Friday, December 6, 2019

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 - 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 - 4 Stars.  Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Price share faith and friendship. 

Apollo 11 - 3½ Stars. Amazing footage of the amazing feat.

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.

Downton Abbey - 3 Stars. Just what fans of the series ordered.

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.

Doctor Sleep - 3 Stars. This sequel to "The Shining" will keep you awake nights. A genuine chiller.

Waves - 3 Stars.  Intense family drama takes a surprising turn.

Ad Astra - 3 Stars. Brad Pitt as a son searching the universe for his father. Stunningly beautiful, even when it sputters at the end.

The Good Liar - 2½ Stars. Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen con each other in a creaky, but fun thriller.

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

Scandalous - 2½ Stars. History of the National Enquirer relives the tabloid's "greatest hits."

Zombieland: Double Tap - 2 Stars. More zombie killing adventures with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin... Oh! and also Bill Murray.

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 - 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.

The Aeronauts - 1 Star - Hot air balloon adventure turns tedious.

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

Charlie's Angels - Do we really need another one of these?

Gemini Man - Saw it the first time.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - Unnecessary sequel.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Two Popes - 4 Stars - Opens December 6, 2019

Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce surpass expectations as Pope Benedict and his successor Pope Francis.  "The Two Popes" imagines a delightful "What if?" conversation circling faith and doubt between two widely different personalities.  A 4 Star awards contender.  PG-13. 
A sparkling script imagines Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio on a visit to Pope Benedict at the papal summer residence to request retirement.  Benedict disagrees.  The two begin a series of conversations culminating in Benedict's resignation and the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope.  The summer home, the Vatican, and the Sistine Chapel provide breathtaking backdrops.  "The Two Popes" rises above the usual with playful moments including music by ABBA as well as food cart pizza and Fanta soda.  Hopkins and Pryce on screen together feels as good as it gets.

The Aeronauts - 1 Star - Opens December 6, 2019

"The Aeronauts" imagines a dare devil woman and a weather guy high in the sky in a hot air balloon.  The voyage looks like a video game.   1 Star PG-13. 
"Would you like to fly in my beautiful Balloon?" The Fifth Dimension sang that question in the 1960's.  In the case of the Aeronauts, my answer is "No Thanks."  Felicity Jones plays Amelia Wren, a dare devil balloonist who joins meteorologist Eddie Redmayne to advance the science of weather.  They float higher in the sky than ever before, but it's tough up there in the high thin air.  The couple huff and puff and at one point Wren has to climb to the top of the thing to let out a little gas.  "The Aeronauts" makes a  thrilling feat tedious.  1 Star Pg 13. 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Knives Out Review - 3 Stars


"Knives Out" pokes gentle fun at the classic who-done-it? with a touch of social commentary and an all star cast. Rates 3 stars and a PG-13 rating, just for the fun of it.
"Knives Out" hands Christopher Plummer the juicy role of a despised family patriarch and mystery writer. whose death brings his entire dysfunctional family under suspicion. Turns out, they all have a motive to kill him. Daniel Craig adds to the humor as Benoit Blanc, the "last of the gentleman detectives." Plummer's dysfunctional family fills out with a lively bunch of stars, including Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, and Toni Collette. The family takes a back seat to beautiful Ana de Armas, the patriarch's loyal and good-hearted nurse, who emerges as the prime suspect. Her character includes a creative tic: She vomits when she lies. For the sake of social commentary, no one in the family can remember which Central or South American country Ana comes from, while the other suspects enjoy bringing up the immigration status of Ana's mother. "Knives out" balances old school mystery with comedy. I think the comedy succeeds best. The result isn't great, but good, light fun.