My View: Argylle (2024) PG-13 Elly (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a best-selling spy novelist who rarely leaves home. On a train, she meets Aiden (Sam Rockwell), who tells her he is a real spy and has been sent to save her from being kidnapped. Elly is now living the life that she has only written about, and it turns out that her books are the key to saving the world. Elly and her beloved cat Alfie are plunged into a covert world where nothing and no one is as they seem. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this film, as Elly and Aiden are thrust together as they try to stay two steps ahead of the bad guys while transporting a cat, who has a window in a backpack that gives him a ringside seat to all the action. Up to that point, the film is fun and light, with great action sequences and witty dialogue between Elly and Aiden. Unfortunately, the film takes a twist that kills all the steam the movie had built and becomes a silly mess that goes on far too long (two hours and nineteen minutes). There are a few scenes after that twist that are just outright painful to watch and far too outrageous to even have a bit of fun with. And the film wastes a few talented actors, including Samuel L. Jackson, who is there just to explain the plot. It’s seldom that when watching a film I feel sorry for the actors, who are trying their utmost to win us over with each scene, but in this case, I do. Especially with Bryce Dallas Howard, who seems game to try just about anything the director asks. There is a bonus scene at the end that ties in with another film, but even that is a letdown. My Rating: Cable Argylle Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Indiefest: The Promised Land (2023) R Former soldier Ludvig Kahlen (Mads Mikkelsen) arrives in 1755 with a plan for the barren land of the heath of Jutland in Denmark, where he will successfully grow a crop and prove that the land can be fertile. First, he must survive not only the elements but also a neighbor, Frederik de Schinkel (Simon Bennebjerg), a wealthy landowner who has plans of his own for the heath and will do anything to make sure Ludvig fails. Mads Mikkelsen gives a powerful performance as a man determined to defeat both the odds and his fellow man while believing in himself to do what no one thought possible. It’s a film about the will of two men, both determined to defeat the other, but one is willing to do anything to win. The movie reminded me of one of my favorite Robert Redford films, Jeremiah Johnson. Both are men who are escaping the past by trying to succeed in a wilderness that few have before them, and both come by a family in the most unusual ways. The Promised Land is an outstanding film about pride, honor, determination, and, along the way, maybe finding love. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again The Promised Land Website Now playing in theatres
My View: The Greatest Night in Pop (2024) Documentary on the night of January 25th, 1985, when dozens of the era’s most popular musicians gathered in a Los Angeles recording studio to record a song in one night that would make history. In the days of MTV and when radio still ruled the airwaves in cars and homes, there was an attempt to do in America what Bob Geldof did with the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ in Britain. Record a song to raise money for famine relief in Africa. This film takes us from the start, with an idea by Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson, who decided to write a song of their own and record it on the night of the American Music Awards. Lionel Richie gives us a blow-by-blow account of how it all went down, with a lot of help from the singing stars and the people doing the dirty work, like the seemingly impossible task of getting everyone there without it leaking to the press. I loved they were still writing the song while recording it. There are some incredible moments, one involving Bob Dylan and another country star, Waylon Jennings, that are just jaw-dropping. The Greatest Night in Pop is a fascinating look at the recording of a song played worldwide by a group of superstars (and Dan Ackroyd, of all people) that would never be in the same room again. And by the way, It’s a pretty darn good song. My Rating: Full Price The Greatest Night in Pop Website Now playing on Netflix
Indiefest: Fitting In (2023) R Lindy (Maddie Ziegler) is a teen who has just moved into her grandmother’s old house with her single mother, Rita (Emily Hampshire). Lindy has a new boyfriend, Adam (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), and things are heating up, so Lindy decides to go to a gynecologist to get on birth control. That doctor’s office visit will change everything for Lindy. Maddie Ziegler gives a performance they will talk about for quite a while. Ziegler shines in the role of Lindy, a popular teen who has a budding relationship with a great guy, Adam (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), with whom she is about ready to have sex with. She has a best friend, Viv (Djouliet Amara), with whom she shares everything, and a loving mom, Rita, who tries not to share too much since Rita is a therapist. When Lindy decides to get birth control from a doctor, it takes Lindy on a life-changing rollercoaster of a ride that few young women will ever experience. Ziegler gives a moving and touching performance that seems real and moving. Fitting In explores a wide range of topics, many of which are in the headlines, with a willingness to tackle some issues that are rarely discussed, much less explored on film. So grab a red solo cup and join Lindy on a journey to find her place in this world. My Rating: Full Price Fitting In Website Now playing in theatres.
