Thursday, August 31, 2023

Dragon Con 2023 Aug. 31 - Sept. 4

It’s Labor Day Weekend, which means it’s time for Dragon Con! Located in 5 downtown hotels at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Courtland Grand Hotel, Westin Peachtree Plaza, and AmericasMart. Dragon Con brings together actors, writers, comic book artists, singers, dancers, and cosplayers to celebrate all things pop-culture-related. 

There is a fantastic lineup of creators, writers, artists, and actors at this year’s Dragon Con, including writers Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files) and Patricia L. Briggs (Mercy Thompson series), comic artists Mark Brooks (Marvel and DC cover artist) and Bill Golliher (Archie Comics) and the legendary Marty Krofft (Sid and Marty Krofft productions). 

The stars will be out at Dragon Con with a lineup that includes Tom Cavanagh (The Flash), Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13), Caity Lotz (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.l.D.), Billie Piper (Doctor Who), Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman), and Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings).

While you need a pass to get into Dragon Con, you can watch the famous Dragon Con parade on Saturday morning for free. You will see just about every cartoon, anime, and superhero character, along with a variety of other delightful cosplayers in the procession. The parade's highlight is the legion of “Star Wars” Stormtroopers that finish the parade. The Parade is a fan favorite, with the festivities starting at 10 am. Check the Dragon Con website for details of the parade route. Be sure to get to the parade site early, as the sidewalks along the parade route fill up quickly, and taking Marta to the parade is highly suggested.

The cool thing about Dragon Con is that no matter what your interest is in, there is probably a panel or even a track (panels and events that fall under one subject like Star Wars, Star Trek, or even just Space) that will peak your knowledge of your favorite Sci-Fi subjects.

And there are a ton of things for kids to do including an intro into tabletop roleplaying gaming, drawing workshops, a create-a-puppet workshop, robotics demos, and a kids character encounter.

The Dragon Con Dealers Hall, located in AmericasMart, is where you can buy just about anything your geeky heart desires – from Steampunk clothing to comic books and rare collectible artwork.

Cosplay is an integral part of Dragon Con, and costumes will always be out and about. There are many Costume Contests during Dragon Con, including the Star Wars Costume Contest, the Page to Stage Costume Contest, the Animation/Anime Costume Contest, and the ever-popular Masquerade Costume Contest.

There are a ton of panels throughout the weekend. Some are located in enormous halls, while others occupy smaller conference rooms. You can find panels on almost everything you can imagine covering the gambit of fandom, from your favorite current and past Sci-Fi shows.

Gaming runs throughout the con, with some gaming contests going on 24 hours a day. No matter what kind of gaming you are into, Dragon Con has it, including Board Games, Collectible Card Games, LAN Gaming, Live Action Role Playing, Table Top Gaming, and of course, all types of Video Gaming.

Dragon Con Dealers Hall, located in AmericasMart, is where you can buy just about anything your geeky heart desires – from Steampunk clothing to comic books and rare collectible artwork.

If art is your thing, you will want to go to the Comic and Pop Art Alley. You can talk to and buy work from comic book writers, artists, and publishers. Panels and how-to-workshops on comics are held throughout the con. There are also a bunch of live performances by bands of just about every genre, including jazz, punk, rock, and folk.

In the spirit of the Dragon and with infinite admiration, Dragon Con has created The Dragon Award as a vessel to recognize excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy. These awards will be by the fans, for the fans, and are a chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics, and movies.

And, of course, the Walk of Fame will be ongoing throughout Dragon Con, where you can get an autograph of your favorite personality.

Dragon Con is in downtown Atlanta, GA, from Thursday, Aug. 31st, through Monday, Sept. 4th.

