Friday, May 19, 2023

Fast X

My View: Fast X (2023) PG-13   Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family seem to be at a good point in their lives, but their past is about to catch up with them when they are targeted by the vengeful son (Jason Momoa) of the drug kingpin Hernan Reyes. I have enjoyed this series, especially when they decided they were all superheroes that could fly midair from one car to another and take hits like John Wick only dreams about. I had fun with this film because of one actor, Jason Momoa, but more on that later. The film has Vin Diesel’s thumbprint or, should I say, the entire hand on the script, as his character Dom gets to constantly make speeches about, say it with me, ‘family.’ And he even gets to shed a tear or two. The film has a gigantic cast that keeps getting bigger and bigger, even bringing back a few ghosts from the past. The film brings up the late Paul Walker’s character a few times and how Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Han (Sung Kang) have come back to the gang (one by regaining her memory, the other by coming back from the dead), which should give you a clue as to what is going to happen in this film. Now for the reason to see this film. Jason Momoa. Even with a cast that doesn’t mind overacting, Momoa goes to the extreme and has the time of his life playing the bad guy of the film. In a performance that reminds me of Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Batman, Momoa revels in his role as the crazy, bat-out-of-hell bad guy who wants revenge for Dom and his gang killing his dad. Momoa, wearing outfits that would make Prince jealous, mugs his way through the film, giving Dom a Bronx cheer while passing him going a hundred miles an hour on a motorcycle. The stunts are outlandish, though I didn’t enjoy the fact that they let the cars be the superheroes in this one. The plot has about five hundred subplots, all of which will continue with the next film or two (it’s rumored that there are two more films in the works). Look, Fast X is stupid, but it’s stupid fun, and Jason Momoa gives us a bad guy to delight in. And yes, stay through the first bit of end credits to see who shows up.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Fast X Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Sanctuary (2023) R  A night in a room becomes a cat-and-mouse game between Hal (Christopher Abbott), a wealthy client who has just inherited a fortune, and Rebecca (Margaret Qualley), his dominatrix. It’s a night where roles will switch many times, with surprising results. This is one of those films that is such a cat-and-mouse game between two characters that you get lost in what is real and what is make-believe. The film keeps pulling back layers from the start so that you constantly question who to root for and if anyone will get out alive by the film’s end. I loved the chemistry between Abbott and Qualley, as their characters play games with each other, sometimes in love with each other and other times in hate. Sanctuary is a film about desire and how it can take many forms. It’s a film that will keep you guessing until the end, and even then, you will wonder what happens to these characters next.   My Rating; Full Price  Sanctuary Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: 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 unexpectedly, 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. I enjoyed this film by filmmaker Paul Schrader, which is a film about finding redemption in the simplest things. The film is a little kinky, but what do you expect from a man who gave us Hardcore (1979) and American Gigolo (1980)? I loved the chemistry between Quintessa Swindell and Joel Edgerton, who play two people with pasts that they both want to hide from each other. The film explores just how much a person can be forgiven for and how much that person’s atonement makes up for what they did in the past.   My Rating; Bargain Matinee  Master Gardener Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: The Night of the 12th (2022)  They say every investigator is haunted by one crime. For investigator Yohan Vives (Bastien Bouillon), it is the murder of Clara. And it’s a case that Yohan may never solve. This is a film about the crimes that aren’t cracked and how no matter how hard the detective’s work, some crimes will haunt you forever. The film centers on Yohan (Bastien Bouillon), who has just taken over a homicide squad, and this is their first big case under his command. A young woman has been murdered, and there aren’t any witnesses and too many suspects. The film follows Yohan and his squad as they diligently try to solve the crime, but every time they think they have a clue who the killer is, it slips through their hands. The film shows how we see crime and all the factors that help and hurt in solving those crimes. Not everything can be solved, no matter how hard we try.   My Rating: Full Price  The Night of the 12th Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

