Posts by pamela

“On the Rocks” – A bumpy father-daughter story

October 20th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““On the Rocks” – A bumpy father-daughter story”

While best known for “Lost in Translation” starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen, winter/director Sophia Coppola’s credits are significant and now she is reunited with Murray in her newest film“On the Rocks.” This time, Murray is paired with Rashida Jones as a father-daughter duo tackling life and the ghosts that haunt their relationship.

We meet the happy young couple, Laura (Jones) and Dean (Marlon Wayans) upon their wedding day with a bright future ahead of them. Fast forward nearly a decade later and we are thrust into their chaotically busy life filled with two kids, a traveling husband, and a former writer trying to get back in touch with her passion. It’s a familiar scene of striving for balance in life but achieving it is another story.

Laura begins to have doubts about her relationship with her husband and reaches out to her father, Felix (Murray) whose previous actions with women may help her decide. The story becomes a study of this particular father-daughter relationship as the two attempt to reconnect as they play private detective.

The film is very narrowly focused on this duo, but make no mistake, this is Laura’s story. We get a glimpse into her life of being a mom and wife as she constantly transports kids, waits for them at school, and briskly interacts on the run with other moms all while trying to write her next book. It’s anxiety producing and for many of us, it brings back memories of a time that are merely a blur as we tried to juggle it all.

The heart of the film comes from Laura and Felix’s interactions. Felix, ever a flirt, seems to happily flit through life, superimposing his own morals and values upon every male including his son-in-law. This personal moral compass of his significantly and negatively impacted his relationship with his daughter and may continue to do so as we watch the story unfold.

On the surface, the question of “is Dean having an affair with his gorgeous assistant” is always looming overhead, but as we dig deeper into the story, it’s about Laura coming to terms with who her father is and if she will allow those attributes to effect her life now. It’s a slow burn and sometimes a bit too slow, but that initial question keeps you hooked. You have to find out if Dean is having an affair.

“On the Rocks” is a small slice of one woman’s life as she yearns for the relationship and identity she once had while her relationship with her father comes to a head. We immediately know Felix has disappointed Laura in the past, but she holds out hope that maybe this time he’ll be different. It’s apparent that these unresolved issues must be confronted before she can independently and emotionally move forward.

Jones creates a believable character to carry this significant load, skillfully finding the right subtle actions and reactions to show us her longing for her image of a father to guide her. It’s an understated performance, and while she and Murray find a connection, the rhythm just isn’t consistently there. Murray seems to be constricted as he portrays the less than likable dad with a cavalier and self-absorbed perspective. He seems to pull back in this film, however when he does relax, as he does in the scene to talk his way out of a ticket, it’s wonderfully engaging.

The film is beautifully shot as the pair zip through New York City in a convertible or have an intimate drink and dinner at a familiar-feeling restaurant. This personal perspective to the film allows us to have empathy with Laura as the turmoil in her life culminates. Where the story suffers is its attention to character development with the supporting cast. We never get to know Dean or Laura’s annoying “friend” Vanessa (Jenny Slate) who adds a touch of humor to the dramatic film. There are a few unanswered questions , but ultimately, the film poses an introspective question for us all—how much do we let others’ baggage influence us?

While it’s a slow-moving film with a feeling of tying things up too neatly and quickly at the end, Jones and Murray create an intricate story of how our past influences our future.

3 Stars

“Where We’re Meant to Be” – Change how you see the world

October 15th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Where We’re Meant to Be” – Change how you see the world”

*Repost from September 2016*

When you think independent film, you envision a creative filmmaker scraping together funding, asking friends to borrow homes or other settings for a day of filming, and even enlisting talented friends who might know sound engineering or those that can act. I think this wonderfully written and well-executed production just might fit this rather romanticized version of an indie film. Shot in North Carolina over a 23 day period for a mere $25,000, Michael Howard brought his words from the page to full living color with the help of talented individuals who believed in his project. With the cooperation of the town to use churches, warehouses, and even the police department to shut down streets and use squad cars, Howard shows us that you don’t need a multimillion dollar budget to have a quality production.

“Where We’re Meant To Be” is a series of several vignettes which all overlap in seemingly random ways. It is this coordinated “randomness” that brings to the forefront of our thoughts how meaningful those smallest of moments in life just might be. As we find ourselves watching Charlie (Blayne Weaver) and Anna (Tate Hanyok) interact on a blind date, their journey sets the ball in motion, if you will. Their actions reverberate like ripples in the ocean, setting the scene for the next story. The domino effect of actions continues to stitch together several more stories revolving around death, God, happiness, murder, and even a first sexual experience. All of these lives are intertwined, sometimes marginally, but always beautifully and powerfully to send home the message that our actions have a lasting impact.

The stories are all very poignant, but the two that stand out, because of the incredible acting, are the blind date and the kidnapping. Weaver (“Favor”) and Hanyok (“Shameless”) portray that natural chemistry and awkwardness of a blind date that’s going quite well. Their cowwmtb-film-shot6mmunication, both verbally and non-verbally, brings you to the table to experience their thoughts and feelings, always with a smile on your face. It would be easy to listen to the two talk for hours as we learn about their lives and their older and wiser take on what the future holds. The film then takes a darker turn as we witness a kidnapping and crime with an undercover cop. It’s a brutal and harsh scene that will quite literally take your breath away. Howard takes on the role of John, revealing that this talented filmmaker is comfortable both behind and in front of the camera.

While there are some pacing issues, particularly as the sister deals with the guilt and aftermath of her brother awwmtb-film-shot3nd nephew dying, the heftiness of the topic may deserve the time allotted. The musical score in this film augments the stories perfectly, creating hopefulness as well as emphasizing some of the more dire situations. Overall, this film allows you to not only see the value in your actions and your words, but in the serendipitous nature of all the positive things in our world.

“Where We’re Meant To Be” is a thoughtful, beautiful film full of love and emotion. Creating such a philosophical and entertaining film on this budget should be lauded as a true accomplishment. Be sure to catch this film…it might just change how you see the world.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” – Brilliantly and heartbreakingly timeless, exceptionally entertaining

October 14th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Trial of the Chicago 7” – Brilliantly and heartbreakingly timeless, exceptionally entertaining”

Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network,” “A Few Good Men”) creates yet another incredibly gripping and captivating story based upon the catastrophic events in Chicago in 1968 with “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” With an all-star cast including Eddie Redmayne, Sasha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mark Rylance and many more, Sorkin takes us along the political and racial journey of nearly 50 years ago, bringing it to life and making it resonate in today’s world.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

With Sorkin-esque style, we are introduced to the characters one by one just days before the 1968 Democratic National Convention was to begin near Grant Park in Chicago. Each of the key figures in this story has a unique reason for going to protest, and each has a different response to the dangers that may lie ahead. But never did any of them consider the possible turmoil that would soon unfold nor the dire straights in which they would find themselves as they defended their actions to a corrupt judge and court proceeding.

Sorkin seamlessly edits each individual’s story and then stitches it back together allowing us to see the grand picture. Taking us into the White House, we are privy to the turmoil of the changing of the guard as John Mitchell (John Doman) expresses his grievances and direction to the newly charged head counsel Richard Schultz (Gordon-Levitt), a by-the-book lawyer. Quickly cutting across the nation, we meet Tom Hayden (Redmayne) and Rennie Davis, political activists of the Students for a Democratic Society, “counter-culture Yippies” Abbie Hoffman (Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), MOBE organizer and Boy Scott leader, Dellinger’s cohorts John Froines and Lees Weiner, and Bobby Seal (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the Black Panthers Party Chairman. Sorkin’s script takes us inside these men’s lives briefly, but meaningfully, to understand their personalities and their motivations for demonstrating in Chicago.

It’s when all of these men and their respective followers among many others who congregated during the pivotal days leading to their arrest that the tension builds like a rumbling volcano. We know historically what’s going to happen, but this film brings us into a personal level as we witness the brutality of the police and the consequences the protesters suffer.

The first half of the film gives us all the educational aspects of how these eight men (the number seven is explained later) were targeted, arrested and now put on trial as a group for “conspiring to incite a riot outside the Democratic Convention.” The second half of the film is set in the courthouse as the corrupt and racist Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella) sets the cringe-worthy and at times devastating tone for the remainder of the film.

Again, editing is key in telling this elaborately detailed story and Sorkin expertly utilizes this element as we flash back in time to crucial events or to Abbie Hoffman’s comedy show. We see the behind the scenes actions and watch Abbie recount the confounding events which took place in court that week. His perspective throws an ironically humorous spin but never discounts the harsh realities of what has happened. And pacing is never an issue in this over two-hour film as we are kept on the edge of our seats needing and wanting to know what happens next even if we are already familiar with the story. There’s not a wasted scene, character, or piece of dialogue in this film— all of it necessary to accurately tell this intricately layered story with painstaking precision.

Of course, the script cannot stand alone and this all-star cast of actors passionately create personalities to bring it to life. The actors, all perfectly cast as their characters, each have their own moment to shine, but not one actor is the star. Supporting one another, we get the sense that they are there to solely tell a story, an important and still relevant one today. Rylance finds an understated tone to deliver a remarkable performance and Baron Cohen couldn’t have channeled the personality with the sarcastic wit and the intelligence of Abbie Hoffman any better. The subtle and nuanced performance of both Redmayne and Gordon-Levitt create authentic characters who tap into their moral compass for direction and Langella gives us a disturbingly haunting performance of a lifetime.

