US Brings Terror to a California Boardwalk
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Jordan Peele and Universal Pictures comes the tale of what happens when you look into the heart of US.
The Wilson family is heading on a little summer R&R at the beautiful coastal town of Santa Cruz, California. Gabe (Winston Duke) and wife Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o) along with daughter Zora (Shahadi Joseph) and young son Jason (Evan Alex), each sees this time together in a different way.
Gabe's first outing is to go to the beach in front of the Santa Cruz boardwalk but Adelaide isn't as thrilled about the idea. When she was a child, something mysterious happened to her but she hasn't shared it with anyone. Talked into it, she tries her best to make the day good for the family.
Returning home and evening falls, there are mysterious people in the Wilson driveway and when Gabe confronts them - the horror knocks down their front door. A family that looks like them has a mission and it could cost each family member their lives.
Escaping the house the family tries to get help from friends Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh (Tim Heidecker) but it isn't going to turn out as planned. What only one of the Wilson family knows is who they are and what they truly want - and they will never again be the same.
Nyong'o as Adelaide has a hidden secret in her character and the film takes its time in telling that part of the story. This actress invests not only the character of Adelaide number one but the absolutely terrifying version of Adelaide 2. She is captivating and has a mission that the Wilson family makes sort of easy for her to carry out - why? I'm not going to tell you why.
Duke as Gabe is that Dad who wants to make everyone happy while also having a good time with a beer in his hand and warm sand between his toes. He is also the Dad that has a baseball bat and isn't afraid to swing it - the problem is that Dad 2 has an advantage and that's his refusal to hesitate. Don't let his size fool you as he is a husband who knows that Adelaide is strong willed so happy life, happy wife number one.
Joseph as Zora is a teenager plugged into social media and making it perfectly clear that she is not happy about the beach or talking about college. When she literally runs against Zora number 2, trust me when I say the creepy factor is huge and it’s a look I'll never forget. That being said, don't think Zora 1 doesn't get hip quick.
Alex as Jason is definitely a mama's boy and Jason 2 is as well - with a gruesome exception. This young actor was seriously amazing and once again I don't think it's a face I am likely to forget anytime soon.
Moss as Kitty is that woman who just isn't happy with anything and finds any reason to be a total bitch. Moss has the ability to be very sweet in her character portrayals but this is her chance to just totally let loose and go insane. Heidecker as Tim is like Gabe in some ways in that he just wants to sit back with a beer and relax but Kitty isn't about to let him do that. It takes Tim 2 to at least have a chance to just be as crazy as he wants to be.
Other cast include Yahya Abdul-Matten II as Russel Thomas, Anna Diop as Rayne Thomas, Cali Sheldon as Becca Tyler, Noelle Sheldon as Lindsey Tyler and Madison Curry as young Adelaide Wilson.
FINAL WORD: Peele has taken the classic suspense film and given it just enough blood to keep me invested in the film. I am not a huge fan of gore films which I know may be a shock to anyone who knows I love thrillers. There is a difference between a thriller and a slasher film that has no storyline.
US has a storyline and it doesn't take long before you are whipped through the mental roller coaster mind of Peele. He doesn't give away much, still adds a little cheesiness here and there, and picks an unlikely place to make it all work.
The cast makes this story work and work extremely well. There is a togetherness in the way these actors played the Wilson clan that brings you in quickly and keeps you there until the very…last…frame.
I adore Santa Cruz and, of course, never pictured it as a place where something like this story would take place. Recognizing every single location in the film from the boardwalk to the streets, just made it even more fun once I bought into the fact that yes, this could happen in Santa Cruz!
This is a fun thriller romp through my favorite stomping grounds and don't let the story get you all twisted. Go with the flow and let the Wilson family introduce you to the wonderful world of frights, fights and survival at all costs - and oh my what a high cost!
In the end - we are our own worst enemy!
CAPTAIN MARVEL Joins the Universal Fight
Coming to theatres this Friday from directors Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures is a mystery unraveled in space and on Earth with CAPTAIN MARVEL.
Vers (Brie Larson) is a warrior who is part of the Kree race and has powers she received during an accident. Plagued with dreams of people she doesn't know, she turns to mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) who is a commander of the Starforce. He tries to instill the need to keep her powers in check.
Given a mission by the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening), Yon-Rogg, Vers and the crew are sent to retrieve one of their own that has information they need. Instead they are ambushed by the Skrull, a tribe of shape shifters who want what is locked up in the mind of Vers and led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).
Escaping the Skrull, Vers finds herself on Earth which is the last known location of a scientist who can help her unravel the mystery. Yon-Rogg is relieved that Vers is still alive but they both know the Skrull are not far behind. Enter Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) who question Vers.
She is open with them but they don't believe her until a Skrull comes out of no where and the chase begins. Fury follows and now believes her story! Trying to help her discover more information about who the Skrull are looking for, Vers begins to piece together some of her own dreams that have haunted her.
She finds Marie Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and a life that included the name Carol Danvers as everything begins to fall into place. Talos discovers where Danvers is and she learns there is more to all of this than meets the inter-galatic eye!
Larson as Captain Marvel is fairly straight forward in her role. She has a bit of a temper, doesn't mind knocking people around a bit, has a biting sense of humor and wants answers. Trying to fit in with the Kree and trying to fit in on Earth, it is what is locked in her memory that can help her bridge the two worlds.
Jackson as a younger Nick Fury gives us a little more of his back story and the beginnings of what is to come in the Marvel universe. There is no mistaking Jackson's humor and attitude but along with that are a few answers as to how Nick Fury became Nick Fury. I always enjoy Jackson when he is being sarcastic but he also gets a few surprises of his own along the way.
Mendelsohn as Talos is a fighter, charming in his own way, equally witty as Captain Marvel and knows a things or two about a good fight. He has his reasons for wanting what she has locked in her brain and he isn't going to stop until he gets it. I've always enjoyed Mendelsohn as an actor and I absolutely love that he branches out in unpredictable roles.
Law as Yon -Rogg prides himself on mentoring Vers and wants to make sure that the Skrull are all but wiped out. He is a strong character that believes in what he is doing and has a skilled crew to back him up.
Lynch as Rambeau is the only person on Earth, literally, that can help bring Danvers memory into focus. Along with daughter Monica played by Akbar, they aren't at all frightened by what is in front of them by way of the Skrull and what lies in outer space waiting for them.
Bening as the Supreme Intelligence keeps a watchful eye over Vers and has an agenda of her own. Her role isn't a big one but its impact is important on the storyline and it's pretty cool to see her take on the dual role.
Other cast include Mckenna Grace as young Carol Danvers, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Lee Pace as Ronan, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, Rune Temte as Bron-Char, Colin Ford as Steve Danvers, and Akira Akbar as Monica Rambeau.
CAPTAIN MARVEL joins the ranks of the Marvel Universe and is given the opportunity to tell her story. She is animated, can handle her own and has a few witty remarks in her almost skin tight uniform. Of course there is more to the story and I'm sure Marvel will be telling it but there is also that little nudge of where she fits in with the Avengers.
Super heroine fans are going to be pleased well enough with what is on the screen and it is a nice two hour get away from the real world. That being said, it is also fairly predictable in its telling and the special effects are becoming a little common place - translated that means I'm not absolutely wow'd by it all.
What I did love as it hurt my heart was the opening sequence as a fantastic nod to everything Stan Lee has done for us all. His cameos always had audiences cheering and at the beginnings of CAPTAIN MARVEL is no exception. The man who made comic books legends and iconic characters deserves nothing less and everything more.
The film comes in at around two hours and if that's not enough don't worry; she will be back again and sooner than you think.
In the end - discover what makes her a (her)o!
Coming to theatres from director Sebastian Lelio and A24 comes the story of a woman trying to find her place with GLORIA BELL.
Gloria (Julianne Moore) is a divorced 50-something woman who is trying to find her way. Escaping occasionally to dance at a local nightclub, it helps her deal with life. When she isn’t tripping the lights, she sees her daughter Anne (Caren Pistorius) and son Peter (Michael Cera).
On one of her dancing nights she meets Arnold (John Turturro) and there is a connection as they start seeing one another. What Gloria doesn’t understand is the mysterious relationship Arnold has with his two grown daughters but she lets it alone. Deciding its time for her own family to meet him, Gloria invites him to Peter’s birthday party.
While there, Gloria’s ex-husband Dustin (Brad Garrett) makes Arnold feel as if he doesn’t exist so he sneaks away from the party. Upset beyond belief, Gloria won’t listen to anything Arnold says when he attempts to apologize.
She ignores his calls, ignores the flowers but the calls keep coming. After Anne leaves, Gloria gives in for a trip with Arnold to Las Vegas hoping they can get past any issues but it takes an instant for it all to change.
Now Gloria must decide whether to remain stagnant or remember that she can be everything and that includes happy!
Moore as Gloria has the serious chops to pull of this role. There is a vulnerability needed here to make this character believable and Moore gives it her all. Gloria is a woman who is trying to find her place in a world that doesn’t recognize her as a young woman any longer and doesn’t exactly embrace the number 50 when it comes to meeting a good man. Instead, she flounders with her family and the ability to let go adding a complicated relationship with Arnold. I just love Moore!
Turturro as Arnold is a complicated character because from the beginning you are never quite sure where he stands with the way he deals with things. One moment he is completely happy with and the next he is tortured by family issues that he can not seem to ignore.
Other cast include: Sean Astin as Jeremy, Cassie Thomson as Virginia, Chris Mulkey as Charlie, Barbara Sukowa as Melinda along with Jeanne Tripplehorn, Holland Taylor Tyson Ritter and Rita Wilson as Vicky and I just love her spunk which is exactly what Gloria needs!
GLORIA BELL is a film that dives in the deep end of the complications that come with older relationships. Being divorced with a family is one thing but trying to also be with someone who also has a family brings in every complication you can imagine. Director Lelio doesn’t hesitate to tackle these issues head on no matter how messy.
There is something about Moore’s portrayal of this character that brings about every range of the over-50 female experience. She is vulnerable, guilt ridden, lives slightly dangerously, reaches out to life only to pull back when it comes close and finds herself completely alone.
The music for the film is perfect but then again I found myself singing along with ease. Every song fit perfectly in the scene and working its way toward the end I would expect to see Gloria dancing madly!
In the end – this is her life.
LEGO MOVIE 2: The Second Part Brings Back Favorites for Another Epic Adventure
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Mike Mitchell and Warner Bros. is the next adventure for Emmet and the gang with LEGO MOVIE 2: The Second Part.
Five years has passed since Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) and Lucy Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) helped to save Bricksburgh from President Business and the dreaded Kraggle. Trying to keep life going along, the unexpected Lego Duplo invaders have been causing problems to the point that rebuilding is almost impossible creating the new town of Apocalypseburg.
