We all want romantic love, no matter how old we may be. But that does not mean that every potential romantic partner we need is looking for the same love that we are.
In the new film, The Good Liar, Betty (Helen Mirren) and Roy (Ian McKellen) meet as many of us do these days: via the internet. Both single and at a certain age, their first date goes well. But Roy is much more than the lonely widower looking for love again. He is a con-man extraordinaire. Betty is his latest mark. A wealthy widow with only an adult grandson as her family, Stephen (Russell Tovey), Betty seems like a mark that is too good to be true.
But like all things that are too good to be true, this particular con is not going as planned. Roy begins to have feelings for Betty, which complicates his plans. But then Betty plays her hand and the game switches.
The Good Liar is not the best film of 2019. However, it is one of the more unique films of this year. As the film’s leads, Mirren and McKellen bring a gravitas and the obvious decades of acting experience to their roles. I appreciated that as an older woman, Mirren is given equal screen time and an equally powerful character arc as McKellen. There are not many actresses of her generation who are given these roles.
That being said, the film was a little too long. There were moments when I wanted the big reveal to drop instead of holding out a little longer.
Elsa (Idina Menzel) is firmly installed as Queen of Arendelle. Anna (Kristen Bell) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) are still going strong. But as things return to normal, Elsa is called away from Arendelle by a mysterious voice that she cannot ignore. With Anna and Kristoff, Elsa, Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven go on a journey to discover the source of the voice and the unanswered mystery of their family’s past.
While most sequels are decent, they do not hold up to their predecessor. Frozen II not only holds up to its predecessor, it exceeds all expectations. Though this film is firmly aimed at children, there is more than enough material for the adults to be entertained. There are themes of growing up, dealing with change and moving away from relationships that were once considered unquestionably important.
The new movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, opened this weekend. Based on the 1998 Esquire article “Can You Say…Hero?” by Tom Junod, Matthew Rhys plays Lloyd Vogel, a fictional version of the real-life writer. Sent by his editor to write a profile of Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), Lloyd is cynical and jaded. On top of his latest article, Lloyd dealing with marriage, new fatherhood and his formerly absentee father, Jerry (Chris Cooper).
I really loved this movie. I loved it because it reminded me why generations of TV viewers loved Mister Rogers. It also introduced the audience to the human side of this icon. As Mister Rogers, Hanks was perfectly cast. And I loved that this film was directed by Marielle Heller, who directed one of my favorite films from last year, Can You Ever Forgive Me? The myth that women are unable to direct successful films went out the window with this movie.
I absolutely recommend it.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is presently in theaters.
Old friends are like an old jacket. It immediately feels comfortable. But what happens when life steers you in a different direction?
In the 2002 film, The Banger Sisters, Suzette (Goldie Hawn) and Lavinia (Susan Sarandon) were once best friends and wild child rock and roll groupies. But life, like it, often does, changes things. Suzette still lives the rock and roll lifestyle. But Lavinia is no longer the groupie that she once was. She has morphed into a traditional suburban wife and mother.
When Suzette realizes that she is without a job, without money and without anyone to help her, she goes to visit Lavinia. Can these two old friends re-connect and or has life gotten in the way?
This film is cute. It’s not horrible, but it’s not Oscar-worthy either. However, it is lovely to see a film about two female characters that have nothing to do with men and are of a certain age.
Batman has been part of our popular culture since his introduction to the public in the late 1930’s. Every generation, in its own way, has reinterpreted the Batman story to fit their era.
In 1966 Batman: The Movie was released. A spinoff of the television series, it is another fight against those would happily destroy the world as it exists. Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) must find a way to stop the United Underworld from holding humanity ransom via humans that have been turned into crystals.
Like the television show, it’s out there, to say the least. It is colorful, over the top and much lighter than the more recent adaptations of the Batman story. However, given the period, this film fits right in and has a sense of humor that later adaptations do not.
It’s not uncommon to see a movie/television show or read a story about a man who stands up against injustice. However, the same story with a female protagonist is sadly, not as commonplace.
The new Harriet Tubman biopic, Harriet, was just released in theaters. Known on the plantation as Minty, the future Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) was born a slave. Though her father was born free, she is enslaved because her mother is a slave. After the death of her master, Minty knows that she will soon be sold. Her only choice is to escape to freedom.
After a 100 mile journey from Maryland, Harriet arrives in Philadelphia. Assisted by William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monae), Harriet settles down into the quiet life of a free person of color. But while she resides in freedom, Harriet feels uneasy that her family is still in bondage. This uneasiness sends her back to Maryland, to free as many slaves as possible.
