XD Now Playing
Cast: Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Richard Madden
Director: Sam Mendes
• 118 min
Bad Boys for Life
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Will Smith, Jennifer Badger, Alexander Ludwig
Director: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong
• 113 min
The Last Full Measure
Christopher Plummer, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Bradley Whitford
• 110 min
Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Woo-sik Choi
• 132 min
Kumail Nanjiani, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Holland, Emma Thompson
Jumanji: The Next Level
Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Awkwafina
Ana de Armas, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig
• 130 min
Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, TimothÃ©e Chalamet, Florence Pugh
• 134 min
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher
• 142 min
Brie Larson, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael B. Jordan, Rafe Spall
• 136 min
Like a Boss
Rose Byrne, Salma Hayek, Tiffany Haddish, Jennifer Coolidge
• 83 min
Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince, Karen Egan
• 94 min
Jason Ritter, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Evan Rachel Wood
The Rhythm Section
Sterling K. Brown, Blake Lively, Jude Law, Max Casella
Call of the Wild
Karen Gillan, Dan Stevens, Harrison Ford, Wes Brown
A Quiet Place 2
Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou
No Time to Die
Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, LÃ©a Seydoux, Rami Malek
Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Robert Downey Jr., David Harbour
Fast & Furious 9
Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Finn Cole, Vin Diesel
Since I write many of these briefs the day before the movies are released, what we have here are mostly ruminations on movies I have not yet seen. You will have to decide for yourself if these briefs have any value. I believe the less you know about a movie, the better chance you might enjoy it to the upside. Too many reviewers seem to go out of their ways to ruin for you with way too much information your upcoming movie experience. In fact my D graded Master’s Thesis proposed that reviews should be embargoed until after the opening weekends allowing moviegoers to see the movies fresh and without plot summaries taken right out of the press kits.
Movie Guru's Current Movie Reviews
The previews promote director Sam Mendes’ James Bond films but this latest seems closer to his American Beauty Oscar winner and his Road to Perdition. Based on a Word War One story told to him by his grandfather, the previews say “don’t miss this movie if you care a whit about cinema.
- Bad Boys For Life
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back in this third and final (?) action cop buddy flick. This is entertainment which will live or die based on word of mouth. The opening weekend audience, much like that for Marvel movies, etc, will make this a hit or a miss. I am going to say big hit.
What were they thinking? Robert Downey reprising the Doctor Doolittle role as played by Rex Harrison, thus his strange United Kingdom accent. $170 million spent on making the movie. Why? The well regarded writer-director of drug dealing films Syriana and Traffic hired to create this film. Weird. The movie playing on premium higher admission screens. It’s a kid’s movie, not a super hero movie. I didn’t sit through Cats either the play or the movie. I didn’t sit through the first Doctor Doolittle because my girlfriend at the time wanted out halfway through it. I will have to sit through this one since I like the reclining seats in our XD theater, and so do my grandkids.
- Frozen 2
OK. Disney is the unquestioned worldwide master of family classics. Every one of their efforts are miles apart from everyone else, even when their efforts are less than great. Without Disney movies America would be a different place. Just imagine if Max Fleischer with his Betty Boop starring cartoons had pushed Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse aside. But of course that did not happen because America is Mickey Mouse, and the fringe is Betty Boop.
- Jumanji: The Next Level
Sequels are often bigger and “worser” than their often more modest originals. Hopefully this is not the case with Jumanji. That would be a loss. The comedic chemistry created by both the physical and psychological differences between hulking The Rock and diminutive Kevin Hart is pleasing to watch. You can tell they are having fun and inviting the audience to become part of it.
- Just Mercy
Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx fight a death penalty case against injustice in a Southern courtroom. I have seen the powerful preview so many times and still have no idea if this ends well or not. And I will not let you know after I see the movie. You can go find out for yourself.
- Knives Out
Director Rian Johnson lately of Star Wars The Last Jedi fame but before that the director of very interesting minor movies Brick, Brothers Bloom, and Looper, here he goes after the traditional whodunit with a sterling cast of name actors and what I assume will be the Johnson genre twist. This movie will be a very satisfying experience for those who don’t require computer generated imagery and super hero plots.
- Like A Boss
Tiffany Haddish needs a new agent. Or a new financial adviser. Because either her agent is desperate for commissions and books her in any available comedy, or Ms. Haddish is being ripped off by her financial adviser and needs the money to pay bills. I like her and want her to bring joy to her fans, but by the looks of the previews I am not too certain that she should have participated in this project. As almost always I hope I am wrong despite the preview vibes.
South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho has brought us his latest and most accessible, the Best Picture Academy Award nominated Parasite. This story of a poor family involved in a con game mixes disquieting suspense with outrageous humor while telling a universal tale of class warfare.
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
The finale of the nine chapters as originally conceived by George Lucas. Walt Disney and George Lucas are the greatest of all time. But Disney Corporation, though the greatest family filmmakers of all time, has done a disservice to the spirit of George Lucas in these final three chapters and the spin-offs and TV shows and integration of scenes into advertising commercials. I love the preview scene of Rey running from the speedily approaching enemy ship, then turning to face it head-on. Nothing in the film will top that (unless you want to count what I am certain will be a mandatory computer generated scene with Princess Leia/Carrie Fisher). OK. You must see this movie. It is the end of Star Wars (suspension of disbelief). No quibbling. Pay your money and recline in premium theaters. Hope and pray that Jar Jar Binks gets a final curtain call.
