Monday, November 29, 2021

The Humans Review: An All Star Cast In A Slow Burn Play

Release date: November 24, 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Written and Directed By: Stephen Karam
Starring: Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun and June Squibb

Erik Blake has gathered three generations of his Pennsylvania family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the group’s deepest fears are laid bare. The piercingly funny and haunting debut film from writer-director Stephen Karam, adapted from his Tony Award-winning play, The Humans explores the hidden dread of a family and the love that binds them together.

The Humans feels very much like a play, and for good reason.  The film is an adaptation of a play and you can feel those roots throughout this movie.  It has a small, but phenomenal cast. It takes place almost entirely within a single apartment.  And it has a voyeuristic camera style that makes it seem like you are watching this family from another room.  Of those points, the cinematography was the standout for me.  I loved seeing these interesting, unconventional shots; you had a lot of instances of shots that were through doorways or in another room looking into the family.  It had a voyeuristic quality that made it feel like you were observing this family and their interactions.  There were some shots from lower angles and other shots that had a blurred perspective.  Overall it was a very interesting experience.  And on top of the cinematography, the writing was also an enjoyable aspect.  It definitely felt like a film that was converted from a play, with some funny statements, plenty of heartwarming family scenes, and lots of drama.  And it's strange to say this, but the film also had some natural conversation that did actually feel like how a family might converse over a Thanksgiving meal.

However, the Humans is a slow burning film, one that you will have to be in the right mindset to be in.  The story develops slowly and although it often does feel reasonably organic, it still could be tough to hold your interest.  Additionally, this slow burn feel is not helped by some sinister aspects that are introduced in the movie.  I couldn't tell if The Humans wanted to be a horror movie, but it had these moments that felt very much like the setup for something darker.  These felt clunky and ultimately didn't lead to much, and the additional concern is that these scenes felt unnecessarily drawn out.  The movie is not bad, but it does make this feel like an unnecessarily long experience despite the modest run time. 

The Humans has a fantastic cast and some very interesting cinematography, but the film's slow pace and strangely dark elements might make this a family meal you don't travel for. 

Rent it.

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The Humans is available in theaters and on Showtime on November 24, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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Screening: See Being The Ricardos Early And Free!

We have partnered with Focus Features for an early screening opportunity to see Wolf!  The film is coming to theaters on December 3, 2021, but you can see it early and free!!  Details and entry form are below!

Being The Ricardos

SYNOPSIS: Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) are threatened by shocking personal accusations, a political smear and cultural taboos in Academy Award®-winning writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama Being the Ricardos. A revealing glimpse of the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship, the film takes audiences into the writers’ room, onto the soundstage and behind closed doors with Ball and Arnaz during one critical production week of their groundbreaking sitcom “I Love Lucy.” Featuring J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda.

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Writer: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, JK Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy 

 Screening Info:

Being The Ricardos
Monday, December 6

7:00 PM
Landmark E-Street

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Thursday, November 25, 2021

What to Watch This Thanksgiving: Feasts, Family, and Festivities Films

It's Thanksgiving in America and families all over are gathering for big meals and awkward drama!  Here are some suggestions for Thanksgiving / Family related movies to entertain you in between the awkward small talk.  

The Humans (Theaters, Showtime)
Some interesting family drama around Thanksgiving time leads to some new secrets from a dysfunctional family, in this cinematic experience.  

A Christmas Feast / Feast of the Seven Fishes (Digital, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Tubi)
This wonderful holiday movie involves family, drama, and a big feast at the end.  Although it is Christmas related, it is a great choice to scratch that family feasting itch. For more information, check out our review!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Digital, AMC+)
The quintessential Thanksgiving movie, this classic follows someone trying to get home to the family for Thanksgiving, and all the roadblocks and obstacles that happen along the way.  It is available to stream on Amazon Prime with AMC+, which has a 30-day free trial if you just want to watch this today!

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Apple TV+)
A classic kids Thanksgiving film that you can stream for free on Apple TV+.  This is another classic and one for the kids to enjoy while you are putting the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving meal.

