Monday, May 29, 2023

You Hurt My Feelings - 3 1/2 Stars - May 26, 2023 - THEATERS

Honesty is the best policy until it isn't in You Hurt My Feelings, a lighter than air lifestyle comedy perfect for Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  The story shows even the problems of the one per cent make an entertaining yarn. She's a writer, who teaches at the New School (already some post Woody Allen drift.)  He's a therapist who discovers his patients don't exactly think he helps. One hilarious sequence features real life couple Amber Tamblyn and David Cross asking for their money back.  The plot turns when Julia Louis- Dreyfus and her younger sister sneak up on their husbands, only to hear Julia's husband confess he doesn't think much of her writing, although he's praised it for years. The break in trust and pain that comes across Julia Louie-Dreyfus face produces a jolt.  You Hurt My Feelings combines a wonderful cast (Jeannie Berlin, Tobias Menzies, and an especially good Michaela Watkins) with laugh out loud throw away lines.  Nicole Holofeener directs.  She makes a movie every few years.  I fondly remember Lovely and Amazing from the early 2000s and Julia Louis-Dreyfus fans will remember Enough Said.  I plan to remember Nicole Holofeener's name and look for whatever she creates next.  In this time of Super Heros and Action Figures at the Cineplex, a little light comedy is a tonic.  Holofeener's got the touch.  

Sunday, May 28, 2023

2023 Movie Guide

Mark Rylance stars in The Phantom of the Open

The Quiet Girl - 4 Stars - THEATERS - March 10, 2023 - Extraordinary story of a young girl's summer with relatives who treat her with kindness and respect.  Quiet, languid, and compelling.

Air - 3 1/2 Stars - THEATERS - April 7, 2023 - Matt Damon and Ben Affleck recreate Nike's decision to create the Air Jordan sneaker for Michael Jordan.  Viola Davis steals the movie s Michael's mother. 

You Hurt My Feelings - 3 1/2 Stars - THEATERS - May 26, 2023 - Julia Louie Dreyfus delights in a post Woody Allen Manhattan centric comedy of marriage and manners.  The plot revolves around an unexpected word of truth.  

The Lost King - 3 Stars - THEATERS - March 31, 2023.  Sally Hawkins delights as the quiet shy determined woman whose research leads to the bones of King Richard the third - under a parking lot.  Based on a true story. 

BlackBerry - 3 Stars - THEATERS - May 12, 2023 - The rise and fall of the mobile phone that never saw Apple coming.  Hilarious and a bummer.    


Still:  A Machael J. Fox Movie - 3 1/2 Stars - May 12, 2023 - Still documentary of Michael J. Fox's life and his current struggle with Parkinson's disease.  
Weird:  The Al Yankovic Story - 3 1/2 Stars - ROKU - September 8, 2022 - Song parody comic Al Yankovic creates a completely made-up story of his life, with Daniel Radcliff as Weird Al.  One of the year's most hilarious delights celebrating Weird Al's music and current music biographies.  A delight.  

Tar - 3 1/2 Stars - PEACOCK - October 7, 2022 - Cate Blanchett mesmerizes as a talented arrogant genius conductor.  Her rise and fall exhausts the viewer, but in a good way.  

Emily the Criminal --- 3 1/2 Stars - NETFLIX - August 12, 2022. - Edgy Aubrey Plaza dares you to look away in this thriller crime drama.  An art school dropout with student loan debt, she learns the art of credit card theft launching a breath-taking adventure.    

All Quiet on the Western Front - 3 1/2 Stars - NETFLIX - October 20, 2022 - German boys learn war is not a game - the hard way.  A powerful remake of a classic film and novel.     

Vengeance - 3 1/2 Star - AMAZON PRIME - July 29, 2022 - East coast podcaster B.J. Novak undertakes adventure and a murder investigation in West Texas.  Ashton Kutcher delights with some really weird dialog.  A blue state fish out of water tale in red state Texas with sharp comedy and nice twists.  

The Outfit --- AMAZON PRIME --- 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 party "Starter" and grows up thanks to a connection with single mom Dakota Johnston and her autistic daughter. 

The Fabelmans - 3 Stars - AMAZON PRIME - November 23, 2022 - Steven Spielberg reimagines his childhood through the eyes of his parent's marriage problems and his discovery of moviemaking.   A little long and a little slick, but moving nevertheless.  

The Banshees of Inisherin - THEATERS - 3 Stars --- November 4, 2022.  Rural Irish comedy with Colin Ferrell and Brendan Gleeson.  

The Good Nurse - 3 Stars ---NETFLIX --- September 11, 2022 - Tense medical thriller based on the true story of serial killer nurse Charlie Cullen.  Great cast includes award winners Jessica Chastain, and Eddie Redmayne plus Noah Emmerich, and Kim dickens.  

Elvis - 3 Stars - HBO MAX - September 2, 2022 - the rise and fall of Elvis told grand opera style by over-the-top director Baz Luhrmann.  

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

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

Sharper - 3 Stars --- APPLE TV - Con artists one up each other in a plot that manages to rise above the holes in it.  Great cast includes old pros Julianne Moore and John Lithgow - and new pros Sebastian Stan, Briana Middleton, and Justice Smith.  

Babylon - 2 1/2 Stars - December 23, 2020 - PARAMOUNT PLUS - Overstuffed 1920's Hollywood epic at least an hour two long, the boring parts offset by exhilarating moments.   

The Menu - 2 1/2 Stars - November 18, 2022 - HBO MAX - Ralph Fiennes dominates this horror comedy as an angry chef intent on getting even with his best customers.  

She Said - 2 1/2 Stars ---November 18, 2022. PEACOCK - By the numbers story of the New York Times reporting on the Harvey Weinstein scandal.  Uplifting but lacks the tension of All the President's Men or Spotlight.  

