Friday, April 26, 2024


My View: Challengers (2024) R   Challengers tells the story of Tashi (Zendaya), who was a tennis prodigy about to set the tennis world on fire before she suffered a devastating injury she couldn’t recover from. Now, years later, she is a coach and married to a former champion (Mike Faist) who is on a losing streak, and the question is how far Tashi is willing to go to get him back on his winning streak with her husbands best friend (Josh O’Conner). Challengers is a movie that appears to focus on sexual relationships, but actually revolves around who has the upper hand and how they can maintain it. This is a film that has so many twists and turns that you almost become dizzy as the three leads vie to land that winning serve, only to have someone else return the serve just as hard. If Zendaya wasn’t a lead in a film before this, she is now. Zendaya is breathtaking as a woman who was at the top of her game, only to have it taken away in an instant, and now is playing through her husband (and he’s not dominating as he should be). It’s a powerful performance that gives you chills it’s so good. I hope this film isn’t being released too early for Academy Award members to forget about this performance because it deserves to be nominated. This is a film in which you will not like any of the characters (ok, maybe the daughter), and you will still be enthralled by all the head games that are being played (keep an eye out for a certain t-shirt that makes a few appearances as an example). For a film that is based on sex, there isn’t a lot in it, which surprised me. Instead, this is about three people who act as they are caring but inside they are all out for themselves. How fragile they are when the stakes are so high, and all the participants are there to win. So take a few practice swings with your racquet and be sure to do some stretching because you will need to be warmed up and limber to handle this film.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Challengers Website Now playing theaters nationwide

Indiefest: We Grown Now (2023) PG  We Grown Now is set in 1992 Chicago, where a mother named Dolores (Jurnee Smollett) is raising her 12-year-old son Malik (Blake Cameron James) in one of the most crime-infested parts of the city. Malik must grow up fast, but he has help from his best friend Eric (Gian Knight Ramirez) and his grandmother Anita (S. Epatha Merkerson). Dolores will have to make some tough choices if Malik is going to survive in this environment. We Grown Now is a beautiful and moving film about friendship, family, and how children see the world in a different light from adults. First, the performances of the two best friends are magical and, at times, a little breathtaking. We Grown Now is their film as we see what is happening to their neighborhood through their eyes. From the ever presence of violence to the clamping down of the rights of the people who live in the housing community, the world of these kids is filled with danger and the feeling of being almost caged by their surroundings. The two kids try to stay positive and hopeful, even taking a day to skip school and go on an adventure to an art museum because they are bored at school. I can’t tell you how much I loved this film, going on adventures with Malik and Eric while knowing that their parents are dealing with some tough times and hard choices that will affect their children’s future. We Grown Now is a film that is full of kids being kids, but like life itself, it's also about injustice and heartbreak. The kind of heartbreak that won't leave you. So, join the two best friends and maybe join in when they do some shouting from time to time.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again We Grown Now Website  Now playing in select theaters. 

Indiefest: Boy Kills World (2023) R  Boy (Bill Skarsgård) saw his family murdered, and he was rendered deaf and mute. Since then, Boy has been training with one mission: to kill the person responsible, Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen), the evil leader of a televised game of survival called The Culling. They saw Boy coming, but could they stop him? When I saw the trailer for this film, I thought, ‘This will be a fun ride.’ However, sometimes the trailers are better than the actual film; in this case, this is one of them. Fans of tight combat will enjoy the plethora of fights in this film. And Mr. Bill Skarsgård does a fine job as an action hero. But, the film never can find the story it wants to tell, relying too much on lame jokes and over-active camera moves during the fight sequences. The plot twists of the film are excessive, as the script assumes it's more clever than it actually is. Boy Kills World loses steam about halfway through and never quite recovers. Anyway, can we go back to that trailer?   My Rating: Cable  Boy Kills World Website    Now playing in theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Conversations with Other Women (2005)  R   A man (Aaron Eckhart) and a woman (Helena Bonham Carter) start flirting with each other at a wedding reception. They are getting along so well that they decide to carry the conversation to a hotel room. They will soon learn about each other and may have known each other when they were younger. While some reviewers have compared this film to the Before Sunrise/Sunset films, this is very different because the whole movie is shot on a split screen. Sometimes, it’s just to show the two reacting to things simultaneously, but it also gives us the characters’ perspectives on what is being said or what they thought was said. This is a film to watch for the performances, and Carter and Eckhart are brilliant in this film, where the characters go from flirty to serious in a matter of minutes and then back again. Conversations with Other Women is one of those films you will want to talk to someone about after seeing it.   My Rating: Full Price  Conversations with Other Women Info   The film is available on multiple streaming platforms. 

