Friday, October 27, 2023

Five Nights at Freddy's

My View: Five Nights at Freddy’s  (2023)  PG-13   A new security guard (Josh Hutcherson) takes his kid (Piper Rubio) 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. A review of the film will be up Friday night. The film is now in theatres nationwide. Based on a very popular video game series, this film is not scary enough for horror fans and not gruesome enough for splatter fans. I guess this is Blumhouse/Universal’s attempt at getting kids into horror films. The film’s ending is confusing, and I had questions when it ended that only got answered by some spoiler articles on the internet. Never is a good thing when you have to go on the internet to explain who died and why. By the way, there is a bonus scene after the first part of the credits, and at the end of the credits, a strange computer voice spells out “Come Find Me.’ I believe this will all be worked out in a sequel because there is always a sequel with horror films. I wanted this to be a fun, scary ride in a pizza parlor of your nightmares, and all it got was some burned-out animatronics and no pizza.  My Rating: Cable  Five Nights at Freddy's Website   The film is now in theatres nationwide and on Peacock.

My View: The Killer (2023)  R  The Killer is the story of an assassin (Michael Fassbender) who screws up a hit, and someone he cares about has paid the price for his mistake. Now, the assassin is out for revenge but insists it isn’t personal. David Fincher is an interesting director who has given us a wide range of films like Zodiac, The Social Network, Gone Girl, and Mank. I always enjoy his movies, but I had a blast watching this funny black comedy where we follow a hired killer around as he gets revenge on the people who tried to kill him and hurt someone he loves. The killer narrates the film, giving us an insight into how he sees life and death, which he deals with precision and reserve. The killer is a man who is good at his job and takes pride in keeping things under control, even when things don’t always go his way. There will be a great drinking game with this film, and I won’t give it away, but you will be helped by knowing classic TV. Fassbender is perfect as the killer, a man who keeps track of his heart rate, not because of health, but because a slower heart rate means he can shoot his rifle with a better chance of success. The Killer is a film with lots of death, some of which are surprising until you understand the killer’s thoughts. Can you root for a guy that kills people for a living? Maybe, but you can have a fun time finding out.   My Rating:  Full Price  The Killer Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide and on Netflix on November 10th.

My View: Pain Hustlers (2023) R  Liza (Emily Blunt) is a high school dropout with a young daughter (Chloe Coleman). Liza dreams of a better life for herself and her daughter. She gets a job at a failing pharmaceutical start-up in a strip mall. Liza has the smarts and charm to bring success to the company and is living the life she always envisioned. However, success comes at a price, and Liza soon finds herself at the center of a criminal conspiracy with deadly consequences. I had high hopes for this film, and it met expectations for the first thirty minutes. Unfortunately, the film loses its punch and gets lost in its storytelling while trying to hit us over the head with the idea that Pharma companies are, wait for it, evil and greedy. The film wastes performances by Emily Blunt, who portrays a woman who can talk anyone into anything, and Chris Evans, the sleazy sales guy willing to say or do anything to push the legality of the drug world right up to the line. The film runs out of gas, and in the end, we see the company go under because of greed and thinking they would never get caught. Like the drug the characters were pushing, the film worked at first and then failed to deliver what it promised due to pushing it too far.  My Rating: Cable   Pain Hustlers Website   Now playing on Netflix.

