Category: Movie Reviews


So here’s my disclaimer: I have more vivid memories of the Simpsons’ ‘Sherry Bobbins’ episode than I do if the original ‘Mary Poppins’.  In my mind now, the original film is more certain iconic songs and clips than remembering the plot of the actual movie.

So, I doubt the new film will become as iconic as the original.  But, I also feel like, they didn’t mess it up (if that makes sense).  As others will surely say, to have a fun, completely non-cynical, old school Disney film in 2018 is kind of nice.  That’s one.

Two, I don’t know who else was on the short list, but Emily Blunt was the right choice to play this part right now.  She can sing, she has natural comedic timing, she carries the part as her own.  

Lin-Manuel: I almost feel like HE was born for this movie more than Emily was.  He fits naturally in the classical musical form (because of course he does), and thankfully, they give him a number that lets him do his modern, hip hop flavored style.

The movie doesn’t go wide for another month, so I won’t ruin some of the winks to the audience that are thrown in.  But I can definitely the adults got a kick out of a few things that went over the heads of the kids in the audience I was in.

Fun.  This was fun.

Advertisements

Does ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ reinvent the wheel for musical biopics? No.  

Could it have gone further in detailing why Freddie Mercury is an icon, to multiple communities?  Definitely.

But is it fun?  Does Rami Malek excel in the ‘every reason to fail’ role of making the audience believe he’s Freddie Mercury?  Absolutely.

The end of Mercury’s life coinciding with the beginning of mine, but I’m enough of a pop culture nerd to know that’s one of those parts, that, man, how do you recreate Freddie Mercury? But credit Rami (who credits the real and fictional band of people who made this film) for letting us suspend our disbelief for a couple hours.  

A few more notes I have to add in:

It’s been said but it’s true: the Mike Myers cameo is perfect, in its role and its tribute to one of his own signature roles.

I completely forgot ‘Bismillah’ was in the lyrics of the song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ but if you think I didn’t make sure I had that song in my digital library before the movie was over, then you don’t know me.

Along those lines, I had some Queen jams in the library (because how could you not?) But the film does a good job of reminding you how many classics they had over the years.  Strictly in terms of getting people to say ‘Oh yeah, do I have that one?’ this movie is already a massive success.

Recommend.

 

jinn-sxsw

So, a film about a young convert finding her place (and herself) as a Muslim while also coming into her own as a young adult.  You would not be wrong to deduce that I’m cheering for this film to succeed on several levels, whether it’s a good film or not.

But the debut film of Nijla Mumin IS a good film.   Better than I was expecting.  That’s not a knock on Nijla, that’s me as a heavily experienced film geek knowing that ‘first films’… you just instinctively lower your expectations after a while.  You look for potential more than you look for anything too promising in what’s in front of you.

So, the story of Jinn, which starts off as a tale of a young black mother (Luke Cage’s Simone Missick) finding herself in Islam, gradually shifts its focus to the point of view of the daughter (Zoe Renee, who is a revelation).  On top of the stresses of being a high school senior trying to get into art school, now add in your mother adopting a new religion and trying to fit into a completely new community that you may not want to be a part of.  Now THAT’S some organic, ready made conflicts.

A perfect film, no.  But a film that left me wanting to see what comes next from its leading actress and director? Absolutely.

High recommend.

 

 

front-runner

Like Jason Reitman, I’m old enough to remember hearing the names ‘Gary Hart’ and ‘Donna Rice’ on the news, but way too young to have any context for it at the time. ‘The Front Runner’ makes its case as one of those ‘pop culture turning points’ where our obsessions with the personal lives of public figures makes some of our best and brightest hesitate from putting themselves into high profile positions.

Hugh Jackman’s bonafides are untouchable now: iconic superhero, more than hold his own as a song and dance man.  So it’s cool in a ‘what can this guy not do?’ kind of way to watch him play a character who is trying a little too hard/ a little too defensive about hiding a major ‘flaw’ in his personality.

