Currently browsing the "Adaptation" category.

Review: A Man Called Otto

If Tom Hanks’ oddball performance (and accent) as Col. Parker in Elvis threw you for a loop in 2022, then prepare to hop back on the Tom Hanks love train as we usher in 2023. Hanks is perfectly cast as Otto Anderson in the Americanized adaptation of the best-selling book “A Man Called Ove”—a book that was already made into an excellent, 2016 Oscar-nominated Swedish film, En man som heter Ove. I was skeptical that A Man Called Otto, filmed in Pittsburgh, could possibly measure up. Yet thanks to Hanks, it does—with a solid assist from his co-star Mariana Treviño, and a stray cat.

Reviews: She Said and Women Talking

I saw these two films just days apart and they seemed to speak to one another. Both take on sexual predation, but from very different viewpoints. She Said is a journalistic thriller based on the true story of the female journalists who exposed Harvey Weinstein’s long history of abuse that led to his much deserved comeuppance and ignited the #MeToo movement. Women Talking is also based on a true story, that of a group of women in an isolated religious community who come together to decide how to deal with a long and horrifying history of rape by the men in their enclave. The women who tell their stories in She Said are fearful of losing their careers, while the ones in Women Talking are afraid they will lose their place in heaven. And so they all have to think long and hard about how to take on the monstrous men who hold power over them.

Review: Blonde

Blonde from Director Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) takes the well-known, sad story of Marilyn Monroe, from her tragic childhood to her tabloid fodder death, and beats the drum of the her abuse for almost three hours. They would be thoroughly excruciating hours if not for the stellar performance of Ana de Armas (Knives Out, Blade Runner 2049) in the title role. The film isn’t exactly a biopic since it’s based on a 750-page Joyce Carol Oates novel, and it is hard at times to tell where the line between fact and fiction lies. But I suspect those fictions are many of the scenes that felt off. After all, most of Marilyn’s story has been covered over and over to feed the endless fascination with the screen icon. So this “new” information just doesn’t quite fit. 

Review: Happening

Talk about a film arriving at just the right moment! This gripping French drama about a young woman in the early 1960s who gets pregnant and has to go through hell for an abortion will hit you right in the gut. If I’d seen it a month ago, I’d have described it as a cautionary tale. Now it feels more like a glimpse into our dystopian future.

Review: The Bad Guys

The Bad Guys… aint so bad. And neither is their movie. The film is basically an animated animal version of Oceans 11. A heist movie for the under 12 set, paced to keep both kids and adults at least moderately entertained. The plot revolves around a menagerie of outlaws who get a kick out of grand larceny. Their lifestyle choice is more about the camaraderie than the crime. They just happen to be very good at being bad. Until the law finally catches up with them and they are forced to rethink what they do, who they are, and what they want to be. Good? Bad? A little of both perhaps?

Quickie Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

This has to be a quickie review because I don’t want to get into trouble with the Wizarding World and all you muggles out there who pay close attention to all things related to Harry Potter. I’m merely an occasional visitor to the Potter universe and have not (gasp!) read the books. So I view and review these films through the lens of a casual observer with limited insight into the interwoven subplots and backstories that take place over the course of many decades. The Secrets of Dumbledore is the third film in the “Harry Potter” prequel series, following Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018). There may be a fourth, and even a fifth depending on how the sci-fi fantasy fanbase takes to this latest adventure sprung from the mind of outspoken, best-selling author J.K. Rowling. If I had to take a ‘wild’ guess, I’d predict more Beasts ahead.

Review: All the Old Knives

I keep forgetting the name of this movie– wanting to call it Knives Out, which it isn’t. It’s not as sharp, or entertaining. But it is engrossing. There are worse ways to pass the time than watching a rakish Chris Pine and alluring Thandiwe (formerly known as Thandie) Newton engaging in intense dialogue (and other stuff too) while seeking to unravel the mystery of who is lying to whom.

Review: Better NATE than Ever

The DUMBO in the room with Disney’s family-friendly musical dramedy Better NATE Than Ever is the irony of timing–as the film’s release just happens to coincide with the passage of Florida’s ridiculous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Nate is a charming little message movie that draws from the likes of Billy Elliott, Adventures in Babysitting, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off— if Ferris were in middle school, and a musical theater geek struggling to find his place and his people. That place is Broadway baby!

Review: Fabian

In this adaptation of “Fabian: Going to the Dogs”, a German novel first published in 1931 but later banned and burned by the National Socialist Party, Jakob Fabian (Tom Schilling) is a young man in Berlin in the years between the two wars, trying to become a writer but struggling to keep his head above water. By day he works as a copywriter for a cigarette company, and by night he fills books with his observations as he accompanies his wealthy friend Labude (Albrecht Schuch) through the hedonistic world of brothels and bars while Germany slides slowly towards fascism. But Fabian’s detachment is shaken one night when he meets the beautiful Cornelia (Saskia Rosendahl), a film law trainee who dreams of being an actress, and their love story forms the spine of this thoroughly engaging film. Be warned, it clocks in at just minutes under three hours running time, but fortunately it never feels long thanks to great direction (Dominik Graf), a superb cast, and a thoughtful, beautifully crafted script.

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.