Friday, September 13, 2019

What to Watch This Weekend: September 13, 2019

In Theaters: Hustlers
Hustlers is definitely the biggest release out this weekend, and it is an entertaining movie from start to finish.  Our review called it "a female wolf of wall street, with a decent amount of craziness, high risk scams, and strong personalities."

At Redbox: Booksmart
One of my favorite movies of the year and a refreshing take on the coming of age drama is finally available for rental.   Our review called Booksmart “a smart, sharp, hilarious comedy and the new valedictorian of the high school coming of age class.”  

Streaming (HBO): Mary Queen of Scots
Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie's historical drama is a slow burn, but what a fantastic journey it provides.  It is filled with interesting characters, political intrigue, and breakout performances by both leading ladies.  

Streaming (Amazon): Late Night
Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling's talk show comedy is one of the year's most overlooked independent films and is now available to stream at home.  If you didn't see it in theaters (and frankly, not many people did), then make sure to check it out from the comfort of your home!

Review: Saaho

Release date: August 30, 2019
Running time: 170 minutes
 Prabhas, Shraddha Kapoor, Jackie Shroff 

Saaho is an action, special agent, heist film in the vein of Fast and the Furious meets NCIS.  Saaho is a cool as ice character who is always one step ahead of everyone around him, allowing him to play all the sides while constantly wearing mirrored sunglasses.  He is definitely an over the top individual, and his journey is equally as over the top.

This film is an action film with a capital A.  It seems like every scene has some sort of disastrous situation, lots of slow motion footage, explosions or car crashes, gunfire, and a cold as ice Saaho easily figuring out how to escape it.  The film goes non stop; I don't think I've seen a movie with more slow motion shots since the original Matrix.  Thankfully these disastrous situations happen all over, with a diverse setting in some very beautiful scenes and areas that Saaho explores on his journey.  And as a Hindi movie, the film is interrupted multiple times by elaborate dance numbers, which are fun to watch right after a tense, explosion filled firefight.

The plot is convoluted with several plot twists, schemes, crosses, and double crosses.  And this leads to a film that is almost three hours long.  The film is so long that there was a random trailer in the middle of the movie, probably to allow for a quick intermission.  Along the way you’ll meet plenty of characters, see many different motivations, have some surprises, and also probably get confused by all the double crosses.

Saaho is definitely meant to be an over the top character, with everything about him exaggerated.  His punches hit extra hard, his shots are perfectly accurate, and his dialogue feels like there is a pause after every line.  It really is as if Leroy Jethro Gibbs was crossed with the Rock.  But Prabhas clearly enjoys portraying Saaho and his character, while over the top, is still fun to watch.  Shraddha Kapoor does a good job as his side kick / love interest, and although she starts as a somewhat hopeless character, she grows stronger as the film progresses.

If you are in the mood for an over the top action movie with a larger than life protagonist, then buckle up for a long, explosive, smoldering journey.  

Rent it

Review: Ne Zha

Release date: July 26, 2019
Running time: 110 minutes
 Yanting Lü, Joseph, Mo Han

Ne Zha tells the story of a young boy blessed with unique abilities that cause him to be incredibly powerful but also feared by the village where he grew up.  The boy is mischievious, as you would expect of a young child, and is constantly disobeying his parents and getting into trouble.  However, the boy must grow up quickly when a force threatens him and everyone in his village.

Ne Zha is a Chinese animated feature that stradles the line between a kids movie and a more serious animated film.  The animation is beautfiul at times, but also feels like it can't decide on a genre.  Most of the movie has detailed but childish and simple animation.  However, some parts, especially the end, move into a more refined and anime-style animation.  There are some scenes that are simply gorgeous, but those are few and far between.  However, when the action hits it is really beautiful to see, and the final scenes of the film are pretty spectacular.  And these spectacularly animated scenes are met with an equally majestic soundtrack.  The theater was shaking during the climax of the film!

Ne Zha also tries to tell deeper messages of prejudice and fate, but those are lost a little in the execution.  For example, the villagers fear and dislike the boy because of his past, but also because he gets into trouble and damages their homes and bodies.  It was tough to feel bad for him when he was consistently (unintentionally) hurting those who were afraid of him.  Additionally, this might be a culture barrier, but I didn't love some of the jokes and humor of the film.  The characters are fine but mostly one note, and the main friendship in the film feels rushed.  The film spends so much time at the start that when it tries to get to the main conflict, it rushes at top speed without much additional development.

Ne Zha is a beautifully animated feature that tries to tell a deeper message but doesn't quite execute.  It should be enjoyed if you are interested in this film, but can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home.

Rent it

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Review: Hustlers

Release date: September 13, 2019
Running time: 109 minutes
 Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles 

Hustlers tells the true story of a group of strippers turned friends turned grifters who decide to take advantage of wealthy wall street types.  What starts as a harmless embarrassment soon spirals into something much worse.  As the Hustle grows, so do the challenges and consequences these women face.  