My View: The Other Zoey (2023) PG-13  Zoey (Josephine Langford) is a brilliant computer nerd who loves to study and has her sights set on graduating with honors. Her world is turned upside down when Zack (Drew Starkey), a college soccer star, is in an accident and wakes up thinking, because of amnesia, that Zoey, the first person he saw after the accident, is his girlfriend. Told that he must remember on his own terms, Zoey goes along with the lie, and things get really complicated. In this rom-com, the main character goes through the usual storyline of putting herself in a tough spot to win a guy's heart, only to realize she's falling for someone unexpected. This is nothing out of the ordinary from other rom-coms but for the presence of Josephine Langford. She makes watching this film worth our time. Zoey, who dislikes rom-coms, unexpectedly finds herself in one. Langford's excellent performance makes us cheer for Zoey to realize what we knew from the beginning: the unexpected guy is her perfect match.   My Rating Bargain Matinee   The Other Zoey Info  Now in theatres.
Anatomy of a Fall (2023) R  Anatomy of a Fall tells the story of Sandra (Sandra Hüller) and Samuel (Samuel Theis), a famous literary couple living in the French Alps with their partially sighted 11-year-old son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner). Out for a walk, Daniel finds Samuel’s dead, bloody body in the snow, having fallen from the house’s attic window. Was it an accident? Did Samuel kill himself? Or was he murdered? It’s always interesting when the main character is someone that you don’t like but wonder if you should root for them anyway. This is the case of Sandra, who, right from the start, you feel that there is something up with her as she flirts with a reporter who is interviewing while her husband is right upstairs. This is a film where you will change your mind a dozen times if Sandra is guilty. The film peels back layer after layer as we learn more about their marriage. Sandra Hüller is brilliant as the complex and self-assured writer and mom. Anatomy of a Fall is a movie that gets you sucked in from the opening credits and keeps you wondering beyond the ending.   My Rating: Full Price  Anatomy of a Fall Website  Now playing in theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005) R  Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) is a recent widow who has inherited a lot of money and a rundown London theatre. Bored with life, she decides to reopen the theatre, which goes down in history for one thing: it’s all-nude reviews. This is one of those films that you enjoy from start to finish. Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, The Grifters) and a cast that includes Bob Hoskins as Vivian Van Damm, the man Mrs. Henderson hires to run the show, Christopher Guest, Kelly Reilly, and Anna Brewster. Dench has a blast as the unpredictable Mrs. Henderson, who wants to put on a show that no one will forget. Bob Hoskins is brilliant as the showman who initially tries to take over the show, but soon relents to Mrs. Henderson and her ideas.   My Rating: Full Price  Mrs. Henderson Info  Available to rent or buy on Amazon and Apple TV.

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Killer: School Trainee

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Maestro (2023) R  The love story chronicling the relationship of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper) and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein (Carey Mulligan). Leonard was a famous conductor because of his TV appearances and brilliant composing, but he had a secret that threatened his career and his marriage. Bradley Cooper follows up his directorial debut, A Star Is Born (2018), with this film that could be in the thick of the Oscar race.   Maestro Website   In theatres in mid-December and later on Netflix. 

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 20, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon

My View: Killers of the Flower Moon (2023) R The story of the Osage tribe, who were given land no one wanted to create their reservation. However, oil was discovered on their land, and the tribe became wealthy. Because of this new development, the tribe is being murdered one by one under mysterious circumstances. Into the mix comes Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio), a WWI vet who has come to work for an uncle named King (Robert De Niro) to work on his ranch. Ernest sees himself as a man who loves women and sets his sights on Mollie (Lily Gladstone), a member of the local Osage tribe. He uses his charm to put Mollie under his spell and eventually marries her with a full blessing from King. But all is not well in the town where the Osage have become rich. They are being murdered, and no one is doing anything about it. The film is from master storyteller Martin Scorsese, and he gives us a world where it might be the 20th century, but the laws of the Wild West still prevail. I loved how Scorsese immerses us into the world of the Osage, showing us their past while also giving us a clue what their future will entail. DiCaprio isn’t in the pretty boy role of his past but portrays a man who loves a woman but maybe loves money even more. It’s a part with a lot of depth to it, and Leo is up for showing us a man who thinks he is smarter than he is. After some horrible comedies, De Niro is back with a role that may get him another Oscar. His portrayal of King is a masterful job of giving us a complex man who is always two moves ahead of everyone else, or at least he thinks he is. De Niro provides us with a man who could be your favorite uncle if you don’t ask too many questions. The film, though, belongs not to the men but to Lily Gladstone, as Mollie, a woman who is smart and deeply devoted to her family and her tribe but falls for a white man, an outsider whom she knows she should be wary of, but she can’t turn off her heart. She dazzles us every time she shows up on the screen as Mollie is slowly captivated by the charms of the man she will marry. I will warn you not to buy that large drink right before the film starts because it’s almost three and a half hours long. And that makes this film not in my top five Scorsese movies. After two and a half hours, the film starts to feel long, but Jessie Plemons' brilliant performance as a federal agent investigating the murders gives it a necessary boost. It’s a film that spends too long giving us the day-to-day workings of Ernest as he does the bidding of his brother Byron (Scott Shepard) and King. And I would have loved an intermission at some point to give us a chance to catch our breath and digest what we had seen. Nevertheless, I encourage you to see this impactful film in a cinema and be captivated by the incredible performances, especially Lily Gladstone's, and the enchanting Osage traditions.   My Rating: Full Price  Killers of the Flower Moon Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
My View: Nyad (2023) PG-13  The story of Diana Nyad (Annette Bening), a retired marathon swimmer turned sports journalist. At 60, she teams up with her best friend and coach (Jodie Foster) to accomplish her lifelong goal. To swim the 100-plus mile open-water trek from Cuba to Florida. I am a big fan of Diana Nyad, both as a swimmer and as a broadcaster, so I looked forward to this biopic. And happily, I can tell you that I was not disappointed. A mark of a great sports film is when you know the outcome and are still on the edge of your seat, wondering if the task will turn out how you remember it. Two incredible performances lead the film and give it depth and feeling. Annette Bening provides us with a woman who is driven to win and doesn’t care who she runs over to get it. Bening is outstanding, making Diana seem real and making us root for her even though she is a hard act to like. I was even more impressed by Jodie Foster’s performance as Diana’s close personal friend who becomes her coach. It’s a brilliant performance that lets Bening dominate the screen while still giving us insight into both characters, especially in times of strife (which there is a lot). I loved this film, and you feel you are in the water with Diana, helping her take that next stroke. So strap on your swim goggles, take a few deep breaths, and join Diana in doing what everyone told her was impossible.   My Rating: Full Price  Nyad Website Now playing in theatres and on the Netflix platform on Nov. 3rd. 