The cause? Finn (Jadon Sand) and sister Bianca (Brooklynn Prince) have different storylines going on in their basement at home. Also Emmet has a dream of the dangerous Our-Mom-Ageddon that will end everything.
Then the landing of General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) who immediately takes Wyldstyle, Uni-kitty (Alison Brie), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman), Benny (Charlie Day) and Batman (Will Arnett) to meet Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) in the Systar System. Upset by the blast off of their friends, Emmet knows he has no choice but to follow.
Flying through space Emmet meets Rex Dangervest who agrees to help him get to the Systar System in order to find his friends. Rex tells Emmet that there is a wedding that must be stopped. Who is getting married? You'll never believe who is putting a ring on the Queen's finger and what will happen if the cake is destroyed.
Emmet realizes that he hasn't been told the truth about the situation especially since in the real world Finn and sister Bianca are fighting amongst themselves and Mom (Maya Rudolph) has decided what is really going to happen. Now the two worlds must come together before Mom puts a lid on it all!
Pratt as both Emmet and Rex are fun to watch play against one another. He has definitely left his mark in this animated series that seems to make everyone so very happy. Emmet is sweet and none of us would have it any other way as being a hero doesn't always require a cape!
Banks as Wyldstyle is still gutsy and doesn't let anything stop her from making things right - even if she has a secret! She wants to rescue her friends and realizes that maybe she has always put to much pressure on Emmet to be anything more than he is.
Arnett as Batman continues to make me laugh and in LEGO 2: The Second Part he gets a chance to expand his romantic chops. Oh lets face it, as Lego Batman Arnett has totally embraced his character (as he absolutely should) and I won't lie that I'd love if he did another Lego film.
Haddish as the Queen is a sassy songstress leader who has a plan but Wyldstyle isn't buying any of her charms. She suspects that there is something else up the Queen's ever changing sleeves. Being royal doesn't mean everything is royally awesome!
Brie as Uni-kitty just wants to be sparkly happy and she kind of likes being in the Systar System, Offerman as MetalBeard does too, especially when the Queen gives him something he's been missing for quite a while, Day as Benny is digging the new world and can't understand why Wyldstyle won't be a part of it.
Other cast includes Will Ferrell as Dad, Richard Ayoade as Ice Cream Cone, Channing Tatum as Superman, Jonah Hill as Green Lantern, Gal Godot as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Ike Bvarinholtz as Lex Luthor, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth, Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln, Ben Schwartz as Banarnar, Jimmy O. Yang as Zebe and Bruce Willis as…well…Bruce Willis.
LEGO MOVIE 2: The Second Part is a lot of fun, especially for those who are big fans of Legos, the Lego movie franchise or just looking for some awesome laughs and adventure this weekend in the theatre.
There are plenty of laughs, a story that takes us into another solar system, new characters and toe tapping brain staying songs. Haddish is going to be responsible for getting one particular ditty stuck in our heads for a while.
So gather up your own Lego family and head to the theatre starting Friday for an out of this world clickingly good time adventure with Emmet and the entire gang.
In the end - the awesome universe is expanding!
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
Coming this Friday from director Josie Rourke and Focus Features is the story of a woman who would be more with MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
Mary (Saoirse Ronan) is returning to Scotland from France after the death of her husband King Francis. Taking up her crown as Queen of Scotland, she is met by her half-brother James (James McArdle) the Earl of Moray who doesn’t seem pleased to see her.
He isn’t the only one as John Knox (David Tennant) makes it very clear that he isn’t about to change faiths to accommodate her. Mary makes it very clear that he his council is no longer welcome at her court. James tries to tell Mary that she has started something that could hurt her along the way.
The one thing Mary wants is to seal any breach with her cousin Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie). Elizabeth is being told repeatedly by her advisor William Cecil (Guy Pearce) that Mary is a danger and only wants to take the throne. Trying to find a middle ground, Elizabeth suggests that Mary marry an Englishman and offers up her own lover Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn). Mary has other plans and marries Lord Darnley (Jack Lowden).
Realizing she may have made a mistake, the only way to solidify her position is by having a child before Elizabeth. When she has a son, it changes her feelings and she shares with Elizabeth asking her to be the child’s godmother. Elizabeth believes that this may just be the tie that binds the two women.
Mary is having a difficult time as well when Darnley has no problem showing his disregard for her position as Queen. When her own council tries to take the throne, Darnley is talked into being part of the conspiracy. Intrigue continues to plague Mary as the men around her lay claim, force marriages and don’t understand the fierceness of the Queen.
Seeing one last hope, Mary asks to meet with her sister-cousin Elizabeth in hopes to get support in fighting back those who would take the Scottish throne. Although Elizabeth feels for her cousin, it becomes clear to Mary that she may be at the end of her reign.
Two queens who want the same thing in different ways.
Ronan as Mary is remarkable but then again she is a remarkable actress. The first movie I ever saw her in was the intense and emotionally draining film ATONEMENT followed by the equally intense film THE LOVELY BONES. Since then nothing has stopped her from honing her craft in every way possible and with characters that have obviously taught her more and more about choosing roles and defining who she is as an actress. MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is another example of why I will see every piece of filmmaking she is in – always. This is a character driven by a woman up against men who see her as a trophy to be one and then disguarded because she is, after all, only a woman. Well done Ronan, well done!
Robbie as Elizabeth doesn’t hesitate to put every little bit of her Queen out there – from her lovers, illness and inability to be told who to marry and what children to have. Robbie presents a strong force of a woman that shows moments of private struggle but when push comes to shove Robbie helps Elizabeth straightens her spine and her crown. The scene between the two queens is one of the most poignant and double-edged I have seen in a while on film.
McArdle as James is clearly a man who has been led by the nose at the hands of the council and happily so until Mary comes back. Then his little hurt feelings are put out for all to see and he wants justice for it all. McArdle is an actor on a mission and playing the role of a spurned brother isn’t easy. Lowden as Lord Darnley is just another man in Mary’s life that believes he is owed something at the cost of everything else. Tennant as Knox is a religious zealot who barks a good game hoping others will do the fighting for him.
Pearce as Cecil is a part of the pack on the other side of the pond who wants what he wants and thinks whispering in Elizabeth’s ear means he will get it. Alwyn as Dudley is a man who love Elizabeth the woman but takes orders from Elizabeth the Queen. Not easy being told to go be your enemy’s husband and Dudley is only saved by Mary’s hot headedness.
Other cast include Gemma Chan as Elizabeth Hardwick, Brendan Coyle as Matthew Stewart, Ian Hart as Lord Maitland, Adrian Lester as Lord Randolph, Maria-Victoria Dragus as Mary Fleming, Alex Beckett as Walter Mildmay, Ismael Cordova as David Rizzio and Simon Russell as Robert Beale.
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is a film about two women in a man’s era fighting for their crowns. They should never have had to make that choice between the two of them but with so many men whispering in their ears, I don’t know how they lasted as long as they did with each other.
Mary clearly didn’t know what Elizabeth did and that is you practically have to give up being a woman to hold onto the throne. Clearly having more time to learn that lesson than Mary, Elizabeth wanted to embrace their sisterhood-of-crowns but hard headedness got in both of their ways.
The film is beautifully done and the costuming is breathtaking. I have a weakness for period piece films and when they are done as well as MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, well I can’t help but find no fault in it.
There have been other films that have touched on the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, and even a television show called Reign that gave viewers a glimpse of her life in France. MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS is a look at what happened once she left France and before the infamous and shocking red dress. From a young woman married to a French king to becoming a widow and returning queen of her own country – there is nothing about her life that is easy or without intrigue and betrayal.
In the end – bow to no one!
THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. is a look at the first World War in THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD.
It has been one hundred years since the end of World War I and with over 600 hours of footage, director Jackson along with the Imperial War Museum archives and the BBC tell a story that has never been experienced before.
In those archives are also the voices of men who lived through the war from 1914 to 1918 and share every detail of their military time. When it is realized that war is coming, it wasn’t just men in their twenties signing up. Boys as young as 15 were lying about their age to join and make their way to training and to war.
For some this was their first experience in the world let along a world at war. Their stories of coming together was a mixture of leaving home for the first time and not quite grasping what they were about to do.
Jackson takes the black and white footage and colorized it and within moments we are brought into their world. The film can be seen in 2D and 3D, I saw it in 3D and it is stunning. It is his hope that by telling a small fraction of a larger story of the war that viewers will see and hear for themselves what has not been before.
In the voices of the men unfolds their life once they became soldiers and that includes every detail of marching, eating, sleeping, friendships and the life of living day to day in the trenches. The German forces are on the other side of a field and in the middle is the constant barraging of bombs.
From the very beginning of the film it is clear that this is a documentary like nothing I had seen before. Every gambit of human emotion was happening on the screen but also the response of an audience who was totally invested in the experience. There were moments of gasping and moments of chuckling and in between moments of keeping emotions together.
Transforming 100 year old footage, Jackson and his team have brought together an incredible accounting of World War I. By colorizing the footage he has brought this piece of a larger story into such perspective that it is almost hard to believe that the film is only 90+ minutes. There isn’t a moment that didn’t hold the audience captive and not one person left their seat until the film was finished.
I have spent days thinking about this film because of everything that Jackson managed to put together. He was not shy about the personal life of the soldiers nor was he shy about death in war. Once again the emotions of the film bring a quiet theatre even quieter.
THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD is an amazing documentary from beginning to end and what Jackson accomplished in four years is nothing short of stellar. Jackson also has an investment in the film as his own grandfather fought in the war and he did not receive compensation for the film. It is a documentary but I have not felt this moved by a documentary in quite a long time.
To see the young faces of the men who fought World War I in the way Jackson has presented them tugged at my heart. We have to remember that 100 years ago; these soldiers did not have the technology available today so when you wanted to get a message to someone else on the line, a soldier ran it. Tanks were experimental and crude at best and personal protection entrusting your life to the soldier next to you.
Surviving on rations and taking care of ones self was done through creativity and ingenuity that most of us today can’t even wrap our minds around. That is what this documentary does, helps us all wrap our minds around something that we’ve only read about in books. Now, that word has jumped from page to screen and given faces to it all.
THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD is a must-see on ever level and I would even go so far as to say it is filled with teachable moments. Copies of the film are already in schools in the UK. As Jackson states in the beginning, this is only a small piece of a large war and it is my hope that he continues with this work and brings more to audiences. I would be the first to watch a series of this work!
This is a telling, visually confronting and soul searching film and worth every moment in the theatre to see and experience.
In the end – this is the true experience of being a soldier.
THE FAVOURITE Stars Three Dazzling Women
I absolutely love period pieces so I have been anxiously waiting for director Yorgos Lanthimos and Fox Searchlight Pictures offering of THE FAVOURITE.
Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) sits on the throne in 18th Century England and Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) is her constant companion. Their relationship is one of straight forwardness and longing. England is also at war with France and Lady Sarah is keeping an eye on it while taking care of the Queen’s frailties and occasional childlike temper tantrums.
Enter Abigail (Emma Stone) a fall aristocrat turned servant girl who isn’t well received in the kitchen of the Queen. Sarah sees how her cousin is treated and becomes a mentor to the young girl. Abigail wants nothing more than to return to the life she once knew and realizes this just might be the way for that to happen.
During one of the Queens outbursts, Abigail takes pity on her and starts a friendship over the royals “children” (rabbits). The Queen is delighted as they spend the afternoon sharing and laughing together. Sarah catches wind of what is happening with the Queen and lets it be known in her own way that trying to weasel in to the Queen’s favor might not be such a good idea.
Now that the gauntlet is thrown down – Abigail and Sarah go toe to toe for the Queen’s attentions and who truly cares for the monarch is at stake.
I must start with Colman as Queen Anne because she is absolutely stellar, absolutely. From her tantrums to her insecurities to her loyalties, Colman portrays the woman as most would never see a monarch – vulnerable. Knowing that parliament is consistently against her, she attempts to turn to those she should be able to trust. I love Colman’s performance with ever emotion lay plainly before us, I do so hope her performance is recognized and that accolades are given. She most definitely deserves them for this role.
Weisz as Lady Sarah is the smart, politically savvy and is the no-nonsense taking companion to the Queen. She works hard at keeping the crown on her royal head and makes it her business to know what everyone is doing at all times. Weisz can pull off sassy and sarcastic in the same breath better than other actress I know. Of course she does have her hands full with Ms. Stone.
Stone as Abigail is a fallen aristocrat who doesn’t want to stay that way. Getting into the Queen’s kitchen is the first step and getting into her heart may just get Abigail off her knees and high in the rankings. Stone begins as a fawn-eyed girl who is thrilled to have Lady Sarah show an interest in her, but of course we all know that Stone can pull off fawn-eyed girl with the best of them. I loved her antics from start to finish and kept thinking about Abigail, ‘just because you can play the game doesn’t mean you should!’
Other cast include Jennifer White as Mrs. Meg, LillyRose Stevens as Sally, James Smith as Godolphin, Mark Gatiss as Lord Marlborough, Edward Aczel as Earl of Stratford, Carolyn Saint-Pe as Madame Tournee, Joe Alwyn as Masham and Nicholas Hoult as Harley.
THE FAVOURITE is a gloriously fascinating film about three women who are filled with so much want that goes in so many different directions. That being said, Abigail and Sarah have much different relationships with Queen Anne although you’d have a tough time convincing Abigail of that.
Sarah and the Queen understand one another clearly and it is also clear that Sarah runs the part of the kingdom that the Queen is to busy being petulant to deal with. That’s the crux of their relationship – one is clearly and adult, the other is drowning from the weight of the crown. Yet in that is a relationship of hilarity and sadness mixed together.
Abigail being the new girl to all of this is a distraction for the Queen when Sarah is gone. The Queen believes she has a new and understanding friend when it is clear Abigail has decided to get what Sarah has and take a lot of short cuts to get there. She doesn’t have the understanding of the other two and that’s where she makes mistakes.
This is a film that spans every human emotion possible in that you don’t know at times whether to laugh, cry or be outright shocked. In an era of excess and political gain, this cast revels in that history with marvelous results. The surroundings only adds to the story telling with its opulence and grandeur along with stunning clothing and jewelry.
THE FAVOURITE has already been recognized by the British Independent Film Awards, Camerimage, and Ghent International Film Festival Gotham Awards. The Hollywood Film Awards gave a win for Rachel Weisz and Costume Designer Sandy Powell. The Venice Film Festival win came for Director Yorgos Lanthimos and Best Actress for Olivia Colman (well done!).
This is one of my favorite films of the year so when deciding what regurgitation to see in theatres, chose something new and amazing with THE FAVOURITE!
In the end – some wounds do not close!
FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald
First of all, is there really ANYTHING in the world I could say, good or bad, that is going to stop people from seeing this film – absolutely not but I’m going to give my review a shot here without giving away anything gooooooood!
So, from director David Yates and Warner Bros. Pictures comes the witches, wizards and creatures we have come to love from author J.K. Rowlings with FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
It seems that Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has been kept under lock, spell and key waiting to be picked up by the Ministry of Magic. With the help of Abernathy (Kevin Guthrie) and Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo), Grindelwald gets to continue the plans he made clear before capture.
Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) however is facing a panel at the Ministry of Magic. He wants them to lift the travel ban places on him but they will only do so if he works at the Ministry with his brother Theseus (Callum Turner). Happy for his brother’s betrothal to Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz), he also learns to Grindelwald.
He meets up with Dumbledore (Jude Law) who explains that he trust no one else to handle the problem with Grindelwald. Newt makes it clear that he wants to find Tina (Katherine Waterston) and return to his creatures. Imagine his surprise when Jacob (Dan Fogler) and Queenie (Alison Sudol) arrive suddenly.
After a misunderstanding, Jacob helps Newt find Tina and discovers a circus where Nagini (Claudia Kim) and Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) were held. He now is part of another mystery without realizing it.
Credence wants to find his mother and love Nagini wants to help. What he doesn’t know is that Gindelwald knows a few things and is willing to share, but for a price. Someone else is looking for Credence, Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and his search holds a purpose.
The chases, magic, creatures, mysteries, friendships, enemies and secrets are back in the wizarding world!
Redmayne reprises his role as Newt Scamander, the awkward young man with a penchant for creatures and a stumbling heart for love. It doesn’t take long before he is pulled away once again from his friends place right in the middle of more wizarding mysteries.
Depp as Grindelwald does exactly what Depp can do – create a character and make it his own. Now that he calmly gathered an army, there is no one else who can be Grindelwald – ever. I enjoyed his performance and I can’t wait to see what he does with it next.
Law as Dumbledore absolutely surprised me because I wasn’t sure how I felt about him taking the role. I needn’t have worried at all because he slides right in like he has always been part of the story. Thrilled at his portrayal, I know as the story unfolds even more, he is going to have to make decisions that are as painful as the ones he makes when Harry comes along.
Waterston as Tina giving Newt a hard time continually but also doing her duty as an agent for the American Ministry of Magic. Fogler as Jacob doesn’t miss a beat partnering with Newt to do whatever needs doing. It amazes me how he just goes with the magical flow and although he rolls his eyes occasionally, he’s in it all. Sudol as Queenie is cute and just wants to be able to be with Jacob without fear, she is going to have to figure that out.
Miller as Credence Barebone is fantastic and I can see where his character will be going but there are tons of questions that I’m going to have to be patient in getting the answers for. Kim as Nagini just set my brain ablaze and I have so many thoughts about that! Nadylam as Yusuf Kama is a strong character that doesn’t realize that what he’s always believed might not be true!
Kravitz as Leta has a past that is difficult and jaw dropping and that’s all I will say about that. Turner as Theseus is a brother who wants what’s best but at the same time sees how easy it is for Newt to get himself into trouble.
Other cast include Jamie Bower as Young Grindelwald, Toby Regbo as Young Dumbledore, Victoria Yeates as Bunty, Wolf Roth as Spielman, Derek Riddell as Torquil Travers, Ingvar Sigurosson as Grimmson, Poppy Tuech as Rosier, Andrew Turner as MacDuff, Maja Bloom as Carrow, Simon Meacock as Krafft and Fiona Glascott as Minerva McGonagall.
Law says of playing Dumbledore, “I was clearly thrilled and excited because my children grew up with the books and films. I was a huge fan of the FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM film. There getting to be part of the film there was so much reference material and J.K. was so gracious with her time. David told me that we weren’t trying to recreate an older Dumbledore but instead look back at who he was and how he was sorting out his demons as a younger man. I felt free in that way and excited to be this character.”
Redmayne says, “Working with Jude as Dumbledore, from our very first scene he manages to capture the qualities of Dumbledore, the gravitas and the playfulness was there. I thought ‘oh my gosh he’s good’. It was amazing!”
FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald will disappoint no one! The story if intense, complex, a little dark and full of special effects but then again what did you expect? From the moment the screen flickers and the iconic music begins it is a 134 magical thrill ride with everything that I personally want from the return to the wizarding world.
Okay, so I was giggling pretty good seeing people and places that I have missed for the last few years. I can’t even tell you how many times I held my breath looking wide eyed at the screen wanting more and more. Of course I’m a woman of a certain age and probably shouldn’t be this giddy but nothing or no one is going to stop it from happening.
The special effects are awesome (as I expected them to be) and brings so much to this darker chapter. I can not even begin to say enough about the cast for not only the returning characters but the new as well. For me, there wasn’t one thing out of place! Trust that I will be watching it again and again because that’s what’s needed to keep up with what’s to come. There is so much I didn’t expect.
Gather up all of your houses whether they be Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin, get your wands at the ready and have an amazing time as FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald is finally here!
In the end – the fate of one will change the future for all!
THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB: A New Dragon Tattoo Story
In theatres from director Fede Alvarez and Columbia Pictures is a continuation story of someone who finds herself once again as THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB.
Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) has once again become invisible although wanted by the police. Making it her goal to stop innocent people from being hurt, she manages to do so while faded into the background…but not for long.
She is approached by Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) who has created a program called Firewall when he was a NSA employee. This program has nuclear codes all over the world and now believes that he created a monster that everyone else wants to control. He asks Lisbeth to retrieve it so it can be destroyed.
She agrees and gets inside the NSA’s computer as a horrified Edwin Neeham (Lakeith Stanfield), NSA security, looks on trying to stop it. He immediately locates where the hack has come from and leaves for Europe. Neeham isn’t the only one looking for Firewall as Lisbeth is attacked. She turns to Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), the Millennium journalist and even though their relationship turned rocky, she trusts him. He discovers that a group of Russian criminals are after Firewall.
Keeping track of Balder, she also worries for his young son August (Christopher Convery) as who ever else wants Firewall would have no trouble killing him. Keeping him safe becomes important to Lisbeth even if her hardened shell is still in tact.
Blomkvist turns to Gabriella Grane (Synnove Lund), Deputy Director of the Swedish Secret Service to discover who the men are with the spider tattoos. She has her own agenda keeping an eye on Neeham who she believes is also looking for Lisbeth.
With the cat and mouse happening between she, the spider tattoo goons and Neeham, there is one person she never expected to see. Someone from her past who has picked up the mantel of a father who is responsible for how Lisbeth came to be – Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks).
Lisbeth Salander makes no exceptions for evil!