As has become the norm with Reitman at this point of his filmography, the supporting cast is a treasure trove of actors he’s worked with before (Vera Famiga, J.K. Simmons) and other character actor heavyweights (Alfred Molina) who fill out the cast and get the audience to question what is the ‘right answer’?  Does the media spend too much time on frivolous stuff?  If someone has a history of questionable judgment in their personal life, does that automatically mean they’d be a terrible leader or lack professionalism?

‘The Front Runner’ asks the questions but doesn’t give the answers.  Thoughtful but not overly serious (the Reitman style).

Worth seeing.

 

 

btas

Don’t know why it took the Honest Trailer guys so long to get around to this, but it was done well.  Give credit where it’s due.

Enjoy!

 

 

stuhlbarg

While Chalamet is still on my radar, today is the perfect day to post this.

‘Call Me By Your Name’ on the whole left me kind of cold, but THIS monologue (which I’m told they pulled directly from the book without changing it)…

Performed by one of our best character actors Michael Stuhlbarg, this is dealing with the first time you get your heart crushed, and the unconditional love of a parent, and being reminded not to let yourself become so jaded and cynical you deny yourself the chance to ‘feel’ again, and a lot more.

In a three minute monologue.  I have no shame saying this cuts me to the bone every time I watch/listen to it.

Enjoy.

 

beautiful-boy-x750

I knew the subject matter of this film, and it’s still not an easy two hours.

Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carell carry this two hander, about the relationship of a father and son, as the son has a lifelong fight with drug addiction.  Every family has some version of this: the person you love unconditionally and who you sincerely feel like they mean well, but they continually go down a path that you can’t comprehend.  And Steve Carell (and the story’s structure) does a great job of going through every stage: complete disbelief, trying to understand, rage, disconnection; all of it.

As far as Chalamet goes, as the movie went on I thought of him as both a young Bale (an actor already committed to ‘Method’ at a super young age) and a young Leo (I want to say ‘Basketball Diaries’ was his serious druggie movie without Googling?).  I mean, if he’s already positioned as the teenage serious actor fast tracked to the A list, there are worse career trajectories.

Not even November yet so I’m not going to say either of these are ‘top 5’ performances this year.  But they could be.  We’ll see.

 

nwa

It’s been said but it’s worth repeating: there’s a lot of ways ‘Straight Outta Compton’ could have gone way wrong, but it’s still a supremely watchable movie.

And I know I’m not the only one who was all in when this instant classic scene started.

You have

  • he’s now known as ‘Chad’ from Insecure playing DJ Yella
  • ‘Weak in the Knees’, an all time classic beat in its own right
  • The first verse of ‘Gangsta Gangsta’, which is up there in ITS own right as great ‘this is who we are’ bars

It was like this is in the theatre opening weekend, it’s like this when I hear the song in the car (it’s LA baby), it was like this sitting at my desk:

‘You don’t like how I’m living well…’

(the middle finger goes up…)

Classic!

Enjoy!

 

 

las-vegas-getty

It occurred to me today that this will (probably) be the first year in at least a decade that I don’t hit up Vegas.

Two things:

At this point, I’ve done ‘Vegas Birthday’, ‘UFC Fight Weekend in Vegas,’ ‘Hangover in Vegas’, ‘New Year’s in Vegas’… there’s not really any all new variations I haven’t experienced yet.

And two, with ten or so weeks still to go, I’ve hit up the Bay Area twice, I’ve started doing film festivals again, I’ve seen family members and frat brothers I haven’t seen in years… I could call it a year socially right now and it would already be a gigantic step forward.  And I’m not remotely done.

So, until next time, Sin City.  There will be a next time I’m sure, but for now, one of my all time favorite movie sequences came to mind to start this week.

Enjoy.

 

 

margaretbowman_profile

Taking you into this weekend with one of my favorite scene stealing performances in recent memory…

I rewatched ‘No Country for Old Men’ last night and forgot Margaret Bowman played a motel clerk in that one.  Not a hugely memorable role, but it made me go back and look up her one scene in ‘Hell or High Water’.  I remember seeing this in the theatre in Dallas.  Even watching it over again a few times this morning: she straight up kills this scene.  Nothing but joy and character actor envy.  You get one of these over the course of a career, you’re good.

Enjoy!