Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Disney-Pixar’s Luca

Disney-Pixar’s Luca is Finding Nemo meets Splash meets Pinocchio meets a whole bunch of other well-worn concepts, delivered with a dash of fresh Italian seasoning. There’s pasta! Gelato! Vespas! Picturesque land and sea! Combine that with themes of friendship, family, community and staying true to one’s self, and you’ve got the makings of a satisfying dish to add to the large table of appealing Disney-Pixar movies. Luca will leave you sated in a “I’ve had this meal before but still really like it” sort of way. So Buon Appetito!

Review: In The Heights

Welcome back to the movies! In The Heights is the first movie I’ve seen in an actual movie theater in over 14 months. And while it is premiering simultaneously in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, In The Heights is the type of movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen first; and then perhaps, in repeat viewings at home. Especially if you’re a fan of movie and broadway musicals. The film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony-winning musical runs a tad long, but hits all the key notes in terms of story, acting, singing, message and homage.

Review: Spirit Untamed

Spirit Untamed is a conventional family-friendly animated adventure that honors teamwork, friendship and female empowerment. And whoa… there are wild horses. And some catchy tunes. All that makes this second installment of a franchise that began with the 2002 Oscar-nominated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron worth the ride. There’s not much new to gain, but nothing to lose either. So if the spirit moves you, saddle up.

Review: Cruella

Cruella is a campy comedy crime caper that tells the origin story of one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history – especially if you’re a dog lover. It’s a prequel to the 1996 live action adaptation of Disney’s 1961 animated classic 101 Dalmatians based on the 1956 novel by Dodie Smith. Got all that? Like the character herself, there are a couple of different sides to Cruella the film. It’s based on a “kids movie” but is rated PG-13 and has a soundtrack that will land squarely in the wheelhouse of many adult viewers. The dialogue is witty and the themes are dark. And it stars two Emmas — Stone and Thompson — who both know how to land a dramatic punch and a punchline. Cruella could use a nip and a tuck here and there to bring the film under two hours (it runs 134 minutes) but overall it’s a fun watch.

Review: Endangered Species

Okay, I may have to rethink the whole African Safari dream vacation thing…

Endangered Species is a family action adventure thriller that never quite finds its footing. It’s not horrible, but so much is telegraphed from the get-go that it’s hard to get too invested in the superficial story, stereotypical characters, or even the wild animals that populate this Kenya Safari gone very wrong.

Review: PINK: All I Know So Far

“I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started.” Oh yeah, okay. I do know some PINK music!

PINK: All I Know So Far was smart to start with that concert performance snippet to draw me into the story of a popstar I don’t know much about, though I was generally familiar with her music, her flair and of course her hair. The documentary takes us behind the scenes of Pink’s record-breaking 2019 “Beautiful Trauma” world tour as she juggles being a mom, a performer, and a boss. For the most part, it’s typical concert documentary fare (see: recent docs Billie Eilish and The Boy From Medellin). And, for the most part, it does what it was obviously meant to do –making Pink more relatable as a person, sans makeup and all, even when holed up in a high-end suite overlooking the canals of Amsterdam with her hubby and two young kids in tow.

Review: Profile

If you’re looking for a film that may actually play better on a desktop computer or laptop than in a theater, then look no further than Profile. The story takes place in the confines of a computer screen, which we all have intimate knowledge of these days. Video chats, Skype calls, bandwidth issues, posting cat pictures on Facebook and Instagram, juggling personal and professional accounts. You know the drill. Too bad Profile is being released in theaters first. It’s intriguing, but not compelling enough to warrant a theater experience, even if vaccinated. The film is based on a true story that I (as a former journalist) was vaguely familiar with, and it’s basically a thriller for geopolitical and journalism junkies.

Review: Wrath of Man

I’m sort of hit and miss when it comes to Guy Ritchie flicks. Wrath of Man falls somewhere in the middle of the road for me. The film is a hallmark Ritchie dark and stylish revenge thriller that follows a mysterious character nicknamed “H” (Jason Statham) who takes a job at a cash trucking company that moves hundreds of millions of dollars around Los Angeles every week. It’s an English-language remake of a 2004 French thriller Le Convoyeur aka Cash Truck starring Jean Dujardin (The Artist). Wrath of Man is director Ritchie’s third remake, and his fourth collaboration with Statham. So if you’re a fan of Ritchie and/or Statham, you can’t go too wrong watching Wrath of Man, though brace yourself for a high degree of carnage.

Quickie Review: The Boy From Medellin

The Boy From Medellin is a documentary about a Colombian reggaeton superstar who I must confess I’d never heard of. Not really my jam (I had to look up ‘reggaeton’). So I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this documentary is most likely to appeal to the fan base of its Latin Grammy-winning star, Jose Alvaro Osorio Balvin, aka J Balvin. The film was shot over one week leading up to a highly-anticipated sold-out stadium show in Balvin’s hometown of Medellin. It turned out to be a pivotal week for Balvin — and his country — as the “Latin Spring” spread into Colombia, bringing a wave of anti-government protests into the streets.

Review: Four Good Days

Four Good Days is a movie about addiction and the toll that the cycle of rehab and relapse can take on relationships and family. We’ve seen it all before — many times in fact. And this one falls somewhere in the middle of the pack, buoyed by solid performances from Mila Kunis and Glenn Close as a mother and daughter navigating issues of trust and love, frustration and disappointment. It’s based on a true story by Pulitzer-Prize winning Washington Post writer Eli Saslow who co-wrote the screenplay with director Rodrigo García (Albert Nobbs, Mother and Child).  For the most part, Four Good Days sticks remarkably close to the narrative featured in the 2016 Post article.