Friday, December 13, 2019

What to Watch This Weekend: December 13, 2019

In Theaters: Jumanji:The Next Level
Jumanji: The Next Level returns with a new adventure featuring the same great cast, additional characters to meet along the journey, and a commitment to video game tropes that is entertaining and hilarious  For more information, check out our review!

At Redbox: Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is a visual treat that captures a golden time in Hollywood perfectly, but the long run time and lack of action hampered this Tarantino epic.  However, you can easily deal with this long run time by watching it from the comfort of your own home!  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (HBO): Unfriended: The Dark Web
It's Friday the 13th so we figured we should give you all a horror option.  An interesting film told through an online video call and other computer-based venues, Unfriended: The Dark Web is a little creepy, has a fun cast, and a little intrigue.   

Streaming (HBO): The Long Shot
A very well reviewed box office bomb, the Long Shot is available on HBO streaming.  The movie had a fun story and fantastic chemistry between the two leads Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen.  Go ahead and give it a shot this weekend. 

Streaming (Amazon): The Report
A movie that is already getting some award buzz, the report is a cold, factual movie with a great performance by Adam Driver.  The film is not going to thrill you, but if you want a strong, factual film that delves into important recent historical events, then check this out this weekend.

Review: Black Christmas

Release date: December 13, 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring: Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue

A group of sorority sisters staying at school for the holidays suddenly find themselves being stalked by a masked stranger with a taste for blood.  The killer starts by taunting them on social media, and then appears out of nowhere for the final kill.  Do these ladies give in or band together and fight back?

The movie has a refreshingly different and diverse all female main cast.  The women are all in the same sorority but have very different motivations and backgrounds.  The main character, Riley (Poots) is dealing with a horrific event in her past that adds some depth to her character.  Her main sisters Kris (Shannon)--a fiery revolutionary that is raging against the patriarchy--and Marty (Donoghue)--a quieter but equally supportive friend--help her to confront this event and move past it.  The ladies have a good chemistry and I liked how different and supportive they were of each other.  The film also has an old school style, with a grainy camera, long camera shots, and a gothic setting.  I think this was a nod to the fact that this is a remake of a remake of a 1974 movie, but in any event it was really fun to see at the start.  And the suspense of the film as the killer is stalking his victims is palatable.  The movie does a great job with making the audience stay at the edge of their seat longer than you would expect, making them wait for the inevitable jump scare and holiday-inspired kill.  All of these positives really help to stay in the holiday horror spirit.

However, although the plot at the beginning of the film is entertaining and suspenseful, the movie goes off the rails after the reveal.  I'm all for weird horror plots, but this seemed to notch up the crazy to a new level.  And for a movie with such a diverse, strong female cast, the male cast is definitely lacking in it.  Although there are a few outliers, the vast majority of male members in the film all look the same and have the same motivations; at times I struggled to even tell one from the other.  And the few males that were different tended to disappear as the movie progressed.  I really liked Landon (Caleb Eberhardt) and wanted to learn more about his character, but he just popped in occasionally and had a very minor role.  And although the dialog of the film was interesting at times, it also could be corny and a little too dramatic; some of the more intense scenes in the film caused me to chuckle due to this, which hurt the impact of those parts.  However, despite these issues, Black Christmas is still a refreshingly different holiday horror film that maybe should be enjoyed at home.

Black Christmas is a refreshingly different holiday horror film with a diverse all-female cast, a ton of tension, and an old school style that will keep you in the holiday horror spirit.    

Rent It

Review: Jumanji: The Next Level

Release date: December 13, 2019
Running time: 123 minutes
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan

They're back in the game!  A year after their original jungle trek, Spencer begins to lose some of the confidence he had gained from the first adventure.  Hoping to recapture some of that and get out of his rut, he reassembles Jumanji to take one more trip into the jungle.  After they find out, his old friends come to his rescue, but unwittingly take a few additional people with them: Spencer's grandfather and his old friend / enemy Milo.  How this newly assembled team deals with the dangers of Jumanji will determine whether they make it out alive!  