The Binge (Hulu)
On a night when families eat excessive amounts of food, a movie about excessive indulgences seems fitting.  It also is a very funny film that should raise your spirits on a somewhat lonelier Thanksgiving!  
For more information, check out our review!

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 (Netflix)
A movie about giant, alive food seems like a fitting way to celebrate Thanksgiving. It helps that it is a surprisingly good movie for kids and adults to enjoy!  
For more information, check out our review!

Spirited Away (HBO Max)
One of the best animated films of all time also starts with a massive feast and has several prominent instances of gluttony.  It is also an imaginative and heartfelt journey that will rekindle your sense of wonder. 

Broil (Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube)
A film about a large meal and family issues, with a decidedly darker take on it all, Broil is the perfect Thanksgiving movie for someone looking for a more horror-themed night.  It also has some wonderful performances, great music, and some delicious food.  
For more information, check out our review!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Screening: See Encounter Starring Riz Ahmed Early And Free!

 

We have partnered with Amazon for an early screening opportunity to see Encounter!  The film is coming to theaters on December 3, 2021, but you can see it early and free!!  Details and entry form are below!

Encounter

Desperate to save his two young sons, Jay and Bobby, from a mysterious threat, decorated Marine Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed) packs them in a car and sets off on a perilous journey across the western U.S. But while racing toward a secret military base in Nevada that may hold the key to safety, the trio encounters danger at every turn. Staying one step ahead of a group of government agents, Malik and the boys find themselves bonding in unexpected ways. As their relentless pursuers close in, and with time quickly running out, each of them must confront hard truths about the world, forcing Jay and Bobby to leave their childhoods behind. A gripping story of a father’s mission to keep his children safe at all costs, ENCOUNTER is at once a riveting thriller and a powerful drama about a family dealing with a seemingly unstoppable enemy.

Directed by: Michael Pearce (Beast)
Script by: Joe Barton (The Ritual, “Giri/Haji”) and Michael Pearce
Starring: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal “The Night Of”), Octavia Spencer (The Help, Hidden Figures), Rory Cochrane (Argo, Hostiles), Janina Gavankar (The Way Back, “The Morning Show”), Lucian-River Chauhan (“Heartland,” “Gabby Duran & the Unsittables”) and Aditya Geddada.
Produced by: Derrin Schlesinger (American Animals, The Nest), Piers Vellacott (Dream Horse, Three Identical Strangers) and Dimitri Doganis (American Animals, Three Identical Strangers). 

   Screening Info:

Encounter
Monday, November 29

7:00 PM
Landmark E-Street

Screening Link!

Screening: Howl At The Moon And See Wolf Early and Free!

We have partnered with Focus Features for an early screening opportunity to see Wolf!  The film is coming to theaters on December 3, 2021, but you can see it early and free!!  Details and entry form are below!

Wolf

WOLF is a surreal and mysterious tale of self-discovery. Jacob (George MacKay) is convinced that he is a wolf trapped inside a human body and lives his days as he believes a wolf would. When he’s sent to a “curative” clinic for treatment, Jacob is determined to escape his confines -until he meets the beguiling Wildcat (LilyRose Depp). As their relationship deepens, Jacob quickly realizes that he must choose between being himself and staying with the only person who’s ever understood him. 

Writer/Director: Nathalie Biancheri 
Producers: Jessie Fisk, Jane Doolan 
Cast: George MacKay, Lily-Rose Depp, Paddy Considine, Eileen Walsh 

 Screening Info:

Wolf
Wednesday, December 1

7:00 PM
AMC Tysons Corner

Screening Link!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Lair Review: Strong Leads and Unsettling Start

Release date: November 9, 2021
Running Time: 100 minutes
Director: Adam Ethan Crow
Cast: Corey Johnson (Steven), Oded Fehr (Ben), Alexandra Gilbreath (Wendy), Sean Buchanan (Det. Pitt), Aislinn De'ath (Maria), Kashif O'Connor (Ola), and newcomers Anya Newall (Joey) and Alana Wallace (Carly)

When Ben Dollarhdye is accused of murder, saying he was possessed by a demonic force, Steven Caramore investigates his friend's claims, setting off a chain of events that forces a young family into a terrifying battle for survival.

