And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Quickie Review: Disney’s Flora & Ulysses

I’m not exactly the target demo, but I thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s Flora & Ulysses. It’s a family adventure comedy based on the Newbery Award-winning book “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures” by Kate DiCamillo (whose novel “Because of Winn-Dixie” was turned into a movie in 2005). Flora & Ulysses stars Matilda Lawler as 10-year-old Flora, a highly-imaginative, self-professed cynic who saves a squirrel (CGI) from a tragic accident involving a vacuum cleaner. The squirrel is “born anew” as a rodent superhero with powers that include strength, flight, poetry, and a knack for antics that will unite Flora’s fractured family and inspire a message of hope.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 9

Week Nine of films that I remember fondly. It’s amazing how many great films come to mind when I go down my cinematic memory lane. A lot of this week’s picks are from the 80s. The oldest is from 1979. And the newest from 2003. So it’s a fairly modern bunch. No black and white. No foreign films this time. We’ve got comedy, war, feminism, even a Western in the mix. Big films and indies. But all of them are highly recommended.

 

The films are: Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Thin Red Line, Silverado, Broadcast News, Ordinary People, The Station Agent, My Brilliant Career

 

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 8

This week’s picks include classics and cult faves. There’s only one foreign film in the bunch for a change of pace. Two of the films come from the same director, though one is a frightening drama and the other is a sci-fi. There’s a screwball detective comedy and a Spanish psychopath on the Amazon drama. It’s heavy on the 30s and the 70s.

 

The films are: Aguirre Wrath of God, It Happened One Night, Don’t Look Now, Notorious, Fight Club, The Thin Man, The Man Who Fell to Earth

 

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.

Review: Da Five Bloods

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to watch this one, but since awards season is sneaking up and screeners are flying into my mailbox, I finally bit the bullet. And I am glad I did. Spike Lee has created another powerful film with a foreground story about four Vietnam vet buddies returning to Nam to retrieve some gold they left behind and also to repatriate the remains of the fifth Blood buried in a remote jungle. The film is underpinned with a history of the US government’s racist treatment of Black soldiers and it’s not a stretch to see how much of that has not changed. Lee has never been one to sugar coat anything. It’s an entertaining movie with some great performances, though it could have been cut down a bit without losing its way.

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!

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 6

This week’s picks include two French films that couldn’t be more dissimilar, one a psychological thriller, and the other a magical story set in Paris. There’s an Italian ode to the world of movies, a story of a man drunk on celebrity, another of a simple man who finds celebrity without knowing it, a bureaucrat caught in a dystopian nightmare, and an undercover Hollywood director searching for the authentic America.

A couple of them won Oscars. All of them were worthy of the accolades they received.

This week’s picks are:  Monsieur Hire;  A Face in the Crowd; Sullivan’s TravelsBrazil Being There ; Cinema Paradiso; Amelie

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 4

This week’s picks run the gamut from a classic Hollywood epic to one of my favorite action flicks. I’ve also chosen a bunch of foreign fare. Something from Russia, from Hong Kong, from France, from Iran, and from Spain. There’s romance, betrayal, chases through the Paris Metro, and desert battles.

And what they all have in common is great storytelling. Great characters. Compelling stories.

 

 

 

Check out: Lawrence of ArabiaBurnt By the SunLeon: The ProfessionalThe Skin I Live InIn the Mood For Love; Diva; A Separation

 

Cinema Clash Podcast: The Climb, Come Away

I wasn’t blown away by Come Away. But I was somewhat entertained by The Climb. To find out why, tune in to this edition of the Cinema Clash podcast!

Charlie and I hash over the mash-up of two childhood classics (Come Away), find common ground on a wry dramedy about friendship and betrayal (The Climb), and chat about other new releases, his kid’s introduction to ParaNorman, a look ahead to Dune, and the possible return of the Has Fallen franchise.

Review: Come Away

I’m conflicted about Come Away. It presents an intriguing concept and has some visual appeal and a solid cast, but I just don’t think we need another spin on one classic, let alone two, that  has already been imagined and reimagined a gazillion times over the years. Plus, it’s tinged with such sadness throughout that I simply felt bummed out watching. Magical escapism as a survival mechanism failed to lift my spirits.