XD Coming Soon
Rebecca Ferguson, Ewan McGregor, Jacob Tremblay, Cliff Curtis
Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, Cynthia Erivo, Janelle MonÃ¡e
• 125 min
Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid
• 138 min
Playing with Fire
Judy Greer, John Cena, Brianna Hildebrand, Keegan-Michael Key
Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Cherry Jones, Alec Baldwin
• 144 min
Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi
• 108 min
Zombieland: Double Tap
Emma Stone, Zoey Deutch, Abigail Breslin, Woody Harrelson
Emilia Clarke, Emma Thompson, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
• 102 min
Robert De Niro, Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Marc Maron
Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Valeriia Karaman
• 109 min
James Franco, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Anjelica Huston
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Imelda Staunton, Michelle Pfeiffer
• 118 min
Ford v Ferrari
Caitriona Balfe, Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Tom Hanks, Christine Lahti, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson
Queen & Slim
ChloÃ« Sevigny, Bokeem Woodbine, Daniel Kaluuya, Indya Moore
Ana de Armas, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig
Jumanji: The Next Level
Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Awkwafina
Star Wars: Episode IX
Lupita Nyong'o, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver
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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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 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 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.
- Zombieland: Double Tap
Of course the first movie was great fun for zombie lovers. And who isn’t? The previews look like this may have gone a bit overboard. What was good about the first was it had all the low budget virtues of a cool B- movie. This one looks to want to be an A movie which might not fit in it’s wheelhouse. Meanwhile I never heard of a double tap until I started reading the Jack Reacher series of novels. Start with the first, The Killing Floor, to learn about double taps, and keep reading the books in order and learn about triple taps.
Movie Guru's Past Movie Reviews
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 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 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.
- Upcoming Great Previews
Whoo! I am getting blown away by the current trailers for upcoming 2019 movies. We all know that previews are too often better than the actual films, but hope springs eternal. Yesterday Opens June 28th. The Beatles don’t exist but one singer knows all their songs and becomes bigger than Jesus Christ. That looks hysterical with all the great Beatle songs besides. Terminator: Dark Fate Opens November 1. It seems like James Cameron is very involved with this latest. The special effects look great, and like last year’s Halloween with the grizzled Jamie Lee Curtis, grizzled Linda Hamilton and grizzled Arnold seem to be part of this one. Downton Abbey returns September 20. The Royal Family is about to visit and all the staid English residents of Downton Abbey are giddy. I get the chills.
- Where’d You Go Bernadette
The previews turned me on. Cate Blanchette is right up there with Streep and Theron and Chastain and Viola Davis. But I inadvertently viewed the New York Times review. The snippet that I read bothered me enough that I will not heartily recommend this movie sight unseen. More to come next week.
American actress supreme Viola Davis spreads her wings in this caper movie in a way Meryl Streep was never allowed to do, Along with Liam Neeson and a great cast, and directed by Steve McQueen (the British guy, not The Great Escape guy) with his first feature length movie since 12 Years a Slave, I want to see this movie first and foremost among all others.
The source material is from the same children’s story teller who wrote Hugo which was made into a precious Martin Scorcese movie. Guess what? This looks like a precious Todd Haynes movie. Maybe I am being too critical all the time, but I am still trying to get over Suburbicon with Matt Damon and “mother!” with Jennifer Lawrence. And if I am going to take my kids to a movie now that isn’t named Thor, I would be taking them to Geostorm (except I already have – they liked it – it was stupid and worthless and without pretense).
What seems to be an imaginative fantasy about everyone in the world totally and completely wiped of all memories of the Beatles and their songs. Except there is one young singer failure who remembers and sings the beloved songs and becomes bigger than the Beatles ever were. In the preview there is a tease of what happens next. It looks like great fun. Now that I have seen it, for Beatles lovers, Yesterday is great fun. And Patel’s hard rock rendition of the Beatles’ classic “Help” is memorable and worth comparing to the original.