Currently browsing the "Drama" 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.

Review: Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Here’s what I wanna do after watching Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody: 1) surf YouTube for real clips from all the great moments showcased in the film, including Whitney’s 1983 TV debut on the Merv Griffin show; her unrivaled rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XXV; her iconic medley at the 1994 AMAs; and her ‘comeback’ performance on Oprah in 2009; and 2) re-watch 1992’s The Bodyguard for perhaps the gazillionth time. One of my favorite scenes in the biopic is when Houston learns that Kevin Costner will be leading the romantic drama and wants her to co-star. Where do I sign!?

Review: Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle

A couple of weeks before I saw this film, I read filmmaker Werner Herzog’s first novel “The Twilight World,” which draws on his meeting 25 years ago with Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who, not realizing that WWII was over, kept fighting his guerrilla war on a small Philippine Island for another 29 years. His story has been endlessly caricatured over the years, but the man himself and what he endured, and why and how he kept fighting have not been explored. It is a fascinating book. And now there is a film about him and his life in the jungle. 

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: 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.

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: The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin is an excellent film, though it does takes some processing– the kind of thoughtful processing that might be lost if you wait to see it streaming or On Demand rather than in a theater. It’s a dark comedy that goes pitch black as it provokes rolling waves of emotion that run the gamut from humorous quirk, to sadness, grief, despair and maybe a bit of hope. The film is beautifully shot–on the west coast of Ireland–and features awards-consideration-worthy performances from the leads as well as the supporting cast. So if you want to get a jump start on films that could make the short list for the Oscar pool, The Banshees of Inisherin needs to be on your radar.

Review: Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon

Ana Lily Amirpour’s Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is one of those little Indies that you hope people will see because it’s weird and quirky and a fun ride. It might not get a lot of coverage in mainstream press for those same reasons, since most of the Indies that get covered this time of year are the ones that might be in contention for the big year-end awards. And though it stars Kate Hudson (Glass Onion, Almost Famous), it’s a pretty low budget, niche genre flick. But if you can, go see it.

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: Breaking

Watching this “based on a true story” drama, you can’t help but think back to several other films about decent men taking hostages because the system is horribly unfair to them — Dog Day Afternoon is the most obvious comparison. But Breaking had me thinking more of John Q with Denzel commandeering a hospital ER when his insurance company refuses coverage for his son’s heart transplant. Here John Boyega turns in a career topping performance as Brian Brown-Easley, a decorated Marine who brings a bomb to a bank because he wants the VA to give him the money they owe him so he can take care of his family. And it’s that performance and Michael K. Williams’s (“The Wire”) last turn before his death as the hostage negotiator that make this fairly predictable drama worth watching.