Friday, July 1, 2022

2022 Movie Guide

Mark Rylance stars in The Phantom of the Open

The Phantom of the Open - 4 Stars - THEATERS - June 9, 2022 - Mark Rylance plays real life prankster Maurice Flitcroft with a twinkle in his eye as he talks his way into the British Open and tweaks the golf establishment. A delightful comedy based on truth with a surprising uplifting message.

Coda - 4 Stars - APPLE TV - 17-year-old discovers her passion for singing which mystifies her parents and brother, none of whom can hear. Emilia Jones is delightful in this heart warmer about the tension between ambition and family. Winner Best Film 2022 Oscars. 

The Worst Person in the World - 4 Stars - PRIME VIDEO - February 11, 2022 - Nominated for Best Foreign film and best screenplay, a delicious coming of age story about a young woman who can't quite find her path until she does.  Lead actress Renate Reinsve wins your heart. 

Lucy and Desi - 4 Stars - AMAZON TV - March, 2022 - Comic Any Poehler stiches together a definitive tribute to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who created television's most brilliant sitcom in spite of the stormy problems of their marriage.

The Outfit --- PRIME VIDEO --- 3 1/2 Stars --- March 22, 2022 - Mark Rylance poses as a quiet British tailor in 1950's Chicago all the while keeping an eye on the mob using his store as a front.  The set up turns into a twisty gob smacking thriller.

Cha Cha Real Smooth --- APPLE --- 3 1/ 2 Stars --- June 17, 2022 - Writer/Director/Actor Cooper Raiff creates a charming story of a just graduated college kid who finds his voice as a Bar Mitzva parter "Starter" and grows up thanks to a connection with single mom Dakota Johnston and her autistic daughter.  

The Tender Bar - 3 1/2 Stars---AMAZON - December 17, 2021 - Satisfying coming of age story.  Long island bar owner Ben Affleck mentors Tye Sheridan on his road to becoming a scholar and writer.

Where the Crawdads Sing - 3 Stars - THEATERS - July 13, 2022 - Romance, murder, and mystery in the North Carolina swamp over a 75-year span.  

Downton Abbey - 3 Stars - Delightfully entertaining episode advancing the story of the British upper crust family portrayed in the PBS series.

Top Gun: Maverick - 3 Stars - May 27, 2022 - Tom Cruise shows a new generation how it's done in a patriotic familiar sequel to the 1980's original.

Deep Water - 2 Stars - HULU - March 18, 2022 - Ben Affleck deals with wife Ana De Armas' serial infidelities in various murderous ways.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Cha Cha Real Smiith - 3 1/2 Stars - June 17, 2022 - APPLE TV


Writer/Director/Actor Cooper Raiff creates a charming young adult story in Cha Cha Real Smooth.  New graduate Cooper returns with his degree to live at home with his mother and little brother and his mother's boyfriend.  Unable to find a proper job, he sells hot dogs by day.  One night his mother needing a break asks him to take his little brother to a Bar Mitzvah.  At the party, he discovers his talent as a "party starter"---that is a guy who encourages kids to dance and mingle.  He bonds with a young autistic girl named Lola played by Vanessa Burghardt.  Their connection wins the attention of her single mother played by Dakota Johnson. Their meeting turns into an intriguing "will they or won't they" romance. Dakota Johnson gives one of her most charismatic performances.  I will look forward to whatever Cooper Raiff does next.  

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Phanton of the Open --- 4 Stars --- THEATERS

In 1976, an out of work crane operator named Maurice Flitcroft entered the British Open Golf Championship, the world's snootiest golf tournament.  Flitcroft wanted to follow his dream, even though he'd never played an actual round of golf, just studied a book and hacked around on the beach.  Once in the Open, his score of 121, put him firmly in last place but the heart he showed making those 121 strokes won him fans around the world. In The Phantom of the Open Mark Rylance plays Flitcroft with a twinkle in his eye.  He elevates a possible one joke movie into something heartwarming.  Sally Hawkins adds depth as Flitcroft's supportive wife.  A family dynamic involving a disapproving oldest son and his disco dancing twin brothers made my head spin, in a good way.  I'm sure The Phantom of the Open stretches a point here and there but it mostly checks out.  Even the part about Flitcroft reentering the Open under assumed names wearing ridiculous disguises.  I personally love his entry as "Arnold Palmtree."  You don't have to love golf to love The Phantom of the Open.  Golf is secondary to this delightful story of an eccentric and the family that spurs him on. The Phantom of the Open arrives the same weekend a handful of greedy PGA players jump to a Saudi financed tour. Maybe they ought to watch this and remember the days when they played for fun.   

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick --- 3 Stars May 27, 2022


The floor shakes, the speakers rattle, and Tom Cruise sparkles as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the sequel to the 1980's flyboy drama Top Gun.   Forty years have passed, and Mitchell remains a Captain, even though he's the Navy's best pilot.  The film opens with Maverick aiming for outer space until his plane disintegrates.  thrown off that base, he gets the call to teach his tricks to a new generation and ultimately lead them on a secret mission to bomb an enemy nuclear weapons facility.   Along the way, Maverick utters a string of cliches, sparks a romance with an old girlfriend played by a smashing Jenifer Connolly, and bonds with the son of Maverick's old friend "Goose" who may or may not have died because of him.  Top Gun Maverick feels familiar, tells an easy to like story, it's fun, it's loud, and everything turns out swell.  Tom Cruise has done it again.  He helms the movie that may save movies for a new generation.  Yeah, maybe it's not great or new, but Heck, you can't have everything.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Downton Abbey: A New Era - 3 Stars - Theaters May 20, 2022


Who needs another season of Downton Abbey (there were six of them on PBS) when we've got the Downton movies?  Not me.  I joined a sprightly audience of grey hairs to take in the latest at my neighborhood independent cinema, the Avalon.  My shaved hit fit perfectly with the senior demographic to which I certainly belong.   Maggie Smith returns to fling barbs as the plots revolve around her inheriting a villa in the south of France. It sems she had a fling many years ago resulting in the gift which she plans to give to her granddaughter Sybbie, whose mother died in season three after marrying the family chauffeur who has successfully moved up in class.  Class, that's what it's all about.  And money, which Downton needs to repair the roof.  Lady Mary, now head of the estate, rents the place to a film company laying the groundwork for a plot that echos Singing in the Rain.  It's 1928 and movies are changing to talkies and the lead actress has a rather low-class accent.  Downton Abbey offers no explosions or car chases but rather celebrates dialog and costumes and occasional dollops of humor.  I won't call it great, but I will call it a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  I must warn that we lose a major character this time, but I'm wondering how the family will change during the Depression, and what about the World War in their future?   

Friday, March 25, 2022

The Outfit - 3 1/2 Stars - THEATERS March 22, 2022, Prime Video


Mark Rylance quietly goes about his business designing tailor made clothing for the men of 1950's Chicago, including the mobsters who use his store as a front.  Quietly biding his time and keeping his secrets, events pull him into action one murderous night.  The Outfit plays on slang for the mob and descriptions of the bespoke suits Rylance lovingly creates.  The plot unfolds like a play, confined mostly to the shop, where a drama unfolds involving betrayal, a double cross, and a possible informer or rat. Think Cagney chanting "You rat, you dirty rat."  The Outfit captures the feel of those great gangster movies with the added attraction of a first class who done it.  Now streaming, The Outfit captured me from the first moments.  It'll capture you too.