Friday, March 25, 2022

2022 Movie Guide

The Worst Person in the World - 4 Stars - Theaters February 11th Subtitled in Danish.  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. 

Licorice Pizza - 4 Stars - THEATERS DECEMBER 25th - A hustling 15-year-old boy finds his soulmate in a woman ten years older.  And the screwball comedy adventures begin.    

Nightmare Alley - 4 Stars - HBO Max - Update of the 1947 film noir far surpasses the original.  Bradley Cooper leads a grand cast in the rise and fall of a carney con man. 

The Power of the Dog - 4 Stars - NETFLIX - Cruel rancher Benedict Cumberbatch dislikes his brother's new wife and son in a grand epic with a shocking finale.    
 
Coda - 4 Stars - APPLE TV - 17-year-old girl discovers her passion for singing in Coda, which stands for Child of Deaf Adults. Break out star Emilia Jones soars in this heart warmer about the tension between ambition and family duty.  With Marlee Matlin.  Heart-warming.

Lucy and Desi - 4 Stars - AMAZON TV - March, 2020 - 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.   

Summer of Soul - 4 Stars - HULU - One of the greatest concerts films ever culled from footage shot during the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival - a series of free concerts held over six weekends in a Harlem city park. The music captures the great cultural changes in society during that time.  The footage intended for syndication languished in the wake of Woodstock - held the same summer.  This is better.  

Belfast - 3 1/2 Stars - Kenneth Branagh's touching memoir of growing up in Northern Ireland during the Irish civil war.   

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

Windfall - 3 Stars - NETFLIX - A hostage situation in a vacation home turns into something entirely different.  With Jesse Plemons, Lily Collins,a nd Jason Segal. 
 
King Richard - 3 Stars - HBO MAX - Will Smith as Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena and his determination that they succeed. 

Being the Ricardos - 3 Stars - AMAZON PRIME - I love Lucy backstage lore revisited with Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem.  J. K. Simmons stands out as William Frawley. 

Don't Look Up - 2 1/2 Stars.  NETFLIX - Astronomers Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio discover a comet the size of Mount Everest headed our way.  Life on earth will end, but nobody listens.  Some laughs and some groans.  

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

    

Windfall - NEXFLIX - 3 Stars - Opens March 18, 2022

 Alfred Hitchcock would love it.  Windfall opens with Jason Segel wandering around the desert home of a multi rich CEO.  He enjoys a glass of orange juice, lounges on the furniture, and manages to find some cash and a Rolex.  Suddenly, the owners arrive.  Forced into action, Segal takes Jesse Plemons and Lily Collins hostage.  One thing leads to another with the uber wealthy Plemons sort of helping Segal rob him.  Clipping along at a nice ninety minutes, Windfall suddenly catches fire, building to a wham-o ending.  With one set and only four characters, Windfall feels like a play.  Certainly Covid-19 considerations shaped this production.  Excellent acting helps, especially from Jesse Plemons, whom I came to admire in Breaking Bad and who snagged an Oscar nomination for Power of the Dog.  Windfall's revelation is Lily Collins.  Known for her frothy series Emily in Paris, don't underestimate Lily Collins.  Believe me. 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Deep Water (R) (HULU) - 2 Stars - March 18, 2022

In Deep Water, Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas play Vic and Melinda Van Allen, partners in a deeply unhappy marriage which includes a young daughter.  Their unspoken bond allows her to take a number of lovers as long as she stays in the marriage.  Tension builds as an alarming number of her lovers disappear.  Affleck tells her newest boyfriend that he killed the former boyfriend.  Others drop, drowning in a pool or showing up at the bottom of a creek.  A neighbor, played by Tracy Letts, suspects Ben but can't prove anything.  Ana de Armas plays the straying wife to the hilt.  Affleck lumbers through the story like Frankenstein's monster. Deep Water's plot seeps out slowly and comes to a not especially satisfying end.    The plot comes from a 1957 story by Patricia Highsmith, author of many of Hitchcock's favorite tales including Strangers on a Train.  The result is watchable but not great.   

Friday, February 11, 2022

The Worst Person in the World - 4 Stars - THEATERS - February 11, 2022 (In Danish subtitled)

The Worst Person in the World won me over right from the start.  Charismatic actress Renate Reinsve plays a young woman not sure what to do next.  Her choices bounce from extreme to extreme as does her love life.  In the space of a couple of hours, The Worst Person in the World taps into memories of one's twenties, when you're not sure who you are or what path to follow.  This is a lovely captivating story.  I suppose there will be an American remake and I hope it's half as good as this Norwegian original.  Nominated for best foreign film and best screenplay.  

Friday, January 28, 2022

Flee - 3 1/2 Stars - IN THEATERS - January 28, 2022

Flee uses animation to great effect to tell the story of a gay Afghan refugee's escape to Denmark.  We learn his story in flashback, of a happy childhood turned serious when Soviets invade.  The journey of a refugee who must choose between family and freedom comes tumbling out of the main character.  The result is moving and by the end uplifting.    

Friday, January 21, 2022

Jockey - 3 Stars - IN THEATERS - January 21, 2022

Jockey reminds me a little of Seabiscuit.  Both films tell a story of an aging rider and a once in a lifetime horse.  Jockey adds a father - son or father -mentor plot to the mix.  Clifton Collins Jr. brings worn out realism to the role of Jackson.  Molly Parker adds depth as longtime friend and employer.  Moises Arias fills out the story as the son Jackson may or may not have.  Several scenes feel improvised adding realism.