Posts tagged "Simmons"

“Palm Springs” Earned that additional 69 cent purchase price at Sundance

July 10th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Palm Springs” Earned that additional 69 cent purchase price at Sundance”

“Palm Springs” gained its first recognition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival as it left the festival not just as the Grand Jury Prize nominee an audience favorite, but also as the highest sale price of any movie at the fest ever by a whopping 69 cents. That price difference is one indicator of the humor of those behind the film.

Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons, the film is reminiscent of “Groundhog Day,” but set in the desert at a wedding reception with many sordidly funny scenarios to discover. With a few novel twists and turns, it’s a funny and charmingly refreshing reprisal of what happens when you have to live the same day over and over again.

Nyles (Samberg) wakes up to his beautiful girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner) getting ready for a friend’s wedding. Later in the evening at the reception, Nyles boldly grabs the microphone to toast the happy couple as you stares directly into the bride’s rather drunk sister Sarah’s (Milioti) eyes. Their connection continues well after the reception and Sarah inadvertently stumbles into the repetitive time warp that the two now must navigate together. This is where the fun begins as they are trapped in that wedding day, exploring various situations and attempting to end the loop by doing crazy stunts like driving hundreds of miles away or hitting a semi truck head on. The two find that they’re not alone in this madness as Roy (Simmons) intermittently shows up to end Nyles’ life…only to wake up again the next morning.

Like Phil (Bill Murray) in “Groundhog Day,” there’s a learning curve to living the same day ad infinitum, but all three characters take this unique opportunity and use it differently. The storyline takes a lot of creative liberties as it travels down numerous pathways to lead Nyles and Sarah to their final destination. While it is really just silly fun, the characters have their own issues and actually develop and grow with each other’s help and this bizarre situation. Although there seems to be a loophole in the story near the end, that doesn’t take away the entertainment value of the film. And let’s face it, being stuck at a wedding on repeat sounds like absolute hell which is a perfect scenario for a story.

Of course, Samberg’s signature comedic style is perfectly suited for this role and he relishes in every awkward and unexpectedly strange situation that arises making it all that much more fun for us. Milioti and Samberg are unmistakably are a match made in heaven for this quirky rom-com, playing off of one another’s timing, expressions, and actions. They never let us down as they hone in on their characters’ personalities and use it to their comedic advantage.

The supporting cast of characters enhances every aspect of the film. Ironically, the bride, Tala (Camila Mendes) doesn’t utter one line of dialogue, yet she stands out as she repeatedly performs the same situation with subtle changes. A cameo from June Squibb is guaranteed to make you smile, but it is J.K. Simmons who proves his versatility in acting. Simmons is comedic gold. Usually a dramatic actors (“Whiplash”), Simmons shines as the crazed man determined to put an end to Nyles, the man responsible for his sentence to repeat this one day.

It’s no wonder that “Palm Springs” had such a buzz at Sundance with this light, refreshingly entertaining story filled with charming performances. I think it was well-worth that extra 69 cents that Neon had to pay!

You can stream “Palm Springs” on Hulu beginning Friday, July 10.

Chicago filmmaker Clare Cooney’s “Runner” available on VOD

April 20th, 2019 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on “Chicago filmmaker Clare Cooney’s “Runner” available on VOD”

What would you do, truly, if you witnessed an accidental, yet brutal murder? First-time filmmaker Clare Cooney plunges herself into that question in this captivating short film “Runner.”

Cooney stars in this thriller as Becca, a young woman going on a routine run in her neighborhood on a wintry day in Chicago. Stopping in the alley behind her apartment, ear pods in, music muting the situation before her, we see what she sees…a man and woman arguing. Suddenly, the woman is struck and she collapses. With eye contact made, Becca responds to fight or flight and she runs.


How she responds next is chillingly real. Finding safety in her apartment and with her boyfriend, her emotions pour, but her decision whether or not to report this man is what’s in question. Learning of the demise of the woman in the alley punctuates the emotional impact and trauma Becca experiences in her every day life, but where is this man? Does he live in her neighborhood? Will she ever bump into him? There’s a feeling of terror bubbling beneath the surface as Becca attempts to go back to her regular daily activities. It’s a visceral experience as we watch Becca in every scene, connecting with her, eliciting our heart to race in suspense, fearing for her safety. Internalizing her emotions, we question what we would do, but the film becomes even more profound as it delves subtly into gender issues of power and intimidation.

“Runner” is an extraordinary portrayal of one woman’s strength and integrity as she is thrust into life and death situations and moral ambiguity for self preservation. Cooney’s depth of character allows us to sense the complexity of the situation and the heightened emotional response, always with authenticity. With this, we are able to walk, or should I say, run, in her shoes, feeling as she does and thinking her every thought.

Cooney, wearing the hats of writer, director, editor, producer, and actress, demonstrates proficiency expected from a seasoned filmmaker, not a first-timer. Not for one minute is any aspect of this film compromised in her overwhelming attempt to wear all of these hats. The script is succinct, the camera work is exceptional, augmenting the storyline, and the overall production value on par with any “big” film. And with a $900 budget, an acting ensemble cast that supports her vision, an experienced co-producer, Shane Simmons, and one of the most promising Chicago cinematographers, Jason Chiu (“Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party” and “Mercury in Retrograde”), Cooney has set the tone for success.

This multiple award-winning short film is available online on Omeleto Channel beginning Tuesday, April 23rd.




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.


Bourbonnais, Illinois

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