Category Archives: Movies

Thoughts On Passover

Tonight is the first night of Passover.

Around the world, millions of Jews will sit down to the Seder and remember the exodus from Egypt.

Though the story is about one specific group of people are led to freedom, it speaks to everyone who has felt put down, pushed aside or made to feel like the other.

For me personally, this holiday coincides with the fact that there will soon be a change in my career. I will be walking through the desert of unemployment, with my creator walking silently by my side and praying for the professional manna that will support me until I am again employed.

I have to believe that something good is coming. G-d is not sending me to the proverbial professional desert for kicks and giggles. I believe that I will reach the professional promised land.

In this time of professional uncertainty and being that Passover starts tonight, I can’t think of a better song that “When You Believe” from the Prince of Egypt.

Happy Passover!

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Thoughts On the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Trailer

After months of anticipation and speculation, the teaser trailer for the new Star Wars film was released today. The name of the 9th film in the series is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

My mind is blown. Like any teaser trailer, there is just enough information to tempt the audience to want more without giving away too much detail.

With most of the cast from the last two films (the late Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Adam Driver) returning to a galaxy far far away, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will hopefully be the closing chapter that this narrative deserves. Among the cast, there is also a familiar face: Billy Dee Williams will be returning as Lando Calrissian, linking the past with the present.

I could watch this trailer multiple times and nitpick, looking for clues as to the overall story, but I don’t want to. I just want to enjoy the trailer and wait until the film premieres in December.

P.S. Did anyone else get the chill when they heard the unnerving laugh of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid)? I cannot fathom how they have brought him back from the dead, but it will be from my perspective, one of the highlights of Episode 9.

 

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Throwback Thursday-Ice Princess (2005)

Stepping out of our comfort zone is often easier said than done. Especially when you want something, but it seems impossible.

In the 2005 movie, Ice Princess (based on a story by Meg Cabot), Casey (Michelle Trachtenberg) is a brain with a capital B. A bookworm who never quite fits in with her classmates, Casey dreams of becoming a championship figure skater. But her mother, Joan (Joan Cusack) has visions of her daughter climbing up the academic track. Casey wants to be like Gen (Hayden Panettiere), the popular girl who has some serious ice skating skills and an attitude to match. Gen’s mother, Tina (Kim Cattrall), a former figure skater, offers to train both girls.

Casey is faced with two seemingly impossible obstacles: disappointing her mother and training without the support of those around her. The only one who believes in her is Teddy (Trevor Blumas), Gen’s brother. Will Casey achieve her dream or she is doomed to failure?

Is Ice Princess just a tad too predictable? Without a doubt. But it has the timeless message of going after what you want, even if it seems impossible.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

 

 

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Mr. Malcolm’s List

The intrigue of love and romance never gets old.

One of the newest entries into this basic narrative is Mr. Malcolm’s List.

This short film, directed by Emma Holly Jones and written by Suzanne Allain (who also wrote the book of the same name) is absolutely brilliant. Written in the spirit of Jane Austen with a multi-cultural cast, this piece is sure to delight fans of Jane Austen and British Period Dramas.

Jeremy Malcolm (Sope Dirisu) is the most eligible bachelor of the season. Miss Julia Thislethate (Gemma Chan) is sure that she is the future Mrs. Malcolm. But Mr. Malcolm has an extensive list of qualities that he is looking for in a wife. His friend, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen (whose character is nameless for the short film) is trying to tempt Mr. Malcolm into matrimony. Enter Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), Julia’s friend. Julia plans to use Selina as revenge against Mr. Malcolm for his rejection of her suit, but in doing so, she may ruin her friend’s chance at happiness.

I adore this film. It has all of the hallmarks of a BPD (British Period Drama), with the biting satire of Jane Austen. But at the same time, but it feels entirely new. Not only do I love the color blind casting and the completely female production team, but I also love it is also going to be made into a feature length film.

There are only a handful of films where I gladly pay for the movie ticket well before the movie hits theaters. Mr. Malcolm’s List is one of these movies.

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Dumbo Movie Review

Over the past few years, Disney is intend on using our childhood memories to bring us once more to the movie theaters. This weekend, the reboot of Dumbo (1941) was released.

Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) has just returned home from fighting in World War I, sacrificing one of his arms in the process of fighting for his country. His wife died during the war, leaving his two children Milly (Nico Parker, Thandie Newton‘s daughter) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) motherless. Stuck in the past, Holt is unable to move forward until his boss and circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) puts Holt in charge of the elephants. One of the female elephants has just given birth, the newborn elephant has unusually large ears that allow him to fly. After the circus has a bit of success with the new elephant, named Dumbo, V.A. Vandervere (Michael Keaton) takes notice of the little elephant. He wants to add Dumbo to Colette Marchant’s (Eva Green) aerialist act. But Vandervere’s plans are not completely altruistic; he has some plans up his sleeve that are questionable.

First of all, I have to give kudos to the screenwriters. Not only did smartly remove the racist caricatures of the crows, but they used Dreamland as the background for the second half of the movie. Dreamland is not a well-known subject unless one is well versed in the history of New York City or early 20th century amusement parks.

I haven’t seen the original animated film in quite a few years, but I feel like this reboot is close enough in narrative to its predecessor. What is nice about this film is that not only is not the typical slightly out-there Tim Burton film, but it speaks of animal cruelty and gives Milly, as a budding scientist, her due.