My View: The Devil on Trial (2023)  The Devil on Trial is a documentary that explores the first and only time ‘demonic possession’ has been officially used as a defense in a U.S. murder trial. This is a documentary that, for about an hour, is all promise but never delivers. We go through the possibility that a young man is possessed by a demonic presence, and with the help of legendary demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (yes, the real people the Conjuring film series is based on), they successfully rid the demon out of the child, only for it to go inside his older brother. Later on, the brother was charged with murder, and they wanted to use the defense that he was possessed when he committed the crime. The problem with this film is that you can tell that the movie never takes the possession seriously, and that hampers the film, as you know how it will turn out. There is an interview that the filmmakers don't reveal until almost an hour in that hampers virtually everything they have thrown at us earlier.  The Devil on Trial feels like the news reports of that time about the trial, all-flash and promise with no return.  My Rating: Cable  The Devil on Trial website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Indiefest: The Pigeon Tunnel (2023) PG-13 Documentary from Academy Award winner Earl Morris on the legendary writer John le Carré, whose writing thrilled readers for over six decades with novels The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and A Perfect Spy. This is more than a documentary; it’s an interrogation of a man who wrote about spies for a living. Men who lied for their country and their lives. Morris interviews le Carre off camera, leading the writer to do what he does best: tell a story. This time, the story revolves around a man's troubled childhood with his father, a slick gambler and conman, constantly fleeing from the law and the mob. Le Carre first became a schoolteacher and then a spy, working for MI5 and then MI6, before writing his first international bestseller, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. Le Carre is the perfect subject, able to weave a story with the best of them. Le Carre sometimes gets very personal, almost uncomfortably so, but there is always a reason he tells us something; no words are wasted. Using the vast movie and TV shows produced from his work, the film shows us how Le Carre’s life was interwoven with his writing, along with events happening in the world while he was a spy. The Pigeon Tunnel is a fascinating look at a man who shares a few secrets of his life and his writing while keeping a bit of mystery because a great writer always lets us fill out a few things with the imagination of our own.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  The Pigeon Tunnel Info Now playing in select theatres and on Apple TV+.

