Friday, June 30, 2023

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

My View: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) PG-13  Archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is near retirement and feels the world has gone by him. But evil returns in the form of an old rival, and Indy must don the hat and pick up his whip one more time to keep a powerful artifact from falling into the wrong hands. The question is, will his God-daughter, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge,) help or hinder this new adventure? The bigger question is this film better or worse than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? It’s far better than that dud of a movie, but that isn’t saying much. Dial of Destiny is a fun ride that takes you back to when Ford was younger (with the magic of CGI, which I did not dislike but some of my fellow critics hated) and was fighting Nazis. The CGI sequence was longer than I anticipated, but it helped set up the storyline for the rest of the film. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a lovely addition to the cast of characters that Indy has joined up with in past movies (many of which make an appearance or two). Helena is someone Indy loves, but simultaneously can’t always understand her motives for doing what she does. Her character subtlety brings up the idea that maybe what Indy has done for years (i.e., stealing artifacts for museums) is just as bad as Helena stealing them for profit. I loved the action sequences, with a fun and thrilling chase sequence that is a little on the unbelievable side but I still enjoyed it. My problem with the film is the final action sequence, which ends too easily and wraps up too tidily. Still, Dial of Destiny is an enjoyable sendoff to an iconic character that has become part of film history. I loved the last scene, and let’s hope this is Indy’s last adventure. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny allows our hero to kick a few more Nazi butts before riding off into the sunset, and that’s all we can ask.   My Rating: Full Price  Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide  

Familyfaire: Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken (2023) PG  Ruby (voiced by Lana Condor) wants to be an ordinary high-school student. However, Ruby learns she comes from a fabled royal family of legendary Krakens and that her destiny lies in the depths of the waters. To make matters worse, Chelsea (voiced by Annie Murphy), the most popular girl in school, is a mermaid, the arch-enemies of Kraken. What’s a girl to do? This is your ordinary DreamWorks film (The Boss Baby, Trolls, The Croods, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar) with a storyline that teaches something and animation that doesn’t dazzle but is well done. In this case, learning how to embrace who you really are. The storyline is basic, and the twist is easy to figure out. Besides a weird little pet creature of Ruby’s, the characters aren’t very appealing, and none stand out. I liked Lana Condor as Ruby, and Annie Murphy does a great job as the popular girl in school who happens to be a mortal enemy mermaid, but both aren’t given much to work with. I think the underwater scenes will entertain little kids, but I wonder if the bad guy at the movie’s end is a little too scary for young kids. Overall, I think kids may have a good time watching Ruby discover who she is, but parents will be bored and watching the clock to signify the end.   My Rating: Cable    Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Familyfaire: Nimona (2023) PG  A knight, Ballister Boldheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed), in a futuristic, medieval world is framed for a crime he didn’t commit; the only one who comes to his defense is Nimona (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz), a mischievous teen that causes mayhem everywhere she goes. The only problem is that the one who can help the knight prove his innocence, Nimona, is a shapeshifting creature he has vowed to destroy. I loved this movie. It’s a mix of old Arthurian knights mixed with futuristic flying motorcycles and magic. Nimona is not your typical character, as she wants desperately to become Ballister’s ‘sidekick’ while creating as much chaos as she can muster. This is not your ordinary kid’s animated film, as the main character, the brave knight Boldheart, is in a loving relationship with another male knight. That relationship crumbles when Boldheart is seen by everyone murdering the Queen, and Boldheart’s own love, Ambrousisu Goldenlion (voiced by Eugene Lee Yang), is forced to attack him to apprehend him. Nimona offers her help and uses her shapeshifting powers to rescue Boldheart. One catch: Boldheart must accept Nimona as his sidekick. The film is a wonderful tale of finding acceptance and even love for people different from you. What you fear (in this case, monsters) sometimes is just fear itself, and what you feared wasn’t the person but the unknown. Nimona is one of the best-animated characters I’ve seen in the last ten years, full of fun and fight. Nimona is a misunderstood character who wants to be seen and heard, not feared. Chloë Grace Moretz is a favorite of mine, and she lends her voice to a character filled with vitality, unable to contain her feelings and longing to find a place in this world. It’s a brilliant and fun performance. Let’s hope we see more adventures of the good knight Boldheart and his unique sidekick Nimona.   My Rating; I Would Pay to See It Again.  Nimona Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Indiefest: Run Rabbit Run (2023)   Sarah (Sarah Snook) is a doctor and a mother. Sarah had a sister when she was younger who went missing at age seven and was never found. Now Mia (Lily LaTorre), Sarah’s daughter, begins claiming she is Sarah’s long-lost sister. Sarah must challenge her own beliefs and confront a ghost from the past. This film sadly wastes the talents of Sarah Snook, who is asked to constantly give us either a look of horror or surprise every minute or two of the film. The movie never finds a way to keep the momentum, as the film keeps abruptly stopping just as things get interesting. Run Rabbit Run is a film where you never know if what is happening is real or in Sarah’s mind. Most of the film’s horror aspects are either jump-out-of-the-dark scares or foreboding scenes that never pay off. I wanted more scares from this film, but it kept promising them, only to drop them for another cut to Sarah waking up to discover her daughter wasn’t where she was supposed to be. The film became repetitive very early on and never found a way out. I would give this a lower rating, but I loved how much Sarah Snook and Lily LaTorre put into their performances. I just wish the story had more substance.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Run Rabbit Run Website    Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