- The Gentlemen
Madonna ex-husband Guy Ritchie (I just had to say that) returns to the gangster genre where he began his career with Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Matthew McConaughey stars in this drug trade extravaganza which should be fun to watch.
- The Last Full Measure
The based on the true story of the thirty year battle to posthumously honor with the Congressional Medal of Honor William Pitsenbarger whose Vietnam battle heroism saved many American lives at the cost of his own.
Movie Guru's Past Movie Reviews
- 21 Bridges
Chadwick Boseman in a cop thriller that looks like his character is interchangeable with hundreds of the same in previous movies. Will Boseman’s abilities transcend what looks like a generic cop role? Probably. Will those of us who look forward to these types of simple good guy bad guy action B movies like it? Definitely.
- 47 Meters Down: Uncaged
Before my tweener children’s minds were raped by online gaming, they went to the movies and loved the original. I was happy for them, though I never spent a moment in the theater myself. In the first the young women were stuck in a cage. In this, they are uncaged. I am certain sharks will be trying to eat them. I watched the beginning and end of Crawl. The alligators in that movie chewed a couple of legs and arms, but I missed the middle where they must have eaten someone. I expect if there are three or more swimmers in this, at least one will have to be eaten all the way.
- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Tom Hanks as Mister Rodgers. Need I say more. I don’t think so.
- A Quiet Place
A tour de force auteur horror film with intelligence and understandable fear, John Krasinski and his actress wife Emily Blunt create a believable world of silence and monsters.
Actually I see this movie advertised as Tyler Perry’s Acrimony. Tyler Perry, like Steven Spielberg, is another machine filmmaker. His Tyler Perry Madea comedies alternating with his genre films show a filmmaker with all the confidence in the world whose audience follows him everywhere. I will give this movie a try though another Fatal Attraction clone is not what I was looking forward to seeing.
- Ad Astra
Brad Pitt as a conflicted son in outer space. At least that is what it looks like to me from the previews. Does anyone remember George Clooney in outer space in Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris? And wasn’t he Sandra Bullock’s outer space ghost in Gravity? Brad Pitt gets lots of scripts. He picked this film because he looks up to George Clooney and wanted to make his own space movie. I look forward to seeing Ad Astra (dumb title) because Brad Pitt has morphed from pretty boy to powerful actor and producer who involves himself in movies which carry weight (e.g. this summers Tarentino flick Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and which are entertaining as well.
- Addams Family
Does anybody remember anything anymore? The Addams Family TV show on ABC, which was then the number three network, was revolutionary in its portrayal of a group of oddballs as a normal nuclear family comedy. The Munsters on number one network CBS followed with a boring copycat version with smiley happy caricatures of monsters living at home. Now we have a cartoon rendition of the Addams Family. I am sure my grandkids will love it. But I am positive it will be as plain vanilla in the revolutionary department as The Munsters was back then. Oops – my grandkids were bored.
This live action remake of the Robin Williams Disney animation treasure is the hit of the early summer. Will Smith takes over the role of the genie and somehow pulls it off. The middle of the movie is pretty boring but the early scenes draw you in to the story, and the last third of the movie is rip roaring fun. Disney deserves alot of credit for remaking, rebooting, and sequeling every classic in their library without cheapening the product (see this summer’s Men in Black: International, Xmen’s Dark Phoenix, Godzilla: King of the Monsters).
- Angel Has Fallen
It would be so easy to just accept this as Gerard Butler B-movie junk. Not me. I have to quibble over everything. Olympus Has Fallen was a solid B action movie. Then there was the despicable London Has Fallen with the scene where Butler wearing wingtips and starting with what looks like a water pistol walks down a street killing fifteen or twenty highly trained assassins with AK 47’s. But that’s not the worst. The evil terrorist and his evil henchman, both out to destroy London, each get to explain in lengthy serious diatribes why their cause is justified. I think I will go to The Peanut Butter Falcon instead of this one.
- Angry Birds 2
This game was all the rage at some point in the past, though I could not tell you why. The first movie went over big with various children in my orbit. This looks like more of the same. Count me in. Naptime for me. Funtime for the kids.
A real life hot Russian model goes John Wick on a series of professional killers who seem to want to eliminate her. Directed by French director/producer Luc Besson of Fifth Element fame among other cult favorites, this is a B-movie high want to see for me. Besson often attempts to outdo American filmmakers with over the top renditions of gangster and sci-fi movies, and I love him for it.
- Annabelle Comes Home/Child’s Play
I can live without either but don’t begrudge others from being perverted by despicable modern horror. The bloody reboot of Child’s Play is especially awful when considering how the original was as scary as they come without pushing the envelope of inhuman death. And Annabelle Comes Home is simply a money grub continuation of what began seven movies ago as an excellent horror story, The Conjuring.
- Avenger: Endgame
This is it. After Endgame the Avengers as a team are no more. (Though I doubt that future generations of fans will be deprived of reteamings.) This movie is an example of Made in America know how. Other countries try, but none have ever figured out how to duplicate the international appeal of our blockbusters. It is not spoiling the movie to say there is lots of talk that is only important to fervent fans; they want every last morsel of Avengers lore to be rehashed. But as in all great Hollywood three hour epics, the concluding battle and bittersweet endgames leave you more than satisfied. Like I remember Ben Hur and Godfather and Dances With Wolves, this generation will remember Titanic and Endgame and who knows what is next. I believe that December’s Star Wars 9 finale needs to be a three hour epic or it will be less than it should be.
