Movie Guru's Brief Movie Reviews
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- Addams Family 2
I am confused. Is this a cartoon or live action? And haven’t I seen more than one Addams family movie in my life. But if this is the second I just don’t care. Even the kids all chose Venom 2 over this new Addams Family contrivance. Well tough on them. We are going this weekend and hoping for the best. We went. It is a fun, family film.
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).
A Michael Bay chase movie through the streets of Los Angeles with time outs to make certain the lead police detective’s dog is safe in one of the chase cars. After one hour and eight minutes in our amazing XD Now With AUROMAX Sound theaters, I needed a hearing repair and left for Evander Holyfield’s ear doctor. I am guessing the innocent survivor of the disastrous bank robbery (he didn’t kill anyone) eventually gets to save his sick wife and his “brother,” Jake Gyllenhaal, on his deathbed gets to say “I love you man,” and his “brother,” who has to hate him by now, gets to say “I love you too.” Or something like that.
- American Underdog
Kurt Warner becomes Super Bowl Champion quaterback for the St. Louis Rams despite a back story that should never have led to greatness. If you have seen Dennis Quaid in The Rookie as a high school baseball coach who ends up pitching against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, then you know that The Rookie was a heck of a movie. I expect American Underdog to be a heck of a movie also.
For the faithful readers of these short missives, I will give you an incomplete and insufficient appraisal of David O Russell’s latest, Amsterdam. Populated with tons of recognizable stars doing their best to transform into something unrecognizable, you come to appreciate all their efforts. The movie itself is only for those of you who can appreciate something very different from drama played straight. This is not that. For me, I am glad I took the time to see it.
- 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
- 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.
- Avatar Re-release
When viewed as an exciting and original B action movie, you have to love Avatar. This re-release is all about getting fans revved up for the December 13 opening of James Cameron’s sequel The Way of Water.
- 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.
The Batman – Why not call it A Batman? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The previews are dark. Pattinson/Batman is brooding. The film looks like it fits in right after Joaquin Phoenix’s The Joker. (Or was it A Joker?). I go out of my way to limit review reading until after seeing a movie. But quick glances at early reviews seem to mention length and rating (3 hours, PG 13) as if the job of the modern critic is to warn you away from long movies and infer that a film’s rating is significant. Does anyone believe there won’t be a Director’s Cut R-Rated version coming to HBO Max in time for this year’s Holiday shopping?
- Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Tom Hanks as Mister Rodgers. Need I say more. I don’t think so.
- Black Adam
The Rock as comic book antihero Black Adam. I watched only the first 35 minutes before I had to leave and didn’t really know what was going on. Afterwards I did learn by looking it up that 2800 BCE means Before Common Era. A very interesting tidbit. The movie seems like a perfectly pleasant kids movie with the types of ultraviolence that put Clockwork Orange to shame, but The Rock is terrific as always.
- 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.
- Black Widow
I like Scarlett Johansson’s action movies, especially Lucy, but trapped in the Marvel universe she is more a comic book star than a movie star. Now with her standalone Black Widow coming out, she has the chance to prove she is the best of the bunch. The previews look very good with both large and small scenes, action and humor, life and death. Definitely this is a movie you want to see in theaters, especially on premium screens like in our two Cinemark South Point XD theaters.
Liam Neeson is at it again, this time it seems to be his granddaughter that has been taken. I would like to see Neeson and Mel Gibson team up for one of these sparse action films. That would be fun.
- 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.
Word has it that this latest Marilyn Monroe biopic is not for the unadventurous. I mean to adventure into the movie this weekend, and who knows? I haven’t even watched the trailer.
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.
- Boss Baby: Family Business
You can never have too many Boss Bay movies. Or can you? We shall see.
- 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.
- Bullet Train
I have to say the last thirty minutes of mayhem make up for the first 90 minutes of death and disaster. If you can’t find something else you want to attend and wanton destruction is your cup of tea, you will not be disappointed. Let’s put it this way. We have had two buy out screenings by Division 1 college football teams and they each won their next games.
- Call Jane
Another preview of an independent, non-formulaic movie where Elizabeth Banks needs an abortion to survive and Sigourney Weaver helps her decide what to do. Small movies with challenging themes can make a difference in viewers thought processes. Pros and cons aside, this movie seems valuable.
- 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.
- Card Counter
Paul Schrader’s newest exploration of a solitary lone figure looks to be a perfect movie for adult audiences willing to be challenged, not coddled. Schrader’s last film, First Reformed, with a stunning Ethan Hawke performance, gave new life to Schrader’s moribund career. This latest introspection will make it two in a row worth your time and money.
“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.
- Chosen Season 3: Episodes 1&2
Please don’t ask me. I have no idea. This is so weird. If Chosen Season 3 means something to you, then see it in a movie theater. You will be pleasantly surprised and want more of your favorite streaming series to stop in theaters first.
- 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.
- Clifford The Big Red Dog
I took the grandkids. I did not fall asleep. A good time was had by all.
- 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.
Benedict Cumberbatch, an English actor who always outperforms, does it again in this based on a true story spy drama. A meek salesman who is chosen by MI6 for his innocence transforms before our eyes with the help of his handler. We learn that the Cold War may have become hotter without their work.
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.
- Croods: A New Age
I remember taking the grandkids to the first one and having a very enjoyable time. Covid 19 keeps me from taking them to this sequel. That is very sad. They miss going to these family flicks. And I miss the naps.