Lair has a suspenseful start that sets the tone very well.  This horror movie focuses on demonic possession, with a hint of voyeuristic intentions.  The main characters are in a sort of experiment, to see if ghosts are real.  This causes some suspense as you wonder what will happen next and if they will become victims of this strange experiment.  And the characters are generally well done.  I especially liked seeing a lesbian couple as the main characters in a horror film.  It seems that more and more films are coming out with diverse protagonists, and Lair continues this trend with a set of strong female leads to propel this horror movie forward.  

But although Lair starts off interesting, the film does have some odd quirks.  For example, although the writing is generally fine, there are some instances with odd lines or character turns. And the film starts off as a demonic possession type movie, but then changes into a very different type of haunting film.  I didn't love this for a few reasons.  For one, it caused the movie to escalate very quickly after a long setup of this scenario.  And this move from possession to haunting causes the situations to just be too different to feel related.   And this caused the type of situation to not match up with the introductory scene.  The whole concept behind why this family is being observed in this apartment just feels too disconnected from the initial scenario to make sense.  And although the film escalates quickly, it kind of goes off the rails in the end.  It seems like the film wants to try and go for a shock ending rather than one that seems consistent with the film.  

Lair has strong LGBTQ protagonists, a slow build up, and a decently unsettling setting that are let down by the story's disjointed nature and attempt at a shock ending.  

Rent it.

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Lair is available digitally and on demand on November 9, 2021.  

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

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Ida Red Review: A Strong Start That Quickly Stalls

Release date: November 5, 2021
Running time: 111 minutes
Written and Directed By: Josh Swab
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Sofia Hublitz, William Forsythe, Deborah Ann Woll, Frank Grillo, and Academy Award winning actress Melissa Leo

Crime boss Ida "Red" Walker (Oscar® winner Melissa Leo*) turns to her son, Wyatt (Josh Hartnett), to pull off one last heist to get out of prison. But with the FBI closing in, Wyatt must choose between family and freedom in this high-octane thriller.

Ida Red will get your attention right off the bat with an exciting opening and a stellar cast.  I really loved seeing Josh Hartnett and Frank Grillo in this film, and combined with the rest of the cast you have the makings of an exciting experience.  The opening scene gets this movie going with a bang and gives the viewer instant insight into the way that these brothers live.  And the brothers are the highlight of this movie.  Frank Grillo was amazing with a strange combination of unpredictability and charisma that made his character so fun to watch.  I was always holding my breath when he was on screen because I wasn't sure what he would do, but I loved every second of it.  And it was great to see Josh Hartnett back on the big screen opposite Grillo; his character was the perfect foil to Grillo's unpredictable, volatile persona.   Additionally, Ida Red has some very good music that sets the stage for this story to unfold.  It heightens the drama and action when needed, keeping the viewer invested in what is happening.  The music has a good mix of country and blues tones to set the stage and then some more tense music when jobs are happening.

But although Ida Red starts with a bang, it quickly grinds to a halt.  The story develops slowly as this family tries to figure out a way to get to their objective, but what started with a high energy, high tension encounter slowly turns into a drama with little action.  I kept wondering what would happen next and quickly lost the momentum that the opening gave.  There were glimpses after it but nothing that approached that opening scene.  And there is a large action sequence towards the end of the film that was disappointing.  The CG used made the fight look very unrealistic, and it just did not have the care and precision that was evident in earlier parts of the film.  And the story of the overall movie just does not progress quickly enough and with enough purpose.  I sat there wondering when it would pick up but it just seemed to be idling. 

Ida Red has an all star cast and a high tension start, but then quickly turns inconsistent as the slow story and questionable effects cause this film to stall. 

Rent it.