- Black and Blue
I love the previews. Black female police officer sees corrupt cops joining inner city gangsters in murdering someone. She videos it and has to get it out to the public before every criminal and corrupt cop in the city gets to her first (there is a bounty on her head). If this doesn’t turn out to be the best B action movie in a long time, I will eat bacon. Aha. I was right. Great B action movie. No bacon for me.
- Black Christmas
Do I care? No. Horror movies built around holidays are and have always been tried and true templates for scaring their yearning for thrills audiences. I am not opposed to these movies, but I have lost my interest in celluloid horror. Try this one if you like and join the young who will be flocking like hungry birds to theaters Friday nights.
- Blinded by the Light
The recent British low key hit Yesterday about a singer’s love of the Beatles is followed now by this English ode to Bruce Springsteen, “Based on a True Story.” I liked Yesterday very much and hope these filmmakers do as well with Blinded by the Light.
Charlize Theron, Nikole Kidman, and Margot Robbie portray the real life Megan Kelly and Getchen Carlson, while Margot Robbie’s character is made up, which I consider cheating especially since this fictitious victim seems the least able to fight back, therefore becoming the most compelling story of the three. Though there is nothing big screen about three terrific actresses playing beautiful intelligent blondes chased by a sweaty powerful old man who controls their livelihoods and our political destinies, I am glad to see it in a movie theater which is always preferable to watching at home in the family room with non-stop distractions.
- Book Club
Counterprogramming at it’s finest. Welcome faces for the older crowd, Keaton, Bergen, Fonda, and Steenburgen up against the violent scatological hero Deadpool. Personally I am waiting most of all for Action Point, Johnny Knoxville rebooting his Jackass films but surrounding the stunts with a real movie plot about competing amusement parks.
- Brian Banks
Football season is upon us and here we have the true story of a high school football player destined for the NFL who is falsely accused of rape and imprisoned for many years. Upon his release after the victim recants and the evidence proves his innocence, Brian Banks is given a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons. This is Brian’s story.
The reviews I glanced at gave me the impression that this was a special low budget entry in the young director sweepstakes. Creating a cheap horror film that garners critical praise is one of the fastest ways for directors to get their wings and fly into the stratosphere of big budget, star driven moviemaking. Brightburn is David Yarovesky’s best chance at climbing the ladder. The movie is better than its ilk but not good enough in my opinion to send David to the moon. I will watch his 2014 directorial debut The Hive. If it is interesting, I will keep an eye out for his third chance if he gets one.
- Captain Phillips
Captain Phillips is another recent intelligent entertainment. Especially because the movie is based on a true story which you probably watched on the news, the accuracy of various incidents can interfere with the intensity of the viewing experience. But if you just go with the flow, questions of plot and character delay until afterwards at which time you can visit the internet and find out that even the participants in the ordeal do not agree on what happened.
“Memory” or is it “Memories?” That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously bad reviews and still go to see Cats, or to take arms against that which draws one near to this troubled creation. Though I say yea, thy wretched masses may say nay.
- Charlie’s Angels
Even though I didn’t watch the TV show, I always thought the concept was a great one. And I still do. Kristen Stewart leads the trio through their paces, while comedic actress Elizabeth Banks directs this latest version. I believe Banks will turn out to have created a super fun movie for the masses. I hope so.
I haven’t seen a preview and remember a Robert Altman directed Countdown starring James Caan and Robert Duvall in outer space. I would like to see that one again. But give me a moment while I watch the preview for this Countdown on my computer. OK. Nothing to see here. A generic plot about a woman who finds out she has only three days to get out of dying in a low budget horror film. I will give it a peek but only because I can walk in free.
I was momentarily excited until Crawl landed without buzz. Sometimes, especially with horror films, you have to trust the buzz. Horror fans are not easily fooled. Meanwhile Rex Reed, the once famous film critic who slept in the nude (you can look it up), came out of his crypt to call Crawl the best horror movie of the year. Hahahahaha.
- Daddy’s Home 2
I hope this is as funny as the first, or at least as funny as Thor: Ragnarok. Just like A Bad Mom’s Christmas introduces the Grandmothers, Daddy’s Home 2 introduces the Grandfathers (Mel Gibson and John Lithgow). Bad Mom’s Christmas is not as funny as the first, and I don’t expect Daddy’s Home 2 to be as funny as the first. I am especially concerned because the previews show just too may funny moments. Many times that means that is all the funny stuff that is in the entire movie.
- Dark Phoenix
This is another X-Men prequel. Any X-Men movie without Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is a lower case x-men. I want this movie to be good, but I have the Godzilla blues and worry I am in for another less than happy two hours.
- Dark Waters
Mark Ruffalo as a conflicted corporate lawyer caught up in a DuPont toxic chemicals killing local animals and people cover up. The story looks real and probably is since the previews name DuPont specifically as the villain. Considering that Dupont has since merged with Dow of Agent Orange fame, it is pretty obvious who I will be rooting for in this film.
- Deadpool 2
I didn’t understand why Deadpool, the original, became such a huge hit except that super-heroes were getting boring, and Deadpool is the ultimate super anti-hero. Deadpool 2 will probably be bigger but maybe not better. Let’s wait and see. The Deadpool break from the all too common super hero template is warranted and welcome.