Weird Credits: From the credits of Boy Kills World: Second Unit Sparks

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: IF   (2024)     Bea (Cailey Fleming) has gone through some tough times but has discovered a secret power: She can see everyone’s imaginary friends. With help from Cal (Ryan Reynolds), Bea embarks on a magical journey to reconnect forgotten ‘IFs’ with their long-lost kids. Written and directed by John Krasinski and with a voice cast that includes Steve Carell, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Jon Stewart, Awkwafina, and more, this will surely be a film that people will want to see. The film releases on Friday, May 17th.

Until Next Time!

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The 48th Annual Atlanta Film Festival and Creative Conference April 25 - May 5, 2024

It’s time for my favorite event in Atlanta, the Atlanta Film Festival! Chosen from over 10,000 submissions, the festival brings both feature and short films to Atlanta. This year’s lineup of 142 selected films will feature diverse filmmakers who continue to uplift voices and stories from around the world, representing 118 countries. As always, there is an emphasis on films from the local area, with over 24% of films at the festival with ties to Georgia filmmakers. The Atlanta Film Festival is an event film lovers won’t want to miss. ATLFF is presenting some of the best upcoming films that Hollywood has to offer, including movies from top studios and films, along with films from around the world.

The 48th annual Atlanta Film Festival and Creative Conference will take place Thursday, April 25 - Sunday, May 5, 2024, at the Plaza Theatre and Tara Theatre in Atlanta and virtually. 

The long-running festival has always been a distinguished event, recognized as one of the “Ten Best Film Festivals in the US” by USA Today readers and one of the “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” by MovieMaker Magazine.

The Opening Night Presentation of Amazon Studios’ “The Idea of You” will take place at the Plaza Theatre on Friday, April 26. The Idea of You takes place after a chance encounter at the Coachella Music Festival, Solène (Anne Hathaway), a 40-year-old single mom, begins an unexpected romance with 24-year-old Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), the lead singer of August Moon, the hottest boy band on the planet. It’s not long before Solène discovers that life in the spotlight might be more than she bargained for. Director Michael Showalter is expected to take part in red-carpet interviews and will receive the Atlanta Film Festival’s “The Rebel Award” in an on-stage presentation before the start of the film. There will be a Q&A with Michael Showalter immediately after the screening.

The Closing Night Presentation film is “Sing Sing” on Saturday, May 4th, and will take place at the Plaza Theatre. “Sing Sing” is about Divine G, imprisoned at Sing Sing for a crime he didn’t commit. He finds purpose by acting in a theatre group alongside other incarcerated men in this story of resilience, humanity, and the transformative power of art. Filmmaker Greg Kwedar and cast members Clarence ‘Divine Eye’ Maclin, John ‘Divine G’ Whitfield, Sean ‘Dino’ Johnson, and Jon Adrian ‘JJ’ Velazquez are expected to take part in red carpet interviews and a Q&A after the film.

The festival is also known for its short film categories and is one of the few festivals in the country that offer Academy Award-qualifying for all three short categories: Narrative, Documentary, and Animated.

The 14th annual Creative Conference, ATLFF’s popular educational programming extension, returns Tuesday, April 30 - Friday, May 3. The Creative Conference offers educational programming for upcoming filmmakers, festivalgoers, newcomers, and members of the greater community to learn from industry experts. The Creative Conference features workshops, panels, talks, and demos that will delve into the world of filmmaking, focusing on topics such as screenwriting, pitching, acting, producing, casting, funding, and distribution and how they all come together to make a film or television episode. Thirty-two in-person panels and twelve virtual panels are planned during the 11-day festival.

