XD Now Playing
A Quiet Place Part II
Cast: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy, Noah Jupe
Director: John Krasinski
• 97 min
The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Frank Grillo, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek
Director: Patrick Hughes
A Quiet Place Part II
Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy, Noah Jupe
• 97 min
Ellen Burstyn, James Caan, Ann-Margret, Jane Curtin
• 100 min
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway
James Corden, Elizabeth Debicki, Lennie James
• 93 min
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It
Morgan Freeman, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rita Moreno, Eva Longoria
• 90 min
12 Mighty Orphans
Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Wayne Knight, Vinessa Shaw
• 118 min
The Sparks Brothers
Ron Mael, Russell Mael, Beck
• 135 min
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O'Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook
• 112 min
Raya and the Last Dragon
Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan
• 107 min
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
- Pandemic Moviegoing
Moviegoing is a social event. Popular movies require large crowds to eek out every last drop of entertainment. Some of us prefer empty theaters, but most expect their movie experience to include fellow customers. Right now we are allowing a maximum of 50 people in the big theaters, and 25 people in the small theaters. It is sad, but necessary.
- Raya And The Last Dragon
I will take the grandkids this weekend because it is a Disney movie. However Disney is not the same company I grew up with. Sometimes I wish it was.
- A Quiet Place 2
A Quiet Place 1 was enjoyable without being gross (if you can deal with the loss of a child right at the beginning). A Quiet Place 2 is without the father, unless he has a cameo in the prequel teaser scene. However there seems to be a competent father figure entering the movie to make certain that the woman and her children can survive the invasion of the very cool insect monsters. In other words, I look forward to this nice, short, Woody Allen length film. Even though the contradictions in the first film probably will become more glaring in the second.
What the heck is this? It definitely does not remind me of either the animated or live action Disney renditions of 101 Dalmations. I do like Emma Stone, and she always spreads her wings, but no way this is for kids. Right off the bat two hours and fourteen minutes is overlong in anything but epics, which I prefer at three hours. I will be holding the grandkids out of this and streaming for them instead the 1933 double feature King Kong and Son of Kong with all you can eat popcorn, ice cream and Takis. Total bill $2.99 for Kong, $1.99 for Son of Kong, $6.98 two bags of Taki’s, $4 two four packs of unpopped popcorn (one butter and one kettle), $3.99 box of 12 chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, and the bathroom is 20 feet from the TV.
- 12 Mighty Orphans
Martin Sheen, Luke Wilson, and Robert Duvall star in the true story of a Depression team of orphans overcoming all odds to beat the best Texas high school football teams. If this movie doesn’t make you feel good, that will make me feel very bad.
- Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For it
From her suicide attempt to her brilliant career, this documentary reveals to the audience the life of an actress/dancer/singer who survived an ever changing world.
- The Sparks Brothers
I assume you have never heard or seen the Sparks Brothers performances. Well this is your chance. Little known but definitely influential in the early rock world, this tribute to their talent and lack of fame should sell a bunch of their old records.
- The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
Ryan Reynolds and Samuel Washington and Salma Hayek may think we are having fun watching this sequel to The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but we are not. A new record for F-bombs in a single movie along with a lame story line and lots of dead people, this is the type of movie that will live forever on the Netflixes of the world.
- Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaways
Four happy grand kids and a nice nap for me is worth the discount tickets and $67.71 concession costs. However when the stimulus checks stop coming, it will be time again to sneak in the drinks and candy.
Movie Guru's Past 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 World War One story told to him by his grandfather, the previews say “don’t miss this movie if you care a whit about cinema.
- 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 B action 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.
- Army Of The Dead
Out of nowhere comes the pandemic delayed Zach Snyder zombie opus – Las Vegas is the epicenter of the zombie apocalypse and David Bautista has to get inside to pull off a $200 million heist before the government blows our great city to smithereens. Now Playing in XD
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
An Asian-American basketball player deals with racist opponents and handles it successfully, I think. No way it can compare with White Men Can’t Jump. And please explain why sports movies always open around the same time as major sports events. Do I really want to watch a basketball movie just when March Madness is heating up?
- 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.
- Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Better known as Borat 2, if you walked out of the first Borat, then be aware this mockumentary is more of the same. Sacha Baron Cohen’s films often display flashes of brilliance. There are plenty of moments in this, but you need to accept the horrors of the bad ones. The Rudy Giuliani scene is the calling card of Borat 2, but there is more than that single addition to the film than this sad, sad yet illuminating reveal.
- 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.
- Broken Hearts Gallery
I wish it was Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail. But alas. In the old days after two hours you still don’t see the romantic comedy lovers in bed. In these modern romantic comedies, everyone is in bed all the time.
- Call of the Wild
Jack London’s wonderful novel following the life of Buck (the dog) from privileged lounging to sickening abuse to Alaska and freedom. What an incredible story. Harrison Ford is the grizzled Alaska explorer who brings out the best in Buck. This should be a fabulous family film for all ages.
- 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.
- Chaos Walking
It seems to be an A-List movie with recognizable faces (Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland), big budget pretensions, and based on a popular series of young adult books (that description always freaks me out because I know the books would never interest me). Anyway we get to see a world without women (Daisy Ridley?) where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts. OK. I am somewhat intrigued and will give it a try since it is in our premium reclining seat XD theater.
- 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.
- Christmas Chronicles 2
The first was a Netflix holiday treat starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. This Netflix sequel brings them back, this time to theaters before moving to Netflix very soon.
- City of Lies
Johnny Depp and Forest Whitaker together in this search for truth. The Notorious B.I.G. is dead. What happened? Please forget all the off-screen drama trailing Johnny Depp. This beat and battered older version of the former superstar, just like Kevin Costner, can still act.