My View: Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me (2023)  Documentary on the iconic Playboy and Guess jeans model who became one of the first big reality stars before dying at age 39. The film brings us some new footage of Anna Nicole’s life but doesn’t give us any new answers. In fact, the film seems to take the road that her story is sad, but it’s one that she chose to live. I learned very little from this documentary about Anna that I didn’t already know. Near the end of the film, there is an interview that she gave near the end of her life, where Anna claimed that her mother abused her and that she was sexually assaulted. It turns out the story wasn’t Anna’s; it was the life story of what was her best friend during Anna’s stripper days in Houston. That sums up the life of Anna Nicole Smith; you never knew what was real about her, and this documentary doesn’t help us find that out. Like all the tabloids that followed her every move, the film never scratches more than the surface of who she was.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Monica (2022) Monica is about a woman named Monica (Trace Lysette). She returns home to help care for her dying mother (Patricia Clarkson), who suffers from a brain tumor. Her mother does not recognize Monica because she has transitioned and rolls with it. Monica’s showing up causes problems with her brother (Joshua Close) as Monica deals with the ghosts of her past self. Monica is a film about coming home, mending fences that looked like they might stay broken, and the power of forgiveness. Trace Lysette is stunning as Monica, a woman who has fought for everything she has become but still wants more. She comes back home, unsure if she should, and is afraid of what reception Monica will receive when she arrives. Monica isn’t a film with big speeches or ground-breaking moments. Instead, it’s a film where those tiny slices of life become more powerful than any speech could. A small gesture, like a hand being held by another during a picture, tells everything you need to know about what is happening, and that’s the magic of this film.   My Rating; Full Price  Monica Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
 The Eight Mountains (2022) The story of two friends who, as boys, meet while one is on a summer vacation. Pietro is the city boy, and Bruno is the boy from the mountains. The city boy longs to stay in the wilderness, while the boy from the mountain only wants to leave it. Years later, the two meet again, this time as adults. Pietro (Luca Marinelli) is a lost soul who doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. Bruno (Alessandro Borghi) has changed and wants to follow in his family’s footsteps and become a cheese maker. The two learn in the shadow of the Italian Alps that their friendship will always survive no matter where they are. I loved this breathtaking film that gives us so many astounding shots of the Alps, as the two friends travel on the mountains, Pietro always searching for the deep meaning and Bruno happy with living the moment. The Eight Mountains is the story of brotherly love, who of two men develop a connection early on and keep it alive as their lives change. Both men find happiness, sometimes in very different ways, but they will always have the mountain to return to.
   My Rating: Full Price   The Eight Mountains Website Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: Shooting Fish (1997) PG Dylan (Dan Futterman) and Jez (Stuart Townsend) are two guys who dream of making enough money to buy the house of their dreams. The only problem is that the two guys are con artists, and not all their schemes work. They hire Georgie (Kate Beckinsale) to be their secretary for a job. Soon the two men are both in love with Georgie, and to make things even more complicated, she is about to get married. Shooting Fish is an enjoyable film with a plot that gets a little complicated, but the cast is so likable that you don’t care. Kate Beckinsale steals the movie in one of her first starring roles before she became a star with The Last Days of Disco (1999). The scams are fun, Beckinsale is charming, and the ending is delightful.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Shooting Fish Info  Available to buy on Amazon.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Fast X: Fight Arranger

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: No Hard Feelings (2023) R Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence) has had her car repossessed and is on the brink of losing her home. Maddie finds an intriguing job position: parents (Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti) of a 19-year-old boy (Andrew Barth Feldman) want their shy, introverted son to ‘become a man’ before going to college. This reminds me of all the teen/college films that came out in the late 70s and early eighties, where teen boys were on a mission to have sex. Some were good, like The Sure Thing (1985), directed by Rob Reiner and starring John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga, and others were horrible. The Last American Virgin (1982) comes to mind. What a four-time Academy Award nominee and winner of the 2013 Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook is doing in this film, I don’t know. But hey, I’m game for anything Jennifer Lawrence wants to be in.  No Hard Feelings Website   The film will be in theatres in mid-June.  

Until Next Time!

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