Friday, June 28, 2024

A Quiet Place: Day One

My View:  A Quiet Place: Day One  (2024)  PG-13  A Quiet Place: Day One takes place on the first day of the alien invasion. Sam (Lupita Nyong’o) and her pet cat must survive in an ever-isolated New York City. Sam tries to figure out a way out while evading the bloodthirsty alien creatures with ultrasonic hearing. She teams up with a young law student, Eric (Joseph Quinn), who is just looking for help and guidance. I am a big fan of John Krasinski’s first two Quiet Place films, as they were a perfect mix of great drama with some horror thrown in. I will admit it took me almost a day to change my opinion of this film, which takes place on the first few days of the invasion by killer aliens who locate their victims by sound. My first reaction was that the film didn’t give us much information about the aliens and why they have invaded. But with further thought, this isn’t about the aliens; it’s about the people trying to survive and make connections in a world where talking rarely happens. Day One is not a film about survival, but rather about living your life, finding connections with others, and finding solace in the little things that make up the world. Yes, there are plenty of scary aliens seemingly around every corner, and it’s a world where the slightest mistake could cost you your life. But it’s also a story of finding humanity, sometimes in small gestures, that connect people. Oh, and cat lovers will fall in love with Sam's cat, who constantly steals the movie from Nyong'o, something I thought would be impossible. So pack a few cans of cat food, a couple of flashlights and go on a journey with Eric and Sam as they try to evade the invaders and survive together with a cat that has more than nine lives.  My Rating: Full Price  A Quiet Place: Day One Website Now playing in theaters nationwide. 

My View:  Horizon:  An American Saga- Chapter 1   (2024)  R  Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 spans the  years of the Civil War, as the film looks at the people who made up the Old West at a time of conflict. The story is told through the lens of families, friends, and foes as America expanded its boundaries. If you are hoping for another Costner-directed Dances with Wolves, you will be sadly disappointed. Horizon is a film that has too many characters to keep track of, and I have no clue if they will all somehow connect in Chapter 2. While Costner, the director, still has an eye for some stunning shots of the American West, the film suffers from characters you don’t care about and a script that meanders like the wagon train that Luke Wilson is leading. Who the heck thought he could be perfect as the trail boss? Costner’s character shows up about an hour into the film, doing what I never was clear about, and quickly gets involved with a prostitute played by Abbey Lee and gets into a whole bunch of trouble. By the way, Abbey Lee’s character, Marigold, is the only character I enjoyed. And apparently, in what seemed like 5 minutes of highlights from Chapter 2, shown at the end of the film, Marigold does not appear again. I am not sure the audience will show up for Chapter 2 either. As a fan of Westerns, I was hoping Mr. Costner would give us something to enjoy, but other than a very talkative prostitute, he doesn’t. It’s just a long, a big mess of a story that may never end.   My Rating: Cable  Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 Website  Now playing in theaters. 

My ViewDaddio  (2023)  R   In Daddio, a woman (Dakota Johnson) takes a cab ride from JFK to the city. On the way, she converses with a widower cab driver, Clark (Sean Penn), who has a habit of asking questions. Sometimes, it’s easier to discuss your personal life and loves with a stranger. All it takes is a conversation with someone you don't know to figure out a few things. It’s a time-honored thing for someone to talk to a stranger. Sometimes, it’s a bartender, or a fellow stranger at the bar, or on a long cab drive. This used to be more common before people could bury themselves in their phones. To pass the time, you would talk to a stranger, and if you connected, someone might bear personal things. That's what happens in Daddio: during a long taxi ride from the airport to midtown, with heavy traffic in between, they have time to discuss love, life, and mistakes. Daddio is a fine match between two strong and personal actors in Johnson and Penn. Both portray likable characters, which is essential because we, the audience, are along for this hour and forty-minute ride. Johnson plays a successful computer programmer who is in a relationship that, through Clark’s probing and guessing, we discover, is with a married man. To make the young woman comfortable, Clark makes a game of these confessions, one secret given for one in return. The back-and-forth chemistry between the two actors and a realistic dialogue, where we almost feel guilty for being allowed to ride along, without us having to share a secret or two in return. We get to ride along and do not have to pay Clark for the privilege of being invited into the lives of the two people. Like most cab rides, we will never see them again, and that’s okay; we got to learn a few things about these two people and us as well.  My Rating: Full Price   Daddio Website  The film is now in theaters.