While the actors all shine, it’s the story that hits home particularly in our volatile political world today. Sorkin doesn’t shy away from the ugly truth and the heartbreaking injustices of the ’60’s. The scene with Bobby Seale in the courtroom, bound and gagged as a punishment for invoking his constitutional rights is simply gutting. Recalling this scene as I write this brings me to tears.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is one of the best films of the year and may be one of Sorkin’s best of all time. His vision and direction has created a brilliantly timeless and extraordinarily entertaining story that unfortunately mirrors the unrest and inequities of today.

Streaming on Netflix Friday, October 16, 2020.

4 Stars

“She’s In Portland” – An indie gem paying homage to our youth and the one that got away

October 8th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““She’s In Portland” – An indie gem paying homage to our youth and the one that got away”

***CAPSULE REVIEW***

Two college friends, now in their thirties, admire each other’s lives and feel trapped in their own. Wes, tied to a demanding career and responsibilities to family, extends a work trip to drag his dispirited artist friend Luke to find Luke’s “one that got away”.

This is an unexpected gem of a buddy road trip film.  Accentuating the difficulties in adulthood seen through Wes (Tommy Dewey) and Luke’s (Fancois Arnaud) eyes as they travel the Pacific Coast Highway to find a long-lost love, skeleton’s in each of their closets are revealed to one another.  Meeting unique characters along the way provides the opportunities to discover what’s happened over the last 10 or so years, but it also gives the writer a way to inject a bit of humor as well.  This is a true indie with lead actors who elevate the story and our connection with it.  Beautifully shot and written, this homage to the coastal byway and our changing friendships is a love story like no other.  

Now streaming on all major digital platforms including Amazon Prime Video.

3 Stars

“Pouffe!” The Sundance gem “Save Yourselves!” is now streaming

October 8th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Pouffe!” The Sundance gem “Save Yourselves!” is now streaming”

The writing and directing team of Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson create one of the funniest apocalyptic films imaginable in “Save Yourselves!” starring the comedic duo Sunita Mani and John Reynolds. Portraying a young couple obsessed with technology, Jack (Reynolds) and Sue (Mani) decide to unplug for a week and head Upstate for a reprieve and to rejuvenate their relationship. Turning off their phones, their optimism for a spectacular week of reconnection can be seen in their eyes…if only they would have looked up.

Watch the trailer here

“Save Yourselves!” sets up everything you need to know in the first scenes, before they head to their serene, forested lodging devoid of Siri and Alexa. So pay close attention to all the dialogue and all the details as they come into play every bit of the way, especially the non-conformist/anti-Hollywood ending.

Sue is an organized control freak who has just lost her job. Struggling to make sense of things, she’s got the entire week planned. This is in juxtaposition to her laid back significant other, Jack. And together they are comic gold as they play off of each other’s characters and personalities. With Sue’s seriousness and measured panic as they discover the world as they know it is ending thanks to an invasion by “pouffes,” Jack’s inadvertent physical humor as he plunges into the unknown is simply hysterical. And this type of comedy ramps itself up, never letting you down for the entire film.

While the initial scenes feature more than just Reynolds and Mani, it becomes a two-person film taking place primarily in one location. Mani’s ability to counterbalance Reynold’s physical humor as well as his incredibly varied facial and vocal reactions to augment his lines is spot-on perfect with timing and reaction. Their natural interactions and conversations feel ad libbed but with complete structure creating the illusion of a real couple. They are the perfect yin-yang and with that, they gently pull you into their world. With that invitation, we find ourselves immersed in Jack and Sue’s world, but the camera allows us to see what they cannot…something big is happening all around them. Their eventual discovery is slowly revealed as they relish in being a couple—drinking wine, gazing at the stars many of which are shooting (hint, hint) and basking in a boat on a pond. This relaxed demeanor puts the audience on edge, knowing of an invasion, but all in good time they begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And every step they take could be their last, but even if it is, you know that Fischer and Wilson will make us laugh about it.

Fischer and Wilson seem to have the Midas touch when it comes to finding humor in any and every situation, but the panache for making us gasp and scream out loud while laughing just as hard is brilliant. As you can tell, this is no ordinary apocalypse film or story. It’s really more about a relationship and how one couple deals with the extraordinary circumstance with which they face—living or dying thanks to a foreign critter with a nasty needle-sharp bite. Sue and Jack respond so very differently to the situation which in itself lends itself to funny scenarios, but it is the accumulation of issues that snowballs and becomes an avalanche of irony and even comic horror. From Jack’s inept ability to chop wood and be a “real man” and his alcohol induced night terrors to Sue’s controlled panics and detailed discussions of processing what she’s seeing, Reynolds and Mani take what’s written on the page and deliver a story worth seeing several times. With their natural chemistry and familiarity paired with great writing and directing, it’s total entertainment even if there are a couple of flaws within the plot. (I’ll watch it a few more times to double check this!). The final third of the film becomes a race to, away, or from (no spoilers here) with an ending that is the perfect icing on the cake and just as satisfying. But be warned, while there is some gore in this film, it’s never the focal point and you’ll find yourself laughing even during the bit of blood you see.

“Save Yourselves!” now showing streaming everywhere. Movies Anywhere

3 Stars

American remake “The Lie” stays true to the original German film “We Monsters”

October 6th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on “American remake “The Lie” stays true to the original German film “We Monsters””

“The Lie” has its origins in the 2015 German film “We Monsters (“Wir Monster”) and this remake stays true to its origins as it depicts the lengths parents will go to protect their child. Starring Joey King, Miereille Enos and Peter Sarsgaard, it’s a chilling concept of love, loyalty, and truth.

Watch the trailer here

Kayla (King) is a typical teen being raised by divorced parents, shuffled between the two and struggling to come to terms with the situaiton. Rebecca (Enos), a successful high-powered corporate lawyer drops off her daughter with her ex, Jay (Sarsgaard), a hipster struggling musician. It’s the dead of winter in Upstate New York and the chill in the air is no coincidence as it foreshadows the events to come. As Dad and Kayla drive the country backroads on their way to a dance camp, they pick up Kayla’s best friend Britney (Devery Jacobs). The girls’ banter is conflicting as it devolves into a flirtatious encounter between Britney and Jay. Requesting a stop along the way to relieve herself, Britney and Kayla exit the car into the woods, but only Kayla returns. The bloodcurdling scream and the reactions that follow change not only Britney’s life forever, but everyone’s.

In a split second decision to not call 911, Jay takes the road less traveled as he learns that his daughter has intentionally killed Britney, pushing her over the bridge and plunging into the harsh and frigid rapids below. Hatching a plan on their way back to Mom’s, the cover up begins and as they say, “Lies beget lies.”

Rebecca learns of the truth and the conundrum in which she is placed goes against every moral grain in her body, but she must protect her daughter. Of course, all of this spirals out of control as the situation devolves, but always beneath the surface is Rebecca’s questioning of her own daughter’s odd reactions. Jay, however, justifies Kayla’s nonchalant and inappropriate expressions as she is able to go about her life as if nothing happened. No remorse or sorrow is found in this girl as she fixes breakfast, watches television, laughs, and interacts normally.

Rebecca’s internal struggle is immediately evident in her appearance as she questions whether or not she has raised a sociopath. And as Britney’s father and the police begins to ask questions, the chips begin to fall. Rebecca and Jay can’t keep track of all the lies which leads to more grandiose actions taken to cover up the initial crime.

“The Lie” asks the question of how far would you go to protect your child if he/she was guilty of a crime? Could you do the unthinkable? How would you react? These are difficult questions and both characters of Rebecca and Jay handle it differently. Additionally, beneath the obvious surface is the impact of divorce upon a teenager as Kayla’s motivation is revealed.

The questions this film brings to light are compelling ones that both Enos and Sarsgaard eloquently approach. “The Lie” becomes their story as they reconnect and remind one another of why they got divorced. Enos shines in her role as we physically watch her appearance unravel and her body language subtly reveals that she is in constant heightened anxiety. Sarsgaard’s polar opposite character balances the anxiousness as he attempts to lead the family back to a smooth road of normalcy. King, unfortunately, never seems to find the right direction in allowing us to more accurately read her situation. With an unexpected ending, we can see why she is all over the board, but her every reaction is more of an overreaction.

The connection between Enos and Sarsgaard carries the film to give it a sense of reality. Their characters were once in love, but their differences made marriage impossible and we see these aspects arise as they attempt to come together for the good of their child. And as the original title of the film suggests, there are monsters in this film, but who is the true monster?

3 Stars

Streaming on Amazon Prime beginning Tuesday, October 6.

“The Forty-Year-Old Version” Brilliantly funny and poignant coming of age film

October 6th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Forty-Year-Old Version” Brilliantly funny and poignant coming of age film”

“The Forty-Year-Old Version” is an unexpectedly universal story filled with comedy yet a brilliant poignancy that is simply delightful. Writer/Director/Star Radha Blank finds herself in a rut as she approaches her 40th birthday. Desperately wanting to be that person she thought she could be ten years ago, she attempts to reinvent herself from playwright to a rap artist. This charming and relatable film, whether you enjoy rap or not, is filled with heart, soul, and a little bit of rhythm to reawaken your own future self.

