Good Time (R)

Co-written and directed by brothers Josh and Benny Safdie and starring Robert Pattinson, Good Time is a high energy story of extremely misguided brotherly love.  The  two brothers (Pattinson and B. Safdie) rob a bank and consequently wind up running from the law.  The robbery is well planned down to the last detail (almost) and goes awry.  The aftermath is unplanned and chaotic and with every desperate decision these characters are buried deeper and deeper into a not-so-good time.

Benny and Josh directed and they did a solid job.  They took good care of their project. This use of locations here is most impressive.  I enjoy watching movies that use location as a moving character in story telling in this way.  The characters are on the run and we get a chance to run with them – all over Queens.

Josh Safdie also co-wrote the movie and starred in Good Time.  The writing is strong as we wind through this dark story with these characters you find somewhat difficult to cheer for because they are so twisted and irredeemable.  Still, in a way, they are somewhat “likeable” outcasts, and you sort of wish them well (or at least I did); even though the consequences of their actions dictate that all will not end well. It’s an adventure with comedy, tragedy and some silliness. There’s quite a bit of violence in the form of pummeling that some may find off-putting, so proceed with caution.  The only problem I had with the story was that along the way, Pattinson and his brother have to rely on the kindness of a stranger and some lady he didn’t know let him and his brother into her house. At night. With a 16 year old in the house. I’m sure there is some nice lady who would do this somewhere, but not I.  Never.  The improbable act helps move the movie along in a clever way and allows important characters to be introduced, so I minded it a bit less.  But still, the New Yawka in me won’t let it go, Yo.

Josh Safdie did a good job with the subtlety of his acting.  His character is retarded (I use the word retarded because the character is actually obviously “slow” and there is no diagnosis(es) offered, although I’m sure he has one and that it is probably quite complicated – so don’t even try to come for me). Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a notable, super hilarious part in the mischief. Robert Pattinson is simply great here. He is growing as an actor in all the right ways.  His character was manipulative, narcissistic, single minded, self-centered, and I believed every word he said (or at least I believe that he believed it) and everything he did. Pattinson’s acting and this character are what makes this movie enjoyable to watch because he is a man operating with no plan at all, relying on his “wits” and you’ll want to see what he does next and the clever ways he extricates himself from some very tight spots (or not).

Good Time earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops. It’s a well written, well acted, good movie worth seeing.  It’s better than good, but I would stop short at saying it is great simply because it’s not a movie that I, personally, would want to run out and see again right away. As enjoyable as Good Time is, I don’t know that I can recommend venturing forth and seeing it in a theater.  It is definitely one of those films that is not for everybody. As is always the case with any movie, it depends on what you like. If you like a “bro” movie with much pummeling, dark humor and a balance between action and storytelling, you should enjoy this.  If not, don’t bother.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address, and never miss a review!

 Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

Step
Wind River
The Hitman’s Body Guard

Previous Reviews

Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out

Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

Atomic Blonde (R)

Directed by stuntman-turned-director David Leitch (Deadpool 2) and starring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy, Atomic Blond hits theaters today.  Based on Antony Johnson’s graphic novel “The Coldest City,” undercover MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents with the help of Berlin operative David Percival (McAvoy).

I’ve been waiting on this movie for what seems like forever.  I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned this previously, but I never, ever watch movie trailers because they ruin the movie for me by showing the best parts. I do my very best to completely miss coming attractions when I go to see a movie. And if I should find myself sitting through them, I am busying myself with my phone and ignoring whatever is happening on the screen. For some reason I did watch the trailer for Atomic Blonde some months ago, and while it certainly made me believe this was going to be a must-see movie, it also showed most of the best parts of the film. Lesson learned.

