Friday, June 21, 2024

The Bikeriders

My View:  The Bikeriders  (2023) R  In The Bikeriders, it’s the mid-1960s, and after a chance encounter at a local bar, Kathy (Jodie Comer) becomes involved with Benny (Austin Butler), the newest member of a biker club named The Vandals. The biker club is led by Johnny (Tom Hardy), and under his leadership, the club is starting to change. It’s a change that will force Benny to choose whether to stay with Kathy or The Vandals. I was excited when I heard about this film because you have three Oscar nominees in the cast: Austin Butler (Elvis), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Nocturnal Animals). However, they are all let down by a script that goes nowhere and dominated by a performance by Jodie Comer, who makes this film watchable. Comer is brilliant and captivating as the girlfriend/wife of Benny, a woman who speaks her mind, is in love with her man (from first sight), and is the storyteller of this tale as she is interviewed by a reporter/photographer (Mike Faist) who documents the early days of the biker gang. While Hardy, going full brood, is dominated as the biker gang leader who seems to make the rules up as he goes along, the performance of Austin Butler is a letdown. Butler seems to believe that his character's look is too cool for him to do anything else. Of the three main characters, Benny, the focus of much of the film, is the most uninteresting character in the bunch. Kathy's presence made this film enjoyable and entertaining, even with the subject matter of a violent, rebel-rousing biker gang. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Bikeriders Website  Now playing in theaters.

My ViewThelma  (2024) PG-13  Thelma is about 93-year-old Thelma Post (June Squibb), who gets duped into giving away 10,000 dollars in a phone scam. With the help of a few friends, Thelma decides to go on a treacherous quest across the city to get her money back. This is one of those rare films that is precisely what you think it is: an enjoyable film with some fun performances and a story that isn’t going to win any Oscars but is going to delight a lot of people. Thelma is June Squibb’s first headlining film in her long career. We fell in love with Squibb in her Oscar-nominated performance as Kate, the feisty mom in Nebraska. While Thelma isn’t going to speak her mind like Kate, she is a strong-willed woman, still living on her own, and is determined to confront the people who stole her money. Squibb is aided by an outstanding supporting cast. Parker Posey and Clark Gregg play a married couple, with Fred Hechinger portraying their son Daniel, Thelma's 20-something grandson. Posey and Clark's overreaction to any information about Thelma and her journey is hilarious. I loved how the film portrays Daniel, who loves his grandmother and is on her side (his parents are on the verge of putting Thelma in a home), even when she escapes from his care. The movie features Richard Roundtree's final performance, and it's a delight to watch him on screen with June Squibb. Roundtree is perfect in the role of Thelma’s friend, who provides Thelma with his scooter, but only if he can come along so she won’t get in trouble. And here’s where the fun begins with Squibb going on a road trip (of sorts) that will involve breaking and entering, gunplay, and maybe an explosion or two. So maybe drink a nutritional supplement, put on your best tennis shoes, and get ready to ride with Thelma as she tracks down the bastards who stole her money. And by the way, June Squibb did almost all her own stunts.   My Rating: Full Price  Thelma Website  Now playing in theaters.

IndiefestGhostlight  (2024)  R   Ghostlight is about Dan (Keith Kupferer), a construction worker struggling to deal with life after a family tragedy. He is not talking to his wife, Sharon (Tara Mallen), and has no idea how to relate to his troubled daughter, Daisy (Katherine Mallen Kupferer). Dan finds comfort and community after he stumbles upon a misfit company of amateur actors rehearsing Romeo and Juliet. When Dan joins the company, he realizes that confronting his buried emotions is crucial to becoming the actor he aspires to be. As a former theater kid, I always enjoy watching films that showcase the behind-the-scenes stories of putting on plays, particularly when it's a local production. That’s what we get in Ghostlight, a film that follows Dan, a father who isn’t dealing well with a traumatic event that has affected him and his family. Dan is having trouble sleeping and isn’t communicating well with his wife. Almost every time he tries to connect with his daughter, Daisy, she becomes hostile. Things change a bit when Dan stumbles upon a local community theater group, and they convince him to join their group. What makes this film work so well is the performances of Keith Kupferer and his real-life wife Tara Mallen and daughter Katherine Mallen Kupferer. The performances are outstanding and feel so touching, as all three characters are trying to deal with the tragedy in their own ways. Even when Dan's daughter Daisy tries to bring him into her therapy sessions, he has chosen not to talk about it. Daisy is always angry, and Sharon is just trying to keep the family going while also trying to keep a lawsuit the family has filed on track. Ghostlight is a heartfelt and moving story that lets the cast take us on a journey of discovering and healing, as Dan learns to get in touch with his emotions through his work as an actor. Ghostlight is a film that examines the power of art to aid in healing and comprehending our emotions and feelings. So, study your lines and help Dan and his family put things back together, maybe in time for a performance of Romeo and Juliet.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Ghostlight Website  Now playing in theaters.

