When we lose someone whom we love, the grieving process is a personal one. Some people retreat into themselves and the past. Others carry on as if their loved one is still around.
In the new movie, To Dust, Shmuel (Géza Röhrig) is a Hasidic Cantor living in upstate New York who has just lost in his wife. Secretly obsessing that his wife’s soul is tormented as her body decays, he seeks to calm his obsession via science. This leads him to Albert (Matthew Broderick), a science Professor who teaches at the local community college. Initially, Albert is hesitant to help Shmuel. But then he something changes and Albert is all in with Shmuel’s quest. Will Shmuel find out the answers he is seeking and how will Albert help in his cause?
Director and c0-screenwriter Shawn Snyder was inspired to write the film after the death of his mother from cancer. While it falls into the buddy comedy genre, the film is not the standard buddy comedy. The comedy is very dry and is launched by Shmuel’s grief and his intense preoccupation of finding the answers to his questions. As a person of the Jewish faith, I appreciated that the creative team treated the Hasidic characters with respect instead of being presented to the audience as 2-D caricatures. If I had to name my favorite aspect of the film, it would be that Shmuel’s grief is universal.
My only reservation about this film is that not only is it a little long, but it’s not for everyone. While I appreciate dry comedy, it was a little too dry for my taste.
Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.
To Dust is presently in theaters.
There is nothing so important to a legit democracy than the ability to openly satirize and mock those in power.
Donald Trump has been an easy target for satire since he announced he was running for election. Now that he is unfortunately sitting in the most powerful office in the country, the target has become larger and easier for satire.
That being said, I give you Trumped, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, reprising their roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom from The Producers.
I will caution that one does need to know the overall plot from The Producers to get some of the jokes, but the skit also stands alone as a moment of political satire that is absolutely needed during this time in our country’s history.
Sometimes it takes one person to change history.
Colonel Robert Gould Shaw is remembered as being a hero for the North in The Civil War. He is also remembered for leading the first all black regiment.
In 1989, his story was brought to big screen in the movie Glory. Pvt Trip, one of the soldiers under his command, was played by Denzel Washington. The men in the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry not fought on the battlefield for freedom, they also fought against the racism and prejudice from their fellow citizens.
What makes this movie stand out from the plethora of Civil War era movies is how timely it still feels. Prejudice and racism still exist in this country. Colonel Shaw and his men fought and died for the same freedoms that we are still fighting and dying for today. This movie and the true story that inspired it remind the audience that there are people like Colonel Shaw in the world, willing to step up and do what is right, even if that means going against convention.
I recommend it.
In the 1980’s, one of the more popular cartoons was Inspector Gadget.
Inspector Gadget was a half man, half machine, detective who was not all there. With the help of his niece, Penny and his dog, Brain, they fought against the evil machinations of Dr. Claw.
In 1999, the cartoon made into a film. Stepping into the mechanical shoes of the title character was Matthew Broderick. Brenda (Joely Fisher) is the robotic surgeon who provides the inspector with the mechanical parts. Rupert Everett, as British actors often do, played the villain. Rounding out the cast was Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny.
Were the critics wrong? Unfortunately, they were not wrong. In transferring the cartoon into a live action film, something was lost along the way. The wacky charm and suspension of disbelief that existed in the cartoon was nowhere to be found in the film. And, as usual, Brenda was the classic damsel in distress who has to be rescued.
Do I recommend this film? No. Just stick to the cartoon.
Actors try to stay away from being type cast in certain types of characters. Bette Midler has played many female character that are brash, bossy and outspoken. That is perfectly fine with me.
In The First Wives Club (1996), she was part of a trio of middle aged women that included Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton. They were best friends in college, but life, as it does, took them in different directions. Then a friend commits suicide when her husband left her for a younger woman. Brought together by the fact that all three of their husbands have dumped them for younger wives, they want one thing: revenge.
I am also including the video for the classic Lesley Gore song “You Don’t Own Me” because it is just so cool and is a perfect addition to this movie.
The story of the younger woman and the older man has been told time and again throughout history. But we rarely hear of the older woman who was with the man during their youth and has recently been shoved aside for a younger and prettier model. It is even rarer for that woman to become powerful in her own right and stand on her own two feet.
In Then She Found Me (2007) April Epner (Helen Hunt) is not having an easy life. Her husband (Matthew Broderick) has just left her as soon as she finds out that they are expecting. Her adopted mother Trudy (Lynn Cohen), is disappointed that April has not achieved more in life. Add in a flirtation with Frank (Colin Firth), who is the father of one of April’s students and Bernice (Bette Midler), the birth mother that suddenly returns to her life.