So, since this movie is directed by Leitch one would expect the choreography of the fight scenes and stunts to be mind-blowingly awesome, and it was. Theron gets her ass kicked almost as much as she kicks ass – oh, and testicles. Yep. There are plenty of ball-kicks in there.  (Those poor guys.)  Car chases, shoot outs, hand to hand combat; you name it. It’s all here. I was nearly (notice I say, “nearly”) gripping my seat from the blows, but for me, while the action was plentiful, it wasn’t plentiful enough and it was nothing I’ve not seen before. I just haven’t seen Charlize Theron do it while so impeccably dressed. (So impeccably that you will mourn the senseless destruction of her fabulous ensembles.)  There is one epic scene with a couple of KGB agents that stands out which is so splendid, so perfectly done in every way, you will never forget it.

Theron’s character recounts what happened in Berlin in a debriefing and from there the film flips back and forth to the events of the past which took place in Berlin to the debriefing room. The scenes where we return to the debriefing room, while informative and entertaining at times, take the air out of the action sequences. I do understand that a basis for the story needs to be established and there needs to be some introduction to these characters, but I don’t believe the debriefing was the most effective way to accomplish that on film. I’ve never read the graphic novel and I don’t know if the movie was attempting to follow the format of the book, but if that is the case, similarly to the mistake made with The Girl on the Train (although not as catastrophically) (see my review here), it doesn’t really work. The fast pace is interrupted by the debriefing and the action never quite gains proper momentum to fully satisfy the viewer. At least I wasn’t satisfied.

We’ve heard better sound in other movies this year. I wasn’t blown away by the soundtrack although it was decent enough. The cinematography and camerawork are a compelling thing of beauty – particularly during action sequences. The wardrobe crew did a super-outstanding job of outfitting Charlize while we watched her do a whooooole lot of walking, or shall we say strutting, in black and white outfits with the most incredible shoes through the streets of Berlin. Her black and white outfits become a character in the movie because they were so lovely and she wore them all so well. Stilettos, cobblestone and secret missions don’t mix well and would never work for me (particularly if you add in the vodka this woman drank), but Charlize makes it look totally doable.

I have to address the lesbian scenes.  These are in the movie for a purpose which is to punctuate Lorraine’s ambiguity in all things.  The symbolism is found in her wardrobe, in her drink, in her emotional attachment and detachment, and in her sexuality.  So for this particular movie the character’s sexuality served a purpose and was not gratuitous.

The acting is good but I wasn’t “wowed.” Charlize’s performance is fine, but it left me wanting. Wanting to watch The Long Kiss Good Night so I could enjoy Geena Davis as kick ass Charly Baltimore… I don’t mean to compare movies or blondes but sometimes these things cannot be helped. (Perhaps it was the ass kicking, drinking, smoking and heavy eyeliner that beg the comparison to be drawn. And I really am going to watch The Long Kiss Good Night again if it rains this weekend.) James McAvoy is becoming “that dude” for me. Having last seen him in Split (here’s my review), perhaps he’s spoiled me for anything else he does. I enjoy watching him because he picks such diverse roles, and excels at them. I cannot wait to see what and/or who he will be or become next and I want to go back and watch every role he has ever played. (By the way, the first thing I ever saw him in was the original UK version of Shameless. If you’ve never watched Shameless or have only seen the American version, stream it.) If you can’t tell, I really like this guy. But here, while he is effortless in the role I wanted to see him push through and give me more. Again, I just wasn’t satisfied.

Atomic Blonde earned 6.5 out of 10 bloops. It’s not bad, but certainly could have been better.  It is worth seeing but I would stop short of saying that it is “good” because I cannot recommend you pay to see it in a theater.  (Definitely not full price! Perhaps a matinee.) This could be a set up for a series if the box office goes well, but this wasn’t the greatest introduction to these characters, unfortunately. I didn’t feel the sense of fun and adventure that I look for in an action movie. (And I mean… what type of weak-ass signature drink is that for a femme fatale anyway?)  Even when lives hang in the balance and there is so much at stake I want to feel like I am there; invested and going on the adventure with these characters.  I want to feel the suspense and the urgency. Other than through the actual setting, I just wasn’t transported to spy/double agent infested 1989 Berlin. I was just a girl watching a movie enjoying the occasional car chase, shoot out, fight scene or stunt… It wasn’t terrible, but somehow this one missed the mark and I wasn’t moved.  Definitely stream it when it becomes available.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, enter your email address, follow me and never miss a review!

