Friday, March 22, 2019

Weekend Movie Guide

Isabelle Huppert & Chloƫ Grace Moretz (r) star in Greta

They Shall Not Grow Old - 4 Stars. Peter Jackson combines World War I survivor interviews with brilliantly restored footage. A powerful meld of technology and art.

Cold War - 4 Stars. Polish composer begins tortured love affair for rural femme fatale. Astonishing 90minute "Casablanca"-style romance. shot in crisp black and white. Stunning.

If Beale Street Could Talk - 4 Stars. Award-worthy dramatization of James Baldwin's 1974 novel of struggle and injustice.

Us - 3 1/2 Stars.  Jordan Peele's follow up to "Get Out" spins a great jump out of your seat story with a message about those who are left behind.
Stan & Ollie - 3½ Stars. John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan give wonderful performances as the comedy team on tour at the end of their careers. Poignant, yet funny.

Green Book - 3½ Stars. New York bouncer drives jazz pianist on a concert tour of 1962 pre-civil rights South. Each man emerges better for the experience.

Mary Poppins Returns - 3½ Stars. Disney's update of "Mary Poppins" delights. The musical numbers merit applause, and Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda fill the bill.

Apollo 11 - 3 1/2 Stars.  New footage of the 1969 Moon voyage assembled in eye popping jaw dropping style.   

The Highwaymen - 3 Stars.  (streaming on Netflix) Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson play the Texas Rangers who hunt down Bonnie and Clyde---a fascinating twist on the 1967 classic.

A Star Is Born - 3 Stars. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga make this remake a charm.

Free Solo - 3 Stars. Climbing without a rope. Hold on to your seat.

The Favourite - 2½ Stars. Sex, power and petulance in Queen Anne's court.

Greta - 2½ Stars. Friendship between an older woman and young adult backfires

The Upside - 2 Stars. Wealthy quadriplegic Bryan Cranston hires ex-con Kevin Hart as his aide. Cute, sometimes funny life lessons ensue.

The Aftermath - 1 Star.  Cliched romance in post World War Two Germany.  Nice cast including Keira Knightley can't save this.

Glass - 1 Star. Three characters from two movies face off for a superhero showdown. Yawn.

Us - 3 1/2 Stars - Opens March 22, 2019

"Us" deserves attention as writer/director Jordan Peele's follow to the extraordinary horror comedy "Get Out."  "Us" begins with a flashback to a childhood trauma in an amusement park  We jump to modern day to the family vacation of Lupita Nyong'o and her husband Winston Duke and their two children.  One night at their Santa Cruz beach house, Lupita looks outside to find a family of four exactly like them staring.  I don't want to tell you much more beyond that.  I will tell you that Jordan Peele has a great sense of storytelling.  The introduction of the menacing family takes us to a second unexpected level and a conclusion with a heart pounding twist.  "Us" works as a better than usual horror flick.  It echos "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" "Night of the Living Dead" and a little bit of "Vertigo."  Whatever, things aren't as they seem in this smashing entertaining thriller.  Those who wish can find a deeper troubling message for our unequal society.  "Us" 3 1/2 Stars Rated "R".  Does it deliver what it promises?  Heart pounding horror film with a deeper message.  Is it entertaining?  If you like to jump.  Is it worth the price of admission?  One of the year's important and entertaining movies. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Aftermath - 1 Star - Opens March 22, 2019

Keira Knightley remains one of my favorite actresses.  She has a knack for playing characters of earlier times.  "The Aftermath" brings her to post World War Two 1945 Germany.  Jason Clarke plays her husband, a British Army Colonel assigned to help Germany recover from the war and return to normalcy.  The couple are assigned to the requisitioned mansion of architect Alexander Skarsgard.  Clarke allows the former owner and his daughter to live in the attic.  This plot line turns into a cliched filled Harlequin romance, whose twists never surprise.  Slow and clunky, "The Aftermath" feels like a dozen other movies.  "The Aftermath" comes from a well regarded novel.  Skip the movie, read the book.  "The Aftermath" 1 Star Rated "R".  Does it deliver what it promises?  Predictable cliches.  Is it entertaining?  Slow and boring.  Is it worth the price of admission?  Skip it.

The Highwaymen - 3 Stars - Opens March 22, 2019 (on Netflix March 29)

"The Highwaymen" spotlights the other side of the romanticized 1967 classic "Bonnie and Clyde."  Director John Lee Hancock focuses on the two Texas Rangers who tracked down the couple.  Kevin Costner plays heroic Ranger Frank Hamer and Woody Harrelson his long time friend Maney Gault.  Their casting elevates this project, originally written for Paul Newman and Robert Redford.  Costner and Harrelson are funny and grumpy and get no respect from the modern FBI and state lawmen on Bonnie and Clyde's trail.  "The Highwaymen" only gives us glimpses of  Bonnie and Clyde, turning them into ghost-like spirits capable of terrible acts.  "The Highwaymen" is the kind of mid level movie Hollywood once loved but now rarely makes.  Netflix provides a great service in streaming and funding these kind of projects.   Just be sure to watch on the biggest home screen you can find.  "The Highwaymen" 3 Stars.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Delightful old school Western buddy movie.  Is it entertaining?  A little slow and a little long.  Is it worth the price of admission?  Watch on Netflix.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Apollo 11 - 3 1/2 Stars - Opens March 1, 2019

I saw "Apollo 11" a few weeks after opening.  Several friends described it as not to be missed. "Apollo 11" celebrates the 1969
moon voyage and landing with of new footage from NASA and the National Archives. Assembled in linear style, we follow the preparations, countdown, voyage, moon landing and return.  The result is eye popping and jaw dropping.  Seen fifty years after the even, "Apollo 11" quietly reminds us of an amazing accomplishment, one that feels less  possible today.  Like "First Man" "Apollo 11" inspires.  "Apollo 11" 3 1/2 Stars.  Rated "G"  Does it deliver what it promises?  Amazing footage of an amazing feat. Is it entertaining?  Awesome.  is it worth the price of admission?  A must see.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Greta Review - 2½ Stars

"Greta" feels like a dozen "B movie" thrillers (most notably "Fatal Attraction") done with a mother/daughter twist. ChloĆ« Grace Moretz fits as an innocent, starting adult life in New York City. One day on the subway, she sees a purse. When she can't find anyone in the lost & found, she finds the owner's drivers license and brings it to her apartment. Isabelle Huppert oozes sinister vibes as an older French woman, lonely for companionship. Moretz, whose mother has recently died, responds to her offer of friendship, only to discover things aren't nearly as they seem. Director Neil Jordan, best known for "The Crying Game," has plenty of scares, shocks and surprises up his sleeve. Maika Monroe rounds out the cast as Chloe's skeptical roommate. "Greta" rises above the usual, thanks to the grand presence of Isabelle Huppert. I left the theater with my palms sweating. "Greta," 2½ stars, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Above average thriller. Is it entertaining? Some good scares. Is it worth the price of admission? Not great, but has a great performance.