For more information go to 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Gran Turismo

My View: Gran Turismo (2023) PG-13 Jann (Archie Madekwe) is a gamer who excels at the Gran Turismo video game. Jann beats 90,000 other participants in a tourney and is rewarded with an opportunity to drive a race car for real. It’s up to a failed former race car driver (David Harbour) and an idealistic motorsport executive (Orlando Bloom) to turn Jann from a gamer to a genuine sports car driver. At times, this feels like a giant ad for the game, making the film seem more like a video game and not an actual story (which it is). I liked the racing sequences, but never got the thrill of feeling like I was in the driver’s seat with Jann. The film is greatly helped by David Harbour, who plays a troubled former driver who slowly starts to believe that Jann can be a driver in the big time. Orlando Bloom is wasted as a promotion guy whose idea is all on the hands and head of Jann and his ability to turn video game experience into a real-world one. I think fans of the game will enjoy this more than racing fans, as it always puts us in Jann’s head that this is just a game to him. The problem is, a lot of us have never played the game.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Gran Turismo Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: The Hill (2023) R  When Ricky (Colin Ford) was a boy, he was told he would never walk without braces because of a degenerative spinal disease. Ricky loved baseball and was determined to play the game. In his teens, he became a baseball sensation and had the chance to try out for the big leagues. Despite what his father (Dennis Quaid) thinks, Ricky is determined to follow his dreams, no matter the cost. The Hill is one of those films whose heart is in the right place but never gives you the big moment you want from the film. I am a huge fan of Dennis Quaid, but he’s not given much to work with as the father who values the word of God over baseball and wants his son to follow in his footsteps instead of the baseball shoes of Mickey Mantle. The film wants to be an inspirational film, but while Ricky’s story of overcoming a huge obstacle of spinal problems to become a baseball player is impressive, the film never finds its way and tends to stay too long in the church and not enough on the baseball field. The film is somewhat saved by the performance of Bonnie Bedelia as Ricky’s grandmother, the one person in the family willing to stand up to Ricky’s father and speak her mind. Unfortunately, it’s too little and too late to make this film tug at any heartstrings.  My Rating: Cable  The Hill Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Golda (2023) PG-13  Golda Meir (Helen Mirren) is known as the ‘Iron Lady of Israel’ during her time as the Prime Minister of a country struggling to stay alive. She will need that iron will to lead her country during the Yom Kippur War. If I showed you a picture of Helen Mirren in her Golda makeup, you would not be able to tell me who she is. It’s a fantastic piece of makeup and, as expected, a stellar performance. Unfortunately, Mirren is let down by a script that makes the war where Israel was on the brink of disaster seem boring and dull. Golda is a film where an aspect of a character becomes almost too much of a crutch for the filmmaker. In this case, it’s Golda’s constant smoking, and it becomes a distraction to the point that during one scene in the film, the smoke fills the screen. Golda is a film that just feels lacking something from almost the start and never finds a way to make us interested in what happens.   My Rating: Cable   Golda Website  Now playing in select theatres.

My View: You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah (2023) PG-13  Stacey (Sunny Sandler) is trying to survive her teens and her parents (Idina Menzel and Adam Sandler) until it's her Bat Mitzvah. Her best friend, Lydia (Samantha Lorraine), has her back, or at least Stacey thought she did. Things change when Stacy catches Lydia kissing Stacey’s crush, and things go from bad to worse from there. This is a fun film with which everyone in the family will have fun. I’m not a big fan of Adam Sandler’s Netflix comedy films, but this one has very little about Sandler and everything about his younger daughter, played by his actual daughter. Sunny Sandler is delightful as Stacey, a young woman who feels her Bat Mitzvah should be life-changing, while she gets the dreamy boy with her best friend by her side. However, Stacey’s plans get turned upside down when she finds out that her best friend, Lydia, has stolen the boy she wanted for herself. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is a film that you will have fun with from start to finish, and maybe, just maybe, want to have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah of your very own.  My Rating: Full Price  You Are So Not Invited to by Bat Mitzvah Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Scrapper (2023)   Georgie (Lola Campbell) is a young girl who lives on her own, spending her time pilfering bikes with a friend and evading family services. Georgie’s mom died, and she is barely surviving. Suddenly, the father she never knew, Jason (Harris Dickinson), appears at her doorstep and wants to start a relationship. This is going to be an interesting pair. I loved this story of Georgie, a young girl determined to live her life on her terms. Unfortunately, Georgie is not an adult, so she is fighting a system she can’t win. In walks her father (actually, he climbs over her fence), and Georgie is dealing with someone she has never known. Jason is in the same boat, dealing with a daughter he has never had the guts to deal with before, but he feels an obligation to Georgie’s late mother to try. Scrapper is a story of two people who learn to trust each other and slowly build that trust through just spending time with each other. Lola Campbell is a delight as the independent and fiery Georgie, who misses her mother terribly and tries to keep her mother’s legacy intact while hoping that no one will take her memories of her mother away. So, go on a few adventures with Georgie and Jason as they try to figure out how their relationship will work out.   My Rating: Full Price  Scrapper Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Forgotten Film: The Green Ray (1986) R Delphine (Marie Riviere) is a woman who doesn’t like crowds or people she doesn’t know but is on a vacation where she can’t relax. Possibly getting over a romance that went bad, Delphine is bored by the guys who try too hard to pick her up. She wants to belong to someone but doesn’t want to make the effort to start something. And then she meets Jacques (Vincent Gauthier), who seems to know what she is looking for, or does he? The Green Ray is a strange film that works because of Marie Riviere, who fills up the screen and makes you root for someone who seems to be constantly unhappy. Will Delphine find happiness?   My Rating: Full Price The film is available on Disc.   The Green Ray Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Hill: Hair Interns

