Monday, December 25, 2023

The Color Purple

My View: The Color Purple (2023) PG-13 Musical that follows the decades-spanning tale of Celie (Fantasia Barrino), who faces hardships in her life but finds her strength to survive through her faith and the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood. I am not a huge fan of the 1985 Steven Spielberg film, feeling it never captured the magic of the beloved Alice Walker book. Now we have a new version based on the Broadway musical. I am still not a fan. The film feels very much like a Broadway musical, with the songs taking up much of the film’s 2 hour and twenty-minute length. I loved some of the performances, especially Danielle Brooks as the fiery Sofia. I am guessing she might have supporting actress Oscar nod in her near future. However, the film never hit the mark emotionally for me, and there wasn’t a song in the bunch that I felt was a show-stopper. I think some of the fault is that Fantasia Barrino is asked to carry the film and while she can sing, I never connected with her character. Some of that is because of its Broadway roots, where we learn about the characters through their songs, but it seems like a lot of the songs were filler and not about what was going on with the characters themselves. Ultimately, this version of The Color Purple is too much Broadway glitter and not enough character insight like what we got from Alice Walker’s brilliant book.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Color Purple Website  Now in theatres everywhere.

My View: The Boys in the Boat (2023) PG-13 The story of the University of Washington junior eight-man rowing squad, from their Depression-era beginnings to their magical trip to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Coach Al Ulbrickson (Joel Edgerton) molds the crew into winners and picks them over the more experienced senior crew to race. It’s a pick that could end his job. Joe Rantz (Callum Turner), a self-made man who has been on his own since he was 14, joins the team as his only way to stay in college. There is nothing new in this old-fashioned sports film directed by George Clooney, and that’s ok. This is a good film that hits all the right notes in a movie about a group of young men who start as cast-offs and work together to become something great. Edgerton works well as the hard-nosed coach who is short of praise but believes in his crew and makes them believe in themselves. Callum Turner does a fine job as the main character, Joe, who has had to work for everything he has ever achieved but isn’t sure he deserves any success until he meets a man who shows him he can overcome any challenge. While not an Oscar-worthy film like Chariots of Fire, The Boys in the Boat still is everything you want in a come-from-behind sports film, and that’s ok, too.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Boys in the Boat Website Now in theaters everywhere.

My View: Ferrari (2023) R  In 1957, Enzo Ferrari’s (Adam Driver) auto empire is in trouble, and all that he and his wife Laura (Penélope Cruz) built in the last ten years is about to crumble. Enzo decides to bet it all on winning one race, the 1,000-mile trek across Italy, the iconic Mille Miglia. Enzo and Laura recently lost their son, and Laura controls the company’s finances. Complicating matters even further is Enzo’s mistress, Lina (Shailene Woodley), who has given Enzo another son. This film only works as well as it does because Adam Driver is such an outstanding actor. The problem is that Enzo is not a likable character and is a control freak who thinks he can outsmart and out-manipulate not only his competitors, but his loved ones as well. The script doesn’t give Driver a lot to work with, but he commands every scene he is in and holds his own with Cruz, who plays Laura, a woman who is constantly battling Enzo at every turn (and justly so). Ferrari feels a little like the cars that Enzo builds: fast and sleek but hard to control, and at times, I felt the story bogged down the back story of how Enzo’s company is failing and not enough about the man himself. I found Cruz’s Laura to be the more interesting of the two main characters and wanted more of her story to come to the surface. But this is Enzo’s story, and he will drive that car as fast as he can, no matter who tells him differently.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Ferrari Website Now in theatres everywhere.

Forgotten Film: A Midwinter’s Tale (1995) R  Joe (Michael Maloney) is an actor who is having a bit of a crisis and decides to save his sanity and career by staging a play as soon as possible. He picks Hamlet and perform a Christmas production in a small town in England. His agent (Joan Collins) thinks it’s a bad idea, and it is. To say mildly, the talent is almost nonexistent in the small town, and Joe is forced to cast a motley crew to put on his play. Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, a man who knows a bit about Shakespeare and theatre, it brings us a fun and funny movie where everything that can go wrong does, despite that, the troupe tries to valiantly put the play on. I love the dialogue in this film as Branagh lets his cast spout off with hilarious results. My Rating: Full Price  A Midwinter's Tale Info   Available to rent or buy on Apple TV or Amazon.

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Color Purple: Child Labor Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Miller’s Girl (2024)   Cairo (Jenna Ortega) is a high school student who excels at everything she sets her mind to. Her English teacher, Jonathan (Martin Freeman), sees talent in Cairo and gives her some extra attention. When he realizes things may have gone too far, he rejects her, and now Cairo is out for revenge. The film has been talked about quite a bit, with some worrying about the underage girl having a possible affair with a teacher. Ortega is a rising star, and it will be interesting to see if she has some box office draw.   The film comes to theatres in late January.  Miller's Girl Info

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