I recommend it.

Dumbo is presently in theaters.

 

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Hotel Mumbai Review

On November 26th, 2008, the eyes of the world were riveted on Mumbai, India.

Terrorists were openly and brazenly killing innocent civilians. When all was said and done, nearly 200 people were killed and another 300 were injured.

The story of that day and more specifically, the terrorist’s focus on the Taj Mahal Palace is told in the new film, Hotel Mumbai.

After terrorists storm the hotel, staff and guests must come together to somehow get out of the hotel alive. Head chef Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and waiter Arjun (Dev Patel) are two of the surviving staff who are simply trying to keep the surviving guests alive. Married couple David (Armie Hammer) and Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) have to make a tough decision. They can either stay together or split up and find a way to get to their nanny, Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and infant son.

I have mixed feelings about this film. On one hand, it’s a true and riveting story about human beings who have no choice, but to find a way to work together in the face of life or death circumstances. In this film, it would have been easy to create a 2D carte blanche villain. But the creative team fleshed out the villains in a way that makes them human, even if their actions are despicable. But on the other hand, the film teetered on boring at moments.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Hotel Mumbai is presently in theaters. 

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The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist Book Review

When we think of Marilyn Monroe, we do not think of feminism. We think of the blonde bombshell, the Hollywood icon, the sex symbol.

In her 2018 non-fiction book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, writer Michelle Morgan introduces another side of the icon: feminist.

In Marilyn’s time, sexism was accepted. Pigeonholed into the ditzy and attractive blonde by the studio, Monroe wanted to prove that as an actress, she was much more than the dumb blonde. After making The Seven Year Itch (1955), she was eager to spread her professional wings. The success of the film and her campaign for the role gave Monroe the confidence to fight for her career, to earn her place in Hollywood and become the performer that she wanted to be.

I was surprised about this book. I knew that for many, she represents old Hollywood. I had heard of the acting classes she took and I knew of the two tumultuous marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller that ended in divorce. But I didn’t know that she fought for her later roles and fought to be seen as a real actress, not just a 2D caricature. Though the book is a little slow, it is still a good read and reminder of the power of women when we fight for what we want.

I recommend it.

 

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Captain Marvel Movie Review

Disclaimer: I know nothing about the Captain Marvel comic books, this review is strictly based on the movie. 

These days, movie-goers have a certain expectation when it comes to movies that are based on comic book super heroes.

Captain Marvel was released into theaters a few weeks ago. Vers (Brie Larson) is a Kree, super-human alien like race. She is a member of the elite Starforce Military. Her mentor and commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) tries to teach Vers to control her emotions and her powers. Vers is captured by the Skrull, a shape shifting alien race that has been at war with the Kree for years. During her captivity, the memories of another life and another identity as Carol Danvers starts to become more prominent.

After escaping from her captors, Vers crashes to earth. Landing in a Blockbuster Video, she is greeted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Together, they will uncover the truth of Vers’s past and the hard truth about the Skrull lead by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).

It’s not a secret that women in super hero movies, especially in leading roles that are not the love interest or significant other, are few and far between. What this film has going for it is humor, a strong female lead and a villain who is not really a villain. In most super hero narratives, there is a clear delineation between the hero and the villain. But in this movie, that line is not so clear.

I wanted to like this film as much as I liked the other Marvel films. But there is something missing from this film.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Captain Marvel is presently in theaters. 

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The Aftermath Movie Review

War has a way of changing relationships.

In the new movie, The Aftermath (based on the book of the same name by Rhidian Brook), Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke) is a member of the British army who has been charged with rebuilding Hamburg just after the end of World War II. His wife, Rachel (Keira Knightley) is joining him after a prolonged separation. Though their marriage appears to be solid, there are cracks beneath the surface.

Their new home is a villa just outside of Hamburg. It belongs to Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård),  a widower with  a young daughter. While Lewis is preoccupied with work, Rachel and Stephen’s relationship changes from antagonistic to romantic. In this political and emotionally charged relationship, old wounds will be opened, personal histories will be revealed and questions about the future will have to be answered.

I am sorry to say that I was disappointed with this film. While it was well done and well acted, it was just missing something. I can’t put my finger on what was missing, but it did have the emotional impact I hoped it would make.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The Aftermath is presently in theaters. 

 

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Thoughts On the New Aladdin Trailer

Reboots have been the rage in Hollywood since the beginning of Hollywood. Over the last few years, Disney has capitalized on this reboot fever by releasing live action remakes of their classic animated films. With the success of The Jungle Book in 2016 and Beauty and the Beast in 2017, some might say that they are using nostalgia as a way to fill up movie theaters.

This week, the complete trailer for the live action reboot of Aladdin was released.

 

I have to admit that I am impressed with the trailer. It looks like a fun movie, even though a part of me will always love the 1992 animated film. I appreciate that the cast is ethnically accurate to the world that Aladdin is set in. Stepping into the animated shoes created in 1992 by Scott Weinger and Linda Larkin are Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott.  I am also impressed by Will Smith as Genie. Though he will never be able to replace Robin Williams’s version of the character, I have a feeling that Smith will bring his own unique sensibilities and flair to Genie.

Will I be seeing the movie when it hits theaters in the spring? The answer is likely yes.

 

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