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Showing posts from August, 2019

Angel Has Fallen

Much of the following will appear as if I don’t like this film. But despite the ludicrous plot devices used to tell the story, it was exciting, fast paced and engaging almost from beginning to end. But let’s start with my gripes. If you haven’t noticed, technology has become a ubiquitous virtual character in many productions for TV and film. Cell phones go without saying. But another example is the omnipresent vital function monitor next to hospital beds, bigger than life and in your face, bleeping away in vivid colors and large enough for a Superbowl party. Way sexier than the real world’s beige box with green and white tracings. On TV’s  The Good Doctor  you can count on one hysterical staff reaction after another, usually preceded by a lull in the action, a calm before the storm that makes it an effective drinking game if you’re into that. Ok, here it comes—sure enough, time for a full screen shot of the monitor, alarms sound, colored lines spike and numbers plummet. Time to do

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Sometimes we go to school for our education. Other times life tosses learning opportunities right in our path and hopes we do more than stumble over them. But we all take turns as student and teacher, and ultimately we choose whether to learn from life’s lessons or to simply become the victim of them. There’s a lot to learn from  The Peanut Butter Falcon , a surprising little film that Mark Twain might enjoy. Judging by the applause from the small audience we joined, this film works at a personal and emotional level. Or perhaps we just sat with a really good group of people late on a Sunday evening. There are more than passing similarities to “Huckleberry Finn” at work here. This is a modern buddy story with an unlikely pairing of two outcasts on the lam, each with their own destination, a raft and a bond that strengthens along their journey. Bruce Dern is showing up in movies a lot lately. He has settled into his old age nicely, playing edgy characters with wild gray hair in ov

Good Boys (2019)

If you’re a fan of Director John Hughes, in particular  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off , or Paul Brickman’s  Risky Business  you may find moments that feel vaguely familiar in  Good Boys.  This is a coming of age film for friends Lucas, Max and Thor who are entering the social minefield known as sixth grade. So they may have one or two more coming of age periods yet to traverse. I should warn you at this point that any comparisons to the classic films I just mentioned will set you up for disappointment. I can’t say that this movie is even as good as 2007’s  Superbad , which succeeded on the strength of Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in lead roles and Seth Rogan contributing to both acting and writing. Hill and Rogan have stepped into Executive Producer and Producer roles respectively for  Good Boys.  Younger actors with equally foul mouths now journey through a simple plot that has them learning to kiss for their “cool kid” friend Soren’s party with the aid of a highly forbidden drone Ma

Ready or Not

“You think because it’s your family, it must be normal.” So says Alex, handcuffed to a bed and threatening to kill his mother if anything happens to his new wife, who was married into the family just hours ago. Welcome to game night with the Le Domas clan, heirs to the Le Domas gaming “dominion” as they prefer it to be called. That is about all Alex (Mark O’Brien) tells his new bride Grace (Samara Weaving), a pretty little thing who’s a bit crude and not at all what Aunt Helene would welcome into the family. Of course, Helene is a broadax-wielding psychopath with a gelled up Guy Fieri haircut, black devil eyes and a penchant for killing houseguests before sunrise. They resemble the Adams Family in family portraits. Parents Tony and Becky Le Domas (Henry Czerny and Andie McDowell) have been dutifully performing a ritual since grandpa Victor Le Domas made a deal with the devil back in the old days. As a result, on wedding nights, brides must draw a card from a small, mystical bl

Blinded By The Light

In 1973, Bruce Springsteen recorded the song “Blinded by the Light” on his debut album  Greetings From Asbury Park . It was popularized, though overplayed all the way to number one, by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1976 with confusing lyrics that couldn’t be Googled as we can today. It began: Well she was Blinded by the light Revved up like a deuce Another runner in the night   It went on to mention Mozart, calliopes, curly wurly, the mumps, silicone and other poetic or seemingly psychedelic references in a catchy and up-tempo tune. What was this stuff? It was in 1975 that I picked up a copy of  Time  magazine that positioned Springsteen as the new Dylan.  Newsweek  called him “Rock’s New Sensation.” That kind of hype can be as damaging as helpful. A subsequent contract dispute had him take a year off to write songs, another risk and more fuel for his legend.  As we later became familiar with Springsteen’s gutsy, stream of consciousness lyrical style the song’s sour

Vix Flix Movie Review: The Kitchen

First, a little background:  The Kitchen  is based on the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics, started in 1993 to publish stories that are more graphic or adult than could fit within the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority formed in 1954. The label will be discontinued in 2020, with all content merging under the DC Comics brand, with age-specific ratings similar to the movie industry. I didn't know this-I looked it up for you. This may be important to understand prior to viewing the film. It somewhat explains the storyboard feel of the film, especially at the beginning and during the Quentin Tarantino-like final credits. Titling is overused. I think we can figure out when the film is taking place. Give the audience some credit. This is no documentary, and the writers apparently couldn't come up with a segue to illustrate the passage of time. Characters are rapidly introduced in a series of scenes that lack continuity. Kind of like, hurry up, establish that the three main

Vix Flix Movie Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Back in 2006 I had the privilege of meeting Guillermo del Toro at the Chicago premier of  Pan’s Labyrinth , one of the creepiest movies I’ve ever seen. Del Toro has a uniquely deranged creative style that is completely out of sync with the Guillermo I met – a Teddy Bear of a man, soft spoken and generous with his time when speaking with fans. He talked about his childhood, growing up in Catholic schools and the influence his education by Nuns had on his monstrous, otherworldly niche, a genre that no one else really shares. He even autographed not one, but three small promotional mini-posters for me and my kids, taking the time to draw a cute little caricature of himself on the back of each one. So it was easy for me to identify the monsters he oversaw as screenwriter for  Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark , with the Directorial help of Andre Ovredal. They are the stuff of nightmares. Really twisted nightmares. And now that Del Toro has Best Director and Picture Oscars to his credi

Vix Flix Movie Review: The Lion King

It is still the “Summer of Disney” at movie theaters everywhere, and we’re seeing our share of new or re-imagined Disney stories. When considering why they seem so intent on remaking old classics, often morphing from animation to either 3D or live action, I considered an event in my own life. Skip the next five (red) paragraphs if you don’t care to read my thought provoking analogy. In high school I was the quiet kid in the back of the classroom who dreaded being called on - a virtually unknown student even by year’s end. As such, during my senior year English class following a segment on Shakespeare, we were given the challenge of a final project on any topic the Bard leveraged in the plays we studied. We could act out a scene – eee gads! – write and read a poem to the class – yikes!, write a paper or make a movie. Wait, what? I chose to make a movie on the topic of “death,” since it factors prominently in Romeo and Juliet, and, well, just about any of Shakespeare’s works. My f

Vix Flix Movie Review: Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

Signing up for the Regal Unlimited movie pass has resulted in our first questionable movie choice using this method. This film was not at the top of our list, but was showing at a suitable time and was more appealing to our visiting thirty year old son than  Toy Story 4  or  Aladdin . I have not seen any of the  Fast and Furious  films, which have apparently spawned a franchise that includes films, soundtracks, video games, a TV series, merchandise and theme park attractions. It has become the tenth largest grossing film franchise and is Universal’s hottest property. And again, I’ve never seen a single movie. I feel negligent. Because of this, I feel compelled to answer a few questions before reviewing the film: 1.      How many films are there in this franchise and what are they called? 2.      Where is Samoa, location of the final battle in the film? 3.      What universities have Badass curricula? 4.      When did “The Rock” get involved? 5.      What happened to