And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Quickie Review: See How They Run

Loved Knives Out and can’t wait for the sequel? See How They Run may help fill the time. It’s sorta Knives Out light… a comical murder mystery featuring an A-list cast led by Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jojo Rabbit), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women, Lady Bird) and Adrien Brody (The Pianist) in a farcical blend of fact and fiction. A whodunit within a whodunit.

Review: Thirteen Lives

Thirteen Lives is one of those inspiring movies that you can’t really find much fault with (unless you’re claustrophobic). It’s based on a true story that screamed “miracle movie” from the instant the story played out on international television in 2018. Then, it got Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Rebuilding Paradise, We Feed People) onboard as director, so you could rest assured the vibe would be compelling, authentic and uplifting. If you like documentaries and dramas inspired by actual events, it’s worth diving into Thirteen Lives. The film runs nearly two and a half hours but as you become immersed in the story (and the watery cave), time pretty much stands still. Most people (who weren’t living under a rock in 2018) know how the story ends (yay!). What the movie hangs its dramatic hat on is all the little details we didn’t know about at the time or weren’t quite captured in last year’s excellent, Oscar-nominated documentary The Rescue (which you should see before or after the dramatized version).

Review: ELVIS

I’ve been a pretty big fan of Elvis Presley ever since I made a whirlwind pilgrimage to Graceland in the late 1980s, about a decade after he died at the age of 42. I gained a deeper appreciation for his raw talent and his unbridled passion for different styles of music–from rock to gospel to blues. And in the years since, I’ve programmed the Elvis Channel into my Sirius XM radio; I’ve sung the praises of Elvis’s 1968 comeback special (“If I Can Dream” is my favorite); and I’ve been known to stop channel-surfing whenever a cheesy Elvis movie appears, especially if it’s Viva Las Vegas with Ann-Margret. So, needless to say, I was quite eager to see director Baz Luhrmann’s take on Elvis. Especially when we all know how this story ends (spoiler alert: on the toilet).

Review: TOP GUN: MAVERICK

As sequels 30+ years in the making go… TOP GUN: MAVERICK delivers at mach speed. The high-adrenaline action drama is like a remake, homage and sequel all rolled into one. If you’re like me and can recite most every line of the 1986 classic, then you’ll feel very much at home with the pacing, characters, and latest shenanigans of fearless Naval aviator Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise).

“Son, your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash.” “I feel the need; the need for speed.” “Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.” “You can be my wingman anytime.” I could go on… but I digress! The dialogue in TG: MAVERICK may not be quite as quotable as those particular gems, but it’s close enough to elicit a chuckle, lump in the throat, or a flash of memory–seemingly right on cue. “Talk to me Goose.”

Spoiler-Free Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

This particular Doctor Strange movie is an odd duck. It infuses traditional Marvel/MCU superhero stuff with a psychological horror vibe–and zombies–which is great if you’re a fan of director Sam Raimi’s horror franchise The Evil Dead, and not so great if you aren’t. I’m a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch in most any role, including Stephen Strange, so I can cut the film some slack. But horror’s really not my thing. I prefer my Avengers more grounded in reality–even if that ‘reality’ involves parallel universes and alternate versions of themselves (see: Spider-Man: No Way Home).

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: The Adam Project

The Adam Project falls squarely in Ryan Reynolds’ wheelhouse. It’s a family-friendly, PG-13 time travel action adventure film packed with snark, humor and heart. It doesn’t rise to the level of Back to the Future or E.T.–two classic films to which it pays homage–but The Adam Project is an easy watch with an engaging cast. Reynolds plays Adam Reed, a pilot who travels back in time to stop the invention of time travel which, in the future, poses a fatal threat to the entire planet. For help, he turns to his younger self (Walter Scobell), a decent kid who’s been acting out at school, picking fights with the local bully, and being less than kind to his mom (Jennifer Garner). Young Adam and his mother are both struggling with the loss of their father/husband (Mark Ruffalo) in a car accident about a year earlier. It’s a life-changing event that older Adam is still grappling with decades later.