Foy as Salander gives a stoic performance in the role of a character that doesn’t show much emotion. Everything that she shares emotion wise is all in her eyes. With every plan you can see the wheels turning jumping the track whenever she needs to change gears. This is a far cry from her comfy life in highly successful series The Crown but that’s the point of growing as an actress – bowl cut your hair and don’t be afraid to jump on a motorcycle.
Merchant as Balder is a man clearly afraid that those who have Firewall are going to use it to harm more than protect. Balder’s role might not be a big one but it sets the story up for his castmate. Convery as August is a young boy who is as smart as his father but that doesn’t mean his fate isn’t being determined but someone smart but psychotic. This character is like Lisbeth in that he keeps his emotions in check trusting that he will get home to his mother.
Stanfield as Neeham panics when he sees Firewall has been hacked and knows the only thing he can do is find out who took it and why. Neeham’s character is just as determined as Lisbeth but he has one obstacle. Lund as Grane is the SAPO and has already threatened Neeham with deportation if he tries to interfere with the investigation but trust goes only so far.
Gudnason as Blomkvist is thrilled to hear from Lisbeth because his feelings for her haven’t changed. At the same time, the journalist in him sees the potential of cracking open the mystery of what is happening by following Lisbeth forward. Hoeks as Camilla is the sister none of us wants to deal with. The history that Camilla and Lisbeth share is of two survivors of an abusive father – one turns to trying to save others while the other turns to destruction. Hoeks is completely disturbing in her portrayal and scenes with Foy are intense.
Other cast include Carlotta von Falkenhayn as a young Camilla, Vicky Krieps as Erika Berger, Cameron Britton as Plague, Andreia Pelic as Maria, and Mikael Persbrandt as Zalachenko.
Let me first get this out of the way, the Noomi Rapace is my Lisbeth Salander and in 2008 when THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was released I could not have been more thrilled with the film. This was followed months later with THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and months later with THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST. This was the best three films I have ever seen and all released in one year proving that it is possible to make stunning films without two and three year gaps.
In 2011, the remake hit the theatres with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and as much as I enjoy these two actors, I wasn’t thrilled with the film. I don’t mind saying it either, there was absolutely no reason to remake it and I could not get behind the choice for Lisbeth Salander.
The choice of Claire Foy as the new Lisbeth Salander has one thing in her favor, this isn’t a remake. Instead it’s actually more of an explanation of where this character came from and how the past is never far behind any of us. Foy captures bits of the 2009 Salander but clearly makes her own mark as well.
As for the film, I enjoyed it but also have to say that the plot was fairly straight forward and slightly predictable. I feel as if I’ve seen these plot points before in other films and wished there was more umph to it. The action is definitely something I would expect to see in the Millennium series and the film lives up to that most certainly.
Understand that with the death of the series creator Steig Larsson in 2004, the characters are picked up by David Lagercrantz. This is his first novel taking over the series and it was released in 2015. It is not an easy thing to bring in another writer to keep a series going because, and let’s be honest, they aren’t Larsson. That being said Lagercrantz manages to keep Lisbeth Salander alive by bringing her past forward for us all to understand. He also seemed to take great care in being true to the complexities created by Larsson
For those who love the Millennium series, this new story and film is interesting and full of action. Foy gives Salander new life and if they plan to continue the films, keep the stories fresh and the fan base will stay true.
In the end – the past never forgets!
HUNTER KILLER is a Film That Brings Action and Suspense to the Big Screen
Coming to theatres from direction Donovan Marsh and Summit Entertainment is the military and political thriller of HUNTER KILLER.
When an American and Russian submarine vanish under the Arctic ice, Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common) and the President’s National Security Analyst Jane Norquist (Linda Cardellini) must discover what has happened. Reporting to Admiral Donnegan (Gary Oldman), Fisk tells him that he has a Hunter Killer available to go and look for the American submarine.
Commander Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) receives his orders to do just that, inform his crew of the mission and get under way. Admiral Donnegan wants boots on the ground as well so Fisk calls on Lt. Bill Bearman (Toby Stephens) and his group to get near the Russian base and keep them posted. Not there very long before Bearman discovers that the Russian President Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) has been taken and the coup is led by Defense Minister Dmitri Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy) and he wants war!
Glass and the crew find the American sub and reports back to Washington, in the process they hear noises coming from the Russian submarine. Sending out a rescue they find the subs captain Sergei Andropov (Michael Nyqvist).
Now a new plan is in the works, for the sub and the Seals to free Zakarin and end the coup as quickly as possible. Durov isn’t about to let any of this happen without a fight but its one thing to fight in the Poliarny water base of Russia, it is another when that fight could start a war!
Butler as Commander Glass wastes no time in letting his crew know he understands where they are coming from but – that doesn’t change the fact that his word is law. He doesn’t ask of them anything he wouldn’t do (even though he’s pretty much done it) but sees the mission as one that needs them all to work together. Butler commands attention right away and doesn’t lose it the entire film. A believable commander to be sure.
Oldman as Admiral Donnegan is definitely a politician trying to make sure a war doesn’t start but knowing its going to take a little fight to make sure the American military isn’t taken for granted. Oldman looks good in a uniform and watches the drama unfold. Common as RA Fisk clearly knows the scenario they are playing out has a narrow margin in all phases of success but he also knows that the best have been sent in. The scene between Oldman and Common is complex and it works.
Stephens as Bearman is quite happy to take the next assignment to be dropped in Russia. With his crew, they get to Poliarny and take it all step by step which can be difficult when your dealing with a madman. Cardellini is Norquist is one smart cookie and she isn’t about to let anyone in the command room use their passive aggressive rank to stop her from doing not only her job, but what the president sent her to do.
Diachenko as Russian President Zakarin wants peace with the United States and is in shock that someone he trusts has turned on him and in the worst way. Gorevoy as Defense Minister Dmitri Durov is underhanded and doesn’t have a problem using bullets or missiles to get what he wants.
Other cast include Mikey Collins as Brickowski, Will Attenborough as Kaplan, Kieron Bimpson as Nichols, Christopher Goh as Park, Zan Holtz as Seal Martinelli, Igor Jijkine as Lt. Tretiak, Michael Trucco as Devin Hall, Richard Hills Jr. as Medic Jones, Yuri Kolokolnikov as Oleg and Carter Macintyre as Executive Officer Brian Edwards.
HUNTER KILLER is a mixture of four different stories. First is Washington dealing with something that needs to be thought out carefully, second is sending Glass and the submarine of them into waters that clearly are dangerous, third is the boots-on-the-ground Seal team that keep Washington informed of what they see and finally, fourth, the treachery of the coup to the Russian President.
Director Marsh manages with ease to put these four stories together and add action both above and below the water to create a popcorn film that will keep you guessing. I had a really good time watching the film myself. A fan of HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and U-571, it shouldn’t be surprising that I enjoyed HUNTER KILLER.
The script came about from the book by Ret. Commander George Wallace USN and author Don Keith. Watching their 700 page book come to the big screen, they are both pleased with what Marsh put together and how the actors played there roles with authenticity. That is what makes a film such as this so darn enjoyable.
Grab a huge tub of popcorn and a few friends for this one and just have a good time on the ride!
In the end – start a battle to stop a war!
Coming this Friday from director Ruben Fleischer and Marvel is the next superhero with the help of VENOM.
One night a space probe crashes to earth owned by the Life Foundation and tubes containing life forms are collected. Transported to a lab, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is thrilled at what is brought back.
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a reporter who goes out of his way to report on issues that need his style of uncovering. Good at what he does, it gives him time to enjoy his relationship with his lawyer love Anne (Michelle Williams).
He is given his next assignment to interview Drake about the Life Foundation and realizes that Anne knows a little about his business. Nosing onto her laptop, he finds information about Drake that he uses the next day during their interview. Much to Drake’s dismay, he ends the interview sending Brock out on his ear.
That move cost Drake his job and his relationship as Anne also loses her job and refuses to forgive him. Everything he worked for is gone in a second at the payback hands of Drake.
Inside, Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) who is working with Drake’s research and the creatures that he obtained. Watching what he is doing, she is horrified that Drake is using human beings for testing. She reaches out to Eddie for help in exposing what is happening and he gets inside the Life Foundation to see for himself. What he doesn’t expect is to be leaving wearing a symbiote suit!
Introducing himself as Venom to Eddie, it is clear that it is the beginning of a strange relationship in an effort to stop Drake and what he is doing. Eddie is being affected physically and looks to Anne and beau Dr. Dan (Reid Scott) for help. Venom knows there are other symbiotes and needs Eddie to stop the leader Riot.
Drake just wants his ‘property’ back and sends head of security Reese (Scott Haze) to round up Eddie. When Drake decides that it’s time to erase humanity, he takes on Riot and now, more than ever, Eddie and Venom have to bring it to save the world.
Hardy as Eddie is going to win over people in the role because of the humor he brings to the role. The relationship he has with Venom is unique because of their ability to communicate and both have a line of sarcasm that is entertaining. Of course I’d prefer Hardy in his role in the television series Taboo, the cable series Peaky Blinders and the film DUNKIRK. It isn’t that I think his role in VENOM isn’t good, it was just predictable and I think I’m getting to old to sit in a theatre for predictable.
Williams as Anne broke character and lost me the minute Anne broke up with Eddie with a simple walk away. Yea girl, I believe you’d do that in real life…nope! This role just didn’t do her any favors (and neither did that short Catholic school girl skirt she ran around in) but I’m sure we’ll see it in the next VENOM movie.
Ahmed as Drake is instantly unlikeable but at least he hasn’t a problem with that. There isn’t anything redeeming about his character and Ahmed makes sure we see that without batting an eye about it. I like Ahmed and have seen his roles become more and more expanded. The mini-series The Night Of truly gave Ahmed the lift and notice that I was thrilled for.
Slate as Dr. Skirth is daring to go against a powerful boss and it will cost her. Scott as Dr. Dan is oddly alright with an ex-boyfriend showing up out of nowhere but has a reason to freak out when something wicked jumps out of an MRI machine. Haze as Treece is a shark on wheels and his goal is to do whatever it takes to get Eddie and Drake’s extra-terrestrial guest back into his lab.
Other cast include Peggy Lu as Mrs. Chen, Malcolm C. Murray as Lewis Donate, Sope Aluko as Dr. Collins, Wayne Pere as Dr. Emerson, and an appearance by Stan Lee.
VENOM is an action packed film filled with humor, car chases, creatures and sarcasm from both humans and not-so-human. In the vein of all Marvel movies I’m sure fans will be happy to see another character go from page to screen.
For me, I went along for the ride but didn’t feel like I got anywhere by the end of it (and trust me I have to call my son now and ask about a character I don’t know about). This film seemed so busy trying to make the audience laugh while keeping the action going, it seems someone forgot to write a strong script.
