Friday, June 14, 2024

Inside Out 2

My View:  Inside Out 2  (2024)  PG  Riley is now a full-time teen, and her mind is going through some changes. The gang of Emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, have been doing a great job, but they are about to meet a new addition to the group: Anxiety. And it looks like she isn’t alone. When we last left Riley (Inside Out (2015)), she was still a preteen trying to get over moving to a new city and dealing with a lot of new emotions. Just when Riley thinks she has things handled with some great friends and a budding ice career, she becomes a teenager. With that comes a whole bunch of new emotions show up: Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hause), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), and worst of all, the ever hyper Anxiety (Maya Hawke). Just as these new emotions move in, Riley is given the immense chance to impress her future high school coach as she has been specially invited to a summer hockey camp. In the past, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) has run the show, but now Anxiety has taken control, and things aren’t going well for Riley or her old emotions. Inside Out 2 is a wonderful addition to the Pixar lineup, and while not entirely on the level of the first film, it’s still a rousing, fun time, full of comedy and adventure. The new characters are hilarious, especially Ennui (think of her as a bored, too-cool French teen), with the standout being Maya Hawke as Anxiety. Hawke brings a fresh energy to the film, and her comedy timing is spot-on, making Anxiety antics over-the-top funny. Oh, and there are a couple of awesome new characters that I don’t want to spoil, but fans of old kids’ animation and old video games will be in heaven. Can Joy and the rest of the gang get control back from Anxiety? Well, you will have to see if Riley can conquer her emotions to survive hockey camp and the horrors of being a teenager. Make sure to stay through all the credits to see a bonus scene that perfectly caps off the film.  My Rating: Full Price  Inside Out 2 Website  Now playing in theaters nationwide.
IndiefestTuesday  (2023)  Zora (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a single mom, has devoted her life to her terminally ill daughter Tuesday (Lola Petticrew). One day, Death, in the form of a size-altering macaw, arrives at their home and tells the two to prepare for the end. Death’s arrival sends Zora and Tuesday on a journey that explores life, death, and love. I am not giving anything away (since it’s on the poster and in the trailer) that Death shows up in the form of a macaw parrot. When I saw the trailer for this film, I was expecting a film where Death and Zora talk about life and death, much like the professor and the genie in the Tilda Swinton drama Three Thousand Years of Longing  (2022). Instead, we get a wandering film that never can find its footing, as, at first, Tuesday befriends Death, convincing Death to let her live until her mother returns from an outing. Then it becomes Zora trying to defeat death in any way to keep her daughter alive. I never corrected to this film and never felt any of the emotions that the film wanted me to. I also felt that early on, the film was slow to get going because Death has a hard time speaking, and it takes a while for Death to make any sense at all. But mostly, Tuesday never fully gives us characters that we can understand and embrace, as its theme seems to be a one-note film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Tuesday Website  Now playing in theaters. 
IndiefestTreasure  (2024)  R  In 1991, Ruth (Lena Dunham), a neurotic journalist from New York, takes after her father, Edek (Stephen Fry), back to Poland to visit his childhood home. However, Edek, a survivor of the Ghettos during the Holocaust, does not want to relive the trauma and does his best to sabotage the trip. Treasure works because of the performances of Dunham and Fry. Dunham plays Ruth as a sad sack person who desperately wants to connect with her father but doesn’t know how and is too stuck in her own misery to see how hard this trip is on Edek, making him relive a past he wants to forget. Edek is also at fault, and Fry plays him as a man who tries to make everything full of sunshine and laughs when he won’t open up to Ruth to tell her how he is feeling. Ruth feels she can make things right between her father and his past by confronting it. Edek would rather avoid the past and live in the present. Treasure is full of both funny and harsh moments as the two people try to connect, but don’t have the guts to truly make a connection. The film tackles the idea that it’s hard to tackle the horrors of the past when you can’t even confront the present. The film’s big moments are not only in the actual Auschwitz grounds but in those moments when the two are both trying to connect in hotels or cabs and can’t find the words to reach each other.   My Rating: Full Price  Treasure Website  Now playing in theaters. 
Indiefest 20,000 Species of Bees (2023)   While on a family vacation in a village house linked to beekeeping, a mother, Ane (Patricia López Arnaiz), and her eight-year-old son, Altor (Sofía Otero), will learn about themselves and each other, changing their lives forever. This is a film about trying to find a place in the world where you are comfortable in your own skin. The film moves at a pace that allows us to get to know the characters and how they deal with life’s pressures. Right from the start, we know something is up, as Altor keeps telling her brother that his name is not Altor but Coco. We soon learn that Coco is a child who is used to staying behind with his mother, not taking part, even at a pool with other kids. As the film moves along, we see that Altor/Coco doesn’t feel right in his skin, that he knows things don’t seem right, and that maybe, just maybe, he should have been a she. I loved this film, as we slowly see a child discover that the world isn’t in black and white, but full of color and choices. Ane tries to understand her child but has problems of her own, with a marriage that is falling apart, a disapproving mother, and pressure to create a sculpture in time for a job interview that her family desperately needs. Altor/Coco finds a friend in her mother’s aunt, who takes the child under her wing and teaches Coco about life and how to deal with/care for bees. 20,000 Species of Bees is a beautiful film about life and young person trying to figure out a way to live a life they feel they must follow.   My Rating: Full Price  20,000 Species of Bees Website  Now playing in theaters.  