The full schedule of films and events is available at and through the ATLFF 2024 app. Festival passes are on sale now on the site. Tickets for individual events will be available online.

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

My ViewThe Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024) PG-13   The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is the story of the first-ever special forces organization formed by Britain during WWII. Gus March-Phillips (Henry Cavill), a man with a bad reputation, is given the job of recruiting a rag-tag group of misfits, whose job will be destroying as much of the German U-boat forces as possible. And we do mean any means necessary. It is safe to say that while this film is based on a true story, the words ‘loosely based’ should be used. A lot of film critics are comparing this film to Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, but I think it’s more of a 2024 version of all those war films of the 60s/70s like The Dirty Dozen, Kelly’s Heroes, or even Where Eagles Dare, where an unlikely group of not so innocent killers go on an impossible mission and kick some German butt. I haven’t been a fan of Guy Ritchie’s films lately, but this is a fun ride that never takes itself too seriously. The entire cast is a lot of fun, with Cavill leading the group with a devil-may-care attitude and an eye for expensive alcohol and cigars. Fans of Alan Ritchson, hot off his Reacher TV series, will love his off-the-wall character who loves to kill in very interesting ways. Eiza González has a lot of fun with the part of the sexy American who is sent in to seduce the evil German commander. The action is fast-paced (I would love to know the final kill count), and the story will keep you on the edge of your seat. There is a lot of humor in the film, as our heroes seem to enjoy that they can do just about anything they want, as long as it kills a few Germans along the way.   My Rating: Full Price  The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare Website  Now playing in theatres nationwide.

My View: Abigail (2024) R  A group of kidnappers abduct a 12-year-old girl named Abigail (Alisha Weir) and are instructed to hold her hostage overnight in an old, luxurious manor until her father pays the ransom of 50 million dollars. Watch a little girl overnight for such a big payday? No problem, right? The kidnappers think they have trapped Abigail in the manor; instead, they are trapped with Abigail, who turns out to be a vampire. I liked the first 45 minutes of this film. It’s fun getting to know all the kidnappers and how they deal with the little girl. But the film starts to fall apart when they discover they are trapped with a vampire. Abigail wants to be a horror film with some humor thrown in, but I got very tired of the ballerina vampire who thinks she is smarter than her victims (she’s right about half of them). Alisha Weir, as Abigail, doesn’t consistently deliver her lines in the right way, never finding the right tone, making her vampire feel less threatening. I did enjoy Melissa Barrera’s performance as the one kidnapper, Joey, who tries to be nice to Abigail before she turns all vampy. Still, we are asked to see Joey as a badass, and when we find out she was in the army as a medic, it just doesn’t translate. Fans of the late Angus Cloud will enjoy his performance as a not-so-bright wheelman who wants to have a good time. Abigail gets very gory and tries too hard to make every death seem like the world is coming to an end. I was ok with the ending, but man, it took a long time (an hour and fifty minutes) to get there.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Abigail Website  Now playing in theatres. 

My View: Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver (2024) PG-13  The saga of Korea (Sofia Boutella) and her surviving warriors, as they prepare to fight alongside the brave people of Veldt to defend their village against the invaders of the Motherworld. In this rebellion, bonds will be forged, heroes will emerge, and legends will be made. Rebel Moon - Part One was a disappointment for me, as I felt that it was all set up with little actual storyline. Furthermore, I didn't care about what happened to any of the characters. So, what does Zach Snyder do? Give us more of the same, but at least this time, we have a big battle that has a victor. To explain how much time is wasted in this film, we get an incredibly long sequence where each of the gang of heroes explains why they were wrong and how it went down. I've only seen Part One once, but shouldn't that have been part of that film? Or maybe it was, and I just wanted to forget it? You have the usual Snyder action sequences where our heroes fight in slow motion, and you have an enemy army with such poorly designed transportation ships that they blow up incredibly easily. The film ends with the promise of more, but I think we all hope that there won’t be. And by the way, Snyder has a ‘director’s cut’ coming for both films. Oh boy, more sitting around and recounting war stories. I can’t wait. My Rating: Cable   Rebel Moon - Part Two Website Now playing on Netflix.