- Crowds Have Not Returned
Football stadiums are packed. Soccer stadiums are packed. Guns and Roses concerts are packed. So where are the movie crowds? Even the Marvel crowds for Black Widow and Shang Chi were less than sold out. The independent films like Card Counter and The Eyes of Tammy Faye which pre-pandemic would have drawn core movie-goers are without buzz. Word of mouth has disappeared as if customers are embarrassed to admit they went to the movies. Musicals like In the Heights and Dear Evan Hansen fail to meet projections. Each of these six movies I have mentioned have cinematic value. But the future of movies in theaters is hard to predict, though I believe the crowds will come back eventually.
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.
- 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 classic story of the less than handsome man writing beautiful letters for his friend to the woman of both their dreams, and the letters win her over for the less than adequate, all brawn but no brains, nice guy but the wrong guy. Will she find out and love the less than adequate in the looks and body department actual writer of the letters. Who knows except everyone who has ever read the book or seen the plays or the movies (Roxanne/Steve Martin among others). I think you should give this a try. By the way it’s an adaptation of a Broadway musical starring Peter Dinklage.
- 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.
- DC League of super pets
Last chance to party with the grandchildren Unwelcome school begins any day now Super heroes have super hero pets and here we go Minions was still the best family film of this summer but I would probably put this second ahead of light year.
- 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.
- Death on the Nile
The latest Agatha Christie adaptation with gobs of medium to big names led by Kenneth Branagh and Gal Gadot. I am still looking most forward to Robert Pattison Batman performance which should give a run for the money up against Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker performance. Dark and darker.
- 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.
- DJANGO UNCHAINED VS. LINCOLN
A surface view would lead you to honor Spielberg’s “Lincoln” over Tarentino’s “Django Unchained.” Spielberg’s civilized view of our government righting the wrong of slavery through mostly civil discourse is a history lesson worth learning. But the single moment of Civil War carnage is not enough to propel the movie forward. A battle scene of Saving Private Ryan intensity would have made Lincoln epic.
Meanwhile Tarentino’s Spaghetti Western take on slavery follows in the footsteps of his “Ingenious Bastards.” But instead of Jews wiping out the Nazi hierarchy and ending World War 2 in one select blow, slavery in the person of Jamie Foxx destroys the archetypal plantation owner played ever so evilly by Leonardo DiCaprio, along with killing every other white man within gun range.
Both Lincoln and Django Unchained are excellent. Each present the abomination of slavery in their own way. But Django Unchained is the more important film. While Lincoln tells the important story of the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment by the House of Representatives, Django Unchained’s apocalyptic vision of Hell on Earth provides an osmotic understanding that slavery was a horror that needed to end.
- 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.
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Director Sam Raimi of the successful cult series Evil Dead and the original Spider-Man trilogy is back with this second Dr. Strange Marvel madness. Benedict Cumberbatch, like the serious actors Robert Downey, Christian Bale, Joaquin Phoenix, and Robert Pattinson, brings to his super hero performance a depth of character not seen in the spoof performances like those of Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, and Seth Rogen (Green Hornet – Please don’t remind me). Bottom line – this is a well directed and well acted super hero movie that requires your viewing in premium large screen presentation theaters.
- 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.
- Don’t Look Up
This is a Netflix movie theater exclusive release after which it will show up on your TV screen. Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep. That’s pushing 100 million in talent costs alone. However I just watched on Netflix Jane Campion’s Power of the Dog with Benedict Cumberbatch as a 1920’s Montana rancher. Now that is one heck of a movie. Easy to recommend.
- Don’t Worry Darling
Olivia Wilde’s controversial new film which seems to be all about Harry Styles spitting on Chris Pine and Shia LeBeouf getting fired in order to keep Florence Pugh from quitting the movie. The preview makes the film seem like a Stepford Wives offshoot but I assume it is much deeper than that enjoyable contrivance.
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.
- Dragon Ball Z Super: Super Hero
I am not in love with Dragon Ball Z or with the title of this movie, but I will admit that the grandkids enjoyed the movie very much. For some reason the Cinemark South Point during its second week is playing it six times dubbed and one show sun-titled. That is strange.
- Drive My Car
Playing as part of our Oscar Best Picture nominees series, this Japanese film concerning the will to live after tragedy is an adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story. If seeing this movie sends readers to Murikami’s short story collection Men Without Women, it will have been a success.
Yes, I like the original David Lynch adaptation which Lynch disavowed and had his name removed from most but not all versions. And I like this much better Part One adaptation, though I like the inferior wild and crazy Lynch version more. I always watch epic releases in all the formats and theater sizes. For the first time since Avatar, I prefer XD 3D for a movie. But alas, Eternals has taken over both XD screens and moved Dune into the excellent but not XD presentation theaters. However, if you want to see this movie, see it in the best theater you can find, but don’t expect your HBO Max presentation to even come close to the epic proportions seen in a movie theater.
Auteur director Baz Luhrmann of Romeo and Juliet and the Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge fame turns his unique talents to the story of Elvis, played by an unknown. The unnecessary hook seems to be the immediately unrecognizable Tom Hanks portraying Elvis discoverer and less than scrupulous manager Colonel Tom Parker as an enlightened human being. Now don’t forget I have only seen the trailers and could be totally wrong. But my own understanding of the Colonel was he cared only for himself and the money. And the money went down the drain at the roulette tables of the once upon a time Las Vegas Hilton.
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.