One of the most refreshing aspects of the Jumanji reboot is that it took many standard video game conventions--multiple lives, bad dialog options, magical bags of holding--and converted them hilariously onto the big screen.  Thankfully, the Next Level keeps this alive with many of the same quirks that Jumanji highligted—like poor, looping NPC dialog—and additional video game staples to that will keep the inner gamer in you laughing.   Another enjoyable aspect of the first Jumanji was the diverse cast that fit together perfectly, both the in game heroes and their real life child counterparts.  The Next Level keeps this as well with the same cast of characters returning with a few additional characters and tweaks to the old formula.  Overall, it is a welcome return to form for this series and it is wonderful to see these again on the big screen.  However, as detailed below, the new additions are funny at times but often hurt the original films magic.

The Next Level strays from the original movie's formula by setting the film in pretty much every locale but a jungle.  You'll encounter a dessert, an oasis town, and snow covered mountains, none of which have the same appeal as the original jungle setting.  Additionally, the film mixes up the characters a little—presumably to keep the audience guessing and to keep the characters fresh—but some of the changes got old quick.  It was funny the first time, but unfortunately they kept going back to that well and it became tiresome by the end of the film.  And this tiresome aspect of the film causes it to slow down tremendously at the start and consistently impedes the pace of the film.  Unfortunately, this is a case where the additions hurt the simple magic that made the first film so enjoyable. The Next Level keeps a lot of that, and it is still a fun movie, but that original light is just a little dimmer because of what was added.  As odd as it sounds, I wish they would have just stuck to the old formula but in a new quest.  

Jumanji: The Next Level returns with a new adventure featuring the same great cast, additional characters to meet along the journey, and a commitment to video game tropes that is entertaining and hilarious.  

Rent It

Screening: The Song of Names

In Washington, DC area theaters January 3

Starring: Tim Roth, Clive Owen, Catherine McCormack
Score by Academy Award Winner Howard Shore
Directed by: Fran├žois Girard

Martin Simmonds (Tim Roth) has been haunted throughout his life by the mysterious disappearance of his “brother” and extraordinary best friend, a Polish Jewish virtuoso violinist, Dovidl Rapaport, who vanished shortly before the 1951 London debut concert that would have launched his brilliant career. Thirty-five years later, Martin discovers that Dovidl (Clive Owen) may still be alive, and sets out on an obsessive intercontinental search to find him and learn why he left.

Screening Details:

Monday, December 16
Landmark E Street
555 11th St. NW, Washington, DC

To RSVP, please send an email to with your name and whether or not you plan to bring a guest.  More details can be found in the flyer below.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Review: Richard Jewell

Release date: December 13, 2019
Running time: 129 minutes
Starring: Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Paul Walter Hauser

Richard Jewell is a new drama / thriller about the Olympic security guard that discovered a bomb during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.  Although the bomb eventually went off, killing two people and injuring one hundred, Jewell's quick thinking and relentless procedural diligence greatly reduced the severity of the attack.  However, the tables quickly turn on Mr. Jewell when the FBI begins to investigate the man as the perpetrator of the attack, turning the lauded hero into a media villain overnight.  

The main standout of this film is the phenomenal cast and acting.  Every character in Richard Jewell is perfectly cast and the performances from that cast are perfect.  Sam Rockwell is a revelation as lawyer Watson Bryant, a hard-headed attorney that knew Jewell before the incident and fights tooth and nail against the investigation.  Kathy Bates was also a surprising bright spot as Jewell's mother.  She captivates the audience in pretty much every scene she is in and her emotional scenes are painful to watch.  Paul Walter Hauser is perfect as Jewell, and does an amazing, believable performance as the man.  

