Friday, March 29, 2024

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

My View: Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024) PG-13   Two mighty forces, the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong, will have to unite to defeat a new enemy that threatens our world and challenges their very existence and our own. While watching this film, I realized it was a wrestling movie. It uses the age-old wrestling troupe of two mortal enemies to come together to create a tag team to defeat a possibly worse evil wrestler that can only be defeated if they work as one. That’s what this film is about, and there are even a few wrestling moves that Kong and Godzilla use to defeat the bad guy, or should I say bad guys. Yeah, instead of one evil force, there are two. My big problem with this film, besides that it’s almost two hours long with a lot of people talking about what is about to happen, is that the bad guys aren’t all that evil. I never felt that the combined forces of Godzilla and his new best bud, Kong, wouldn’t defeat these new baddies. It’s a lot of build-up that never delivers. Fans of Godzilla and Kong will have fun with all the battles and yeah, Godzilla destroys a lot of stuff even when he is trying to save the world (clean up on aisle Rome!). And sure, that’s fun, but man, there are some plot holes three Godzillas could walk through. I also had trouble remembering what the heck happened in the last film, Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), which introduced a bunch of the characters like the scientist that Rebecca Hall plays or the internet blogger that Brian Tyree Henry plays. Some big names from the past Kong/Godzilla films are gone, like Alexander Skarsgard and Millie Bobby Brown. I think the biggest problem that this film has is the hangover that the brilliant film from last year, Godzilla Minus One, has caused, making us spoiled for films that value the human element to these films versus, let’s see how much stuff these monsters can wreck on the screen. And I am guessing that if this film does some box office business, we will get more of these films because I bet there are more worlds to discover in the hollow world that Kong now lives in. I will say this, there is a new addition to the Kong universe and I won't give it away but it's going to give Baby Yoda a run for his money.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Website Now playing in theaters nationwide.

My View: Steve! (martin): A Documentary in 2 Pieces (2024) The documentary Steve! (martin) chronicles how Steve Martin became one of the biggest figures in comedy, from his early years as a writer to filling arenas as a standup and then as a respected writer and actor in films and TV. The documentary is separated into two parts, ‘Then’ and ‘Now’. ‘Then’ is about Steve’s childhood and how he got into performing at an early age with the help of magic and Disneyland. And then his slow ascent to becoming a standup comedian over the years to filling arenas and stadiums that made rock stars jealous. All to quit the standup game at the very height of his fame. ‘Now’ is the 2nd half of Steve’s career; first as an actor, then as a writer and musician. And now (no pun intended), back telling jokes on stage but as a part of a comedy team with Martin Short. I expect you will laugh a lot in the ‘Then ‘ film as we see the intellectual madness of Martin and how he pushed the boundaries of comedy. I love Martin gives us a behind-the-scenes thinking of why he did the routines that he did and how he perfected them. But like the man himself admits, you didn’t really get to know who Steve Martin was in those years, and they make it very clear that he felt very alone and isolated, especially at the heights of his fame. The ‘Now’ film is a gentler look at Martin as he got out of the standup spotlight and started making movies. Martin lets us see him as a man who has become comfortable in his life, has finally found love, and has come to terms with his past, including a father who never could show Steve any love or support. ‘Then’ is a much more personal look at Martin and how he has become someone who is finally happy and loved. I think the pairing with Martin Short as his on-stage partner also has mellowed Steve, and we see that the back and forth they do on the stage goes on behind the scenes. As a massive fan of Steve Martin, someone who not only treasures his standup years but also loves his books and his stage show with Short, this is a couple of documentaries that I will go back and watch again.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See Them Again  Steve! (martin) Info Both films are now on Apple TV+.

My View: In the Land of Saints and Sinners (2023) R  Finbar Murphy (Liam Neeson) is a man who has killed many times, working for a local mob boss (Colm Meaney). Finbar wants to retire, but his plans go south when a terrorist cell blows up a local pub in Belfast, killing three children, and is now hiding out in Finbar’s area. Finding out who is responsible and making them pay for their mistakes is Finbar's task now. I know what you are thinking: another Liam Neeson film where he kills a bunch of people using a particular set of skills. But wait, this is a bit of a different movie, as Finbar is a killer who is tired of killing and wants to live in his little town and have a pint or two. Neeson portrays a man who is haunted by the past and delivers an understated performance that elevates this film. The problem is that Finbar cares too much for his fellow townspeople, and when some IRA terrorists use his town as a hideout and start causing trouble, Finbar must react. The IRA terrorists are led by Doireann, played by the always interesting Kerry Condon. Doireann is filled with a sense of righteous indignation, believing that blowing up pubs is God's work. Condon plays Doireann as a woman who isn't afraid of confrontation and will do the unexpected if it gets her bloodshed and revenge. The scenes between Neeson and Condon make this a film to watch, as they practically bring sparks to the screen as the two face off, with us not knowing when they are both going to erupt into violence. In the Land of Saints and Sinners is a film about redemption, friendship, and doing the right thing, even when morality is not in play. My Rating: Full Price    In the Land of Saints and Sinners Website   Now playing in theaters.