What kept me going was Tom Hardy (and not just because I adore him). It’s because he held his own in a film that needed to be held up by something good. He made me laugh and jump once or twice. I feel like this is a dark DEADPOOL and lawd knows no one, not even Mr. Hardy, is going to take my heart away from that man in a red suit (and we aren’t talking about Santa Claus).
So go, enjoy and move onto the next Marvel movie. When Venom 2 comes out, let us hope that Marvel will get their storyline together and remember that special effects don’t make an entire film.
In the end – embrace your inner anti-hero!
A STAR IS BORN Sings onto the Screen
In theatres this Friday from director Bradley Cooper and Warner Bros. is two people filled with the need for music when A STAR IS BORN.
Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a musician-singer who can fill a concert arena singing his songs. On stage or off he also has a problem with staying away from alcohol. Even with Bobby (Sam Elliott) keeping an eye on him and cleaning up the messes, Jack is one hot mess.
After a concert, Jack doesn’t have his liquid courage in the car and asks his driver to pull over to the local bar. Recognizing him at the door is Ramon (Anthony Ramos) who insists on bringing him to the bar and buying Jack a drink. That’s when he realizes that he is in a drag bar and watches the show.
Ramon insists that Jack prepare himself to see his friend Ally (Lady Gaga) perform and almost immediately he is taken in. Going backstage to meet her, they go out for a drink after to discuss her want of music. Seeing she is a straight shooter makes Jack go even weaker in the knees and he wants her to come to a concert the next night.
After kissing their jobs goodbye, Ally and Ramon make it to the concert and Jack decides to get her onstage for a song. The next day on YouTube, dad Lorenzo (Andrew Dice Clay) can not believe what he is seeing. Excited beyond belief Ally begins a relationship with Jack that puts them on the stage together over and over again.
Ally is noticed by manager Rez (Rafi Gavron) who wants to blow her up everywhere. Believing in her talent is one thing and changing her is another and although she sees what is happening, Ally also knows she has to go to get. Jack begins to feel as if he is losing her in some way and responds accordingly.
His path of self destruction begins to have an effect on their relationship. In one instant Ally sees how destructive Jack’s life has become because of the past, his ability to have relationships and where they are both going musically. Yet she will not give up or give in when it comes to the man who brought her love and music.
Love has amazing powers as long as you believe.
Cooper as Jack is pretty much front and center of the film and although that may be fine, the character is not new. The only thing ‘different’ in this story is a brother and an alcoholic father but it is muddled which just drove me crazy. There was nothing unexpected here which again supports my theory that remakes need to have a 75 year stamp on them. What might surprise viewers is that he sings the heartfelt songs with ease and together with Gaga they are sweet performances.
Lady Gaga as Ally is sweet in this role but again, there is nothing new for me to see here. Vocally she is outstanding but then again would anyone expect anything less? The songs are lovely and touching. I think what drove me nuts is that she goes from being Ally in the beginning to actually becoming ‘Lady Gaga’ by the middle to end. That means I don’t see Ally anymore and there goes the film!
Elliott as Bobby has a few scenes and makes the most of them. The problem is that the scenes seem so disjointed and I suppose that could be because their storyline has such an age gap. I love Sam Elliott so I’m happy to see him in anything but if you are going to use this iconic actor in a role, do it well and do it memorably.
Clay as Dad Lorenzo is a proud papa and I’ll admit I didn’t know for at least five minutes that it was him. There are appearances by Dave Chappelle and Eddie Griffin but I’m not sure how that storyline fit into it all, again disjointed. It was good to see both of them so there’s that.
Other cast include Bonnie Somerville as Sally Cummings, Michael Harney as Wolfe, Willam Belli as Emerald, Rebecca Field as Gail, Eddie Griffin as Pastor and Dave Chappelle as Noodles.
Okay, here’s the rough part. I am an avid and devoted fan to the 1937 Janet Gaynor/Frederick March A STAR IS BORN. There is something amazing about that era so that the ’37 version is stunning, emotional and heartbreaking for me. The first time I saw it I knew I had to see it again and again (which I have). Gaynor and March cemented my love of black and white films.
In 1954, Judy Garland and James Mason brought their colorful film to the screen and man, oh man, did the voice of Judy Garland dig deeper into my heart. There is no one like her and there will never be again so to watch her in this version of A STAR IS BORN reminds me of how wonderful both of these actors were. I saw both of these films on television as a kid.
In 1976, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson brought A STAR IS BORN to the big screen and I can not stress enough how blow away I was at 16 years old. The presence of Streisand and Kristofferson could have been enough but when they both sang their respective songs I absolutely couldn’t breathe. When they sang together I had a tear and a smile on my face. Yes, I remember every emotion the first time I saw the film because I spent several weekends after at the matinee to experience it all again and again. That is what this version of the film did for me and it is a memory as clear as if it were yesterday.
So, here we are in 2018 and although the music is amazing and the two performers put it down emotionally, there is nothing in the story that is going to keep me going back again. I don’t want that to sound as if I’m saying the film isn’t good, it’s alright to my way of thinking but because I hold the other films so dear – there just isn’t room for another version. It just didn’t need to be re-told, re-imagined, re-thunk or any other re…the studio should have just released the original in theatres like they are doing with SUPERMAN.
I know, I know, I’m going to get chided for my opinion but we all know it’s the truth. Understand there is so many original scripts out there waiting to be discovered and made into films that I just do not understand why Cooper thought this was in any way necessary. Why Hollywood, why?
Okay, I’m done. I know there are many people who are excited about the film so go and be excited. Cooper and Gaga can sing so enjoy that and pick up the soundtrack which I think has the potential to be so successful (just please don’t do a sequel Gaga!)
In the end – the music brought them love!
THE HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS is Family Fun!
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Eli Roth and DreamWorks comes a magical and mystical tale about THE HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS.
Young Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) is still grieving over the loss of his parents when finding himself on a bus to Michigan. There he is met by his Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) who Lewis realizes quickly is quite quirky. Arriving at his new home, he also meets his Uncle’s friend and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett).
Immediately Uncle Jonathan tries to make Lewis feel at home with an amazing room of his own and free reign with only one rule – in the library is a locked bookcase and it is to be left alone. Lewis begins his first day of school as well finding himself on the outside until Tarby Corrigan (Sunny Suljic) befriends him.
At home, Lewis suspects there is something different about his Uncle’s house and learns why from Mrs. Zimmerman. Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan) was once a magical partner with Uncle Jonathan but after coming home from war – he returned a very changed man. Marrying Selena (Renee Goldsberry), the two created a clock that will count down to doomsday.
Lewis notices that Tarby isn’t as friendly anymore and tries to find a way to keep their friendship. Inviting him back to Uncle Jonathan’s, Tarby sees the cabinet and even with Lewis begging him to not open it, what happens next is even worse. The boys take the book to the local cemetery and Lewis tries to wow Tarby with what he can do.
Instead, Lewis releases something that is part of the strange happenings around Uncle Jonathan’s house. As the walls tick, Lewis, Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman must use all their powers to locate the clock before evil does!
Black as Jonathan Barnavelt is quirky, funny, strange, animated and everything we have come to know expect from him. This is definitely the type of character he is not only good at portraying but makes it fun. Black was in last years film JUMANJI: Welcome to the Jungle and we can expect to see him again next year for a sequel.
Blanchett as Mrs. Zimmerman is just stunning to look at in her beautiful costuming and equally as stellar to watch. What I have come to love most about her performances is that she always has a look in her eye that says, “I know something you don’t”. In this film she bounces off Jack Black’s character in a game of table tennis that is just pure enjoyable to watch.
Vaccaro as Lewis is a young man trying to find his place after losing his parents. Being reserved, he is definetly different than his Uncle Jonathan. The thing is that although they may be different to begin with, they also discover that they are not so different after all. His performance is that of a young boy trying to fit in only to discover that being himself can be quite enjoyable. Suljic as Corrigan is a boy who uses a sad young man and when done – throws him back to the wolves. The thing is – the Lewis wolf came back leader of the pack!
MacLachlan as Izard is so much fun to watch, mainly because I am a fan of MacLachlan no matter what he does. Here he gets the chance to have a little fun while being a little maniacal at the same time and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Goldsberry as Selena stands by her man, even when he’s a tad gooey and I give her props for that.
Other cast include Colleen Camp as Mrs. Hanchett, Lorenza Izzo as Mom, Braxton Bierken as Woody, De’Jon Watts as Clark, Christian Calloway as Azazel and Vanessa Anne Williams as Rose.
THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS is definetly a family fun film. Of course I’m not sure I’d recommend it for smaller children as there are a few creature that might scare them so lets say six years plus to be on the safe side. There are jumps and spooky elements mixed in a story line of family and new friendships.
The special effects are amazing and I want to know where I can find a cute chair like the one in Uncle Jonathan’s house. Every effect has it’s place and is done so colorfully well that I was captivated through the entire film. I wouldn’t even mind having a lion topiary!
It is the cast of Black, Blanchett and Vacarro that make the film with the added dash of MacLachlan. They play off each other with comedy and affection which is what can be the cherry on the cake of any film.
In the end – this house knows what makes you tick!
Prepare Yourself for THE NUN
In theatres from director Corin Hardy along with writers Gary Dauberman, James Wan and Warner Bros. comes the beginning of it all with THE NUN.
It is 1952 and the Vatican has asked Father Burke (Demian Bichir) to go to the Carta Monastery in Romania to discover why a young nun has thrown herself out of a window. Joining Father Burke is the young novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who needs to help with the Abbess of the cloistered abbey.
Meeting the duo is Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) who made deliveries to the monastery and found the young nun dead. Immediately it is clear that there is something dark and unholy taking over the abbey. Father Burke meets the Abbess only to learn that he can not be there after sundown but assures him he will find the answers he seeks.
Sister Irene meets other sisters and learns that there is a history that lives deep in the walls and floors of the abbey. The castle builder summoned an entity that was eventually sealed by a Vatican artifact that is missing. The ground was opened again by the bombs of war and the entity Valak has taken up residence inside The Nun (Bonnie Aarons).
A battle is inevitable as the Father, Sister Irene and Frenchie take on the entity that wants to destroy them all. It is a fight for their souls and for those that will follow from that fight on.
Bichir as Father Burke doesn’t miss a beat when taking on the assignment to go to Romania. Still dealing with his own personal battle of a previous exorcism, it does not deter Bichir’s character from discovering the truth that lay in the bricks of the abbey. I am a fan of Bichir and love that he took on his role cementing himself as part of THE CONJURING universe.
