Friday, November 10, 2023

The Marvels

My View: 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 to defeat a new enemy while trying to figure out why they are swapping places with each other every time they use their powers. As a film critic, I get upset when films are judged before anyone sees them. Such is the case with The Marvels. I am a huge fan of Brie Larson as she is in two films from 2013 that I love, The Spectacular Now and Short Term 12. While I liked the Ms. Marvel and Wandavision series, I felt both ran out of steam by the end of their respective episodes. However, I had high hopes that the charisma of Larson would meld with the high energy of Iman Vellani and the cool factor of Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. I was right. First, this works because of the brilliance of Iman Vellani as Kamala Kahn, who breathes a bit of fresh air into every scene she is in. She is so much fun to watch as Ms. Marvel, a superhero who is still figuring out what she can and cannot do but is ready to try. Vellani gives us a character full of adventure and life while still being a fangirl of Captain Marvel. You almost feel that Vellani isn’t acting, but is that excited to be an actor in this film as much as her character is. Now it is known that I am not a fan of cats, but occasionally one shows up that I like, and Moose the alien cat is hilarious as Captain Marvel’s sidekick. The film is fast, funny, and I loved you don’t have to have seen the TV series to figure out each character. My problem with the film is that the bad guy in the movie, Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), is a pretty weak one, and the final battle doesn’t live up to the rest of the film. Still, The Marvels is a lot of fun to watch, Iman Vellani is terrific, and Moose is, well, Moose. And the film is 1 hour and forty-five minutes long, which is a brisk pace for so many recent releases. And there is, as usual, a bonus scene after the first round of final credits. So go have some fun at the movies and see The Marvels. But be sure to watch out for Moose. He tends to spit up a hairball or something bigger occasionally.   My Rating: Full Price The Marvels Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

My View: The Holdovers (2023) R  Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti) is a history teacher at a remote prep school known for being demanding and cranky. The last thing he wants to do is babysit a student named Angus (Dominic Sessa), who has no place to go during the holidays, but he has no choice. They are now stuck together along with the school cafeteria manager (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) for the holiday break. It’s going to be a holiday that both won’t forget. This is a funny and touching film about three lost souls who aren’t happy about having to spend the holidays with each other. As you would expect, Paul Giamatti is just about perfect in the role of the teacher who looks down on his students and expects far more than they are willing to give. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a delight as the cook with an attitude who isn’t going to take any gruff. The surprise of the film is Dominic Sessa, who holds his own with Giamatti, able to act toe to toe and hold his own. The two play off each other wonderfully, and their timing and chemistry is a wonder to behold. I also want to mention Carrie Preston, a favorite of mine, who lights up the scenes she is in as the love interest for the teacher. With its clever twists and turns, The Holdovers is a delightful and entertaining exploration of finding family and understanding in unexpected places. So class, find your places, because Mr. Hunham is about to teach us a thing or two. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  The Holdovers Website  Now playing in theatres.

My View: What Happens Later (2023) R Willa (Meg Ryan) and Bill (David Duchovny) are ex-lovers who were together over twenty years ago. They are now stuck in an airport overnight together. Will they find the spark again, or is it too late? Meg Ryan has been in our hearts since that wondrous appearance as Goose’s wife in Top Gun. A queen of the rom-com in the 90s, she dazzled us on the screen. Now, after quite a few years away, she is back in a film she not only stars in but directs and co-writes. I wish I could say it’s a triumphant return, but it’s not. The film explores the theme of lost love and the regrets that come with it, as two people with a shared past meet at an airport and share their stories. What Happens Later tries to be too cute, with an airport announcer as the third character in the film. I would have enjoyed this film more without the announcer's voice constantly guiding the characters' discoveries at the airport. The film tries to make this a magical thing, but instead, it becomes tiring very quickly as a plot device to get the characters to do something. There is some chemistry between Duchovny and Ryan, but the film doesn’t have a lot of charm to it, and so a lot of the discussions (and there are many) don’t feel fun; they feel like the characters want to revel in the sorrow of the past regrets. I think the film might have had a chance to work without the magic airport and its announcer, but we will never know, just like we won’t know what their lives would have been like if the two characters had stayed together.   My Rating: Cable  What Happens Later Website  Now playing in theatres.

Indiefest: AKA Mr. Chow (2023)  Documentary on the life of Michael Chow, a Chinese immigrant who started a restaurant in 1968 in London that soon became a hangout for the rich and famous, including The Beatles and every fashion model on the cover of Vogue. He soon expanded to Hollywood, where stars went to be seen. I found the first part of this documentary fascinating, as Michael Chow was the son of Zhou Xinfang, the Peking Opera Grand Master performer. Michael was sent to Europe to boarding school, and he followed in his father’s footsteps and became an actor (along with his sister), appearing in films and TV shows in the 60s. The documentary becomes too much of a promo from Mr. Chow as we spend too much time on his present-day ‘job’ as a painter. I felt sorry for his assistants, who kept getting splattered with paint as Michael created his paintings using a mallet to bang paint on his canvas. The film slows down when transitioning between Mr. Chow's marriages, and I wished for more focus on the earlier days of the restaurants. I wanted to know what was happening in the 80s and 90s when there were stories coming out every week from those restaurants. Overall, I would send this dish of a film back to the kitchen; it’s just too lukewarm for my taste.   My Rating: Cable  AKA Mr. Chow website Now playing on the Max platform.

Forgotten Film: NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind (1984) In a world where forests are poisoned and giant insects move at will, enters Princess NausicaƤ, who vows to save her people living in a valley from an invading army. This is one of the first feature films of Hayao Miyazaki, and while the animation feels very 1980s, the storyline is still relevant for today’s audience. The characters are vibrant and stand out, with the Princess determined to save her people. Unlike some of Miyazaki’s other early films, like Castle in the Sky (1986) and Porco Rosso (1992), this film feels a little more adult in its storyline. Still, this is a beautiful film and a great starting point into the world of Miyazaki’s animation.   My Rating: Full Price Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Info  Now available to rent/buy on most online forums.

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Marvels: Blues Standby Rigger

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Boy and the Heron (2023) PG-13  A young boy, Mahito, loses his mother in a fire and is haunted by her memory. His father has remarried and moved to a new house in the countryside. Mahito keeps hearing his mother call his name, and he sets out to find her in an abandoned and magical tower that will take him to a world he never knew existed. Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Wind Rises) brings us another tale from his inventive mind. The Boy and the Heron could be the last of Miyazaki’s incredible animated film collection and is one of the most anticipated films of the December releases.  The Boy and the Heron Website   The film will be in theatres nationwide on Friday, December 8.

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