Indiefest: Dicks: The Musical (2023) R The simple plot of this film is Dicks: The Musical is a story about two business rivals (Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson) who find out they’re twins. They come up with a wild plan to reconcile their parents. This explanation does not even come close to what this movie is about (I wrote it for my Preview This! column). Let’s just say this film is about as wild a musical as I have ever seen. The movie immediately sets the tone with a song where the main characters boast about their sexual prowess in graphic detail. This film is based on a musical that played at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where Sharp and Jackson played all the parts. Dicks is an outrageous musical where two gay men play straight guys who don’t look at all alike but are supposed to be identical twins. The twins realize their parents separated them at birth, and they want to be part of a ‘real family,’ so they hatch a plan to get their parents to remarry. The problem is that their father, played by Nathan Lane, is gay, and their mother, played by Megan Mullally, is just plain nuts. There are a bunch of musical numbers, with lots of background dancers that seem to follow the cast around, ready to fill in the scenery with dancing at a moment’s notice. There are a lot of short cameos in the film, which is fun to spot, but the film comes (no pun intended) into its own with a rousing, extremely dirty number by Megan Thee Stallion, who plays the twins’ boss. The film gets a little too silly at times and keeps trying to shock us, but you become numb after a while to all the outrageousness. Dicks: The Musical is a movie that isn’t for everybody and will insult many people. However, if you like lots of gay humor and maybe have a taste for John Waters films, you might have a good time. Many of you will ask, how did this film ever get made?   My Rating: Bargain Matinee Dicks: The Musical Website  Now playing in theatres.

Indiefest: Silver Dollar Road (2023) PG  Documentary that tells the story of a Black family in North Carolina who has owned their waterfront property for generations are harassed and tormented for decades by developers who want to take away their property by any means necessary. This is a film that the more you watch it, the more you will get mad. Mad at the system that is rigged against poor landowners. Rigged for developers and the rich. And rigged to keep poor people in jail because they can’t afford lawyers. All this is in play in this documentary that lets you get to know the people living on Silver Dollar Road and the ancestors who proudly started their families on the land no one else wanted. Now, it’s prime land for development, and the documentary follows the struggle through the years to try to keep the land their ancestors rightfully bought. What I loved about this film is you get to meet and learn about the families that call this area home. Let’s hope justice will prevail, though I am not counting on it. But one thing this film taught me is not to give up. My Rating: Full Price Silver Dollar Road Info  Now playing in theatres and on Amazon Prime. 
Indiefest:  Butcher’s Crossing(2023) R  Will (Fred Hechinger) has dropped out of Harvard to explore the American West. He joins a group of buffalo hunters led by Miller (Nicolas Cage), who is out to bring back a record haul. Will’s great adventure will turn into a journey that risks his life and sanity. Butcher’s Crossing is a movie with an admirable message that it never delivers with any punch. Miller’s obsession with killing more buffalo than anyone else shows us man’s ability to put greed above all else, even if it means killing off a species. The problem with this film is that it takes its time getting to the killing of the buffalo, and then when it does, we never feel the impact that the scene should have given us. Butcher’s Crossing is a film that takes place over a year, but through some poorly done montage sequences, we don’t get the full effect of how long and arduous the journey was to get to the buffalo and how long it took to get back. Nicolas Cage gives a restrained performance, and I wanted a little of that madness that only Cage can provide us with, but it is only hinted at and never really comes out. I expected a journey into madness and instead got a travelogue on the majesty of the Montana wilderness.   My Rating: Cable  Butcher's Crossing Website  Now playing in theatres. 

Forgotten Film: To Die For (1995)  Suzanne (Nicole Kidman) is a local weather forecaster for a small station, but she has big plans for her career, and her husband (Matt Dillon) has become a person who she believes will get in her way to fame. She convinces three local idiots, Jimmy (Joaquin Phoenix), Russell (Casey Affleck), and Lydia (Alison Folland), who are just happy to be in the presence of a ‘celebrity,’ to kill her husband. With a script by the legendary Buck Henry and directed by two-time Academy Award nominee Gus Van Sant, this is a master class in taking a minor story and turning it into gold. Matt Dillon is brilliant as the young husband who slowly starts failing in the eyes of Suzanne. Nicole Kidman gives us one of the great performances of her career as a woman who knows she is bound for greatness, or at least an anchor role on a network news broadcast.  My Rating: Full Price  To Die For Info The film is available for rent/buy on Apple TV+ and Amazon.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Nyad: Synthetic Voice Artist

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Napoleon (2023) R Directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator (2001), Black Hawk Down (2002), and The Martian (2016)) and staring Joaquin Phoenix in the starring role, it tells the personal story of Napoleon Bonaparte, his origins, and his swift and ruthless climb to emperor view through the relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine (Vanessa Kirby). Many think this is a sure thing for many Oscar nominations, including Vanessa Kirby. Napoleon Website   In theatres nationwide on Nov. 22, 2o23.

