Brittany Runs A Marathon

August 14th, 2019 — 10:09pm

****

Brittany Runs A Marathon-sp

There is a tinge of “Rocky” in this story in that you are rooting for the protagonist to win her battle and achieve her goal and finish the glorious New York City marathon.

We meet Brittany (Jillian Bell) as a somewhat overweight young woman who drinks and eats a lot and isn’t the most pleasant person to others. We gain insight into her and begin to appreciate her struggles. Starting with the kindness of others, she becomes more reflective and develops some good friends. To one of us, it was almost as if she had entered into a psychotherapy and was working through her conflicts and hang-ups. Her old acquaintances and new friends are very meaningful to her and they are well played by Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Micah Stock, Lil Rel Howery, Alice Lee and Jennifer Dundas. The real co-star of this film is the writer and first-time director, Paul Downs Colaizzo. He drew upon his work in the theater to capture the main character’s insight and pathway for ultimate change. He was also fortunate enough to team up with Tobey Maguire who provided the major support in getting this film made. The final message of the movie is that everything doesn’t always work out exactly how you plan it but it is so often the journey that really counts. (2019)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

The Kitchen

August 7th, 2019 — 8:58pm

*****

The Kitchen-sp

Three wives of gangsters take over their husbands’ racketeering business after the men go off to prison for a couple of years. The women show that they can kick ass and clearly establish a new genre of women tough gals. There is nothing comedic about these characters but two of them are played by established comediennes, Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish. The other character is inhabited by veteran actress Elisabeth Moss.

The setting of this film is Hell’s Kitchen in New York City in the late 1970s. The story is written by Ollie Masters and is based on a comic book series by her and illustrated by Becky Cloonan and Ming Doyle. First time director Andrea Berloff who has credentials as a writer and actress definitely establishes herself as a big league director. Not only does she capture the vibes of New York City in the 70s with wonderful photography but   she infuses this movie with great action scenes of numerous murders and other violence as well as various confrontations intermixed with tension, humor and great timing with many surprises.

We believe that this movie stands a chance to become a classic gangster film with its own distinctive flavor. It certainly would be the definitive woman gangster film even surpassing Bonnie and Clyde and may very well be in the top tier of this genre. (2019)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 5 Stars, Action, Crime, Drama

After The Wedding

August 7th, 2019 — 8:49pm

***

After the Wedding-sp

This movie deals with hidden secrets and family relationships, a topic that has been dealt with from time to time in a variety of films. In this case, it is about a woman (Michelle Williams) who is confronted with her long-lost relative and her parents (Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup). Hidden secrets emerge including a fatal one. The setting of the film ranges from a poor orphanage in India to a posh office in New York City and a mega mansion in the suburbs. Julianne Moore (who in real life is married to the director of this film Bart Freundlich) is at the top of her game with a full range of emotions from the very subtle to the near hysteria. Michelle Williams, we thought was somewhat constrained but perhaps, that was hers or the director’s interpretation of her role. The film was well done on a delicate topic but we felt it fell short in believability and realism. (2019)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

The Peanut Butter Falcon

July 31st, 2019 — 5:41am

****

The Peanut Butter Falcon – sp

Just as interesting as this film, is the story how it came to be made. Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz are two young filmmakers who have previously only made short films and certainly had never made a full-length feature. They met and befriended Zack Gottsagen, a young man with Down Syndrome who had a burning ambition to someday become an actor. The filmmakers decided to write a full-length movie script which would feature such a person and recruited Mr. Gottsagen to be the star. The script was intriguing enough to entice a team of producers who had the connections to bring in Dakota Johnson, Shia LaBeouf, Bruce Dern, Jon Bernthal, and some other very fine actors. The setting was the banks of North Carolina but it was filmed in the marshlands of Georgia.