Farmiga as Sister Irene is a young woman who is waiting to take her final vows. I have to admit that this character has nerves of steel and even when things get a little spooky, she keeps it together and soldiers through to keep evil at bay. It is a tad unnerving to see the younger Farmiga when I am so use to see her sister Vera in THE CONJURING stories but wow, how perfect a fit she is.
Bloquet as Frenchie knows that there is something at the abbey and although hesitant, finds himself involved in helping the Vatican sent duo. His role is one that will be brought up connecting THE NUN with first CONJURING.
Aarons as THE NUN gets a shout out from me mainly because she actually made me shout out in the theatre! I love a good jump, love an even bigger scream followed by a chair jump.
Other cast include Ingrid Bisu as Sister Oana, Charlotte Hope as Sister Victoria, Sandra Teles as Sister Ruth, August Maturo as Daniel,Ani Sava as Sister Jessica, Michael Smiley as Bishop Pasquale, David Horovitch as Cardinal Conroy and Lynnette Gaza as Mother Superior.
This all started in 2013 with THE CONJURING and I have been hooked ever since. As much as people love slasher films, I am not really a huge fan. I don’t need smack-in-your-face bloody horror to make me jump so I was (and still am) thrilled when the first film came out.
Instead, director Wan brings back the feeling of the ‘scary movie’ by using music, shadows, and the scare we bring to ourselves. Each of the films brought the best of jumping in the seat with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson and director Hardy brings it around full circle with Birchir and sister Taissa Farmiga.
There is enough action, scare and mystery built into the story with a dark castle with enough hiding places to keep you on edge. The cinematography is very cool keeping the audience in the dark where all good creepy things come from.
So conjure up your friends because there is a monastery in Romania that has an entity for you to meet.
In the end – pray for forgiveness!
THE LITTLE STRANGER
In theatres this Friday from director Lenny Abrahamson and Focus Features comes a story of twists and ghost with THE LITTLE STRANGER.
Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) is the local town doctor who has a strange affinity for a place called Hundreds Hall. His mother was a housemaid in the employment of the Ayres family when Faraday was a child. Now, it is 1948 and the Ayres family calls upon Dr. Faraday to take care of one of their own.
Arriving at Hundreds Hall, he meets Roderick Ayres (Will Poulter) who was hurt in the war and still suffers horribly. Roderick tells Faraday that he keeps the family books and is responsible for making sure there is a family income – even if it means selling parcels of Hundreds Hall. Sister Caroline (Ruth Wilson) wants to help her brother and when it is suggested that there might be new methods to help, she is on board. Mrs. Ayres (Charlotte Rampling) still keeps airs about the hall that was once a beacon of another time.
Also in Hundreds Hall is something eerie that Roderick seems to be keenly aware that something resides in their home. No one listens believing that it is part of Roderick’s state of being and after an incident; Faraday believes it is in the best interest to send him away.
In the meantime, Faraday strikes up a relationship with Caroline seeking a kindred spirit. They are both needing moments away from Hundreds Hall and their talks are something both look forward too. Faraday begins to see that he is needed at Hundreds Hall to keep Mrs. Ayers and his beloved Caroline safe from what ever lurks in the shadows.
Slowly, the relationships begin to become strained and change because everyone has their own fears and secrets which are about to change the destiny of them all.
Gleeson as Faraday once again proves why he grows more and more bold about the roles he takes. Becoming widely known as Bill Weasley with the HARRY POTTER franchise, his career began ten years earlier in the television series Rebel Heart. In the following years he has put his stamp on such films as CALVARY, UNBROKEN, EX MACHINA, THE REVENANT and taking on the role of General Hux in STAR WARS: The Last Jedi. I have come really enjoy each and every thing he does from drama to comedy and everything in between. Here, Gleeson as Faraday is staunch, gripping and isn’t going to let anybody in on anything – not for any frame of the film. All of it is a set up for a great conversation after the film.
Wilson as Caroline is a young woman who seems to be a fixture in Hundreds Hall instead of a resident. Clearly dealing with family issues and secrets of her own, Wilson gives her character vulnerability wrapped up in a front that is almost as crumbly as the walls surrounding her. Wilson was recently seen in the drama The Affair and in THE LITTLE STRANGER has the same stoic appearance and ability to hide within herself. The film also puts Wilson and Gleeson together again as they both can be seen in the 2012 film ANNA KARENINA.
Poulter as Roderick is absolutely stunning and I mean stunning in his role. He completely captured my attention and although the role might not be a large one, its impact caught me. Yes, the role is that of a disfigured person but Poulter could have put a bag over his head and I’d have loved his portrayal of Roderick.
Now, Ms. Rampling as Mrs. Ayers – I am a huge fan of Ms. Rampling’s and to see her in this role just reminds me (as if I needed it) that she is a jewel that only remains bright. I find her to be amazing and riveting to watch and in THE LITTLE STRANGER she reinforces my belief that the actresses I grew up admiring deserve every bit of it.
Other cast include Kate Phillips as Diana Baker-Hyde, Anna Madeley as Anne Granger, Camilla Arfwedson as Young Mrs. Ayers, Dixie Egerickx as Gillian Baker-Hyde, Amy Marston as Mrs. Blundell, Sarah Crowden as Miss Dabney and Loren MacFadyen as Dr. Calder
THE LITTLE STRANGER is a slow moving film but has all the nuances of a genre that wants to invest in your time. There is no hurry in bringing you along for the ride because it is 1948 in an era that has a lot of secrets in a society that prides itself on those secrets.
Surrounded by the walls of Hundreds Hall, the characters play out family secrets, pains best kept unspoken and realities that each of them don’t want to face. There is time to get to know each character yet with the time restrains you feel as if you have to believe what’s being told – even though there is an itch that says not to.
I love that about this film as well as the cinematography, the era clothing, cars and attitudes that play into the storytelling. Of course I am a little partial to films like THE LITTLE STRANGER in that I don’t want to know everything because it takes away from the great after film chats that I get into.
In the end – from small acorns dark mysteries grow!
Starting off the weekend with a bite in theatres from director Jon Turteltaub and Warner Bros. comes a reason to stay off the beach and sit in the theatre to ride the wave of THE MEG.
Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) was an expert driver but on one mission he had to choose between two of his crewmen or a whole submarine full of wounded men when something attacks their vessel. Five years later that decision had career and marital consequences but he seems to be doing fine living in Thailand.
Out in the middle of the ocean, billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson) is helicoptering onto platform to see where his money is going. The Mana One research facility off the coast of China is still under construction as Zhang (Winston Chao), daughter Syuin (Bingbing Li) and crew consisting of Mac (Cliff Curtis), Jaxx (Ruby Rose), DJ (Page Kennedy), Heller (Robert Taylor) and Syuin's eight year old daughter Meiying (Sophia Cai).
Ready to go to the deepest part of the Marianna Trench, Suyin believes it is possible to go deeper and that a thermal layer separates our world for another ocean discovery. Sending sub driver Lori (Jessica McNamee), Toshi (Masi Oka) and The Wall (Olafur Olafsson), they dive. Breaking through they are surprised by what they see and quickly become shocked when their sub comes under attack and communications are cut off. The last words they hear is from Lori saying, "Tell Jonas he was right!"
Trying to put together a rescue plan, Mac brings up Jonas Taylor saying he is really the only man who would take such a risk to rescue the three trapped in the sub. Off to Thailand Mac and Zhang go to convince Taylor that he is needed. After some fast talking, Taylor arrives on the research platform and is immediately set to diving because Suyin took it upon herself to try and rescue her friends.
Preparing to dive, Taylor meets Meiying and learns that eight year olds hear everything. Meeting up with Suyin, they too are immediately hit by something big and fast. Working together they manage to get their friends and get out and back to the platform. As they all
regather their thoughts, Meiying comes face to face (thank goodness for very thick plastic) with something that wants to let it be known it is there - a Megalodon.
Discovering how it came to the surface, the crew knows they can not let it get to a populated area. Hopping on a large ship, they take off looking for the Meg and once again Taylor does the incredibly shocking jumping into the water to tag the beast. Almost everyone believes the only thing to do is kill it but Suyin wants to study it alive.
Thinking they have stopped a disaster, there is an even bigger beast swimming in the water around them. Once it has made its point with the crew, the Meg heads towards the beaches that are littered with people like meaty human krill! Taylor and the crew are not about to stop trying to stop the biggest creature in the water who has only one goal - destruction!
Statham as Taylor proves why we continue to love this guy! Of course I can honestly say that the towel scene (oh you will know exactly what I'm talking soon) had the guys impressed and the gals drooling. Now with that out of the way, Statham has the perfect bad boy swagger to play this role. The character gives zero-frakks about what people think of him and gives stone face when someone tries to tell him what to do or not to do. He proves it by jumping into danger with a smirk on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Also, it doesn't hurt that he plays opposite an equally quick 8-year-old! That's is what makes a good action star and THE MEG solidifies Statham's status and truth be told we love to love the guy!
Li as Suyin is a researcher who certainly doesn't count on finding a living Megalodon but once she does, killing it is not something she wants to do. Equally as hard headed as Taylor, she has a few quick one-liners and also doesn't hesitate to jump into the deep end of the ocean. Cali as the magnificent 8-year-old Meiying was one of the best characters in the film. She doesn't get in the way yet doesn't hesitate to put in her two cents. I do wonder who would put their kid on a boat and chase a Meg but then again it isn't like social services are on board!
Curtis as Mac is on Taylor's side in all things believing that he was wronged all those years ago and makes it clear that his expertise is necessary to rescue friends but then also to take out the Meg. Rose as Jaxx it smart but honestly there isn't a lot here for her to do but look concerned and throw out a line now and then. Taylor as Heller is the idiot character that I looked forward to the Meg chomping down - a girl can dream.
Chao as Zhang just wants success for the research crew but when things start to go wrong, he is with Taylor 100 per cent. Olafsson as The Wall has reason to be afraid after his experience in the sub. Wilson as Morris is a rich guy who thought everything was cool - until it wasn't. There was actually a moment where I thought he was smarter than everyone else but it passed quickly. His character was one of the comic reliefs of the film.
Kennedy as DJ had a line for everything and was not at all thrilled with any aspect of the rescue or anything that happened after that. Everything he said made me laugh because Kennedy was basically saying what everyone was thinking at some point in the film.
Other cast include: Jessica McNamee as Lori, Masi Oka as Toshi, Rob Kipa-Williams as D'Angelo, Tawanda Manyimo as Marks, James Gaylyn as David, Kelly the Dog as Pippin.
Okay, let’s face it, we all love shark movies - good, bad or indifferent we secretly love them all. I, like allot of my generation probably took a liking to sharks films right around the summer of June 1975. Shark films have made their way to us ever since in some form or another in films, television and documentaries. The teeth baring sea creatures have even managed to finally get a whole week on television as the Discovery Channel gets us all worked up with Shark Week. I mean they get a whole week and we don't get enough of it.