- Empire Of Light
A new film from Sam Mendes, auteur Director of American beauty, Road to perdition, Jarhead, and various James Bond films. This latest seems to be in the tradition of films about movie theaters (Cinema Paradiso). Definitely worth a look and see in my opinion.
- Empty Man
A title that lends itself to way too many jokes. I saw the headline of a review that said “Fills Emptiness With Boredom.” Another headline – Empty Man Won’t Fill Empty Theaters.” Headline writers can be mean. Anyway, I am not going even though this horror (film) is opening in our XD theater. What a sad state of affairs.
This Hispanic storyline Disney feature animation reminds me of the one with the kid and grandma and supernatural occurences that the grandkids watch all the time. And they want to see this one as well. See you at the movies.
- 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.
- Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Once upon a time there was a movie about employees trapped in a basement having to kill each other and get to the top to be the sole survivor. Was that the first Escape Room? Maybe. Obviously there have been previous iterations since these are the champions. I have no interest.
What is an Eternal besides a Marvel entity ready to expand the Marvel Universe? Eternal means forever. Does this mean the Eternals live forever? If that is the case, they should all watch the Sean Connery movie Zardoz. The Eternals in that movie do not fare so well. Having enjoyed the recent Dune epic, I root for this Marvel epic to reach the same heights.
Fast and Furious fans – have you had enough yet? Isn’t a Ludacris driven hot rod propelled into space and coupling with the Space Station more than enough? Do not take the kids. You may be picked up for child abuse. Only kidding.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Anthony Hopkins plays the father. Do I need to know anything more? No previews playing here. I haven’t seen anything on TV. No posters arrived. But when I saw that this movie was coming out, it went right to the top of the list of my want-to-sees. Anthony Hopkins performances are always worth the price of admission.
- 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.
- Forever Purge
Nooooooo. Anyway this is what happens when you defund the police. The world goes wild and only the strong survive. A perfect Independence Day weekend movie if you consider a film of murder, mayhem, and anarchy the way to spend celebrating America.
- Frank and Penelope
I love when we open a low budget action thriller while every other local theater takes a pass. So what looks like a throwback to old time drive-in flicks, this written, directed and starring the Boondocks Saints Sean Patrick Flanery, also co-stars the always interesting Kevin Dillion and a strip show cutie with a heart of gold. This movie is right up my alley.
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.
- Free Guy
Ryan Reynolds repeating his Deadpool schtick and probably wooing his fans in spite of his current Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard displaying even more of the same. I probably will enjoy this in our XD theater. I sit in one of the first two rows right in front of the screen because the seats only in those two rows recline further back than anywhere else in the theater. If I get a good nap, I know that the movie is weak.
- 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.
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.
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife
An old-fashioned story film with modern special effects. These new small town child Ghostbusters rise to the challenge and win the day with the help of the ever-pleasing Paul Rudd. This is a very nice family film with a well written storyline and well developed characters, but without the party pop of the first Ghostbusters. No loss as this film stands on its own.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Green Knight
I do not remember the Knights of the Round Table having colors, but I forget a lot. Weirdly enough,I want to see this movie more than Jungle Cruise and Stillwater. I know nothing about it. I have no expectations. I am not even certain he is a King Arthur knight. I hope so because I like King Arthur movies.
- 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.
- Halloween Ends
- Halloween Kills
Jamie Lee Curtis is still chasing the indestructible Halloween boogeyman. I am old enough to have seen the first Halloween in the movie theaters, and it did ruin Halloween for me. (The first Nightmare on Elm Street was even worse because it ruined sleep for me.) I left the Halloween franchise after the first, but returned for Jamie Lee Curtis’ bravura performance in the last one. I am hoping for more of the same in this one. But that may turn out to be the problem, and this may turn out just to be a money grab.
- 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.
- 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.
- Honest Thief
A Liam Neeson action flick, and who really does them better (well obviously Densel Washington). But Denzel appears in A movies, and Liam is a B movie king in short and sweet, keep the action moving, get out of the rain enjoyable experiences. If you need a plot synopsis, you are not the target audience for this movie.
- 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.
- House of Gucci
What I can only describe as an operatic treat with over the top performances by Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, and everyone else. If you can sit for hours (I recommend our reclining seat XD theaters for this one), these gasbag portrayals of the fashion world create a sort of fun experience for those interested in everything Gucci.
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.
- Infinite Storm
Another in a long line of based on a true story films, Naomi Watts plays the mountain climbing heroine who saves the day when she comes across a doomed young man about to be victimized by an oncoming blizzard. A very uplisting film for adults.
- 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.
- Jackass Forever
Need I say more. Not about the Jackass continuum of sadistic yet financially rewarding perversity.
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.
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.
- Journal for Jordan
A second Denzel Washington directed black experience story with Michael B. Jordan. I know nothing about it, but Denzel Washington in front of the camera or behind the camera is a movie I want to see.
- 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.
- Jungle Cruise
Superstar The Rock combined with the always wonderful Emily Blunt in a Disney fun ride which seems to be something along the lines of the first of the Brendan Fraser Mummy series. That was good entertainment. I expect the same from this one.
- Jurassic Park Dominion
We use to call these kinds of movies “popcorn flicks.” Not anymore. With nachos and Angus hot dogs and Pizza Hut pizzas and bottled water and $15 T-shirts, what the heck. I call them movie money pits that better pan out or else. Thank goodness Jurassic Park Dominion is a crowd pleaser. More than enough living dinosaurs of all varieties populating the Earth to excite the children, and the return of the original cast members to satisfy the adults. This is big budget Hollywood that deserves to be seen in our premium XD theaters if you are looking for the fullest experience.