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: She Came to Me (2023) A composer, Steven (Peter Dinklage), is having writer's block, and his new opera is due in two weeks. His wife (Anne Hathaway) suggests he take the dog for a walk. Steven finds himself in a bar and meets a tugboat captain (Marisa Tomei), who invites him on her boat. There, he has a one-night stand with the captain and is inspired to write his new opera. The problem is the tugboat captain loves being Steven’s newfound muse. You had me at Marisa Tomei, Anne Hathaway, and Peter Dinklage. I didn’t need to know more.   It is scheduled to be released in late September.   She Came to Me Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, August 18, 2023

Blue Beetle

My View: Blue Beetle (2023) PG-13  Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) is picked by an alien relic, a scarab, as its symbiotic host, giving Jaime a suit of armor capable of extraordinary but unpredictable powers. Jaime is about, no matter if he wants it or not, to become the superhero Blue Beetle. However, he is not alone. He has a family that always has his back. I loved this film. The film is about family and how when you need them, your family is there, ready to fight along with you. You will want to see this film with a crowd because it is so much fun. Xolo Maridueña is perfect as Jaime, a recent college graduate who comes back to find that his family is not doing well financially and health-wise. He has a ‘meet cute’ moment with a wealthy heir to a big corporation, Jenny (Bruna Marquezina), who gives Jamie a mysterious object that soon changes Jamie from an ordinary guy to a superhero. This film works because Maridueña’s Jaime is such a likable guy with a love for his family and his heritage. The LatinX portion of the film is the film’s center and how no matter the obstacles, Jaime and his family will overcome them. I felt the film’s only weak point was the evil bad guy, played by Susan Sarandon, who wants the scarab to power her company’s quest to become a supplier of symbiotic warriors. Sarandon doesn’t get to do much, but say a few lines and look like a powerful businesswoman. Adriana Barraza, who plays Jaime’s grandmother, overshadows Sarandon. Barraza steals the movie in the last 20 minutes of the film, and it’s worth the price of admission to see her. I even liked George Lopez as Jaime’s uncle, though it takes a while to warm up to his character. This is a superhero film that has lots of heart, and it does such a better job of making us enjoy the characters than some films that have come out in the past few years. I can’t wait to see this character develop and hope that Blue Beetle is one of the centerpieces of the new DC Universe.   My Rating: Full Price  Blue Beetle Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Strays (2023) R  Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell) is a dog whose owner (Will Forte) has abandoned him in the city. A pack of stray dogs led by Bug (Jamie Foxx) adopts Reggie, and they are off to find Reggie’s owner and get revenge. With a little help from his friends, Reggie is going to figure out how to survive on the streets. Strays is a R-rated film and is not for kids, though some of the dogs, including Reggie, are adorable. What’s not adorable are the things these dogs say and do. A lot of what these dogs do and talk about are peeing, smelling, and humping any and everything. Reggie and Bug are joined on the quest to find Reggie’s owner by Maggie (voice by Isla Fisher), a dog with a nose that can find anything, and Hunter (voiced by Randall Park), a big dog who washed out of the police academy and wears a cone because it comforts him. There are some laugh-out-loud funny bits, one of which had me on the floor, but the film should have been a short. Strays is a film whose novelty wears out by the last third of the film. The film is R-rated and probably deserves it, but I felt that, at times, the movie didn’t push the raunchiness enough. It’s a strange film, but dog lovers (like myself) still will have a good time, though it might make you wonder what the heck your dog is thinking about.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Strays Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

