Category Archives: Movie Review

The Favourite Movie Review

Politics can sometimes be construed as a game of one upmanship.

The new movie, The Favourite takes place in England in the early 18th century. Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) is on the throne, but she is not the one who is running the country. Emotionally unstable and in bad health, she relies heavily on her friend, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), who unofficially rules in the Queen’s stead. Enter Abigail (Emma Stone), a cousin of Sarah’s whose family has fallen from their aristocratic roots. Abigail is looking for a job and soon climbs up the ladder as Sarah’s maid. As Sarah becomes more involved with the war with France, Abigail takes her place as the Queen’s emotional support system. Seeing that power is within her grasp, Abigail takes it and challenges anyone who would dare threaten her new-found power.

This movie is very interesting. The dirty game of politics is usually confined to men. But in this film, the women play dirty, pull no punches and do what they have to do to gain or stay in power. Couched in the language and imagery of a BPD (British Period Drama), but adding layers of politics, feminism and history, this film is a must see.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Favourite is presently in theaters. 

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Ralph Breaks The Internet Movie Review

When creating animated movies, the creators have to walk a fine line. They have to appeal to both the children and the adults, which is often easier said that done.

Ralph Breaks The Internet premiered today. A sequel of Wreck-It Ralph, the film starts off six years later. Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are still the best of friends. But Vanellope is feeling hemmed in by how predictable her life is. When the game controller on her game breaks, Ralph and Vanellope travel to the Internet to find a new controller. Their plan is supposed to be simple, find the controller on Ebay and go home. But as the saying goes: “mortals plan and G-d laughs”.

While trying to stick to the plan, Ralph and Vanellope meet Shank (Gal Gadot) and Yesss (Taraji P. Henson). Will they be able to accomplish their goal or will things to awry?

This movie is brilliant, funny and appeals to all ages. It has the humor that speaks to the kids and the emotional gravitas that adults will appreciate. I also appreciated the scenes with the Disney Princesses. Without giving too much away, I will say that it was nice that Disney stepped into the modern era by stepping away from the traditional narratives of these traditional characters.

I recommend it.

Ralph Breaks The Internet is presently in theaters. 

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Movie Review

When a fan of successful series of movies walks into the theater for the next chapter in the story, there is hope that this new film lives up the reputation of its predecessors. But sometimes, that hope springs eternal.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hit theaters this weekend. At the beginning of the film, Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has escaped from the authorities. His ideal world is one where wizards rule and non-magical humans are second class citizens. He needs Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) to see his plan to completion, but Credence has other goals. It’s up to Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) with help on the back end from Dumbledore (Jude Law) to stop Grindelwald and find Credence.

Other reviews of this film have been tepid. While the film suffers from sequel-itis, in terms of other sequels, it could be a lot worse. I especially appreciated the ending. It answered the major question of the narrative, while leaving enough narrative strings for the next film.

I recommend it.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is presently in theaters. 

 

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Widows Movie Review

The heist movie genre can be boiled down to two specific words: guns and cars. I’m not usually a fan of this genre, but sometimes a movie that falls within this genre surprises me.

In the new movie, Widows, Veronica (Viola Davis) lives an idyllic live with her husband, Harry (Liam Neeson) in Chicago. Their marriage is picture perfect. That perfection is about to be revealed as a mirage. Harry earns his living via less than lawful means and is killed in the process. The man who Harry stole from, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), not only wants his money back, but is also trying to go legit at the same time. Jamal’s brother and go to henchman, Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) is more than willing to help his brother get his money back.

Veronica soon learns of her late husband’s illicit activities and turns to the women whose husbands were killed with Harry to get Jamal his money back. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) are at first reluctant to join Veronica, but they change their mind. At the same time, there is a local election going on. Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) is career politician whose father, Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall) was also a career politician. With the election coming up and the plans for the heist underway, what truths will be revealed?

This movie is brilliant. It’s much more than the standard heist film, at least from my perspective. The movie talks about complicated issues such as class, money, politics in such a way that it does not feel like a lecture. I also loved that the four female leads were not the typical wife/girlfriend/love interest of the male characters that are usually seen in this genre of film. They were strong, capable and completely willing to do what needed to be done to ensure their success.

I recommend it.

Widows is presently in theaters. 

 

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Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Review

Queen is one of the greatest rock and roll bands in modern music history and Freddie Mercury is without a doubt one of the top five vocalists that music fans have ever heard.

The new film, Bohemian Rhapsody, follows the rise of and near fall of the band and their charismatic front man, Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek). As they climb to the heights of success with their iconic and revolutionary songs, there are troubles behind the scenes. Freddie is gay, but is  unable to accept that part of who he is, at least for part of the film. Though he loves Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), they both come to accept that their relationship will never be a traditional relationship. While this is happening, Freddie is falling to the dark side, led by Paul Prenter (Allen Leech). The band nearly breaks up, until they join the lineup for Live Aid, forever cementing Queen as one of the respected rock bands in history.

Someone who saw the film before I did said that it is best viewed as a concert film and not as a traditional biopic. I agree with that perspective. Though it could be viewed as a traditional biopic, some biopics are rather boring and predictable. This film is neither. Much of the kudos goes to the film’s leading man. While another actor might have simply played the role, Rami Malek inhabits Freddie’s skin. It’s as if Freddie is still alive, instead of being alive in our collective memories.