Indiefest: Sasquatch Sunset (2024) R The film is a year in the life of a unique family that captures the daily trials and tribulations of a group of Sasquatch. I know what you’re thinking after seeing that Jesse Eisenberg and Riley Keough are starring in the film. Hey, that Eisenberg guy was funny in Zombieland, and Riley was great in that TV show, Daisy Jones and The Six; this should be a blast. Well, what if I tell you that the film is about a family of four Sasquatch that don’t talk (unless you count grunts and hoots), there isn’t any narration, and there are no other actors in the film? We experience up close and very personal a year in the life of these four Sasquatch as they forage for food, look for shelter, and have to deal with a world that is quickly changing around them. I am going to warn you that this is a movie where one of the first scenes we see is the leader of the group having sex with the female as two other Sasquatch look on (patiently waiting for it to stop). Some of the film is funny, and a few times goes a little too far with the gags (they pee and poop a lot). However, the longer I watched the film, the more I got involved with the four as they deal with some rough times. Sasquatch Sunset is a film about survival, family, and the will to keep going, no matter the obstacle. Once you get over the attempts at gross stuff (primarily for humor), the film is full of quiet, tender moments and, at times, sadness. Sasquatch Sunset isn’t a film for everybody, but if you give it a chance, it might surprise you with how you feel at the end.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Sasquatch Sunset Website  Now playing in theaters. 

Indiefest: Girls State (2024)  The documentary Girls State follows 500 adolescent girls from all over Missouri as they gather to learn about the democratic process and tackle some of the most contentious issues of the day. This documentary is from the same directorial team of the Emmy Award-winning 2021 film Boys State. Boys State was one of my favorite films of 2021, and this film is even better. Like the first film, there are some of the girls that, at first, you love and some you are sort of on the fence about. The remarkable thing is that as the film goes on, I started to root for some of the girls I didn’t like initially. Just like politics in the real world, hearts are broken, campaigns are mismanaged, and some candidates who are well-spoken and have great ideas are left behind when better and more passionate speakers appear. What sets this apart from the Boys State documentary is that this one is shot at a perfect time, six days before the Supreme Court overturning the ruling of Roe vs Wade. The other fact that makes this film work better than the boy’s version is that for the first time, both the boys and the girls are gathering on the same campus at the same time, and we get to see how each side treats the issues and how the organization treats the two sides unequally. There is a brilliant scene in which a group of girls passes a group of boys, and some of the boys start flexing their muscles to impress the girls (big-time fail). Girls State is a fascinating film that will keep you on the edge of your seat to see who wins and how the winners and losers deal with the game of politics. Let’s hope that these bright young minds keep their interest in politics. The world will be a better place.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Girls State Info   Now playing on the Apple TV+ platform.