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 13, 2023

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour

My View
: Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (2023) This documentary brings the phenomenon to the big screen as Taylor Swift brings her Eras Tour to the cinema, bringing us this once-in-a-lifetime concert film experience that made this a history-making tour. This film has already sold over 100 million dollars worth of tickets. The concert tour that caused parents to take a second mortgage on their house so that they could buy a ticket to Taylor's concert tour has been put on film. Is this film worthy of that devotion? Well, I don't know about a 2nd mortgage, but it's worth the price of a movie ticket. The film gives Swifties, who couldn't see Taylor live, the next best thing in a concert film that packs a punch with hit after hit done in spectacular fashion. This film makes you feel like you're right up on stage with Taylor as she sings your favorite songs. Taylor Swift knows how to work an audience. And that goes for the audience sitting in the movie theatre seats, too. She masterfully interacts with her dancers, backup singers, and band, giving each a share of the spotlight. The stage is massive and interacts with Taylor and the dancers as they move across it, changing its structure and lights as they dance across the floor. The sets change as the albums do so that, in one song, Taylor is singing in a multi-layered office setting and then later is lying on top of a moss-covered roof of a cabin. I'm not a huge fan of Swift's music, but I came away thinking she is a great performer and a brilliant storyteller through her songs. So buy a ticket and dance in the aisle as Taylor sings about a boyfriend who has done her wrong. Maybe you should think about that 2nd mortgage thing the next time Taylor decides to tour again. My Rating: Full Price My Rating: Full Price  Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Website   Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: The Burial (2023) R  Jeremiah (Tommy Lee Jones) is about to lose his family-owned funeral home business to a corporate behemoth known for ruthlessly taking over small businesses. Jeremiah turns to the only lawyer with the guts to take the big guys on, the one and only Willie Gary (Jamie Foxx), who feels he can’t lose when the truth is on his side. Based on a true story, The Burial is a crowd-pleasing courtroom drama that depends on the characters’ personalities to make this a film to watch. Jamie Foxx is a lot of fun as the larger-than-life Willie Gary, who is so successful as a lawyer that he has appeared on the TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. However, Willie only takes cases of personal injury, which can make his clients and him big money, and more importantly, cases he feels he can’t lose. That’s important because Willie hasn’t lost in 12 years. Into Willie’s life comes Jeremiah, who is being cheated out of his family business. Willie, at first, doesn’t want to take the case but is won over by Jeremiah, played expertly by Tommy Lee Jones, and his story. This is a story of David vs. Goliath if Goliath has a luxury yacht with a helipad, and David wore expensive suits and had his own 737 plane. The Burial is an enjoyable film that lets Foxx and Jones run with what they do best. Foxx playing the splashy good guy, and Jones playing the down-home everyman who you wish was your grandfather. There is a pivotal scene in the film’s latter half that only an actor like Tommy Lee could carry off, and he does it so well the audience will be prone to applaud. Be sure to stay during the first portion of the credits to see the real Willie Gary make an appearance in the film. My Rating: Full Price  The Burial Website  Now playing on Amazon Prime.