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Ida Red is available in theaters, digitally, and on demand on November 5, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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The Pebble and the Boy Review: Sacha Parkinson Shines And Overcomes A Moody Main Character

Release date: November 16, 2021
Running time: 100 minutes
Writer/Director: Chris Green
Cast: Patrick McNamee (Our Girl), Sacha Parkinson (Coronation Street), Max Boast (Sex Education), Patsy Kensit (Lethal Weapon 2, Shelter Island), Ricci Harnett (Rise of the Footsoldier) and Jesse Birdsall (Hollyoaks)

A boy, his Dad's ashes and a Lambretta scooter.  John embarks on a journey from Manchester to Brighton, the spiritual home of the Mods, to scatter his late father’s ashes.

The Pebble and the Boy is a touching road trip / coming of age journey.  I really liked the main characters, who were quirky enough to add some flavor to this story.  Although John is not the most interesting protagonist,  thankfully, those around him can be there to add some enjoyment to the overall film.  I especially liked Sacha Parkinson for her carefree character.  She was the main drive in the film, while also adding plenty of humor to the movie.  And another member of the road trip, Max Boast adds some additional strange but entertaining energy.  His character is abrasive at the start but he grows on you. 

And the journey of self discovery is a fun one to go on.  I really liked the characters we met along the way and the soundtrack to the journey.  The film has a wonderful mix that will get your blood flowing and transport you back to this time period.  The music is amazing even if you don't know the bands; the infectious soundtrack will make you a fan.  The film is also a good introduction to mod culture and the type of ridiculous scooters that these can inspire.  There are some very interesting ones represented here as well as plenty of smart fashions on display.

However, despite me generally liking this film, I liked it in spite of the main character.  No offense to Patrick McNamee, but John is just not a likable character.  He seems to treat his friends poorly, he is surly, and just doesn't appreciate all that those around him are doing for him.  This changes later in the film, but at least initially it was tough to like this character.  And the journey itself is a little slow, with not a lot happening for large portions of it.  But if you can get past these, you have a heartwarming adventure with some interesting characters and a deep dive into mod culture.

The Pebble and the Boy's infectious soundtrack, love of mod culture, and quirky characters highlighted by Sacha Parkinson make this a road worth taking. 

Watch it.

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The Pebble and the Boy is available in digitally and on demand on November 16, 2021.  

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Apex Review: Bruce Willis Battle Royale With Cheese

Release date: November 12, 2021
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed By: Edward Drake
Written By: Edward Drake and Corey Large
Starring: Neal McDonough (“Yellowstone,” Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City), Bruce Willis (Die Hard, The Sixth Sense), Lochlyn Munro (“Riverdale”), Megan Peta Hill (Open Water 3) and Trevor Gretzky (Spiral)

Serving a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, ex-cop Thomas Malone (Willis) is offered a chance at freedom if he can survive a deadly game of Apex. Six hunters pay for the pleasure of hunting another human on a remote island, but once Malone arrives all hell breaks loose. Laying traps and playing mind games, Malone tries to turn the tables and fight for his life and his future.

Apex really does feel like a video game, and I wondered if the battle royale inspired Apex Legends wasn't partly responsible for this movie.  The film has over the top weapons, mysterious, aggressive characters, and enough tech here and there to feel like it was plucked out of your favorite console.  The film also has a nice combination of low tech and high tech; there are definitely high tech devices like teleporters, holographic communication, and others, but most of the movie takes place in the forest so the indie film doesn't need to overexert its budget.  But despite the indie nature of this, the cast of Apex is impressive.  I really liked seeing them in this film, and especially liked that Bruce Willis had a more substantial role than I expected for a big star.  

And the film builds slowly, with plenty of fun bravado from the contestants and a steady stream of deaths and accidents along the way.  These characters expire with a combination of poor choices and quick gun battles, though there are some larger encounters later on.  And despite the indie nature of the film, the action is enjoyable and consistently feels like it is punching above its weight class.