FamilyfaireUltraman: Rising  (2024)  PG  Ken Sato, a superstar baseball player, has returned to Japan to become the latest hero to carry the mantle of Ultraman. His dreams are shattered when he is given the task of raising a newborn kaiju monster. The newborn is the offspring of his greatest enemy and will be Ultraman’s greatest challenge. Ultraman: Rising is a collaboration between Tsuburaya Productions, the creators of the Ultraman franchise, and Netflix Animation. That makes this an excellent primer for kids to get into the world of the Kaiju monsters (think monsters from the Godzilla world) without getting scared. The core of this film is family and how sometimes we don’t realize the sacrifices that our parents make to ensure that we are safe and happy. Ken has returned to Japan to reluctantly take the mantle of being Ultraman from his father, who, because of all the battles he has been in, must retire. Their relationship is not great and is getting worse since Ken’s mother disappeared and is presumed dead. Ken is also coming back to Japan to prove that he is a winner in baseball, having never won a championship in the U.S., even with all his baseball heroics. What makes this film fun for kids is when the baby kaiju falls into Ken’s lap, and he becomes an instant father to a giant pink baby kaiju monster named Emmy, who has a tendency to get heartburn that projects fire and, of course, throws up green slime. The battle sequences are fun and have plenty of action, but I will warn you that the family I saw it with and I were not ready for the almost 2-hour run time. Also, like a lot of Japanese manga animation, there are a lot of discussions that go on, making those parts boring for kids (and sometimes adults too). The family storyline goes on a little too long, but as 5-year-old Miles said after the screening, ‘The best thing was Emmy and the fighting.’  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Ultraman: Rising Website    Now playing on the Netflix platform. 
IndiefestLate Bloomers  (2023)  Louise (Karen Gillan) is a 28-year-old woman who is recently single again, in need of a job, and depressed. When she drunkenly falls while doing something stupid, Louise breaks her hip and finds herself in a physical therapy ward full of people twice her age. There, she meets Antonina (Małgorzata Zajączkowska), a cranky elderly Polish woman who doesn’t speak English. Somehow, Louise gets a job as a caretaker for Antonina, and it just might be time for her to grow up with Antonina’s help. Late Bloomers is a coming-of-age story that isn’t about a teen but a 28-year-old woman who acts as if she is still in high school. Louise is a person who is lost, selfish and isn’t willing to listen to anybody, including her friends. Along comes Antonina, a woman who speaks no English and seems to hate everyone and everything. The two start bonding, even without the ability to converse, with Louise feeling she has found someone she can finally relate to. This is a fun, sweet film that is helped by a captivating and sometimes brave performance by Karen Gillan. Gillan plays Louise as a person who we don’t like at first, but we soon learn that there are reasons Louise has never grown up. We soon root for this newfound relationship that is strange and mystifying but somehow works between Louise and Antonia. So grab a walker or a crutch and join Louise and Antonia on a journey where they learn about each other and themselves. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Late Bloomers Website  Now playing in theaters and On Demand. 
 I Used to Be Funny (2023) I Used to Be Funny is about Sam (Rachel Sennott), an aspiring standup comedian and sometimes nanny who struggle with PTSD and depression. Sam sets out to find Brooke (Olga Petsa), a troubled teen she used to nanny who is missing, but only if Sam can get off her bed and out of the house. While the film wanders a bit with its structure of going back and forth from the past to the present, the film is a delight to watch because of the awe-inspiring performance by Rachel Sennott. Sennott plays Sam in the present as someone who has gone through a traumatic event that has changed her outlook on life and the world. This is a contrast to Sam we saw in the past, because she is confident, quick to make humorous comments, and adept at addressing a very moody preteen in Brooke. Sennott handles both with incredible grace, causing you to fall in love with Sam, even when she's challenging and unapproachable. Sennott flows through the past scenes with superb comic timing while she gives the present, Sam a multilayered personality, one who wants to hide but knows it is best if she keeps trying to live her life. I Used to Be Funny is a film about friendship, love, and, with the help of good friends, putting your life back together when it seems hopeless, which writer/director Ally Pankiw delivers with a sure hand and an ear for creating real and natural dialogue. Sennott anchors the film with a performance that actors with 20 more years of experience couldn’t deliver. I Used to be Funny that gives us both laughs and tears with a performance that you won’t soon forget. My Rating: Full Price  I Used to Be Funny Info  Now playing in theaters.
Forgotten FilmO  (2001) Modern-day telling of Shakespeare’s Othello. Coach Duke Goulding (Martin Sheen) runs his high school basketball team with a firm hand, often taking it out on his own son, Hugo (Josh Hartnett). Josh feels he is the star of the team but is put out when his own father makes Odin (Mekhi Phifer) the award winner of ‘Best Player,’ who then shares the award with his best friend, Michael (Andrew Keegan). Hugo decides to take Odin down and using Odin’s own girlfriend Desi (Julia Stiles), to create a plot that will destroy both Odin and the high school basketball team. O was a film that very few people saw (the original studio delayed its release by two years because of the original release date being around the Columbine High School shootings). The young cast is outstanding, with Phifer and Stiles shining in their parts as teens on a collision course with tragedy. Fans of Shakespeare should check this film out.  My Rating: Full Price  O Info  The film is available on most streaming platforms. 

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Inside Out 2:  Character Groom Lead

Coming Soon to a Screen Near YouDeadpool & Wolverine  (2024)  R  Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is recovering from some serious injuries when he comes across someone he really doesn’t like, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds). After trying to kill each other, the two frenemies team up to defeat a common enemy. I am a huge fan of the Deadpool series and can’t wait to see this film. I love how Reynolds kept after Jackman to put on the yellow uniform for one last time. And by the way, it’s rumored that a certain baldheaded man in a wheelchair may show up.  Deadpool & Wolverine Website  The film will be released in theaters on Friday, July 26, 2024. 

Until Next Time!

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