- 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.
- King Richard
Will Smith as the father of Venus and Serena Williams, two of the greatest tennis players of all time. A wonderfully upbeat film about family and beating impossible odds.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Last Duel
“Based on a true story.” Movies are always promoted that way in the advertising, the previews, the reviews, and all the other pre-release cannon fodder. What is the point? Do moviegoers get excited because a movie is based on a true story? Aren’t the biggest moneymakers every year Marvel movies? Will you want to see this movie more because there was a last duel sometime in French history, and this is the make-believe story of that history? Aren’t almost all of the based on a true story movies filled with all kinds of changes in order to entertain, not enlighten? The Last Duel’s Matt Damon has already admitted that the duel itself was less than exciting, but director Ridley Scott really spiced it up for this based on a true story movie.
- 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.
- Last Vermeer
The previews grabbed me with their scrumptious, art film, beauty. This latest based on a true story film seems to be something about a post World War 2 trial having to do with Vermeer paintings stolen by the Nazis. Guy Pearce stars. It might be worth a try.
- 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.
- Licorice Pizza
Auteur Paul Michael Anderson does it again, taking an offbeat teenage hormone story and making it even more offbeat with a two scene virtuoso cameo by Bradley Cooper.
- 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.
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.
Beware. This action animation is not about a Buzz Lightyear toy saving the universe while thinking he is not a toy. This is about an animated human being who is not an animated toy, though the film does adequately explains what is going on. So what should I tell the grandkids? They are looking forward to another Toy Story. Grownups really know how to botch things up.
- 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.
- 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.
- Little Things
A retro serial killer with a cop on his tail movie starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto competing to see who can chew the most scenery. Even if this movie is bad, it has to be good.
- 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.
- Lost City
Netflix’s very popular leading lady Sandra Bullock, reminds that she is even more enjoyable on the large screen. Like Uncharted, this is a search for lost treasure movie but with less set piece action scenes and more outrageous comic moments. The stripper, what’s his name, Channing Tatum strips down a tad now and then, with a cameo by a slightly aging, very sexy, previous generation hunk.
- Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile
Animated Family Fare. It never hurts to have a family outing to the movies. However I notice my grandkids outings consist of soccer baseball football and basketball practices and games. And their movie viewing is now all about streaming. I don’t like it but understand it is what it is.
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.
- Many Saints of Newark
If you watched the Sopranos as I did, then you need to see this film, well done though lacking in Sopranoesque moments. I am troubled by Ray Liotta’s caricature of the big time mobster with the greatest wife who destroys the relationship for no viable reason. It’s just what big-time gangsters do. And young Anthony Soprano is not the star of the movie which is a surprise. The star is an exciting actor I do not know but plays Liotta’s son and slick gangster with real Italian bravado. This is a worthy movie, though not great.
- 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.
This is Liam Neeson’s second B movie action pandemic release. Thank goodness for that. This most recent should be of special interest to those of us who watched Tom Hank’s News of the World, Hanks trekking across the Old West with an orphaned little girl in tow. In Marksman Liam Neeson is also traveling across country, he with an orphaned boy. Hanks is terrific in a well considered movie. Meanwhile Neeson is often better than his material. I look forward to enjoying Neeson’s abilities even if his movie is not as interesing as Hank’s.
- Marry Me
What looks like a really enjoyable romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and a fish out of water Owen Wilson, this movie is about a spontaneous marriage brought on by social media between a star and a nobody. A perfect choice for Valentines’ Day.
- Matrix: Resurrections
A hearty welcome back to the Matrix 18 years later with Keanu Reeves, now of John Wick fame, ready to bring it on. As bad as the movie could possibly be, it has to be a great moment in your Christmas moviegoing history when you sit down in one of .our two reclining seat spectacular presentation XD theaters watching Matrix first, then if you haven’t enjoyed Spider-Man: No Way Home yet, moving to the other XD theater for this second super Holiday movie treat. Enough said.
Liam Neeson as an assassin with memory loss. Several things come to mind. 1. Christopher Nolan’s early success Memento about a husband with memory loss chasing the killer of his wife. 2. Liam Neeson’s most recent Blacklight less than meets the eye. 3. Pre-pandemic Liam Neeson’s Cold Pursuit – vintage Liam Neeson, therefore lots of fun for action aficianados. 4. Sometime down the road are we going to find out that Neeson has Bruce Willis disease causing writers to stick him with lines he has been repeating for too many years? 5. Liam Neeson has had a fabulous career as an actor (much like Bruce Willis), and I hope he gets better material starting with Memory.
- 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.
- Midnight Sky
A bedraggled George Clooney in one of the freezing poles with a little girl who does not speak interacting with a space ship somewhere far, far away. Clooney seems to be trying to top Brad Pitts inscrutable outer space Ad Astra which was Brad Pitt’s attempt to outdo George Clooney’s Solaris. There was a time pre-pandemic that this would be the movie I would want to see this week. Now I am not so sure
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.
An Oscar nominee for best picture about a Korean American family living in the Ozarks. I have never seen a preview, but every review of the movie has a headline that screams “Wonderful.”
- Minions: The Rise of Gru
Minions or Lightyear is the choice. Minions is fun with young kids. Lightyear is fun if you care about Buzz Lightyear as a human being and not a toy. Neither is spectacular, but Minions is full of funny minions and a young Dru. Lightyear gets heavy at times. Take your pick or go to both, but don’t leave the kids at home.
