Review: On the Edge (Entre La Vie et La Mort)

A body falls onto the tracks in front of a Brussels subway driver as he pulls into the station. It’s every subway driver’s nightmare, but this time it is his own son. And it is no accident. Turns out his son was involved with some very bad people. So what’s a father to do except go full-on Liam Neeson and find the motherfu#@ers who put his boy there. And that’s what this Belgian flick is all about!

Review: Book Club: The Next Chapter

If you put the first Book Club movie in a PG-13 blender with the likes of Girls Trip, Bridesmaids, and 80 for Brady, you’d have yourself a nice, tall glass of Book Club: The Next Chapter. The drink goes down easy enough, but once the glass is empty, you won’t feel the need to make it again. Two chapters is more than enough of this franchise. Especially when we’ve just seen a slightly better comedy drama about female friendship featuring Jane Fonda in a very similar role. Substitute Italy for the [Brady] Super Bowl and you know what’s in play here. Don’t get me wrong. I love Rome, Venice and Tuscany and all the food, culture, landscapes and Aperol spritzes that Italy has to offer. But cinematography aside, there’s little reason to see this film on the big screen. It’s more of a sip and stream flick.

Review: To Catch a Killer

Shailene Woodley (Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars) stars in this Silence of the Lambs wannabe procedural thriller as Eleanor, a young beat cop who finds herself in the center of a life-changing investigation when she’s called to the scene of a crime in Baltimore. Rather than do what she is supposed to do and shepherd people fleeing a mass shooting, she runs into the building and into FBI chief investigator Lammark (Ben Mendelsohn, Animal Kingdom, “Bloodline”). Initially admonished for being in the way, he soon sees that she has the right temperament to help him track down a dangerous killer.

Double Feature: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Judy Blume Forever

Growing up, it was a rite of passage to get “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” out of the library and plow through it, along with a stack of other Judy Blume books that captured so perfectly the fears, joys, relationships, and angst of adolescence. Fast forward several decades (for some of us), and the classic novel is finally making it to the big screen. And thank you, god, it’s actually quite good. It’s sweet, poignant and true to the book, which I re-read in advance of the screening. Because, let’s face it, all I really remembered was that it provided some valuable insights on getting your period, playing spin the bottle, and chanting “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!” Ah, the joys of puberty!

Review: The Worst Ones (Les pires)

Set in Picasso, a gritty, working class town in the north of France, The Worst Ones is a film-within-a-film. Belgian director Gabriel (Johan Heldenbergh) comes to the town to shoot a film, casting local teens and pre-teens as his main characters, just as the award winning directors (Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret) of this film have done. The film concentrates mainly on four of them, Lily (Mallory Manecque), Ryan (Timéo Mahault), Jessy (Loïc Pech) and Maylis (Melina Vanderplancke), and as non-professional actors, they are pretty phenomenal! The reason to see this darkly humorous flick is for the engaging story of these young people whose lives are changed just for a time by this experience.

Review: John Wick: Chapter 4

“No one escapes the Table.” Or so they say.

But John Wick — bless his warm, semi-retired assassin heart– keeps trying. And those around him keep dying.

Yes, the seemingly immortal and perpetually well-dressed John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back–again–for what may be the final chapter of this storied, violently entertaining franchise. If you made it through John Wick (2014), John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017), and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019), then you know exactly what you’re in for with John Wick: Chapter 4 — exceedingly long, preposterous, engrossing and sometimes funny fight scenes with a body count impossible to calculate; honor codes and protocols galore; friends who become enemies and enemies who become friends; and a dog.

Review: Juniper

It’s probably just the films I am choosing to watch these days, but it is a great time for older actresses. Juniper stars Charlotte Rampling and she hasn’t lost an iota of her screen charisma at the ripe old age of 76. Here she plays Ruth, an alcoholic grandmother who has come to New Zealand to recuperate after breaking a leg. She’s not an easy person to be around. Her son skips town almost immediately, leaving her with his teenage son and her nurse. And neither of them really wants to be around her much. You sense from the setup that it’s going to be one of those curmudgeon changling plots with everyone all lovey by the end, and it is somewhat that, but so much better in large part because of Rampling’s presence.

Review: Magic Mike’s Last Dance

“So what’d you think?,” someone asked with an impish grin as I emerged from the theater.

“It’s…steamy,” was about all I could muster in the (over-heated) moment.

Now that I’ve cooled down a bit, I can assemble my deeper thoughts on Magic Mike’s Last Dance and where it falls in the Magic Mike canon.

Review: 80 FOR BRADY

There’s a cloud hanging over this mostly entertaining film, and it’s Tom Brady… the G.O.A.T., the seven-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback, the pride of the New England Patriots and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who, at the ripe old age of 45 keeps on kicking (or throwing) in the NFL. The Brady mystique would easily have carried this film over the goal line–if he hadn’t just failed to make the playoffs, and failed at his marriage. Timing is everything or at least, in the world of movies and marketing, something.

So let’s put our personal feelings about Tom Brady aside and focus on the movie’s real winning team: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field. Four iconic women “of a certain age”–with 12 Oscar noms between them–who use their ageless wit, sex appeal and acting chops to elevate a raucous romp that is more about friendship than football.

Quickie Review: Plane

People often ask me what movies they should watch to kill time on a long plane ride. I wouldn’t recommend this particular film for that particular venue, unless you’re a glutton for punishment or tempting fate. That doesn’t mean Plane is a total crash and burn. It’s not. Plane is one of those perfectly fine, sometimes edge-of-your-seat, sometimes cover-your-eyes, high-octane action movies that should appeal to fans of the formulaic Liam Neeson or (in this case) Gerard Butler offerings. Imagine a collision between the Taken and Fallen franchises and you may land on the sub-par yet still engaging Plane.