Growing up is complicated and confusing. It was for many (as it was when I was that age) a day to day experience that has the potential to stay with us long after childhood is over.
In the 1994 film My Girl 2, (the sequel to My Girl) Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is now a full fledged teenager. Her father, Harry (Dan Aykroyd) is trying to pretend that his little girl is not growing up, but it is a fruitless endeavor. Summer is on the horizon. Vada’s pregnant stepmother Shelly (Jamie Lee Curtis) convinces her husband to send Vada to Los Angeles for a vacation.
In California, Vada is staying with her uncle, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s son Nick (Austin O’Brien). Over break, she has to fulfill a school assignment: write an essay on someone whom she admires, but has never met. The easy answer is Vada’s late mother. Nick is unhappily tasked with being Vada’s tour guide. As they begin to look in her mother’s past, the job that seemed easy reveals itself to be more difficult than expected.
I adore this movie. It is funny, charming, adorable, and instantly takes me back to that time in my life. Though Vada is living in the early 1970’s, the experiences and the questions she has are universal.
When we are young, we tend to push boundaries. But what happens when the boundaries push back?
In the 1999 Disney Channel TV movie, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, it is the year 2049. Zenon Gar (Kirsten Storms) is a teenager with a penchant for getting into trouble. When her antics draw the attention of the owner of the space station that she lives on, her punishment is to live on Earth. From the moment she is on solid ground, Zenon is doing everything she can to return home. She also discovers that the man who exiled her to Earth is not as pure as he seems to be.
From an adult perspective, its a cute movie, but nothing special. But if your in the 10-13 age range, it is reasonably entertaining.
When we think of the Holocaust, we think of the six millions Jews that were murdered. While that fact is undeniable, other groups were also targeted for persecution and murder. Among those were Rhineland Bastards. One parent was White and German, the other was of African descent.
In the 2018 film, Where Hands Touch, fifteen year old Lena (Amandla Stenberg) is one of these children. Her White mother, Kerstin (Abbie Cornish), is a single mother. Lena’s father is no longer in the picture. Kerstin is doing her best to protect both of her children from the racial laws imposed on the country. While her son is considered to be a “good German”, her daughter has a target on her back. When Lena meets and falls for Lutz (George McKay), the son of a Nazi official and a member of Hitler Youth, things get even more complicated.
I enjoyed this movie. It was a story that I was aware of in the general sense, but I was fuzzy on the details. The one thing that stuck out to me was the character arcs. If nothing else, it shows how dangerous this mentality is, specifically when a nation sets on a path of destruction of their own citizens that is based on identity.
Do I recommend it? Yes
Where Hands Touch is available for streaming on The Roku Channel.
When one chooses to become an actor, they don’t choose (if they are able to make a decent living) to play the same type of character over and over again. Which is why the choice to play against type is exciting The question is, will this actor succeed in playing a role that the audience does not see coming?
In the 1993 film, The Good Son, Mark (Elijah Wood) has just lost his mother. When his father goes on a business trip to Asia, he is sent Maine to stay with his aunt and uncle. Mark spends his days with his cousin Henry (Macaulay Culkin). Henry initially seems like the average kid. Somewhere along the way, he starts to show a side of himself that is darker and scarier than Mark could have ever imagined.
Back in the day, the reviewers had mixed responses to the film. To be completely honest, I have not seen the movie in full. I just remember seeing part of it in the early 90’s and getting chills watching Culkin play this child who is far from Kevin McCallister as you can get.
When it comes to love and romance, it has been said that opposites attract. However, that does not mean that compromise and putting in the hard work to make the relationship last can be put aside.
In the 1997 romantic comedyFools Rush In, Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry) and Isabel Fuentes (Salma Hayek) are as mismatched a couple as you can get. Fate brings them together in Las Vegas. Three weeks after a one night stand, Isabel discovers that she is pregnant. Before they know it, Alex and Isabel are married. The ceremony was the easy part. Now they have to learn to live with each other and get along with their new in-laws. Which as many married couples may tell you, is a battle in and of itself.
This movie is cute. It is the type of rom-com I would watch on a day that I needed to relax and get out my head for a little while. The comedy is also helped by the cultural differences between the main characters. It would be easy to present Alex as a typical uptight suburban white guy and Isabel as a saucy and spicy Latina. While the stereotypes are there, they are merely the backbone of who Alex and Isabel are. They are given ample room to grow well beyond the expectations the audience has for who they are and where their story will go.
We’ve all heard stories about women who after getting drunk, have been raped. When the police start to dig into the facts, the man’s defense is that she was wasted.