Empire of Light - 2 1/2 Stars - December 16, 2022 - HBO MAX - Olivia Coleman as troubled woman working for a struggling cinema in the 1980's.  Morose story of film and community. 

You People - 2 Stars - January 27, 2023 - NETFLIX - Black/White family culture clash with nice ensemble cast including Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus 

Nope - 2 Stars - STREAMING - July 22, 2022 - Jordan Peele's UFO sci fi drama feels ordinary compared to his masterpiece Get Out.

Marlowe - 1 Star - February 15, 2023 - THEATERS - ROKU - Lian Nesson as Private eye Philip Marlowe.  Captures the look of the hard boiled LA noir classics but lacks the spark. 

Blonde - 1 Star - September 23, 2022 - NETFLIX - Hard to watch story of 1950's icon Marilyn Monroe's life. Beautifully produced but explicit, long, and painful. Hint:  She had Daddy issues.  

The Son - 1 Star - January 20, 2023 - NETFLIX - Hard to watch family drama starring badly miscast Hugh Jackman as the clueless father of a depressed son. 

White Noise - 1 Star - December 30, 2022 - NETFLIX - Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig can't save this talky 1970s environmental dark comedy.  

The Whale - Zero - December 14, 2022 - APPLE TV - morbidly obese man tries to square thigns with his family.  Mean spirited and hard to watch. 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie - 3 1/2 Stars - May 12, 2023 - APPLE TV

Michael J. Fox says he never stayed still growing up.  Always the smallest kid in his class, in high school, Fox discovered acting.  He also discovered his small stature gave him a boost when a production needed someone who looked young but possessed adult abilities.  Stll:  A Michael J. Fox Movie mixes the story of his rise to fame - with his diagnosis with Parkinson's, the degenerative disease with no cure and a certainty of progression.  Fox allows us to see his struggle in scenes of physical therapy sessions and in glimpses of his daily life.  Interviews include his children and his longtime wife Tracy Pollan.  The mix of Fox's great achievements - Family ties, Spin City, Back to the Future - contrast with his life with Parkinson's.  Still:  A Michael J. Fox Movie tells a powerful story with honesty and truth.  Director Davis Guggenheim has fashioned one of the year's great documentaries.  

Saturday, May 13, 2023

BlackBerry - 3 Stars - May 12, 2023 - THEATERS

I faintly remember using a BlackBerry --- the mobile phone that sent texts and received e mail as well as made phone calls.  Maybe you remember.  The BlackBerry came with a small keyboard operated with your thumbs.  The keyboard clicked, like a typewriter keyboard only more new age style. I'd just begun working for channel 7 and they provided me with a cell --- so they could find me and I could find them.    Whatever phone Channel 7 gave me stopped working, and PRESTO!  I received my first iPhone as a corporate tool.  I never looked back. BlackBerry tells the somewhat hilarious and a little tragic story of the computer nerds who invented the BlackBerry, the shark who sells it, and the forces that made them miss Apple's coming dominance.  Jay Baruchel plays Mike Lazaridis, a brilliant nerdy computer engineer with poor communication skills.  Matt Johnson (who also directs) lays Doug Fregin, an equally brilliant engineer with a bit too much creative juice and a tendency to party rather than work.  The triangle completes with Glenn Howerton as Jim Balsillie, a hard driven corporate shark who pushes the envelope to dizzying heights, only to watch it crash like the Hindenburg.  I laughed out loud several times and gasped as the story unfolded.  BlackBerry stands alongside Air, the story of Nike shoes and Michael Jordan.  Except Air told a successful story.  BlackBerry tells a mammoth rise and fall.  Great fun.  Also a bummer.  

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Air ---3 1/2 Stars --- THEATERS --- April 7, 2023

Air proves several things including: when Viola Davis makes a movie, it's worth seeing.  Also, when Matt Damon and Ben Affleck team up, the result's usually great. Air takes the story of how Nike convinced Michael Jordan to endorse their basketball shoes and turns it into a compelling human story about business and sports and thinking outside the box.  Matt Damon does the heavy lifting as basketball scout Sonny Vaccaro.  Working for Nike, Sonny's determined to find the key to Nike basketball shoe marketing success.  He keys on up-and-coming player Michael Jordan.  Sonny's gut feeling leads him to challenge Nike founder Phil Knight, played with goofy charm by Ben Affleck. Ignoring custom, Sonny travels to Jordan's parent's North Carolina front door, where he meets Deloris Jordan played by Viola Davis. Once Davis enters she steals the movie.  Nothing happens without her.  Air takes viewers into the world of reptilian agents, represented by Chris Messina in a hilarious portrait of Jordan's agent Daivd Falk, as well as Nike office politics, including colleagues played with gusto by Jason Bateman and Chris Tucker. A great soundtrack and recreation of 80s style adds to the fun.  Air melds a great business story, a great sports story, and a great story about a guy willing to ask the right questions at the right time.    

The Lost King --- 3 Stars ---THEATERS --- March 31, 2023

This really happened.  In 2012, a woman named Philippa Langley convinced a group of researchers that the bones of long-lost King Richard III lay under a parking lot in Leicester, a small city 80 miles from London.  Sally Hawkins brings Philippa to life, with chronic fatigue and a mousey appearance.  She's the sort of person nobody pays attention to. One night, watching Shakespeare's Richard III, she finds inspiration to research his life which ultimately leads her to his bones.  As the story unfolds, Philippa enjoys visits from Richard III's spirit, played by Harry Lloyd, who also plays the actor in the production that inspires her.  The Lost King spins a delightful David versus Goliath story, hitting the right notes as others step in to take credit for her work.  The Lost King sets the record straight and tells an entertaining story doing so.