And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg knows storytelling. So it’s really no surprise that The Spielbergs – er, I mean The Fabelmans – is a good yarn. It’s a semi-autobiographical drama that dives into Spielberg’s personal history, while pulling back the curtain on family secrets and the evolution of his obsession with filmmaking. Or, for the purposes of creative license, Sammy Fabelman’s obsession with filmmaking. Sammy – Steven. Steven – Sammy. Close enough.

(Spoiler-free) Review – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The spirit of the late Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa, Black Panther) looms large throughout Marvel Studios’ Wakanda Forever, even as the film—and the franchise—seeks to clear a path to a future without him. The film is both painful and cathartic.

Looking back at my 2018 review of Black Panther, I can’t help but note my anticipation for more T’Challa in the years ahead, which is why Boseman’s 2020 death from cancer (at age 43) still seems hard to fathom. Wakanda Forever isn’t the sequel initially intended, but it’s the sequel we’ve got—and it’s a good one. It does Chadwick (and T’Challa) proud.

Review: TÁR

I am quite late with this review (the film is out in theaters) because I’m still trying to figure out how best to give it a fair shake. I was totally on board for the first half-hour (not counting insanely long opening credits that are usually reserved for closing credits). But somewhere over the next two-plus hours, I lost interest in all but Blanchett’s general command of the screen, and the music. TÁR kicked off like a classical-music spin on “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” We meet Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), a brilliant American conductor at the height of her career. She’s leading a major German orchestra, preparing for a book launch and a much-anticipated live performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (apparently a big deal if you’re into that sort of thing), and she’s even got an EGOT! That little tidbit was my first clue that Lydia Tár is a fictional character. At first, I wasn’t sure.

Review: Ticket to Paradise

Ticket to Paradise is the cinematic equivalent of a mindlessly entertaining ‘beach read’; a PG-13-friendly big screen adaptation of almost any ‘second chance at love’ romance novel; a Netflix or Hallmark romcom pleasantly suitable for on demand viewing or streaming… except…

It has Julia Roberts and George Clooney. George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Two Academy Award winners and longtime friends and collaborators (Oceans 11&12, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) teaming up for their first romantic comedy together. And it’s only available in theaters (initially).

Review: The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin is an excellent film, though it does takes some processing– the kind of thoughtful processing that might be lost if you wait to see it streaming or On Demand rather than in a theater. It’s a dark comedy that goes pitch black as it provokes rolling waves of emotion that run the gamut from humorous quirk, to sadness, grief, despair and maybe a bit of hope. The film is beautifully shot–on the west coast of Ireland–and features awards-consideration-worthy performances from the leads as well as the supporting cast. So if you want to get a jump start on films that could make the short list for the Oscar pool, The Banshees of Inisherin needs to be on your radar.

Quickie Review: See How They Run

Loved Knives Out and can’t wait for the sequel? See How They Run may help fill the time. It’s sorta Knives Out light… a comical murder mystery featuring an A-list cast led by Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jojo Rabbit), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women, Lady Bird) and Adrien Brody (The Pianist) in a farcical blend of fact and fiction. A whodunit within a whodunit.

Review: Thirteen Lives

Thirteen Lives is one of those inspiring movies that you can’t really find much fault with (unless you’re claustrophobic). It’s based on a true story that screamed “miracle movie” from the instant the story played out on international television in 2018. Then, it got Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Rebuilding Paradise, We Feed People) onboard as director, so you could rest assured the vibe would be compelling, authentic and uplifting. If you like documentaries and dramas inspired by actual events, it’s worth diving into Thirteen Lives. The film runs nearly two and a half hours but as you become immersed in the story (and the watery cave), time pretty much stands still. Most people (who weren’t living under a rock in 2018) know how the story ends (yay!). What the movie hangs its dramatic hat on is all the little details we didn’t know about at the time or weren’t quite captured in last year’s excellent, Oscar-nominated documentary The Rescue (which you should see before or after the dramatized version).

Review: ELVIS

I’ve been a pretty big fan of Elvis Presley ever since I made a whirlwind pilgrimage to Graceland in the late 1980s, about a decade after he died at the age of 42. I gained a deeper appreciation for his raw talent and his unbridled passion for different styles of music–from rock to gospel to blues. And in the years since, I’ve programmed the Elvis Channel into my Sirius XM radio; I’ve sung the praises of Elvis’s 1968 comeback special (“If I Can Dream” is my favorite); and I’ve been known to stop channel-surfing whenever a cheesy Elvis movie appears, especially if it’s Viva Las Vegas with Ann-Margret. So, needless to say, I was quite eager to see director Baz Luhrmann’s take on Elvis. Especially when we all know how this story ends (spoiler alert: on the toilet).

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.”

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).