Sorry I Missed it (A film that has been out a while, and I’m just now seeing it): Hundreds of Beavers (2022)   Set in the 19th century, our hero Jean Kayak ((Rylland Brickson Cole Tews), a drunken applejack brewery owner loses his business (because of sabotage by beavers) and has to become a fur trapper. His biggest problem is that both the beavers and the rabbits are out to get him. While there is no dialogue (except for one word uttered for full comic effect) but you can’t call this a ‘silent film’. I mean, would you call the Looney Tunes films of the Coyote and the Roadrunner silent films? This is a live-action cartoon that piles on the gags so quick and furious that if one doesn’t work, don’t worry; there is another one right behind it that does. For the first hour of the film, our hero, or should I say our idiot, is constantly bested by rabbits, birds, and beavers. By the way, the rabbits and beavers are portrayed by actors in costumes, making the absurdity go beyond the almost believable. Hundreds of Beavers is an absolutely crazy film that has fun with the premise and keeps pushing the boundaries. Does our hero figure out how to defeat the beavers and maybe impress the cute trader’s daughter? You will have to see about a thousand gags to get there, but it’s worth it.   My Rating: Full Price  Hundreds of Beavers Website  Now playing in select theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Purple Noon (1960) PG-13 This is the French version of The Talented Mr. Ripley. Tom Ripley (Alain Delon) is an American who is a mimic, moocher, forger, and all-around bad guy who thinks he can get away with anything through charm and wits. Tom has been sent to Rome to find his longtime friend Philippe (Maurice Ronet) and bring him back to America. Instead, Tom begins a quest to seduce Marge (Maire Laforet), Philippe’s girlfriend. Things start to go bad from there, but Mr. Ripley always thinks he can escape from any trouble. Purple Noon is a thrilling movie where you have a love/hate relationship with Tom. Being 1960, a few things aren’t explored, and the ending is a little weak, even so, it’s a movie that takes the beauty of Italy and, because of one character, almost makes it ugly.   My Rating: Full Price   Purple Noon Info   The film is available to rent/buy on Amazon. 

Weird Credits: From the credits of Abigail: Hair Juniors

Coming Soon a Screen Near You: Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024) As the world falls, a young Furiosa is taken by a biker horde led by the warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Years later, Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) tries to escape and find her way home as two tyrants wage a war. From filmmaker George Miller, this is the origin story of Furiosa, who Charlize Theron played in the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road.  Furiosa Website   The film will be released in theatres on Friday, May 24th. 

Until Next Time!

Friday, April 12, 2024

Civil War

My View: Civil War (2024) R    Civil War follows a small team of journalists 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. This is a movie that is going to upset a lot of people. Some will be upset because the film never tells you what the war is about. In fact, there are times when we don’t know which side is which. Yes, there is a Trump-like President, played by Nick Offerman, but he is mostly there in voice only (we often hear his speeches on the radio while the gang is on the road). It’s going to upset other people because it’s damn scary. Not in a horror way, but in how real it feels during parts of the film, especially when the journalists are dealing with ‘regular people.’ The reason for seeing this film is the performances. First, there is the brilliant Kristen Dunst, who plays a hardened photographer, Lee, who is there to shoot history in the making with the hope that her pictures might make a difference. Dunst gives us a character who has seen it all, and it has made her put her emotions deep inside her, not wanting them to be let out. Cailee Spaeny is terrific as the young, just starting out Jessie who wants to be included in the action to become a photographer just like Lee. Stephen Henderson is fantastic as an old journalist who wants to report on one last story. I am not a big fan of Wagner Moura, who plays Joel, who loves the action and wants to interview the President before the White House is taken. His performance is a little too over the top for what is needed in the role. Civil War is a film about war and the people who risk their lives to cover it. It isn’t a film about ideology or who’s right or wrong. Civil War is about the horrors of war and how it destroys humanity.   My Rating: Full Price  Civil War Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

My View: The Greatest Hits (2024) PG-13   Harriet (Lucy Boynton), who lost her boyfriend, Max (David Corenswet), in an accident over two years ago. Harriet thinks she is getting over her grief when she meets a new guy, David (Justin H. Min), at her grief counseling group. The only problem is that when Harriet hears certain songs, she gets transported back to a time when Max was still alive. I enjoyed this film, but I love romance movies, so I’d take it with a grain of salt. The premise is pretty cool. Harriet’s time travels back to when she was with Max whenever she hears a song that was playing at the time. She is conscious of this time travel and has tried to save Max many times, but has always failed. This has taken over her life, as she can’t listen to songs on the radio or in a coffee shop, so she wears headphones everywhere and has quit her job as a music producer to work in a library. She then meets David and starts a relationship with him, but can she tell him her problem, or will she break it off with him to keep trying to save Max? I enjoyed the film’s music, and it is fun to see two relationships develop simultaneously. I have been a fan of Lucy Boynton since Sing Street (2016), and she is perfect in the role of Harriet, who is haunted by the past. Boynton has the right feel for the character, someone who loved a person deeply and isn't willing to give up on it. Will Harriet let the past go to find a future? Take a musical journey with The Greatest Hits and find out.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Greatest Hits Website  Now playing on Hulu.