Indiefest: Joan Baez I Am a Noise (2023)  Documentary on legendary singer and activist Joan Baez, who, after a 60-year career, goes on one last concert tour. In this film, you will learn about Joan Baez and her life, but for the first time, Baez will share her personal struggles she has kept secret for all her years in the spotlight. Joan Baez has been in the spotlight since she burst onto the scene as a folksinger in the sixties and dated Bob Dylan right when he became a huge star. Baez has always been known for her beautiful voice and has always made it her mission to be in the thick of things such as protesting the Vietnam War, women’s rights and being in the thick of things during the Civil Rights movement in the sixties. What we didn’t know is that throughout her life, Joan Baez has battled anxiety and depression. Through home movies and Baez’s own writings and drawings, we see how she saw herself and her life during both good times and bad. Through years of therapy and self-discovery, Joan Baez has determined that something happened to herself and her sister in their early years that deeply affected how Joan dealt with life and her mental well-being. Joan Baez I Am a Noise explores the journey of an artist who struggled with self-worth but now embraces the love and hope she has given to the world.  My Rating: Full Price  Joan Baez I Am a Noise Website  Now playing in theatres.

Forgotten Film: Just Peck (2009)   Michael Peck (Keir Gilchrist) is a sophomore in high school who has overbearing parents and struggles to fit in at home and school. His parents force him to join the Science Club when he is kicked out of band. After skipping school with his best friend Geiger (Kyle Kaplan), he meets Emily (Brie Larson), who is way out of his league. Somehow, Peck makes friends with Emily and soon realizes that Emily’s world isn’t as perfect as everyone thinks it is, and Peck is going to figure out a way to make sure that everyone sees her the way he does. Just Peck is a fun coming-of-age film with a great cast and vastly helped by a script that doesn’t go for the easy laughs. Instead, it gives us a kid with actual problems that can’t be fixed, but he can figure out a way to cope with some help from his friends.   My Rating: Full Price   Just Peck InfoThe film is available to buy or rent on Amazon and is on Freevee.

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Burial: Drone Observers

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Marvels (2023) PG-13  Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) is an astronaut working for S.A.B.E.R. and Nick Fury. While investigating a wormhole linked to the Kree, Monica’s powers become entangled with Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), and Ms. Marvel, Kamala Kahn (Iman Vellani). The trio will have to team up together to defeat a new enemy while trying to figure out why they are swapping places with each other every time they use their powers. I am a big fan of Brie Larson and hope this film does her justice.  The Marvels Website   The film will be in theatres on Friday, November 10, 2023.

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 6, 2023

The Exorcist: Believer

My View: The Exorcist: Believer (2023) R  In 1973, the devil possessed Chris MacNeil’s (Ellen Burstyn) daughter, Regan, and it took a heroic priest to save her. Now, in present day, two girls (Lidya Jewett and Olivia Marcum) disappear into the woods and then return three days later with no memory of what went on. Something has happened to the girls, and there is an evil presence that only one person alive has witnessed anything like this before: Chris MacNeil. The Exorcist (1973) is one of the greatest horror films of all time. It was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Ellen Burstyn as Best Actress and William Friedkin as Best Director. There have been attempts to recapture that magic, including the 1977 sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic, which is on many film critics’ lists as one of the worst films in cinema history. Well, now we can add another film to the list with The Exorcist: Believer. Ellen Burstyn, who has resisted appearing in a sequel, is in this one (she got a boatload of money and has used it to set up a scholarship at a university where she teaches acting). I am sorry to say that Miss Burstyn should have stayed away because she is wasted in the minor role she plays in this film. Unlike the first film, this one uses the idea that a community can beat the devil if they just band together. So we get a former wanna-be nun, an evangelist, a Haitian priest, and a reluctant Catholic priest to get the devil out of the two girls. The film is incredibly predictable, including a surprise appearance by someone from the past. The film is laughable in parts because it is so cheesy, and the few scares are only from the jump-out-of-the-dark variety. In the original The Exorcist, a sense of dread started almost from the start and built until the very end, making it one of the scariest films that has met the test of time, and audiences left feeling like they had battled the devil themselves. At my screening, when the movie ended, the audience clapped. I was shocked until I realized they were clapping because it was finally over.  My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  The Exorcist: Believer Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Foe (2023) R Foe is set in the near future, where Hen (Saoirse Ronan) and Junior (Paul Mescal) farm a secluded piece of land that has been in Junior’s family for generations. Their life is turned upside down when a stranger (Aaron Pierre) shows up at their doorstep with a startling proposal. It’s a proposal that will change their lives forever. Foe is a film about love and the choice you make to keep the love alive. The film's attempt to tell a convoluted story leaves the audience feeling unfulfilled. I had trouble with the film from almost the start, not understanding why Junior was picked for a mission that could save humanity. He’s pretty much a dolt, and I had difficulty seeing what Hen saw in him. The film doesn’t give such a fine an actor as Saoirse Ronan much to do other than staring off into space. The film feels like it’s just a bunch of scenes put together, and when it’s time to reveal the ending, it feels like we have been cheated. My Rating: Cable Foe Info  Now playing exclusively in theatres. 