This film stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu in roles that are very different from what they've done before.  Wu takes a complete 180 from her Crazy Rich Asians character, to play a sweet but capable stripper /grifter.  Lopez plays the alpha of the group; a strong, confident, but brash leader of the pack.  Together they make a good pair although I didn't love Wu's character at the start.  She seemed way too naive and had some awkward dialog or lack there of.  Lopez however is at her finest; when she's on screen, she is the clear focal point!  The rest of the cast does a good job of supporting these leading ladies, with some notable performances by Cardi B and Lili Reinhart.  

The story moves at a decent pace, starting slowly but speeding up as the Hustle grows.  But the slow pace at the start does a good job of introducing you to the characters and humanizing them.  You really get to know the main characters and their motivations.  However, this film does suffer from some less than stellar writing.  Some of the dialogue is corny and a lot of Wu's dialogue at the start feels like it's missing.  There are moments where she has a conversation with Lopez and says absolutely nothing, which was very distracting. And although Lopez is a strong female lead, sometimes her dialog is overdone.  Additionally, the film does glorify some pretty ridiculous crimes with an us or them mentality.  

But if you can get past these issues, Hustlers provides an unreal story about some slick and sexy women.  It is a female wolf of wall street, with a decent amount of craziness, high risk scams, and strong personalities.  

Watch it

Monday, September 9, 2019

Review: Chhichhore

Release date: September 6, 2019
Running time: 143 minutes
 Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Sharma 

Where were the best times of your lives?  In Chhichhore, that time was the first year of the India Institute of Technology where an unlikely group of friends form some serious lifetime bonds.  These bonds are tested when one of the friends experiences a serious family issue later in life, leading to a reunion that highlights just how strong this college friendship was and continues to be.  

The most enjoyable aspect about this film is the cast.  The film flashes between present day and college days, with actors that look similar enough to their counterparts to allow you to easily identify them.  The film focuses on six main friends that you root for from start to finish.  Each member of Hostel 4--the friend's living quarters--is quirky and lovable, and their very different personalities come together for an unlikely enjoyable cast.  I really liked how the group truly felt like a band of misfits forming a common bond when they needed each other most.  It is a very relatable film and message, and one that will instantly grab you and pull you through this heartwarming journey.  

The story is told through a series of flashbacks that keep the film moving, and it is a blast to see the differences between the these characters crazy and awkward college days and their more professional present day lives.  Chhichhore is a wholesome Animal House, with as much silliness and pranks with less creepy situations.  Since this is a Hindi film, there are some awkward situations between opposite sexes, but they are tame and not exploitative.  The story is endearing with a little of everything: there are some corny moments, some laugh out loud moments, and some moments that will make you cry.  But through it all you will be rooting for this strange band of misfit friends.  

If you are in the mood for an uplifting, wholesome Animal House, check out Chhichhore. It is both silly and sweet with a good message, endearing characters, and a story that will make you cry and laugh out loud. 

Watch it

Friday, September 6, 2019

News: Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) Teaser Trailer

Although this is a leak of a teaser trailer that you can practically find it anywhere online, it is very much worth watching.  I was excited to finally get a sneak peak at this project! And while the beginning of this teaser is clearly a clever nod toward IT Chapter Two that opens this weekend Harley Quinn is back and this time she brought some friends to start some mischief in Gotham without Joker!

What do you think of this trailer?

Birds of Prey Synopsis:

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is an upcoming American superhero film based on the DC Comics team Birds of Prey. It is intended to be the eighth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film is directed by Cathy Yan from a screenplay by Christina Hodson and stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, and Ewan McGregor. Birds of Prey follows Harley Quinn as she joins forces with Black Canary, the Huntress, and Renee Montoya to save Cassandra Cain from Gotham City crime lord Black Mask.

Robbie, who also serves as producer, pitched the idea for Birds of Prey to Warner Bros. in 2015. The film was announced in May 2016; Hodson was hired to write the script that November, while Yan signed on to direct in April 2018. The majority of the cast and crew were confirmed by December 2018. Principal photography lasted from January to April 2019 and took place in Downtown Los Angeles, parts of the Arts District, Los Angeles, and soundstages at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California. Birds of Prey is expected to be the first theatrically released R-rated DCEU film.

Birds of Prey is scheduled to be released in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures on February 7, 2020.

Screening: Hustlers


Release Date: September 13, 2019

Genre: Drama
Cast: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, with Mercedes Ruehl, and Cardi B
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Producers: Elaine Goldsmith Thomas, Jessica Elbaum, Jennifer Lopez, Benny Medina, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay

HUSTLERS follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. The film was inspired by the article published by New York Magazine entitled “The Hustlers at Scores” written by Jessica Pressler.

Screening Details:
Saturday, September 7th
9:00 pm
AMC Tyson’s Corner

Link to Download Tickets:

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As always, screenings are first-come, first-served so please arrive early to ensure you get a seat.