Indiefest: The People’s Joker (2022) A wannabe comedian (Vera Drew) is grappling with her gender identity and forms a law-breaking anti-comedy troupe with a fellow castoff called The Penguin (Nathan Faustyn). She finds herself falling for the wrong person, named Mr. J (Kane Distler), while also dealing with a meddling mother and a certain caped crusader. The People’s Joker is one of those films I feel would probably be a better short than a feature film. The film continually pushes the boundaries both in the content of the storyline and in the use of live-action combined with animation. The animation is a lot of fun to watch, and there are so many styles that, at times, make this film dazzling to watch. I loved the message that the film is about, but it tends to wander a bit at times, and things meant to be funny don’t work about half the time. The mixture of comic book genres with Saturday Night Live (Loren Michaels is a character in the film, though animated) didn’t work for me, it just felt strange. There are quite a few jabs at DC Comics and Batman himself, including questioning the relationship between Robin and Batman. I commend Vera Drew for making a very personal film about his experiences growing up and realizing she was trans. The People’s Joker just went on and on to where I was exhausted by the time the film ended. By the way, there is a bonus scene after the first portion of the credits.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The People's Joker Website  Now playing in select theaters. 
My View:
Arcadian (2024) R   A father (Nicolas Cage) and his two twin teenage boys, Thomas (Max Jenkins) and Joseph (Jaeden Martell) are living in a remote farmhouse 15 years after the world has fallen into chaos. The trio is attempting to survive in a world that is teeming with evil that only appears after sunset. Mr. Cage is known for doing just about any movie that will have him, which means there are some stinkers. Thankfully, this is not one of them. Despite the shaky plot, the movie still manages to deliver plenty of thrills and chills thanks to the terrifying villains. Cage is a dad who has raised his boys since they were infants, born just as the world was being destroyed. Cage isn’t asked to do much as he plays the father as a strict but understanding one, and a little of Cage goes a long way. But don’t expect a full-on raging Cage. His father character is more restrained and practical. Not only is Dad dealing with the evil that comes out at night, but he is dealing with two teenage boys who are feeling their oats, especially Thomas, who has a girl from a nearby farm he is interested in. A sequence in the middle of the film is brilliantly executed, resulting in tension that persists throughout the scene. The ending is a little disappointing, and the special effects are done on the cheap side, even so, Arcadian delivers the scares you want from an end-of-the-world film filled with evil creatures.   My Rating: Full Price   Arcadian Info  Now playing in theatres. 

Forgotten Film: Salvador (1986) R  Written and directed by Oliver Stone, Salvador tells the story of a photojournalist, Richard (James Woods), who is down on his luck (primarily because of his personality and his drug/alcohol use) and goes to El Salvador to report on the events of a military dictatorship and the guerrillas attempting to overthrow the government. Richard tries to play both sides to get the story, which gets him into big trouble. He realizes his days may be numbered in the country and works to get his Salvadorian girlfriend out of the country before it’s too late. Woods is brilliant in the role (he got an Oscar nomination for his performance), and the film is a tense thriller with a main character you root for, even though he isn’t a great guy. My Rating: Full Price   Salvador Info   The film is available on several streaming platforms.

Weird Credits: From the credits of The People’s Joker: Lorne Michaels’s Office Hand Painted by

Coming Soon to A Screen Near You: Back to Black (2024) R  The life and music of Amy Winehouse (Marisa Abela), who went from unknown singer to Grammy-winning best-selling artist. Amy burned bright, but that light died much too soon. I wasn’t much of a fan of Amy Winehouse until I saw the Oscar-winning 2015 documentary Amy, and then I fell in love with her. I can’t wait to see this one.  Back to Black Website  It’s in theaters on Friday, May 17th.

Until Next Time!


