My View: Barbie (2023) PG-13 Barbie is about living in Barbie Land, which 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. I am a big fan of both Margot Robbie and filmmaker Greta Gerwig, so I was looking forward to this film. Plus, this has become one of the most hyped summer films and will be a big box-office draw. I liked the movie but didn’t love it, and I think some people will be disappointed by the fact that Barbie goes back and forth between Barbie Land and the ‘real world.’ It’s partly a musical, and the film has some brilliant numbers, including a wonderful number called ‘I’m Just Ken’ that Ryan Gosling does that just might bring the house down. I found the film funny but not hilarious, though there is one line the narrator (Helen Mirren) says that was on the floor funny. It’s a strange film where the narrator talks to us but also speaks to the characters. The set design of Barbie Land is brilliant, and the opening sequence of letting us see a day in the life of Barbie is one of the film’s highlights. Some of the ‘real world’ scenes disappointed me, and Will Ferrell is a dud as the Mattel CEO, never giving us the laughs we want from him. There are a couple of fun cameos in the film, and Simu-Liu as the rival Ken is a lot of fun. As the often-forgotten Allan (Skipper’s boyfriend), Michael Cera is hilarious as the character that everyone ignores. Margot Robbie has the tough part of playing the perfect Barbie, and she does a nice job, but it’s hard to play someone who has the time and doesn’t have emotions. I enjoyed some of the cast-off Barbie and Ken dolls (all based on real failed Mattel toys) and how they worked them into the film’s plot. Overall, Barbie is fun, and if you owned a Barbie or two (and Ken), you will have a good time seeing them come to life. I had a good time seeing Barbie, but I wanted more in Barbie Land and a lot less of the ‘real world.’ I guess I’ll always be a G.I.Joe (original size) guy. My Rating; Bargain Matinee Barbie Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: 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. You will want to find a theatre showing the film in 70 mm film or on IMAX (the film was shot entirely with IMAX cameras) because there are scenes that will only have their full impact on a big screen. Oppenheimer is, behind the Dark Night trilogy, the Christopher Nolan film that will speak to the most people, with still a few Nolan touches (including an interesting sex scene that happens in an unexpected place). Based on the best-selling Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus, this is the story of a man who was driven by solving a problem and couldn’t or wouldn’t see the ramifications of what he was about to unleash until it was too late. Cillian Murphy is brilliant as Oppenheimer, a man who hid behind a mask of almost cool indifference while battling demons inside himself and friends that turned foes. Robert Downey Jr. delivers an exceptional performance as Lewis Strauss, who used Oppenheimer's brilliance to achieve his own goals. I think the Downey Jr. is the front runner with this performance to win the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. The cinematography is fantastic, with incredible shots that will dazzle and, sometimes, horrify you. The film uses black-and-white scenes to up the tension of scenes as we go back and forth in the life of Oppenheimer, a man who was convinced he knew more than anyone else, even if that confidence untimely cost him dearly. I loved Emily Blunt as Kitty, Oppenheimer’s long-suffering wife, and Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, the love of Oppenheimer’s life and a woman he could never totally turn his back on. Oppenheimer is a long film (just over 3 hours), but you get swept up in the story about a man who leads the race to create a bomb so destructive that it would stop a World War and create something even scarier than a mad dictator who wanted to take over the world. So find a theatre with the biggest screen in your area and immerse yourself in a story about a man who stopped a war and created a new demon to deal with. And just a warning, if you see it in 70 mm film or IMAX 70 mm film, know to be on time. There will be little to no trailers shown before the film starts. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Oppenheimer Website Now playing in theatres nationwide, including IMAX and theatres equipped with 70 mm projectors. My View: The Deepest Breath (2023) PG Documentary about the sport of free-diving, focusing on champion free-diver Alessia Zecchini and diving trainer/safety diver Stephen Keenan. The two are destined to be a couple, and the film focuses on their relationship and how such a dangerous sport affects their friends and family. This beautiful, moving film will have you on the edge of your seat for the underwater dives. The Deepest Breath is a story about two people who will meet and fall in love. Alessia is a young woman determined to break barriers and records, no matter the danger. And Stephen, who, at an early age, wanted to explore the world and then found his love for the ocean and diving. The film follows the two, using interviews with family and friends, along with home movies and footage of their diving events. The Deepest Breath shows us how they became who they were when they met, setting up how hard they fell for each other. There is underwater footage that is strikingly beautiful as the divers are seen not only competing but also enjoying the underwater world they seem to want to live in. I will warn you that this is a dangerous sport in which death is not uncommon, and you will need tissues. At its heart, it is a love story about following your dreams, no matter the obstacles life puts in your way. The story tells us you can succeed if you can find that one person to support you and help you learn. My Rating; Full Price The Deepest Breath Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View: They Cloned Tyrone (2023) R A series of eerie events pushes an unlikely trio, a drug dealer, Fontaine (John Boyega), a prostitute, Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris), and a pimp, Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) onto the trail of a government conspiracy that involves illegal cloning. These are three heroes that aren’t cut from the superhero mold, and other than Yo-Yo, they don’t seem to have any idea on how to investigate anything other than go into unknown spaces with guns drawn and, occasionally, a song. The characters in this film would be at home in many Quentin Tarantino films with a splash of 70s Blaxploitation. The three principal actors are fun to watch as John Boyega is the reserved and quick to use his muscle to make his point. Foxx has a blast playing the pimp, who is too cool to do anything but talk a lot until he is pushed too far. And Teyonah Parris as the prostitute who plays the game with everyone she meets. However, we soon see that there is more to her than meets the eye, much like the film her character is in. The storyline is entertaining and progressively absurd, but it may not satisfy the cravings of certain Internet conspiracy theorists. Let’s just say that the three uncover something much bigger than they could ever conceive. And you may never look at grape drink and fried chicken the same way again. So get in the back seat and join this unique Scooby Doo gang and find out what is happening in their small corner of the world. It’s a lot bigger than you think. My Rating: Full Price They Cloned Tyrone Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View: Cobweb (2023) R Peter (Woody Norman) is an eight-year-old who starts hearing knocking noises coming from inside the walls of his home. His parents don’t believe him, blaming his imagination. Peter soon learns that his parents are hiding a dark secret; something is in the walls. Cobweb is your ordinary build-up with scary sounds, parents that might not be right, and a voice in the wall. Then it proceeds to do a few jump scares and has an ending that seems much too easy and very unsatisfying. It’s a lot of fuss without much to back it up. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Cobweb Website Now playing in theatres.
Forgotten Film: War of the Buttons (1994) PG Set in 1960s Ireland, the children of two neighboring towns engage in battles against each other to capture their opponents and cut off their buttons, shoelaces, and underwear, all in order to get the losers in trouble with their parents. This is a much nicer and funnier film but has roots in Lord of the Flies in that the battles symbolize the troubles going on with the adults in their towns. You will need to turn on the subtitles, as the Irish accents are rather thick and sometimes tricky to understand. Overall, a delightful film based on a classic French story (that has been done a few times in French cinema). My Rating: Full Price War of the Button Info The film is available to buy/rent on both Amazon and Apple TV.
Weird Credits: From the credits of Oppenheimer: Train Coordinator
Coming Soon to Screen Near You: Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023) R Based on a single chapter from Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, this is the story of the Russian schooner Demeter, which is chartered to carry a private cargo from Carpathia to London. On board are twenty-four unmarked wooden crates. There is something or someone in one of those crates that means that no one will survive this voyage. The director, André Øvredal, who directed the fabulous Troll Hunter (2010), has described the film as ‘Alien on a ship.’ Last Voyage of the Demeter Website The film will be in theatres on August 11th.