Watch the trailer here

Living in New York City in an unsavory part of town and barely making her rent, Radha teaches inner city college students how to write plays. The kids are tough, frequently lashing out at Radha and calling her on the carpet to remind her of her unsuccessful and stalling career. It’s brutal, but Radha handles the situation with grace. The accusations cut through her and like a bubbling volcano, she eventually erupts in the most inconvenient of places. Archie (Peter Kim), her long-time friend and now agent has gained an opportunity for Radha to meet with the king of Broadway producers, Josh Whitman (Reed Birney). His smug, condescending inability to understand a Black woman’s point of view as he critiques her latest submitted play is maddening and Radha, on her last nerve, loses it. As we watch her lunge, it’s shocking and surprisingly funny at the same time. And by this time in the film, we are completely connected to this woman who has lost sight of her dreams as the passing years sweep by.

The remorseful Radha who is still in a state of mourning after losing her mother, digs deep into her former self who was a rhyming master in her youth. Still having the knack for it, she pours her thoughts and troubles into her lyrics as she reaches out to D (Oswin Benjamin) an underground beat mix artist to help her develop. This adventure has its own troubles, successes, and even sparks of love as Radha battles her failures and how she can move forward as RadhaMUSPrime, an aging rapper.

Blank’s exceptional use of humor throughout the film carries us through awkward and cringe-worthy scenes as well as those of Radha’s personal disappointments. The deeply textured characters shine in a complex and layered script allowing us to not only know, but connect with the main character. In many ways, Blank has created a coming of age film that any woman over the age of 39 can completely relate.

Wearing three of the most important hats in a film — writer, director, and star — is a balancing act most cannot attain, but Blank deftly does so. Filmed in black and white, this accentuates the shades of grey within us all as we grow, but we also hone in on the characters more clearly. There is also an occasional gritty texture within the black and white film which punctuates the issues at the forefront. And Blank isn’t afraid to tackle topics of race, poverty, and struggle, with all its inequities, but somehow she is able to do so with humor as she finds a way for everyone, no matter our race or socioeconomic class, to understand and relate. It’s a brilliant combination that comes as a welcomed surprise.

As Blank portrays Radha, her performance finds an unguarded genuineness giving it a tone which creates not only a memorable character, but a lovable one. The baggage she carries as we unlock the suitcase and peer inside, is filled with common issues such as loss and regret, but there are also unique items that only a woman can carry and those which only a Black woman shoulders. And while the exterior of the baggage isn’t shiny and new, the complexity of what’s inside is what makes this character so beautiful.

Blank’s cast supports and lifts her character and the story which allows us into Radha’s world, rolling out the red carpet and welcoming us to see her point of view. Archie reminds Radha (and us) of the importance of compromise while Radha digs her heels in in an effort to not sell out. Each of Radha’s relationships, from her students to friends, and those on the periphery of her circle, are key to Radha’s growth, the story’s narrative arc, and of course, to add incredible interest. Imani Lewis (Elaine) and Haskiri Velazquez (Rosa) stand out as students who are angry and trying to sort out why and Oswin Benjamin helps us to see beyond our expected stereotypes of rappers. Blank even finds a way for all of the supporting characters to travel along their own story arc without taking away from the focal point of Radha’s character.

“The Forty-Year-Old Version” finds and implements the right rhythm and pace to tell a familiar and relatable story of a woman trying to find her own voice as she recalls her youthful goals. With a powerful ending filled with awe and even a touch of humor, Blank reminds us of the importance for all of us to “find your own voice.” #FYOV

3 1/2 Stars

“The Artist’s Wife” – Brilliant perspective of a wife’s love, loyalty and need for independence

October 3rd, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Artist’s Wife” – Brilliant perspective of a wife’s love, loyalty and need for independence”

*Capsule Review*

Behind every great man is a great woman…or does that actually meant that the woman is being taken for granted? That’s the question in this film as we see Claire’s (Lena Olin) response to her commitment and love of her husband after his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Richard (Dern), a brilliant abstract artist, is struggling to create his final exhibition. Keenly aware of his initial cognitive decline, he lashes out at anyone who reminds him of his difficulties resulting in dire consequences. His relationships in work and home suffer, but ever the care-taker, Claire steps in to smooth over the bumps in the road.
Attempting to help mend Richard’s relationship with his daughter, Claire struggles but never succumbs, however within her, she yearns to find her own voice. She once had dreams, long forgotten, but within her the spark of her former self surfaces. It’s a battle between her loyalty and independence and the intrinsic need to be the caretaker.

Bruce Dern convincingly plays Richard, a crotchety old man who’s in the beginning stages of dementia. He delivers his cutting dialogue with a razor sharp edge. It’s a figurative bloodletting in one memorable and incredibly hurtful scene between Richard and his daughter, Angela (Juliet Rylance) that makes an indelible impression. But this is Claire’s story. We see what’s happening to Richard through her eyes. And the sacrifices she willingly made through the years to help her husband succeed are now more evident than ever. Olin’s evocative and layered performance is captivatingly painful and beautiful at the same time as she brings to the surface the conflict married women have dealt with for decades. Hopefully, in today’s generation, this concept will be a thing of the past.

“The Artist’s Wife” is a complicated story that weaves together issues of father-daughter relationships, the role of a step-mother, and the need to be wanted as Claire’s artistic talents are reawakened. While it’s premise is similar to “the Wife” starring Glenn Close, the emotional depth and character development which pulls you into the story makes each scene more urgent and engaging than its predecessor. And the ending is superb!

Now streaming from The Siskel Film Center: HERE

4 Stars

“Seniors: A Dogumentary” is pawsitively uplifting

September 30th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Seniors: A Dogumentary” is pawsitively uplifting”

Puppy love. We all ooohhh and ahhh when we see a fluffy little four-legged fur ball, but the heart and soul can be seen through the eyes of an older dog as they melt our hearts and connect us to our best friends. Director Gorman Bechard takes us on a journey to explore one couple whose primary mission in life is to give these abandoned older canines a chance to live out their lives in the midst of loving families.

Watch the trailer here

“Seniors: A Dogumentary” features the photography of Jane Sobel Klonski whose book “Unconditional” from National Geographic and the research from Dr. John W. Pilley, Jr., an animal psychologist as they both lovingly capture how an older dog can be taught so much more than a new trick—they can love and be loved. The focal point, however, is Zina and Michael Goodin, the founders of the organization “Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary,” a center for abandoned older dogs, as they search for the perfect new location for their center. Given 90 days to relocate from their original center, it’s a race against time while also caring for and finding “forever foster homes” for these special dogs.

If you’re thinking, “This is going to be a tear jerker,” you’re right, but in a good way! The film is an uplifting one as Klonski showcases and narrates her photos, emphasizing the relationship between older dogs and their humans. In addition to the emotional stories, we also are privy to Pilley’s canine cognitive research with his own best buddy Chaser, coined “the smartest dog in the world” as she knew more than 1000 words and could discriminate between nouns and verbs. Watching the elderly researcher lay on the floor and asking Chaser to imitate him is incredible making you question whether or not you have been underestimating your own dog’s potential and comprehension.

While the stories of how these dogs ended up at the sanctuary are momentarily heartbreaking, the new lives they lead thanks to the Goodin’s are heartwarming ones. We meet the face of “Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary” Lucy Lu who taught the Goodins that no matter what an older dog had experienced, they deserved and could give all the love in the world. We see the crazy antics of Springsteen vs. a paper towel roll and meet Izzy, a nursing home dog, and Leo who was an inspiration for a video game. Of course, meeting all these memorable older dogs gives us not only a better understanding of the depth of emotional relationships that are possible, but the important role an older dog can play in our lives. Goodin’s Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary located in Mount Juliet, Tennesee not only touches lives locally, it has been an inspiration around the world.

Watching this film will change how you see dogs and perhaps even your own buddy thanks to Bechard’s keen perspective bringing this film to life. The interviews, the canine close ups, and the fly-on-the-wall vantage point, brings us a true understanding of the reason why dogs are considered “(wo)man’s best friend.” And Bechard readily captures the human component to make this film a pawsitively uplifting one. As I sit here with Charlie, my mini Aussie, who is now 7 years old laying comfortably on his pillow next to me, I look into his eyes a little differently thanks to “Seniors: An Dogumentary.” Yes, you’ll need a tissue or two, but be prepared for many more involuntary smiles that go from ear to ear.

3 1/2 Stars

You can stream this on all major digital platforms.

“First One In” Aces humor and heart

September 11th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““First One In” Aces humor and heart”

Thrown off a popular reality show in disgrace, unemployed real estate agent Madi Cooke (Kat Foster), teams with a group of misfit tennis players in a do-or-die match against Bobbi Mason (Georgia King)–an overachieving, tightly wound, real estate shark–and her tennis-playing minions.

“First One In” is an over-the-top and incredibly fun film as it exemplifies women’s relationships, our competitiveness, and the importance of friendship all within the sport of tennis. Gina O’Brien writes and directs Kat Foster as Madi, a struggling realtor who, after a hilarious stint on a “Survivor” type of reality show, kills an endangered animal and must now figure out how to rise above the ridicule. Foster finds heart within this crazy character who is balanced by her tennis compadres Jane (Catherine Curtin), CeeCee (Emy Coligado), Preeti (Aneesh Sheth), and Valentina (Karina Arroyave), all lead by a sweet but frustrated tennis coach Fernando (Josh Segarra). Within each of these characters we can either see ourselves or one of our friends, allowing us to laugh and connect with them as they grow and support one another. Georgia King’s performance steals the show as the uptight Bobbi, successful realtor and intimidating boss.