Indiefest: Landscape with Invisible Hand (2023) R  Landscape with Invisible Hand is set in the future, where aliens have invaded and taken over Earth. The alien’s bureaucratic rule and advanced technology have left most of the Earth impoverished and unemployed. Two teenagers, Adam (Asante Blackk) and Chloe (Kylie Rogers) hatch a plan to ensure their family’s futures, but it’s risky and involves them being in love, even if they aren’t. The film is from Cory Finley, whose two previous films, Thoroughbreds (2017) and Bad Education (2019), I liked. This film starts with a strong premise, but I felt it lost its way when the story focused almost solely on Adam, and Chloe is left on the back burner. I would have loved it if the two had continued with their relationship, but instead, the story veers off of that and goes more into how Adam and his mom, played by Tiffany Haddish, try to keep the family from losing their home. I am not a fan of Haddish, and I found that her character’s storyline was the weakest part of the plot. There are some fun scenes that comment on our society and how we love to document every aspect of our lives, but the film lost me for the 2nd half of the film and never got me back in for the end of the film. I enjoyed the two teens and their chemistry on the screen, I just wish they had more time together.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Landscape with Invisible Hand Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

My View: Reinventing Elvis: The '68 Comeback (2023) Elvis, who in 1968, was considered a has-been and a sellout, overshadowed by The Beatles and other rock acts. He needed a vehicle for his comeback, and Steve Binder was hired to produce a TV special to put Elvis back on the map. Conflicts with Elvis’s manager, Col. Tom Parker, and a highly doubtful Elvis made this an almost impossible task. However, it was Elvis, after all. This is a wonderful and insightful documentary about one of the most iconic concert specials ever seen on TV. The 2022 film Elvis gave us a brief look at what went on, but this film lets Steve Binder tell how the special came about and how the battle with Col. Tom Parker went on and on. There are plenty of songs from the special, but what is really cool is all the behind-the-scenes footage that we get to see, along with interviews with the dancers and audience members that were there to witness a historic taping. You get to see Elvis not only as the consummate performer but also as someone who was at home on the stage and knew he was indeed ‘The King.’ My Rating: Full Price  Reinventing Elvis: The '68 Comeback Special  Now playing on the Paramount+ platform. 
Familyfaire: The Monkey King (2023)  PG  The Monkey King (voiced by Jimmy O. Yang) believes that he is destined for greatness. Challenged to defeat 100 demons, he sets out to take on demons, dragons, gods, and his greatest adversary of all, his ego. Sometimes you get animated films that feel designed more for adults than for kids. This is one of those films where the storyline is overcomplicated, one of the film’s songs is heavy-metal based, and a lead character is obnoxious and full of himself. I was unfamiliar with the storyline, and maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had been since it’s based on a famous story over 1000 years old. There were some of the fight scenes that I liked, but even those get a little old after a while. I did like the twist at the end, but it sure took a long time to get there.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Monkey King Website   Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: Afire (2023)   Leon (Thomas Schubert) is a novelist who is about to share a work retreat house on an Island with his artist friend Felix (Langston Uibel). When they arrive, they learn they are sharing the house with Nadja (Paula Beer), who is dating a local lifeguard. As a forest fire threatens their house, Leon tries to finish his latest novel, but Nadja becomes a distraction he cannot ignore. We have another protagonist that you will not like, but this time, unlike some other films (I’m looking at you, Shortcomings), you end up rooting for the guy in the end. Leon is a man who can’t do the right thing, even when it’s right in front of him. It’s clear from the start that Leon is infatuated with Nadja but can’t seem to say anything close to something that would even begin for Nadja to pay attention to him. And yet, there is still a chance because Nadja sees something that we don’t, and she is willing to dig a little to find it. Leon isn’t an easy character to root for, and he keeps sticking his foot in his mouth, even when things get serious. But in the end, we see the genuine writer at work and what makes this man do what he does. It just takes a long time to get there.   My Rating: Full Price  Afire Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: Between Two Worlds (2021)   We learn that Marie (Juliette Binoche) is not the job-seeking housewife she says she is, but a journalist researching what it’s like being unemployed and willing to do any type of work. Marie makes friends wherever she goes, but how far is she willing to go to write a book that could make her famous? Juliette Binoche does almost the impossible, allowing the spotlight to focus not on her but on her co-stars, the actors portraying the workers Marie is trying to get to know and understand. What comes across in this film is the kindness and humanity that people who work in thankless jobs show to each other. Time and time again, Marie is taken under somebody’s wing to help her survive, even when it could hurt them. We get to see how challenging a job service work is, and it gives us an idea of just how tough it is to survive when everything seems stacked against you. I loved some of the performances in this film, giving a real-life feel to a story that touches the heart.   My Rating: Full Price  Between Two Worlds Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Chan is Missing (1982)   Two San Francisco cab drivers (Marc Hayashi and Wood Moy) go looking for a man who has mysteriously disappeared named Chan, who owes them money. This isn’t about a hard-boiled detective but two ordinary guys looking for a guy and asking questions. We learn about life in San Francisco, the people who live there, and their views on life and love. Chan is Missing is one of those low-budget films that perfectly captures a city and a time. So spend a little time with two guys who go around knocking on doors and talking with people about a guy named Chan but really talking about life in America in the 80s.   My Rating: Full Price  Chan is Missing Info   The film is available to rent/buy on Amazon and Apple TV.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Blue Beetle: Store Person