My View: Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed (2023)  Documentary on superstar actor Rock Hudson who was a top office draw for most of his career and a ‘ladies man’ who hid his life as a gay man for decades. The documentary is less about Rock Hudson and his career and more about the Hollywood system that allowed gay men like Hudson to live their lives while the studios projected their stars to the public as heterosexual men who loved women and wanted to get married. The film gives us an inside look through countless interviews and pictures of Rock Hudson’s private life as he seemingly bedded every handsome man in Hollywood for 30 years. I came away from the film with the feeling that Hudson was a man who was loved by many and just was a man who had to hide who he was. Hudson was a man who loved life and lived it to its fullest while carrying on a separate public life as one of the biggest stars of the 50s and 60s. Things changed when in the 80s, the AIDS crisis hit, and Hudson was suddenly in the spotlight. A spotlight that he had hidden for a long, long time.   My Rating: Full Price  Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed Website Now playing on HBO and the Max platforms.
Every Body (2023) R   Every Body is a documentary about three individuals who are part of the intersex population. They make up one percent of the population born with bodies that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female. They have had to overcome shame, secrecy, and unauthorized surgery throughout their childhood to become successful adults. The term intersex isn’t something that comes up in everyday conversation, and more often than not, it’s not even mentioned when speaking about LGBTQ topics. This is a documentary that hopefully helps put members of the intersex community in the open and have a better understanding of who they are. The documentary features three such intersex individuals who have fascinating and sometimes sad stories to tell. The film explores their stories and how they have all dealt with being part of the intersex population. It helps that all three are engaging, funny people you enjoy listening to and hearing their stories and how they see themselves in today’s society. I found the information in this film enlightening, especially how badly the way the medical establishment handles the treatment of intersex children.. All three subjects of the documentary are activists for intersex children. The film is an eye-opener, but it is done with respect for its three activists and love for who they are now. I strongly suggest watching Every Body, a documentary that encourages people to live without fear or boundaries.  My Rating: Full Price  Every Body Website  Now playing in select theaters.

Forgotten Film: A Month by the Lake (1995) PG   At a lake resort in Italy in 1937, a British spinster, Miss Bentley (Vanessa Redgrave), is on holiday when she meets the dashing Maj. Wilshaw (Edward Fox) and falls for him. Unfortunately, the Major only has eyes for a tall, beautiful American, Miss Beaumont (Uma Thurman), who loves to toy with men just because she can. This is a beautiful film, and Vanessa Redgrave is perfect as the older woman who lacks the confidence to think she could compete with a woman like Miss Beaumont. However, Miss Bentley discovers that there is a skill in flirting, and she just might have a chance. A Month by the Lake is a delightful British romantic comedy that we see little of nowadays.  My Rating: Full Price   A Month by the Lake Info   The film is available to rent/buy on both Amazon and Apple TV.

Weird Credits: From Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny: Balloon Decorator

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Meg 2: The Trench (2023) PG-13. I could describe what is going on, but all you need to know is in the trailer. The music is Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ and giant sharks are eating tourists, and Jason Statham is on a Wave runner with a samurai sword. And the poster is epic!  Meg 2: The Trench Website The film is in theatres on Aug. 4th.