I loved every minute of the chaos and turmoil which doesn’t take itself seriously, yet finds a way to pull at your heartstrings and remind us to lift one another. With a great story arc, “First One In” is an ace! And be sure to watch the credits for a bonus! Now streaming on all digital platforms.

3 Stars

“The Dark Divide” – A healing yet humorous adventure

September 11th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Dark Divide” – A healing yet humorous adventure”

Based on the story of renowned butterfly expert Robert Pyle (David Cross) who embarked on a life-changing trek through one of America’s most important unprotected wildlands in the summer of 1995.

This sweet, comedic adventure film based on the memoirs of Pyle is reminiscent of “Wild” as Pyle embarks upon an adventure he is neither physically nor emotionally trained to do.  His pitfalls find humor and his spiritual growth is inspiring as he copes with the death of his soulmate, Thea (Debra Messing).  Cross is perfectly cast as the awkward adventurer who is focused on finding new butterfly species in the Pacific Northwest.  Capturing the moss covered trees, the damp but fresh forest air, and the rugged and unforgiving mountainous terrain, “The Dark Divide” provides a healing adventure filled with humor but more importantly, a poignant resiliency which nature provides for all mankind.

3 1/2 Stars

Stream this on iTunes and Amazon

“The Broken Hearts Gallery” A surprisingly fun rom-com

September 11th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Broken Hearts Gallery” A surprisingly fun rom-com”

“The Broken Hearts Gallery,” written and directed by Natalie Krinsky is a light and easy romantic comedy that tackles our obsessions with past relationships. Geraldine Viswanathan stars as Lucy Gulliver, a young woman who takes and hoards memorabilia from boyfriends past, but this obsession gets out of control. Seeking a way to move on, she inadvertently creates a gallery for others like her to leave a momento from a relationship allowing them to move on.

We meet Lucy as a teen, bookended by her besties Amanda (Molly Gordon) and Nadine (Phillipa Soo), as the ever-romantic Lucy has yet another breakup. Fast forward 8 years and still, surrounded by her BFFs, Lucy gushes about her current and unknowingly soon-to-be ex boyfriend Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar). The inevitable happens, but serendipity also intercedes as Lucy, distraught from her discovery that Max is cheating on her, finds Nick (Dacre Montgomery).

The circumstances under which Nick and Lucy meet begin our comedic romantic journey. The two find a friendship and help one another work toward a common goal, mutually beneficial as Lucy’s background in art enables Nick to continue his dream of building a boutique hotel and she, a place to house her new-found and growing exhibition. Their relationship begins as friends, allowing them both to be open and candid about their pasts. Nick calls Lucy out on her crazy hoarding and Lucy is the positive influence Nick needs to get over barriers. It’s a natural feeling interaction with a sweetness that hooks you.

Interspersed within this story are outtakes of interviews with people who are donating their cherished items to the Broken Hearts Gallery. They tell their stories of loss and their newly found ability to look to the future. It’s a charming addition to this rather predictable story, adding an element of connection to the overall theme.

Viswanathan, full of energy and ready to shine as the lead actress in this film, shows us she can carry this load. Her natural, off-the-cuff style gives her a credible and realistic performance; she could easily be your quirky friend in real life. Unfortunately, Viswanathan’s power frequently overshadows Montgomery who has a much softer and low-key type of performance. He’s handsome and exhibits a vulnerability which counterbalances the character of Lucy, but he needed a bit more amplification to level the scales.

The supporting cast is there to do exactly that, support, but Arturo Castro who plays Nick’s best friend, is a gem on the screen, stealing every scene he’s in. Pairing him with Randy (Megan Ferguson) as his wife was genius as they play off one another to create more hilarious spots. And Gordon and Soo find the right tone to remind us about the importance of girl friends even though much of their performances are exaggerated and sometimes raunchy for comedic effects.

The film is definitely written from a female’s perspective. Lucy, Amanda, Nadine, and Randy, Marcos’ pregnant wife, vocalize the inner thoughts and conversations that women have. It was a struggle at times to believe some of the reactions from the characters of Nick and Max as the actors didn’t even seem to believe what was coming out of their mouths. Krinsky also throws a few political punches which will either make you laugh or anger you, depending upon which side of the fence your beliefs lie.

“The Broken Hearts Gallery,” like all rom-coms, isn’t meant to be real. It’s what fairy tales are made of and it’s pure escapism. While the running time is a bit long, the story does take all the expected turns while we laugh and chuckle along the way, rooting for Lucy to make the right choices and live happily every after.

*In theaters only

3 stars

“Gather” Serves up the history of Indigenous Americans in perfect proportions for everyone

September 10th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Gather” Serves up the history of Indigenous Americans in perfect proportions for everyone”

History is served up one dish at a time in the documentary “Gather,” directed by Sanjay Rawal. The film takes us on a deliciously informative journey of American Indigenous people who attempt to regain their culture and independence through “food sovereignty.”

Watch the trailer here

The pilgrimage begins in San Carlos, Arizona, through barren, dry lands once a rich, lush forested area. An Apache woman teaches a young girl how to gather grains as she introduces their cultural ways of preparing and eating foods native and once plentiful for their tribes. The breathtaking camera work immediately pulls you into the nature of the film as it captures something beyond the visual beauty. But it is Chef Nephi Craig of the White Mountain Apache Nation who is teaching a cooking class at the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in New York State on the Traditional Lenape Land guiding us along an overgrown path of historical significance and potential healing for a group of Indigenous Americans who were all but wiped out by means of American colonialism.

Within the horrors of the atrocities from centuries ago, food counters the ugly truth as it provides a platform for healing and a sense of beauty. To reconnect to ones’ roots in this way provides more than a physical nourishment, it’s an emotional and spiritual one as well. Director Rawal finds the heart of these people and introduces us to key figures within the communities as they tell their stories of living on the reservations, the difficulties they have witnessed and encountered as well as the hope for their own future and for their traditions.

Rawal takes us across the country to lands and rivers once populated by bison and salmon where Native Americans hunted, fished, and gathered while living in harmony with what Mother Nature provided. From the Yurok Nation along the lush and gorgeous Klamath River in California to the New England area, we meet people like Samuel Gensaw III who embrace their culture and those who bring a sense of evangelism in communicating the efforts from around the country to retain what is so fragile and close to being lost.

Rawal creatively uses voiceover storytelling by bison rancher Fred DuBray with archival newsreels explaining the history of the Plains and how the land changed from having millions of Bison roaming to near extinction thanks to the cattle industry. As recently as 1990, the land has been sought to be protected and brought back to its original form. The connection between the people and their land which provides the food, as DuBray states, is palpable. While the struggle continues, there is a sense of hope thanks to the initiatives around the country. Educating the young about their culture and history is the path to lead these people to a healthier and more prosperous way of living, connected to one another and to nature.

It’s an inspiring film on the whole, but it is the young Elsie DuBray that ignites the possible spark for understanding and integration into the future for Native Americans and this country to understand the difficulties and the solutions. As a teen, her keen insight and knowledge far surpasses most teens as she grasps her cultural background’s centuries old forced tragedies and current health dilemmas while searching for solutions. Rawal focuses upon this aspect of the story for good reason as Elsie and those of her generation are the keys to opening the doors of a better way of living not just for the Indigenous Americans but perhaps all Americans.

Weaving together this story of history, tragedy, and hope as Chef Craig serves up uniquely native dishes and tells us his own unfortunately common story captures your heart and invites you to learn more. The stunning cinematography accentuates every aspect of the story, the beauty of our land, and the need to understand the gifts we have all been given to live a life of truth about our pasts and create a new path for the future.

4 stars

Now streaming on all digital platforms

“Enola Holmes” A smart, vibrant, and fun adaptation of the YA novel

September 8th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Enola Holmes” A smart, vibrant, and fun adaptation of the YA novel”

Brava! Netflix keeps the content coming with this incredibly fun young adult adaptation of Nancy Springer’s novel “Enola Holmes.” Who knew that Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill) not only had an older brother, but also a baby sister named Enola (Millie Bobby Brown)? This is her story and her fight for independence while she solves riddles to find her missing mother. The apple, as they say, doesn’t fall far from the tree and Enola’s power of deduction might just be a match for her big brother.

Enola introduces herself to us, breaking that fourth wall to connect directly to the viewers, as she’s riding her bicycle through the countryside. Out of breath, she narrates the beginning of her life, the meaning behind her name, and how she came to this point. Her energy is contagious and her smile infectious as we find out that her upbringing wasn’t an easy or a typical one. Her father passed away when she was an infant and her brothers left soon after. Enola and her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) have a unique but extraordinary relationship, and with her non-traditional upbringing which eschewed the era’s expectations for women, Enola soon finds that her education in martial arts, chemistry, and anagram solving will benefit her greatly.

Of course, as Enola is only 16, her estranged and famous brothers are summoned to come to her rescue, but Enola finds their “help” to be quite the opposite. Venturing out into the world alone, she attempts to put together the pieces of the puzzle and find Mother.

