Friday, January 17, 2020

Weekend Movie Guide

Tom Hanks stars in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood - 4 Stars. Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers befriends cynical journalist Matthew Rhys in a touching "Can you believe this guy?" story.

The Irishman - (Netflix) 4 Stars. Martin Scorsese's old school mob epic, (3½ hours) with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino. What more do you want?

Ford v Ferrari - 4 Stars. Ford Motor's Carroll Shelby & driver Ken Miles pair up to win the Le Mans competition in the 1960s. Matt Damon & Christian Bale, plus great production and an old school script make magic.

The Two Popes - (Netflix) 4 Stars. Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce share faith and friendship.

Little Women - 4 Stars. Energetic, entertaining reboot of the classic, directed with a sure hand by Greta Gerwig.

Queen & Slim - 3½ Stars. Kick-in-the-gut crime thriller.

Pain and Glory - 3½ Stars. Foreign film award contender, starring Antonio Banderas as an aging, ailing artist.

Parasite - 3½ Stars. Korean comedy/horror thriller. Lower class family worms their way into a 1% family. Then fun begins, including a couple of off-the-rails twists.

Jojo Rabbit - 3½ Stars. A young German boy conjures Hitler as his imaginary friend during World War II. Great acting. Threads the needle between comedy and tragedy.

Just Mercy - 3 Stars. Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx performances make this inspirational story worth watching.

1917 - 3 Stars. Sure-handed World War I drama features technical achievement of appearing uncut.

Harriet - 3 Stars. A thrilling performance from Cynthia Erivo (as emancipator Harriet Tubman) makes this creative biography live.

Knives Out - 3 Stars. Gentle parody of classic who-done-it stories. Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer and a cast of thousands.

Bad Boys for Life - 2 1/2 Stars.  Better than expected sequel with Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, a new younger cast and a few grandpa jokes.

Bombshell - 2½ Stars. Charlize Theron amazes as Megan Kelly, reliving the Me Too movement at Fox News. Script doesn't quite deliver the celebration it desires.

Richard Jewell - 2½ Stars. Clint Eastwood directs the ordeal of the security guard wrongly accused of planting a bomb during during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. A gripping story, marred by a heavy-handed attack on the FBI and a dead newspaper reporter.

Dolemite Is My Name - (Netflix) 2½ Stars. Eddie Murphy pays tribute to comic Rudy Ray Moore's midnight movies about the outrageous character Dolemite.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
- 2 Stars. Finally! It's over.

The Report - 1 Star. Fact-based drama of investigation into American prisoner torture after 9/11. This important investigation makes for a long, talky, often dull movie.

Midway - 1 Star. Cliche-ridden World War II drama includes phony looking computer graphic air and sea fights.

Marriage Story - (Netflix) 1 Star. Actress marries director. They have a child. They grow apart. This is the kind of movie that makes going to the movies a pain in the rear.

Uncut Gems - 1 Star. Adam Sandler tries something different. Good luck liking this character.

A Hidden Life - 1 Star. Beautiful, but long & boring story of Austrian farmer who suffers for not taking an oath to Hitler.

Didn't See it, Don't Wanna See itIn honor of my increasing grumpiness toward the new world of movies...

Cats - That show was stale 20 years ago, and they made a movie out of it? Sorry, but I don't have the brain cells to waste.

Joker - Saw it, wish I hadn't.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Bad Boys for Life - 2 1/2 Stars - Opens January 17, 2019

Bad Boys for Life reunites Will Smith and Martin Lawrence twenty five years after their original pairing. The usual array of car chases and gun play feels like the same old thing, but a plot twist and a funnier than expected turn by Martin Lawrence surpass expectations.  2 1/2 Stars Rated "R". 
"Bad Boys for Life" begins with an outrageous car chase lifted out  of a dozen action movies from the 80's.  Will Smith careens his Porsche down the streets of Miami with Martin Lawrence holding on for dear life reestablishing their roles. The two Miami detectives remain partners twenty five years later, only now Martin's a grandfather ready to retire.  Fate brings Will Smith back to his first undercover case, when the wife of a cartel king breaks out of prison and directs her son to extract revenge.  A plot twist makes this more interesting than it sounds. Smith and Lawrence land more laughs  than expected.  Martin Lawrence especially connects during the back half of the story.  I still wonder why we need this sequel to a trilogy, but fans will likely love it, and a scene during the credits promises more---maybe.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Just Mercy Review - 3 Stars


"Just Mercy" inspires, uplifts and manages to avoid the usual cliches, thanks to quiet performances by Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. 3 stars, rated "PG-13."  
"Just Mercy" offers a contemporary twist on "To Kill a Mockingbird." Based on the work of Harvard-trained lawyer Bryan Stevenson, who moved to Alabama to open a center helping the wrongly accused. Jamie Foxx plays Walter "Johnny D." McMillian, convicted of killing a white woman, in spite of evidence to the contrary. "Just Mercy" includes the usual courtroom speechifying, as well as racist lawmen delivering injustice. Brie Larson adds heft to the cast, as a local activist volunteer. What could have been a cliched, inspirational yawn works, thanks to Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. If you ever have the chance to hear the lawyer in the story (Stevenson) speak, take it.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Ten Best Movies of the Decade

Daniel Kaluuya stars in Get Out

Ah Heck, everybody else made one, so here's mine...

1. Get Out - Created a new kind of horror thriller, with comedy and social comment.
2. Moonlight - Revised the definition of movie love story.
3. Bridesmaids - Launched several actress careers, and paved the way for women in comedy. And that wedding dress scene!
4. Lady Bird - Announced Greta Gerwig as a director to watch.
5. Boyhood - Captured the passage of time.
6. Spotlight - Best investigative thriller since "All the President's Men."
7. The Master - Cult leader Phillip Seymour Hoffman in a haunting performance.
8. Hell or High Water - Taylor Sheridan's modern western, given life by a wistful Jeff Bridges.
9. Wonder Woman - Redefined the superhero movie.
10. The Avengers - Announced the Marvel Universe.