Zack and Tyler connect after Zack escapes from a nursing home where he was being cared for since he did not have a family. He meets Tyler who has his own back story, Eleanor who was sent by the nursing home to find Zack connects with the two of them and there is certain chemistry between her and Tyler. Circumstances lead the three of them to go on what is usually called a road trip except that this adventure occurs on some makeshift boats. The three of them make quite an interesting trio and the story allows the viewer to have empathy for these unlikely characters. The people they meet along the way are quite unique and will capture your attention. The result is a very enjoyable, interesting, and touching movie that is well worth seeing. (2019)

 

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Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Farewell

July 31st, 2019 — 5:21am

****

Farewell-rm

This film written and directed by Lulu Wang is mostly in Chinese with English subtitles. A young woman (played by Awkwafina known for her performances in Crazy Rich Asians and other films) joins her American family as they descend upon nai-nai (grandmother) who lives in China and whom they believe has a fatal diagnosis of cancer). However, the family is set on keeping the information about the deadly prognosis from grandmother because they believe it is the fear that would facilitate her demise. The American relatives join the Chinese relatives in China in what the grandmother thinks is a wedding celebration for her grandson who is supposedly getting married. But really the American family has flown over to China in order to see grandma who they understand has a fatal prognosis. The love and tenderness for grandmother is quite touching as is the extent the family will go to, to keep the fatal prognosis from her.

There is singing, as well as speeches by many family members mostly in Chinese but some in English (but all are translated into English on the screen). There is a rich depiction of Chinese culture. The respect and love for elders permeates the film and is quite touching. Time goes by quite quickly as it does in real life when we believe our time with a loved one is limited. Also, to the backdrop of this family crisis, other family issues emerged. We appreciate the underlying feelings when some family members leave their homeland to immigrate to another country while other members stay behind. Also, family issues seem more intense when we believe we are about to lose a loved family member.

The movie has a certain universality, which will appeal to many viewers and make us contemplate the importance of family and what a potential loss of a loved one would mean to each of us. It is also an opportunity to reflect how when a young person immigrates to the United States for opportunity, there is a cost of being a stranger in a strange land and not having the support of your loved ones who are left in your homeland. All and all, this film will touch your heart as well as telling you an interesting story. (2019)

 

Your comments are welcome below

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Foreign

Hacksaw Ridge

July 26th, 2019 — 6:58pm

*****

Hacksaw Ridge-rm

I always thought that my favorite World War II action films were Sands of Iwo Jima with John Wayne and Battleground with Van Johnson, both of which I must have seen as a youngster; however, today many years later on an international plane flight, I chose to watch Hacksaw Ridge. This movie certainly had as realistic and action packed World War II battle scenes that I have ever seen. The director was an action movie star himself, Mel Gibson. Interestingly, however, is the fact that the hero of this film is not a combat soldier but a conscientious objector who enlisted to fight in World War II, not with the gun, but as a medic, which he was finally allowed to be after almost being court-martialed for refusing to train with the weapon. The film also included a romantic element as the young man fell in love with his first girlfriend. The most amazing part of this movie is that it is a true story. The hero, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), the medic solider, was a real person who ultimately was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. He and some of the soldiers portrayed in this film were shown at the conclusion of the film adding to the outstanding cinematic experience (2016).

 

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 5 Stars, Action, Drama, History, War

Blinded By The Light

July 26th, 2019 — 6:43pm

*****

Blinded By The Light-sp

If you have ever been moved and inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen, this film will touch and perhaps hit in your gut. It is based on the life experience of co-screenwriter, Sarfraz Manzoor, who grew up in a Pakistani family in a small city in Great Britain. He was inspired by the words and music of Springsteen, which made him rebel from the traditional cultural expectations of his Pakistani family. The story also highlights the painful discrimination that can exist against minority groups not only in Great Britain but in other parts of the world including, obviously, the United States.

The director, Gurinder Chadha, in her previous work, which includes Bend It Like Beckham, has highlighted the convergence of traditional and modern culture. The music and of course the words of Springsteen can very powerful and inspiring. In this film, we not only hear the lyrics, but at times they graphically explode onto the screen.

