diablo Cody, Amy Schumer, Anne Hathaway, and Lady Gaga attached to it at various points. I love the tagline “She everything. He’s just Ken.’ Barbie Info Barbie is expected to be released in theatres in mid-July 2023.
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