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Quickie Review: Plane

People often ask me what movies they should watch to kill time on a long plane ride. I wouldn’t recommend this particular film for that particular venue, unless you’re a glutton for punishment or tempting fate. That doesn’t mean Plane is a total crash and burn. It’s not. Plane is one of those perfectly fine, sometimes edge-of-your-seat, sometimes cover-your-eyes, high-octane action movies that should appeal to fans of the formulaic Liam Neeson or (in this case) Gerard Butler offerings. Imagine a collision between the Taken and Fallen franchises and you may land on the sub-par yet still engaging Plane.

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: Decision to Leave

This Korean romantic thriller from Park Chan-wook (Handmaiden, Snowpiercer) begins with the classic set-up. Weary detective Hae-joon (Park Hae-il ) arrives at a crime scene. A man is dead. But was it an accident or could it be murder? The police want to close the case and call it an accident, but it begins to look like his young, beautiful widow Seo-rae (Wei Tang, Lust, Caution) could be a murder suspect after she comes to the station. She has an alibi and Hae-joon wants to believe her. Still something is off. And as the attraction grows between them while he continues his investigation, the question of whether she is a femme fatale seducing him to get away with murder or her feelings for him are real plagues him. It’s a slow twisty story. And though it is probably a bit longer that it needs to be, it’s a satisfying and engrossing murder mystery.

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: 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.

Quickie Review: No Exit

This taut little thriller is the perfect flick to watch from the comfort of your couch. In it a young woman checks herself out of rehab to rush to her dying mother’s bedside, only to get stranded with a group of strangers at a visitors’ center in the middle of a snow storm. But when she steps outside hoping to get a signal on her phone so she can contact her sister, she discovers a little girl trapped in a van and has to try and figure out which of her four fellow travelers is the kidnapper and how to rescue her.  It’s a brisk story with enough twists and turns to keep you engaged from beginning to end. 

Quickie Review: American Night

This neo-noir crime flick set in the art world has a good cast, looks fabulous, and even has some decent music. But at just over two hours in length, it never really finds its mojo. The story revolves around a stolen Andy Warhol Marilyn print. Michael, a young mafioso with the soul of an artist (Emile Hirsh) wants it back because his dead father promised it to him, but then sold it. And he’ll go to any length to find it. Murder, torture, whatever. 

Nashville Film Festival Rundown

This was my first time (virtually) attending the Nashville Film Festival.  It is close enough for me to drive over, but that was not possible this time around. They had a great slate of films spread over a week. But sadly a lot of the films I’d have loved to see were only available in person, mostly the big prestige flicks. Nevertheless, I did get to see quite a few worthy films from the comfort of my couch. Below is my rundown.

The films are: Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road; Fanny: The Right to Rock; Everybody is Looking for some Light; Poser; Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival; 7 Days; Window Boy Would Also Like To Have A Submarine; Potato Dreams; Porcupine; The Good Traitor; Huda’s Salon; Green Sea; Ayar; Luzzu.

Review: The Guilty

This American remake of a Danish thriller of the same name stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a cop who’s been put on desk duty awaiting a trial that could have serious repercussions on his career. He’s answering 911 calls and isn’t happy about it a bit. But when a call comes in from a woman that he quickly realizes is in trouble, everything changes.  Back in 2018 when the original came out, it landed at the top of my and Mainstream Chick’s lists for the best foreign films that year. Sadly, this new iteration doesn’t rise to that level. Sure Jake’s good, but Jakob Cedergren was amazing and a lot of the power of the first film came from his restrained performance. Gyllenhaal and director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Magnificent Seven) chose to go for more bombast. Perhaps if I hadn’t seen the first film, I’d be less critical.

Review: Wife of a Spy

This stylish thriller from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa is set in Japan in 1940 shortly before they entered World War II. It opens with beautiful young couple making an amateur movie about betrayal. The husband Yusaku (Issey Takahashi, Kill Bill) though is in the import-export business and movie-making, just a hobby. He and his wife Satoko (Aoi Yû ) are a thoroughly cosmopolitan couple, but the prevailing winds in the country are turning anti-Western and nationalistic. Then on a business trip to Manchuria, Yusaku witnesses horrifying atrocities being committed by the Imperial Japanese Army and returns with documentary proof that he plans to share with the world. But once Satoko discovers her husband’s plan, the question becomes whether she will be loyal to him or her country.