However, despite the fun build up, the movie does kind of go off the rails after the start.  What begins as a careful, measured hunt turns into a free for all at the end.  And despite the movie generally having good effects, there are some instances that look low budget.  Not enough to really break your disbelief, but there is enough that just looks off that you notice it.  But that being said, Apex is just a lot of fun.  It is a ridiculous setup with a good cast and an enjoyable role for Bruce Willis to be in.  And like any good video game, there are several Easter Eggs for eagle-eyed viewers to notice. 

Apex has a smart use of technology and a great cast, using both to create a bizarre, gory, and overall fun battle royale. 

Watch it.

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Apex is available in theaters, digitally, and on demand on November 12, 2021.  

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

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Friday, November 19, 2021

Julia Review: A Recipe For Success

 

Release date: November 19, 2021 (DC Market)
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed By: Julie Cohen & Betsy West

JULIA brings to life the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even about women. Using never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the film traces Julia Child's 12 year struggle to create and publish the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, and her rapid ascent to become the country’s most unlikely television star. It’s the empowering story of a woman who found her purpose – and her fame – at 50, and took America along on the whole delicious journey.

Julia bills itself as a documentary about the iconic chef, but it is so much more than that.  It starts with a frank and eye opening look at America's food culture before Julia Child's brand of energetic and easy to follow recipes helped show people what food could actually be like.  The historical perspective was insightful as it really does show just how different America's food landscape was before Julia and after Julia. It shows everything that you've seen in clickbait Facebook stories: Jello salad, marshmallow salad, and everything in between.  And it shows how the meals she showed on TV helped to show people that not only can you make these meals, they are worth it.

But after the historical perspective, the film gets into the woman herself.  She has a much more interesting and eventful life than I had anticipated, and she basically had an entire life and career before becoming her iconic television personality.  And the documentary also showcases how Julia Child was ahead of her time in many ways.  From her drive and ambition, to the way that she broke barriers for women in television, and to her own relationship with her husband, Julia Child was someone who changed not only the food landscape, but America's perception on women.  I really loved seeing the sections on Julia and her husband Paul.  The two had a lovely relationship and seeing the love between the two and how much he supported her career at a time when that was an uncommon characteristic in a partner was heartwarming to see.  

And the film looks at Julia Child's influence on America this through an exploration of everything Julia Child did that was not in the interest of her career.  Once she became the personality that she was, she still spoke out for and supported causes that were important to her.  I loved seeing how she held to her convictions regardless of what that would mean for her career.  Having that courage of conviction is exceedingly rare these days, so seeing it in this film was a welcome reminder of someone who had their cake and ate it too.

Julia is a fascinating documentary that looks at an influential and ahead of her time personality, and her effect on America's food landscape and society as a whole.

Watch it.

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Julia is playing in LA and NY, and opens for a wider release on November 19, 2021.  For showtimes, click herehere.

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The Souvenir Part II Review: A Great Ending For A Long And Uninteresting Journey

Release date: November 12, 2021
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed By: Joanna Hogg
Starring: Honor Swinton Byrne, Jaygann Ayeh, Richard Ayoade, Ariane Labed, James Spencer Ashworth, Harris Dickinson, Charlie Heaton, Joe Alwyn, and Tilda Swintons 

In the aftermath of her tumultuous relationship with a charismatic and manipulative older man, Julie begins to untangle her fraught love for him in making her graduation film, sorting fact from his elaborately constructed fiction. Joanna Hogg’s shimmering story of first love and a young woman’s formative years, The Souvenir Part II is a portrait of the artist that transcends the halting particulars of everyday life — a singular, alchemic mix of memoir and fantasy.

The Souvenir Part II will be an indie filmmakers type of movie, with an interesting take on storytelling that definitely melds the real and the imaginary.  It feels often like the film itself is playing out on screen in the interactions.  And as you get deeper into this endeavor those lines blur even more.  And despite the film often feeling like it is building towards the final film project that will never actually occur, when you see glimpses of it coming together it is an impressive endeavor.  