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

Detroit
The Black Prince
The Dark Tower

Previous Reviews

Good Time
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out

Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

 

Dunkirk (PG-13)

Based on a true story, written and directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Fionn Whitehead, Dunkirk is about allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France who are surrounded by the German army and need to evacuate or die during a fierce, very one-sided battle on the beaches of Dunkirk, France during World War II.

Mr. Nolan picked a perfect battle (poor choice of words when we’re talking about war, I know – but you know what I mean) to adapt into a film because Dunkirk features excitement in the air as well as on the ground.  Dunkirk is well written, suspenseful (even though you can tell pretty much how it all turns out) and totally engrossing. The writing is tight. There is not one ounce of fluff or junk or side story that distracts from the story telling at hand. It is powerful, because it depicts the atrocities of war in a succinct and disturbingly violent way that is not overly-graphic. There are bombs dropping and shots being fired throughout the entire movie. There could have been body parts flying and gore galore. Instead, Nolan decided it was more important to pay attention to the story – not all the “effects” of it all, and it pays off. There is absolutely enough violence in the movie without seeing detached limbs, intestines, etc. There wasn’t even much blood as the blood and gore aren’t necessary here. Not having seen the original Dunkirk (1958) I cannot say how the two films compare. Nolan’s version makes me want to watch that version, and I always consider being motivated to learn more a good thing.

The entire cast did an outstanding job. Mark Rylance is just one of those effortless professionals that I enjoy, and any time I get to watch him do what he does is a good time for me. The cast is filled with many characters who you must get to know very quickly. You develop attachment to and affection for them despite the fact that they don’t have time to be too richly developed. I mean, we know who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” were/are here, so you want the good guys to make it through the battle. The suspense lies in not knowing who will make it through alive and who will not and when are those bomber planes coming back around!

The cinematography, costumes, makeup, set design, scenery, editing, and sound are all impeccable. I cannot imagine how much time these dudes spent in the water while filming. OH! And there were even a couple of soldiers of color there! I’m willing to bet you the 1958 version didn’t show any of them! Any takers? I didn’t think so… They didn’t have any lines, but they were there, and it’s nice to see events accurately portrayed and people of color represented for a change of pace.  (As Arabs and Berbers did fight with the Brits. And I’m not trying to act like I knew that off the top of my head because I did not. Anyone can google and learn!).

Admittedly, Dunkirk is one of those movies I had to think through for a while after I saw it before realizing exactly how good it is, or at least how good I believe it is. I just now worked it all out while writing about it. Before writing, a coworker asked me how it was and I was like “Meh…” There is nothing “meh” about this movie. It really is quite good.

Dunkirk earned 9 out of 10 bloops. It is an excellent movie that is violent but not gory, well-acted, well written… I can’t think of one bad thing to say about it honestly. I do, however, reserve the right to stop short of calling a “masterpiece,” and giving it that elusive 10th bloop. If you enjoy war movies this is for you.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

A Ghost Story
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Past Reviews:

Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman

Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

 

Girls Trip (R)

Directed by Malcom D. Lee (Spike Lee’s cousin who also directed The Best Man, The Best Man Holiday and the upcoming The Best Man Wedding) and starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Girls Trip has finally hit the big screen.

This is one of the more interesting movies about women and friendships that I’ve seen in a while.  All these personalities, and their personal woes; the all-too-human reflex to pass judgment and then the withdrawal of that judgment that leads to acceptance of life choices because… that woman is your friend above all else and you love her.  She’s your girl!  These women work through past problems while going through current problems, talk/yell/cry all the problems out, then hug it out; the way true friendships should be.

Over a girl’s weekend/business trip for Hall’s character, four girlfriends reconnect in New Orleans during the annual Essence Festival.  This setting provides the perfect backdrop for the debauchery which ensues.  There is free-flowing liquor, lots of eye candy, good music and cameos galore.

