Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Weekend Movie Guide

Julianne Moore stars in Gloria Bell
Us - 3½ Stars. Jordan Peele's follow to "Get Out" spins a great jump-out-of-your-seat story with a message.

Apollo 11 - 3½ Stars. New footage of the 1969 Moon voyage, assembled in eye-popping, jaw-dropping style.

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

Gloria Bell - 3 Stars. Julianne Moore copes with divorce, middle age, and the chance to connect. A marvelous performance.

Avengers:  Endgame - 3 Stars.  Fans will love this curtain call for all of the Marvel characters.  Casual viewers will leave confused.

Pet Sematary - 2½ Stars. Stephen King remake does the job. The family cat comes back to life with unintended consequences.

Diane - 2½ Stars. Mary Kay Place works hard, helping friends and community while dealing with a problem son and a past regret. A sad, sometimes depressing, musing on life.

Shazaam! - 2 Stars. DC Comic origin story bogs down, and gets in the way of the humor of a 14-year-old kid turned superhero.

Dumbo - 2 Stars. Live-action remake of the Disney classic runs long, thanks to too much plot and atmosphere.

High Life - 1 Star.  Weird as hell science fiction.  Kinda disgusting.  Six people walked out of my screening

Avengers: Endgame - 3 Stars - Opens April 26, 2019

"Avengers: Endgame" rolls every character from the Marvel comic universe into a three hour and one minute  revenge fueled epic.  OK, maybe not an epic like "Lawrence of Arabia" or "The Godfather One and Two" but epic in comic book terms.  I remember and like many of the movie characters in this cast including "Iron Man" (Robert Downey Jr.), "Captain America" (Chris Evans), "Ant Man" (Paul Rudd), Thor (Chris Hemsworth, plus the casts of "Black panther" and "Guardians of the Galaxy." That list comes off the top of my bald head.  A friend counted 31 Marvel characters in this saga which continues the previous chapter "Infinity War" when bad guy Thanos (Josh Brolin) collects a series of infinity stones and wipes out half the world.  Of course this installment resorts to time travel, explained in a scene that gave me a brain freeze.  Oh, did I mention Mark Ruffalo returns as "The Incredible Hulk" and Jeremy Renner returns as Hawkeye, and Scarlett Johansson and Don Cheadle, and Tessa Thompson returns and an actress named Karen Gillan stands out as a character named Nebula and who am I leaving out?  Maybe that's the point.  Characters fans love from previous films team up to save the world and undo the damage of the previous chapter.  I got serious lost in the plot about an hour deep.  "Avengers" fans won't.  And even when I got lost I loved the ending, a curtain call of characters rolled into one giant event.  "Avengers:  Endgame" 3 Stars.  Rated PG 13.  Three hours and one minute long.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Review proof blockbuster.  Is it entertaining?  For fans. Is it worth the price of admission? You know who you are.

High Life - 1 Star - Opens April 10, 2019

"High Life" is the kind of disturbing art film that can attract some while disgusting others.  At least six people walked out of the screening I attended, and there were only eighteen of us in the theater.  Robert Pattinson stars as a death row inmate who gets a chance at parole by signing up for a space voyage.  Alas, the powers that be weren't telling the truth.  the space ship is a clunky tin can.  Eventually Pattinson winds up alone with a baby, conceived with the help of a mad fertility specialist played by Juliette Binoche.  Her experiments landed her on death row, but in  space she continues her studies.  "High Life" shocks, disgusts,  and sometimes stuns with beautiful images.  "High Life" 1 Star.  Rated "R".  Does it deliver what it promises?  Weird as hell sci-fi.  Is it entertaining?  Not for the faint of heart.  Is it worth the price of admission?  This is a lot to ponder.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Gloria Bell Review - 3 Stars

"Gloria Bell" avoids depression, thanks to Julianne Moore's exuberant performance. She's divorced, middle-aged, and hoping to connect. Gloria works by day in an insurance office, but goes dancing by night in various L.A. clubs. She catches John Turturro's attention, and romance blooms in all its painful ups and downs. "Gloria Bell," 3 stars, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Wonderful performance by Julianne Moore. Is it entertaining? Often. Is it worth the price of admission? Another honest attempt to tell a woman's story, this time with more hope.

Diane Review - 2½ Stars

Mary Kay Place plays "Diane," a helper to her friends and community. She starts each day with a list, and never fails her circle of friends. But her son has drug problems, and her conscience still regrets what she considers a sin from her past. Most of us recognize the character. Her story unfolds seamlessly, as the years roll by. "Diane" tells a story of women who help, of community, and the inevitable loss that comes in the years beyond middle age. "Diane" often gets depressing, but ends on a thought-provoking note. "Diane," 2½ stars, not rated. Does it deliver what it promises? A woman's story. Is it entertaining? Realistically depressing. Is it worth the price of admission? For the acting and honesty.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Pet Sematary - 2½ Stars

Jason Clarke moves his family to rural Maine, to get away from the big city. Their new house comes with acres of woods. That's the good news. The bad news is the woods creak and groan. When the family cat gets run over and killed, helpful neighbor John Lithgow takes Jason to a special spot where all you have to do is dig a grave, pile some rocks on top and Poof! No more dead cat. Except the cat that returns is sticky, vicious, and kinda disgusting. More tragedy. More returns from the dead. More of what you expect from this kind of movie. "Pet Sematary" isn't on the level of "Get Out" or even "Us," but as a fun horror flick, it gets the job done. "Pet Sematary," 2½ stars, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? State-of-the-art horror film. Is it entertaining? Makes you jump. Is it worth the price of admission? It is what it is.