The problem, though, is that in between you have what feels like a lower budget indie film to work with.  The Souvenir Part II feels decidedly indie, with a strange aspect ratio and look that often feels like the film student project it is emulating.  The story is slow to develop, there are several plot threads that come in and out, and there are several over the top characters that we meet throughout this endeavor that feel like actors trying to pile it on.  And overall, this film just feels weird to be weird.  I appreciated a lot of what it did, but the film had very little drive.  The film has inconsistent delivery, a lack of interesting subject matter, and just an overall esoteric feel that did not appeal to me.  I couldn't tell if it was a drama, a comedy, or an avante garde project; often it felt like some of all.  It has an amazing payoff but the journey to get there is just not worth it.

The Souvenir Part II is an indie film through and through, with a strange setup and a film project look and feel with a great payoff that is just not worth the slow and confusing story.

Pass on it.

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The Souvenir Part II is in theaters and on November 12, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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Thursday, November 18, 2021

Giveaway: Enter to Win A Fandango Code To See Antlers For Free!

We have partnered with Searchlight Pictures for a scarily good giveaway.  Enter now for your chance to win a pass to see Antlers in theaters!  This film has a wonderful creepy build up and a great setting, and now you can see it for free! (check out written reviewvideo review).  

From the visionary world of acclaimed director Scott Cooper and horror maestro Guillermo del Toro comes ANTLERS.  In an isolated Oregon town, a middle-school teacher and her sheriff brother become embroiled with her enigmatic student whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with a legendary ancestral creature who came before them.  Based on the short story “The Quiet Boy” by Nick Antosca. 


The contest runs from now until November 24, 2021.  Winners will be notified on November 24, 2021 so you can enjoy the film during the Thanksgiving weekend.  

The Fandango ticket codes are valid through December 31, 2021 or until Antlers is hunted out of theaters.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Emperor's Sword Review: Sharp Action Dulled By Heavy CG

Release date: November 9, 2021
Running time: 93 minutes
Directors: Yingli Zhang and Haonan Chen
Starring: Fengbin Mu, Yilin Hao, Qihang Zhao, and Qiyu Yang

During a time of peace, a deadly sword that bestows great power upon its wielder was divided and hidden. After the emperor dies, a deranged rebel seizes power and stages a massacre during his search for the blade, leaving only one survivor. Now, the young daughter of a great general is all that stands between a tyrant and his quest for domination.

The Emperors Sword revolves around a powerful weapon, and as you would expect, the action in this movie is pretty good.  I liked the hand to hand combat and especially some of the tense scenes.  There were several encounters that took place in fields where vision was obscured.  You would just hear an arrow whizzing through the sky and hope that the target was able to dodge it in time.  The film also has some very nice camera work, including several one shot sequences that make sure the viewer stays in the action.  It had this interesting way of circling the room that was fun to see and kept the viewer engaged.

However, despite the action being generally pretty good, the effects are hit or miss.  The film has some poor CG and some effects that are obviously computer generated or even low resolution.  It was really strange to see this on the Blu Ray and I had to rewind just to make sure I was seeing this correctly.  Now the film is not shy about showing the CG roots of it, in fact it highlights the CG in some impressive ending credit scenes showing the before and after.  And although these are impressive feats, they don't translate into impressive scenes.  Additionally, outside of the action, the story is slow to develop and confusing.  This could have just been unfamiliarity with the subject matter, but I had trouble following everything that happened.

The Emperor's Sword has some tense action and interesting camera work, but the heavy use of effects and noticeable CG dull this otherwise sharp action film.

Pass on it.

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The Emperor's Sword is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, digitally, and on demand on November 9, 2021.  

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Saturday, November 13, 2021

What to Watch This Weekend: November 12, 2021: Clifford, Julia, Red Notice, Pete, Shang-Chi, Apex, Stillwater, Japanese Drama

For A Fun, Family Adventure: Clifford The Big Red Dog (Theaters and Paramount+)
Clifford The Big Red Dog brings the classic kids book to the big screen with a cute CG dog, plenty of humor, and a Clifford size dose of big red heart.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Mouth Watering Documentary: Julia (Theaters)
Julia details the life of the iconic food personality and details how revolutionary she was and her effect on American eating!