My ViewBlack Barbie: A Documentary  (2023)  Black Barbie: A Documentary chronicles the journey of three former Mattel workers who questioned why Barbie didn’t look like them and then made it happen. This is the personal journey of filmmaker Lagueria Davis, whose Beulah Mae Mitchell was one of the first Black employees at Mattel and was there when Black Barbie was first released. The film gives us a history of not only how and when black Barbie dolls were introduced but also how those dolls impacted the lives of kids around the world. The film features an interview with Kitty Black Perkins, the creator of Black Barbie, and the individuals who followed her at Mattel. We also receive personal stories from Gabourey Sidibe, Shonda Rhimes, and Misty Copeland about Barbie's influence on their childhood. I loved the behind-the-scenes footage and the fascinating history of the Barbie doll. The movie reveals that Mattel still needs to work on bringing Black Barbie from the shadows to the spotlight she deserves.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Black Barbie Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View:
 The Exorcism (2024) R   A troubled actor, Anthony Miller (Russel Crowe), is known for his past addictions. When he exhibits disruptive behavior on the set of a horror film, his estranged daughter (Ryan Simpkins) wonders if he has slipped again or if something more sinister is at play. This film marks the return of Russell Crowe to his I've Met the Devil phase of his career, following the release of The Pope's Exorcist in 2023. At least The Pope’s Exorcist had a bit of fun with Russell as a scooter-riding Father sending The Devil packing. In this film, Russell is an actor who plays a priest. Apparently, Tony has ruined his career and his relationship with his daughter by drowning his sorrows in liquor and drugs after his wife's death to cancer. Now, Tony has returned from rehab and is trying to mend fences. He is given the lead role in a film called The Georgetown Project, a knockoff remake of the classic 1973 horror film The Exorcist. Despite its promising beginning, the movie quickly goes off the rails with a plot that is downright silly. The film uses only jump scares coming from the dark because the budget couldn’t afford more than one light at a time. An unbelievable sequence occurs about an hour into the film that brings the film to a crashing halt. I guess we are to think that everyone on the Georgetown film crew thinks that what they see is just something that happens to actors from time to time. At that point, I thought about leaving, but I wanted to see how it ended and if David Hyde Pierce, playing a Priest/psychologist, would say the words “The Power of Christ compels you!” Unfortunately, he doesn’t. Can Russell Crowe please put down the priest collars and make a sequel to The Nice Guys instead?   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  The Exorcism Website  Now playing in theaters. 

Forgotten FilmRoad to Perdition  (2002)  R  The story of two men, Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks) and Connor Rooney (Connor Rooney), who are henchmen for mob boss John Rooney (Paul Newman). Even though Mike is not flesh and blood related to John Rooney, John sees Mike more as his son than the volatile Connor. After Mike’s young son (Tyler Hoechlin) witnesses a botched killing by the two men, Mike realizes that he and his son must go on the run to escape the mob. However, they won’t be able to escape the past. Road to Perdition is a film with incredible performances and Oscar-winning cinematography but it has been forgotten because Tom Hanks plays a hitman who kills for a living. There is a great supporting cast that includes Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stanley Tucci, and Ciaran Hinds. If you are a fan of gangster films and film noir, this is a film for you.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Road to Perdition Info    The film is available for rent/buy on Apple TV+ and Amazon. 

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Bikeriders: Principal Fitter

Coming Soon to a Screen Near YouDidi (2024)  R  In 2008, during the last month of summer before he starts high school, Chris (Izaac Wang), a thirteen-year-old at the horror of his mother (Joan Chen), is constantly shooting videos and trying to make friends, instead of studying. He is a typical American boy, learning to be a teen while trying not to disappoint his Taiwanese family. The film won two awards at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for three awards at the Seattle International Film Festival.  Didi Website  The film will be in theaters in late July.  

Until Next Time!


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