Indiefest: Scrambled (2023) R Ever the bridesmaid, Nellie (Leah McKendrick) seems to go from one wedding to another, along with endless baby showers and one-night stands. Nellie decides things may not be in the cards for a romantic ‘soulmate,’ so she decides to freeze her eggs and starts a journey of self-discovery. This is a raunchy comedy about a woman who speaks her mind and is determined to take her possible future pregnancy into her own hands. Nellie is a woman who has a wonderful sense of humor and loves men but doesn’t want to have a child just yet. So, she decides to freeze her eggs, which sets her on a quest to find the money and get her body ready for the operation. Nellie deals with a lot with the constant circle of women she knows getting married and or pregnant. McKendrick not only stars in the film but also wrote and directed it, showing a flair for comedy. Nellie isn’t a woman you will instantly warm up to, but once you get to know her, you will root for her to succeed. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Scrambled Website Now playing in theatres
Familyfaire: Orion and the Dark (2024) Orion (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) seems on the outside like your average elementary school kid. However, Orion is a ball of anxiety, entirely consumed by every irrational fear you can think of and a few you might not. Of all his fears, the thing he fears the most is the dark. And that’s just who shows up in his bedroom, Dark (voiced by Paul Walter Hauser), to take him on an adventure around the world to prove there is nothing to be afraid of in the night. I had fun watching this film. It’s about a kid afraid of almost anything, including going on field trips and petting dogs. I loved the storytelling, which will keep both kids and their parents interested in Orion and his adventures with Dark. Dark is out to prove to Orion that the world needs both light and dark and that there isn’t anything to fear about the dark; in fact, you just might have fun. The animation is beautiful, and I especially enjoyed the animated drawings of Orion in his journal about things he is afraid of. The storyline changes perspectives a few times, which makes it even more engaging. So get ready to go on a bit of adventure with Dark. He’s a friendly, misunderstood kind of guy. My Rating: Full Price Orion and the Dark Website Now playing on Netflix.
Forgotten Film: The Yellow Handkerchief (2008) PG-13 Three strangers meet in a backwater Louisiana town. Martine (Kristen Stewart), Gordy (Eddie Redmayne), and Brett (William Hurt) are about to go on a road trip and will learn a few secrets along the way. The cast is brilliant, with Eddie Redmayne playing a shy, scrawny teen, Stewart as the bold teen who is just trying to get somewhere else, and William Hurt, who is invited in on the trip just because it’s raining, and Stewart’s Martine feels he should come along. This is a road trip film where we get to know the characters and their stories, including Brett’s fascinating and sordid past. The Yellow Handkerchief is a film made at the height of the Twilight mania for Kristen Stewart, and this film gave us a glimpse of what was to come for the talented actress. My Rating: Full Price The Yellow Handkerchief Website The film is available on DVD.
Weird Credits: From the credits of Argylle: Ice Choreographers
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Love Lies Bleeding (2024) R Lou (Kristen Stewart) is a gym manager in her small town where her father, Lou Sr. (Ed Harris), runs the town with an iron hand. Into Lou’s gym walks Jackie (Kate O’Brian), a bodybuilder who takes Lou’s breath away. It’s a meeting that will change their lives forever. In fact, someone may die. I love that Kristen Stewart keeps making interesting films that push the boundaries. Love Lies Bleeding Website The film is in theatres in early March.