- Doctor Sleep
Thirty nine years later we have the sequel to Stephen King’s least favorite adaptation The Shining. I would rather watch The Shining in the movie theater, than Doctor Sleep. I hope I am wrong and The Sleep Doctor keeps me awake.
- Don’t Let Go
A low budget B science fiction movie: I want to see it. In fact I want to see lots of movies. But I am overwhelmed by waiting in line for Popeye’s chicken sandwiches (thank goodness they have run out of them); reading old Joseph Heller books that I find at thrift stores (Good as Gold is Catch 22 like but oh so Jewish); binge-watching the latest breathlessly recommended Netflix/HBO/Amazon Prime series (it seems like there is a new one everyday – I am still trying to catch up on The Sopranos): in other words where once upon a time an afternoon spent with a cheap cop/sci-fi flick would be an afternoon well spent, now it is an imposition while the walls of the world are closing in tighter and tighter.
- Dora and the Lost City of Gold
I wish it was a cartoon and not live action with real actors. My grandkids currently from three through nine prefer animation. Animation tells children that this movie has been made for them. Though there are many many exceptions, live action often lets them down. Next week is Angry Birds 2. Now that’s a sure thing no matter how bad it actually turns out to be. Anyway, if you don’t take your family to the movies, you are making a mistake. Start them out young. Make it fun. They will grow up with one more outlet than they would have had otherwise.
- Downton Abbey
This beloved English series shown in the United States on Public Television is now a movie. About the inner workings of a British castle and its occupants, those who loved the television show will be out in force. Think about it this way. When The Sopranos movie is released, millions of fans of the TV series will line up. Same for Downton Abbey. Even if you didn’t watch the show because you thought it was too stuffy or are one of the many who never watch public television, a visit to this film might awaken your interest in more of the same.
- Escape Plan
Stallone and Schwarzenegger’s Escape Plan is the ultimate test of going with the flow. Trapped in a ferocious prison without any possibility of escape, Arnold and Sly are tasked with escaping. Though you will have to see the movie to find out the result of their escape attempt, I can tell you that the movie is just good enough to allow you to suspend your disbelief and accept the impossibility of the entire situation.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Johnny Depp is Grindelwald. That probably works since Johnny Depp creeps people out since we have found him to be another victim of Hollywood profligacy. My Master’s thesis was on separating the public promotion from critical views of art. However that was in 1972 when such a thing was possible. Now promotion and art are so intertwined, I give up. This is the second in a new series pre-dating what takes place in the Harry Potter series. At least the author is living and writing these new stories.
- Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
The Rock and Jason Statham. I am always a sucker for movies with co-stars of equal stature. Dicaprio and Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Redford and Newman in The Sting. Wayne and Clift in Red River. Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca. Poitier and Curtis in The Defiant Ones. Steiger and Poitier in In the Heat of the Night. Grant and Bergman in Notorious. Streep and Eastwood in Bridges of Madison County. Hoffman and McQueen in Papillon. I expect I will enjoy Statham and The Rock going at it, each trying to top the other despite their limited acting skills. Star power times two is often twice as good.
- Ford V Ferrari
Matt Damon as master car designer Carroll Shelby. Christian Bale as master test car race driver Ken Miles. Just watch the online preview of this true story of the 1966 LeMans battle between Ford and Ferrari designed, built, and driven machines. After watching you will know definitively how much you want to see this film. I believe you will want to see it very much.
- Gemini Man
In this movie super spy Will Smith battles a super spy de-aged Will Smith. How do I feel about de-aging? In real life it would be nice. In movies it is ridiculous. Director Ang Lee uses de-aging in this movie, and Martin Scorcese uses de-aging in his upcoming Irishman opus. When great directors go all out with these new technological innovations, you can be sure everyone will be sure to follow. FIRE THE MAKEUP ARTISTS! No more Oscars for Edith Head. By the way de-aging is a new word meaning Will Smith and Robert DeNiro can play themselves as young men even though we have seen in recent movies that they are very old.
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters
I did like the previous reboot and looked forward to this one before seeing the latest previews which reminded me of all the unending Transformers battles that ended up wearing me to a frazzle. I like smart talk in combination with bits and pieces of monsters culminating in an imaginative battle that whisks you away – think the original Avengers movie. Maybe I am wrong on this one and it won’t be just a slugfest among the monsters of our youth. We can always hope.
- Good Boys
I should have paid more attention to the previews. Is this another Superbad? And if you don’t know Superbad, would you have any interest in this? Please hold on while I google and watch the preview. OK. It looks good to me. Another Superbad. Too raunchy for the grandkids, and the older children are stuck in front of their computers, consoles, phones. It seems I will be going alone.
GRAVITY in 3D is excellent and enjoyable. Director Alfonso Cuaron creates a three dimensional world in the vacuum of outer space which while watching seems totally believable. Only afterward do you wonder how you could have been hoodwinked into accepting Sandra Bullock as an astronaut hero on a par with the Apollo 13 astronauts.
This is not a Jim Carrey live action sequel which would have been fun considering Carrey’s super Grinch-like current public behavior, but instead is a toon made by the best and brightest in the animation field. Of course I fell asleep throughout but did end up spending $52 on stuffed Grinch dolls in the lobby.
Maybe Harriet Tubman will never get her picture on the $20 bill, but her legend gets the full Hollywood treatment in what looks like a stirring recreation of her battles against slavery and the Underground Railroad. I look forward to this movie as a companion piece to Glory which I still consider the best Civil War movie ever filmed.