Friday, April 5, 2024

Monkey Man

My View: Monkey Man (2024) R   Monkey Man is about a man (Dev Patel) who wears a gorilla mask when he enters the ring as he fights for money. This man has a plan, and it involves violence and getting revenge for the murder of his mother by corrupt leaders. Dev Patel makes a thrilling introduction to movie making with this film. The film tries to cover a bit too much, with commentary on poverty, class, the rich getting richer, and religious leaders becoming political. Still, the film moves at a quick and fun pace, with plenty of fights that would make a confident Mr. Reeves a bit jealous. Monkey Man is a film about finding your destiny while seeking revenge that has consumed you since you were young. The movie starts with our hero getting his butt kicked every time he goes in the ring. We soon learn that he has a plan, a way to get close to the man who killed his mother and burned down his community. Along the way, we learn more and more about our hero and his past as he learns about himself and how to channel his power and will. I have no idea the body count, but it’s high, with lots of blood and people dying in all sorts of ways, most in close action. Monkey Man is about a man fighting the good fight, trying to beat the odds as he takes on a cause that isn’t just about himself and his need for revenge but for the people who have been stepped on for so long.   My Rating: Full Price  Monkey Man Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.

My View: The First Omen (2024) R   In The First Omen, a young American woman (Nell Tiger Free) is sent to Rome to start her life of service in the church. However, she soon discovers a darkness hidden deep inside the church that questions her faith and leads her to uncover a conspiracy that hopes to bring about the birth of evil incarnate. At my screening, we had an ad on the theatre screen with the statement “The Most Terrifying Movie of the Year.’ Well, don’t believe everything you read. The film tries and fails to scare you, mostly with homages to the 1976 film The Omen, which this is a prequel to. And because it’s a prequel, we know what will happen and who will survive. The film fails to find any balance between its anti-religion viewpoint and the attempt to gross us out at every turn. There is one scene in the middle of the film that is so outlandish that several of my fellow critics laughed out loud. The script is horribly written with an ending that makes no sense other than an attempt to end the film where the original film starts. Skip this one and watch the original because that kid in that one was creepy as heck.   My Rating: Cable  The First Omen Website  Now playing in theatres. 

My View: Música (2024)   Música is about Rudy (Rudy Mancuso), a young man filled by music from the sounds he hears around him. Rudy has synesthesia, which turns ordinary sounds into rhythm. Besides not knowing what he wants to do in life, he is torn between his former girlfriend, Haley (Francesca Reale), who wants him back, and a new girl working in a fish market, Isabella (Camila Mendes). Música is a fun musical where the story is told from the viewpoint of Rudy, so often, the world he hears turns into scenes of ordinary people making music with things such as trash cans, brooms, and books. Rudy is a character that you want to root for, but he is too nice of a guy, one who doesn’t like to let people down. That makes Rudy a character who continually frustrates you by making taking the easy way out. The musical sequences are well done, and there is a brilliant sequence in the film where, in the span of about 5 minutes, Rudy walks through several dates with both women while the scenery keeps changing right before our eyes. Música is a musical with romance and humor, a tremendous first directorial job by the star himself. Since this film is based somewhat on Rudy Mancuso’s own life, it will be interesting to see what he does next. Let’s hope there is more singing and dancing. My Rating: Full Price  Musica Info  Now playing on Prime Video.

Indiefest: Wicked Little Letters (2023) R  The film is set in the 1920s in a small English seaside town where deeply conservative local Edith (Olivia Colman) and others in the community have received scandalous letters containing profanity. All the evidence points to a rowdy Irish migrant, Rose (Jessie Buckley), known for her colorful use of language. It all comes to a head when Rose is charged with the crime, and Police Officer Gladys (Anjana Vasan) must solve the mystery. A bit of warning: the film has a ton of foul language and I do mean a lot, though it’s all in fun, as we learn this film is based on a real story. Jessie Buckley is fantastic as the foul-mouthed mother who speaks her mind while spouting a few profanities. Olivia Colman is the spinster who believes in God’s will but cannot forgive Rose, who she suspects is the writer of the letters. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and loved the gang of busybody sleuths, led by scrappy police officer Gladys, who attempt to figure out who is behind the letters. So be prepared to be shocked by some language, but it’s all in good fun as we discover who wrote those naughty letters.   My Rating: Full Price  Wicked Little Letters Website  Now playing in theatres. 

