My View: The Equalizer 3 (2023) R Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) has finally found a home in Southern Italy. That home is being threatened by the mafia and its local crime boss. As the mafia flex their muscle and threaten McCall’s new friends, McCall does what he always does: protect his friends by any means possible. So McCall is having a bit of a personal crisis and finds himself in a sleepy seaside town in Sicily. Of course, bad things tend to follow McCall around; in this case, the village that McCall is falling in love with has a Mafia problem. You can imagine what happens next. Plenty of bad guys getting killed in lots of imaginative ways. I loved the first film of the series and enjoyed the second one. This one works because it’s so much fun to watch Denzel on the screen, doing that Denzel thing of saying something ordinary but giving it special meaning. Dakota Fanning is thrown into the mix as a CIA agent that McCall guides from afar. The plot is a little weak, and the whole Fanning side-plot feels thrown together, though there is a nice payoff in the end. I don’t know if there will be another Equalizer film. I hope there isn’t because I would like to think that McCall is having too good a time with his unfolded napkins and tea to disturb him with more killing. My Rating: Bargain Matinee The Equalizer 3 Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: Bottoms (2023) R 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. This is a funny and absurd comedy where the football players wear their uniforms with pads to class every day, and horrible deaths caused by the rival high school are just accepted as normal. I loved this film, and the sold-out advanced screening audience I saw it with did, too. It’s goofy and surreal that utilizes the comedy chops of Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri. Sennott, who was terrific in Emma Seligman’s earlier film, Shiva Baby, is brilliant as PJ, who is always thinking of ways for the two girls to find someone to love or at least make out with. Sennott gives us a smart performance that almost dominates the film, as PJ jumps into any and everything without thinking about the consequences. Ayo Edebiri, as Josie, the more responsible of the two, is willing to go along with PJ’s plans because, frankly, they are nuts and desperate. The film has a great supporting cast, including a remarkable performance by Ruby Cruz as Hazel, someone who desperately wants to be apart of the PJ/Josie gang but isn’t confident enough to speak up. The film also has a hilarious performance by Marshawn Lynch as Mr. G, a laid-back teacher whose concepts of history are, shall we say, challenging. I loved the ending, which is as weird and funny as the rest of the film, and I want to see these characters again at college. Hopefully, one as strange and goofy as this high school. My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again Bottoms Website Now playing in theatres.
My View: Choose Love (2023) Cami (Laura Marano) is a young woman who seems to have it all: a great boyfriend, Paul (Scott Michael Foster), good friends, and a fantastic job. However, when a fortune teller tells Cami she has something missing in her life, and the clock is ticking, she starts to feel like it’s true. Cami soon, two guys come into her life. Rex (Avan Jogia) is a rock star, and Jack (Jordi Webber) is an old boyfriend, and now Cami has some choices to make. So this is an interactive film where Cami will talk directly to you and ask you to decide what she should do. Then, you get to see the consequences of what you picked. The film is very short, but it’s meant for you to go back and choose other choices, including who Cami ultimately ends up with. Choose Love is a very plain romantic film, even when you pick the different options. Which will you choose for Cami? The steady boyfriend, the activist boyfriend from the past, or the rockstar that will give Cami a life on the road? Or will you choose all three? My Rating: Bargain Matinee Choose Love Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View: The Good Mother (2023) Journalist Marissa (Hilary Swank), who, after the murder of her estranged son, forms an alliance with his pregnant girlfriend (Olivia Cooke) to track down those responsible for his death. They are about to travel into a world of drugs, corruption, and danger. This is a film where, once again, the performances are better than the film itself. With a murder that is incredibly easy to figure out, Swank isn’t given much to work with. She is a journalist who has lost her spark, suffering from a death and finding relief only in the bottom of a bottle. When her son, a druggie, is murdered on the street, she and his girlfriend decide to find out what happened. The plot is a cluttered mess as the film loses its way as it tries to be either a whodunit or a sad commentary on how we treat drug addicts, and it doesn’t succeed in either storyline. I liked the chemistry between Swank and Cooke, the girlfriend whom Swank at first blames for her son’s death, but we never get any back story on the girlfriend, and it’s hard to root for anyone in this film. The ending is as messy as the rest of the film, making it feel very unsatisfying. My Rating: Cable The Good Mother Website Now playing in theatres.
Indiefest: Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose (2023) PG-13 The story of Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose takes place in 1935 when a para-psychologist named Nandor Fodor (Simon Pegg) travels to the Isle of Man, where a British family claims that a mysterious entity on their farm has contacted them. That entity, a talking mongoose named Gef. This strange little film starts and ends with two friends discussing the possibility that a mongoose on a farm can not only talk but can tell you secrets about yourself. The film can’t decide if it wants to be a comedy or a drama, and it unfortunately fails at both. I did like the chemistry between Simon Pegg as the stuck-up professor and Minnie Driver as his put-upon assistant. The film jumps between us believing that Gef can talk (we never see him, just bits of hair and tail) or if it is all a big joke put on by a strange little family. The film never finds its footing, and the mystery (based loosely on a true story) is never solved. Unfortunately for us, the tone of the film is never solved either. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose Website Now playing in select theatres
Indiefest: Slotherhouse (2023) PG-13 Emily (Lisa Ambalavanar) is a senior and is desperate to be elected as her sorority’s president. She adopts a sloth named Alpha as the sorority’s mascot, hoping that it will help her win. It starts out well, but then the sloth becomes the prime suspect in a series of murders. Well, this is one of those films, which I seem to see a lot of lately, that would work much better as a midnight film at a horror film festival, rather than one that will work well in a midday theatre like where I saw this film. The idea is that this sloth differs from the slow-moving sloths of the jungle. This sloth is fast and a killer, as we see in the film's first scene when she is attacked by a crocodile and not only survives but kills the croc. The film is meant to be funny, but the deaths aren’t creative enough, the script is sloppy, and the movie is never scary. Overall, I got bored by about a third into the film. Because of the success of Cocaine Bear, the Sharknado film series, and the Winnie the Pooh horror film, I think we will see more of these animals gone murdering. I just hope they have better scripts. My Rating: Cable Slotherhouse Website Now playing in theatres.
Forgotten Film: Career Girls (1997) R Two young women, Hannah (Katrin Cartlidge) and Annie (Lynda Steadman) are former college roommates who are reconnecting after being apart for six years. Hannah still lives in the same apartment in London, and Annie is visiting with the idea of moving back. They will soon realize that nothing much has changed in six years, including how their lives are going. This film is from seven-time Oscar-nominated Mike Leigh (Topsy-Turvy, Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky, Another Year). Leigh likes to give us interesting characters in how they see life, but the stories are more about how they react or talk about their lives than actually live it. In this film, we have two women who come to realize that they may never attain what they thought their lives would become. They aren’t necessarily failures, but neither are they a success. They are just living. My Rating: Full Price Career Girls Info Available on DVD.
Weird Credits: From the credits of Bottoms: Conform Editor
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Creator (2023) PG-13 There is a war going on between humans and the forces of artificial intelligence. Joshua (John David Washington) is recruited to hunt down and kill The Creator, the architect of the advanced AI. The Creator has made a mysterious weapon with the power to end the human race, and it just might be the little girl that Joshua has just rescued. The Creator is one of those films creating a lot of excitement for sci-fi fans. The Creator Website Arriving in theaters in late September.