And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Drama" category.

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: Topside

This is a really gritty and entirely engaging little film. It’s about Nikki (co-director Celine Held) and her 5-year-old daughter Little (Zhaila Farmer) who’re living on the edge underground in a homeless camp beneath the city of New York. Their life is not easy by any stretch, but they have a warm bond and community and a place of their own. But when the powers that be decide to clear out the riffraff, Little is forced to accompany her mother into the unknown and noisy and VERY bright city. And the question becomes whether they will be able to survive and stay together up there.

Review: Wood and Water

Not a lot “happens” in this character study film, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. It’s the story of Anke (played by Anke Bak, the director’s mother), a German woman of a certain age who has just retired and is looking forward to a trip to the beach with all her children. But her son doesn’t make it home for the gathering. He lives in Hong Kong and the pro-democracy protests there interfere with his flight. (Or so he says.) So she decides to go there to see him. Only he’s away, and so she spends her time alone wandering the city and coming to terms with her life.

Review: Huda’s Salon

This riveting “based on true events” thriller from two-time Academy Award nominee Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Omar) is set in the West Bank. Reem (Maisa Abd Elhadi) is a young Palestinian mother married to a very jealous man. One day she visits her hairdresser, Huda (Manal Awad), and tells her all about her struggles with him as her little daughter sleeps just beside her chair. The two women clearly enjoy their gossiping and kvetching. After the new do, Huda offers Reem a coffee, only it’s no friendly act, but a life altering event.

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: I Want You Back

While the just-released Marry Me boasts some major global starpower, the just-released I Want You Back is the smarter choice for a circa Valentine’s Day romantic comedy. It’s quirky, engaging and refreshingly clever. And you can watch it on Amazon Prime Video! I Want You Back is a post-breakup meet cute about 30-somethings Peter (Charlie Day) and Emma (Jenny Slate) — two strangers who find each other crying in the stairwell of their Atlanta office building just after being dumped by their significant others. The two quickly bond over their grief, declare themselves “Sadness Sisters,” engage in some drunken karaoke, and then hatch a plan to break up their exes’ new relationships and win back the former love of their lives. Theirs is a tale of desperation fueled by social media envy.

Quickie Review: Blacklight

Now where did I put that last review of a Liam Neeson action movie? I can probably just dust it off…

At nearly 70 (!) Liam Neeson remains quite watchable. But the action shtick is getting old. Move it along — nothing new to see here folks. Unless you just feel compelled (as I often do) to watch Neeson exercise those particular skills that have carried him through every action thriller since Taken, which set a bar that few of Neeson’s films– in this particular genre– have been able to match.

Review: Jockey

Jockey is a sports drama that is purposely light on action and heavy on character study. It’s more trot than sprint. More arty than mainstream. Get the picture?

The film follows aging jockey Jackson Silva (Clifton Collins Jr.) as he chases one last hurrah on a potential championship horse acquired by his longtime trainer– and maybe more— Ruth (Molly Parker). Decades of rough riding have taken a toll on Jackson’s body, and it’s probably time to hang up the spurs. But horse racing is in his blood; it’s his entire world. At least, until a young rookie rider named Gabriel (Moises Arias) shows up, claiming to be his son. Jackson takes Gabriel under his wing and teaches him some tricks of the trade. It’s a bittersweet bond, with implications both personal and professional.

Review: Nightmare Alley

I’ve been a big fan of Oscar winner Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water) since he first made his mark with Pan’s Labyrinth back in 2006. He’s a master at creating fantasy-filled narratives in visually striking settings. Nightmare Alley is lacking the fantasy that propelled his previous work. It tries to make up for that with one of the most gorgeous production designs in ages. And Bradley Cooper turns in an awards worth performance as conman Stanton Carlisle who rises from carnival side show mindreader to high society psychic, alongside an all-star cast that also includes Cate Blanchett, Toni Colette, Rooney Mara, and Willem Dafoe. But for all that, it ends up being a whole lot of flash that never pays off.

Review: Red Rocket

Director Sean Baker (The Florida Project, Tangerine) loves stories and characters that Hollywood regularly ignores. And his newest dark comedy Red Rocket continues to plumb the depths of America’s underclass. It’s the story of Mikey Saber, a once high flying porn star whose life has taken a downward turn and ends up back in Texas City begging his ex-wife to take him in while he figures out his next move. Simon Rex who was once a MTV V.J. and went on to act in a series of forgettable films steals the show as Mikey, a charming and self-centered hustler, proud of his porn awards and planning a return to California and his place in the biz. And that plan includes Strawberry (Suzanna Son in a breakout role), a 17-year-old girl he falls for at the local donut shop. Unfortunately, Mikey is not half as brilliant is he believes himself to be.