Everyone is down on Moonfall because director Roland Emmerich has never equaled his crowd pleasing Independence Day despite numerous attempts. This time the moon is on a crash course with Earth. Don’t look up. Only kidding. Anyway this is a fun movie made for an audience that does not ex exist anymore in the United States. Sad to say, fun at the movies is gone.
Following in the footsteps of Joaquin Phoenix as Joker and Robert Pattinson as Batman, Jared Leto takes the leap from serious acting films to a personal trainer driven, buffed up, Marvel character. The previews rub me the wrong way, too much “Venom” in them. I hope I am wrong.
- Mortal Kombat
I found less to like in this latest reincarnation than the cheesier, dumber iterations of the past. Maybe you feel the need to see it because you grew up with the game early on. But do not get your hopes up for this one.
- 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.
- Mrs. Harris goes to Paris
English actress Leslie Mannville is a hard-working char woman who lost her husband in the war She saves for a Christian Dior dress and travels to Paris Things happen and devastation is replaced by genuine happiness Yep This is a great film if all the blockbusters this summer haven’t scrambled your brain.
- Muppet Christmas Carol
The little ones will love it. And what else matters.
- 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.
- National Champions
Three days before the Big Game (college version) the players go on strike for better pay. Something like that. I will be rooting for the players to succeed in their demands.
- New Mutants
There is nothing new about these X-Men and X-Women knockoffs. Personally I preferred the recent Power Rangers and Pokemon movies to this listless end to the X-Men franchise.
- News Of The World
Tom Hanks. Western. What can go wrong? I hope nothing. The plot is off the main trail to say the least. Hanks goes from cow town to cow town reading newspapers to interested citizens and picks up a troubled young child along the way. Is he an ex-gunfighter and shoots up the bad guys? It doesn’t look like it from the previews. But I will still check it out before going near WW84.
- Nightmare Alley
The 1946 original starring a charismatic Tyrone Power in rolled up T-shirt is great fun and a special movie that I believe can be seen on Amazon Prime. This new Guillermo Del Toro version starring Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett may not be as gritty, and more likely exaggerates everything that can be exaggerated, but maybe Del Toro can pull it off. The less you know about the plot, the better.
- No Time To Die
This shall be the last Daniel Craig/James Bond soiree. It is expected that the 168 minute run time will leave you ready to move on to the the next 007 sometime in the future. The previews overwhelm you with action extreme – bungee jumping, car jumping, machine gun popping, Bond popping mayhem. I hope all this is part of one great opening scene to compare with the great 007 opening scenes of the past. If you don’t see this movie in our reclining seat XD theater, it will be your mistake. But I believe you will still enjoy the movie in any theater outside your living room.
Bob Odenkirk, lately of Better Call Saul, blazes a new trail as a middle class nobody Daddy and husband who just happens to have a secret past. Odenkirk is a clone of John Wick. Figuratively, not literally. This could be the B action movie of the year.
This year’s favorite for Best Picture and Best Actress Academy Awards, Nomadland follows a spiky haired Frances McDormand in her travels, creating a life out of transient encounters.
Jordan Peeles avant-garde sci-fi horror follow up to his breakouts get out and us Walking around our theater these days I have been giving the film 2 mopes out of four I watched it again and will say that for get out an us fans, it’s 4 nopes out of four I recommend leaving the 12 and unders out of the building if only because of the chimpanzee scenes.
M. Night Shyamalan whose Sixth Sense is his high watermark continues to create intriguing storylines and mix them with serious directing skills leading to a filmography that screams “Auteur” as loudly as those of the Spielbergs and Scorseses. I have seen all Shyamalan’s films and from the clunkers to the best, he and Clint Eastwood are my current favorite filmmakers. By the way Old is about vacationing beachgoers who turn very old very quickly on a secluded beach.
- 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.
This seems to be a low key Pixar/Disney release opening only two weeks before Disney’s big budget Mulan. Normally Pixar would get the Easter slot so something is up with this one. But I expect the movie to be a joy for the family crowd, and I applaud Disney for always coming through for the kids.
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.
- 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. We are still not there yet except for the big budget, recognizable, Hollywood products like those from Marvel and DC. Thank goodness for the big screen release of Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick. Finally adult audiences have found a movie they really like and have filled the theaters.
Now back in theaters as the Acdemy Award Best Picture winner maybe filmgoers can overcome their aversion to sub-titles and find their way to see this class warfare epic that is worth your attention.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Phantom of the Open
English film based on a true story of a dreamer played by Mark Rylance who has never played golf but wants to play in the British Open and his encouraging wife Sally Hawkins. If you do not yet know the skills of Rylance and Hawkins, here is your chance. This is the must see movie for adults with interests outside the all encompassing summer blockbusters.
A perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the women. I feel sorry for the men who have to take them.
Nicholas Cage. Is this a joke? No. Pig is an essential part of the independent movie move to mainstream theaters brought about by the pandemic and the changing face of streaming new releases the same day as theater openings. This is too complicated for me. However I will venture out and give Pig a try even though I am Jewish.
- Pinocchio (2020)
Pinocchio (2020) – The Disney Pinocchio is my all time favorite animated movie (Beavis and Butthead Do America is my second favorite). But the previews for this latest Italian reincarnation show something that you might not want to inflict on your happy children unless you would enjoy them jumping into your bed at night even more than they already do.