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 23, 2023

Asteroid City

My View: Asteroid City  (2023)  PG-13  It’s 1955, and students and parents from all over the country come to Asteroid City for a Junior Stargazer convention. Their lives will change drastically when something comes out of the sky to make an appearance. I am a huge Wes Anderson fan, and I loved this film with all its weird little quirks. You will probably hate this film if you don’t like his movies (The Royal Tenenbaums, The French Dispatch, Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, Bottle Rocket), however, for fans it’s a real treat. It’s a film that is a little hard to get into because of the format of the film (which I won’t go into so that it’s a surprise for you) and how it jumps a bit back and forth. The cast is significant, and while I missed Bill Murray (who has been in every one of Anderson’s films since Rushmore), I loved the casting. Jason Schwartzman as the widowed dad and his love interest Scarlett Johansson, who plays a Hollywood actress that is more concerned about her upcoming role than if aliens are invading Earth, are both hilarious. It’s a magical world that Anderson has created, and it’s full of interesting and strange characters that all will tell you just how they feel at any time. I had a blast watching this film, though I never want to visit anywhere near Asteroid City. After you see the movie, you will know what I mean.   My Rating: Full Price  Asteroid City Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: 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. There was a time in the 70s and 80s where every summer, a bunch of films would be released to bring in the teen audience. Most of these films were aimed at teen boys and involved a guy who didn’t have a chance but somehow landed the girl out of his league. There were some horrible films but also some that worked. No Hard Feelings is a film that belongs to that time. I enjoyed this comedy, something that Jennifer Lawrence hasn’t explored much in her career. She has nice comedic timing and lets us have a good time following her adventures trying to get a shy and awkward teen to have sex with her. It’s a tribute to how good Lawrence is that her character, who isn’t the nicest individual, is someone you want to succeed. Lawrence does a great job in the physical comedy, even taking a small thing like trying to go upstairs with rollerblades on and milking it for all it’s worth. Andrew Barth Feldman is fun as the kid with no clue how to deal with Maddie, but he is willing to try. I mean, it’s Jennifer Lawrence, for gosh’ sake. The film is a little raunchy (there is a nude scene on a beach that has to be seen to be believed), but at its heart is the story of two damaged people who find friendship out of an extraordinary situation. No Hard Feelings is a film that some critics are going to kill because they will think it’s below an actor in Lawrence’s caliper, but I would say that is just why we need her in a role like this.  My Rating: Full Price   No Hard Feelings Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: The Perfect Find (2023)   Jenna (Gabrielle Union) was fired from a high-profile job and has just gone through a messy breakup that everyone in the world seems to know about. She moves back to New York and goes to work for a hard-as-nails mogul and former rival named Darcy (Gina Torres). Jenna meets a charming co-worker, Eric (Keith Powers), who she dates even though he is much younger. Only one problem, Eric is Darcy’s son. Gabrielle Union shines in The Perfect Find, a fun rom-com that celebrates women taking charge of their lives like successful men have been doing for years.. I loved the chemistry between Union and Keith Powers. They, of course, after a brief encounter at a party, start out as rivals, but that chemistry is too powerful to deny. Plus, they both love classic cinema and love for actress Nina Mae, a legendary Black actor who trail-blazed a career that got her named the ‘Black Greta Garbo.’ The Perfect Find has your typical manufactured breakup and an annoying ending that I’m not totally happy with. However, the flirtatious dialogue and Gabrielle Union creating a character we can all root for make for a film worth seeing with a glass of wine and maybe someone special.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Perfect Find Website Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Indiefest: The Last Rider (2022)   Documentary about one of the greatest cycling races in history, the 1989 Tour De France. While the documentary is about the race, it’s more about how American Greg LeMond overcame betrayal and childhood sexual abuse to complete one of the most inspiring comebacks in the sport’s history. I am a big cycling fan, and I thought I knew the story well, but it turns out I didn’t know even half of this fantastic story. I don’t want to give too much away because this is one of those stories that, if you saw it as a fictional film, you would go that could never happen. The film is told by Greg and his wife, Kathy, along with some of the principal riders and race participants. The Last Rider is part love story, part thriller, with incredible twists and turns and an absolutely thrilling ending. One of the best documentaries I have seen this year, The Last Rider is a film to be seen and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  The Last Rider Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: Love Gets a Room (2020)   Set in the Warsaw ghetto during WW II and cut off from the outside world by the Nazis, Stefcia (Clara Rugaard) and her fellow Jewish theatre actors keep performing plays to give the inhabitants behind the walls something beautiful in a world full of chaos and destruction. Stefcia will have to choose between love and her life. I like this drama that revolves around a theatre troupe performing a play while backstage, a drama of its own is going on. Add in Nazis around every corner, death that can come at any moment, and a love triangle that has Stefcia having to decide to leave for possible freedom or stay, with the result almost certain death. The film revolves around a musical performed by a real theatre group in the ghetto five months before it was torn down and all its inhabitants either killed or sent to camps. The musical is fun and has some beautiful songs that the cast performs as the drama unfolds backstage. Clara Rugaard is perfect as the actress who leads the troupe and has to make a horrible choice by the end of the play. Love Gets a Room is a film that will stay with you long after the final curtain falls.   My Rating: Full Price  Love Gets a Room Info