Indiefest: Housekeeping for Beginners (2023)   Dita (Anamaria Marinca) lives in a big house with her partner, Suada (Alina Serban), Suada’s two daughters, Dita’s longtime friend Toni, and her new younger boyfriend, Ali. The house always has new friends living in it, coming and going as they please. When Suada dies of cancer, Dita is forced to become the mother she never thought she would be. The movie is about finding family in circumstances that are not always conventional. It’s about finding support and love from people who have found each other by chance and fate. Dita has to do something she never thought she could do: become a mother. Anamaria Marinca gives a powerful and moving performance of a woman who loses the love of her life and now must try and hold this group of people together while dealing with the sorrow and pain. The film is stolen by Dzada Selim, who plays the young, always moving and talking Mia. Selim is hilarious, with lines that will make you laugh or break your heart. Housekeeping for Beginners is a beautiful tale about love and finding a way to stay together, regardless of odds. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Housekeeping for Beginners Website  Now playing in theatres. 

Familyfaire: Chicken for Linda! (2023)   Linda has been unfairly punished by her mother, Paulette. To make up for it, Paulette asks how she can make it up to Linda. Linda wants chicken with peppers, and the two are now off on an adventure to find a chicken in a town that has shut down because of a strike. This is a charming, lovely animated film about what we will do for our loved ones. This film is a fun adventure with some very colorful and inventive animation. I was a little let down by some of the musical interludes, but the film has plenty of comedic moments and a remarkable final third of the film, where all the elements come together to make a savory dish. Chicken for Linda! is a film that kids and their parents will enjoy.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Chicken for Linda! Website  Now playing in select theatres. 
My View: Scoop (2024) TV-MA   Scoop is the story of the  women who, through hard work and guts, got one of the biggest interviews of all time when Prince Andrew (Rufus Sewell) told about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Scoop is the compelling and sometimes nerve-wracking story of a group of journalists who work behind the scenes to get one of the biggest stories of the last ten years, a story that rocked the monarchy. The narrative concentrates on Billie Piper’s Sam McAllister, who is not well-liked in the newsroom but is adept at persuading people to tell their story on the air. Sam is a single working mom who doesn’t feel or have the respect of the rest of the newsroom, but she is able to get things done. Gillian Anderson plays the nightly BBC news show anchor, Emily Maitlis. Anderson is perfect as the nerves-of-steel interviewer who stares down a member of the royal family, Prince Andrew (played impeccably well by Rufus Sewell), and gets him to make things worse for himself by being himself. Scoop is a well-told tale that happens to be true, and even though you know the outcome, you still have to wonder if the interview will ever come about or, better yet, broadcast. My Rating: Full Price  Scoop Website  Now playing on Netflix. 

Forgotten Film: Two Hands (1999) R  A young man, Jimmy (Heath Ledger), finds himself in trouble with a local mobster (Brian Brown) when some money is missing and Jimmy looks like he is the culprit. Jimmy goes on the run and meets Alex (Rose Byrne), who takes a liking to Jimmy and decides to go with him on the run. Meanwhile, a couple of kids find the missing money and go on a shopping spree. Two Hands is a fun caper film with a lot of star power in Ledger and Byrne heating up the screen. And anytime you have Brian Brown as the bad guy, you know you will have fun. The film tries a bit too hard to be a little off the wall. Nevertheless, it’s a fun ride with Heath Ledger giving us a hero to root for.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Two Hands Info  Available for rent/buy on Amazon.

Weird Credits: From the credits of The First Omen: Baby Model

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024) PG-13 Many years after Caesar's reign, a young ape goes on a journey that will make him question everything he’s been taught about the past, especially the history of humans. The film is set many years after the 2017 film War for the Planet of the Apes.  It releases on Friday, May 10, 2024.    The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Website

Until Next Time!