Girls Trip was written by Kenya Barris (Black-ish/co-creator of America’s Next Top Model), Karen McCullah (10 Things I Hate About You and the screenplay for Legally Blonde), Erica Rivinoja (South Park) and Tracy Oliver, so I was expecting some smart writing and Girls Trip mostly delivers.  The characters are easy to relate to and the events that take place are plausible.  It is well written in that there are different levels, layers and dynamics to each friendship between each and among this group of women; like any group of friends in real life.

The writing is also also quite predictable.  You might not mind this so much because the story manages to keep you interested with Haddish’s wild and well-played character driving the majority of the jokes, the raunchiness and the fun.  She is the wild card here.  You will want to see more of her, because there is no way to predict what she will do next.

Tiffany Haddish is definitely the show stopper/scene stealer here.  The woman is fearless with her comedy and her ghetto fabulousness.  As wild as her character is, she is the type of “bestie” every girl should have; a party starter with whom it’s all love until she’s ready to hurt someone for hurting you. Regina Hall does a great job as well.  You will feel as though all of these women have actually known one another since college.  It will remind you of good times (and bad) with long-time, dear girlfriends; the women who know you best.

Girls Trip earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops.  It’s a good movie that is a lot of fun and a bit raunchy (it might be a bit “too much” for your taste so proceed with caution.  There’s one scene I am sure some people will be über-offended by for certain so keep in mind that the movie is rated R for a reason), but still manages to keep the characters likeable and maintain a level of sweetness.  I feel a sequel in the works if the box office is kind.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

A Ghost Story
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Past Reviews:

Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13)

Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., and a host of others, Spiderman: Homecoming takes place several months after the events which took place in Captain America: Civil War.  Peter Parker is attempting to balance his life as an ordinary high school student with fighting crime as an aspiring Avenger, as a sinister threat (the Vulture) emerges.

Spider-Man gets an update with a modern setting, modern technology and a multicultural cast.  This high school story is typical and familiar.  As Peter Parker, a nerd with hottie potential, Peter navigates through those tumultuous teen years, doing typical teen things (secretly crushing on a girl, trying to fit in, school activities, being the butt of jokes at times, and the like), while secretly fighting crime.  Peter Parker has this restlessness about him that Tony Stark unsuccessfully attempts to contain, but you cannot contain youth!  Peter is super smart in school but easily distracted and bored at times.  He is the brunt of bullying, and lacks confidence like many young people his age.  But in his superhero life, the bullies are the bad guys and they are slinging more than mean words and insults.  Here, Peter (as Spider-Man) is overly confident and has much to learn.  So… he’s really not excelling, nor is he failing in either area; but rather, he is “feeling his way through.”  In each of these two areas Peter/Spiderman exhibits great potential and this means there are lots of possibilities for how a sequel may play out – and this makes us look forward to a sequel that we are not obviously and deliberately led to it.  Brilliant!

The acting is very good in this movie.  Although he is actually 21, Tom Holland provides the intended youthful exuberance in this film.  You will believe he is a 15 year old kid.  Michael Keaton does exactly what he always does; deliver a spot on performance.  Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend is so funny and endearing, you’ll just want to hug him.

The writing is superb in that there is never a dull moment.  The film holds your attention from start to finish.  Newer, supporting characters are fleshed out enough so you get to know them.  The veterans get their screen time.  And we get to know this new, younger version of Spider-Man.  There is a lot of humor, some suspense and a surprise or two.  Spider-Man is very smartly written and takes advantage of the multicultural cast and utilizes them with purpose.

Spider-Man: Homecoming earned 9 out of 10 bloops.  It’s good, clean family fun that won’t make an adult want to take a nap, drop the kids off and go do something else or pull out their hair.  It appeals to all ages.  This movie is fun!

