When a movie is successful, the natural thinking is a sequel. The question is, how will this sequel compare to it’s predecessor?
The 1992 movie, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992) is the sequel to the 1989 movie, Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Wannabe scientist Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) is again experimenting with shrinking things and people. This time, the machine he has invented makes people and things bigger, not smaller.
Instead of shrinking his older kids, Wayne has increased the size of his toddler son, Adam. But there is more. When Adam touches anything electrical, he gets bigger. At his tallest, he is over 100 feet tall. In true toddler fashion, he goes through Las Vegas, creating a path of destruction in his wake.
To be fair, I have not seen this movie since it was released into theaters. As I recall it to be, it was mildly funny. But I was also a kid back then.
For 150 years, readers have read and adored Little Women. Louisa May Alcott‘s timeless tale about the March sisters is a universal story of growing up, sisterhood and finding out who you are.
The new adaption, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, was released a couple of weeks ago.
Told in a non-linear narrative, the film starts as the girls are setting out on their own paths in life. Meg March (Emma Watson) is juggling marriage and motherhood. Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) has a day job as a private tutor and sells her stories to local newspapers. Beth March (Eliza Scanlen) remains content to be at home. Amy March (Florence Pugh) is in Paris and living with Aunt March (Meryl Streep) while she is pursuing her dream of becoming a painter.
The movie then flashes back and forth, from the present to the past. Growing up in New England during the Civil War, the girls are being raised by their mother, known as Marmee (Laura Dern) while their father fights for the North. Early in the story, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothee Chalamet) introduces himself to Jo. He is literally the boy next door and becomes Jo’s best friend.
Though some fans might disagree with Gerwig’s choice of narrative, I think it was a wise choice. Given the number of filmed adaptations of this beloved book, she chose to make her adaptation stand out because of that unorthodox narrative.
One of the things that impressed me about the film is how Amy is no longer a brat. In most adaptations and in the eyes of many fans, Amy March is disliked because she is spoiled and remains so throughout the book. But in this adaptation, Amy is spoiled like many youngest children are spoiled. But she also grows up into a woman who knows she wants, in spite of a world that would hold her back.
Anyone who has ever watched a film adaptation of their favorite book are likely to be disappointed. Changes to either character or narrative are certain. But Gerwig remains true to the text, retelling this beloved tale with a modern spirit and a reminder of why 150 years later, Little Women is a cherished novel.
Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.
This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.
In the new movie, The Song of Names (based on the book of the same name by Norman Lebrecht), Martin (Tim Roth) and Dovidl (Clive Owen) were as close as brothers when they were boys. But Dovidl’s past and his secrets have torn their relationship apart.
Their first meeting comes as World War II is on the horizon. As a young boy, Dovidl (Luke Doyle) is a wunderkind on the violin. But he is a Jew living in Warsaw. His talent takes him to England and a shared bedroom with Martin (Misha Handley). After the war is over, the boys are now young men (now played by Jonah Hauer-King and Gerran Howell) and are as close as ever. But as Dovidl becomes known as a music prodigy, he must also grapple with his faith and the fate of the family he left behind in Poland.
Decades later, Martin is searching for his friend, who has all but vanished. Can he find Dovidl and discover the secrets that he carries with him?
I loved this movie. I loved it because at its heart is a story of friendship that starts during a tumultuous time in history. As the years pass and the reality of their world is exposed, both Martin and Dovidl must grapple with their experiences. I also loved the ending. It was not a happy ending as Hollywood would see fit, but it worked for the movie.
It’s easier to follow the crowd. It’s harder to follow your gut and go against the grain, even if that means putting your freedom and your life at stake.
The new film, A Hidden Life, tells the true story of Franz Jägerstätter. Franz (August Diehl) and his wife, Fani (Valerie Pachner) are farmers. Living in rural Austria during World War II, they have three children. Then Franz is called to serve his country.
But there is a catch. Every man who serves must swear loyalty to the Nazi Fuhrer. Franz’s conscious tells him that he cannot make such a statement. This refusal sends Franz to prison and potentially, to his death.
Written and directed by Terrence Malick, this film is as much a message on respecting your instinct as it is to honor the memory of its subject.
The problem with this movie is that is far too long. It is 180 minutes from opening credits to closing credits. As much as I understood where Mr. Malick was going as a writer and a director, he could have cut it down by an hour and it would have been fine as is.
Though the visuals were stunning and the narrative format was interesting, it cannot overcome more screentime than was necessary.
Satire is a beautiful thing. But it has to be done right.
The 1984 film, Johnny Dangerously is a satire of the gangster flicks of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Johnny Kelly/Johnny Dangerously (Michael Keaton) is devoted to his sick mother. Unless she is able to pay for several expensive operations, she will die.
The only way for Johnny to pay for the operations is to turn to a life of crime. This of course, is not smooth sailing, especially when he crosses paths with Danny Vermin (Joe Piscopo) and gets involved romantically with Lil (Marilu Henner).