THE MEG is going to have its place among very cool shark movies because it all comes together in such a fantastic way. In the 113 minutes of the film there is not a frame wasted and look homage’s to shark films that have come before it. THE MEG is based on the Steve Alten book MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror. I'm sure there will be readers who will be watching every move the film makes.
Personally I was excited as the release of THE MEG drew closer. I wanted to be taken away, entertained, made to jump, laugh, hide my eyes, holler a little bit and cheer. That's exactly what happened and it felt like a group theatre experience as everyone around me was doing the same exact thing.
THE MEG gives us a reminder of why we gather up in a group (for safety purposes of course), grab the biggest tub of popcorn and soda we can hold, get great seats and prepare to be thrilled. Sitting through this film was fun and when it’s over we get to stand up and walk away from the big bad Meg with all our pieces in tact. Might as well know now - I'm going back to see THE MEG again with friends and...I can't wait!
In the end - before chasing seas monsters you had better check your place on the sea food chain!
Puppets take over THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS
Well heck, this isn’t exactly your ordinary puppet/human film and that’s okay with me. In theatres this Friday from director Brian Henson and STX Entertainment comes a story of a partnership to beat them all with THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS.
Phil Philips (voiced by Bill Barretta) is a private detective who was once the first puppet to ever become a cop with the LAPD. After an incident that still haunts him, Phil is happy working for himself. Answering his calls is his very dependable and devoted secretary Bubbles (Maya Rudolph).
One day a very lushly stuffed red-head named Sandra (Dorien Davies) comes to Phil’s office and asks him to investigate who might be black mailing her. Phil agrees and begins checking out a clue when he quickly becomes sidetracked when a group of puppets are cut down with fluff flying everywhere!
Arriving to investigate is Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) and she is none to happy to see Phil. Edwards and Philips were once partners and because of her testimony he lost his badge. Exchanging unpleasantries, Lt. Banning (Leslie Baker) lets them both know they will be teaming up once again to solve the crime.
Phil drowns his grumpiness by visiting his brother Larry (Victor Yerrid) who found success on television in a show called The Happytime Gang. Lulled into changing himself a little to fit into society, Phil doesn’t know how lucky he is until Larry is attacked.
Now Edwards and Philips begin to see a pattern that the entire cast of The Happytime Gang are in danger. Included in that is Philips first love Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), a dancer who became the only human on his brother’s show.
Putting their differences aside, they work piecing together the clues one by one but always seem to be on step behind the person responsible for the puppet mayhem. When FBI Agent Campbell (Joel McHale) shows up, he tries to shut them down but these two cork screwy crime fighters aren’t about to let anything get in their way.
Where the clues lead them changes everything!
McCarthy as Detective Edwards gives her usual witty, snappy and very funny performance as a cop with a few secret problems. The adversarial relationship with Phil Philips wasn’t always the case and speaking of cases – they are going to have to put their animosity on hold to get the job done. McCarthy doesn’t mess a beat delivering her lines with the timing that makes me proud to be a smart ass.
Baretta voicing Phil Philips is very noir detective telling his story with a cigarette in one hand and a bag load of attitude in the other. There doesn’t seem to be anything this puppet can’t do, and I mean that in every sense and when my jaw isn’t hitting the floor I’m rolling in laughter. Bouncing off McCarthy, these two are perfect for one another.
Rudolph as Bubbles is devoted to her private detective boss and there isn’t anything she won’t do for him. When he is seen as a suspect, Bubbles makes darn sure that Edwards does what’s right to help make it all right. Rudolph is cutsie and also very noir with her pin curl hair and red nails.
Banks as Jenny is a burlesque dancer who seems happy when Philips walks through the door again. Remembering the moments they spent together, both puppet and long legged human are clear that something is wrong. Banks gives a carrot dance performance that had the audience cracking up.
McHale as Agent Campbell is just a man who clearly isn’t playing with a full deck and power hungry at the same time. I love when McHale tries to get tough in these roles and keep a straight face doing it. Baker as Lt. Banning just wants the case solved and putting the ex-partners together is the way to do it.
Other cast include Drew Massey as Goofer, Ted Michaels as Ezra, Colleen Smith as Cara, Alice Dinnea as Sheila and Donna Kimball as Diane.
Look, THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS is just a disturbingly hilarious film that pushes every button to get a reaction and they succeeded. The audience was cheering, laughing, grossed out, groaning, smacking their foreheads, clapping and just having a great time.
This isn’t a film that needs to be analyzed or scrutinized but instead just go and have fun. Yes the humor pushed the comedy bar up, down, sideways and slant ways like a Wonka-vater but who doesn’t love that? I wanted to take a dirty puppet film ride down the slippery slopes of good taste and right into a mud hole – and that’s exactly what happened.
THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS is just a romp – it’s as simple as that – with touches of outrageousness and moments that can never be erased from your memory. The same could be said of many films but they didn’t make me laugh as much as this one does. Yep, I have a twisted sense of humor and am damn proud of it.
In the end – they are no sesame and all street!
INCREDIBLES 2 is Exactly That – Purely Incredible!
Coming to theatres this week from writer/director Brad Bird, Pixar and Walt Disney Studios is the return of the family we love to love with INCREDIBLES 2.
After the Parr family has dealt with the Mole and his attack on the city, the Supers once again find themselves on the outs. Sitting in a motel room wondering what they are going to do next, Lucius aka Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) arrives with news.
It seems someone wants to help bring Supers back! A meeting with Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener) brings Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) a chance to prove that Supers should be brought back.
The idea is to make Elastigirl the face of the Supers which takes them by surprise, especially Bob’s ego. The Deavor’s provide the Parr family with a spacious and, well incredible new home and Helen an awesome two wheel ride. All of this means Bob is home to tend to teen-angst ridden Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile).
Home life problems include Violet’s confusion about her date with Tony (Michael Bird), Dash’s rambunctiousness and Jack-Jack being Jack-Jack. As Helen leaves to resume ‘hero’ work, Bob is now Mr. Mom and learning the ropes. It doesn’t take long before he becomes over whelmed but can’t let Helen know so calls on Lucius who is equally confused about it all. His last hope is Edna Mode (Brad Bird)!
Helen on the other hand is busy saving Ambassador’s and meeting new Supers. Winston wants to create a summit where everyone comes together once again. The problem is a new villain is using technology to turn the Supers into not-so-nice Supers putting the possibility of bringing Supers back on the back burner! You follow?
Don’t worry, you will, and what an incredible ride it is!
Hunter as Helen/Elastigirl takes the lead in this film as a working Mom in the most Super of ways. I love Hunter’s character for so many reasons but mainly she is the glue that holds the Parr family together. Not taking anything away from Bob, it’s just a Mom thang!
Nelson as Bob/Mr. Incredible is a little distraught about being put aside but slowly begins to see that he can be equally incredible being an dialed-in Dad as well. When he is finally called to help save the world once again, a twists comes in and the loyalty of family suits up!
Vowell as Violet is having the double issue of teen and super confusion. The one thing she does know for sure is that family is everything. Milner as Dash continues his wise cracking sense of humor and ability to test his parent’s limits – which isn’t always a bad thing.
Jackson as Lucius/Frozone is thrilled at the possibility of being free to freeze, even if his wife might have other ideas. Odenkirk as Winston is a man who truly believes that the Supers need to come back. He has his own personal reasons for it which are endearing. Keener as Evelyn is laid back and the technical brains of the very rich duo.
Fucil as Jack-Jack steals the film from everyone and it must be said. This kid-character had me cracking up from start to finish – probably because that’s exactly how I see most toddlers. Fiery one minute and happy with a cookie the next, Jack-Jack is coming into his own and the family better learn to deal!
Other cast include Sophia Bush as Voyd, Phil LaMarr as Krushauer/Helectrix, Adam Gates as Chad Brentley, Jonathan Banks as Rick Dicker, Isabella Rossellini as the Ambassador.
INCREDIBLES 2 has my whole family jumping in our very incredible Incredible pajamas. Yes, when we like something we go all in and this film is definitely family fun from start to finish. It is so great to have the gang back together dealing with the duality of trying to have a normal life while trying to save the world from itself.
I believe the reason for the films success in 2004 is because this family is so dang cute for one but totally relatable for another. They have work problems, family issues, sibling rivalry – basically everything we non-supers deal with every day. The fact that they are animated just makes all of those things sort of enjoyable.
What I enjoy as well is the fact that writer/director Bird doesn’t really deviate from that winning formula. In fact, once again the story deals with losing a home, being unemployed, Mom having to be the bread winner and Dad discovering what really goes on at home and, of course, turning to true friends in time of need.
Those are awesome things to take away from a film that also entertains at every turn. I walked into the theatre giddy with excitement to see one of my favorite families (if you must know, The Adams Family is also in that list) come together once again and, well, be a family that just happens to have something extra to share with us all.
So gather up your own super family and prepare for adventure, laughs and a little learning with a family that shows us all how it’s possible to be incredible in our own ways.
In the end – it’s back to work!
Monsters Test Your Ability to Live in
A QUIET PLACE
Silently making its way into theatres this Friday from director John Krasinski via storytellers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck is Paramount Pictures directions to A QUIET PLACE.
Living in a world built on survival by being silent, Lee (John Krasinski) and wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) along with sons Beau (Cade Woodward), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and daughter Regan (Millicent Simmons) are in a drugstore looking for medications. Young son Beau sees a toy he wants but Dad Lee explains that it makes noise. He does this by use of sign language as Regan is deaf.
The whole family communicates now using sign language because the creatures that hunt them have uber hearing and any sound will bring them within seconds. On the way home to their farm there is an incident that changes the family and makes survival even harder. Evelyn is pregnant and the family finds clever ways to prepare for the new arrival.
Lee takes Marcus out with him to find food and Regan isn't happy that she isn't asked to go. Feeling that her father doesn’t care about her, she takes off down the road. Evelyn is alone taking care of the house when the first sign that the baby is coming and a cry out brings the creatures. She has only moments to send a signal to the others that there is danger and it all sends each in another direction trying to redirect the creatures.
From the house to the field, they each use what they have learned to try and save one another from the creatures that can't see but most certainly can hear ... every ... sound.
Krasinski as Lee is a man who is continually trying to find ways to keep his family safe. When there is a moment to breathe, he is working on a way to help his daughter or showing Marcus how to survive in the creature infested world. Blunt as Evelyn is in total Mom-mode and certainly takes a quiet childbirth to a whole new level. This is not the world she ever intended for her children to live in but knows it's the one they now must survive in.
