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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).

And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

[Post-Oscars Update: I did okay! Though I could not have predicted the Chris Rock-Will Smith debacle; there’s no excuse for the show cutting out eight worthy categories from the live show while including unnecessary bits and still running a bloated 3:40; Amy Schumer was the best of the hosting trio; I still think Andrew Garfield should’ve won best actor (and wouldn’t hit anybody); and most importantly– yay, CODA!!!!!]

I’m making my picks with the Oscars just a few short hours away. I have no idea what will win this year. I have my favorites of course, but that doesn’t translate into Oscar gold, or Oscar pool/party bragging rights (though how I do miss those—maybe next year!).

The past few years, I’d seen just about everything on the ballot, including the shorts. But this year, I’m coming up, well, short. So I’ll just make my predictions with all sorts of caveats and maybe delete this whole post tomorrow! 

Here goes:

Review: Lucy and Desi (documentary)

Everybody loves Lucy. So it only follows that everybody will at least like the documentary Luci and Desi about the mutually dependent success of one of Hollywood’s original power couples, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The film explores the partnership and legacy of the pair who first met on the set of the 1940 musical comedy Too Many Girls, got married, started a family, created DesiLu productions, developed and starred in the iconic sitcom I Love Lucy, divorced in 1960 after the last Lucy episode was filmed, and remained lifelong friends.

Cinema Clash Podcast: Dear Evan Hansen; I’m Your Man; The Eyes of Tammy Faye; The Guilty and more!

Since I’m seeing more films than I have time to formally review in writing, I’m sharing out the latest edition of the Cinema Clash podcast featuring yours truly – and Charlie. This way, you can hear my thoughts on a bunch of flicks and know before you go – or don’t go. This week, we’re chatting about: the film adaptation of Broadway’s award-winning musical drama Dear Evan Hansen; the German romantic psychological drama I’m Your Man (Ich Bin Dein Mensch); the televangelist biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye; the American remake of the intense Danish crime thriller The Guilty. Plus, Charlie’s take on the family-friendly mystery horror film Nightbooks and the new sci-fi drama series “Foundation.” And we reveal the earworm that dominates episode 10 of season two of the Emmy-winning dramedy “Ted Lasso.” Tune in — and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your favorite podcasts!

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: The Boss Baby: Family Business

“What happens on the playground stays on the playground.” Lines like this are what made the first Boss Baby a cute little hit in 2017, and what makes its sequel, The Boss Baby: Family Business easily watchable now for kids and adults. There is a caveat however. While Boss Baby 2 is entertaining enough for a family film night, it’s no Boss Baby 1. The magic is gone – largely because we already know the drill. And, there’s simply not enough (for my taste) of the bitterly sarcastic talking wizard alarm clock “Wizzy”!

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.