The reviews of this film, back in the day, were a mixed bag. To be fair, the criticism is warranted. Though there is plenty of material to spoof, at some point, I want the narrative and not an easy gag.
Life is a gamble. Every choice we make is a gamble. But at a certain point, most people know what is a good gamble and what is a bad gamble. The question is, can we recognize what is a good gamble and what is a bad gamble?
In the new movie, Uncut Gems, Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a business owner in New York City’s Diamond District. He sells jewelry to the rich and famous. Howard’s life is akin to walking a tightrope. He is a compulsive gambler who loves basketball and makes bets on games worth six figures. His gambling is getting him in trouble as his losses pile up and those who he owes money to are looking to get their money back.
Howard’s personal life is just as much of a tightrope as his professional life. Though he is married to Dinah (Idina Menzel) and they have three children, Howard has a girlfriend on the side, Julia (Julia Fox).
The bets he is making are becoming more precarious and more dangerous. Will his gamble pay off?
This is an interesting film. If the audience goes into the film expecting the man-child character Sandler played in the mid-90’s, they would be surprised. Howard is a complicated character, driven by the need to gamble, but also playing the role of husband and father.
I don’t know about this film. Howard is not an unlikeable character, but he is highly flawed and makes questionable decisions. Though it is obvious that Sandler is stretching himself as an actor, I still kind of prefer the man-child of the past.
*-This review will be spoiler free. Loose lips sink star ships andanger fans who have not seen the film.
When Star Wars: A New Hope premiered in 1977, it appeared to be nothing more than a hokey space adventure aimed at a young audience. 42 years later, Star Wars has become part and parcel of our culture with millions of fans around the world.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker premiered this weekend. Picking up from where The Last Jediended in 2017, the members of the rebellion are licking their collective wounds and gearing up for battle once more. Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training with the help of General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher).
On a distant planet, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is connecting with the universe’s ultimate evil: the returned from the dead Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). The Emperor has one goal: to finally destroy the rebellion once and for all.
While Leia maintains the rebellion from home base, Rey, Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) go on a journey to stop the First Order in its tracks.
The reviews of this film have been mixed. I don’t agree with them.
The only flaw that this movie had is that it could have been cut down by a few minutes. Other than that, this film is perfect. It was the perfect ending to the Star Wars saga. I loved the new characters, I loved the ending and the seamless way that Carrie Fisher’s scenes from The Force Awakens were integrated into this movie.
I absolutely recommend it.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is presently in theaters.
In our culture, there are more than enough stories about falling in love. There are not enough stories what happens we fall out of love.
In the new movie, Marriage Story, Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) have been married for ten years and have a young son. The marriage is falling apart. Charlie is a theater director and Nicole is an actress in Charlie’s theater company.
Knowing that her marriage is at an end, Nicole accepts a job in Los Angeles. Charlie does his best to see their son and keep his life in New York intact, but that is evidently becoming more difficult. They promised that they would keep the divorce as simple and lawyer-less as possible.
Then Nicole hires Nora (Laura Dern). Charlie hires Jay (Ray Liotta) and Bert (Alan Alda). Bringing in the lawyers both helps and hurts the divorce proceedings. The question is, can this couple divorce peacefully (as much as that is possible) or will it become painful?
I have mixed feelings about this film. Based on the experience of writer/director Noah Baumbach, watching this film is almost excruciatingly painful at times. But, I suppose, that is the point. At best, the divorcing couple are mature and come out of it with an adult understanding of their relationship and their relationship with their child(ren). At worst, the divorce devolves into a shouting match and accusations that get worse by the day.
My problem with the film is that while is excruciating for the characters, it is the same for audience. Clocking in at a little over two hours, I feel like the narrative could have been scaled back. There were moments that felt like the end, but then the movie continued on. By the time the credits rolled, I was more than ready to leave this world behind.
Since the beginning of human history, sexual assault and sexual harassment has been the norm. Especially by powerful men who use sex as a tool against female subordinates or women who lack power. In our era, the balance is starting to tip against the men who use sex as a weapon, but not without the brave women who have come forward.
The new movie, Bombshell, tells the story of Fox News sexual harassment scandal from the perspective of the women who broke the scandal and stopped the harassment in it’s tracks. Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) are the headliners. Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) is the newbie. Rumors of sexual indiscretions against the female staff by the late Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) have been floating around for years, but have not been verified.
The women must make a choice. Do they speak up and lose their jobs? Or do they stay silent and let the toxic atmosphere remain?
This movie is incredibly timely and at times, incredibly uncomfortable. But, I suppose, that is point of this film. Lithgow, as Ailes, is creepy, but not overtly so and not in the first few minutes of the audience meeting him. It is that initial lack of creepiness that makes the audience think that maybe he is not so bad.
If there is anyone to give kudos to, it is the makeup and hair teams. At first glance, one would not know the difference between the really Megyn Kelly and Charlize Theron in character. The resemblance is uncanny.
But, if this film has one flaw, it is that the slow burn is too slow. Anyone who watches the news knows how the movie ends. But it takes a little too much time for the filmmakers to get to that point.