Simmonds as Regan deals with this world a little differently than the rest of the family. She doesn't hear the screeching and the loud presence of the creatures but knows what they are capable of. Jupe as Marcus is rightfully petrified of the creatures but his father teaches him what he needs to survive and a secret that might just have given him more courage than he imagined he had for such a young kid.
So, A QUIET PLACE is truly scary in the sense that there are only fractions of moments where you hear the actors actually speak, the rest is sign language and pure adrenaline with every bit of acting on the faces of the characters. I absolutely loved every second of watching this cast because of that very reason.
I loved jumping, actually yelled and didn't realize it was me that yelled, held my breath and didn't realize I was doing it, and felt amazingly sad for this family. The storyline doesn't start out with any explanation as to what happened leaving that to the newspaper headlines that are about in Lee's workshop which means my mind was free to fill in the blanks.
This is actually a yarn spun in such a way that I was intrigued when the film first sent out the trailers. A film done mostly in silence? Wow, I knew then it was a film I had to see for myself. The audience for the screening was totally into every moment of the film and I had an extra jump as the lady next to me grabbed my arm! The scariest part of the film is actually seeing the fears that are totally believable by everyone in the audience unfold on the screen.
Let me make it clear - I would not survive in a silent world purely because, as I learned during the teen years, trying to be quiet meant the pressure to make that happen would definitely produce noise (just ask my sister Ellen!). That being said I also cringed at ever little creak, every little muffled sound and held my breath with every footstep the family took. That's what makes an amazing movie going experience - when you unknowingly become physically invested.
The story didn't give me a moment’s peace and I couldn't work on my bag of popcorn because I didn't want to be jumped by any creatures! In the midst of all the silence and insane creepy creatures - the writers and director Krasinski manages a moment of beauty between Lee and Evelyn and it made my heart melt. Of course I had to snap out of that quickly and walking out of the theatre my first thought was that I wanted to see A QUIET PLACE again.
John Krasinski took the story by Woods and Beck and directed right where it needs to be, straight into our fears. Well played sir, well played.
In the end - if they can hear you they can hunt you!
HOTEL ARTEMIS Has a Unique Clientele
Coming this Friday from writer/director Drew Pearce and Global Road Entertainment is the story of membership to the exclusive HOTEL ARTEMIS.
It is 2028 and the city of Los Angeles is about to be taken over by riots when the residents decide they’ve had enough. In the middle of the mayhem are two brothers who pick the wrong time to pull a heist.
Shot up and running from the cops, the end up at the Hotel Artemis, an exclusive hotel that caters as a secret and safe place for criminals. Running the floor is The Nurse (Jodie Foster), a woman who clearly has seen the rear-end of life but knows her stuff. She is assisted by the very large Everest (Dave Bautista) who handles anyone that gets out of line.
The Nurse immediately gives the brothers the names Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and Honolulu (Brian Henry) according to their suites. Waikiki managed to avoid harm with a kevlar vest but brother Honolulu isn’t so lucky. She immediately goes to work but it definitely is a hot mess.
There are other guests already on the floor with the ever complaining Acapulco (Charlie Day) and the lovely Nice (Sofia Boutella). All The Nurse asks is that the guests have no weapons on the floor, no cops and don’t kill the other guests.
While working on Honolulu, she gets a call from Crosby Franklin (Zachary Quinto), the arrogant offspring of the Hotel Artemis owner Niagara (Jeff Goldblum). He threatens that if anything happens to his father, The Nurse will pay – dearly.
If she didn’t have enough to worry about with a full house, she catches on her camera a young woman calling out her name. Helping her is going to cause problems but it seems The Nurse specializes in solving the unsolvable.
As the riot moves ever closer, the Hotel Artemis starts to break down as the guests get nervous about the outside getting in. Maybe they should worry more about how to get out before that happens!
Foster as The Nurse is absolutely brilliant! I love this character with her frailties, flaws, uncertainties and memories yet she can put a body back together in no time flat. Spending years on this special floor, Foster’s character is run down having seen almost everything – almost. I have always been a fan of Ms. Foster’s (CONTACT is a guilty pleasure) and this character is just stunning.
Brown as Waikiki is dealing with a brother who consistently screws things up, a run in with a former lover and getting the inside scoop on the inner workings of Hotel Artemis. All of that will come in handy when what his brother innocently took turns out to the be one thing that will get them killed. Brown does a remarkable job of being smooth under pressure and never once raises his voice although he certainly has plenty of reason too.
Boutella as Nice is simple a woman who has a job to do and no one or nothing is going to get in her way. Knowing her worth, it is a joy to see her take on the employer! Day as Acapulco is annoying, narcissistic and out for himself – yet he does it so damn well.
Bautista as Everest is a body guard as well as a ‘health care provider’ who shows intense loyalty to The Nurse and doesn’t suffer fools. Knowing what is the right thing and actually doing it doesn’t seem to be an issue for him, he just wants to follow the rules and get through the riot alive.
Goldblum as Niagara has some explaining to do but then again it’s Goldblum, his mere presence tends to be enough for me. Quinto as Crosby needs to be slapped several times but that’s the parent in me talking, and Slate as Morgan shows us that there is more to The Nurse than anyone has ever known.
Other cast include Kenneth Choi as Buke, Josh Tillman as P-22, Evan Jones as Trojan Nash, Nathan Davis Jr. as Rocco and Ramses Jiminez as Tariq.
HOTEL ARTEMIS is a place where bad guys go to find safety and be patched up if needs be. What it doesn’t know how to do is survive this batch of crazy people in the middle of a rioting city. Managing to keep it together long enough for the audience to learn the back story in the 93 minute film is perfect, anything longer would have ruined it.
It twists and turns down the hotel hallways giving us quick stories and an equal amount of action to go along with it. I suppose what made me the happiest is that it wasn’t a prequel, sequel, retelling or remaking of another story. That in itself deserves high praises and I’m sending it their way.
Director Pearce gives us something different and although I followed along a little too easily, I had a good time. There is something to be said for quick and to the point and HOTEL ARTEMIS gives exactly that.
In the end – no guns, no cops and no killing the other patients!
Frankenstein’s Story is Told Through MARY SHELLEY
Coming to theatres from director Haifaa Al Mansour and IFC Films is the story of Frankenstein told from his lovely creator MARY SHELLEY.
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) is a young girl who misses the mother she never knew and deals with step-mother Mary Jane (Joanne Froggatt) she wishes she didn’t. Her father William (Stephen Dillane) is a renown philosopher who sees something wild in his daughter. Consistently putting her thoughts to paper, she is looking for a life that is not the norm.
Seeing all this, Mary’s father sends her to visit Isabel Baxter (Maisie Williams), family who understands her in a surprising way. When the Baxter’s hold a gathering, Mary sees Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) and is moved to hear he is a poet. They begin spending time together discussing things she has not been able to with anyone else.
But their time is short lived when Mary is recalled home to sister Claire (Bel Powley) who misses her. The tension that was there before has returned and the only light is a gentleman caller who wishes to be mentored by Mr. Godwin. Mary is stunned when it is Percy who comes through the door.
Wanting to be together, Mary’s father is outraged and Claire only begs to go when she does. Packing up to start a new life, the two meet with Percy moving into a place of their own. Mary and Percy’s happiness is hanging by a thread as she tries to recover from tragedy as well as the cruel gossip.
Out for a night, they all meet Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) who invites them to come to his country estate for a visit. Claire is more than thrilled as she tells Mary that she’s not the only one that can land a poet. There is constant drinking and discussion but Mary can not find her words. That is when Byron throws a challenge for them each to write a ghost story.
The only horror is when Claire is devastated by Byron and Mary doesn’t want to live the craziness of a poet’s life. Returning to London, she puts pen to paper and creates Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus yet no one will publish her works. Even friend John Polidori (Ben Hardy) writes his ‘ghost story’ and it was stolen from him.
Mary wonders if anything is going to change when the two people she needs to stand by her most do just that. She made her own rules and wrote her own way to being Mary Shelley.
Fanning as Mary is delicate, determined, soft-spoken, fierce attitude and lyrical in her writings. It is easy to forget that this was life in 18th century London and Mary’s role as a woman was carved in unmovable stone. Fanning’s performance gives us all and more with her alabaster and frail appearance. Underneath that is a fire this actress gives to a woman who knows that she doesn’t fit in to the mold. Her thought process and creativity are bursting and only the distraction of Shelley slows her down. Taking her life experiences to further her quest is not only staggering but breath taking at the same time.
Booth as Percy is everything a rogue poet would look like to me. He is dark in his writings and seductive when he focuses on something – singularly Mary. Believing he can have the bohemian life with her, it is his narcissism and entitlement that gets in the way of them both. Booth gives that performance from beginning to end with a hope of redemption for the man he is portraying.
Dillane as Godwin is a father who sees his daughter has not been happy most of her life. Dreaming of a mother she never knew, he can only encourage her to find the words to make her life have meaning. Froggatt as Mary Jane does a fantastic job in getting me not to like her which is so weird because she was one of my favorite Downton Abbey characters.
Powley as Claire is a young woman who wants the same thing as Mary and the only way to get it is to live in her shadow. Sturridge as Lord Byron plays a man who has no conscious at all and has no qualms in using anyone for anything he needs. What a strange place 18th century London was!
Williams has a small role as Isabel, the cousin who seems to understand the wild side of Mary and encourages it. She is swift and charming as only Williams can be.
Other cast include: Ben Hardy as John Polidori, Hugh O’Conor as Samuel Coleridge, Ciara Charteris as Harriet Shelley, Sarah Lamesch as Eliza and Jack Hickey as Thomas Hogg.
MARY SHELLEY is a deep and intense period drama about a woman who was clearly born in the wrong century. Her grasp of the written word came at an early age with her desire to get out everything hiding within her. Trying to live the best life by her terms, it seemed her terms were even to difficult for those around her to grasp.
Falling in love with Shelley could be considered the step off of a difficult life but who are we to judge that. How many of us have chosen to be with a person we know is wrong for us or will challenge our sanity – yet we still do it? That is exactly what happened to Mary to the day Percy died.
I have read books about Mary Shelley’s life and to say it was a difficult one is an understatement. Deaths of family, children and constantly being questioned about the authorship of Frankenstein, I have long admired her tenacity to put all of it at bay and continue with her work while raising her son.
The film gives only a powerful glimpse of her life as a young woman but it is so well and beautifully done. The cinematography and costuming lend itself to bringing me into the story quickly and keeping me until the very end.
Mary Shelley wanted a life different than the women of her time and the difficulty in doing so is putting yourself in harms way with society. Like today, chatterboxes and gossipers can destroy a person with word and Mary couldn’t escape that. The truth is that it would take many Mary’s to get where we are today and that is enough reason to want to know more about this rare woman.
In the end – her greatest love inspired her darkest creation!