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!


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