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Fair Play (2023) R An unexpected promotion at a hedge fund is given to Emily (Phoebe Dynevor), who is in a relationship with another employee, Luke (Alden Ehrenreich). The couple is recently engaged, but this job will test their relationship to the brink and may threaten to unravel far more than their love for each other. Netflix is high on this film (it got a Grand Jury Prize nomination at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival), so much so they are releasing the movie in theatres first.  Fair Play Website   Set to be released in theatres in late September.

Until Next Time!

Friday, August 11, 2023

Red, White & Royal Blue

My View: Red, White & Royal Blue (2023) R  Alex (Taylor Zakhar Perez) is the son of a current President (Uma Thurman), the first woman in the job and seeking re-election. Alex has a rivalry with the young Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine), which has gotten heated after an incident at the older Prince’s brother’s wedding. The two must act like friends on a goodwill visit to the UK to avoid a scandal. Their rivalry will soon turn to friendship, and maybe even more. This is one more of the recent additions to the Hallmark-like romance stories, but this one has a bit of a twist. First, I was surprised at how the film went in the romance department between the two, and while I don’t think it deserves the R rating, it does get a little risqué in their love scenes. The film works because of the chemistry between the two leads. The movie takes a bit to get going, and the incident at the wedding is a little forced. However, the rest of the film picks up when the two men figure out they are interested in each other, and their romance takes off. I loved we get to see how the romance starts as a friendship and that one of the two isn’t as experienced as you think he would be (I won’t tell you which one, let that be a bit of an eye-opener). The film is helped by a strong supporting cast (though I hated Uma Thurman’s attempt at a Texas accent), and I loved Sarah Shahi’s performance as the President’s chief of staff. Shahi’s reaction when she finds the two men together after a night of passion is worth watching the film just for that scene. I am sure that everyone who read the best-selling book will be satisfied with this adaptation and will go home happy.   My Rating: Full Price  Red, White & Royal Blue Website  Now playing on the Amazon Prime Website.
My View:
The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023) R  Based on a single chapter from Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter 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. This is a film that is all picture and no bite. The film creates a great look and feel but never delivers the scares you want. I did love the creature himself as it harks back to the 1922 silent film Nosferatu in his appearance. However, the story takes too long to develop, and it seems to follow a script that quickly runs out of ideas. The film is about as weak as the lone chapter that it is based on. My Rating: Cable  The Last Voyage of the Demeter Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Heart of Stone (2023) PG-13  Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot) is someone the world knows as an inexperienced tech working for an MI6 team headed by agent Parker (Jamie Dornan). What MI6 doesn’t know is that Stone actually works for the Charter, an elite covert peacekeeping organization that uses cutting-edge technology to neutralize global threats. When a routine mission is derailed by a mysterious hacker (Alia Bhatt), Rachel must use all her skills to stop the hacker from stealing a weapon that could change the balance of power. After a rousing opening sequence with moments from a few Bond films, a very cool chase sequence on the streets of Lisbon, and a sky-diving scene that would fit into any Mission Impossible, this film falls apart with a storyline that is all over the place and a finale that seems too easy to accomplish. Gal Gadot gets to do some fun stunts, and she is excellent in the action sequences, but the film lets her down with a simple plot that I had figured out who the bad guy was from almost the get-go. Let’s hope that if there are more of these Gal Gadot Charter films, they come up with a more complex villain and a better ending. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Heart of Stone Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

Indiefest: Jules (2023) PG-13   Jules is about Milton (Ben Kingsley), who lives a quiet life in a small Pennsylvania town until his life is upended when a UFO and its extra-terrestrial passenger crash land in his backyard. He names his new friend Jules. Things get complicated when Milton’s two neighbors (Jane Curtin and Harriet Sansom Harris) find out about Jules. And then Milton’s daughter (Zoe Winters) gets suspicious, and the government starts sniffing around. Can’t a guy just be let alone to live with an alien from another planet? I loved this quiet and fun film about a strange set in his ways, Milton, who is awakened in the middle of the night by a UFO crashing into his flower bed. He is at first more upset that his flowers have been destroyed than that a UFO is in his backyard, but he soon meets the alien from another planet and becomes his host. Ben Kingsley is brilliant as Milton, a man losing his way in life, and takes having an alien for a houseguest as another thing to handle. The film is helped by Jane Curtin and Harriet Sansom Harris, who play neighbors of Milton, who decide to help take care of the alien and keep the secret from the rest of the town. Jules is a warm, funny film that moves along at its own pace, much like Milton.   My Rating: Full Price  Jules Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: Medusa Deluxe (2022) R  Set in the throes of a competitive hairdressing contest, one of the contestants has been murdered. Waiting for the police to interview them, what’s a group of hairdressers going to do but gossip? Medusa Deluxe is a film that uses the gimmick of giving us the appearance of the film being on one long continuous shot. The film opens with us being introduced to all the suspects who could have done the murder as we spend time with the hairdressing contestants and hangers-on backstage, waiting to be interviewed by the police. The problem is this film is all flash and very little substance. We get a lot of conversations between the suspects, but the mystery of who did the killing is never really explored. The camerawork is impressive, as are the performances that continue as the camera moves from one character to another. However, the film never creates any tension, and when we find the killer, the reveal is somewhat subdued and unsatisfying. Medusa Deluxe is one of those films that plays better at a film festival (where I saw it) than in a regular movie theatre or on an online screener.  My Rating; Bargain Matinee  Medusa Deluxe Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Indiefest: Aporia (2023) R  Sophie (Judy Greer) is a woman who has lost her husband (Edi Gathegi) to a drunk driver accident and is struggling to manage her grief while trying to be a good mother to her devastated daughter (Faithe Herman. She discovers that a friend, a former physicist (Payman Maadi), has invented a time machine, and Sophie might be able to go back in time to save her husband. However, choices like that always have consequences. Aporia is a film about making choices and living with the results. Sophie is a mom who loves her family and will do anything to stop the hurt and suffering of others. Greer gives a touching and lovely performance as the mom whose heart controls her every move. Nonetheless, once you go down the path of changing history, it’s a slope that is hard to climb back up from. The film explores people’s choices and whether they can live with their decisions. The big question is, when do you stop once you start changing the past?   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Aporia Website   Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Passages (2023) R  Passages is about the choices we make in relationships. Even though filmmaker Tomas (Franz Rogowski) is married to Martin (Ben Whishaw, Tomas starts an affair with a young schoolteacher, Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and is excited by the novelty of being with a woman. Everything seems great until Martin starts an affair of his own, and now Tomas is torn between his husband and his new lover. This is one of those films where you instantly don’t like the main character, and you continue to not only not like the person but end up hating him because of how he treats everyone who cares about him. Tomas is an unlikable jerk who somehow makes two people fall in love with him. Martin and Agathe are too good for Tomas, and why either would want to stay with such an egotistical, self-centered person is beyond me. I liked that we don’t get background on anyone but are thrown into this world at break-net speed, and we have to hang on, much like the two people Tomas is toying with. Passages is not a feel-good film, and that is the point, as sometimes life is messy, and people fall in love with the wrong person. Passages is a messy and often frustrating look at a man who doesn’t care about anyone but himself and his needs.   My Rating: Full Price  Passages Info Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968) PG-13  A young Amish woman (Britt Ekland) runs away from home and her strict father to the big city of New York in 1925. She hopes to act in religious stage plays but meets two vaudeville performers (Jason Robards and Norman Wisdom) who get her a part in their burlesque show. What follows is the invention of the striptease, and burlesque would never be the same. The film is co-written by Norman Lear (creator of All in the Family) and is a little too heavy with corny jokes. Still, the film is worth watching for the performances of Norman Wisdom, a legendary British music-hall veteran and the last role for Bert Lahr. The film is directed by the late William Friedkin, known for his movies The Exorcist (1973), The French Connection (1971), and To Live and Die in L.A. (1985).  My Rating; Bargain Matinee   The Night They Raided Minsky's Info The film is available on DVD.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Red, White & Royal Blue: Royal Etiquette Advisor