The story is Enola’s to tell and Brown gives her character a vivacious and vibrant personality filled with youthful exuberance and intelligence. Her presence on the screen calls us to attention, hanging on her every word as she unabashedly and eloquently speaks to the audience so that we can keep up. This is a character any young girl could admire and any adult could cherish.

Cavill expertly portrays the brilliant Sherlock Holmes and Sam Claflin gives Mycroft, the uptight and unapologetically controlling older brother the edge and counterpart to Sherlock that’s needed. Bonham Carter is suited perfectly as Enola’s progressive mother who thinks outside of society’s current restrictions and together, this cast supports one another and allows Enola’s character to shine.

The rest of the story incorporates puzzle solving and deductive reasoning skills amidst a deadly cat-and-mouse chase with a new-found “friend,” Lord Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) who is also on the run. Their paths cross in ways neither of them could have predicted which adds an element of mystery and of course, a charming love story. Murder, motive, and mayhem are woven together with the precision of an Orb spider creating her new lair. And within all of this, writer Jack Thorne educates us of the time period when women in the U.K. were still fighting for the right to vote. To incorporate the thrill of a mystery lead by a teenage girl who can outwit and out fight any male while remembering the tone of truth during an oppressive era is sheer brilliance.

Equally masterful is the pace of this story. There’s never a dull moment, but that doesn’t mean the action is non-stop. There is a perfect balance to the story as we get to know our main characters and the relevance of each of the supporting roles while also getting a rush of adrenaline as the ubiquitous train car jumping and hand-to-hand combat scenes are interspersed. With precision editing and choreography, our hearts race as we watch Enola use her head and her mastery of martial arts to defeat her foes. Of course, in any period film, costuming and set design are a must and the team not only brings this period back to life, but draws your attention to the mindset of things like corsets and complicated undergarments. While we chuckle at such absurdities of the era, there’s the undertone that “we’ve come a long way,” but we aren’t there yet. With deft writing lending itself to a suburb screenplay, it’s no wonder the cast is comprised of so many seasoned actors.

“Enola Holmes” is a smart and fun film which keeps us on the edge of our seats as we watch Enola solve puzzles, crimes, become smitten, outsmart her brothers and the proverbial “bad guys” as she challenges the world to see women differently. It’s a sure-fire win for both teens and adults!

Streaming on Netflix beginning Sept. 23, 2020

4 Stars

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

4 Stars

“The Argument”- A relatable and tension-filled comedy

September 4th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Argument”- A relatable and tension-filled comedy”

Writer Zac Stanford and Director Robert Schwartzman bring us a hilariously intimate look inside the minds of one couple during a momentous evening while entertaining friends. Insecure Jack (Dan Fogler), the struggling screenwriter, is planning a gathering at their apartment following his girlfriend Lisa’s (Emma Bell) performance in the play “Amadeus.” He’s got a huge surprise to unveil, but the jealousies, miscommunications, and misunderstandings of the evening get in the way of this surprise. Instead, an argument ensues, putting an end to the festivities and both Lisa and Jack will admit to no wrong-doing. To sort out who’s right and who’s wrong, they agree to invite the witnesses, er, um, the unwitting guests back the following night (and several nights after) to recreate the scene of the argument.

“The Argument” is a little bit of “Groundhog Day” meets “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Initially, the guests are perplexed as to why they’ve been invited back as Jack leads the conversation, trying to recreate every action and word spoken the night before.
The tensions soon rise and everyone’s true colors show as the characters learn of their purpose that night. And the next. And the next. It’s a brilliant take on a commonplace situation; an argument. We all wish we could have a reenactment to prove how right we were, but alas, the truth is muddled in perception and sometimes even deception.

Stanford’s precision writing is executed perfectly by each of the ensemble cast members. Their personalities, all very different and on the surface over-the-top and one-dimensional, but quickly, the surface melts away to reveal more complexities and realities. Their insecurities, backgrounds, and the depth of character are both intriguing and consuming as we see how these attributes affect their reactions.

Dan, always questioning Lisa’s relationship with Paul (Tyler James Williams) and Lisa’s over-the-top flirtation certainly gives Dan some credibility with his suspicions. Paul’s date Trina (Cleopatra Coleman) with her high pitched voice brings us back to old-time radio shows when the girls were gals and didn’t have a single intelligent thought…but looks can be deceiving. Sarah (Maggie Q) is all business with a photographic memory that comes into play but it is her incredibly condescending attitude that throws her significant other Brett (Danny Pudi) over the edge. The mix of these personalities creates a party that you’d never want to attend, but would pay money to be a fly on the wall to witness!

As the film takes place in one apartment, primarily the living room, giving it the feel of a play and there’s good reason for that, but I don’t want to spoil anything. We experience the same scenario, tweaked and varied which makes it incredibly funny, night after night as the characters do their part to recall what they said and what they did…and like a jury during a trial, misgivings and mistakes in testimony are called out, but when they all hit a wall, Jack brings in the big guns. This is an unexpected turn compounding the already high tension comedic elements in the story making it incredibly enjoyable as a viewer.

Stanford keeps us on our toes throughout the film, challenging us to be a part of this fast-paced memory game and to get to know the guests at the party. Pacing is everything in this film and thanks to exacting direction, Schwartzman pushes his cast to deliver the goods. While Fogler is the lead, the entire cast is integral to every scene and each actor stands out as they embrace their character’s position in this tangled web of truth. Maggie Q appears to find absolute pleasure in her performance as the uptight, driven breadwinner, belittling not only her hubby, but anyone who dares cross her path. Pudi plays off of this high tension, making us laugh aloud at the awkwardness he tries to brush under the rug. Williams’ and Bell’s embellished portrayal of their characters as actors brings to the surface so many stereotypes that you read or hear about, but it is Coleman’s unique throw-back performance that really stirs things up and makes it all vividly memorable.

Finding various types of humor from irony and observational to slap-stick physical and cutting sarcasm, Stanford creates a brilliantly funny script from which the actors work. It’s a masterpiece in storytelling utilizing small casts, skillful editing, dexterous direction, and of course the actors’ polished performances. Laughing and relating to each and every scene and each character in one way or another, “The Argument” is arguably one of the top films this year.

4 stars

“The Social Dilemma” Dissects the morality of social media with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel

September 2nd, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Social Dilemma” Dissects the morality of social media with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel”

Rarely do you come across a narrative film or documentary that screams from the mountain tops of how important and timely it is to see. “The Social Dilemma” is this film and it is one that cannot and should not be missed by anyone. Strongly stated, I admit, but it’s necessary.

The opening scene is a quote by Sophocles. “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse” and this describes the beginnings of technology what it has become. This film, while admitting to the greater good these advances in technology has brought us, it focuses upon how we, as a community, a country, and a world have been unwittingly duped into becoming fodder for sale. Our time, our eyes, our future desires and thoughts are all for sale. But the fallout is far greater as the curtain has been pulled back to reveal what’s really happening. And the social ramifications of programmers and their algorithms have reached catastrophic proportions. “The Social Dilemma” not only connects all the dots, it explains them.

The film is filled with interviews with the founders, innovators, and developers of the biggest social media platforms and companies in the world, such as Tim Kendall, Former Director of Monetization of Facebook, Justin Resenstein, Former Google Engineer, and others who created Facebook Pages and the “like” button, Twitter’s Head of Consumer Product, and others. We meet the lead in the film, Tristan Harris, Co-Founder and President of the Center for Humane Technology and former Design Ethicist at Google. He takes us back to that point of no return; when algorithms began to not only monetize attention to ads and particular information, but predicted it and changed who saw what. He cautioned, “If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product.” With billions of users, this meant that each one of us, our anticipated wants and needs, were for sale and that we could be cultivated to desire things and have our own sense of individualized reality. One expert likened it to “The Truman Show” as we accept the reality that we are presented with. We cannot be objective if we are all getting different news.

The rapid fire growth in tech, sales of intangible items (aka our attention), is just the beginning of how our world has changed in “gradual and imperceptible ways” resulting in changing how we think and what we think. On the surface, it’s obvious that this is not for the better; just read the headlines every day for proof. Additionally, our emotional health and well-being has been jeopardized by the silly little thumbs up sign that was, according to its developer, intended to make people feel good, not compete and influence a youngster’s self-worth and identity.

This isn’t the first film to pinpoint how social media has had a negative impact on our lives, but it is the first to explain the issue from the developers point of view. As they divulge that they could no longer ignore their own moral compass for the sake of the almighty dollar, these tech geniuses resigned.

The entire film is mind-blowing as we see the correlating statistics about young girls’ suicides and social media’s presence. We see how false news become someone’s reality, and we watch from the catbird seat how the divisiveness created by these technologies are eroding our society. As each of the experts explained their former positions and how they helped develop a “digital pacifier” and “sell certainty” to advertisers as Shoshana Zuboff, PhD and Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School stated, the writing team of the film interjects dramatic short episodes of a story to represent the complexities of what they have developed and how it impacts you and your family.

The fictional story line stars Skyler Gisondo as Ben, the teen who is attached and addicted to his phone. The algorithm “team” or A.I. played by Vincent Kartheiser in three roles, manipulates Ben as he begins to question his addiction and need for connection via the phone. This narrative exemplifies what the Silicon Valley tech and business gurus have explained making it all disturbingly crystal clear.