Debuting at midnight during the Sundance Film Festival, this horror film about a family’s dissolution amid ancestral secrets seems to be 2018’s scariest movie as described by everyone who has already seen it. Toni Collette from Sixth Sense is the tortured Mother.
- Honey Boy
Shia LeBeouf. I think I spelled that correctly. This movie is a well received autobiographical reprise of Shia’s difficult childhood. Shia has had a very difficult time as a star, but seems to be turning things around with his recent modest success and enjoyable film The Peanut Butter Falcon and now hopefully Honey Boy. Joaquin Phoenix and Robert Downey Jr. seemed to have survived similar trials. I wish Mr. LeBeouf the best.
- Hotel Artemis
Jodie Foster as The Nurse in this slightly futuristic actioneer about a hospital for really bad guys. Already chosen as the worst movie of the year by aging New York film critic Rex Reed, that may be all the push I need to put this at the top of my list of must sees.
This movie is hanging on forever and people are still going so if you think the original brief can be of any value, check it out in the archives. The movie is worth seeing if it’s raining and you have nothing else to do.
- Instant Family
Mark Wahlberg hits the comedy trifecta with Daddy’s Home (excellent), Daddy’s Home (not as excellent), and now Instant Family. I hope it is funny. Even if it is not, giving out hope is value enough these days.
- It: Chapter One/Spider-Man: Far From Home
Each of these two enjoyable movies have returned to theaters for one more bite out of the apple. It: Chapter One is reaching out to grab those who can’t wait seven more days for the release of It: Chapter Two. Spider-Man: Far From Home is being re-released with four minutes of “NEVER BEFORE SEEN” footage. I will not be first in line.
- It: Chapter Two
Yes. I remember all the Its starting with the very thick and heavy Stephen King novel. Reading is leisurely. If it takes the whole summer to read a good book, that is so much more time to savor it. Horror movies are different. Short and sweet is best. With exceptions. The Shining (Stephen King novel directed by Stanley Kubrick) is a long movie, and so is the most recent It: Chapter One. So I will not hold the 169 minute running time against It: Chapter Two, though the two hours and forty nine minutes worries me. It makes me think that what we have here is an indulgent filmmaker who loves his images way too much. Even Tarantino’s most recent Charles Manson opus Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is only 160 minutes. (How the heck did I get so hung up on the running time?) I hope It: Chapter Two is good. It is a must see for the many It: Chapter One fans, except when the first of these two It movies came out it was simply titled It. Therefore for the sake of future generations I now pronounce the 2017 It, It: Chapter One.
- It: Chapter Two
The original brief is in the archives but the movie is playing here once a day at 11AM if you want to check it out.
What in heck is a Jexi? And who allows these titles which turn off moviegoers who might take a chance otherwise. Would you want to ask your date to go see a movie called Jexi? Going to a movie titled Jexi screams Geek Squad. The Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with Siri Spike Jones movie Her had a title that was intriguing. This Her knockoff called Jexi reminds you why video is so popular today. Cheaper. Original and better versions of current release copycats. And you already have your date getting tipsy at your home.
- Jojo Rabbit
I have been attacked for favoring movies like Jojo Rabbit over movies like Doctor Sleep. It’s true. I want to see something new, and the smaller the better. Often these little movies are insanely special though many times they are as bad as the big movies. This week this movie is my number one want to see. The less you know the better.
Renee Zellweger in a tour de force portrayal of the great Judy Garland. I never loved Zellweger, but she was in some nice movies. She supposedly has a famous new face after surgery. Does that need to be mentioned? I am not certain, but I mention it in case you don’t recognize her and wonder what is going on. A long time ago I was with my Dad keeping score at a Knicks game, then in the second half a player came out in a number that was not in my program. It totally screwed me up. It turns out Walter Dukes sweated through his uniform jersey in the first half and was given a new jersey that didn’t belong to him or anyone else on the team for the second half. We were in the upper deck. Which reminds me. A long time ago I was at an Army Navy game with my Dad. Roger Staubach of Navy vs Rollie Stichweh of Army. There was something written on the back of the Navy jerseys. We were in the upper deck and couldn’t see. The next day reading the newspaper it turns out Navy had written Drive For Five on the backs of their jerseys. Navy had beaten Army four straight. They easily won the fifth in a row. We were rooting for Army.
- Last Christmas
I assume it’s a women’s weepy, though I am often wrong. September Affair starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr is the best of that genre though more up to date moviegoers would probably say Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail.
- Late Night
Emma Thompson is terrific as the cold-blooded ice queen losing her grip on her late night hosting gig. Mindy Kaling as the recent diversity hire comedy writer changes everything with her current events wit and sincerity. The plot is so obvious, but the laughs are real, and the backstage views of late night shows seems very real as well. A welcome antidote to summer sequels out now.
- Life of the Party
Melissa McCarthy at her vulgar best is always a sight for sore eyes (whatever that phrase is supposed to mean). However Life of the Party is cleaned up losing weight McCarthy in a PG 13 sort of boring comedy that needs another fifty pounds and ten or twenty more swear words.
- Little Women
Greta Gerwig, director of Ladybird, is back with her take on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach, most recently of Marriage Story fame, (coming to Las Vegas in January) are married and between them make great movies for the independent minded moviegoer. This is just something I have to mention because it is a fact that fascinates me.