Promising Young Woman hit theaters last Christmas. Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was once a medical school student with a bright professional future ahead of her. When her best friend was sexually assaulted, her life turned upside down. Now she works at a coffee shop by day and takes her revenge by night. Hitting different bars, she pretends to have had one too many. Letting the man of the evening take her home, she lets him believe he will be able to take advantage of her. When Cassie reveals that she is sober and questions him, he does not know how to respond. When one of her former classmates, Ryan (Bo Burnham) walks into the coffee shop, he seems to be different. All seems well on the romance track between Cassie and Ryan. I would love to say that there is some version of happily ever after, but alas, there is not.
Written and directed by Emerald Fennell (The Crown), this is one amazing film. This is one of Mulligan’s best roles in years. She is vengeful and angry, but not in an obvious way. Her way of getting revenge is cold, sweet, and thoroughly delicious. The fact that the male characters are unnerved by Cassie’s actions is nothing short of a dream come true. All of this is backed by an amazing soundtrack, led by the Britney Spears song, Toxic.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Promising Young Woman is in theaters and available for streaming on VOD.
This production is fantastic. Emphasizing the narrative and the emotions of the characters, it is one of the best re-creations I have seen in a long time. It also, in my mind, proves that one does need to clothe the actors in Elizabethan era costumes or film somewhere in Europe that looks like 16th century Italy to be true to the text.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Romeo & Juliet can be watched on the Great Performances website.
Up until that point, Frost’s reputation is not exactly that of a journalistic heavy hitter. Nixon hopes to use that reputation to revive his public perception and earn a hefty check in the process. For his part, Frost has to overcome the doubts that his team has in his ability to succeed. What neither knows is the game that the other will play and how challenging it will be.
This movie is fantastic. The acting is top notch and the story immediately pulls the audience in. Langella almost disappears into the character of Nixon. Though the makeup and prothesis helps, it is the actor who does the heavy lifting. For his part, Sheen as Frost, has the more difficult job. He has to prove that his character has the chops to take on one of the most infamous men in American history.
If there is one takeaway from this movie, it is that politics never changes. Though the narrative takes place nearly fifty years ago, it is a relevant today as it was then.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Frost/Nixon is available for streaming on Peacock.
When we pictures our wedding day, we picture a happily married couple, ready to spend their lives together. The image that does not come to mind is the bride leaving her groom at the altar.
In the 1999 film, Runaway Bride, Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) is engaged for the 4th time. Having dumped her previous fiancés on the day they were supposed to say “I do”, she is now engaged to local high school coach Bob Kelly (Chris Meloni). Ike Graham (Richard Gere) is a reporter from New York who has heard about this supposed “runaway bride” from a colleague. Smelling a potential story, Ike decides to visit the small town in Maryland that Maggie calls home.
Using charm and writers intuition, Ike is able to get the scoop on his latest subject before she can convince her friends and family to keep their mouths shut. Along the way, Ike falls for Maggie and she begins to develop feelings for him. The impending question is, will she go through with the wedding and if she does not, how does Ike play a role in her 4th avoidance of the big day?
As romantic comedies go, this movie is pretty standard. But what makes it stand out is the re-pairing of Gere and Roberts. Almost a decade after Pretty Woman was released, it is their chemistry and on screen compatibility that slightly elevates it above others in the genre.
There is a reason why we keep adapting the works of William Shakespeare again and again. His work is timeless. His stories and characters represent the best and worst of humanity.
The 2017 film, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is a modern California based, adaptation on the Shakespeare play of the same name. The narrative follows through different groups of characters whose tales ultimately converge.
Hermia (Rachael Leigh Cook) is unhappily betrothed to Demetrius (Finn Witrock). She would rather be with Lysander (Hamish Linklater). Helena (Lily Rabe) is in love with Demetrius, but he has constantly rejected her for Hermia. When Lysander and Hermia formulate a plan to run off and get married, Helena and Demetrius follow them.
Bottom (Fran Kranz) is a wannabe comic and a member of a unknown theater troupe. Literally turned into a walking, talking butt by Puck (Avan Jogia), he is pulled into the romantic brouhaha between Oberon, King of the Fairies (Saul Williams) and Titania, Queen of the Fairies (Mia Doi Todd).
This movie is really good. I was thoroughly charmed and entertained. The thing about adaptations of any classic work (specifically when it is not set in the period that it was written in) is the balance between staying true to the original text while giving a contemporary audience an emotional inroad to hold onto. This film is able to do both, keeping both fans of the Bard and a viewer who is looking for a good laugh engaged.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Much Ado About Nothing is available for streaming on the Roku Channel.