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

A Ghost Story
13 Minutes
The Confessions
The Exception

Past Reviews:

Atomic Blonde
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
The Belko Experiment
Beauty and the Beast
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
Bitter Harvest
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

The Big Sick (R)

Written by and starring Kamail Nanjiani and Emily V. GordonThe Big Sick is the story of a couple dealing with cultural differences and their own feelings as their relationship evolves and life throws them quite a few curves. This cross-cultural (Pakistani/American and someone who is quite obviously not Pakistani/American) love story is based on true events and pumps some much needed life into the otherwise nearly dead rom-com genre.

This is not a predictable story, neither is it run-of-the-mill Hollywood fare.  It is a story that runs on authentic, relatable emotions.  There is humor where you will laugh out loud.  There is sweetness that will touch you; but it isn’t syrupy sweet. There is sorrow that will cause you to well up (alright, I cried damn it).  There is even pain as Kumail and Emily’s parents (played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) advocate for her medical care.  I won’t say more than that, but if you have ever had to advocate for a family member and make what could have been life or death decisions, this movie hits close to home and captures the uncertainty and fear of the process absolutely perfectly.

The writing is strong, as we weave in and out of different aspects and situations in Kamail’s life – his parents, Emily, her parents, their relationship issues, their cultural differences and issues, Emily’s health issues, Kamail’s budding career in stand-up and his friends.  So, what we wind up with is a detailed look at a young man’s life and the relationships he holds dearest, while he struggles to achieve his dream.

The fact that we already know Kamail has become a successful stand-up comedian doesn’t make this film any less interesting.  In fact, although he has been around for a while and I’ve seen him in a few things, I didn’t really know much about him until now and had never heard of his wife.  This was a very nice introduction.

The acting here is great.  I have to admit, I may be biased because I love (and I do not use the word lightly – when I say I love him I mean it) Ray Romano.  (Everybody Loves Raymond is one of my favorite sitcoms of all time.  I can watch it every day and never, ever get sick of it.)  Holly Hunter absolutely steals the show doing a superb job in her role.  Zenobia Shroff as Kamail’s mother is also quite notable.

The Big Sick covers so many aspects of Kamail’s life and the many, many relationships he is handling all at once, at times it feels a bit “choppy.”  But if that’s how the story goes…there’s really nothing to be done about that I suppose.  While these different facets of life are true-to-life, things can become chaotic.  The way this film is written, shot and edited captures that chaos well.

The Big Sick earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops.  It’s a great movie worth seeing.  Because the story is original, diverse, suspenseful, relatable and authentic, it is better than good.  It would make a cute date movie or a girls night out flick (if you all like to go out and sniffle and cry together, that is).  If you don’t want to pay for the movie make sure to catch it when it is released on DVD/Blu Ray or streaming.  I recommend viewing with a pint of your favorite snacks, while in pajamas on a rainy day, if possible.  It just feels that familiar, which is nice.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, enter your email address, follow me and never miss a review!

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

Detroit
The Black Prince
The Dark Tower

Previous Reviews

Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out

Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

Baby Driver (R)

Written and directed by Edgar Wright and starring Ansel Elgort (Baby), Kevin Spacy and a host of others, Baby Driver is about a young man being coerced into working for a crime boss as a getaway driver. Baby has to finish one last job before he is free; but, of course, after the job is finished he gets sucked right back in.

An action/crime/love story, Baby Driver combines elements of many movies seen before, but is brought together in a unique way, driven by music with a few unexpected events. If you enjoyed True Romance, you should enjoy this.  There is enough action, suspense and “twist” to hold your interest all the way through to the final scene.

The acting is above par for an action film because Elgort is accompanied by heavy hitters. Along with Spacey, John Hamm, Lily James and Jamie Foxx help to round out the talented cast.