Coming Soon to Screen Near You: Bottoms (2023) Two lesbian high school friends (Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri) decide to start a girls’ club after school. It’s all to impress their crushes, Isabel (Havana Rose Lui) and Brittany (Kaia Gerber), two of the most popular girls in school. What starts as a club for girl power becomes a fight club, and then things get really weird. The film is from Emma Seligman, whose film Shiva Baby (2020) became a big Indie hit. Bottoms was one of the most talked about movies at the SXSW Film Festival back in March.  Bottoms Website  The film is in theatres on August 25th.   

Until Next Time!

Friday, August 4, 2023

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Familyfaire: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023) PG In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, the Turtles wish they had ordinary lives, but that will never happen. With the help of Master Splinter (voiced by Jackie Chan) and April O’Neil (voiced by Ayo Edebiri), the guys are ready to take on their next foe. Unfortunately, it’s not just one bad guy, but a gang of mutants, led by a ‘Super Fly’ (voiced by Ice Cube), that want to destroy humans at all costs. The Turtles will need all their skills to defeat these mutants. Most of the TMNT films have been aimed at kids and have been, on the whole, pretty crappy. I am happy to say that through imaginative animation, whip-smart dialogue, a fun voice cast, and a plot that moves along at a fast pace, this film is right there with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse as one of the best-animated films of the year. Taking a franchise that has been around for over 30 years and making it seem new and relevant is a challenging undertaking, but this film has accomplished that and more. With a great villain (voiced by a very cool and funny Ice Cube) and a spunky, smart sidekick in April (voiced by the talented Ayo Edebiri), the film hits a lot more times than it misses (a few less vomit jokes, please) and both adults and kids will have a blast. Be sure to stay through the first portion of the closing credits for a bonus scene that fans of the TMNT gang will go nuts over.   My Rating: Full Price  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Meg 2: The Trench (2023) PG-13   Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), who, after his experience with Megalodon, is back and leading a daring research team on an exploratory dive into the ocean’s depths. Little does the team know that an illegal mining operation is about to unleash something worse than last time: there is more than one ancient creature hiding in the depths. The first half of this film is boring and takes forever to get going, and when it does, the action is done so poorly and so murky that I didn’t even know one of the characters was in trouble. The second half is what you are looking for, with the giant sharks and some bonus monsters going nuts. Statham looks like he was cashing in a paycheck and fresh addition to the cast; Jing Wu does as much action scenes as Jason does. That’s not surprising since making backing is from some Chinese companies, and about an eighth of the dialogue is not in English. The action picks up when we get into the sunlight, but it’s still idiotic, and some horrible editing mistakes jump out at you as big as the Megalodon’s do. So, stay home and watch some docs on dinosaurs or sharks, and you get as many thrills as this film gives you. Probably more.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Meg 2: The Trench    Now playing in theatres nationwide.