My View: She Came to Me (2023) R  Composer Steven (Peter Dinklage) is having writer’s block, and his new opera is due in two weeks. His wife, Pat (Anne Hathaway), suggests he take the dog for a walk. Steven finds himself in a bar and meets a tugboat captain, Katrina (Marisa Tomei), who invites him to her boat. 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. I thoroughly enjoyed this romantic comedy about a man full of doubt and neuroses who is married to a woman who has her own troubles (even though she is a therapist) and seems to indulge Steven, even when he doesn’t need it. Entering Steven’s life is Katrina, who is a hopeless romantic who goes too far, too fast. Marisa Tomei makes this film work, and she is terrific as the seemingly opposite of the cold and rigid Pat. Add in the mix is a sort of Romeo and Juliet romance of a couple of teens, and we have one of those romantic comedies that somehow all comes together in the end. And though I am not a big opera fan, the scenes we see of Steven’s compositions make me want to go, primarily when he deals with axe-welding sirens.  My Rating: Full Price   She Came to Me Website    Now playing in theatres nationwide.

Indiefest: Strange Way of Life (2023) R Silva (Pedro Pascal) and Jake (Ethan Hawke) were once more than just friends working on a ranch. After twenty-five years, Silva has ridden a horse across the desert to visit his friend Jake. With friendship and love behind them, Silva wants Jake, now a sheriff, not to hunt down Silva’s son, who is wanted for murder. How far will what happened in the past keep Jake from doing his duty? Strange Way of Life is a short 30-minute film from Pedro Almodóvar (The Skin I Live In (2011), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989). This strange film feels too short for the story it is trying to tell. While I loved the performances of Pascal and Hawke, there isn’t a lot of sparks between the two. We are to think that these two former lovers broke up over differences in how they wanted to live their lives. It’s a story about love that has been lost and the choices the two men have made in their lives. One man is driven by his duty to the badge, and his love for his son drives the other. There is a story here to tell; it just needs to be longer and more complex. Instead, the film ends too soon and easily, with both men making choices that don’t feel resolved.  My View: Bargain Matinee   The film is playing with another Almodóvar short, The Human Voice, that stars Tilda Swinton.  Strange Way of Life Website  Now playing in theatres.

My View: Totally Killer (2023) R Totally Killer occurs when the infamous “Sweet Sixteen Killer” returns after 35 years. The killer attacks Jamie (Kiernan Shipka) and is somehow transported back to 1987. Jamie has just a few days to stop the killer from committing his first kill, or she will be stuck in the 80s. Totally Killer is a fun film that uses Kiernan Shipka’s charisma and charm to wow us and maybe forget a few plot points that don’t quite work. But the film succeeds because the fun of the movie is that it’s a great takeoff of the slasher films of the 80s, mocking all the cliches of those films, including killing the teen who has sex, the isolated cabin in the woods (complete with a hot tub) and clueless high school students who can’t see that their lives are in danger until it’s too late. The film’s pace is blindingly fast, so you won’t mind that the ending doesn’t make much sense, but that’s okay. The films that it’s making fun of didn’t either.   My Rating: Full Price  Totally Killer Website  Now playing on Amazon Prime.