What I like about this movie that it feels real. The reality is that sometimes the floor falls down on us and everything comes down with the floor. April’s journey is inspiring and a case of art imitating life.
I recommend both.
The 1990’s produced a vast array of entertainment, especially for younger audiences. The Lion King (1994) and Space Jam (1996) are two of these movies.
The Lion King
Simba (voiced as a cub by Jonathan Taylor Thomas and by Matthew Broderick as an adult) is a young lion prince in the jungle. When his uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons), accuses Simba of murdering his father by starting a wildebeest stampede, Simba runs. Years later, when he comes face to face with his past, Simba must decide to run or face his demons.
I like this movie. Taking a break from their traditional fairy tale/prince and princess/happily ever after storyline, the good people at Disney took a risk with this movie. The risk paid off. The movie won multiple awards and it’s Broadway incarnation has been playing for nearly 20 years. What I find interesting is that this movie could be construed as, Hamlet in the jungle. But that’s fine, because it is an enjoyable film.
Michael Jordan (playing himself) must help the Looney Tunes gang win a game of basketball against aliens who have stolen the abilities of well known NBA players.
Michael Jordan was the king of basketball in the 1990’s. So it made perfect sense to cast him rather than cast an actor and teach them how to play. This movie is not for everyone, but it is entertaining and it has a message about self esteem at it’s core, a message I think we all need to hear every once in a while.
I recommend it.
For every brand new idea that has come out of Hollywood, there are reboots and revivals that try to present an old idea in a new way. Sometimes, these reboots and revivals are successful. But most of the time, these reboots and revivals fall flat on their faces. Such is the case with Bewitched (2005) and The Stepford Wives (2004).
Based on the 1960’s television series of the same name, this remake stars Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) is a witch who is determined to live her life without magic. Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) an actor with an ego bigger than the state of Texas, is trying to revive his career. The vehicle to revive his career comes in a remake of Bewitched. Meeting Isabel randomly at a cafe, he offers her the part of Samantha opposite his Darrin. Isabel finds herself attracted to Jack, but Jack sees an unknown actress who can unknowingly play second fiddle to him.
Were the critics wrong? Nora Ephron was the director and co-writer on this movie. Nicole Kidman is an excellent performer, but not in this haphazard, sad attempt of a movie. Will Ferrell is one of the best actors Saturday Night Live has ever had on their stage, but he is not a rom-com leading man material. I will have to side with the critics on this movie.
The Stepford Wives
A modern reboot of the 1975 book and movie of the same name, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick star as Joanna Eberhart and Walter Kresby, a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. Trying to revive their relationship, they move from Manhattan to the suburbs of Connecticut. But the town they move is very odd. The wives are oddly docile and submissive to their husbands. The husbands disappear behind the door of The Stepford Men’s Association.
Were the critics wrong? To be fair, I have never seen the original movie, nor have I read the book. Again, Nicole Kidman is an excellent performer. But she and Matthew Broderick are lacking in the chemistry department. The movie is trying to be a comedic thriller. While the original movie was commenting on the then burgeoning feminist movement, this movie just tries too hard. For the second time, I will have to side with the critics on this movie.
In 1988, Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff broke into the music scene with Parents Just Don’t Understand. Which is the theme of this Flashback Friday post.
Ren (Kevin Bacon) has moved from Chicago to small town America. Rock music and dancing have been banned. While the town preacher, Rev Shaw Moore (John Lithgow) continues to preach against rock music and dancing, his teenage daughter Ariel (Lori Singer) is rebelling against her father and constrictions placed on her. With prom coming up quick, Ren and his classmates have to stand up for themselves against the adults in town in favor of the prom they desperately desire.
This movie is an out and out classic. It’s the perfect teenage rebellion movie, coupled with one of the best soundtracks ever. There was a reboot in 2011, but it doesn’t quite stand up to the original.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) does not want to go school today. He devises a plan to avoid his parents and the school principal, Mr. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), who is eager to catch Ferris in the act of cutting class. With his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck), they head to Chicago for a day of fun and adventure.
This is a 1980’s John Hughes directed teenage movie. It is nearly 30 years old and as perfect a teenage movie as it was when it premiered in 1986. And did I mentioned that the parade scene where Ferris sings Twist and Shout is awesome?
I recommend both movies.