Octavia Spencer’s roles in the likes of The Help and Hidden Figures have brought her acting bonafides to the public’s attention, but if you look at her filmography she works as much as anyone in Hollywood. Therefore her choice of the horror genre for this starring role is not as odd as it seems on first sight. I don’t think I am going to watch it (I just sat through the over-reviewed Brightburn), but I am certain that Ms. Spencer gives 110% which makes the movie worth watching for some.
- Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Though I really don’t remember, I did like the first Maleficent but think Maleficent showed herself to be a decent person willing to sacrifice for the young girl. Did she turn mean again at the end? Is that why she is back to being Mistress of Evil? I guess if you are interested in the answers to these questions, you will line up to see this movie. I hope it is solid. Something about the previews made me think of a World War 2 movie but maybe I am confusing it with the Midway previews.
- Men in Black: International
Like with most coming soon big time sequels, we have been inundated with Men in Black 4 previews. In these previews Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson and Thor (slim again after his weight gain in Avengers: Endgame) and an unknown to me young fresh female actress all seem to be having a great time together which makes me want to see this movie. However my failing memory reminds me that the previous Men in Black 3 was terrible. I will go but be on my guard against false expectations.
Writer/director Ari Aster is well known for intellectual horror that scares your brain. This latest of his looks like if he pulls it off, it will be his Citizen Kane. Do you want to see it? Depends upon your interest in broad daylight evil. I do not like modern slasher films. However based on Midsommar’s provenance, I look forward to this one and hope the horror is kept to a minimum.
Directed by Roland Emmerich who was once a highly desired filmmaker (Independence Day, etc), this latest Midway battle recreation is perfectly placed for the upcoming Veteran’s Day and should be considered by all.
- Motherless Brooklyn
Edward Norton writes directs and stars in this period piece about 1950’s Brooklyn and the power brokers that destroy lives for their own ends. Norton brings friends Bruce Willis and Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin on board who all seem totally involved in pulling off a special movie. Another below the radar movie that grabs me and pulls me toward the theater.
- Murder on the Orient Express
I actually own a 1923 edition of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and have enjoyed reading Agatha Christie novels very much. Again, only from the previews, this may stick too much to the book. Sherlock Holmes stories are still great, but if you want to make a Sherlock Holmes movie in this current era of super hero movie going, you must trick things up until the original books become unrecognizable. That is just the way it is.
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Cinephiles rejoice. The ninth Quentin Tarantino movie is here. The previews have been astoundingly entrancing with Dicaprio and Pitt, even in their aging bodies, holding your attention like the stars of yesteryear. Without giving anything away this almost three hour film seems to be a loving reenactment of 1969 Hollywood punctuated by the horror of Charles Manson. I can only hope the end of this film is not a reprise of the bloodbaths at the end of Tarantino’s Hateful Eight or for that matter his Django Unchained. Would I rather watch a great John Ford/John Wayne movie or a great Quentin Tarantino movie? That would be an impossible choice. I am glad I don’t have to make it.
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Extended Cut
I really don’t think I need an extended cut of this or any movie. If you haven’t seen it and want to see a Tarantino film, this is his latest. It is definitely worth seeing.
Dove Films, creators of successful faith based films, deserve their following. This one may be about lack of faith. I will have to check it out.
- Playing With Fire
John Cena who is normally very funny when running around naked and dealing with adults seems to be lost in this movie with typical kiddie laughs meaning smelly loud farts. Too bad, unless it is good.
- Playmobil: The Movie
Maybe sometime in my past I could have told you what a Playmobil is. Now I might guess that it is a plastic toy vehicle of some sort. I have not seen a preview. Not one of my six grandchildren 10 and under have even mentioned the film. Why does it even exist? I assume it exists to ripoff unsuspecting parents and sell some toys before Christmas.
- Pokemon Detective Pikachu
Am I going to tell you that my grandkids between the ages of 3 – 9 preferred this movie to Aladdin? Yes I am. Did I prefer it to Aladdin? Yes I did. But except for the boring middle of Aladdin, I liked Aladdin as well. So I hope you get the message. Take your kids to both these movies and also next weeks The Secret Life of Pets 2 and then Toy Story 4 and then the live action remake of The Lion King. Nothing is more important than taking your kids to movies. When they grow older, moviegoing will keep them out of bars and crack houses.
The best way to enjoy the well acted and well written Prisoners is to go with the flow. Some of the plot points, if found in a lesser movie, might cause you to get up and walk out. But in this movie, the twists and turns leave you smitten and without remorse for sticking it out.
- Queen and Slim
Wow. Another imaginative Black created film that looks like it will shake you up. Harriet was good, great performances and Black fearlessness in the face of white prejudice. Black and Blue was everything you could want from a cop thriller while the good and the bad archetypes are not as simple as cowboys and Indians. Next came 21 Bridges. Even a better cop thriller that had me screaming at the screen and everyone in the theater agreed. Now comes Queen and Slim. Black Bonnie and Clyde. Not sure from the preview. But this series of Black low budget filmmaking is stupendous if you can handle the “cowboys” not always being so good.
- Rambo: Last Blood
I prefer this series of Stallone films to Stallone’s Rocky series. Both the original Rambo and the original Rocky are terrific films. Rambo is an armed patriot who fights for what he thinks is right and kills and kills and kills. This is different from Stallone’s Expendables series of movies which are fun. Rambo is not a fun type of guy. Rocky is an American underdog who fights for the little guy and wins even when he loses. Think about it. Sylvester Stallone who is a laughing stock in many film criticism quarters has created three action film series that even into his seventies continue at high levels. Congratulations Mr. Stallone.