Indiefest: La Chimera (2023) La Chimera is about Arthur (Josh O’Connor), an Englishman in Italy looking to make some money. He joins a group that locates and digs up artifacts that can be sold on the black market. Can Arthur keep ahead of the authorities trying to hunt him down before he can make the big sale? This is not an ordinary tale, as the film used different film stocks and mixed the aspect ratios to give the movie a surreal feel. I am not always a fan of films that push the boundaries between real and fantasy, where you question what is happening at any moment. The story is about a man who has lost the love of his life but thinks he has found a treasure that will make him rich. However, things go from bad to worse as we meet a cast of characters that seem right out of a Fellini movie from the 60s. I didn’t find the film funny, even though it tries to be comedic most of the time. And I hated the ending that tries to tie everything up in a bow that won’t tie.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  La Chimera Website Now playing in theatres.

My View: The Beautiful Game (2024) PG-13 The Beautiful Game takes place during the Homeless World Cup, a soccer tournament organized to end homelessness. Mal (Bill Nighy) manages England’s homeless soccer team and takes a chance on a talented but troubled player named Vinny (Michael Ward). Vinny has to learn how to trust and depend on others for his team to succeed. The Beautiful Game is a film that, while not great, has heart and shows us that something so simple as a soccer tournament can change people’s ideas about the homeless and give us insight into their world. The film is saved by Bill Nighy, who puts together a team with the idea that they may not win the tournament but will win when they believe in themselves and their teammates. Nighy is perfect as a man who knows how to interact with his players, getting them to mold as a team. The Beautiful Game is also helped by a moving, stellar performance by Michael Ward, playing Vinny, the one person on the team who really has soccer talent but refuses to believe that he isn’t above his fellow players, that he doesn’t belong on a team full of life’s losers. The Beautiful Game is about finding a purpose and a way to believe in yourself and see your fellow man/woman as people worth knowing and celebrating.   My Rating: Full Price  The Beautiful Game Website  Now playing on Netflix.

Indiefest: Carol Doda Topless at the Condor (2023) R  Documentary that tells the story of Carol Doda, a cocktail waitress who turned dancing on a piano, into an overnight sensation by becoming the first dancer to go topless. Carol became a tourist attraction, a center of controversy, and a woman who changed the landscape of San Francisco entertainment. With a cast of characters that would be home in a Mickey Spillane crime thriller and a woman who loved the spotlight, this is a documentary that is a fascinating look at the 60s world where people wanted to say goodbye to the boring 50s and explore a free-wheeling world. The film has a ton of interviews from newsreels and people who somehow survived those days to give us an up close and personal look at what it was like to live and work in the San Francisco entertainment area. The film loses a bit of steam when it travels into the 70s and 80s, when, like Carol, the novelty wore off and the world had gotten over the shock of the nudity. I came away not knowing as much about Carol as I did about some of the people who shared her world, but that has to do with Carol herself. She was someone who loved the spotlight, but only as long as it was when she was on the stage.   My Rating: Full Price  Carol Doda Topless at the Condor Info  Now playing in theaters.

Forgotten Film: Cactus Flower (1969) M   A middle-aged dentist, Julian (Walter Matthau), has a mistress, Toni (Goldie Hawn), whom he has told he can’t leave his wife because of the children. Julian has fallen in love with Toni, but he has a problem: he isn’t married. So he convinces his dental assistant, Stephanie (Ingrid Bergman), to act like she is his wife so that they can then get a ‘divorce’ and he can marry Toni. However, Toni takes Stephanie’s side and things get messy. This film is very dated, but Goldie Hawn is brilliant in the role of the na├»ve young girl who sees the good in everyone. In her first feature role, Hawn got an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Based on the hit stage play, the script is written by the talented I.A.L. Diamond, and the jokes are fast and furious. So go back in time and fall in love with Goldie; it’s worth the trip.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Cactus Flower Info Available to rent/buy on Amazon.

Weird Credits: From Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire: Soft Furnishing Lead

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Civil War (2024) R Civil War follows a small team of journalists who are traveling as the country is embroiled in its first Civil War since the 1800s. California and Texas have seceded from the United States to form the Western Forces and its war. The cast includes Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Cailee Spaeny, Nick Offerman, and Jesse Plemons, and is directed by Alex Garland (Ex-Machina (2015)).  Civil War Website  Releasing in theatres on Friday, April 12th. 

Until Next Time!

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