Friday, June 22, 2018

Weekend Movie Guide

Fred Rogers stars in Won't You Be My Neighbor?

First Reformed - 4 Stars. Grieving minister Ethan Hawke tries to counsel an environmental activist on the value of bringing children into our world. Tension-filled and thought-provoking.

RBG - 4 Stars. Inspiring life story of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She's quirky, smart and determined.

Won't You Be My Neighbor? - 4 Stars. Touching biography of seminary student/turned television pioneer Fred Rogers.

The Death of Stalin - 3½ Stars. Funny but painful history lesson of the dance for power to replace the Soviet dictator, with outstanding performances by Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, and Simon Russell Beale.

A Quiet Place - 3½ Stars. Wildly creative horror story. A family must stay quiet, lest they get eaten by blind, sound-sensitive space monsters.

Deadpool 2 - 3 Stars. More of the wisecracking, anti-hero superhero played by Ryan Reynolds.

Oceans 8 - 3 Stars. Sandra Bullock masterminds a multi-million dollar heist with a gang of women you'd better not cross.

Avengers: Infinity War - 3 Stars. All of the characters in the Marvel Universe fight Thanos, who plans to depopulate the world. A Grand Opera approach to comic books, fans will love.

Hearts Beat Loud - 3 Stars. Single father Nick Offerman sadly and nostalgically sends his daughter into the world after one final bonding attempt through music. Touching and gentle.

Book Club - 2½ Stars. Four mature women begin reading "50 Shades of Grey" and things change. Great cast includes Jane Fonda, Candace Bergen, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen.

Tag - 2 Stars. Childhood friends carry on a game of tag into middle age. Feels tedious, until the credits show video of the real guys involved.

Solo: A Star Wars Story - 2 Stars. Uninspired prequel to the 1977 original.

Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom---1 Star.  Same old monster mash only longer.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom---1 Star---Opens June 22, 2018

Here we go again.  In "Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom," the dinosaurs from the last movie face a volcano eruption and certain death.  In real life, most would breathe a sign of relief and let nature take its course.  But in this world, Bryce Dallas Howard has created a dinosaur rights group.  When a wealthy benefactor begs her to save the creatures, she jumps at the chance.  She recruits on again off again boyfriend Chris Pratt.  Neither figure out those asking them to return have sinister motives.  Soon, the betrayed couple must outrun a volcano and stow away on the boat taking the creatures to Northern California, as if California doesn't have enough problems already.  "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" relies on impressive special effects.  The writers insert a plot about a child hiding under the covers lest a marauding dinosaur eat her.  The bad guys explain their villainy in the usual cliched scene, and a dinosaur auction attended by the world's worst despots feels silly.  "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"runs two hours and eight minutes.  It feels like forever.  "Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom - 1 Star PG-13.  Does it deliver what it promises?  The usual.  Is it entertaining?  Predictable.  Is it worth the price of admission.  Go if you must.  I pass.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Hearts Beat Loud Review - 3 Stars

Single father Nick Offerman comes to a crossroads in "Hearts Beat Loud." His vinyl record store is failing, his mother (Blythe Danner) needs care, and his daughter (Kiersey Clemons) plans to leave Brooklyn for UCLA medical school. That daughter often functions as the adult in the family, while Offerman moons over his lost career as a musician. But father and daughter share a love of music. A late night session reveals they might have promise as a duo, adding tension to Kiersey's UCLA plans. "Hearts Beat Loud" rolls out in gentle scenes, aided by character appearances from Toni Collette as a not quite love interest, Ted Danson as a bar owner and friend, and Sasha Lane as Kiersey's budding romance. "Hearts Beat Loud" adds depth in subtly revealing the family's back story. "Hearts Beat Loud," rated PG-13, 3 stars. Does it deliver what it promises? Thoughtful story of a father-daughter relationship. Is it entertaining? Charming and surprising. Is it worth the price of admission? A gem.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tag Review - 2 Stars

A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal printed a front page story about a group of friends who started a game of tag in elementary school and kept it going as adults. "Tag" tells their story with Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, and Hannibal Buress as pals determined to tag Jeremy Renner, who has somehow managed to evade them. Determined to wreck his perfect record and catch him off guard, the guys return to their home town in time for Renner's wedding. The setup results in a series of stunts. Some are funny, while others feel forced. The best moments in "Tag" come during the credits, when cell phone video of the real men involved comes on screen, followed by a very silly music video featuring Renner and the cast. "Tag," rated "R," 2 stars. Does it deliver what it promises? Men behaving badly. Is it entertaining? Feels a little forced, but the end credits are genuinely funny. Is it worth the price of admission? Not great, but good for a laugh.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor? Review - 4 Stars

Television pioneer Fred Rogers believed children's programming could shape a generation. "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" combines clips with a few clues to Roger's ability to understand children. He left the seminary for public television. It was his calling. The documentary highlights important moments in his career, including winning over the senate budget committee during a contentious hearing on the PBS budget. Behind the scenes footage combines with interviews of Rogers' widow and children. We still have "Sesame Street," but there's nobody like Mr. Rogers. I wonder if there ever will be again? "Won't You Be My neighbor?," rated PG-13, 4 stars. Opens June 8, 2018.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Ocean's 8 Review - 3 Stars

Sandra Bullock breathes new life into the formerly male-dominated 'caper' movie. Bullock begins the story completing a five-year prison term... enough time to plan the crime of the century. She and a group of smart, but quirky friends will heist a multi-million dollar diamond necklace during the event of the year - the Metropolitan Museum gala. Her team includes Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, and Helena Bonham Carter. The gang gets a little help from Anne Hathaway, who creates great fun as the hammy actress set up to wear the multi-million dollar necklace they desire. The staging of the Met gala and a few other twists give the filmmakers ample chance to insert multiple celebrity cameos. It's fun to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth Ashley, Anna Wintour, Katie Holmes and countless others. "Ocean's 8" feels modern, as it empowers this great group of women. It keeps a dash of old school, following the usual heist playbook, although I was pleasantly surprised by several unexpected turns. "Ocean's 8," rated PG-13, 3 stars. Does it deliver what it promises? Big name, star-studded fun. Is it entertaining? Great fun. Is it worth the price of admission? Glitz and glam.