: Shortcomings (2023) R   Ben (Justin H. Min) is a failed filmmaker and a manager of a small theatre. Friends will tell you, Ben is a condescending jerk. His best friend, Alice (Sherry Cola), is hiding the fact that she is gay from her parents. They spend a lot of their time in San Francisco complaining about everything. When Ben’s girlfriend, Miko (Ally Maki), takes an internship in New York, Ben and Alice decide to go on a road trip to the ‘Big Apple’ to surprise Miko. Ben is about to get a taste of his own medicine. Let me tell you right off the bat that you will not like Ben, and this isn’t one of those films where Ben will change because of the ‘right girl’ or where he realizes he needs to change. In fact, I don’t think Ben will ever change, which is fine because the performance of Justin H. Min makes this a film to watch. The interplay between Ben and Alice is a lot of fun, including some witty phone calls between the two, where Alice lets Ben know what a jerk he is being. The film has a lot to say about culture, dating, and how Ben sees himself in the dating world. Shortcomings is a funny but hard-hitting look at a man who thinks the world revolves around him and how he thinks the dating world should work.   My Rating: Full Price  Shortcomings Website  Now playing in select theatres.

Indiefest: Dreamin’ Wild (2022) PG  The story of Donnie (Casey Affleck) and Joe (Walton Goggins), who, in the 1970s, made a record named Dreamin’ Wild. The record flopped, costing their father (Beau Bridges) his life savings and most of the family farm. Now, over 30 years later, a record producer has discovered the album, and the duo has another shot at the big time and redemption. This is a film about second chances, the love of family, and how we don’t want to disappoint our loved ones to a fault. At the film’s core is unconditional love and how chasing fame can be heartbreaking. Donnie is a man full of guilt, and when out of the blue, a record producer shows up wanting to give the brothers another chance of letting the world hear their music, it brings up all the heartbreak and sorrow that the past holds. I loved the soundtrack, with a lot of the film coming from the real Emerson brother’s songs, along with some great songs sung by Casey Affleck and, at times, Zooey Deschanel, who plays Donnie’s wife. Dreamin' Wild has a lot of heart and is ultimately about how love and forgiveness can overcome just about anything, as long as there is a song in your heart.  My Rating: Full Price  Dreamin' Wild Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
A Compassionate Spy (2022)   Ted Hall, who, at the age of 18, was recruited to join Robert Oppenheimer and his team to create the atomic bomb that ended WWII. Concerned that the U.S. would have a monopoly on the most powerful weapon ever created, Hall passed on crucial information about the bomb to the Soviets. Now, through the help of his wife of over 50 years, Joan, Ted’s story can finally be told. A fascinating portrait of a man and his wife who believed what he did was just and right. It’s pointed out that Hall gave the Russians much more sensitive secrets than the convicted and executed Rosenbergs did. This is about a man convinced that if he hadn’t done what he did, the US might have used the bomb on Russia. The film deals with the complexity of nuclear proliferation and how a man could do something that most would consider traitorous. Along with the 1981 documentary The Day After Trinity, this is a fine companion to the Christopher Nolan Oppenheimer film that has dominated the recent box office. It’s up to you to decide if he was a hero or a traitor.   My Rating: Full Price  A Compassionate Spy Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007) PG  Angus (Alex Etel) is a 12-year-old in Scotland who is trying to ‘be the man of the family’ while waiting for his father to come back from the war (WWII). He lives near a beach with his mother (Emily Watson) and his older sister (Priyanka Xi), where he finds a mysterious egg. He takes it back home, and it hatches a creature with an enormous appetite. Angus names his new friend Crusoe and soon Crusoe has grown too big to hide, so he puts it in a nearby body of water called Loch Ness. The Water Horse is a wonderful family film where the myth of the Loch Ness monster comes alive. Of course, there is a bad guy, a commander of a local unit (David Morrissey), who sets out to capture the monster. Add to the fun is Brian Cox, who plays the narrator, a man who hangs out at the local pub and tells stories about the monster. So sit back and join Angus on a quest to save his best friend.   My Rating: Full Price  The Water Horse Info  Available for rent/buy on Apple TV and Amazon.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem: Groom Artists

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Strays (2023) R Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell) is a dog whose owner (Will Forte) has abandoned him in the city. A pack of stray dogs led by Bug (Jamie Foxx adopts Reggie), and they are off to find Reggie’s owner and get revenge. Strays is not a kid’s movie (to say the least). Directed by Josh Greenbaum (Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar) and written by Dan Perrault (American Vandal), the film will let you know what your dogs are thinking and talking about…and it’s not good.  Caution: The website and the trailer might not be appropriate for all ages.   Strays Website In theatres August 18th.