Wright does an outstanding job directing the heck outta this movie. Every action, every beat, every movement; down to the last cue is so well choreographed, thoughtful and well executed.  Elgort was the perfect choice for the lead here as he is trained in ballet and added much youthful exuberance and a sense of fun throughout the story.  Wright gets 10s across the board for coordinating the music with the action and using this well thought out, enjoyable score to move this film along.  You can feel that this man loves an action film and had a great time making this movie.  Also, as far as Wright’s writing, I need to say that it didn’t go unnoticed that this movie does not rely on or feature one unnecessary naked boob, sex scene or the done-to-death cliché strip club scene.  The movie is pretty clean and chaste (aside from all the killing and shooting) with the exception of one pretty vile character and his potty mouth.

There’s not a lot not to like here, but the movie isn’t perfect. The action sequences will leave you breathless and are beautifully, beautifully shot, but the love story stuff seemed to drag out and brought the overall energy of an otherwise vibrant movie down.  Of course I wanted more action, but I suppose without the love story, Baby Driver just would have been an action/car chase/crime movie, and that would have been just fine with me.

Baby Driver earned 8 bloops out of 10. It is a great movie that is great to see in a theater if you’re so inclined.  It is an enjoyable summer treat to take your mind off the woes of the world for a while.  The action is so entertaining I would watch it again – like right now.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

The House
The Big Sick
The Book of Henry

Past Reviews:
Good Time
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sickl Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
The Belko Experiment
Beauty and the Beast
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
Bitter Harvest
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

All Eyez on Me

Written by Jeremy Haft, Eddie Gonzalez and Steven Bagatourian and starring first-time actor Demetrius Shipp, Jr., All Eyez on Me tells the “true and untold” story of controversial rapper, actor, poet and activist Tupac Shakur. It is a musical biopic that covers Tupac’s short, 25 years of life. The title is the same as Tupac’s fourth studio album released in 1996.

The notable characters in this movie are well cast. This is Mr. Shipp’s debut acting role, and what a role to debut with!  He didn’t just get this job because at times, in the right lighting, at the right angle, he can be a dead ringer for Tupac. He beat out over 4,000 actors to land this role, and delivers Tupac not only physically, but emotionally.  Suge Knight looks like Suge Knight. Dr. Dre looks like Dr. Dre, Shock G looks so much like Shock G it is crazy, etc., etc.  The acting is solid, in general, and the women here stand out; most notably,Danai Gurira, who plays Tupac’s mom, Afeni Shakur. Her acting is remniscent of the great Viola Davis’; “snotty cry” and all.

Problems do exist with this film.  John Singleton was originally attached to this project but backed out because he did not agree with how Tupac is portrayed here.  He directed Tupac in Poetic Justice, so it would be reasonable that someone who actually knew the man steer.  He is still hopeful he can bring his own version of Tupac’s story to the big screen.  The less seasoned Benny Boom stepped in to direct.  And Jada Pinkett disagrees with the poetic license taken regarding the portrayal of her relationship with Tupac.

Despite Tupac’s life being cut short the man went through and accomplished so much.  At 2 hours and 20 minutes, the film covers so many events in Tupac’s life it loses focus at times. There are events you want more details about and times when you could do with less. (The same holds true for the music at times as well.)  There are so many bits and pieces squeezed in to this story that the script feels “heavy,” somewhat overworked and very choppy as it jumps from one event to another, and on to another, then another.  Unlike Tupac’s music, it does not flow effortlessly.  It is lacking in soul and depth. It feels as if we are going down a bumpy, bulleted list of Tupac’s life rather than living out his experiences with him.

I understand how Singleton would disagree with this portrayal of Tupac as this movie accentuates the lowlights and overlooks many of the highlights of Tupac’s life, like Maya Angelou lecturing him to tears or any of the powerful speeches he delivered, or even more of the jailhouse interviews he granted.  Because of the imbalance between the “good” and the “bad,” the audience doesn’t really get to experience the complexity of the man as strongly as they could have.  Conversely, the powerful interpretation of by whom and how he was raised and how his upbringing factored into the person he became is done exceptionally well.

All Eyez on Me earned 7 out of 10 bloops.  It is a good movie, worth seeing; particularly if you are a Tupac fan.  Even if you’re not a fan, you may enjoy it and younger fans may learn things they never knew about the man.   We all know it does not end well for Tupac going in, but the end is very moving.  Despite its flaws, All Eyez on Me pays great tribute to a very talented and complex individual.  Happy Birthday Pac!

