Friday, September 15, 2023

A Haunting in Venice

My View: A Haunting in Venice (2023)  PG-13  Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) has retired, giving up solving crimes, and is living in his own exile in post-World War II Venice. He reluctantly attends a seance, and one of the guests is murdered. Now it’s up to the world’s foremost detective to once again solve a crime and uncover the killer, even if it brings up ghosts from the past. Regardless of what the trailer makes it look like, A Haunting in Venice isn’t a horror film. It’s still a mystery based on an Agatha Christie novel, though very loosely. As with the other two Kenneth Branagh Christie films, this one has an all-star cast with Michelle Yeoh as a medium, Tina Fey as a world-famous mystery writer, and Kelly Reilly as the woman who has lost a child and wants to use Michelle Yeoh’s character to talk to her daughter. The film has a few scares and is greatly helped by Tina Fey’s character, who constantly gives Poirot a hard time. Of the three films, I enjoyed this more than the Death on the Nile, though I think Murder on the Orient Express is still the best. However, this is a fun film to go on a mystery with Hercule as he battles ghosts and a murderer.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  A Haunting in Venice Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: A Million Miles Away (2023) PG  A Million Miles Away is the story of Jose Hernandez (Michael Peña), who started out as a migrant farmworker who, after putting himself through school to become an engineer and then, against the odds, became an astronaut. The review will be up Friday night. I loved this film about a man who dreamed from an early age about the stars and becoming an astronaut. Michael Peña is terrific as a man who worked hard and believed in himself to reach for the stars and make his dream come true. Rosa Salazar is brilliant as Jose’s wife, who always believed in her husband and sacrificed as much as he did to get him into space. Their chemistry is real, making the film work as they struggle together. I loved the soundtrack to this film as it captured Jose's spirit and the culture he grew up in. A Million Miles Away is a feel-good movie that may bring a tear or two and one the whole family can enjoy.   My Rating: Full Price   A Million Miles Away Website  Now playing on Amazon Prime.

My View: Love at First Sight (2023) PG-13   Love at First Sight starts on a long flight from New York to London, where Hadley (Haley Lu Richardson) and Oliver (Ben Hardy) meet and sparks fly. After Oliver gives Hadley his phone number, there is an accident, and the number is lost. What’s the odds of Hadley ever finding Oliver in a city as big as London? Love sometimes has a way of defying the odds. I love romantic movies, and this one works because of the stinking chemistry between the two leads. The ‘meet cute’ is fun, and there are sparks right from the start between the two. I have enjoyed Haley Lu Richardson in films such as Columbus (2017), After Yang (2021), and Montana Story (2021), and she is fun to watch in this film, giving Hadley someone you root for right from the start. Jameela Jamil is also outstanding as the narrator who keeps showing up to help move our two lovers closer to their happy ending (oops, spoiler alert). So go on a really long first date and have some fun when the two try to find each other in the big city of London.   My Rating: Full Price  Love at First Sight Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform. 

My View: Cassandro (2023) R   The story of Saúl Armendáriz (Gael Garcia Bernal), a gay man who, in the macho wrestling world of Lucha Libre, became a star as the character Cassandro, an ‘exotico.’ I think I will be in the minority with other critics with this film, but I didn’t like it. I loved Gael Garcia Bernal’s performance, but the storyline didn’t connect with me. One problem I have with this film is that Saul keeps talking about how rough it is being a gay wrestler, but you never see him suffer or get put down. Sure, his father rejects him, but even that doesn’t stop him from living his dream. My other problem is we see all the work that goes into when he is small time but other than one match, we don’t see how Cassandro became a huge star, one who broke a lot of barriers. It’s a strange film that I wanted more from, but I felt let down by the end.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Cassandro Website  Now playing in theatres and on Amazon Prime on Friday, September 22nd.

FamilyFaire:  The Inventor (2023) PG   Leonardo da Vinci (voiced by Stephen Fry) was a famous artist who felt he wasn’t appreciated in Italy, so at the invitation of the King, he moves to France, where he hopes he has more freedom to explore his ideas including where in the body the soul resides. There he meets a French princess (Daisy Ridley) but finds that science is not always welcome when it means doing something new and different. The Inventor is a beautiful film to watch, and I enjoyed the performances of Stephen Fry and the rest of the cast. The film does an imaginative job of blending in Da Vinci’s actual drawings with both stop-motion and 2-D animation. This is a film that explores Da Vinci’s ideas on war, life, liberty, and God. The Inventor is an animated film that smaller kids will have trouble following, though I think they will enjoy the songs and the animation style. There is a fun running joke about how Da Vinci couldn’t finish a project while his rival Michelangelo spends years and years working on his ’ceiling painting.’   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Inventor Website  Now playing in theatres. 
Sorry I Missed It (A film that I didn’t see in theatres but have seen recently): The Retirement Plan (2023) R  When Ashley (Ashley Greene) and her young daughter Sarah (Thalia Campbell) get caught up with some bad guys who put their lives at risk, Ashley turns to the only person who can help, her estranged father, Matt (Nicolas Cage). Matt may look like a retired beach bum, but he has a past that the bad guys will soon learn about with their lives. I’m a fan of Nicolas Cage, though I understand he can be a bit weird for some moviegoers. Cage is a low key in this film, playing a guy who wants to make up for past mistakes and save his daughter and granddaughter. The film is aided by performances from Ron Perlman as a mob enforcer who loves Shakespeare, Jackie Earle Haley as a mob boss who can’t believe all his guys are getting killed by a retired beach bum, and Ernie Hudson as a former colleague of Matt’s. I have a feeling all this star power, including Cage, was because they all got to hang out together in the Cayman Islands to shoot the film. I had fun with the film’s first half, but the script shows its weakness in the 2nd half when it tries to pull all the plot points into a neat pile. Still, it’s a fun ride, and Cage gets to kill (almost matter-of-factly) a bunch of bad guys.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Retirement Plan Website  Now playing in theatres.

Forgotten Film: Cross My Heart (1987) R David (Martin Short) and Kathy (Annette O’Toole) are about to go on their big ‘third date’ known as the one you have sex on. They are going into the date with some baggage. David just lost his job, and Kathy has a kid, and each one is worried that the news will cause them to break up. But lies lead to bigger lies, and the once promising night becomes a night never to forget. Cross My Heart is another film where the two stars outperform the script they are given. Martin Short makes an enjoyable romantic lead, and I have always enjoyed Annette O’Toole in movies and TV. Now, I don’t particularly appreciate where the characters end up, but the performances make this film worth watching. I’m tempted to tell you to stop watching after the bedroom scene.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee Cross My Heart Info Available on DVD.

Weird Credits: From the credits of A Haunting in Venice: Set Decorator Breakdown Artist

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Five Nights at Freddy’s (2023) PG-13 A new security guard (Josh Hutcherson) takes his kid (Piper Rudio) to his new job, the night shift at the old, shutdown Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Once upon a time, Freddy’s was the place to be with pizza and animatronic bears singing songs. But something happened to cause the business to close, and the guard and his daughter are about to find out. There is a lot of buzz about this Blumhouse Productions horror film, and I can’t wait to see it.  Five Nights at Freddy's Website   The film will be in theatres in late October. 

Until Next Time!

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