Thursday, October 18, 2018

Halloween - 2 1/2 Stars - Opens October 19, 2018

Jamie Lee Curtis returns in "Halloween" to dispense with the guy who screwed up her babysitting business 40 years ago.  "Halloween" presents Curtis as a gun totin' survivalist grandmother.
Judy Greer - who plays Curtis' daughter - has a tense mother-daughter relationship because of the Halloween crimes.  Curtis gets along better with her granddaughter, a development that lets Andi Matichak and her teen friends go though their own Halloween fright night.  The story percolates when the state decides to transfer Michael Myers - the 1978 monster who's been institutionalized all these years - to another facility - on Halloween night.  Naturally he escapes which allows Jamie Lee and her family to replay the original night.  The result will satisfy fans.  Me?  I hope this is the last.  "Halloween" Rated "R" 2 1/2 Stars.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Slashing and killing and an angry grandma.  Is it entertaining?  If you like this sort of thing.  Is it worth the price of admission?  Some of you will love this, and you know who you are.

Beautiful Boy - 1 Star - Opens October 19, 2019

The combination of Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet in a family drama makes "Beautiful Boy" one of the season's most anticipated dramas.  Carell plays writer Nic Sheff, dealing with the addiction of his promising son played by Timothee Chalamet.  The boy progresses from weed to cocaine to crystal meth. As an addict he manipulates his parents and step mother through multiple rehab 
visits.  "Beautiful Boy" wears out the viewer with one near death experience after another. I especially dislike films that end with preachy sentences, as if the filmmakers don't trust us to receive their message.  Chalamet has a great future.  Steve Carell has made an impressive shift from comedy to drama. Together they can't quite save this. "Beautiful Boy" 1 S tar Rated "R".  Does it deliver what it promises?  Hard to watch.  Is it entertaining?  Pummels the viewer.  Is it worth the price of admission?  I don't recommend. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

First Man - 4 Stars - Opens October 12, 2018

Neil Armstrong was a reluctant hero---a quiet scientist who could  figure equations while the craft he flies appears ready to break apart.  Ryan Gosling plays the first man on the moon as a strong silent Gary Cooper type.  He accepts the assignment to walk on the moon with a silent affirming nod of the head.  "First Man" shows the strain on Armstrong's home life.  Armstrong continues to grieve over the death of his daughter early in his marriage.  Claire Foy  (so great as young Queen Elizabeth in "The Crown")  brings fire and anger to her portrait of an astronaut's wife.  "First Man" begins with Armstrong bouncing off the atmosphere in a test plane, a bolt busting experience preparing us for his later space flights, mounted with less technology than we have in our phones today.  Once in space, the audience and I held our breath.  "First Man" rewards us with a thrilling conclusion.  "First Man" gave me goosebumps.  "First Man" 4 Stars PG-13.  Does it deliver what it promises?  A worthy companion to "The Right Stuff" and "Apollo 13"  Is it entertaining?  Fascinating.  Is it worth the price of admission?  One of the year's must see movies.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Weekend Movie Guide

Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga (r) star in A Star Is Born
First Man - 4 Stars.  Ryan Gosling blasts into space as strong silent Neil Armstrong - the first man to walk on the moon.  The mix of biography and space gave me goosebumps.

BlacKkKlansman - 3½ Stars. Spike Lee combines the true story of a 1970s KKK sting with a history of American racism from the Civil War to present day.

Christopher Robin - 3½ Stars. Ewan McGregor as grown-up Christopher returns to the Hundred Acre Wood to learn a few life lessons from his childhood pals. Beautifully produced mix of live-action, animatronics, and animation.

The Sisters Brothers - 3½ Stars. John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix delight in an irony-filled western.

Colette - 3½ Stars. Keira Knightly as the 20th century French writer.

A Star Is Born - 3 Stars. The third remake's a charm, thanks to Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga.

The Wife - 3 Stars. Glenn Close contends for this year's Best Actress award as long-suffering partner to a renowned writer.

Crazy Rich Asians - 3 Stars. Constance Wu meets the man of her dreams, not knowing he's Asia's catch of the century.

Halloween - 2 1/2 Stars.  Jamie Lee Curtis returns 40 years later to put an end to this Michael Meyers business once and for all.  Fans will love. 

The House with a Clock in Its Walls - 2½ Stars. Jack Black and Cate Blanchett fight evil with magic.

A Simple Favor - 2½ Stars. Single mom Anna Kendrick wants to know why her glamorous fellow mom (Blake Lively) disappears.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout - 2½ Stars. Tom Cruise barrels through another adventure, doing his own stunts and saving the world with one second to spare.

Fahrenheit 11/9 - 2½ Stars. Michael Moore on politics in 2018. Sometimes funny, but often strident and repetitive.

White Boy Rick - 2 Stars. Depressing, true story of a 15-year-old kid recruited as an FBI undercover drug dealer in 1980s Detroit.  A downer that never justifies itself.

Ant-Man and the Wasp - 2 Stars. Uninspired sequel to the much better original.

Beautiful Boy - 1 Star.  Steve Carell as writer Nic Sheff trying to deal with the drug addiction of his almost perfect son played by Timothree Chalamet.  These good actors can't quite take this beyond manipulative and hard to watch.

The Oath - 1 Star.  Comedy/Drama never gets beyond predictable.   Americans get a tax cut if they sign a loyalty oath. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Star Is Born Review - 3 Stars

Bradley Cooper displays directing talent in his remake of "A Star Is Born." He gives the material a classic, old school touch. As a director, he composes his scenes beautifully, shooting concert footage from the artist's perspective and giving Lady Gaga Hollywood golden age-style closeups. "A Star Is Born" receives its third remake (or four, if you count the 1932 original drama "What Price Hollywood?") This version features Cooper as a country singer, who discovers Lady Gaga in a bar, and helps her get into the music business. Cooper's career slides downhill as a result of drugs, alcoholism and a hearing problem. Gaga's career climbs high, while Cooper's falls. Lady Gaga doesn't have Bradley Cooper's acting chops, but when she sings, she commands the movie. I'm not a fan of remakes, but this one avoids the usual pitfalls, thanks to great singing and wonderful production. "A Star Is Born," 3 stars, rated R. Does it deliver what it promises? Star-studded old school musical drama. Is it entertaining? Marvelous singing. Is it worth the price of admission? One of this year's most important films.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Sisters Brothers Review - 3½ Stars

John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix take us on an 1850s western adventure as "The Sisters Brothers." The ironic title sets up a couple hours of movie serendipity. The boys work as bounty hunting assassins/robbers in the 1850s. Their boss, the mysterious Commodore, sends them on a mission to find a scientist with a formula for finding gold in the streams of rural California. We follow their journey from Oregon to gold rush territory. They seek Riz Ahmed, who has teamed up with the man originally sent to capture him (played by Jake Gyllenhaal.) "The Sisters Brothers" assembles a collection of delightful twists and turns. This is not your father's western. "The Sisters Brothers," 3½ stars, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Wacky western. Is it entertaining? It never lost my interest. Is it worth the price of admission? Great fun and wonderful acting.