- Ready Player One
Director Steven Spielberg changed the world beginning with his hit Jaws way back when. Bouncing back and forth between the serious (Schindler’s List, Amistad, Munich, Lincoln. Bridge Of Spies, The Post), and the blockbusters (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. , Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park), Spielberg is a machine whose blockbusters created a worldwide thirst for more movie theaters, better movie theater presentations, and less censorship of American movie product. Therefore I will go to Ready Player One about teenagers and Virtual Reality, two subjects I have no interest in whatsoever.
- Richard Jewell
Since the great John Wayne, has there been a more iconic American who became an international film phenomenon than Clint Eastwood? Beginning as a TV star on Rawhide, then a singing cowboy in Paint Your Wagon, The Man With No Name in Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns, Academy Award winner for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, and still making pictures at 90, recently directing all of them and acting in some of them. Eastwood’s newest opens today, this the story of Richard Jewell, Atlanta Olympics hero turned person of interest. It is a fact that the FBI and a subservient media hounded this hero and destroyed his life. I am certain that some people today hear the name Richard Jewell and remember him as the Atlanta bomber. This movie should straighten out that “misremembering.”
The R-rated Elton John version of the PG-13 Freddie Mercury Bohemian Rhapsody. Actually Rocketman is closer to The Greatest Showman from last year as they both are closer to biographical musicals with their spectacular song and dance numbers than Bohemian Rhapsody’s straight biography with insanely great Queen performances all over the place but without the Busby Berkeley 1930’s creations.
The Cinemark South Point is home to sub-titled Indian films in both the Teluga and Tamil languages. India’s film world is called Bollywood for good reason. In many ways their movies retain a native spirit while emulating the genres of Hollywood – epics, musicals, science fiction, and this seems to be a gangster movie. Bollywood movies are very long. This is not as long as most. I think around three hours. Many of them have intermissions. I don’t know about this one. Before Bollywood,great Indian filmmakers created heart-rending black and white stories about human life in poor circumstances. No more. The Indian audience obviously wants home grown Hollywood influenced movies, and that is what they get.
- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
I have the books in both hardcover and paperback. The first compilation is my favorite, and my favorite of those stories is The Big Toe. (I believe in the preview I noticed that this story is included in the film.) I would read these stories to my kids growing up. They are definitely worth adding to your children’s library. Is it sexist to say that this weekend if you are taking young girls, Dora and the Lost City of Gold should be your preferred destination. But if you are surrounded by little boys, take them to Scary Stories. And if you have both boys and girls – Mom and the girls get Dora – Dad and the boys get scared.
If the title doesn’t trigger in your head the Isaac Hayes theme music from the original, that’s your loss. Richard Roundtree replaced by Samuel Jackson in this reboot is OK by me. However the previews seem to rely on a jokey John Shaft more than I remember from the 1970’s tough guy Shaft. We shall see.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
The preview looks like a Star Wars movie but without the series beloved actors who are either dead or are past their prime. This prequel is obviously a money grab. Firing the original creative team because they were not following the Star Wars template, then replacing them with competent journeyman Ron Howard is all you need to know. But of course I will be hoping for the best when I see this for myself and can let the finished product speak for itself.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home
This is the end of Avengers, I think. Maybe I mean this is the epilogue to Avengers: Endgame. Or maybe it’s a denouement or coda. Anyway this is the kid Spider-Man out and about away from home I assume getting into super hero trouble. And maybe it has nothing to do with Avengers: Endgame. But it probably does, at least a little.
- Spies in Disguise
An animated family film arriving for the Christmas holidays. It looks like a change of pace from the well known animated blockbusters that are more commonly created for our children. Let the adventurous among you skip the second or third trip to see Frozen 2 and give this action comedy for kids a chance to succeed.
- Terminator: Dark Fate
Produced by James Cameron (if you don’t know him you are probably not interested in this movie). Starring in what I assume will be enlarged cameo roles Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger (if that doesn’t mean anything to you you are probably not interested in this movie). “A direct continuation of the originals.” Now that is important. If you were a Terminator fan before they killed the series with less than great sequels, then you must give this new Terminator a chance.
- The Art of Racing in the Rain
Not everybody goes to baseball games. Not everybody goes to concerts. And not everybody goes to the movies. But if you invite your Mom to the World Series in your hometown, she might go. Or if you invite your Dad to Barbara Streisand’s final tour, he might go. I realize this has nothing to do with The Art of Racing in the Rain. Though if your parents are not moviegoers, there is no chance they will go with you to see The Art of Racing in the Rain. This is a minor Disney movie possibly starring Patrick Dempsey as a race car driver who crashes in the rain. Maybe not. Oops. I stopped in and the human lead is not played by Patrick Dempsey but by a younger handsome guy. And the movie is a talking dog movie voiced by Kevin Costner. People coming out seemed to have enjoyed it.
- The Current Wars: Director’s Cut
I have been waiting for this for years. The movie about Tesla vs Edison and direct current vs alternate current as the standard for street lights is a story worth learning. After I see this, I will delve more deeply into the back story of this film which has been in Harvey Weinstein purgatory since he was arrested and outed as a pig.