Going back and forth earns Harriet a reputation and a target on her head. One of those who would like to see her captured is Gideon Brodess (Joe Alwyn), the son of the family who owned Harriet. History tells us that Harriet Tubman does eventually achieve her goal, but not without many obstacles in her way.
This movie is brilliant and I believe, a must-see for anyone who believes in the freedoms that the United States is built on. Director and co-screenwriter Kasi Lemmons tells the story of her subject in a manner that simultaneously humanizes Harriet and gives her the proper moment in the spotlight.
I loved this film because it is educational and entertaining. From a writing standpoint, this is a balancing act in which many try, but few succeed. I also loved that there was no love interest for Harriet. Though the viewer is introduced to her first husband, his prominence in the narrative ends with the first act. He is not the raison d’être for everything that occurs within this film. I wish more filmmakers and screenwriters told the story of a female protagonist without relying on a romantic narrative because it’s the easy thing to do.
I absolutely recommend it and I would not be shocked if this film did well come award season.
TV game shows have existed since the beginning of television. But it takes a unique program to stand out within the genre.
Legends of the Hidden Temple aired on Nickelodeon from 1993-1995 and was hosted by Kirk Fogg. The premise of the show was that there was a fictional Mayan temple filled with gold, jewels, and other treasures. Guarded by Olmec (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), the young contestants were challenged by physical and academic challenges relating to history, geography, and mythology.
As I remember it, Legends of the Hidden Temple was fun to watch. It would have been easy to create another game show that is made up of just physical or academic challenges. But in combining both and adding an Indiana Jones sensibility, this program was able to stand out for the two years that it was on the air.
The 2018 movie, Ashes in the Snow (based on the book Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys) takes place during World War II. Lina (Bel Powley) is an average teenage girl living in Lithuania with her family. She is also a gifted young artist with a dream and the potential to see that dream become a reality.
Then Lina, her family and thousands of others are deported to Siberia. It is her art and her growing relationship with Andrius (Jonah Hauer-King) that provides a sense of normalcy in a situation that is as far from normal as one can get. Will Lina survive or will she perish with thousands of others?
I read this book previously, so I had an idea of what was coming. The movie is just as good as the book. It is a story that within the genre of World War II stories, is not told as often as it should be. Granted, like many book to movie adaptations, the film does not match the book scene for scene. However, that does not detract from the power of this story and the strength of this young girl who finds the will to survive when many did not.
Fairy tales have a way of reaching across time and cultures. They may seem frivolous and fantastical, but they tell human stories about human characters.
The new movie, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, takes place five years after the first movie ends. Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) are newly engaged. The hope is that this marriage will bring peace to the land. But hope often springs eternal.
Before Aurora and Philip can walk down the aisle as newlyweds, Aurora and Maleficent are invited to have dinner with King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). The dinner is supposed to be a “getting to know you” for the future in laws. But in true Meet the Parents fashion, the dinner does not go as planned.
The bond between Aurora and Maleficent begins to weaken as their relationship changes and the drums of war are heard in the distance. Will Aurora and Philip say “I do” and more importantly, will her relationship with Maleficent return to what it was?
I liked this movie. There are some sequels that for any number of reasons, feel unnecessary or feel like they are not adding to the reputation of their predecessor. This film is neither. Without spoiling the movie, there are themes of growing up, respecting diversity in the face of persecution and what happens in the mind of a parent when their child grows up. None of which are easy to deal with on an emotional level.
This film is well written and well acted. Though it may seem to be the predictable fairy tale, it is not.
I recommend it.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is presently in theaters.
Creating a villain for the sake of opposing the hero or heroine is easy. It’s harder to create a three dimensional character who is still a villain, but is just as human as the hero or heroine.
The new movie, Joker, is a standalone/maybe prequel in the world of Batman. Set somewhere in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, Arthur Fleck/Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) lives in a Gotham City plagued by crime and poverty. Arthur earns his living as a clown for hire, though his professional goal is to be a stand up comedian.
He lives with his mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Controy) in a beaten down apartment. He dreams of following in the footsteps of his idol, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), a Johnny Carson like late night talk show host. He also suffers from mental illness and has daydreams of dating his neighbor, Sophie (Zazie Beetz).
Over the course of the film, Arthur slowly transforms into the villain that we know of as the Joker.
I admire that director Todd Phillips and his co-screenwriter Scott Silver tried to tackle the very complicated ideas of mental health and economic disparity. However, I found the violence to be a little much for my taste. The film was also a little on the long side.
Since the release of the film last weekend, there have been some concern that the portrayal of Arthur’s mental illness might be a trigger for those who suffer in real life. While I can completely understand that concern, I am also concerned that some in the audience might come out of the theater with the general idea that everyone who suffers from mental illness has violent or criminal tendencies.