For A Hilariously Fun Heist Film: Red Notice (Netflix)
Red Notice takes some of my favorite actors and puts them into a hilarious buddy heist comedy with criminally funny moments.  For more information, check out the review!

For The Politics Junkie: Mayor Pete (Amazon Prime)
Mayor Pete gives an unfiltered window into this unconventional person and presidential candidate and the crazy circumstances that had him rising to prominence.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Cinematic Slice of Life Drama: They Say Nothing Stays The Same (Virtual Cinema)
They Say Nothing Stays The Same has an idyllic setting mixed with wonderful music and nature sounds, driving home the central question of whether the cost of progress is truly worth it.  For more information, check out the review!

For An Asian Avenger Adventure: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Theaters)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings kung fu kicks MCU Phase 4 into high gear, with a great Asian cast and focus on Asian culture, high flying action, and plenty of humor.  For more information, check out the review!

For The Gamer: Apex (Theaters and Digital)
Apex has a smart use of technology and a great cast, to create a bizarre, gory, and overall fun battle royale.

For A Masterful and Tragic Drama: Stillwater (Redbox)
Stillwater is a masterclass in storytelling, with stellar performances, a story filled with beauty and tragedy, and an amazingly complex journey that asks the viewer to experience it.  For more information, check out the review!

Friday, November 12, 2021

They Say Nothing Stays The Same Review: An Idyllic Setting For A Slow Burning Film About Life And Change

Release date: November 12, 2021
Running time: 137 minutes
Written and Directed by: Joe Odagiri
Cast: Akira Emoto, Ririka Kawashima, Nijiro Murakami, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Jun Marakami, Yu Aoi, Tadanobu Asano, Takashi Sasano, Mitsuko Kusabue, Haruomi Hosono, Masatoshi Nagase, Isao Hashizume

In the debut directorial feature by actor Joe Odagiri, THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME follows an old ferryman in a remote Meiji-era community. His life is a peaceful, cyclical existence, given meaning by the essential role he plays in transporting people, livestock and goods across the water, connecting villages and lives. When news arrives that a bridge is being built, it's clear that his services will no longer be needed. Meanwhile, his life will be equally transformed by the appearance of a mysterious young woman whom he saves from drowning. Shot by star cinematographer Christopher Doyle and featuring an array of cameos from Japan's top stars, THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME is a refreshingly old-fashioned work of classical cinema, its formal qualities mirroring its thematic concern with those fondly-remembered traditions sacrificed in the name of progress.

They Say Nothing Stays The Same's main draw is the beautiful scenery.  The film is set by an idyllic river next to untamed wilderness, and it really is a sight to behold.  And director Joe Odagiri does his best to highlight this setting with beautiful shots of the mountain and surrounding nature.  You get a sense of the area through several seasons as well, showing this beautiful setting over time.  And the setting is paired with some atmospheric nature sounds and wonderful music.  The nature sounds will make you long for some time outdoors, and the simple music is perfectly fitting with Toichi's relatively simple life.  Overall the setting is just so perfectly done that you can get lost in these characters and this story.  

And speaking of the story, I loved the focus on tradition, a simpler life, and the neverending cost of progress.  The film does such a great job showing Toichi and his life; allowing you to experience the tranquil pace of it within this beautiful setting.  It really will make you wish for something simpler, with the pace of life today and the neverending demands and distractions.  Toichi's life is not easy, but it seems pure and virtuous.  Additionally, for someone with so little he is generous of his time and personality.  And the film drives home the central idea of tradition versus progress throughout, making the viewer constantly question the cost of progress.

But, although They Say Nothing Stays The Same is an amazing cinematic achievement, there is a storyline that just seems unnecessary.  The film has a subplot involving a new character introduced partway through that seems like a distraction.  The character doesn't add much to the story, and seems to be put in there for some additional drama and a little bit of shock value.  I thought the film was strong enough with just Toichi and his friend; the addition of another character just didn't make much sense to me.  And some of the quirks of that character again didn't seem to contribute to the overall story and message.  But despite this, I really did love They Say Nothing Stays The Same and its understated, beautiful setting and message.

