And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: I Want You Back

While the just-released Marry Me boasts some major global starpower, the just-released I Want You Back is the smarter choice for a circa Valentine’s Day romantic comedy. It’s quirky, engaging and refreshingly clever. And you can watch it on Amazon Prime Video! I Want You Back is a post-breakup meet cute about 30-somethings Peter (Charlie Day) and Emma (Jenny Slate) — two strangers who find each other crying in the stairwell of their Atlanta office building just after being dumped by their significant others. The two quickly bond over their grief, declare themselves “Sadness Sisters,” engage in some drunken karaoke, and then hatch a plan to break up their exes’ new relationships and win back the former love of their lives. Theirs is a tale of desperation fueled by social media envy.

Review: Marry Me

If you’ve never seen Notting Hill (1999), I strongly advise you watch that particular romcom before stepping into a theater– or onto a Peacock (network)– to see Marry Me. The premise is similar but the execution of the Julia Roberts-Hugh Grant classic is sooooo much better. If you’ve already seen Notting Hill (a few dozen times), then you will be forgiven if drawn into the fluffy imitation starring the likeable duo of Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson.

Quickie Review: Blacklight

Now where did I put that last review of a Liam Neeson action movie? I can probably just dust it off…

At nearly 70 (!) Liam Neeson remains quite watchable. But the action shtick is getting old. Move it along — nothing new to see here folks. Unless you just feel compelled (as I often do) to watch Neeson exercise those particular skills that have carried him through every action thriller since Taken, which set a bar that few of Neeson’s films– in this particular genre– have been able to match.

Review: Jockey

Jockey is a sports drama that is purposely light on action and heavy on character study. It’s more trot than sprint. More arty than mainstream. Get the picture?

The film follows aging jockey Jackson Silva (Clifton Collins Jr.) as he chases one last hurrah on a potential championship horse acquired by his longtime trainer– and maybe more— Ruth (Molly Parker). Decades of rough riding have taken a toll on Jackson’s body, and it’s probably time to hang up the spurs. But horse racing is in his blood; it’s his entire world. At least, until a young rookie rider named Gabriel (Moises Arias) shows up, claiming to be his son. Jackson takes Gabriel under his wing and teaches him some tricks of the trade. It’s a bittersweet bond, with implications both personal and professional.

Spoiler-Free Review: Spider-Man: No Way Home

I’ve been extremely cautious about venturing back into theaters. But I decided to celebrate my COVID booster shot with a limited-capacity IMAX screening of Spider-Man: No Way Home. After myriad viewings in recent months of heavily-touted awards-season contenders, I needed a big ‘escape’ movie. And boy did I get it with Spider-Man: No Way Home. There is a lot going on in this movie, much of which I can’t — or won’t — reveal. Just know that if you’re a fan of the Marvel and Spiderman franchises, you’ve got to see it soon, before spoilers spoil the fun. Not that Spider-Man is all fun. It’s not. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be genuinely moved and genuinely entertained throughout the 2 1/2 hour run time that includes sitting through all the credits for THREE bonus scenes.

Review: West Side Story

If anyone can get away with doing a new film version of West Side Story— without really changing the story or the era it’s set in– it’s Steven Spielberg. Here, he delivers a solid adaptation/reimagining that feels fresh while also paying homage to the original 1961 award-winning classic. Lest you’ve forgotten, West Side Story is itself an adaptation– of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the tragic tale of star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. In West Side Story, the star-crossed lovers are Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler), caught in a dispute between rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, in 1950s New York City.

Review: Tick, Tick…Boom!

Tick, Tick…Boom! Andrew Garfield is dynamite and so is this film–especially if you’re a musical theater geek. Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights, Hamilton) makes his feature directorial debut with Tick, Tick…Boom!, an adaptation of the autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson, the creator of the hit musical Rent. Larson died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm in 1996, just as previews for Rent were about to begin off-Broadway. The film is essentially a love letter to and by Larson.

Quickie Review: Mayor Pete (documentary)

Mayor Pete is a fairly conventional behind-the-scenes documentary that provides some insight into what makes Pete Buttigieg tick– but not much. The biggest mystery to me is why it is rated R. Yes, his senior communications advisor has the mouth of a sailor, but her F-bombs shouldn’t preclude political junkies (of any age) from learning just a bit more about the first openly gay presidential candidate and his foray into the very deep pool of democrats who sought to unseat Donald Trump in 2020. He didn’t make the final cut (spoiler alert!), but he did succeed in gaining substantial name recognition – even if that name is a challenge to pronounce.

Quickie review: Julia (documentary)

It’s impossible to watch a clip of legendary cook and teacher Julia Child doing her thing without recalling the brilliantly gross SNL skit (in 1978) that cemented her status as pop culture icon. What I love about the documentary Julia is that it provides context for that skit, confirms that Julia herself got a kick out of it, and imparts additional information and insight about Julia Child’s life, her passions, and her 12-year odyssey to get “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” published in 1961. The revolutionary tome has sold more that 2.5 million copies, and it launched Child onto the public television stage, where she cooked up delectable dishes, paved the way for many of today’s “tv chefs”, and espoused the virtues of butter, butter and more butter! She inspired millions of Americans to conquer their fears around cooking, try new things, and embrace failure as a learning tool. If you love food, you’ll most definitely eat up everything about this documentary. Bon Appetit!

Review: Spencer

If ever there were an anti-Hallmark movie, a fairy tale in reverse, this might be it! From the very first frame, Spencer self-identifies as “a fable from a true tragedy,” and word of warning: you’ve got to have some knowledge of the royal marriage of “Charles and Diana” and its disastrous end to truly grasp what the film is trying to convey—a very depressed, lonely, free-spirited and bulimic Princess (Kristen Stewart) teetering on the brink. If not for her love and devotion to sons William and Harry, her royal highness Diana Princess of Wales (as she was known pre-divorce) would surely spiral out of control. It’s a royal shame.