Forgotten Film: Derailed (2005) R  Two people, Charles and Lucinda (Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston), have a ‘meet cute’ on a commuter train. They exchange information, and that leads to more meetings and then sex. The problem is that both are married, and things get worse when someone breaks into their hotel room and attacks them. Things get worse when the attacker (Vincent Cassel) realizes that the two haven’t gone to the police because of their situation, and he begins to blackmail them. The plot gets complicated from there, including an ending that doesn’t quite work, but there are some good performances worthy of seeing. Jennifer Aniston is excellent as the woman who is looking not for a good time but for someone to connect with. Also, RZA is brilliant as a co-worker of Charles who becomes his tool to help to defeat the bad guy, but at a price. Derailed isn’t a great film, but there is a very cool chemistry going on between Owen and Aniston on the screen that is enjoyable to watch and possibly root for (if you can root for two cheaters).   My Rating Bargain Matinee  Derailed Info  The film is available to rent on most online platforms.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Asteroid City: Roadrunner Puppeteers

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Talk to Me (2022) R  A group of friends have come across an embalmed hand with mysterious tattoos. They soon discover that they can use it to conjure spirits, and it becomes their favorite game to play. Until one of them goes too far and unleashes terrifying supernatural forces. The film is getting great reviews, and the word of mouth is that this is a genuinely frightening film. Can’t wait to see it.  Talk to Me Website The film is in theatres on July 28th. 

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 16, 2023

The Flash

My View: The Flash (2023)  PG-13  Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Ezra Miller), uses his super speed to change the past and bring back his mother from the dead. However, messing with the past can have massive effects, including creating a world without heroes. The Flash’s only hope: a retired Batman, another Barry, and an imprisoned Kryptonian. The Flash is an attempt to reboot the DC superhero franchise. Does it succeed? Yes and no. The film is helped by an outstanding performance by Ezra Miller, who plays Barry as a young man who desperately wants to be a superhero but also wants to, somehow, someway fix the mistakes of the past. Barry discovers that through a thing called Speed Force, he can go fast enough to travel back in time. The Flash isn’t the first DC movie to do this (Christopher Reeve’s Superman), but it’s the first to do something that impacts every part of the DC universe. Because of the Flash using Speed Force to change the past successfully, it affects the present, and that’s when things get messy. It’s not a secret that Michael Keaton gets to get back into the Batman costume, and I am happy to say that it’s not just a one-scene appearance, but Keaton’s Batman is a major cog in the film and how The Flash is going to right things in the universe. I liked the action sequences and the amount of humor in the movie, but the film goes on for too long and tries to explain everything in detail. Having been a fan of The CW’s The Flash TV series, I am very aware of the Speed Force ability of Flash and the consequences that it can create. There are some fantastic cameos, and I enjoyed a new take on Supergirl (played by Sasha Calle), but an ending that seemed too easy to defeat the bad guy let me down. The Flash has created a DC multiverse with a ton of possibilities to explore in the future. It will be interesting to see where DC films go from here and how much Ezra Miller’s the Flash will be involved with them. And yes, there is a post-credit scene that brings up more questions.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Flash Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