The young man who plays Javed (Viveik Kalra) is captivating on the screen and the supporting actors are excellent, but it is the music and words of Springsteen which continue to inspire young people and emotionally touch the older generation, who will be reminded of their earlier turning points in life, that will make this movie a success. It is highly recommended to both the young and old who will understand the universal feeling to run free (2019).

To purchase the music of Bruce Springsteen and other items related to him on Amazon, please click here

 

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - 1 comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, Musical

Identity Thief

July 26th, 2019 — 6:00pm

**

Identity Thief-rm

I was looking for a movie to watch on a recent international flight. Most of the films I had either seen or were in a foreign language or I did not recall hearing about them. I chose the one title that sounded interesting. It featured Melissa McCarthy, a scammer who tricks a happily married man (Jason Bateman) on a phone scam into giving all his essential information to her, so she could assume his identity and buy things on his credit cards. (His name is Sandy and could be male or female). He desperately needed to find her to avoid a huge debt and losing his job. He tracks her down in another city and they get involved with the police and criminal elements, which leads to a cross country car ride with two of them; so you might call this a road movie. I can also state it is one of worse movies I can recall sitting through. Ms. McCarthy is a great comedian who can do physical comedy, falls, and facial contortions and brings realism to her character. Bateman plays his role quite well. However, the story is unbelievable and in my opinion not worth the time even on a boring plane ride (2013).

 

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

July 7th, 2019 — 5:01am

*** 

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold – nf

Joan Didion is an accomplished writer who for the past 50 years has written novels, essays and screenplays including many pieces for Vogue and Vanity Fair Magazine. She has lived and written about the literary scene in New York in the 1950s and ‘60s as well as about her home State of California in the 1980s and 1990s. She has partied with Janis Joplin and has hung out with Jim Morrison.

This documentary film is made by Ms Didion’s nephew, Griffin Dunne, who is a well-known actor, director and producer. It is co-produced by his wife Anna Dunne and Mary Recine. The film was narrated by a somewhat frail elderly Ms. Didion who seems as sharp as ever. It begins when she must have been a toddler and her mother gave her a book and a pencil and told her to record her thoughts and feelings. She still has that book and of course has filled that book and many others. There are wonderful film clips and photos from past decades which reflect the times as well as the personal remembrances of Ms. Didion. This includes images and the words of her husband, John Gregory Dunne who was also a writer. During their long marriage, which included one dearly beloved daughter whom they adopted shortly after her birth, they always would read and edit each other’s writings even if they didn’t fully agree about everything.

We were captured by this review of this woman’s life and also how it reflected her perspective through Ms. Didion’s words and thoughts along with images of the time. (2019)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary

Sea of Shadows

June 18th, 2019 — 8:18pm

***

Sea of Shadows-sp

This is an interesting documentary film which is at times quite exciting and dramatic although some of the fine points were difficult to understand. It appears that in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, the vaquita, a small whale-like mammal, is on the verge of extinction. The reason being that a Mexican cartel encourages rogue fishermen to set up fishing nets to capture another species, the totoaba, since the Chinese mafia will pay very large sums of money for the bladder of the totoaba because of supposed medicinal powers. The vaquita which die in these fishing nets are now near extinction with only 15 or 20 of them still alive. A group of environmental activists attempt to rescue the few remaining vaquita. Things get exciting as the Mexican navy gets involved, responding when the environmentalists identify the rogue fishermen. There are some very dramatic scenes shot by a drone as the criminal fishermen are confronted. But things become more complicated and quite scary as there is a sinister crime boss involved. The director and filmmaker, Richard Ladkani, risks his life along with the environmentalists as they, at times, arrange undercover meetings which are secretly recorded with the various participants and criminal elements.

This film project which was mostly supported by one of the executive producers, Leonardo DiCaprio, at times becomes an expose of the Mexican navy and the Mexican government itself. This film may make a difference in exposing corruption in Mexico as well as in saving a species on the verge of extinction. (2019)

 

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary

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