Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Quiet Girl - 4 Stars - March 10, 2023 - THEATERS

Nine-year-old Cait can't quite find her place in the rural Irish village where she lives.  Her family calls her "The Wanderer" after her habit of disappearing into the fields to lie in the long grass.  In desperation her pregnant mother sends her to live with relatives for the summer.  Once on the farm, we gradually learn the source of the host family's grief and of Cait's dysfunctional home life.  In a series of slow languid scenes, the couple and child grow together.  The Quiet Girl tells a story of love and kindness.  The young woman at the center of the story, Catherine Clinch, produces an extraordinary performance.  The Quiet Girl competes for best foreign film at the Oscars.  It's one of the best films of any type I've seen this year.  

Friday, March 10, 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.

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

The Fabelmans - 3 Stars - THEATERS - 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.  

A Christmas Story Christmas --- HBO Max - 3 Stars - November 17, 2022 - Peter Billingsley updates the Christmas classic as Ralphie, bringing his family to celebrate the holidays in his boyhood home.  Surprisingly hits some of the same chords of the original.  Better than expected. .  

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 - THEATERS - STREAMING - Tom Cruise shows a new generation how it's done in a patriotic familiar sequel to the 1980's original.

Sharper - 3 Stars --- 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.  

Women Talking - 2 1/2 Stars - January 6, 2023 - THEATERS - Mennonite women fight sexual assault.  

Babylon - 2 1/2 Stars - December 23, 2020 - STREAMING - 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 - THEATERS - morbidly obese man tries to square thigns with his family.  Mean spirited and hard to watch. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Sharper - 3 Stars - Theaters - Apple TV - February 17, 2023

Everybody's a con artist in the psychological thriller Sharper.  The story begins as quiet bookstore owner Justice Smith asks bookish Brian Middleton to dinner on a whim.  The couple bond and we think it might be the real thing until---she needs money.  $350 thousand dollars later, we meet Sebastian Stan who has schooled Briana in the art of the con.  Later we meet Julianne Moore, Sebastian's alleged mother now in a relationship with billionaire John Lithgow, who utters the key line in the movie "If you're going to steal---steal a lot."  Sharper gives this cast a clever script.  The great ensemble manages to get us beyond a couple of weak plot twists.  For me, believing wasn't as important as enjoying the next twisty twist, and there are a lot of them - enough to make Sharper fun and watchable.  

Friday, February 17, 2023

Marlowe - 1 Star - February 10, 2023 - THEATERS - ROKU

When it comes to hard boiled 1930's LA Noir, and movies like The Big Sleep, the Maltese Falcon, and Chinatown, count me in.  How I wish I could tell you to drop everything and find a screening of Marlowe with Liam Neeson as the one and only Philip Marlowe, chasing down a missing lover for a blonde headed dame in 1939.  Marlowe captures the look of the films I loved.  I understand the filmmakers shot in Barcelona, Spain, where the alleys and buildings look like the art deco classics we remember in black and white.  The cast has promise, with sultry Diane Kruger as the spurned lover, Jessica Lange as her mother, and Alan Cumming and Danny Huston as tough guys.  Huston especially tries to channel his famous father John, appearing sometimes to recite dialog right out of Chinatown.  As I said, I wish I could tell you to rush right out and find Marlowe.  Alas. Save your money. This Marlowe goes through the motion but avoids any of the spark. The plot and acting offer nothing new.  Noir fans - stick to the originals.   

Thursday, February 16, 2023

You People - 2 Stars - January 27, 2023-NETFLIX

You People wants to update engagement classics such as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?  and Meet the Parents.  It tries, although doesn't quite succeed.  Jonah Hill meets Lauren London - things start rocky but smooth out and wham!  they fall in love.  He's white and Jewish.  She's Black and her family's Muslim.  The parents include Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Duchovny and Eddie Murphy and Nia Long.  The families meet, they clash, true love suffers and then triumphs.  I laughed a couple of times at the awkward humor.  It's great seeing Julia Lewis-Dreyfus trade barbs with Eddie Murphy.  Julia's especially good as a clueless rich white liberal.  You People aspires to something deeper.  As it is, You People delivers gentle humor and a predictable outcome which is about what you can expect from something that comes with your Netflix subscription.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Son - 1 Star - THEATERS - January 20, 2023

Hugh Jackman plays a New York lawyer embarking on a new life with a younger wife and baby in The Son. Ex-wife Laura Dern arrives with news their teen aged son is in trouble.  The soap suds start early and overpower the plot.  The son moves in with the father and new wife and oh boy you can see the rest of this a mile away.  Jackman feels particularly miscast.  Hugh Jackman, Vanessa Kirby, Laura Dern, and Zen McGrath (who plays the problem child) deserve better.