And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Spoiler-Free Review: Spider-Man: No Way Home

I’ve been extremely cautious about venturing back into theaters. But I decided to celebrate my COVID booster shot with a limited-capacity IMAX screening of Spider-Man: No Way Home. After myriad viewings in recent months of heavily-touted awards-season contenders, I needed a big ‘escape’ movie. And boy did I get it with Spider-Man: No Way Home. There is a lot going on in this movie, much of which I can’t — or won’t — reveal. Just know that if you’re a fan of the Marvel and Spiderman franchises, you’ve got to see it soon, before spoilers spoil the fun. Not that Spider-Man is all fun. It’s not. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be genuinely moved and genuinely entertained throughout the 2 1/2 hour run time that includes sitting through all the credits for THREE bonus scenes.

Arty Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download 2019

Another super tiring weekend in the bucolic Virginia hamlet of Middleburg watching more films than I should! I predicted early on that this festival would outgrow itself and I think it has come to that point. Too many people know about it and the growing pains have become chronic overcrowding at venues without room for expansion. I’m already searching for another festival for next year. (All suggestions are appreciated.) I saw fewer films this year, too, just nine — Marriage Story, The Capote Tapes, The Aeronauts, Frankie, Waves, The Report, The Two Popes, Atlantics, and Knives Out. I only gave one of them four stars and several were surprising disappointments. For too many it was great cast and great performances in an otherwise just okay movie. Here’s my list with trailers and my preliminary impressions. Full reviews of select films will come later, so check back.

Review of Spider-Man: Homecoming

Ever wonder what a ‘Generation Z’ Peter Parker would be like? If so, look no further than Spider-Man: Homecoming, the latest (reboot? reimagining? prequel? pseudo-origin story?) of your friendly neighborhood superhero (and Avenger in training). As introduced briefly in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, English actor Tom Holland is the newest, and youngest Spidey to don the suit in what is, in essence, Smallville: the Spider-Man edition (i.e. instead of Tom Welling as a young Clark Kent navigating the challenges of both High School and superheroism on TV, you get Tom Holland as a young Peter Parker navigating the challenges of both High School and superheroism on the big screen). The film certainly provides a fresh and interesting take on the iconic character and his place in the Marvel franchise; I just don’t feel like we needed it. But since we’ve got it anyway, here’s the bottom line: Spider-Man: Homecoming is perfectly entertaining for what it is (a superhero coming-of-age comedy drama action flick) and sets the stage for a Spider-Man for a new generation. Only time will tell if Holland has more web-slinging staying power than his predecessors Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3) and Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Young Spidey’s integration into the Avengers franchise could give him a solid advantage.

The Big Short

I’m behind on my Oscar nominees viewing, but I finally caught this one. I’d expected it to be more like Margin Call, but thankfully, though its subject matter is kind of similar, it is by turns funny and horrifying. Adapted from Michael Lewis’s non-fiction bestseller “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” it tells the story of how a small group of money men saw what was happening in the housing market in 2005 and set about shorting the market and making a killing. Along the way, they tried to wake banking regulators and the wider market to their realization that it was all about to go bust, but were totally ignored by those who were making money hand over fist on bad loans. It is a morality tale, very well told.

The Ides of March

The Ides of March is a decent adult drama, but it’s also a depressing commentary on the state of our political system. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a republican, democrat, independent or ‘other’ – the movie is likely to leave you with the impression that we’re all pawns in a political game that’s essentially run by a select group of strategists who will do whatever is necessary to achieve victory for their candidate du jour.

The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer didn’t blow me away. But it did hold my interest for two hours and featured the best performance from Matthew McConaughey in a long, long while (and yes – his shirt does come off, albeit briefly).