***Apologies.  Due to technical issues this post had to be published again.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

The Book of Henry
Rough Night
47 Meters Down

More Reviews:

Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
The Belko Experiment
Beauty and the Beast
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
Bitter Harvest
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

It Comes at Night

Starring Joel Edgerton, Kelvin Harrison, Jr. and Christopher Abbott, It Comes at Night is a horror movie/mystery about a family living in an isolated home in a desolate, wooded area trying to survive after some unnamed, unexplained, unnatural threat seems to have wiped out a large portion of mankind.   The father (Edgerton) has established some sort of domestic order with his wife and son (to the degree that this is possible under the circumstances) that is tested when a desperate younger family (Abbot & co.) arrives seeking refuge.

The movie is about the risks we take when interacting with other people; inviting them into our lives and our homes.  Who can you trust? – Do you even have the capacity to trust anyone?  The tension among and between these two families as their relationships develop is what drives the film.

The movie is well written, with enough stomach churning suspense to categorize it as a mystery and keep you engaged throughout.  You can feel the strain this family is under, living day to day locked inside of a house to stay safe against an unseen killer.  The score is quite good and sets the mood and pace of the film well.

The acting is strong.  Edgerton is convincing as a man doing everything, anything and whatever he can to keep his family safe.  If he wasn’t a true survivalist before this virus hit, it certainly turned him into one.  Harrison plays the sensitive, compassionate character who attempts to balance out his father’s machismo; sometimes unsuccessfully.

The beauty of this movie is that we never learn the origin of the virus, how widespread it may be, or even where these characters live.  This is part of what makes this movie original and very smart.  There is no back story.  We know all we need to know.  There is a virus, it is fatal, it is airborne and will kill you if you come into contact with someone who is infected, and it is a pronounced cause of tremendous stress in these people’s lives.  The “it” that comes at night is the number one thing that occupies their minds and their lives, with room for very little else; and that is how the audience feels while watching. There is no concern for questions to be answered because we are all-consumed by the “It.” The question becomes, does the movie need to explain more to satisfy the viewer?  And the answer to this question is subjective.

It Comes at Night earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops.  The movie is better than good, but not without problems, and still worth seeing; particularly if you are a horror film fan.  If you like a story fed to you that follows a formula of beginning-middle-end, with all the answers provided and an ending wrapped in a neat little bow, you will not care for this movie.  There is some really creative work here in the writing, the acting, the makeup, the camera work… but proceed with caution, because as much as I liked it, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend you pay to see it in the theater.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

Mini Reviews…

Riverdale
Netflix, Amazon, The CW
8 out of 10 bloops

If Beverly Hills 90210 (and/or 90210), The O.C., Gossip Girl, Secret Life of An American Teenager, etc., were mashed up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed and Angel, you would get Riverdale.  The story line and characters are plucked from the Archie comics, but dark; with secrets, lies and murder at the core of the plot line.

The Handmaid’s Tale
Hulu
10 out of 10 bloops

Wow!  Whoever tells you this show is outstanding is not pulling your leg.  It is dystopian and creepy and will make you shudder at times.  The way it is shot and the use of color is absolutely beautiful and depressing at the same time.  It is well written, well acted, well-everythinged.  It is important to watch as it is timely and relevant.  There is one episode that will leave you gasping for air when what has occurred hits you.  Excellence.  Makes me want to write a full review.  May the standard of quality be upheld and it not run past its prime.  Cheers!

Past Reviews:

 

 

Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman

Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
The Belko Experiment
Beauty and the Beast
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
Bitter Harvest
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

The Wedding Plan

Starring Dafi Alferon (as Michal), The Wedding Plan is an Israeli-made movie (in Hebrew with English subtitles) billed as a romantic comedy about an Orthodox Jewish woman whose engagement falls through; so she decides to keep the wedding hall booked because she has faith that God is going to provide her with a husband in the 22 days between “today” and the 8th day of Hanukkah.