Familyfaire: Elemental (2023)  PG  Ember (voiced by Leah Lewis) and Wade (voiced by Mamoudou Athie) live in a city where fire, water, land, and air residents work and play. Ember, a fire resident, and Wade, a water resident, aren’t meant to interact, but they start up a friendship, much to the dismay of their family and friends. Can fire and water really mix? Elemental may not be remembered for long, which is a pity, as its story of finding love in unexpected places is beautiful. Elemental is more a film for kids than adults, and they will love the brilliant animation and the unique world that it depicts. I love the two main characters. Ember wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and take over his store, but sometimes wishes she could do more. Wade is a good-hearted guy, a bit over-emotional, whose heart is huge, and who sees the best in everyone. The two star-crossed lovers learn that even though their worlds are so different, they can find common ground to explore together. I think the weak link in the film is that it isn’t as funny as I wanted it to be. Still, this is a beautiful tale worth seeing on the big screen. So go into a world where fire and water don’t mix…until they do.  There is a short film called Carl's Date, starring Carl (voiced by the late Ed Asner) and Dug the Dog from Up, before the feature film. It is a major disappointment, nowhere near past Academy Award-winning shorts that Pixar has made. It's basically a one joke story that tries to tug on your memories of that beautiful film and fails badly.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Elemental Website  Now playing in the theaters nationwide.

My View: The Blackening (2022) R  Seven black friends go away for a weekend only to find themselves trapped in a cabin and forced to play a game created by a killer who has a vendetta. Can the group use their street smarts and knowledge of horror movies to help them survive? Probably not. This film uses horror tropes and cliches about being Black in America, racism, and relationships for comedic effect. The game asks the group to answer questions. Some are trivia questions like ‘Name the five black actors who appeared on Friends.’ Other questions are more challenging and have dire consequences. The film uses films like Saw and any horror movie that takes place in the woods as fodder for the humor. The cast is fun and seems to have a good time making fun of horror films as they have to make choices that every horror film character has to make, like, should we stay together or split up? Should we go down to the basement? And what household items to use as protection (there is a nice callback on that one). The audience I saw it with had a blast and laughed throughout. I wanted a little more horror in the plot, but I still enjoyed the film, and the ending was a lot of fun.   My Rating; Bargain Matinee  The Blackening Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Extraction 2 (2023) R  After barely surviving his last mission, Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) has recovered enough to take on his next assignment. Tyler and his team are to extract a family from a Georgian gangster, who, along with his family, is in a maximum prison. This time the mission is personal, and it’s going to get messy. I wish Netflix had released this in theatres because some of the action sequences don’t belong on a small screen. The film starts where the last movie ended, with Tyler Rake victorious but on death’s door. He is soon rescued and is in isolated recovery (retirement?) when a new job is thrown his way and we are off. I find it interesting that the person offering the job is played by Idris Elba, which I think means that there are plans to make this more than just a sequel. There is an action sequence in the prison that has to be seen to be believed, with Chris Hemsworth’s character in hand-to-hand combat while on fire. Extraction 2 is not your ordinary action film because Rake is a character that not only takes a lot of punishment but is a character with a tortured past that makes him not care about his wellbeing, just completing the mission. We get to see more of what makes Tyler tick and how he bonds with his fellow soldiers, and who he rescues. The action is brutal, and the kill count must be in the hundreds. And if you think the action sequence is impressive in the prison (which is in the film’s first half), wait until the ending. So get to your big-screen TV, turn up the sound, and watch Tyler beat the crap out of a ton of bad guys. Will there be more Extraction films? I think you can count on a few more bad guys dying at the hands of Tyler in the future.   My Rating: Full Price   Extraction 2 Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Past Lives (2023)  PG-13   Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) were two childhood sweethearts who had a special connection. Then Nora moved away with her family to America and the two lost contact with each other. Twenty years later, they are reunited one fateful week in Seoul as they confront notions of love and destiny. One minor problem, Nora is married. Past Lives is one of the best films of the year, a sure bet to be on my top ten list. Past Lives is a film about love and how relationships don’t always work out how they should. It’s a film about what if. Nora has changed from when she was a kid living in Korea. She and Hae Sung have grown in different worlds, affecting how they view themselves and their place in society.. I loved Nora is in a good marriage with a husband, Arthur (John Magaro), who supports and understands her. Filmmaker Celine Song doesn’t make Arthur the villain of the film. Instead, the villain is time. What makes this film work is the brilliant performances of the two leads. Greta Lee is perfect as the headstrong young woman who has made a life in a new world and is happy but still wonders what her life would have been if she had stayed in Korea. Teo Yoo is fantastic as the idealistic young man who clings to a relationship rooted in the past. Hae Sung has years of living in a different culture than Nora, one with varying expectations of relationships, and that’s his downfall. Past Lives explores love and relationships, both ones that work and those that are better left in the past, because love doesn’t always end like a fairytale.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Past Lives Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
Persian Lessons  (2020)   In 1942, Gilles (Nahuel Perez Biscayart) is among his fellow Jewish prisoners facing a Nazi firing squad. Gilles, through a bit of luck, is able to talk his way from death by claiming he isn’t Jewish but Persian. An officer named Koch (Lars Eidinger) in the prison camp wants to learn Farsi so that after the war, he can move to Tehran and open a restaurant with his brother. He enlists Gilles to teach him Farsi, telling him as long as he can teach him the language, Gilles will live. The only problem, Gilles doesn’t know Farsi and will have to make up a language to teach the German. This is one of those films that I liked a lot, but I didn’t love it. I enjoyed the cat-and-mouse game that the officer and Gilles played back and forth. Gilles constantly must change his plan to adapt to the officer’s demands, and Koch is, at first, looking for a slip-up that signals Gilles isn’t Persian. The two actors work well with each other, and they overcome some awkwardly handled moments in the film. It’s hard to make a film set in The Holocaust where the horror of the situation doesn’t overwhelm the film’s plot, and Persian Lessons does an admirable job of focusing on Gilles's story and his almost impossible quest to survive. Persian Lessons is a story of one man’s clever survival and an interesting one at that. However, the story overshadows that so many perished, and we see them, much like the Nazis did, as a continuous progression of people coming into the camp and leaving to die without knowing who they were. That being said, the film keeps the tension going as Gilles somehow, someway, stays alive for another day.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Persian Lessons Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Sid & Nancy (1986) R  Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) was on top of the world as a member of the punk rock groundbreaking band the Sex Pistols. He was all about breaking the rules, drugs, and having a good time. Sid then met an American groupie named Nancy (Chloe Webb), and his world changed. Sid & Nancy is a Romeo and Juliet story of two people who loved each other but were on a collision course with disaster. Gary Oldman burst on the scene with this film, and it’s a remarkable performance, giving us a personal look at a man who was a tortured soul who found love, but it wasn’t enough.   My Rating: Full Price  Sid & Nancy Info  The film is available on DVD and BlueRay.

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Blackening: Assistant Crafty

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Oppenheimer (2023) R The story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) who, at the urging of a desperate U.S. government wanting to end WWII, developed the atomic bomb. The film is from Christopher Nolan (The Dark Night series, Interstellar (2014), Dunkirk (2017)) and boasts a cast that includes Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Gary Oldman, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, and Olivia Thirlby. Many theatres will show this in 70mm, and it was shot entirely with IMAX cameras. Oppenheimer will be an event film not to be missed in theatres! Oppenheimer will be released nationwide on July 21, 2023.   Oppenheimer Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 9, 2023

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

My Take: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) PG-13 Noah (Anthony Ramos) and Elena (Dominique Fishback) are swept up in the ongoing conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons for control of Earth. Optimus Prime and the Autobots face a terrifying new nemesis named Scourge, who has vowed to destroy the Autobots. However, Scourge doesn’t know a new ally has joined the fight, Maximals. To say that I am not a fan of the Transformers films would be an understatement. I have never entirely understood the enthusiasm over a series of films that do nothing more than celebrate some toys based on a cartoon of the mid-80s. Though, I did like the Bumblebee film, but that was mostly because I am a fan of Hailee Steinfeld, and the Bumblebee character has some personality. I am happy to say that the latest film is better than the Michael Bay films that seemed to always be about how much he could fill the screen with giant machines and lots of destruction. This is an origin story going back (like Bumblebee (2018) to before all the Bay Transformer films. Unlike those films, this film lets the humans, played by Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, take important parts in the battles. Both actors do an excellent job of keeping up in the action sequences with the machines and bringing some life to the stodginess of the plot. This is Transformers, so the plot is still silly; the movie takes too long to explain everything, and Optimus Prime makes too many speeches. However, two fan favorites, Bumblebee and Mirage, take prominent roles, and both are full of wisecracks that help keep the movie moving. It also helps that you have some new welcome voices added to the Transformers cast with Ron Perlman and Michelle Yeoh. The last battle sequence is a mess and ends too easily, but overall, I had a good time watching giant machines battle each other. And the audience that I saw it with had a blast. Several times the audience almost came out of their seats yelling and clapping so hard at what was happening on the screen. So if you are a fan, you will have a blast. If not, you might still have a good time.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My Take: Flamin’ Hot (2023) PG-13   Flamin’ Hot is the story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), a janitor at a Frito Lay plant that is about to close due to slow sales. Richard develops a novel idea channeling his Mexican heritage into Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Now, he has to convince the company that his concept will change the snack industry. A lot has been made in the press recently if the story is based on truth, but I won’t go into that and just base my review on what is up on the screen. The film is an enjoyable tale of rags to riches story but told in a unique style of a man who grew up in the barrio, didn’t finish school, and did a lot of bad things in his early life to survive. When asked to change his ways by his wife (Annie Gonzalez) because he now has kids. Richard goes straight and talks his way into a job at Frito Lay, the makers of Cheetos and Lays potato chips. Richard isn’t book-smart but has a talent for repairing machinery and making friends. With the help of his wife and kids, he survives working as a janitor for the company but wants more. One day, inspired by a video talk that the chairman of Frito Lay (played by the always fun Tony Shalhoub) makes and his own culture’s enjoyment of putting spicy hot sauce on everything, Richard comes up with the idea that could save his factory and serve the Latin culture in the U.S. Flamin’ Hot is a fun story that lets Richard tell it in his own words (sometimes he allows us to see two versions of the story, one he embellishes and then what really happened). I enjoyed watching this film and how one man believed in himself and his culture so much that he took on a corporation and won.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Flamin' Hot Website Now playing on the Disney+ platform.

Familyfaire: Heroes of the Golden Mask (2023)   Charlie is a wisecracking orphan who lives on the street. He is magically transported to the ancient Chinese kingdom of Sanxingdui. Charlie is asked to take on the powers of the Golden Mask and help defend the city from a brutal conqueror. Charlie didn’t pick the mask; the mask picked him to save this kingdom. This is a film that young kids will enjoy, though I must caution that some bad guys are quite scary. Adults might enjoy some of the voice actors in the movie, including Patton Oswalt, Ron Perlman, and the late, great Christopher Plummer. However, adults and some children will be slightly bored by the plot with a few holes in it and an animation style that doesn’t always flow. The film doesn’t always make much sense, but kids will enjoy the band of heroes, all of which have some sort of flaw, and Charlie is always good for a wisecrack or two.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Heroes of the Golden Mask Website  Now available On Demand.

Indiefest: Scarlet (2022)   Juliette (Juliette Jouan) has been brought up by her woodworking carpenter Raphael (Raphaël Thiéry), who raised his daughter alone after he returned from war and found that his wife had died. Juliette has grown into a strong, independent woman with a talent for toy making and music. Juliette dreams of someday being taken away from her village on a ship that sails into the sky. Her dream may come true when a charming ship’s pilot (Louis Garrel) arrives in her village to have his boat repaired. This beautiful-looking film slips in and out between a romance, a musical, and a fairytale. And that’s the problem that I had with the film, as it could never decide what type of movie it was. I loved the use of colorized films from the 1920s and 30s to give us a bit of transition to different timelines as the film follows the growth of Juliette from a baby to a woman. We see that Juliette and her father are not accepted in the town, seen as outcasts, tormented, and sometimes even attacked. Still, Juliette and her father keep their heads high and believe in each other. There are some amazing shots in the film, with one magical sequence where Juliette sings in a river while her voice lures her future lover. Scarlet is a film that, at times, is fantastic and other times, feels slow and disjointed. Despite all her singing, we never know what Juliette wants from the world, and the film has an ending that feels rushed and not at all satisfying.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Scarlet Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Blue Jean (2022)   Set in England in 1988, Jean (Rosy McEwen) is living two lives: one as a P.E. teacher and the other as a gay closeted woman who has a girlfriend. This is when the government is about to pass a law stigmatizing gays and lesbians. The arrival of a new girl at Jean’s school will start a crisis that will threaten her job and identity. Rosy McEwen gives us a powerful and touching performance of a woman caught between two worlds. The lesbian world where she can be herself, live, and love. The hetero world where she has to play a part that not only the students expect her to play, but also her fellow teachers and even her family. Jean is constantly worried about being caught as a lesbian, as it seems both politicians and the media keep talking about keeping homosexuals out of schools. Into Jean’s world comes a student who is being picked on because she is different and is suspected by other students of being a lesbian. Jean has to decide soon when her hand is forced between sticking up for the student, which would out Jean, or going with the flow and letting the school deal with the student. Blue Jean is a smart, compelling film that has a deeply flawed main character, not because of who she loves but because of being afraid of the unknown. Jean is a woman who must decide how to live her life. Will she can remain in the closet in a culture that has trouble accepting her or will she break free and live her life that will make her happy?   My Rating: Full Price  Blue Jean Website  Now playing in theatres.

Indiefest: It Ain’t Over (2022) PG   It Ain’t Over is a documentary about Yogi Berra, best known for his brand of sayings like ‘It Ain’t Over till it’s Over,’ but he was much more, including a great catcher for some of baseball’s legendary teams, a D-Day veteran and a loving husband and father. An excellent documentary that captures the magic of Yogi both as a personality and as one of the greatest baseball players in the sport's history. Baseball fans will love all the footage combined with current and past interviews. I loved the radio calls with the newsreel footage combined with interviews of the announcers and the players. Berra is a man who was known for his wonderful use of creating catchphrases like ‘When you come to a fork in the road. Take it.’ and many others. Berra has more quotes in Bartlett’s than any President. For every chapter in Yogi’s life, there is a quote from a famous person and then a quote from Yogi on the same subject, but in Yogi’s unique way of looking at things. The film does a beautiful job of showing us that not only was Yogi a lovable and funny guy, but he was an incredible baseball player. It Ain’t Over gives us plenty of stats (something that baseball is excellent at) that show how Yogi’s career stacks up with other greats of the game. The Berra family was deeply involved with the documentary, so you get a lot of inside stories from his own family. I especially loved the recent interviews with players and managers who loved Yogi and knew how great of a player he was and how he was even a better teammate, friend, and family man. As Yogi said, “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.’ Well, Yogi, you were close.   My Rating: Full Price  It Aint' Over Website  Now playing in theatres and On Demand.

Indiefest: Being Mary Tyler Moore (2023)   Documentary on Mary Tyler Moore, who went from being a pixie in a TV commercial to America’s favorite housewife to a TV icon who won not only seven Emmy Awards but also was nominated for an Oscar. This is a smartly done profile of a woman who, from almost the start of her career, broke through barriers with a career that kept forging new paths but always had that wonderful smile and acting talent to back it. It’s a fascinating look at an actor who kept looking for roles that were not only groundbreaking but also entertaining. And who would have thought that after coming off two brilliant, beloved roles as Laura and Mary, would Mary Tyler Moore take on a role in Ordinary People (1980) of a woman that is so unlikeable and hard? I loved this look of one of my all-time favorite TV performers. The film has a ton of interviews with both Mary and her colleagues through the years, plus tons of home movies, giving us an inside look at ‘America’s Sweetheart.’   My Rating: Full Price   Being Mary Tyler Moore Website The film is now playing on the HBO and Max platforms.  

Forgotten Film: The Perfect Storm (2000) PG-13  The story of a fishing boat named the Andrea Gail, captained by Billy Tyne (George Clooney), caught by three storms colliding in the Atlantic. This is the story of not only the crew and how hard they had to fight to stay alive but also their loved ones back on land who are left behind to worry. The film is the story of not only Andrea Gail but also a high-priced sailboat, as both must survive a storm so strong no one is expected to survive. The Perfect Storm is full of action that centers on the men and women who must make quick, sometimes heartbreaking decisions to save not only themselves but others. Remember, these brilliant special effects were created way before everything was done with a computer and a green screen.. The cast is impeccable, spearheaded by Clooney and supported by Diane Lane, John C. Reilly, John Hawkes, Karen Allen, Mark Wahlberg, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Ironside, and Cherry Jones.  My Rating: Full Price  The Perfect Storm Info  The film is available to rent or buy on both Amazon and Apple TV.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts: Background Casting

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)  PG-13 Archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is near retirement and feels the world has gone by him. But evil returns in the form of an old rival, and Indy must don the hand and pick up his whip one more time to keep a powerful artifact from falling into the wrong hands. This may be the last time we see Harrison Ford in the role, so they are pulling out all the stops with a cast that brings fresh additions like Phoebe Waller-Bridge and old standbys like Karen Allen and John Rhys-Davies. Let’s hope Indy goes out with a bang!   Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Website  The film comes out in theatres nationwide on June 30th.

Until Next Time!