Indiefest: The Royal Hotel (2023) R Hanna and Liv (Julia Garner and Jessica Henwick) are US tourists backpacking across Australia. In need of extra money, they sign up to work for a few weeks at a remote pub in the outback. The job at first is fun, but soon, they are confronted with a bunch of unruly locals in a situation that snowballs out of control with nowhere to escape. After seeing who was in the cast and a trailer that promised a lot, I had high hopes for this film. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t deliver the tension or danger the trailer seems to hint at. Instead, we get two characters that, as the film goes along, you like less and less, which isn’t good when it’s an us versus them kind of movie. The film ends with a whimper and not the bang you expect, making the film feel flat and never provocative or as daring as it aspires to be. I like the performances from the two leads, but the rest of the cast felt very wooden, and the characters they played were too easy to predict. The Royal Hotel wanted to be a movie about the trials and tribulations of young women working in a bar full of men, but all we got was a lot of drunks bored with life and an ending that left a hangover.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Royal Hotel Website  Now playing in theatres. 
When Evil Lurks (2023) R  Two brothers (Ezequiel Rodríguez and Demián Salomón) hear gunshots in the middle of the night. When they go out the next day to find out what happened, they find a dead person who has been sawed in half. The brothers know that evil has come to their region, and it will take over if they don’t do something. The film is from Argentinian filmmaker Demián Rugna, known for his 2017 award-winning horror film Terrified. I will warn you that When Evil Lurks is a violent and bloody horror film with some extremely disturbing scenes, including one with a child. If you don’t like horror films or can’t stand violence, this isn’t a film for you. Almost from the start, the tension builds, and as soon as we see the body cut into two, we know we are dealing with something evil. Against their better judgment, the two brothers try to stop the evil from infecting their town, but things go from bad to worse as the evil keeps spreading. This is one scary film that doesn’t let up, and you feel as helpless as the two brothers do as they try to fight back. The deaths are sometimes shocking, and the scares are almost overwhelming. When Evil Lurks is a film that has wowed audiences at film festivals, including rave responses from the recent Fantastic Fest, but be warned, it is not a film for the squeamish. My Rating: Full Price  When Evil Lurks Website    Now playing in theatres. 
My View:
Pet Sematary: Bloodlines (2023) R  Pet Sematary: Bloodlines returns to where it all began in 1969, where Jud Crandall (Jackson White) dreams of leaving his hometown of Ludlow. Jud and his friends find out the town has dark secrets, and he must face his family's connection to an ancient evil that could destroy everything in its path. The prequel that no one asked for. This is the origin story of the 2019 movie Pet Sematary, which was a bad horror movie in itself. So there wasn’t much hope for this one, and it’s another long line of failures that tries to make films out of Stephen King's ideas. The film tries and fails to answer why people stay in a cursed town. Instead, we get a story that is plain stupid from the beginning to the end. Pet Sematary: Bloodlines is one of those films when you feel sorry for actors in the movie, like Henry Thomas, Pam Grier, or David Duchovny, who are all better than what they are asked to perform. There aren’t any scares, and the film runs out of ideas almost from the get-go. The ending feels like the filmmakers were thinking, ok, we need to wrap this up, so let’s do this and call it a day. One of the characters tells us, ‘We can never bury that evil.’ Well, I hope we can bury this movie, at least. My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again  Pet Sematary: Bloodlines Info  Now playing on the Paramount+ platform. 

Forgotten Film: Boy (2011) Boy, an 11-year-old who lives in Waihau Bay, New Zealand, with his younger brother, Rocky (who thinks he has superpowers), and his grandmother, is obsessed with Michael Jackson. His mother died giving birth to Rocky, and Boy spends much of his day thinking about what his long-lost father is doing. Is he a spy, a famous rugby player, or a brilliant artist? Boy’s world is changed when his father suddenly shows up, and he must come to grips with the realization that his father will never live up to the image he created of him over the years. The director (who also stars as Boy’s father), Taika Waititi, gives us a wonderful world of interesting characters, where Boy’s fantasies about his father come to life, and cartoon drawings illustrate what Rocky thinks is going to happen when he applies his imagined superpowers. My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again  Boy Info The film is available to rent or buy on Amazon and Apple TV.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Foe: Chicken Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Next Goal Wins (2023) PG-13 Back in 2001, the American Samoa soccer team suffered the worst loss in World Cup history, losing to Australia 31-0. With the 2014 World Cup approaching, the team recruits a down-on-his-luck coach (Michael Fassbinder) to get them back to respectability. It’s going to be a long road back. The film is from Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit (2019), Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) and Boy (2010)). I am a huge fan of Waititi and can’t wait to see this film. Next Goal Wins Website   The film will be released in theatres in mid-November.

Until Next Time!