And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Review: TOP GUN: MAVERICK

As sequels 30+ years in the making go… TOP GUN: MAVERICK delivers at mach speed. The high-adrenaline action drama is like a remake, homage and sequel all rolled into one. If you’re like me and can recite most every line of the 1986 classic, then you’ll feel very much at home with the pacing, characters, and latest shenanigans of fearless Naval aviator Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise).

“Son, your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash.” “I feel the need; the need for speed.” “Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.” “You can be my wingman anytime.” I could go on… but I digress! The dialogue in TG: MAVERICK may not be quite as quotable as those particular gems, but it’s close enough to elicit a chuckle, lump in the throat, or a flash of memory–seemingly right on cue. “Talk to me Goose.”

Review: Happening

Talk about a film arriving at just the right moment! This gripping French drama about a young woman in the early 1960s who gets pregnant and has to go through hell for an abortion will hit you right in the gut. If I’d seen it a month ago, I’d have described it as a cautionary tale. Now it feels more like a glimpse into our dystopian future.

Review: Hit the Road

This wonderful road trip drama traverses the Iranian landscape with a family and their dog. Along for the ride are a mother (Pantea Panahiha) and father (Hasan Majuni) and their two sons, one grown (Amin Simiar) and the other a bouncing off the walls 6-year-old (Rayan Sarlak). The story comes together in small hints as the family deals with their circumstances, attempting to shield the younger son (and the audience) from what is actually happening. It is by turns tense and warm and funny.

Spoiler-Free Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

This particular Doctor Strange movie is an odd duck. It infuses traditional Marvel/MCU superhero stuff with a psychological horror vibe–and zombies–which is great if you’re a fan of director Sam Raimi’s horror franchise The Evil Dead, and not so great if you aren’t. I’m a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch in most any role, including Stephen Strange, so I can cut the film some slack. But horror’s really not my thing. I prefer my Avengers more grounded in reality–even if that ‘reality’ involves parallel universes and alternate versions of themselves (see: Spider-Man: No Way Home).

Review: The Bad Guys

The Bad Guys… aint so bad. And neither is their movie. The film is basically an animated animal version of Oceans 11. A heist movie for the under 12 set, paced to keep both kids and adults at least moderately entertained. The plot revolves around a menagerie of outlaws who get a kick out of grand larceny. Their lifestyle choice is more about the camaraderie than the crime. They just happen to be very good at being bad. Until the law finally catches up with them and they are forced to rethink what they do, who they are, and what they want to be. Good? Bad? A little of both perhaps?

Quickie Review: The Northman

This is a quickie because I know I am not the audience for this violent revenge epic.  It’s the latest from writer/director Robert Eggers who garnered high praise for his previous film The Lighthouse. Similar in tone, The Northman depends very heavily on atmosphere and creating an authentic time period rather than character or story. In a nod to Hamlet, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) sees his dear father King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke) killed by his Uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) and his mother Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) taken by him as his wife. He escapes vowing, “I will avenge you, Father. I will save you, Mother. I will kill you, Fjölnir.” And that’s just what he does for the next 137 minutes.

Quickie Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

This has to be a quickie review because I don’t want to get into trouble with the Wizarding World and all you muggles out there who pay close attention to all things related to Harry Potter. I’m merely an occasional visitor to the Potter universe and have not (gasp!) read the books. So I view and review these films through the lens of a casual observer with limited insight into the interwoven subplots and backstories that take place over the course of many decades. The Secrets of Dumbledore is the third film in the “Harry Potter” prequel series, following Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018). There may be a fourth, and even a fifth depending on how the sci-fi fantasy fanbase takes to this latest adventure sprung from the mind of outspoken, best-selling author J.K. Rowling. If I had to take a ‘wild’ guess, I’d predict more Beasts ahead.

Review: All the Old Knives

I keep forgetting the name of this movie– wanting to call it Knives Out, which it isn’t. It’s not as sharp, or entertaining. But it is engrossing. There are worse ways to pass the time than watching a rakish Chris Pine and alluring Thandiwe (formerly known as Thandie) Newton engaging in intense dialogue (and other stuff too) while seeking to unravel the mystery of who is lying to whom.

Review: Everything Everywhere All At Once

At the center of this wild ride of an action/sci-fi flick is Chinese immigrant mom Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi) whose life definitely took a wrong turn somewhere. Stuck in a boring marriage to Waymond (Ke Huy QuanGoonies), running a coin-op laundry, regularly tangling with her lesbian daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) who disappoints her again and again, and on her way to an audit by an unforgiving IRS agent (Jamie Lee Curtis), she’s woefully unprepared for the role suddenly thrust upon her as the savior of the universe. But she really has no choice in the matter.

Review: Better NATE than Ever

The DUMBO in the room with Disney’s family-friendly musical dramedy Better NATE Than Ever is the irony of timing–as the film’s release just happens to coincide with the passage of Florida’s ridiculous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Nate is a charming little message movie that draws from the likes of Billy Elliott, Adventures in Babysitting, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off— if Ferris were in middle school, and a musical theater geek struggling to find his place and his people. That place is Broadway baby!