My View: I Am: Celine Dion  (2024) The documentary I Am: Celine Dion gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic singer, her Vegas residency, and her struggle with a life-altering illness that Celine vows to overcome and be on the stage again. The numerous concert clips and behind-the-scenes footage are sure to delight Celine Dion fans. Plus, Celine gives us a tour of her costume collection, which makes up a whole warehouse, and we get a ton of scenes in her Las Vegas home, with her kids and dog. However, I will warn you that this is not a warm and fuzzy movie. I Am gives us a close-up of the battle that Celine is waging with the rare neurological disorder, Stiff Person Syndrome, that has taken her away from the concert stage. I commend Celine Dion for allowing the cameras to see her both at her best and worst, showing how devastating this condition is and how it has robbed her of what she loves almost as much as her family: performing. There are two heartbreaking scenes. One is where Celine struggles to record a new song, something she hasn’t done in years, with a singing voice that doesn’t want to respond. The second is near the film’s end when we see her go into a total seizure, brought on by trying to do too much. It’s a scary and heartbreaking scene that she recovers from because of her team. At one point, near the end of the seizure, she is asked if she wants the cameras to be cut off, and she bravely says no. I Am: Celine Dion is a brave and insightful film that shines a spotlight on a devastating neurological disorder that few have ever heard of. Before watching this film, I was not a big fan of Celine Dion, the singer, but I am now a fan of Celine Dion, the person. My Rating: Full Price  I Am: Celine Dion Website  The film is now on the Amazon Prime format.

My View Kinds of Kindness  (2024)  R  Kinds of Kindness is a trilogy of stories about a man who tries to take control of his life, a police officer whose wife has become seemingly a different person, and a woman who searches for someone with a special ability. This is a film from Yorgos Lanthimos, who gave us the 11-nominated, four-time Oscar-winner comedy Poor Things. Poor Things was a comedy with a bit of darkness. Kinds of Kindness is the exact opposite: it’s a drama full of darkness with a bit of comedy. So you have been warned. This is a film built from three different stories. One character connects each story, but that connection is so slight and quick that you might not even notice it. Kinds of Kindness comprises three stories. The first is a man who has had his life predetermined for him and tries to break the chain. The second story is about a cop who is convinced that his wife, who has been missing and presumed dead, is not really his wife. Story number three is about a couple who are on the search for someone who can raise the dead. All three stories are strange and take almost absurd turns that leave you wondering if what you saw is true or a figment of a character's imagination. Unlike Poor Things, which, because Emma Stone played such a bizarre and fun character, along with all the strange animals/people in the film, was fun to watch, this film can be brutal and extremely dark. Surprisingly, I think I found this film more enjoyable than Poor Things. It’s a film that seems to have more substance than the comedy. Somehow, someway, I was more involved with these dark and strange stories, all of which surprised me with how they told, and how the stories each ended. So, if you dare, get into the purple muscle car that Emma Stone’s character drives in the third story and take a ride with a film that will take you on a very bumpy ride.   My Rating: Full Price   Kinds of Kindness Website   Now playing in theaters.

IndiefestJanet Planet  (2023)  PG-13  Janet Planet is about 11-year-old Lucy (Zoe Ziegler), who is spending the summer of 1991 with her mother, Janet (Julianne Nicholson), at their home. As the summer goes along, three strangers enter Janet’s world and are captivated by her and her very insightful daughter. Janet Planet is a film about a young girl trying to find her place in the world with a mother who doesn’t seem to have ever found her place. Buoyed by two powerful performances from Zoe Ziegler and Julianne Nicholson, the film is about two people living together but not always on the same page. Lucy is someone who likes to be the center of attention. Her mother seems to collect people, often being influenced by the people she lets into her life, but it's never permanent. The only constant in Janet’s life is her daughter, who she often opens up to her as they lie in bed together at night. Lacy's entire world revolves around her mother, and there is no room for anyone else. We never know if this is also the case with Janet, but it’s clear that their relationship is the only thing that ultimately matters. Not much happens in Janet and Lacy’s world, and they seem fine with that.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Janet Planet Website  Now playing in theaters.