- Come Play
Another “horror” movie. Seems these low budget attempts are the only films getting released to theaters nowadays. Which is ironic since low budget horror went straight to video pre-pandemic. And the Mulans and Scooby Doos and Sponge Bob movies opened in movie theaters. That seems so long ago. Anyway this is about an autistic boy whose monster in the phone wants to be with him. Sounds like a straight to video movie to me. But who knows. You have to see the picture before you have the right to speak up.
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.
Where do these movies come from? Have you ever heard of this one before? Not I. But this is a crime thriller that I want to see. Set during the opioid epidemic that no longer takes center stage, Crisis tells three stories and hopefully tells them well.
- 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.
- Demon Slayer
The world famous Japanese anime continuing the popular TV series watched by more people than you could ever imagine. If you every wanted to know how anime and manga attracts so many of our children, you might want to check this out. Stick with the subtitled version as that is what the fans always recommend.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in an American remake of a popular Swedish black comedy about a husband who runs from an avalanche leaving his family behind. I want to see it though these remakes of foreign film successes don’t often capture the essence of the originals.
- 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.
A new version of the classic Jane Austen Emma. It looks like this will be a lot of fun with the filmmaker loosening up the British strait laced performances of the past. We are lucky that the money men still find it in them to bankroll these movies that thrill women first and foremost.
- 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.
- Fantasy Island
This is not your parent’s Fantasy Island. This movie is a modern sadistic horror film reboot.
- 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.
This B movie version of Fatal Attraction looks like it is right on the money. Hilary Swank is always at the top of her game. If not for Covid pretty much killing all movies at theaters but especially these hidden low budget gems, this would be worth a trip to see it in theaters. But not many will venture out with everything streaming over you worse than standing under Niagra Falls.
- 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.
A “satirical” slasher horror comedy with The Butcher played by Vince Vaughan trading places with a bullied high school female. An over the top Vaughan in female dress will probably attract a decent crowd then really gain followers when it moves to streaming TV.
- 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.
These three are this week’s Comeback Classics. Three dollars for kids and seniors. $5 for everybody else. Comeback Classics are a great way to dip your toes in returning to the movies. The theaters aren’t very crowded, and the investment is very slim. If you are ready, these familiar but enjoyable movies might make for a welcome return to theaters experience.
- 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 vs Kong
Forget all the headlines about this movie saving movie going. Focus on the film itself. Did you grow up on Godzilla and Kong? Then you definitely want to go and have a good time, preferably in a premium theater like our two XD auditoriums. Do you have little or no interest in modern versions of the great monsters of the past? Then look for something else.
- 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.
- Gretel & Hansel
Definitely not my cup of tea, but there are two clues that this might be something to check out if you can still get off on horror. First, we have the girl’s name coming first before Hansel. Could this be another kick ass female? I say yes. And there is something attractive watching females taking over the masculine roles. Second, this is another Japanese original remade by Americans. This has been a successful formula in the past, and may succeed here again.
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.
- Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
After a disastrous box office opening weekend, the studio changed the title which does not fix the problem. The filmmakers never decided if they were making an R-rated female Deadpool or a more family acceptable PG 13 female Avengers. Too bad because there is a fun movie behind the changing titles.
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.
- Here Today
Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish together for the first and last time. What can I say? That I am old and cannot sit through these Alzheimer tour de forces by very old actors only means I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror. I walked out during the Bob Costas, Barry Levinson, Sharon Stone, Kevin Kline scene. But I also walked out during Anthony Hopkin’s Best Actor win movie and the wonderful French film Amour. If you want to see what old age is really like, watch these three movies. In fact I did steel myself and finish watching all three and am haunted by them way too often.
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.
- Impractical Jokers: The Movie
Obviously this is a bigger budget, big screen exploitation of a cult TV show. I know nothing.
I have seen the trailer online, but not the movie which opens today. I was struck by how much I do not want to see this. Somehow the protagonist ends up on an Iranian prison death row. Based on a true story. Please not another one.
- 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.
- Invisible Man
I am copying the following from Common Sense Media. “Clever, tense, sci-fi horror remake has blood, gore (sounds like Parasite). For moviegoers who enjoy this genre, go for it, especially see it in our Xtreme Digital luxury reclining seat theater.
- 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.
- Judas and the Black Messiah
For all those of yo who appreciated Spike Lee’s based on a true story Blackklansman, you will be moved by this based on a true story eye opener. Our country has been through decades of trauma beginning with the 1963 JFK assassination and continuing through this year’s Capitol attack. Judas and the Black Messiah recounts another of these traumas.
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.
- 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.
- Kinky Boots
I think I am ezxcited. Not by the kinky boots but because this Cindy Lauper/Harvey Fierstein Broadway success based on the English film of the same name should be lots of fun.
- 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.
Robin Wright directs herself in this self-absorbed reveal of a woman in crisis who moves far far away from the city and family. The mountain vistas are stunning, but the plot meanders like the river below, and the destination is less than you might be hoping for.
- 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.
- Let Him Go
Finally a movie that checks off all the right boxes. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane together – chemistry to the max. A preview that shows off the care given to the making of the movie in writing, acting, directing, and cinematography. A story for everyone about family loss and family love and family war, death and marriage and the theft of a child. And it is playing in our spacious XD theater with over 200 reclining seats and a maximum of 50 people per showtime allowed in the theater with two empty seats between each attending group.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mario Puzo’s The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone
This is Godfather 3 re-edited by director Francis Ford Coppola. Aficionados of the Godfather Trilogy will be very happy to revisit what has long been properly regarded as the worst of the three. And no amount of reimagining will change that. But since Godfather 1 and 2 are seen by multitudes every year, and no one watches Godfather 3, this might be the time to check it out and see how it has aged.
- 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.