I absolutely recommend it.

Bohemian Rhapsody is presently in theaters. 

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Throwback Thursday-Saving Silverman (2001)

Friends don’t let friends settle down with the wrong person. At least that is the hope.

In the 2001 film Saving Silverman, Darren (Jason Biggs) is engaged to Judith (Amanda Peet). Judith is controlling, mean-spirited and spiteful. Darren’s friends Wayne (Steve Zahn) and J.D. (Jack Black) have a plan to convince Darren to break up the engagement. This plan includes kidnapping Judith and reuniting Darren with Sandy (Amanda Detmer), his high school ex-girlfriend who is soon to become a nun. The question is, will the plan work?

Back in the early 2000’s, some in Hollywood though that the dumb buddy comedy genre would lead to success. Saving Silverman is one of those films. It tries to be funny, but it’s not. It also relies too heavily on stereotypes, especially the major female characters.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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A Star Is Born Movie Review

For every performer that succeeds in Hollywood, there are many who stand on the cusp of success, but never achieve it.

In the new movie, A Star Is Born, Jack (Bradley Cooper) is a rock star with a capital R. He also has issues with drinking and drug addictions. In a drag bar after a show, Jack meets Ally (Lady Gaga). Ally can sing like nobody’s business, but has yet to even get close to a career as a musician. She has to earn her living in a restaurant while singing in a drag bar.

Jack persuades Ally to sing at one of his concerts. Soon, their personal relationship blooms as quickly as Ally’s career. But while Ally is finally seeing her dream become a reality, she is dealing with the breakdown of her relationship and Jack’s issues getting the best of him.

Every word of praise that has been uttered for this film is entirely earned. As star, director and co-screenwriter, Bradley Cooper throws himself into the film. Unlike other actors who have thought themselves to be able to direct and star in a film, Cooper is able to do so while creating a realistic portrait of a musician who is letting his demons overshadow his professional achievements.  For her part, Lady Gaga is an exception actress. It’s one thing to play a character in a reboot, its another thing to play character in a film that has been rebooted twice since the original film made it’s debut. Stepping into the shoes of Janet Gaynor (1937), Judy Garland (1954) and Barbra Streisand (1976), Lady Gaga plays the role of Ally as if she was born to do so.

I absolutely recommend it. I would not be surprised if A Star Is Born does well come award season.

A Star Is Born is presently in theaters. 

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Can You Ever Forgive Me? Movie Review

The dream for many writers to become successful and earn their living solely via their pen or their computer. The reality is that only a small percentage of writers reach that level of fame and success. The rest of us have to earn our income via a regular job and write in the evenings and on the weekends.

In the new movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (based upon the book of the same name), Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is a New York City based writer whose professional glory days are long gone. She is out of work and needs money fast. While doing research in the library for her next book, she finds a letter from a famous writer and sells it.  This leads Lee down the path of forging letters of famous writers who have passed on. Her cohort in this deception is Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant). Though Lee is making bank, time is running out on her con game. Will she get caught and if she does, what will her punishment be?

Other reviewers have stated that it is Melissa McCarthy’s best performance since Bridesmaids. I couldn’t agree more. Lee is crass, rude and has an alcohol problem. She is grasping at straws in attempt to revive her career and is desperate enough to do something stupid/illegal to regain that career. If Lee brings the serious moments to this film,  Jack brings in the jokes and the lighter moments, with a slightly adult and sardonic sense of humor.

I absolutely recommend it.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is presently in theaters. 

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Tea with the Dames Movie Review

There is nothing like getting together with old friends. Especially, if you have been friends for multiple decades.

The new movie, Tea with the Dames, directed by Roger Michell, is a conversation between four of the greatest living actresses in modern Hollywood. In the film, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright, and Dame Eileen Atkins discuss life, love, career, family and everything in between.

What I loved about this documentary is that these women not just pretending to be friends for the sake of the camera. This is not another role where they pretend to be someone else and have pretend relationships with their co-stars. They have a real emotional bond and years of friendship that easily comes across the screen. In addition to the interviews with the film’s subjects, the documentary also includes archival footage from their past work, images from their personal life and images of roles they have played in the past.

I absolutely recommend it.

Tea with the Dames is presently in theaters. 

 

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Flashback Friday-Tristan + Isolde (2006)

The story of forbidden love is akin to catnip for many writers. The question is, can the writer or writers create a story that stands out from the pack?

In the 2006 film, Tristan + Isolde, James Franco plays Tristan, a prince who is second in line to the British throne. Sophia Myles plays Isolde, the princess from an Irish clan who is feuding with the British. Needless to say, this is not a match that would be approved by either side. Isolde marries Marke (Rufus Sewell), but does not forget the man she loves. Will the lovers be able to build a life together or will they be fated to hide their love to survive?

The film is based on the story of a mythical, yet forbidden love between Cornish Knight and an Irish Princess. The problem with this film is that unlike another famous tale of forbidden love (Romeo and Juliet), it does not have same oomph. While it helps that Rufus Sewell’s character is the main reason that the lovers are kept apart, even he cannot save this film.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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