“The Social Dilemma” accentuates that we, as individuals, are not equipped to battle the algorithms within our phones and social media. In fact, they point out that these algorithms continually morph to become more expeditious and efficient, and programmers are now behind the eight ball as they watch their creations become more independent. Is it Frankenstein gone wrong? The film does, although not to a deep enough level, touch upon possible solutions to give us hope. Perhaps the sequel to this film will be “The Social Solution.”

“The Social Dilemma” expertly tells a complicated story while using an entertaining fictional narrative to exemplify their findings. To watch a documentary about technology could easily be profoundly dull, but thanks to the writing team of Jeff Orlowski, Davis Coombe, and Vickie Curtis, it’s incredibly engaging and quite riveting as we see ourselves in this film. Integrating graphic art and the short fictional episodes is a brilliant way to augment the interviews with the experts. And it is with this innovative style that elevates not only the story, but the film overall.

We are all a part of the tech system, both for the good and the bad, and while this seems horrifying, it gives us knowledge and with that comes power. Perhaps we can also gain compassion and empathy as we look in the mirror before we accuse or judge others for their “wrong point of view.”

Available on Netflix beginning Sept. 9, 2020

4 Stars

“Measure for Measure” A deeply satisfying dramatic love story

September 1st, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Measure for Measure” A deeply satisfying dramatic love story”

“Measure for Measure,” based upon the Shakespearean play of the same name, is written by Damian Hill and Paul Ireland. While the writers change some key elements and bring the premise into today’s violent and unpredictable world, the complexity and depth of story remains making it a captivatingly entertaining film. And no, you don’t have to be a fan of or even understand Shakespeare to appreciate this well-acted and deftly directed movie.

A ripple effect is at play when a shooting spree near a tenement area in a city forces many worlds to collide. Duke (Hugo Weaving), the patriarch of one underground criminal faction, and his lackey, Angelo (Mark Leonard Winter) who has been groomed to take over his spot when he retires, witnesses the brutal attack beneath the penthouse windows near the housing complex. The attack continues, placing Claudio (Harrison Gilbertson), a young talented composer who innocently is nearby, in harm’s way, but he bravely saves the next victim by tackling the out of control gunman. After the emotional trauma of near death, Claudio and the woman he saved, Jaiwara (Megan Smart), connect. Their love grows but like many Shakespearean scenarios, the two families are from different worlds and their love is forbidden.

The story takes another violent turn as Farouk (Fayssal Bazzi), Duke’s rival in the criminal world and Jaiwara’s brother, finds out about the relationship and sets up Claudio for a crime he did not commit. Claudio’s life has become a living hell and his only hope is a long-lost connection to Duke. The storylines intersect as Duke tests Angelo, revealing his true colors.

This film, at its core, is a troubled and perhaps a doomed love story as it questions whether or not Jaiwara and Claudio can overcome racial prejudices and religious restrictions. As Jaiwara is placed in inconceivable situations, she is at a crossroads which force her choose between love and life, much like Romeo and Juliet. Staying true to Shakespeare, there is plenty of backstabbing and even a bit of poisoning but we always feel that we are watching a current day story. It’s a brilliant amalgam of one of history’s greatest writers with complicated and intersecting storylines meeting today’s issues of gun control, drugs, religion, racism, and poverty.

Weaving is more than comfortable as the head honcho who has his own sordid and sorrowful backstory that has lead him to his current situation. His deep voice with his signature pacing and articulation adds to his credible performance of an old-school mobster; wise, regretful, with hope waning. The relationship between his character and that of Angelo is as troubled as the young lovers’ relationship and Winter finds just the right pacing with an understated performance to create a smarmy, conniving, directionless man with a moral compass that cannot be corrected.

As the love story is the heart and soul of the film, Gilbertson and Smart have to have an on-screen chemistry that will sweep you away…and they do. As we witness the characters’ relationship and love grow, we, too, are enamored with them both. It’s a pure love that perhaps only exists in movies and plays, but it’s one that we want to believe is possible. And our hearts break as the outside world places undue stressors upon that love. Individually, Smart expertly depicts the daughter of an immigrant family whose assimilation into her new country is looked down upon. She’s an intelligent and devoted family member who struggles to find a balance between her wants and those of her mother and the golden son, Farouk. Smart’s interpretation of Jaiwara is soulful with her eyes conveying everything and we feel her every thought and emotion. Gilbertson is equally engaging as his charisma is immediately evident. His youthful round face conveys an innocence as his character is a creative one and he shines brightly when in the presence of his character’s love. Gilbertson finds an incredible depth of character when Claudio is placed in jail, beaten, threatened and making a choice that could change both he and Jaiwara forever. The emotional turmoil he exhibits overtly as well as subtly, is expertly conveyed and connects us more deeply to him.

“Measure for Measure” is a gripping and tension-filled drama which blends a classic tale of love, betrayal, and honor into the reality of today’s world. The writers, taking a few liberties with the Shakespearean version, make it a more credible story and one from which you cannot look away. You become invested in this couple and Duke, hoping for the best and fearing for the worst. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, involuntarily holding your breath as you await the final scene and it’s a doozy. With extraordinary performances, never overstated, and a complicated yet realistic story, the film version of “Measure for Measure” would have made Shakespeare proud.

You can stream “Measure for Measure” on all major digital platforms and on-demand.

4 stars

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” Questions life’s choices, regrets

August 31st, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““I’m Thinking of Ending Things” Questions life’s choices, regrets”

The avant garde writer and director Charlie Kaufman (“Adaptation” 2002, “Being John Malkovich” 1999) has a new project, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” which may be one of his most challenging and haunting films to date as he adapts Ian Reid’s book of the same name. Feeling more like a stage play than a film, Kaufman takes the essential elements of story telling and burns the images from dialogue into our minds to create a visceral and evocative film.

The stage is set in the front seat of a car where an unnamed woman (Jessie Buckley) and Jake (Jesse Plemons), a young couple, drives in inclement weather to Jake’s parents’ farmhouse. We are immediately taken inside of the woman’s mind, privy to her deep thoughts and judgments about her possibly new but seemingly unfulfilling relationship with Jake. Her insights are often poetic and then abruptly interrupted by conversational attempts from Jake. He has a calm demeanor, a soft but insightful voice and together the pull you into their world as if wrapped in a warm and snuggly blanket. We hear their conversations and more importantly, we hear her intrinsic commentary as she contemplates ending “it.”

The dialogue allows us to begin to get a grasp as to who these young people are, but just as we think we know their background, the story takes a sharp left turn and we find ourselves unable to put our finger on who they are. And just as you wonder if the entire film is going to be one long conversation about life, literary references, and meeting the folks for the first time as the young woman is warned about the mother’s illness with the bar of expectations set exceptionally low, we arrive at the farm. The eeriness and strange actions and reactions ramp up making it feel more like a horror movie as they tour a barn, serenaded by horrific stories of life (and death) on a farm. Inside, as we await the parents to make a grand entrance from the second floor, Jake and the woman engage in uncomfortable fits and starts of awkward verbal exchanges.

Jimmy the dog appears out of nowhere, incessantly shaking off water followed by Mom (Toni Collette) and Dad (David Thewlis) making a splash. The young woman, strong and independent, is taken aback by Jake’s parents’ comments and outlooks. His mother is a strange bird with her insipid comments and confusions which drive Jake nuts. Dad, a bit more subdued, is odd as well and both parents have little respect for their son and his life’s choices. The subsequent observations following dinner make us question not only where we are but when we are. The young woman questions her own sense of reality and identity with the answers arriving only at the very end of the film.

“I’m thinking of Ending Things,” without giving too much away, takes us on an unexpected journey of looking back on life’s choices filled with regrets and unreached potential. The eloquence with which each of our main characters portrays their unique and ever-changing perspectives is like listening to a symphonic harmony; complex and beautiful. Our mind’s eye is always in clear focus looking back, but our wants and desires blur the lines of reality as it melds together what was and what could have been. The end of the film confirms your suspicions as it leaves you breathless and tears slowly rolling down your face.

The young woman, dressed in a way that could have been from any era with Jake’s wardrobe equally non-identifying, only gives us a hint at being in today’s world with her iPhone. Her manner is defiant as she states her mind, never succumbing to Jake’s explosions or his parents’ judgmental behavior, but her inconsistencies in her background give us the first of many clues that something is amiss. Kaufman never underscores these inconsistencies in dialogue or visual contradictions as he expects, or perhaps demands, the viewer to work for it and figure out the riddle.

And this is one intricate riddle to solve as both Plemons and Buckley recite pages of individual dialogue resembling more of a soliloquy which gives it a stage production feel. The literary choices and cultural references are more clues to where, when, and why we are, but again, this isn’t clear until near or at the end of the film. Both actors deliver understated performances which increases the intrigue of it all. Collette is extraordinary with her unexpectedly jarring vocal responses and body language creating that eerie and anxious feeling. It’s an antithesis to Plemons’ portrayal of the calm son whose blood is about to erupt.

The powerful performances of all the actors is augmented by dream-like sequences and memories that elude to another time and place filled with the promise of hopes and dreams yet to happen. The vivid colors—memories of theatrical productions and visits to a throw back ice cream shop—key us in to the past filled with hope. The current day—cold and snowy, blurring the mind—is dull and muted, perhaps representing the aging process as the synapses misfire and our memories become more fiction than truth.