- The Farewell
I have been looking forward to this movie for awhile now. A Chinese American woman with her family returns to China to say goodbye to the dying family matriarch. Under the guise of a wedding they visit, keeping the matriarch’s coming death from her. This is the Chinese way. There is a classic Chinese novel about ancient China, Dream of the Red Chamber. This is my opportunity to ask book readers to check it out after you see The Farewell which will whet your appetite for more things Chinese than going out to eat.
- The Girl in the Spider’s Web
I very much enjoyed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. In fact I read all three books and watched the foreign film versions and the American version. Then suddenly the author died. His estranged family took the notes for the fourth book in the series and hired a writer to write a fourth book and sold the rights to the movies. I am boycotting this movie as this modern trick of eeking out every penny of a dead man’s living works offends me.
- The Good Liar
British acting icons Helen Mirren and Ian McKellan buddy up in this British suspense thriller about a con man getting overly involved with his mark. This is a movie for adults looking forward to a change of pace from the marketing of super heroes and incessant sequels and remakes. Most interestingly to me will be the music scored by Carter Burwell, the number one music choice of the Coen Brothers.
- The Joker
Joaquin Phoenix is the latest incarnation of The Joker. His Joker will be closest to that of Heath Ledger if only because Ledger was and Phoenix is actors who push the envelope. I prefer Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Cesar Romero’s TV Joker as they were both great renditions of comic book villains. Ledger was too real for me. And I am positive this new Joker will not be funny. In other words prepare yourself for a performance bathed in sweat.
- The Kitchen
Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish and Elizabeth Moss as mob wives who move in on the mob. Melissa McCarthy use to be very funny. Recently comedy has not been enough for her. Reminds me of Steve Martin, Jerry Lewis, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey et al. They all felt the need to stretch. Robin Williams pulled it off though his comedy works are still the high points of his career. After Marlon Brando’s Oscar winning performance as the Godfather, someone wrote that Lee J. Cobb could have played the role just as well and without makeup. Maybe yes. Maybe no. Anyway it’s my belief that very funny people should not try to create serious personas for themselves. It’s too late. Stick with comedy or retire from acting and find something else more fulfilling.
- The Lighthouse
What looks like a two man acting feast, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe go at it in a spooky black and white art film about two historical lighthouse keepers cracking up. Great reviews that I have not read lead me to believe this is a must see for the independent film fan.
- The Lion King
I have previously discussed Disney’s ability to create derivative movies that while not always besting the previous accomplishments, do them justice. In the process moviegoers come in droves and leave satisified. How often can you say that about sequels and reboots and live action remakes of classic animated films (though to call Lion King live action when the entire film is CGI is confusing to me). Without a doubt the CGI is spectacular, and the 3D is not converted but real and almost on a par with Avatar. Some critics are taking potshots at this Lion King because they are egotistical fools. Successful mass entertainment is incredibly difficult. Disney is better at it than all the others combined.
- The Peanut Butter Falcon
I have not seen a preview. I see that Shia LeBeouf is the lead. I know that LeBeouf has presented himself as off his rocker in both his real life and his film life (something like Joaquin Phoenix who seems to have returned to moderate normalcy). But what I have gathered from a headline here and a paragraph there is that at least one critic mentioned Huckleberry Finn which makes no sense to me. But I haven’t seen the film. Since I believe it stars a Down Syndrome person looking to become a professional wrestler befriended by Shia LeBeouf on the run from something, I am going to call this a cross between Huckleberry Finn and Of Mice and Men. I just checked and see Thomas Haden Church and Bruce Dern are in the cast. (Dern was great in his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood scene.) After slogging through a long summer of disappointments, maybe I am too desperate, but I am going to put this movie at the top of my list – even though it would be so much easier to just go to Angel Has Fallen.
- The Predator
This is a Shane Black movie. Most filmgoers don’t know writer/director Shane Black but he is a most desired action screenwriter for hire. His 2005 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Robert Downey is a very fun collaboration worth seeing. Black’s big breakthrough was the screenplay for Lethal Weapon. I am not sure what he is going to do with this Predator movie. We shall see.
- The Secret Life of Pets 2
The first was excellent. I believe that this sequel will be just as good. The filmmakers are plugging Harrison Ford as the voice of the new big dog, but when they show Ford in interview clips all I can think is are they certain that is not David Letterman. What is it with scraggly beards and old celebrities? I think it is time for President Trump to grow one for his White House portrait. That could start a Presidential trend.
- The Wife
Glenn Close in a role that will win her a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award Best Actress nomination if the voters ever take the time to see this movie. Our South Point seniors will love this story about the wife who spends 40 years simmering with her narcissist writer husband who is about to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Things happen in Sweden and finally Ms. Close boils over.
- Toy Story 4
I do not cry at the end of Toy Story movies which puts me in the minority and should make me ineligible to write about this latest iteration. I can’t wait to take the grandkids and hope they won’t ruin the day by forcing me to purchase all the Toy Story 4 gear in the lobby. This is a recent hell on Earth for moviegoers with kids in tow. Concessions plus movie merchandise can ruin the movie experience for moderate income parents.
- Unbroken: Path to Redemption
Olympian become World War 2 prisoner of war Louis Zamperini’s true story continues with his marriage to a wonderful woman who has to deal with his PTSD. Then he finds redemption through Billy Graham (the real one, not the son). I do not know what to think of this movie. Angelina Jolie’s original Unbroken was powerful. This continuation of the story after Zamperini comes home after the war is made by totally different people. I hope it works.