Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Broadway Movie Roundup: Dear Evan Hansen; Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; Come From Away; On Broadway

Broadway is back in business, but you don’t have to brave a trip to NYC to get your musical fix. Broadway is coming to a movie theater– or streaming service– near you.

Trying to decide what, if anything, to see? Here’s a brief roundup, with my two cents on why each of these offerings has merit – the  caveat being that I am a very easy sell when it comes to movie and broadway musicals! First up: the latest Broadway musical adaptation to arrive in theaters — Dear Evan Hansen.

Review: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

If Oscar History is any judge, it doesn’t matter that The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a pretty dull film. Jessica Chastain is brilliant in it. And I suspect she will be rewarded with an Oscar nomination for best actress—and quite possibly, the award itself. The Academy loves to reward biopic ‘transformations’ and Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Molly’s Game) certainly disappears into the role–and makeup–of the late celebrity televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. She even does her own singing, belting out some of Tammy Faye’s signature gospel tunes.

Review: Cinderella

This latest take on the fairytale classic is actually quite entertaining and refreshingly different while still retaining a comfortable air of familiarity. Just don’t expect to hear the enduring, trademark songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein. 2021’s Cinderella features a modern twist, with modern music that includes some original songs and a bunch of covers, from Madonna to Queen and stuff in-between. The contemporary live-action film opens with a toe-tapping production number showcasing a hip array of subjects in the Kingdom of Rhythm Nation, where Ella (Camila Cabello) resides in the basement of a home with her stepmother (Idina Menzel) and step-sisters (Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer). The ‘steps’ aren’t exactly evil in the tradition of most “Cinderella” tales, but they aren’t a loving, supportive bunch either.  Jealous much? 

Review: Candyman

Candyman… Candyman… Candyman… Candyman…

Say the name, or see the movie, and you’re in for a whole lot of bloodshed – and a hefty splattering of social commentary.

Quickie Review: The Night House

I rarely enjoy horror movies. They’re simply not my thing (with exceptions falling along the lines of a Poltergeist, A Quiet Place or The Conjuring). So I admit I’m not the best judge of whether it’s worth catching the unsettling, creepy ghost story put forward in The Night House. If you’re a fan of the genre, it probably can’t hurt – especially because the film is elevated by the ‘presence’ of British-American actress Rebecca Hall (Godzilla vs Kong, Christine). Hall plays Beth, a recent widow who discovers her husband led a secret life. As she seeks to unravel what triggered his sudden, unexpected death outside their dream house on a lake, Beth is beset by nightmares filled with disturbing visions and voices.

Quickie Review: Free Guy

Free Guy is goofy, sincere and fun, probably even more so if you’re into gaming. Personally, I didn’t know an “NPC” from a “Player One,” so it took me a bit longer to embrace the virtual videogame world on display in Free Guy. But in fairly short order, the story and the characters grew on me, and by the end, I was all in – rooting for characters of both the real and the programmed variety, especially our ‘every guy’ hero, Guy, aka “Blue Shirt Guy”, played by Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool).

Review: RESPECT

You gotta respect the artist and the music, even if the movie itself feels a bit stale. Jennifer Hudson sings it out of the park as the legendary ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin in the biopic RESPECT, which surely would have pleased Franklin who handpicked Hudson for the role. Yet the script does not compel Hudson to showcase the emotional range that earned her a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Dreamgirls in 2007. RESPECT is at its best when the music is playing, and when we see how “Re-Re” (as Aretha was known) can take a song, rearrange it, and make it her own. The film is at its worst when skimming through all the obstacles she had to overcome along the way, including physical, sexual and verbal abuse, the sudden death of her mother, a childhood pregnancy, a controlling father, a jealous hothead husband, alcoholism. However true, it’s presented as a mass of cliches familiar to a slew of biopics and documentaries, including recent explorations of the hard knocks endured by Tina Turner and Billie Holiday, and the role of faith and music in their respective journeys. 

Quickie Review: Annette

It’s been a couple of weeks since I watched Annette and frankly I’m still processing. I’d love to be able to recommend it because it’s got music! And Academy-Award nominee Adam Driver! And Academy-Award winner Marion Cotillard!

If only it made sense (at least to the average person). Alas, Annette is just too odd to put into words. Maybe if I broke out into song instead. Nah. My head might ‘splode. Or my cat may turn into a singing marionette. Valid concerns if you’ve seen Annette.

Review: CODA

CODA doesn’t have the dramatic heft of Children of a Lesser God (for which deaf actress Marlee Matlin won an Academy Award), or the grittier themes of Oscar nominee Sound of Metal, but I totally get why it won the Grand Jury Prize, Best Director, Ensemble Acting, and Audience Award at Sundance earlier this year. It’s a sweet and moving crowdpleaser that proves it’s not just possible, but powerful to cast deaf actors in lead roles – and be all the better for it.

Review: The Suicide Squad

What a difference a ‘The’ makes?! I was not a fan of 2016’s Suicide Squad and had my doubts about watching another group of warped DC Comic Universe villains being forced into another suicidal superheroic mission. So I approached the film with extreme caution, low expectations, and no idea if it was supposed to be a sequel, a reboot, or something else entirely. I’m still not sure about that last one. But The Suicide Squad does generally work as a standalone–even though some characters are back, some are not, and many don’t survive past the first 15 minutes.