- 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.
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 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.
- Promising Young Woman
The preview made me think of Harley Quinn Birds of Prey. Nobody else sees it that way but this certainly looks like a kick the asses of bad boys outrageous revenge flick. Starring Carey Mulligan I noticed that the Golden Globes switched the movie’s category from Comedy to Drama.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Red Notice
What the heck! The Rock and Ryan Reynolds in a caper flick. And I have never heard of it. Oops. It is a Netflix release. One week or so in theaters, then straight to Netflix. It is a new world. But as long as there are opportunities to see these streaming movies in theaters, I will not complain about the unforseeable changes brought about by Covid.
- Redeeming Love
A spiritual retelling of a Biblical story where a religious man is sent by Heavenly inspiration to save a prostitute from her life of shame. I was recently gifted with Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Crazy Horse which I am currently reading. So far I have been inundated by numerous massacres mostly of whites, but also of Indian families, that are so specific in detail that I get sick to my stomach. Thus I warn you that a PG 13 rating of a religious themed movie is a surprise that make me think that the prostitution in the movie may be more than implied. In other words – do not bring the kids.
What do I know about this third in the series Chinese with English sub-titles action blockbuster? Only that it is opening against Wonder Woman 1984 in China and is predicted to win the box office wars. I believe the series of films are celebrations of Chinese armed services in action. In normal times I would jump at the chance to see this movie.
- Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
I had no problem enjoying the first half dozen or so Resident Evils. Milla Jovovich’s Alice is one of the most endearing action heroes of all time. This new Resident Evil looks interesting, though without Ms. Jovovich, but I am hoping for the best.
Aretha Franklin biopic with Jennifer Hudson playing the lead. Of course afterwards you need to go straight to Youtube and watch the real Aretha performances beginning in the 1960’s and proceeding through her epic last minute Grammy replacement of Pavarotti and her jaw-dropping rendition of Nessum Dorma.
- Rhythm Section
English is a strange language. Why is it Rhythm without a real vowel? Why isn’t it Rhitham? Anyway this is a wanna see. Action baby. I can’t remember the names of the recent femme fatale action movies, but there was the John Wick clone with Charlize Theron. Also the Jennifer Lawrence Russian assassin flick with another John Wick like Russian model wiping out all comers. And there was the Jennifer Garland revenge for her family being killed by bad guys movie where she hid in a homeless community while she did her thing now cloned in this Blake Lively revenge fest. Oh Happy Day!
- 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.”
- 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.
- Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
I will go to this documentary on the suicide of the ultimate world traveler food connoisseur, Anthony Bourdain. I assume it is about the suicide because Bourdain’s life is on full display during repeats of his great TV show.
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.
Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame has come a long way since her puerile performances in that series of five films. Now you get the chance to see her at her mature best portraying Hollywood actress Jean Seberg in this bio of her incredibly complicated life and career.
- 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.
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.
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
There is something very wrong here. The world is saved and Shang-Chi is the hero. A memorial service is held for all the fallen comrades who sacrificed themselves in order to gain victory. Then the movie cuts to a San Francisco bar scene where Shang-Chi and his girlfriend are whooping it up, breathlessly relating to disbelieving friends how they killed the monster. No tears. No sorrow for their dead friends and fellow warriors. Just laughs. Ha ha ha. Are Marvel audiences so weak that they need to be fed such out of place comedic feel good pap before they leave the theater? Obviously Marvel thinks so.
- Sing 2
Oh Say Can You See. By the Dawn’s early light. What so proudly we hail at the Twilight’s Last Gleaming. I did enjoy the original Sing which is animated animals doing their darndest to entertain the crowd.
- Snake Eyes: G.I Joe Origins
Probably decades too late to attract its target audience, but parents may bring their kids and have a good time. I have given away so many G. I. Joe figures in my life and have only kept one – G.I. Joe Astronaut. Toy companies, like film companies, wring the life out of anything that smells of potential money. Ken and Barbie 2021 anyone? How about F9 The Fast Saga with dead characters coming back to life and a car blasting off into space and coupling with the space station.
- 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.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Mixing animation with live action is nothing new since Roger Rabbit brought it into the mainstream. Therefore the comedy action has to rise or fall on its own merits. But since the grandkids don’t care one way or the other whether I stay awake, I look forward to taking them and hope for the best.
- Space Jam: A New Legacy
Of course I will be going and taking the kids. But the previews seem too technologically sophisticated. I generally prefer the animated primitives like Michael Jordan’s Space Jam and Roger Rabbit which were groundbreakers in their time. However the current generation should go for this Lebron James’ party in a big way.
- 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 inner life of Princess Diana as portrayed by Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame. Stewart has evolved. After working in Hollywood for years, she displayed limited acting skills during the Twilight phenomenon. However like caterpillars that change into butterflies, Stewart has become one of our finest actresses. I look forward to watching her change into Princess Diana.
- 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.
- Spider-Man: No Way Home
This is the first real pandemic/endemic/Omicron/Delta hit movie with showtime after showtime selling out, every seat filled. Is it worth the hype? I do not know yet. I first watched 27 minutes of previews. March’s new Batman release starring a brooding Robert Pattinson looks very serious and piqued my interest. Then I stayed for 35 minutes of Spidey. The XD experience was terrific, and the film was building a human story around the super-hero action which bodes well for my enjoying the entire movie.
- 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.
