Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Supernova

No, this isn’t another space movie, though the title may give you that impression. It’s a placid roadtrip movie, featuring a middle-aged gay couple riding through England’s Lake District in a camper van, pondering life’s joys and sorrows in the shadow of a terminal dementia diagnosis. If it were anyone other than Stanley Tucci (Big Night, The Hunger Games) and Colin Firth (A Single Man, The King’s Speech) in the lead roles, it might not resonate all that much. But the two actors – and longtime friends – share an easy chemistry that is quietly compelling to watch, under the direction of Harry MacQueen.

Review: Our Friend

Read this first. It’s the Esquire article on which Our Friend is based. The writer is Matthew Teague, a journalist who wrote an essay about the slow and painful death of his vibrant wife Nicole from ovarian cancer at the age of 36. Only the article wasn’t just about him and his wife; it was about their best friend Dane, a guy who put his own life on hold to help Nicole, Matthew and their two young girls get through their darkest days. It’s a story that is heartbreaking and uplifting all at once and will have you thinking about who your friends are, the types of sacrifices they might make in similar situations, and the type of friend you strive to be. This went way beyond a little cooking, babysitting or GoFundMe type stuff. Dane was all in, as a friend and caregiver extraordinaire. And when Nicole eventually succumbed to cancer, Matt was able to take a step back and see just how critical Dane was to his own survival.

Review: The Marksman

What can I say? It’s Liam Neeson – with a straw hat, a rifle, and a faithful dog. There’s nothing particularly unique or original about The Marksman, but Neeson gives the type of performance that’s made him watchable in even the lamest of movies like Honest Thief in October or Made In Italy in August. The Marksman is certainly better than those, but not as good as the moving marital drama Ordinary Love released in barely pre-pandemic times (February 2020). The guy is nothing if not prolific at the ageless action-thriller-romantic hero age of 68. In The Marksman, Neeson plays Jim Hanson, a hardened rancher (with an all-American name and distinctly Irish accent) who works an isolated stretch of borderland in Arizona. He’s a widower drowning in debt, and he doesn’t have much use for anyone or anything outside his ranch, a bottle, and his four-legged companion Jackson. But he’s also an ex-Marine – so he’s got honor. The kind of honor that propels him to make good on a promise to take 11-year-old migrant Miguel (Jacob Perez) to the safety of family in Chicago, even though the border patrol and a group of ruthless killers from a Mexican drug cartel are hot on their trail.

Quickie Review: Stars Fell on Alabama

It could’ve been worse. I could have paid to see Stars Fell on Alabama in a theater. Instead, I was able to float mindlessly through this romantic dramedy as if it were just some leftover entry in the Hallmark/Lifetime/Netflix Christmas movie rotation. Except there is no holiday. Just a high school reunion – and a junior varsity version of the much, much, much better romantic drama Sweet Home Alabama. Please don’t get them confused.

Review: Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 is the first movie released mid-pandemic for which I was sorely tempted to mask up and venture into a theater. Really glad I didn’t. Lasso of truth: WW84 is okay, but falls far short of its predecessor and is, most definitely, not worth risking your life for. It’s simply too long and meandering in plot to fully satisfy all but those desperately hungry for a superhero movie. I thought I was. Now I’m not so sure! I didn’t dislike WW84; but I was disappointed.

Girl Power – in front of and behind the camera – can only take you so far. Pieces of the story are good. They just don’t hang together all that well. The movie is too heavy on the messaging (Don’t lie. Greed is bad. Most people want to be good. Be careful what you wish for. Truth is all there is.) and too light on the superheroics. I’m all for Diana Prince living a double life, but aren’t we here mostly to see Wonder Woman doing her thing? Wonder Woman 1984 needed more Wonder Woman!

Review: Promising Young Woman

I finally have a solid front-runner for my ‘best of’ list for film and lead actress for 2020. It’s Promising Young Woman starring Carey Mulligan (Wildlife, Mudbound, An Education). The movie defies the boundaries of any particular genre. It’s got dark comedy, drama, crime, vengeance, timely relevance, a great soundtrack, and a twist. Oh, what a twist.

Quickie Review: Fatale

When a Hilary Swank movie (Million Dollar Baby, Conviction, Boys Don’t Cry) rolls out this time of year, you’re inclined to think – Oscar bait? I know I did – without knowing anything about Fatale. Lesson learned. Timing isn’t everything – especially during a pandemic. The only award Fatale should be up for is a Razzie, for trying soooo hard to be Fatal Attraction. The performances are solid – elevated by Swank’s presence – but Fatale itself is purely middle of the road material. It’s a psychological thriller/murder mystery that relies heavily on its melodramatic score to intensify the convoluted stakes. It also attempts to pull racial injustice into the mix, though that message too gets lost in the muddled plot.

Review: The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

This HBO documentary wasn’t even on my radar until friends of my particular generation started raving about it on Facebook. So I felt inclined to check it out. And I’m glad I did. The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart explores the surprisingly interesting history of the group that basically invented a new form of Disco with their hit soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever – before the genre nearly killed them. Remember Disco Duck? Not their fault.

Review: Greenland

Greenland may not be the type of movie we need right now, but it may be the type of apocalyptic thriller some fans want. It won’t displace anything from any critic’s ‘top 10 list’ of 2020 movies. Or top 20. Or 30. Or maybe even 40. But hey, in a time when our lives are consumed by a killer virus circulating in the air, what’s the harm in taking two hours to watch a somewhat normal family fight for survival as a catastrophic comet comes racing towards Earth? (That’s a rhetorical question).

Review: Minari

Minari had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2020. It won both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award. In October, it won the audience award for Best Narrative Film at the Middleburg Film Festival, as well as the MFF’s Ensemble Cast Spotlight Award. Over the next few months, I fully expect it to make the cut in most every major awards category. And if the success of Parasite is any indication, Minari has a real shot at winning. It’s a foreign film, an American film, an arty film, and a mainstream film all rolled into one. In English and Korean, with subtitles.