The symbolism within the film is myriad and requires multiple viewings as this is an incredibly cerebral film which recognizes mortality and that we have only one chance to make the most of our lives. Although I have not read the book and it’s quite possible I am bringing my own baggage to the interpretation of the film, the beauty of the writing and the eloquence within is at the forefront. Plemons and Buckley take on a Kaufman’s Shakespearean load while delicately and deftly delivering a precision performance.

4 Stars

Available on Netflix Friday, Sept. 4, 2020

“American Street Kid” – Hope within hopelessness

August 28th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““American Street Kid” – Hope within hopelessness”

Synopsis:
Filmmaker, Michael Leoni heads to the streets of LA to shine a light on the epidemic of homeless youth in America. Once inside their world he realizes he can no longer be an observer; every day is a matter of life or death and he’ll do anything to get them off the streets.

Capsule Review:
To most of us, the thought of kids and teens being homeless is unthinkable, but Leoni takes us into the unknown and tells us the story of just a handful of homeless teens. The dangers of living on the street and the hopelessness that pervades their every waking moment is crushing, but it’s the impetus for Leoni to be both filmmaker and savior. In very untraditional documentary style, Leoni becomes the one support system upon which these kids can rely, but it’s not always enough as we watch the stories unfold. It’s an emotional set of stories that enrages you as you realize that you’re oblivious to this heartbreaking and systemic problem. Leoni highlights the inadequacies of agencies and interventions, but also shines a light on how much of a difference just one person can make.

3 stars

“The Personal History of David Copperfield” A whimsical and fantastical depiction of a classic Dickens’ tale

August 26th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Personal History of David Copperfield” A whimsical and fantastical depiction of a classic Dickens’ tale”

“The Personal History of David Copperfield” originally written by Charles Dickens is adapted into an unorthodox screenplay by Simon Blackwell. The story, whether you’ve read Dickens or not, is a familiar one as a young boy must overcome one atrocity after another to not only survive but to also succeed.

Dev Patel stars as the older version of David, but we are taken back in time to David’s birth and childhood. It was a rocky start to say the least as young David’s (Ranveer Jaiswal) father died before he was born. Witnessing David’s birth, Aunt Betsy Trotwood (Tilda Swinton) swoops in to add a fantastical element filled with comedy, stating emphatically that the girl will be named after her. Heartily disappointed at the birth of a boy, she exits, dramatically, of course, only to re-emerge later in the film.

David’s mother (Morfydd Clark) and he have a close relationship, that is until a new and intimidatingly controlling “father” (Darren Boyd) steps in. It’s a downward spiral from this point as David is sent away to work in a factory and fend for himself.

Capitalizing on the richly intense imaginative elements, no character is meant to be believable; they are more caricatures than characters. This, of course, adds humor and heart to the story as we are introduced to the likes of light-hearted Mrs. Peggotty (Daisy May Cooper) and the lovingly senile Mr. Dick (Hugh Laurie) and many more. The evil elements are well represented, too, with the steely Murdstone and his frigid sister Jane (Gwendoline Christie) as well as the dastardly manipulative Uriah Heep (Ben Whishaw).

David cherishes his youth, longing for the safety and love, but his future is tumultuous as he finds love in the looks of the intellectually challenged young Dora Spenlow (again played strangely by Morfydd Clark who also plays David’s mother). Overlooking the woman who truly loves him, Agnes (Rosalind Eleazar), David learns the lessons of life and love in the most difficult of ways.

Both writer Blackwell and director Armando Iannucci take many liberties in retelling this classic tale finding and succeeding in whimsy and humor as the emotional dark cloud hanging low over David’s head is ever present. It’s a complicated story with extraordinary details taking us along David’s life journey and while it’s more of a Cliff Note version of the book, it still hits all the high notes and acts as a wonderful introduction to Dickens and his stories.

The setting and the linguistic flexibility, fluidity and eloquence remains a highlight in this unconventional Dickens’ tale requiring the viewer to pay close attention or you might miss a hilarious comment or remark. Pairing perfectly together is the set and costume design. Wild colors and on the wall, mismatched bold patterns of pants, dresses, and vests, and a capsized boat in the sand, all remind us that we are in an imaginary world sprinkled with the dark realities of life. Those dark realities are represented visually with style and color, all bleak and dark tones coloring the life and outlook within the confines of the factory or the city in decline. Thankfully, the writer balances these scenes which keeps our visual senses sharply focused.

Equally balanced is the humor, much of it provided by Mr. Dick (Laurie) and Mrs. Trotwood (Swinton). A prime example is the fact that Mr. Dick perseverates on the beheading of a king who lived a century before. Overloaded with thoughts written on paper, Mr. Dick flies the thoughts away on a kite. And then there’s the continual attack of the donkeys. It’s madcap craziness, but unfortunately, that pacing isn’t maintained for the entire film. The 2-hour film tackles a lot of territory, but perhaps a bit too much and editing would have allowed the film to maintain the pace.

Patel’s depiction of the fictional character of David Copperfield, aka Daisy or Trotwood much to his chagrin, is a graciously eloquent one. He becomes more of a reactionary note to all the fanciful characters and the chaos and turmoil unfolding around him, but his character is the needle that stitches the story together. Clark in her dual role has the most fun as Dora as she talks through her lap dog and misunderstands much of what is said. It’s a standout cast of actors, but Whishaw, almost unrecognizable with his slicked down hair, strange teeth and hunched over Igor-esque physique steals the show. It should also be noted that the “color blind” casting may be initially unexpected, but this notion is quickly dispelled.

With the exception of a small pacing issue halfway through the film, “The Personal History of David Copperfield” now showing in theaters, is an inventive and bold depiction of a classic tale well worth seeing.

3 1/2 Stars

“Centigrade” A chilling true-life story of survival

August 26th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Centigrade” A chilling true-life story of survival”

Not even our current 90-degree days with seemingly 100% humidity can take the chill out of air while you’re watching “Centigrade.” The film, based on real events, depicts a young couple traveling in Norway to promote the wife’s new book. On their way to the book signing, they hit an ice storm on a treacherous mountain road. Pulling over, and arguing about whether or not to do so, the couple falls asleep only to awaken to be encased in their car, frozen and buried beneath the blizzard that followed the ice. With limited resources, the couple must survive an indeterminate amount of time and be saved or save themselves.

The first scene is a claustrophobic one, panic setting in to both the characters and the viewer, as the couple awakens from their slumber, realizing the dire situation. Naomi (Genesis Rodriguez), is rather unlikeable immediately as her treatment toward hubby Matt (Vincent Piazza), a sweet and supportive partner, isn’t kind. Both characters look at the situation differently as they assess their environment and food and water resources. The hours and days tick by and tempers flare giving insight into the emotional baggage they both carry. With the additional knowledge that Naomi is pregnant, water is scarce, and the temperatures falling precipitously, the stakes are raised considerably for all of them.

“Centigrade” captures not just the environment, but the feeling of being in this car. We feel trapped and panicked watching events unfold. We feel the bitter cold slicing through the layers of clothes unsure as to what we would do if in a similar position. This feeling of empathy is no easy task when filming in one isolated and cramped location, but “Centigrade” uses this as a solid foundation for the characters to build and ultimately complete the story.

To make this story believable, both Naomi and Matt have to be authentic in their portrayals—and Rodriguez and Piazza find a way to deliver exactly that look of authenticity. Neither portray themselves as perfect. They are flawed. They have secrets and issues that come to a head. (Imagine being trapped in a car with YOUR significant other!) There’s no real time to subtly introduce our main characters; it’s a crash course and both actors know this. We pick up in the middle of their lives and their history.

Interestingly, we initially regard Rodriguez’ character with disdain. She is unapologetic with this aspect, but it is exactly that choice that makes her real. Over time, we see that Matt has his own issues and Piazza’s nuances and more subtle overtones allow us to see him for who he really is. Polar opposites in many ways, they fit together. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions, lashing out at one another, comforting one another, and sacrificing for each other. Their conversations, all pertinent to developing our understanding of each of the characters and their psychological reasoning for decision-making, pushes this story forward with the intensity of an avalanche. The deft direction and attention to every detail because with just one setting, details count, guides the two characters along their path with the precision of a surgeon. Details such as the candy wrappers, the empty water bottles, the layers of clothing and the hashmarks on the dashboard to count the days punctuate the emotional turmoil Naomi and Matt are facing. Of course, the contortionist-like cinematography brings you inside the car to experience the candid dialogue and we become a fly on the wall to witness each minute, hour, and day. While the time passes by, thanks to great editing, it never feels like we are watching the hands of the clock.

As the is film based on a true story, you may already know how it ends, but that does not take away the thrill and the chill of it. Its bitter rawness is terrifying but the connection with the characters makes this a film from which you just can’t look away. Incredible and at times inconceivable cinematography, succinct direction and dialogue, and authentic performances makes this a film you won’t want to miss. And you’ll likely keep a few more stocked items in your car next winter!