- Spiral: Saw
It seems this is the ninth in the horror series of which after the first I was through with anything having to do with Saw. That doesn’t mean my fifteen year old isn’t begging me to take him. No way. Let him sneak into the R-rated gore fest on his own. And don’t believe the previews on this one. Yeah, I would be tempted by Chris Rock and Samuel Jackson working together to get the SAW mastermind. But I know enough they will rub your face in the horror every chance they get. These movies are made for fans. If you are not a fan, do not risk it. As always, this is just my opinion.
- 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 adult movie of the summer.” Maybe because it is the only adult mainstream movie since Let Him Go with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. And also because no one is counting Steven Soderbergh’s terrific HBO Max movie No Sudden Move (which is an excellent capitalist gangster movie). In Stillwater – Matt Damon is a Middle American Europe bound to save his incarcerated daughter. She might be a murderer. Adults – do not bring your kids. “Adult movie” too often means boring (though Let Him Go and No Sudden Move as exceptions are certainly not boring).
- Studio 666
A low budget horror film created by Dave Grohl who has had a nice career with The Foo Fighters after his unbelievable years with Kurt Cobain in Nirvana. This will be a hard sell, but I am going to check it out.
Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci probably kiss in this R-rated for language road trip love story. I like the actors, and love the 93 minute running time, but would prefer to rewatch Walter Hill’s outer space thriller Supernova from 2000.
Director Christopher Nolan. If the name means nothing to you, then Tenet may not be your cup of tea. This film can be called Inception like, though it really is not. Better to prepare for a James Bond movie painted by the Picasso of movie makers.
- 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 355
A save the world spy thriller with all the action but not many thrills starring lots of kick ass women led by Jessica Chastain. At the beginning of Kings Man Ralph Fiennes holds in his wife’s guts screaming “STAY WITH ME” over and over. At the beginning of The 355 Penelope Cruz hold in her lover’s guts while screaming “STAY WITH ME” over and over. Unlike Ralph Fiennes wife, luckily for the dying lover of Penelope Cruz, he got to have a night of off screen sex before his demise.
- The Bad Guys
Sonic 2 was very popular and did very well in premium theaters, so why not give this new animation a shot at the brass ring. I will be there with grandkids in tow.
- The Beast
I enjoy Idris Elba performances but if the beast is a lion then beast is a misnomer for the movie title. It’s a lion. Lions are always beasts. Why not just call the movie Cujo 2 and the climax could be a Good The Bad The Ugly confrontation with Elba as Clint Eastwood, Cujo as Lee Van Cleef, and the lion as Eli Wallach.
- The Contractor
Chris Pine and Ben Foster are together again, this time in a B action thriller that seems to encourage thoughts of the Bourne series of films. I am a sucker for these under the radar action films, though many belong in a DVD discount bin.
- The Lost City
Sandra Bullock in what looks to be a very fun search across continents story, sort of like the currently playing hit Uncharted. Channing Tatum, currently starring in the moderately enjoyable Dog, hooking up with the chaste Ms. Bullock in this one should create excellent comic chemistry. And the surprise guest seen in the previews is definitely the cherry on top.
- The Menu
If you go to the movies on a regular basis you have probably seen the preview of this thriller comedy satire over and over again and still don’t know what the heck is going on. Ralph Fiennes is deliciously sinister as the Master of Ceremonies in what looks like a Hunger Games survival of the Elite who are ensconced in a beautiful island hideaway.
- The Northman
Americas latest auteur filmmaker Robert Eggers of The Witch and The Lighthouse fame, both low budget supernatural horror, goes all in with this Viking blood bath that is a sure thing for critical love, but a question mark for audience acceptance. The previews certainly look challenging but Alexander Skarsgard and Nicole Kidman look to be giving their best efforts. As always I recommend seeing these epics in our XD premium, reclining seat, Auromax sound theaters.
- The Outfit
Mark Rylance, winner of a Best Supporting Actor Award in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, gives a master class in acting as a tailor (cutter!) who has a deal with the Chicago mob. This movie is independent filmmaking at its best. A treat for those wishing for something different
- The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
This is the culmination of the Nicolas Cage comeback story. From well regarded newcomer to big star to Oscar winner to bankrupt reject to recovering spendthrift to salvation in what seems to be his new Nick cage tour de force. This film should be every movie fans’ must see. I wish it was playing in our premium XD theaters.
- Thor: Love and Thunder
Marvel fans are in love with Thor. And I hear and read a lot about Natalie Portman’s arms. Wow, so big. I am not a Marvel aficionado and get lost in every movie, but they have their moments almost always. If you miss one, that is not the end of the world, but don’t waste your time watching them on TV. Two hundred million dollar CGI movies are greatly diminished on the small screen. And where is Iron Man? I hear he is dead. That is sad. I hope they revive him or at least make a prequel. With the right actor, that could be fun.
- Those Who Wish Me Dead
Angelina Jolie in an adult thriller written and directed by Taylor Sheridan of Wind River, Hell or High Water, Sicario, Yellowstone, and other especially well written movies and TV shows. Even if none of these mean anything to you, it still might be worth your while to watch this Montana based forest fire assassin chase picture.
- Three Thousand Years of Longing
This I have to see. Tilda Swinton swooning over Idris Elba. I watched the trailer and wondered who came up with this idea. Then Boom! It’s a Mad Max creator George Miller film. Being the auteurist that I am, this movie shot to the top of my list. I will be checking it out this afternoon.
