Archive for the ‘FILM REVIEWS’ Category

“3 Generations”–A Movie Review   Leave a comment

“3 Generations” could have, would have and should have been a great movie if the director Gaby Dellal and Nikole Beckwith, who co-write the screenplay withDellal, didn’t go off on a tangent instead of dealing with Elle Fanning’s character Ray, who was born Ramona, and has many obstacles with his transition.

His single mother Maggie, played by Naomi Watts, and Ray, live with her mother, Dodo, played by Susan Sarandon, and her longtime lover Frances, played by Linda Emond.

At the beginning of the movie we see Maggie trying to deal with Ray’s decision, struggling with what verbs to use, worried that after Ray goes through the change he may think he made a mistake plus having to put up with Dodo, an old time feminist, who believes Ray should stay Ramona and just be a lesbian. If the film had stuck with Ray’s story and the reaction of the two older generation it would have been an excellent film but instead it veers off to Maggie’s past and the complications that involves

Ray’s father Craig, played by Tate Donovan, who hasn’t had anything to do with Ramona for more than a decade, now discovers his daughter needs his signature on the consent form to become his son. We also meet his brother Matthew, played by Sam Trammell, who was involved with them.  Throw in that Craig now haves another family with 3 kids and all of a sudden we turn from an involved story of a transgender person into a soap opera.

Maggie’s story is interesting but she deserves her own movie. This movie is only an hour and 27 minutes but it feels as if 3 hours was being packed into it.

Elle Fanning gives a very strong, believable performance as a transgender teenager who knows who he is and is willing to stand up for his decisions while Naomi Watts as his mother shows the perplexing problems a parent can go through while this is all taking place with an equally strong performance. As always Sarandon gives a dynamic performance while Linda Emond is very droll as the put upon lover. They are both wasted in the film as are Donovan and Trammell’s story lines .

Television is way ahead of film regarding the issues and understandings of transgender while movies, aside from “Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Crying Game”, need to get serious on the subject.

“3 Generations” is a good start on transgender issues but it gets bogged down in what use to be called a ‘women’s film’. It is worth seeing for Fanning’s performance and for people who have no idea what transgender people are about and go through.

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MeFmXpkryw

“The Dinner”–A Movie Review   Leave a comment

Actors and movies constantly amaze, amuse and befuddle me. I know actors have no say about when their movies will appear in theatres but in the past week two of Richard Gere’s latest movies appeared at The Gateway Theatre and shows why he has been a major star for over 40 years. In the first movie “Norman” (see my review Wednesday, May 3) he plays a New York City ‘fixer’, schemer while in today’s film, “The Dinner” he is a Congressman running for Governor and he is completely two different men in appearance, acting and persona.

I really never know what to expect from a movie as I very seldom read reviews before I go see one and generally will pick a movie based on the cast and/or any vibes I picked up about it regarding genre and story. “The Dinner” has a major cast of Gere, Laura Linney, who I have never seen give a bad performance and, mostly, as she does in this film, gives an outstanding performance, Steve Coogan, a strong actor and Rebecca Hall who I had seen in a few movies and seemed to be waiting for that breakout role.

Gere, married to his second wife Hall, and Coogan, married to Linney, are brothers whose mother favored the former while the latter seems to have inherited the mental illness he has from her. Coogan and Linney have a teenage son Mike (Charlie Plummer) while Gere has had a son, Rick (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) whom he had with his first wife Chloe Sevigny and Gere and Hall have an adopted Black son which may or may not be a child Gere and his loyal aide, Adepero Oduye, had.

The two brothers and their wives are meeting in a very upper scale restaurant in a mansion where each course is explained as it is being served and you know that the cost would be prohibitive to 99% of the people. At the very beginning Coogan remarks about the cost of a bottle of wine being sinful. The purpose of the meeting finally comes to light and the questions the film wants to ask are that of how much will/would a parent do to protect their child, how much of an obligation do they have to their families and what should they do or not do.

Though “The Dinner” is based on a novel by Herman Koch it is almost as if the director/screenwriter Oren Moverman had taken a play and wanted to ‘open’ it up. Flashbacks to earlier years, to events that happened earlier in the evening, a trip to the Gettysburg battlefields, many voiceovers, to classroom scenes of Coogan, who was a teacher of history, plus the dinner itself blurs what should have been a linear telling instead of losing its focus.

Now as a man who loves food even the restaurant scenes become dull as they are all over the place as for different reasons the party of 4 is moved from room to room and the descriptions of the plates soon blend into each other.

Many times the direction by Moverman, the cinematography by Bobby Bukowski and the music by Elijah Brueggemann are disconcerting to what is taking place on the screen.

The acting of the cast in “The Dinner” is certainly consistently top rate and reasons enough to see the film plus I need someone to explain the ending to me!