My ViewFancy Dance  (2023)  R    In Fancy Dance, Jax (Lily Gladstone) is obsessed with finding where her missing sister has disappeared to. Jax’s sister has left behind Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson) in Jax’s care, much to the dismay of Jax’s father, Frank (Shea Whigham). At the risk of losing custody, Jax sets out for the state powwow, hoping to track down Roki’s mother before the ceremonies begin. While Lily Gladstone’s character, Jax, is the one making the decisions, we see how all the drama that is happening with the family through the eyes of Roki, who desperately wants to see her mother again. Gladstone lets Deroy-Olson be the emotional one, allowing her to reflect on what is happening in their lives through Roki’s actions and facial expressions. Jax knows the deck is stacked against her in finding her sister, Roki’s mother. It’s stacked because of the lack of resources given to finding missing persons who live on the reservation. It’s stacked against Jax because of someone who has made mistakes in her past, and the courts will use it against her. And it’s stacked against her because, in her heart, Jax thinks this might be a lost cause. The story slowly teaches us about life on the reservation and about Roki’s mother. Fancy Dance is a film that lets us peek into the lives of two women with a bond of more than just aunt and niece; It’s a bond of history, culture, and a way of life. Life is full of injustices, but family can help you deal with them, even if it takes dancing to do it.  My Rating: Full Price    Fancy Dance Info  Now playing on the Apple TV+ format.
My View:  
A Family Affair  (2024)  PG-13  In A Family Affair, Zara (Joey King) has been a personal assistant for a couple of years to super mega movie star Chris Cole (Zac Efron), a selfish, demanding womanizer. The job has taken a toll on Zara, and because she is fed up dealing with Chris and his constant demands, she quits. Soon after, to her horror, she discovers that her widowed mother and successful author, Brooke (Nicole Kidman), has begun a romance with Zara’s former boss. So with Zac Efron playing the selfish, boorish star, Nicole Kidman playing the widow/perfect mom, Kathy Bates playing the wise and fun grandma, and Joey King playing the put-upon, smart, lovable personal assistant, this film should have been a smash hit. However, the'meet-cute'/jumping into bed is too easy (sorry Nicole, pun intended), and everything else in the plot is predictable and lazy. Despite the star power, the film falls flat on its face. Besides his winning smile and rock-hard abs (they are brought up several times), you wonder what Brooke sees in Chris. Sure, he is someone who looks good in anything he wears, but the man treats Zara, Brooke’s beloved daughter, like crap. In addition, Chris is a shallow idiot who thinks he can persuade his assistant to order fresh air for him to breathe. This same person then meets Brooke and is suddenly a nice guy who reads books and can converse with an author without boring her to tears. The laughs are few, and the chemistry between Efron and Kidman is sorely lacking. Do we truly believe that this love affair will span beyond a six-month shooting schedule? The only bright spot is Joey King, who tries as hard as she can to be kooky, lovable, and willing to be silly when it’s needed. But try as hard as she can; nothing can save this rom-com from needing a rewrite or two. Or three.  My Rating: Cable   A Family Affair Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

Forgotten Film: Eye of the Needle  (1981)  R  A ruthless killer and German spy, Henry Faber, nicked named The Needle (for the way he kills) is in Britain during WWII and has gotten important information about the upcoming Allied invasion of Europe that must get to Hitler himself. As he waits to be picked up on an Isolated island off the Scottish coast and against his better judgment, he becomes involved with the wife, Lucy (Kate Nelligan), of a disabled man (Christopher Cazenove). This is a story about lost souls finding each other, even in wartime. However, this is not a romantic tale as Henry is a killer who doesn’t think twice about murder if it benefits Henry. Henry is a troubled man, and no matter how much Lucy falls for him, she won’t be able to change him.  Or will it? Donald Sutherland gives an outstanding performance as only he can, making a man with all the makings of a serial killer, someone who is so complex that you wonder if he can find happiness with Lucy.  My Rating: Full Price  Eye of the Needle Website  The film is available for rent/buy on Amazon and Apple TV.

Weird Credits:  From the credits of A Quiet Place: Day One:  Wire Assistants 

Coming Soon to a Screen Near YouLonglegs  (2024)  R  FBI Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) is a gifted new recruit assigned to an unsolved case involving a serial killer and the occult. Agent Harker discovers she has a personal connection to the killer and must stop him before he strikes again. The cast includes Nicolas Cage, Blaire Underwood, and Alicia Witt.  Longlegs Website  The film will be released in theaters on Friday, July 12, 2024. 

Until Next Time!

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