Stream this on Amazon Prime/IFC

4 Stars

“Chemical Hearts” Flatlines

August 20th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Chemical Hearts” Flatlines”

“Chemical Hearts” is a one-note wonder, making me wonder why I sat through it. Based on the novel by Krystal Sutherland, the elusive yet extraordinarily talented Grace Town (Lili Reinhart) transfers midway through senior year to a new school.  Henry (Austin Abrams) is immediately smitten with her, finding her mystery intriguing while he attempts to figure out his newly discovered feelings of love for her.

This is Henry’s story, told from his point of view.  He shares with us his innermost thoughts, fears, and feelings while we can only guess what Grace is hiding beneath her dark exterior.  Wow. After raising two teens and being team mom for literally hundreds of teens throughout the years, I really wonder how the writer came up with this dialogue ? What teen ever ponders life to the extent with the wisdom these two “kids” have?  And we see almost no change or growth in either character which means no true emotional depth is exhibited by either character.  This is incredibly dull as we watch Grace sulk and Henry strive to understand her.  The most interesting aspect is when Henry’s older sister, a neurology intern, attempts to explain the chemistry of the brain during trauma and elation.

The unbelievable dialogue paired with a story arc that doesn’t come off of the baseline and actors who graduated from high school nearly a decade ago adds to the disingenuousness of the film.  “Chemical Hearts” flatlines on all levels of storytelling.

“Words On Bathroom Walls” finds humor amidst mental health chaos

August 20th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Words On Bathroom Walls” finds humor amidst mental health chaos”

Mental health is at the forefront of many films, but finding a way to take us into the world of a teen diagnosed with schizophrenia with humor and heart is a rare find.  “Words on Bathroom Walls” is an extraordinary tale of one boy’s struggle as his family attempts to cure and ultimately find a way to understand the condition.  Based on the book by Julia Walton, Nick Navada’s screenplay brings us into this unique world to experience it safely and to better understand it.  It’s a mesmerizing, entertaining, and enlightening story that seeks compassion and understanding in this volatile world of a high schooler with a little-known mental disorder.

Charlie Plummer, a name that from this critic’s point of view, should be a household name.  His range and ability to delve into any character to give it incredible nuances is found in every role including this very complicated one of Adam.  We see what he sees, and we feel what he feels– his first love, his frustrations with his mother (Molly Parker), his distrust of his step father (Walton Goggins), and his embarrassment and insecurities.

This strong cast supported by incredible visuals allows us to better understand a disorder that for most of us was previously a mystery.  Additionally, there’s a strong sense of humor in the writing which is deftly executed by Plummer to make us laugh amidst the chaos in his head.  While the ending struggles to tie all the loose ends together and perhaps becomes a little too predictably “Hollywood,” it doesn’t take away from the sincerity and authenticity of the story.

3 1/2 Stars

“The One and Only Ivan” is exactly the type of movie we need right now

August 20th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The One and Only Ivan” is exactly the type of movie we need right now”

It’s refreshing to see Disney develop a kids’ movie that isn’t a remake of one of their former animated films and they do so in true Disney style. “The One and Only Ivan” is a charmingly sweet and heartwarming film, based on a true story, that will entertain both kids and adults. The incomparable Mike White adapts the children’s book of the same name by Katherine Applegate to tell the story of a silverback gorilla named Ivan (voice: Sam Rockwell) who lived his days as a circus star at a local mall. Ruby (voice: Brooklyn Prince), a baby elephant joins this performing family and Stella (voice: Angelina Jolie), an adult elephant with a stereotypical great memory, makes Ivan promise to help little Ruby escape the confines of the cage and live out her life in freedom.

The first scene of the film keys us into the fact that the circus at the mall just isn’t doing well; attendance is down, people aren’t even shopping at malls anymore, and Ring Leader Mack (Bryan Cranston) is struggling to make ends meet. In an effort to save the circus, Mack buys an adorable baby elephant, Ruby, who hears stories of freedom from her adoptive mom Stella. (It’s at this point that you know you need a few tissues because this happens in all Disney movies.) Mack and his small crew take good care of the animals in their confines, but it is a special bond between Julia (Ariana Greenblatt), the circus’s lighting man’s (Ramon Rodriguez) daughter, and Ivan that propels this story in a new direction. Julia spends hours chatting with Ivan, connecting with him, and eventually sharing her art supplies with this gorilla. His uncanny ability to draw stimulates his memories, but Mack, ever the hustler, sees a new path for his animal kingdom to exploit and that is Ivan’s artistic skills. What happens changes the lives of everyone in the community and all the animals forever.

This heartfelt story hooked me from the beginning thanks to the CGI/animation of all the animals and a cast with voices to give the non-human characters such grand personalities . Ivan’s expressive eyes pierce your own as Rockwell’s voice shares Ivan’s thoughts and memories of his life. Ivan takes us down memory lane as he recalls his family— the time he spent playing in the mud, his love of his father, and the day Ivan became captive. The dialogue between and among all of the animals brings us into their intrinsic world making us privy to their thoughts and emotions. It is this anthropomorphic perspective that allows us to relate to all of the creatures, rooting for them to somehow escape “into the wild” and be “free.”

While the “eyes” have it, the actors bring it up a notch, particularly when you have the likes of Danny DeVito as Bob the Terrier adding a splash of humor and sarcasm to the story. Helen Mirren makes a mark as the pampered poodle Snickers, and Rockwell’s slow, measured, and calm voice gives Ivan, a physically intimidating beast, the heart and soul we all grow to love. (For Chicagoans who had the ability to visit the Lincoln Park Zoo in the 1980’s to see Otto, the head of the silverback gorilla troop, and how he played his audience, you’ll love Ivan even more thanks to your experience.)

The humans do a fine job of it as well. Cranston brings levity to his character who is struggling but possesses a kind heart and Greenblatt is adorable, perfectly cast as the one who connects with a powerful and beautiful creature. The emotional journey we travel with Ivan balances the dramatic with the comedic thanks to the script. Given the entertainment value and message this film has, I’ll even overlook the overpowering, Disney-signature musical score that is more of an onslaught than an augmentation.

“The One and Only Ivan” is a story for everyone. Be sure to watch the credits roll as the story continues. You’ll see images captured from the real Ivan and the story upon which this heartfelt film is based.

3 1/2 Stars Available on Disney+

“Spinster” – A comedic new spin on single women

August 5th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Spinster” – A comedic new spin on single women”

Female. 39. Single. Three words that set off alarm bells for some women, but ladies, times have and are changing and Chelsea Peretti’s new film “Spinster” screams that from the mountain tops.

Peretti plays Gaby, a caterer who seems rather jaded when it comes to love and marriage as we see in the opening scene, citing the origins of the marriage contract to a prospective customer who is hell-bent on sharing an exasperating story of her “love at first sight” encounter. Dripping with sarcasm (and wisdom), Peretti portrays the realistic young woman who decided to be “single by choice.” Of course, this happens right after she’s dumped by her 3-month boyfriend with whom she inadvertently began living.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

Finding solace with her childhood friend Amanda (Susan Kent), Gaby bemoans society’s pressures and expectations as she works through her own issues of self-worth and newly formed goals. Dating is a redundant endeavor, yet Gaby gives it another go and we, the audience, gets to bask in the comedic rays of snippets of disastrous dates. While there’s a bit of guilt in laughing at all the brutally awkward interactions, we gain a sense of understanding and compassion for Gaby as she lets down her guard.

Picking herself up by her bootstraps and dusting herself off, she embarks on a new adventure, that of a dog owner and weekly auntie duties to help out her overwhelmed brother. Sharing a rather tumultuous upbringing which still harbors resentment from Gaby toward her father, the two discuss life’s decisions as only siblings can. But it is the role she plays as aunt that seems to help her push away the stronghold of preconceived notions of marriage and motherhood which allows Gaby to find her true self and follow her dreams.

“Spinster” has an obvious message, but the journey we take with Gaby makes the overtness of the film an absolute pleasure. The straightforward honesty within all of her relationships propel the story forward as she gives herself permission to pave her own path.

The friendship between she and Amanda has diverged, but find a new way to connect. Their conversations give the viewer keen insight into how Gaby thinks, feels, and why she acts how she does. But it is her defensiveness at a dinner party that makes us want to stand up and cheer for her while we laugh out loud. It’s one of my favorite scenes as all the women defend one another against the accusations of insensitive, bold and condescending dinner guest. And then we have the damaged father-daughter relationship which is key in helping Gaby acknowledge and confront her past, but these wounds can only heal with the salve of forgiveness.

Peretti is comic gold with her natural style and delivery of incredibly honest material. The connection between she and her niece Willow (Charlie Boyle) is sweetly sincere, and the hostility she exudes when she’s with Bill Carr’s character of Jack, her father, is palpable. Peretti shines in this role and allows all those around her to do the same.

Consistent humor while splaying open the reality of society’s pressures upon women is an unusual combination that makes this film work. It is ok to not be married by 30 or 40 (or ever). It’s ok to not have kids. And it’s ok to follow your dreams and attain your goals whether you’re male or female. What a great message in a film AND you get to laugh your ass off, too!

3 ½ Stars

Available on all major digital platforms beginning Friday, August 7, 2020

Archives

    

Know if you should go, subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Thanks for visiting! Please join my email list to get the latest updates on film, my festival travels and all my reviews.

CONTACT

Bourbonnais, Illinois
www.reelhonestreviews.com

site design by Matt K. © All rights belong to Reel Honest Reviews / Pamela Powell