- Ticket to Paradise
Julia Roberts, the Sandra Bullock of an earlier generation, and George Clooney, the Cary Grant of a later generation, star in this old-fashioned romcom whose previews made me laugh. Fingers crossed.
From the previews this depiction of the 1955 murder of 14 year old, African American Emmett Till and his mother who won’t let the 50’s culture keep her from publicly mourning her son, looks timely and devastating. I am on my way to watch the movie now.
- Tom and Jerry
We are opening this familiar cartoon feature in one of our premium XD theaters alongside our second premium XD theater featuring the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That is the state of film releases during the pandemic. Can family movies save movie theaters from possible extinction? Definitely if owners create a family experience at lower price points for tickets, concessions, and merchandise they now sell in the lobbies.
- Top Gun: Maverick
Archetypal Hollywood film making where the special effects support the story as opposed to overwhelming the story. And the story is communal screen writing at its finest. Lots of writers immersing themselves in the original Top Gun and creating a team of characters, both new faces and old, all working selflessly without egos for the greater good of the film. Hats off to their Captain Tom Cruise. He cares about his audience.
- 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.
Todd Holland, previous of the latest Spider-Man pictures, does an honest job searching for lost treasure with the ambiguous sometimes partner Mark Wahlberg. Too many people said they enjoyed the film for me to poop on the party, but the truth is I didn’t go. I was too busy watching the Best Picture nominees. Coda was very well done. Drive My Car was very interesting. Licorice Pizza could have been better, but that was good enough. Belfast was not interested in the Protestant-Catholic Irish problem, but was a good piece of nostalgia. The rest I had already seen. Amazingly, except for West Side Story, none would have received a second look as potential Best Picture nominees in the days of Hollywood with a capital H.
- Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler, like so many comedians before him, has several serious roles in his resume. Once you get over the fact that he is Adam Sandler, wild comedian, his serious roles have been excellent choices. I purposely know nothing about this film because I don’t want it spoiled by outside influences (previews, early reviews, interviews with participants). I will see it Christmas morning and hope it surprises me way to the upside.
If you don’t see this movie in its first weeks after release, you probably will not have much fun going now. This is a “road rage” action flick with a late Val Kilmer performance out of Russell Crowe. Originally scheduled for a streaming release, the world has turned topsy turvy as Unhinged plays the theaters, and Trolls, Mulan, Soul, and Antebellum go straight to streaming.
- 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.
Jackie Chan runs a security business in this Stanley Tong directed Chinese action film. Chan seems to spend most of the time suited up for business while his younger employees get to risk lives and limbs in the Chan-like action scenes (Jackie Chan is pushing 70).
- Venom: Let There Be Carnage
A PG 13 version of an R-rated original which means the body snatching alien snake can only bite off the head of a maximum one person. Of course that person will be the worst bad guy, Woody Harrelson. Oh – did I ruin the movie for you? Is that a spoiler? I don’t think so, and I don’t care. Yes, I took my teenage son and three grandkids to see this dreck. And this sequel is a monster (haha) hit. But I don’t have to like it.
The previews remind me of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pine in Passengers, a similar sci-fi lost in space premise movie. This one has teenagers, hormones dulled by drugs, kicking the habit and regaining all the desires of typical out of control teenagers. Need I say more.
- War With Grandpa
I never saw a preview and never paid attention to the movie itself. When I walked into the theater simply to check it out… By now I should be able to handle Robert DeNiro, once the Marlon Brando of his time, participating in films which only require one of his patented zombie performances. Sort of like Marlon Brando at the end of his career, but without the extra 100 pounds.
- Way Back
Alcoholic ex high school basketball star Ben Affleck makes his way back when he returns to his high school and takes over coaching the basketball team. This reminds me of the great high school basketball movie Hoosiers, though in that movie the game was played at a much slower pace.
- West Side Story (2021)
Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of the classic Natalie Wood 1962 Robert Wise directed Oscar winner (ten awards out of eleven nominations including Best Picture). “Don’t do this to me.” That was my first reaction to Spielberg’s sacrilege in remaking the original. “Please no.” I was begging that a divine intervention would end this travesty after seeing a commercial on TV. “OMG!” After viewing the exhilarating trailer in our premium XD theater, my opinion drastically changed. I want to see this new West Side Story in a theater with the biggest screen and best sound system. Our XD theater is playing the movie for six days through December 15.
- 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.
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.
- Woman King
A surprising Viola Davis super charged action performance as the leader of an elite African female force that fights to protect their people from the slave trade. Based on the true story it seems unbelievable while you watch the movie.
- Wonder Woman 1984/WW84
I enjoy super hero movies. Often I nap through the middle sections but enjoy the mandatory opening and closing CGI battle scenes. The big news on this one is choosing to watch it opening day on your best TV or going to the premium screen showtimes that aren’t sold out at Covid mandated 25% capacity local theaters. The second is my preference, but the first might be safest. Good luck with your choice.
- Wonder Woman 2017
This is an opportunity to revisit the successful first outing of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. You should definitely consider coming to see it before the very soon opening of WW84. Since the second feature is a continuation of the Wonder Woman story, it is a good idea to reacquaint yourself with the first.
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).
- Words On Bathroom Walls
Based on a very popular young adult romance encompassing mental illness, bullying, and the like, thie movie adaptation is an excellent effort that might not appeal to teen makes, but is worth seeing by all teens and their parents.
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.
All I know about this movie is that is not about the life of author Emile Zola, but is about a Detroit waitress who becomes a stripper for the weekend.
- 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.