 

“The Dinner” trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aUPksk2fjg

“Norman”—A Movie Review   Leave a comment

“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is not a great film, not even a good film but definitely a smart film with a powerful performance by Richard Gere. This is not the Richard Gere who twice won the title of “Sexist Man Alive”.

Gere plays Norman, a schemer, a scammer, a fraud,  weasel, a loser, pushy, a liar, a wheeler and dealer who has never met a person he didn’t see as a friend, who accidently meets with the deputy Israeli Minister of Trade Micha Eshel (played by Lior Ashkenazi) who Norman buys a very expensive pair of shoes and is remembered by the  Minister 3 years later when he becomes the Prime Minister which leads to problems for both men.

How does Norman make a living? Where does he live? How does he have the money to pay that $1,459 for the shoes? Did he have a wife who died when their daughter was 3 years old? Does he have a daughter? Who is this man? He is dressed smartly with a camel hair coat, an expensive looking scarf and yet you wonder if he is homeless.

Norman’s nephew (Michael Sheen) keeps his distance from his uncle, while Norman’s rabbi (Steve Buscemi) believes he is an insider and can get the $14 million needed to save the synagogue. Alex (Charlotte Gainsgourg) tries to ignore the annoying Norman but her job as a legal expert for Israel based in New York is eventually brought into play when the problems with the Prime Minister and Norman come to the forefront.

Director /screenwriter Joseph Cedar makes you work to cross the T’s and dot the I’s but the solution to what has and is going on pays off when you do.

It is a big supporting cast with only one jarring portrayal, that of Hank Azaria, but that may be because I didn’t dot the i!

While I really can’t recommend the movie I would make it a ‘must see’ for Richard Gere’s starring in a role like none he has done before. Heck if nothing else check out what he did to his hair which definitely wouldn’t get him a Sexiest Man Alive in 2017!

 

 

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EB43iLEwRU

“A Very Sordid Wedding”–A Movie Review   Leave a comment

Very seldom is a sequel to a movie better, let alone as good, as the original and “A Very Sordid Wedding” is not that seldom one. I remember being completely entertained and surprised by “Sordid Lives” even going so far as to buy the DVD. I am not someone who often laughs out loud watching a movie but I did, many times, each time I looked at that film.

Some of the original characters, and the actors playing them, have returned, while some new characters make their debut in this picture. In the original Ty Williamson (played by Kirk Geiger then and now)) spent most of the film getting the nerve to come out to his mother while here he and his, happens to be Black, lover having been married in 49 States to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same sex marriage, comes back to Texas to get married in his hometown where the new Southern Baptist pastor is holding a Anti-Equality rally, therefore the title of movie and where it is heading.

In the 2000 original movie the director and screen writer, Del Shores, kept control of his actors and storylines but in this sequel he seems to be all over the place. His ‘camp’ in many cases is grotesque, his one liners clichés and the actors are so overplaying their roles it as if they are on stage instead of in front of a camera. The whole Texas humor is so negatively Southern and overboard it is very rarely funny.

There are 2-3 scenes that are touching regarding the bible and how two people can interpret it differently along with how some people will follow it while others will pick and choose what they want to follow. Though nothing new is said the arguments are still powerful regarding love.

“A Very Sordid Wedding” is available on VOD but I suggest you skip this movie and see the very funny original “Sordid Lives”.

Just a personal observation regarding Leslie Jordon, who in the original was sent for conversion therapy, and was very moving in the role, here his role is badly overwritten and so badly overplayed that I was embarrassed for him and the drag queens he was representing.  

A Very Sordid Wedding Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLUcy3Z-LVc

“Unforgettable”–A Movie Review   Leave a comment

 

Sometimes I want to go see a trashy movie that doesn’t make sense but makes you forget what is going on in your world. In other words spending 2 hours just having fun at what ludicrous situations you are seeing on the screen and after reading a few things about “Unforgettable” I decided that was the movie I was going to see. To my surprise it was a lot better than I expected.

I am not, and have never been, a fan of Katherine Heigl and since she plays the very hissable villainess that brought a sort of fun to watching what was in play. She also made rooting for Rosario Dawson very easy.

The set up is slow and plodding because we have seen it dozens of times before but when the two women get into the climatic fight you are completely drawn in. It was if the director Denise Di Novi told the actresses to show the ‘boys’ how a fight should really be done and not to hold back.

With the female director, Di Novi, and a female screenwriter, Christina Hodson, I was sort of surprised, and disappointed, that it really didn’t make a difference, or was smarter, in the approach to both sexes. As always the men are brutal, controlling, while the women are complacent and have backgrounds involving violence.