They Say Nothing Stays The Same has an idyllic setting mixed with wonderful music and nature sounds, driving home the central question of whether the cost of progress is truly worth it.  

Watch it.

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They Say Nothing Stays The Same is available in virtual cinemas.  For showtimes, click here

Screening: Sing Your Heart Out And See Encanto Early And Free!

We have partnered with Disney for an early screening opportunity to see King Richard!  The film is coming to theaters on November 24, 2021, but you can see it early and free!!  Details and entry form are below!

Encanto

VOICE CAST: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, Wilmer Valderrama, Adassa, Diane Guerrero, Mauro Castillo, Angie Cepeda, Jessica Darrow, Rhenzy Feliz, Carolina Gaitan
DIRECTORS: Byron Howard, Jared Bush
CO-DIRECTOR: Charise Castro Smith
PRODUCERS: Clark Spencer, Yvett Merino
SONGS BY: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Synopsis: 

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto” tells the tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal—every child except one, Mirabel (voice of Stephanie Beatriz). But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encantois in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family’s last hope. Releasing on Nov. 24, 2021, the film features all-new songs by Emmy®, GRAMMY® and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “Moana”) and is directed by Byron Howard (“Zootopia,” “Tangled”) and Jared Bush (co-director “Zootopia”), co-directed by Charise Castro Smith (writer “The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez”), and produced by Clark Spencer and Yvett Merino; Bush and Castro Smith are screenwriters on the film.

 Screening Info:

Encanto
Tuesday, November 16th
7:00 PM
AMC Tysons Corner

Screening Link!

Mayor Pete: An Unprecedented Look At This Unlikely Presidential Candidate

Release date: November 12, 2021
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed By: Jesse Moss (Boys State, The Overnighters)

MAYOR PETE brings viewers inside Pete Buttigieg’s campaign to be the youngest President of the United States, providing an unprecedented intimacy with the candidate, his husband Chasten, and their ambitious team. From the earliest days of the campaign, to his unlikely, triumphant victory in Iowa and beyond, this film reveals what really goes on inside a campaign for the highest office in the land—and the myriad ways it changes the lives of those at its center. Recently appointed U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Buttigieg serves as the first openly LGBTQ Senate-confirmed Cabinet member in U.S. history. 

Like another previous high profile political campaign documentary (the surprisingly enjoyable Mitt), Mayor Pete aims to give an inside look into an unconventional candidate and life on the campaign trial.  It is an unprecedented look at this candidate, which really does give viewers an insight into the person and the position that they are running for.  Pete Buttigieg (and yes, I asked Alexa how to spell that) is an unlikely presidential candidate and politician, which makes his rise to prominence so fascinating.  He often will be introspective and thoughtful in what he says, saying what he really thinks rather than what would be a good soundbite.  This is not a normal quality for a politician, especially one running for the highest office in the land.  So seeing him molded into a legitimate presidential contender is a fascinating experience.

Buttigieg had an interesting and challenging life and has more to him than you can get in a simple soundbite or a debate.  Giving this window into his background and day to day routines is fascinating and endearing.  I loved hearing why he got into politics, what he didn’t like about the presidential process, and also seeing the decisions he made on the campaign trail.  It was an unprecedented year with some horrible occurrences and this documentary gives you a front row seat to all of that.

But the tragedy of this documentary is that it comes too late.  Obviously something like this could not be done during the campaign trail, but seeing the person after the fact makes you wonder what would have happened had this type of information been available during the campaign.  If the documentary didn’t make clear that Buttigieg doesn’t care as much about political strategy, I would think that this was an elaborate plan for a future presidential run.  And if it is, after spending this time with Mayor Pete and his family, I’m excited to see what his future holds.  

Mayor Pete gives an unfiltered window into this unconventional person and presidential candidate and the crazy circumstances that had him rising to prominence. 

Watch it.
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Mayor Pete is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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