Currently browsing the "Dakota Johnson" tag.

Review: Our Friend

Read this first. It’s the Esquire article on which Our Friend is based. The writer is Matthew Teague, a journalist who wrote an essay about the slow and painful death of his vibrant wife Nicole from ovarian cancer at the age of 36. Only the article wasn’t just about him and his wife; it was about their best friend Dane, a guy who put his own life on hold to help Nicole, Matthew and their two young girls get through their darkest days. It’s a story that is heartbreaking and uplifting all at once and will have you thinking about who your friends are, the types of sacrifices they might make in similar situations, and the type of friend you strive to be. This went way beyond a little cooking, babysitting or GoFundMe type stuff. Dane was all in, as a friend and caregiver extraordinaire. And when Nicole eventually succumbed to cancer, Matt was able to take a step back and see just how critical Dane was to his own survival.

Review: The High Note

Drama? Check. Music? Check. Romance? Check.

The High Note delivers all the required elements for a satisfying, mainstream-friendly chick flick, though it could have scored higher if not for a few flaws: there’s a twist you’ll see coming a mile away; it could use more music, drama and romance; and the character development is a bit on the shallow side. But it’s still an entertaining watch in, or out of, quarantine. The movie is reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada except that it’s set in the LA music scene rather than the NY fashion scene, and it features the overworked personal assistant to a notorious pop diva, rather than the overworked personal assistant to a notorious magazine editor.

Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Most movies with Down syndrome characters treat them with kid gloves, painting them as lovable but limited people. But in The Peanut Butter Falcon Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is anything but a sweet sidekick. He’s a young man with a dream of becoming a pro wrestler, and to that end he escapes from the residential home where he’s being housed, and teams up with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) a man on the run from some pretty angry people he’s wronged. What follows is a funny odd couple/road flick with lots of heart as Zak and Tyler elude their chasers and share an adventure in the wetlands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Review: Fifty Shades Freed

Seven years hence the release of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, it’s time to close the book on the movie franchise that the popular and controversial novel helped procreate. If you’ve read the full trilogy – “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” – and/or seen the first two installments of the erotic fairy tale – then it’s still worth seeing the final chapters unfold on the big screen, even if the ‘climax’ is a bit of a letdown.

Fifty Shades Darker

Defending this movie is like Donald Trump defending one of his executive orders. The built-in base will eat it up. Others will accept it, with reservations. And everyone else will run for the cinematic equivalent of Canada. So the bottom line is this: If you’ve read the books (as I have) and were at least okay with the first film (as I was), then you may feel compelled to escape back into the unconventional romantic fantasyland that is Fifty Shades Darker. It’s not a must-see now, unless you’re into instant gratification, but it is essential to the climax of the film adaptation of the steamy story arc detailed in the best-selling trilogy by E.L. James. Part three, Fifty Shades Freed, has already been shot and is scheduled for release next Valentine’s Day, 2018. So you have a year to debate your inner goddess (as Anastasia would say) on the merits of seeing this relationship through to its happily-ever-after. This is, after all, nothing more than a risqué fairytale written –without apology– in the vein of Twilight fan-fiction. Shakespeare it aint. But it is a very lucrative enterprise. So somebody’s making out.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Money Monster; A Bigger Splash; High-Rise

Money Monster is a satisfying crowd-pleaser that definitely benefits from the established rapport between lead actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts and the solid direction of Jodie Foster. Clooney plays an outlandish, self-centered, Jim-Cramer-Mad-Money-type financial TV host named Lee Gates who shares stock tips with what he thinks is an adoring public. Roberts plays his producer/director Patty. She’s the one who keeps Gates and the show on track from her seat in the Control Room. Their usual routine is disrupted on live television when a disgruntled investor named Kyle (British actor Jack O’Connell looking and sounding as American as apple pie) gets into the studio, straps an explosive vest on Lee, and demands to know the source of a so-called ‘glitch’ that caused a particular stock – and his investment- to implode. The result is a tense conspiracy thriller with enough light moments peppered throughout (including some funky dance moves from Clooney) to boost the overall entertainment factor. Money Monster doesn’t really need to be seen on the big screen, but it’s the best of the week’s new offerings for anyone just looking for a solid, well-paced drama with star power.

How to Be Single

Apparently, I’m doing it all wrong. Then again, I’m not really sure what the takeaway is supposed to be for this movie. I just hope it doesn’t reel in the underage crowd hoping to see Rebel Wilson reprise her role from (the PG-13 rated) Pitch Perfect 2. How to Be Single is rated R. And the ‘R’ isn’t for romance. The movie is about hook-ups, misguided attempts to find a love connection, friendship, online algorithms, a few intangibles, a lot of sex and alcohol jokes, and other stuff related to being single in the big city. It aims to be a romantic comedy but generally misses the mark. It’s actually kind of sad. But a lot of single gals will likely gather for a cosmo or two and flock to it anyway, and others might drag the boyfriends along. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Black Mass

There’s really only one reason to see Black Mass – and that is the performance of Johnny Depp as south Boston’s notorious Irish mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger. Depp has been hit or miss (okay, maybe just miss) in recent years, so it’s nice to see him in something that doesn’t suck, in a role that could very well get him an Oscar nomination. Black Mass isn’t a great movie – in fact, as a crime drama based on a rather fascinating true story, it’s not very dramatic or entertaining. But it does have some killer moments (pun intended) and solid performances by a supporting cast that includes: Joel Edgerton as FBI agent John Connolly, a childhood friend who protects Bulger by claiming him as an informant against the bigger, badder Italian Mafia; Benedict Cumberbatch as Whitey’s brother Billy, a powerful Massachusetts state senator who seems to be in constant denial of Whitey’s dark side; and Dakota Johnson (50 Shades) as Whitey’s girlfriend and mother of his child. Her role is small but she definitely makes the most of it.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Oh, where to begin… I’m somewhat conflicted writing this review because the movie is actually better than I expected. Yet I am extremely bothered by the fact that it’s been promoted so heavily – with such reckless abandon – that a whole bunch of teens want to see it. And they shouldn’t. It’s an adult movie. Granted, the first 45 minutes are quite tame as the twisted romance between virginal college senior Anastasia Steele and the hunky but tormented young billionaire Christian Grey starts to simmer. But when the relationship boils over into Christian Grey’s “play room” filled with assorted whips, chains and handcuffs, then whoa Nelly. This ‘R’ rated film sets sail for what should be considered ‘NC-17’ territory.