This may sound like some silly movie that might star Jennifer Lopez or Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigel and it would be a good movie to remake in an American version. But in modern day Israel (I’m no authority, but I don’t really think Orthodox Jews give a care about the date on the calendar when it comes to their traditions) I would imagine that an unmarried 31 year old Orthodox Jewish woman needs to find herself a husband quite immediately.

Written and directed by Rama Burshtein, the premise has potential to be very funny but is also what makes this a tricky movie to navigate.  The amount of energy one must use to temporarily suspend all Western traditions, hang-ups, modern beliefs, etc., and put themselves in this woman’s shoes and into this movie is taxing.  I was able to do it for a majority of the movie, but toward the end I just couldn’t continue.

Unfortunately, at times, it felt as though (and I could be wrong) something was lost in translation between the actors speaking/acting and the subtitles. The movie contains very few laughs for a comedy, but when you “get it,” it can be very funny.  There is really very little romance.  It is more like an anti-romantic comedy because of the way Michal chooses to select a husband and the jerks she comes across while looking.  While the movie is about stepping out on faith, what I saw was this woman who almost appears to have lost control of her reality and at times seems pitiful and desperate.  That desperation made it difficult to laugh at her after a while.  Watching her almost became painful.

There is an absence of visible outside pressure to marry in the film – certainly a misstep. As a point of reference consider a rom/com which was both romantic and funny, such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Toula’s family took every opportunity to apply the necessary cultural pressure; they told her she looked old, she looked bad, she needed to get married, etc., and it was funny.  Here, Michal’s friends and family are super supportive for the most part, and the only person who harps on getting married is Michal.  Without that outside pressure the need to go out on a limb and do something crazy, like book a hall, send out invitations and buy a wedding dress with no groom, seems non-existent.  Also, My Big Fat Greek Wedding featured Greek traditions and culture and all of it was explained (mostly by an exasperated Toula who was kind of fed up with it all – and even that was funny).  The Wedding Plan features what I can only assume are Orthodox Jewish traditions, because they went unexplained.  These two elements made stepping into Toula’s shoes very easy and the characters very relatable across a wider audience. Everyone can relate to crazy, invasive family members and family, spiritual, cultural and/or religious “rituals” and/or traditions); thus that film’s success.

Dafi Alfernon is a great actress. She can be hilarious and plays pathetic and crazy like nobody’s business. She reminded me of Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine or that crazy Christine) several times, which is one great compliment – particularly for someone who is not even speaking my language.  The supporting cast does an excellent job as well.  Whatever may or may not have gone wrong with this movie, it was not in the acting.

The Wedding Plan earned 5 out of 10 bloops. It isn’t bad but could have been better but I wouldn’t advise anyone to pay to see it in a theater.  The movie had potential but is lacking in romance, too sad to be as funny as one would expect a comedy to be and misses too many opportunities to be more relatable.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

Mini Reviews…

Riverdale
Netflix, Amazon, The CW
8 out of 10 bloops

If Beverly Hills 90210 (and/or 90210), The O.C., Gossip Girl, Secret Life of An American Teenager, etc., were mashed up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed and Angel, you would get Riverdale.  The story line and characters are plucked from the Archie comics, but dark; with secrets, lies and murder at the core of the plot line.

The Handmaid’s Tale
Hulu
10 out of 10 bloops

Wow!  Whoever tells you this show is outstanding is not pulling your leg.  It is dystopian and creepy and will make you shudder at times.  The way it is shot and the use of color is absolutely beautiful and depressing at the same time.  It is well written, well acted, well-everything.  It is important to watch as it is timely and relevant.  There is one episode that will leave you gasping for air when what has occurred hits you.  Excellence.  Makes me want to write a full review.  May the standard of quality be upheld and it not run past its prime.  Cheers!

Past Reviews:

Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
The Belko Experiment
Beauty and the Beast
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
Bitter Harvest
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro