Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Review: The Last Full Measure

Release date: January 24, 2020
Running time: 110 minutes
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Jeremy Irvine 

The Last Full Measure is inspired by the true story of Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, a man who gave his life in Vietnam while helping his fellow soldiers in an ambush.  Pitsenbarger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor over 30 years after this, and the Last Full Measure tells this tale in a setting where a fictionalized Pentagon Staffer is working to make this award possible.   

I am always wary of movies that are inspired by true events.  When Hollywood gets its hands on a story and twists it to a more pleasing form, it can sometimes help the overall experience but often makes an important story seem manufactured or ridiculous.  The movie does a very accurate job with the battle that Pitsenbarger fought in and the chaos and carnage that ensued.  And the vehicle that the filmmakers chose to tell this story, with a fake staffer and the journey track down evidence for this award, does try to explore some of the effects of battle and the issues that our veterans are going through due to their service.  

However, the framework of the Pentagon staffer tracking down the soldiers that also participated that day takes this inspirational story and pushes it too far into Hollywood.  This is reflected in some of the Hollywood touches that seem to permeate this film.  The dialog is overly dramatic and often hit or miss; sometimes it does not feel natural and does not have a good flow.  The awkward dialog is not helped by some inconsistent performances by the actors, including, surprisingly, Sebastian Stan.  Samuel L. Jackson is solid throughout, but many of the scenes feel like they could have used additional takes.  Additionally, in order to tell the story the staffer travels all throughout the country (and beyond) in the span of a few weeks.  The performances do improve and the overall story gets better as the film progresses, and by the end of the film, the filmmakers succeed in imparting on you an important story about a soldier and the ramifications of war.  However, the Hollywood creation of the fake staffer causes the focus of the movie to largely move away from Pitsenbarger and on this staffer who is learning the story.  And it introduces an odd distrust of bureaucracy from dramatic effect when accounts of the story do not include any sort of malfeasance.  

The Last Full Measure tells an important story of courage and sacrifice, but does so through a Hollywood lens that adds some important lessons within its overly dramatic dialog.

Rent It

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Review: Weathering With You

Release date: January 17, 2020
Running time: 114 minutes
Starring: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri 

From the creators of the critically acclaimed Your Name comes another beautiful, heartfelt animated journey.  Hodaka Morishima (Daigo) has run away from home to Tokyo.  Struggling to survive, he befriends Hina Amano (Mori), a girl with a special power.  Together, the two struggling teenagers survive and thrive in a Tokyo covered by perpetual rain.  

As you would expect from the team that brought you Your Name, Weathering With You is absolutely gorgeous.  The animation is crisp and beautiful, with a clean style that really helps to tell the story.  The film is mostly set in Tokyo, and from what I remember, it looks just like it.  Many of the buildings are recognizable and even some of the minor details like alleyways and housing evoke that special city.  Also what you would expect from a movie called Weathering With You, it has stunning weather.  From beautiful rays of sunshine to some torrential downpours and slow motion rain shots, the weather is as important to this story as the main characters are and is as beautifully animated as well. 

On top of the amazing animation, the music of Weathering With You contributes just as much to the story.  The lyrical songs are wonderful and fit what is going on in that specific scene.  However, there are sections of piano music that are beautiful and understated, yet come in at exactly the right time to set the mood and contribute to the moving story.  And the story itself, although a little quirky and dramatic, is a wonderful story about children maturing and finding their place in this world.  The characters and their struggles tell a beautiful, heartfelt story that will stick with you well after the movie's credits.

Weathering With You is an absolutely stunning film with amazing animation, incredible weather effects, and moving music that combine to tell a beautiful, heartfelt story.

Watch It

Friday, January 17, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: January 17, 2020

In Theaters: Bad Boys For Life
Bad Boys For Life brings the iconic duo back for another ride with enough nostalgia to please fans of the first films and enough humor, action, and new characters to start a new franchise. For more information, check out our review!

At Redbox: Gemini Man
Gemini Man is a beautiful action movie with some amazing CG, but unfortunately the rest of the film fails to entertain after the explosions have cooled.  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (Disney+): Aladdin
Aladdin is a fine remake of the animated classic.  It is not as good as the original movie, but Disney did a good job re-imagining the film and Will Smith's genie, though not as good as Robin William's portrayal, still has a lot to love about his character.  Smith makes the role his own, and has a fresh take on the character that is fun to see.     

Streaming (Netflix): Bad Boys
Prepare for Bad Boys for Life by going back to the classics.  Bad Boys was an entertaining film that took two charismatic leads at the top of their game and added a ton of Michael Bay explosions into the mix.  Plus, Bad Boys for Life has a lot of nostalgia so seeing the originals will help prepare you for those references.

Streaming (Netflix): Bad Boys II
The follow up to Bad Boys, Bad Boys II went bigger in pretty much every way.  Keeping the same amazing chemistry, Michael Bay went for bigger explosions in this perfect summer action fest.  Though not critically acclaimed, audiences loved the sequel and again, seeing it will help remind you of the nostalgia references in Bad Boys for Life.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Review: Dolittle

Release date: January 17, 2020
Running time: 106 minutes
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen 

Dolittle tells the tale of a brilliant, eccentric doctor who has the rare ability to talk to animals.  However, because of past events, he has since become a recluse, preferring the company of his animal companions to the human world.  Dolittle is less of an origin movie and more of a rebirth film.  The movie starts with an animated history of Dr. Dolittle and explains why he has shunned the human world.  Then it opens after the man has already become somewhat of a recluse.  But an unexpected visitor or two lead Dolittle and his animal companions on an epic journey. 

Dolittle is accompanied on his journey by his young apprentice Stubbins (Harry Collett) and an all-star cast of voice talent including John Cena, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, and Tom Holland to name a few.  The sheer number of characters and the chaos that their animal actions cause is much funnier than I expected.  There are some silly moments for kids but also some genuinely funny moments for adults to enjoy.  

Dolittle's journey takes him to a couple of interesting places with their own animals and humans for the group to interact with.  However, the journey does feel drawn out.  The movie is an hour and forty five minutes, probably about the limit for a kids film, and it definitely feels like it.  You do visit some interesting places, but it feels like the movie lingers in those places for far too long.  It drags around the middle part and the end gets slightly ridiculous.  The ending does continue the theme of the film but the climactic encounter feels like its jumping the shark (unfortunately without a talking shark).  

Dolittle takes its all star cast and sends them on a journey with plenty of heart and funny animal and human moments. 

Rent It

Review: The Gentlemen

Release date: January 24, 2020
Running time: 113 minutes
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Grant

From the wild mind of Guy Ritchie comes a new complicated crime tale featuring a unique cast and plenty of twists and turns.  Marijuana king pin Mickey Pearson (McConaughey) is on top of his game and thinking of getting out.  However, as soon as he starts to look for options, everything goes wrong.  Be it potential rivals (Henry Golding) or clever journalists looking to make some money (Hugh Grant), Mickey and his right hand man Ray (Hunnam) will have to use all of their wits to stay kings of jungle.  

This movie has plenty of Guy Ritchie's trademark look.  From the very noticeable and perfectly done costumes, to the choice of shooting locations, and the great camera shots, this film oozes style.  The Gentlemen gangsters all dress and act impeccably, with crisp suits and calm words.  The interloping gangsters are less put together, but equally fitting.  And Colin Farrell's character has such an outlandish but perfect style that just endears you to him and his boys.  And I absolutely love scumbag Hugh Grant; scumbag Hugh Grant might possibly be my favorite Hugh Grant.  His character acts as a narrator to the film and he is such a breath of fresh air.  This style is also helped by a fantastic soundtrack that sets the mood.  The opening song sets a wonderful tone, one that is continued throughout.  

And the story is classic Guy Ritchie: it starts with a little nibble of information and weaves new characters, plots, and sub plots in as you take this incredible journey.  It is an interesting caper that has plenty of twists and turns and keeps drip feeding information that will have you wondering what will happen next.  And all of this is fueled by Ritchie's incredible and irreverent dialogue.  It is sharp, serious, and when it needs to be very clever.  Listen to every word because they're all important for the story.

The Gentlemen is classic Guy Ritchie: a fantastic cast acting in a complicated crime caper fueled by Ritchie's amazing style and sharp, clever writing.  Dignify yourself and don't miss this one.  

Watch It

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review: Bad Boys For Life

Release date: January 17, 2020
Running time: 123 minutes
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens

They're finally back!  After a 17 year hiatus, Mike (Smith) and Marcus (Lawrence) return to play their iconic roles for one last ride.  However both Mike and Marcus are much older than their earlier, shoot first ask questions later selves, and must deal with the realities of their age, moving on from their past, but also confronting issues from it.  

The best thing about Bad Boys For Life is the chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.  This was a draw of the original movies; the two personalities complemented each other and made for a fun dynamic duo.  And although we haven't seen them together in a very long time, and they are still natural as partners.  The two play off each other perfectly, Mike with his invincible, hot-headed demeanor and Marcus with his more cautious, humorous personality.  As with the original two movies, this levity helps break up tense scenes; Marcus has a knack for cracking a joke even when the gunfire erupts.  However, this time it is not just Marcus and Mike taking on the world.  They have the help of a new team at Miami PD who use the latest advances in technology to solve cases, rather than old school, brute force detective work.  It is a fun dynamic to see; Marcus and Mike are already dealing with growing older and having this young, crack team thrown in just amplifies this.  

And like the original films, Bad Boys For Life has plenty of humor.  The movie is genuinely funny.  Lawrence is the central focus of this, but other characters definitely add to the humor.  There are several legitimate laugh out loud moments that really help to break up some of the action scenes.  But those action scenes are quite good.  From the gun play to the intense chase scenes, this movie has enough action to keep you entertained.  And as you would expect from a sequel, the Bad Boys For LIfe is full of nostalgia.  From characters from the original films making appearances, to old songs and nostalgic shots, the film has plenty of throw backs to the original Bad Boys movies.  But, the best part of Bad Boys For Life is that the film also stands on its own.  It uses the nostalgia and plays off of it, but the movie itself is a wildly entertaining ride.  It is Bad Boys x Gemini Man x NCIS x Fast and Furious.  If that sounds appealing to you, you should definitely watch this new adventure.

Bad Boys For Life brings the iconic duo back for another ride with enough nostalgia to please fans of the first films and enough humor, action, and new characters to start a new franchise.  

Watch It

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Review: Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior

Release date: January 10, 2020
Running time: 131 minutes
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Kajol

Tanhaji: the Unsung Warrior tells the tale of Tanhaji (Devgn), a 17th century Maratha military leader.  He is a great warrior, leader of men, and family man; basically your typical Hindi action star.  Tanhaji volunteers to defend his kingdom against an invading force led by Udaybhan Rathod (Khan), who is hoping to conquer all of India for Emperor Aurangzeb.  

As mentioned, Tanhaji features a larger than life protagonist that personifies your typical Hindi action star.  He is a fearless warrior, general on the battlefield, devoted father, and also puts his country first.  It is a trope, but it can be effective at times.  Devgn is great as Tanhaji, pulling off this man with an understated strength and conviction.  Khan is likewise great as Rathod, a cunning, ruthless, conniving warrior leading the invading forces.  Again, another Hindi movie trope, where Tanhaji is wholesome and pure, Rathod is heartless and evil.  His only motivation seems to be killing and the enjoyment he gets from it.  And these two larger than life personalities meet in some grandiose battles.  Although not as epic as some war movies, the fights are complicated and have many facets to them.  And the build up to the final fight is surprisingly tense as you wonder whether all the moving parts will come together. 

So overall, enjoyable characters and action.  But, the large battles were distracting at times due to some less than believable CG.  From some of the battle wounds, to the battle animals, to the landscape that is being fought on, the poor CG pulls you out of the experience whenever it becomes noticeable, which unfortunately is pretty frequent.  Additionally, as already alluded to, the movie has a very black and white tone.  The good guys are pure, wonderful, and care about country over anything else.  The bad guys are unpredictable, backstabbers, and murder without care or concern.  It goes beyond their personas as well.  The Maratha's are all cloaked in white and bright colors, whereas the invaders only wear black or dark colors.  It is a little too polarized for my taste, as many of these historical stories have shades of gray in them. 

Tanhaji pits two larger than life warriors in an epic battle that culminates in a tense final encounter.

Rent It

Monday, January 13, 2020

Review: Ip Man 4: The Finale

Release date: December 20, 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Starring: Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins, Kwok-Kwan Chan

As its name implies, Ip Man 4: The Finale concludes the saga of Ip Man, the Wing Chun martial arts master and teacher of Bruce Lee.  In it, Master Ip Man (Yen) travels to America in order to find a foreign school for his son.  But he encounters an entrenched Chinese population in San Francisco dealing with the problems and prejudices of being an immigrant population in America in the 60s.  On top of this, Master Ip Man has his own problems to deal with while he hunts for a new life for his son.   

First and foremost, this movie should have good martial arts.  And thankfully, this is definitely a strong suit of the film.  Donnie Yen is up to the challenge and this movie has some pretty fantastic fight choreography with a variety of styles.  Yen is joined by some very talented martial artists to create some beautiful and brutal fight sequences.  However, what is also apparent from this film is that it is a love letter to classic martial arts movies.  From the yellow tint to the film, to the exaggerated dialog where even the English lines sometimes sound like bad English dubs, to the way that most problems can be resolved by one epic fight, this film invokes everything you loved about classic martial arts movies.

And don't get me wrong, I loved this movie and I especially love Donnie Yen's quiet, confident master.  However, there is a lot of overt racism in this film against Chinese and against white Americans.  I don't know how bad it was in the 1960s, so maybe this is all an accurate representation, but a lot of it seemed exaggerated for dramatic effect.  It definitely feels like a film where American culture is depicted in an overly exaggerated stereotypical fashion.  And, the underlying message of the film, that many disputes can be solved by a simple fight, seems like an outdated idea.  Again, I want to caveat that I loved this film and if this is a throwback to old martial arts films, it is a well done one.  However, if this is meant to teach lessons, then this might not be the best exemplar for life. 

Ip Man 4 finishes the epic story of Master Ip Man, with a wonderful love letter to classic martial arts film, with the exaggerated scenarios and amazing fights that you would expect from the Wing Chun master.

Watch It

Friday, January 10, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: January 10, 2020

In Theaters: Just Mercy
Just Mercy is an inspiring, timely, and sadly appropriate movie for our times.  It has Oscar-worthy acting, amazing cinematography, and tells an important story that that doesn't leave a heart untouched or an eye dry at its conclusion.  For more information, check out our review!

At Redbox: Joker
Joker is a dark and disturbing tale about one man's descent into madness and rebirth as an iconic villain.  It is not going to be for everyone, but this brilliant, unpredictable, and uncomfortable film should not be missed.  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (Starz): Family
I saw this film on a plane because I had literally seen everything else.  I expected t his to be terrible but laughed harder than I had in a long time.  The film has a fantastic dry sense of humor and a great message.  Make sure to check out this hidden gem!  

Streaming (Amazon): The Kid
Combine two of my favorite actors (Dane DeHaan and Ethan Hawke) in a western bio-drama and you already have my interest.  Make it about one of the most famous outlaws in history and I'm sure it will please many movie fans!  

Review: Underwater

Release date: January 10, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring: Kristen Stewart, T.J. Miller, Jessica Henwick 

Underwater takes us on a journey with a team of subaquatic researchers including Norah (Stewart) , Emily (Henwick), Captain (Vincent Cassel).  They must do their best to survive in their subterranean laboratory after suffering what they think is an earthquake.  But as they dig deeper to the bottom of the ocean they discover something that will put the mission and the lives of the entire team in jeopardy.

I will admit that coming into this movie, I had low expectations as the trailers really reminded me of a deep sea version of Alien Covenant and LIFE (both of which I did not enjoy).  But I was hopeful because of the inclusion of Kristen Stewart fresh off her enjoyable role in Charlie's Angels. Although this movie was short, it quickly caught my attention with its suspenseful action, great visuals, and climatic score.  This was all highlighted in the opening sequence, where the fantastic cinematography was on display, wasting no time with some thrilling panning and tracking shots. The slow motion action effects were amazing and probably some of the best I have seen in recent memory.  And its clear FOX Studios loves some T.J. Miller as his character was irreverent and funny, very similar to his role in the popular Deadpool franchise.  He was my highlight of the film; incredibility funny and enjoyable, which acted as a balance to the intense action and light horror of the rest of this movie.  

However, some of the issues with the film do drag down this otherwise good action suspense movie.  As soon as you start to get into the film and think that you understand what is going on, the movie dives down to a level that makes absolutely no sense.  I don't think I have seen a movie where the trailer leaves you optimistic but actually seeing the movie leaves you more confused.  I honestly do not think i can answer the who, what, where, when, and how of this film.  I could surely research certain aspects but why must I do further investigation to understand a film I just saw? I didn't understand the endgame and even at times the severity of their predicament didn't feel intense at all. Which is a shame, because like I said, I really did enjoy the initial parts of the film and thought that this could have been a really interesting adventure.  

Underwater's intense action, climactic score, and good characters are sunk by a plot that dives into nonsense halfway through this short film.

Rent It

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Review: Like a Boss

Release date: January 10, 2020
Running time: 86 minutes
Starring: Rose Byrne, Tiffany Haddish, Salma Hayek

Like a Boss is a new friendship comedy where best friends Mel (Bryne) and Mia (Haddish) put their business and friendship to the test.  Mia and Mel have been best friends since junior high and eventually started their own cosmetics company.  Mia is the creative one and Mel is the more serious, business oriented one.  Unfortunately, despite their strong friendship and creative ideas, the business is having a little financial troubles.  However, when a successful female CEO (Hayek) enters the picture, her offer might just break up this once strong foundation.

This movie will live and die by its main stars, and thankfully Haddish and Bryne have very good on screen chemistry.  The two play off each other well and are a surprisingly funny pair.  Haddish is the stronger of the two, with better acting and comedy.  Hayek is a nice addition to the pair, and although she has limited screen time she plays her over the top character well, despite some odd quirks that they shoe horn onto her.  And some additional characters are very funny, notably Mia and Mel's employee / friend Barrett and Hayek's assistant.  The film has plenty of laughs for a night out, but a lot of the jokes are hit or miss.  As with many comedies of this type, there were some laugh out loud moments followed by either cringeworthy jokes or just awkward attempts at humor.  

And the story of the film is inconsistent.  It sets a good foundation in the beginning where the movie spends a lot of time establishing the characters and their backstory.  And because this is done for about half the movie, it makes the eventual conflict and resolution feel rushed.  I wish there was more ridiculousness and more hilarity, but it feels like those parts were either cut or rushed to keep the movie time at a manageable 83 minutes.  And this is a shame because the movie does have some pretty funny comedic moments and some surprisingly good dramatic parts.  Further, despite its all female lead cast, the movie doesn't have a ton to say.  It has some good points about friendship and beauty, but these feel like afterthoughts.

Like a Boss has charismatic leading ladies, who form a strong foundation for both the funny and dramatic parts of this friendship comedy.  

Rent It

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Deal: Rent Joker 4K UHD From Vudu For $2.99

Want to check out Joaquin Phoenix and his Golden Globes winning portrayal of the Joker?  (Hint, you definitely do because it is an excellent movie).  VUDU has you covered with a promo code to rent Joker (Digital 4K UHD) for only $2.99.  To get this dedal you must:
  1. Apply redemption code RENTJOKER to your account here.  
  2. Head over to the Joker page for your rental!  
Note, if you do not wish to watch Joker, this redemption code is valid towards the rental of a different movie for $2.99. 

Thanks to Slickdeals for pointing out this deal!

Review: Just Mercy

Release date: January 10, 2020
Running time: 136 minutes
Starring: Brie Larson, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx

Just Mercy is an inspiring, timely, and sadly appropriate in our times movie about a young lawyer's fight to overturn a wrongful death penalty conviction.  The movie is a powerful reminder of the flaws in the legal system and how slowly and reluctantly the wheels of justice can turn.  In it, a young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) takes the case of Walter McMillian (Foxx), a man on death row who was convicted of a brutal killing after a trial that lasted a day and a half.  This black inmate was convicted by a jury with no black jurors, who looked at no physical evidence, and only the testimony of two shaky individuals.  

Just Mercy will be lauded for its acting and for the most part it is well deserved.  Jamie Foxx completely transforms into Walter McMillian, to the point where the actor is barely recognizable.  He takes on all of his mannerisms and portrays the man perfectly.  There is only one part where you can see Jamie Foxx the actor, and it's actually in a part where I wish they had kept him as McMillian.  Brie Larson is fantastic, as usual.  And the supporting characters are all amazingly cast and acted.  Images of the real life individuals are shown during the credits and many of the actors portrayed these characters flawlessly.  Unfortunately, Michael B. Jordan is my only disappointment from this film.  He is a fine actor and is really great in his dramatic takes, but his delivery often feels forced.  This was definitely an opportunity for him to really elevate his career and acting dynamics, but for whatever reason his performance just didn't rise to the occasion.

But what really stood out was the cinematography.  There are shots that are so perfectly composed that it conveys the dread and hopelessness of the situations without having to overtly say it.  There are so many small scenes like this that really give the audience a feeling for how unjust this situation was, how dire the consequences facing these individuals were, or just how dreadful this fight was.  Each of these help to build an amazing portrait of justice in America, and the need to fight for that justice one step at a time.  And all of this is helped along by some amazing musical selections that really set the tone.  Be it period pieces, important songs to the characters, or music to set the mood, this film perfectly conveys its message both visibly and audibly. 

Just Mercy is an inspiring, timely, and sadly appropriate movie for our times.  It has Oscar-worthy acting, amazing cinematography, and tells an important story that that doesn't leave a heart untouched or an eye dry at its conclusion.

Watch It

Friday, January 3, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: January 3, 2020

In Theaters: Little Women
Little Women will capture your heart with its stellar cast, wonderful story, timeless lessons, and amazing adaptation of the beloved book to the big screen.  For more information, check out our review!

In Theaters: Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler's fantastic return to serious roles is a diamond in the rough!  Uncut Gems is complex, with enough facets to allow its fantastic characters to sparkle brightly.  For more information, check out our review!

At Redbox: Judy
Renee Zellweger takes on the difficult role of portraying the iconic Judy Garland.  Zellweger captures the beloved performer's personality with poise and emotional care.

Streaming (HBO): Detective Pikachu
Detective Pikachu brings the Pokemon universe to life with a live action adaptation of the Pokemon universe.  The movie has cameos from many of your favorite Pokemon, but the real driving force here is the fantastic partnership of Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds.  

Streaming (Amazon): The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Catch up with your Oscar hopefuls by seeing this powerful film that tells the tale of a man dreaming to reclaim his grandfather's victorian home in a rapidly changing city. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Review: Little Women

Release date: December 25, 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen

Based on the classic novel, Little Women recruits an all star cast to tell the tale of the trials and tribulations of four very different sisters.  Sisters Meg (Watson), Jo (Ronan), Amy (Pugh), and Beth (Scanlen) must learn to fend for themselves after their father is called off to serve during the Civil War, leaving their mother (Laura Dern) and housekeeper Hannah to raise and care for the rambunctious, spirited girls.  Each girl has separate interests and talents that shine through in everything that they do.  

Although the main focus of the film is Jo (Ronan), the tale touches upon all the sisters and their various talents.  The film jumps back and forth through time, letting you learn more about the sister's past and current interests and struggles.  When I said that the film has an all star cast, I was not joking.  The sisters are all played by phenomenal actors, and their chemistry and clear joy with each other really comes through on the screen.  You quickly fall in love with this family and the love that is portrayed by the amazing cast.  

And it is not just the main cast that bring this story to life; the supporting characters are equally well cast for this film.  The entire group fit together so perfectly; rarely does a film completely transport you into another, perfectly crafted world.  And although the film is based on a book (which I have not read), the adaptation for the screen is very well done.  Language feels natural with a hint of victorian style and the story flows perfectly.  It must not have been an easy task to transform a beloved book to the screen, but writer / director Greta Gerwig has done it masterfully.  Finally, although it is based on a book from the 1800s, whether it is the timelessness of the tale or the careful adaptation by Gerwig, the film still has plenty of relevant lessons to teach modern viewers.  Lessons about hopes, dreams, family, caring for others, and being true to oneself shine through even now.  

Little Women will capture your heart with its stellar cast, wonderful story, timeless lessons, and amazing adaptation of the beloved book to the big screen. 

Watch It

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Review: The Song of Names

Release date: December 25, 2019 (DC Area January 3, 2019)
Running time: 116 minutes
Starring: Clive Owen, Tim Roth, Catherine McCormack

The Song of Names is a historical drama about a talented, genius-level violinist who disappears right before his first international performance.  His adopted family is devastated by this and his adopted brother goes on an exhaustive search to try and find this elusive man.  His search takes him around the world as he seeks his long lost brother and some closure on why he suddenly disappeared.

The movie takes place in modern times with large chunks of story told through flashbacks to fill in the backstory.  There are three main time periods that are explored, modern times, the time when the brothers were children, and the brothers as adolescents.  The casting is very well done with the brothers easily recognizable through these different periods.  And the acting of these characters is generally great with the two having very different personalities but very good chemistry.  The story starts off interesting but then slows down towards the middle and the end.  And the problem with this is that when there are big reveals towards the end, they fall flat.  Some very important information or twists happen, but the excitement or effect is lost due to the dragging tempo of the film.  

However, as you would expect with a movie about a musical genius, the music overall is very good.  The violin is beautiful and any time that the Dovidl is playing, it is a joy to hear.  Song of Names is a historical drama, and it is an interesting story, but unfortunately it is not based in any fact.  Sure there are events that take place that actually happened, and cultures that are explored, but the characters were all made up for this film.  I was really hoping that there was a something this was based on, but unfortunately there was not.  

The Song of Names will take you on a manhunt with a talented cast, wonderful music, and a story that starts very strong but tends to lose tempo as it plays out.  

Rent It