Tessa (Heigl) is the ex-wife and quickly establishes through her perfect, not a hair out of place, look and actions that she is deranged. She is bringing up her daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice) to be the perfect child. It isn’t long before we meet Tessa’s mother Helen (Cheryl Ladd) and see where the pattern of constantly criticizing the child comes from though grandmother is as sweet as can be to Lily.

When we first meet Julia (Dawson) it is the opening of the picture, her face is bloody and she is in a police station being questioned about the murder of her ex-boyfriend (Simon Kassianides) and we go back six months when she has left San Francisco to move to Southern California to live with her fiancé David (Geoff Stults) and get to know his daughter Lily. Almost immediately Tessa gets involved with the new set up claiming her right as the daughter’s mother.

Talking about mothers Cherl Ladd is the mother of all mothers and would be the villain of the piece if Tessa wasn’t so perfect in her craziness and how she sets up Julia from the beginning. Talking about that, computer smarts is becoming more and more involved in movies and though I didn’t quite understand how Tessa manipulated the computer to do what she does it is frightening how unsafe we are in today’s world.

The last 40 minutes of the movie are sit up in your seat and hold your breath time, making this movie a lot of fun though with some very visible violence. Oh, yes, the last minute is a great payoff which I really didn’t see coming though it makes perfect sense.

“Unforgettable” is a trashy movie, really forgettable, but a lot of fun while watching it with good performances by the two female leads.

Movie trailer

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFXIBL617yc

“The Lost City of Z”–A Movie Review   1 comment

Twenty minutes into “The Lost City of Z” I was thinking of sneaking out and going into the auditorium next door to see “Colossal” but 30 minutes later you couldn’t pay me to give up my seat! Yes it is slow starting but eventually exactly what is happening and what can happen comes over you and peaks when the father and grown son look at each other and say “I love you,” which needed to be said.

Basically the story written and directed by James Gray based on the book by David Grann telling the true story of Percy Harrison Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) a British Major, a career soldier, who believes there is a lost city in the border areas of Bolivia and Brazil, in the Amazon. He leaves his devoted wife (Sienna Miller) and children, one being born while he is in the jungle, without what seem as a second thought and with each trip becomes more addicted to his search.

The movie shot in Ireland and Columbia with the former mainly done in English homes and clubs in dark tones while the latter in the jungles brings glorious colors and sights on screen. The times of the early 1900s to the 1920s are brought to real life in production values.

Charlie Hunnam, taking over a role originally slated for Benedict Cumberbatch and executive producer Brad Pitt, brings Fawcett to life and leaves a strong impression as the Major, as a soldier, a husband and as a father. Sienna Miller, as the wife, presents a strong woman who seems to want more but accepts her family as her first concern. Their eldest son is played by 3 actors with Tom Holland at the age of 20 who goes off with his father on the last trip and makes a strong impression.

Robert Pattinson, almost unrecognizable, is a loyal army comrade giving a solid performance while Angus Macfadyen as a wealthy, obese member of the second trek into the search for the village who almost blows that and future trips.

“The Lost City of Z” covers many subjects while taking its time setting up the main premise which will call for patience on the part of the audience member but the payoff is worth it. Be sure to stay for the end credits to find out what happened or didn’t happen.

The movie is 2 hours and 20 minutes and could have easily been cut 15 minutes while note should be made of the score by Christopher Spelman which is remindful of composers scoring epics in the past.

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwjtdOqTmrA

“Their Finest”–A Movie Review   Leave a comment

Sitting and watching “Their Finest” I wondered if it worth 120 minutes of your time to go behind the scenes to see how propaganda films were made in Britain during WW2? What about seeing a consummate performance by Bill Nighy as a previously lead actor now older and made to play supporting roles?  What about a supporting cast of top rate British actors whose name you might not know or even possibly their faces? Or would you be interested in seeing how women were treated in the 1940s even when the country were short of men who were off to war?

On the other hand are you willing to spend 100 minutes of those 120  sitting through a very slow moving movie where nothing really happens except for a scene now and then between Nighy and Eddie Marsan, the latter playing his agent, which is almost stolen from the latter’s dog? Is it worth trying to decipher very heavy British accents just to get a look on Nighy’s face when he discovers he will be playing a man way past his prime? (A definite yes to that scene!)

There is a somewhat love story that offers little interest, between Gemma Arterton and Jack Huston that becomes a triangle when Sam Claflin, as her co-worker, enters the picture. Also Rachael Stirling as a sort of Ann Southern/EveArden type of second banana offers some humor, and questions, as a member of the Ministry of Information division. Jeremy Irons has a cameo and Jack Lacy plays an American war hero who has to be, I hope on purpose, one of the worst actors ever!

Is it worth sitting through 120 minutes of “Their Finest” to see Bill Nighy? No, just look at the trailer and get an idea of how he elevates the movie just from his quick scenes here.

 

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eebasw3h-Lg

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