However, despite the fantastic acting, the movie itself is just not very interesting.  Although the first part of the movie is intense and will keep you on the edge of your seat, after the initial incident the movie transforms into more of a police procedure film.  Despite what the amazing trailer would have you believe, the film itself quickly slows down.  There is plenty to follow and enough potential investigative misconduct to keep you guessing, but overall this shift is just not that entertaining as a whole.  And the parts that are investigative misconduct seem like one offs; they aren't very eye catching and there is no major incident that sticks with you.  On top of this, the editing seems to be off.  Perhaps the movie was trimmed for time, but the timeline occasionally jumps with little change to the characters or overall scenery.  In one part the film jumps 10 years but the characters look the same.  And in other parts new, seemingly important characters were in scenes without any introduction or idea who they were.  And, as interesting as Jewell's character is, he is kind of an unlikable one.  He seems to keep sabotaging himself and not listening to even the simplest advice.  I imagine this is to keep the film true to the original story and characters, but sometimes a little Hollywood magic would have made the film a more entertaining endeavor.  

Richard Jewell is a compelling story about a man who went from hero to villain overnight, and the effect that can have on your life and beliefs.  It has a strong cast, a commitment to realism, and absolutely stellar performances by the main characters.  

Rent It

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Deal: 50% off Golden Globe Nominated Movies on FandangoNOW

FandangoNOW has a good deal on some recent movies!  If you enter code GLOBES2020 here, you can get 50% off on select Golden Globe nominee films.  You can redeem the code and use it on multiple qualifying movies through Sunday, 12/15.  You have less than a week to participate, but there are some really good options!  

A full list of qualifying movies is available here, but here is a list of some good deals that are also MoviesAnywhere compatable (meaning that they will port over to your linked accounts):

  • Motherless Brooklyn 4K $10
  • Missing Link 4K $6
  • Parasite 4K $7.50
  • Booksmart 4K $6
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 4K $10
  • Where'd You Go Bernadette 4K $7.50
  • Joker 4K $10
  • Ford v Ferrari 4K $10
  • Jojo Rabbit 4K $10
  • Frozen 2 4K $12.50
  • Harriet 4K $7.50
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood 4K $7.50

Notable non-MoviesAnywhere Deals (these will ONLY play in FandangoNOW):

  • The Farewell 4K $7.50
  • Knives Out 4K $10

Thanks to Slickdeals for the original post of this deal. 

Monday, December 9, 2019

Review: Pati Patni Aur Woh

Release date: December 6, 2019
Running time: 126 minutes
Starring: Kartik Aaryan, Bhumi Pednekar, Ananya Panday

Pati Patni Aur Woh tells the tale of an ordinary, middle class married man who, after three years of marriage, starts to get a wandering eye when a new work relationship starts to bloom.  As his new relationship grows, he is faced with ever more difficult problems trying to keep his now double life separate.  He is helped, usually hilariously and sometimes begrudgingly, by his best friend who he has known since childhood.  

Pati Patni has a likable cast with some really fun characters.  Although I didn't love Abhinav (the main character), I really liked his wife Vedika and his new love interest Tapasya.  Additionally, his childhood friend Fahim adds some hilarious comic relief and becomes the focus of every scene he is in.  The nature of this film means that there are several ridiculous situations as Abhinav tries to keep the two women in his life from meeting, and many of these offer a fair share of laughs.  The lengths that Abhinav must go to in order to keep his double life happening can be entertaining to watch.  

However, the ending of this film soured the movie for me, as did the overall message that is portrayed.  The movie starts off as a comedy and partway through, moves to more of a drama.  The shift was fine--I like movies that have more depth--but unfortunately, after some interesting drama it feels like the film tries to wrap everything up quickly.  Essentially, it feels like the movie tried to make a happy ending out of a very complicated situation, one that could have been much more beneficial to explore.  I thought, in the end, the movie did not have a very good message to send and that if it had ended differently, it could have been more of a breath of fresh air.  Some of the topics that are discussed in the film seem like important issues in India, and the movie then seems to brush them all aside as it rushes to a conclusion.  At 2 hours and 6 minutes, the movie is fairly short for a Hindi film and it feels like more could have been added to make the overall tale more satisfying.

Pati Patni Aur Woh has entertaining moments with a likable cast who are put in some very ridiculous situations.  However, the film's rush to conclusion and desire to shoehorn a happy ending hurts the overall message.  

Rent It