Vic’s Flix Movie Review: Yesterday

We’ve been looking forward to this movie since first seeing the trailer several months ago. The premise is enticing and creative. Unfortunately, previews now give so much away there’s always the risk of seeing a film and then feeling as if the trailer would have sufficed.
While there’s an element of that at play here, I can say that enough surprises, twists and tangential plot lines are carefully woven in along the way to make this a thoroughly enjoyable ride. And then there’s the music. If you don’t like the Beatles, don’t read further, don’t see the movie, and please don’t tell me. I don’t want to know that about you.
Out of respect for my daughter (the ultimate Beatles fan), I will not spoil or reveal much at all about the content of Yesterday. Also for the sake of the twenty or so people who may read this review.
The band’s impact on popular music and our culture are dreamlike, and Yesterday does a good job of recreating that evolution from the inside out, through the eyes and experiences of Jack Malik, played by Himesh Patel. There was no need to explain how Malik, upon being struck by a bus during a mysterious twelve second global power outage, became the only person on Earth to remember the Beatles. As a failing musician, his struggle becomes choosing to reconstruct and play the band’s extensive portfolio of hits as his own. Or not.
And I will say that I feared before viewing the film that it would be revealed at the end of the story that it all happened in a dream or a coma. That would not only be disappointingly lame, but incredibly weak screenwriting. They did much better.
Ultimately this becomes a love story. Jack’s manager and long time friend Ellie (Lily James) have become so mired in their respective “columns” through the years that there seems no way to cross boundaries. Complicate this with Jack’s sudden fame and departure from their tiny English seaside town and we have a second through-line that periodically intersects Jack’s journey.
Ed Sheeran plays a significant role as himself throughout the film. This lends a current musical sounding board to the script along with observations like, why would a modern musician write a song about the USSR? And who the heck is “Jude?”
 Danny Boyle (127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire) is the director of this charming, feel good movie.
The casting of Kate McKinnon as a predatory L.A. manager was a distraction. Just about anyone could have played this role. Her association with Saturday Night Live pulled me out of the film and into a lengthy comic sketch. Other than that, she did a fine job with the part.
If you want to see this movie, go quickly, before someone tells you “just one thing” that you’ll otherwise receive as a gift on your own. And in case you find yourself wondering, the surviving Beatles have embraced and approve of the film.
Yesterday runs 1 hour, 56 minutes and is rated PG13.
Should I see this movie?  

Vic’s Flix Movie Review: Shaft

“You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother (Shut your mouth!)”
We all remember that iconic line from the Oscar winning Theme From Shaft by Isaac Hayes in 1971. And it is repeated in the latest Shaft movie, with less polite editing. Whether you like the original Shaft movie or character, the song is unique, powerful and playful. It evokes imagery of the time, Afro-style.
If you’re looking for polite, this film is quite the opposite. It is loaded from curb to gutter with N-words, F-words, M-words, C-words, B-words and whatever other letter-word you can imagine. Even John Shaft’s Millennial son John Shaft Junior is offended, and asks his dad to stop using the N-word.
Junior also apologizes for Dad’s behavior, “He thinks he’s the black James Bond.” Dad responds, “If that dude was real, he’d wanna be me.”
What is it about Samuel L. Jackson that’s so fun to watch? He’s become a virtual parody of himself. His badass self. You expect him to be foul, fierce and forgiveable, and he always delivers.
But wait, you say, Richard Roundtree played Shaft in the original movie. Did he get too old to reprise the role in 2019? Heck no, he’s just Grandpa Shaft now at age 76, a dapper, fine looking fellow who keeps an arsenal in a secret closet in his apartment. Interesting, since Jackson is 70, but a young 70 who can pull off the generational divide.
The story is fairly ludicrous, and is thus considered an action crime comedy. You know those bad guys who can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn – in the barn? They unload hundreds of rounds to Shafts single clip, and he decimates entire gangs. You realize you just need to duck when a machine gun is being unloaded into your car? Shaft knows. Right on! Oh, and Junior can shoot, he just hates guns.
So John Shaft Junior (Jessie T. Usher) seeks his Dad’s help solving the murder of his best friend. This leads into a world of alleged Muslim terrorists, drug dealers and dance clubs. Yes, to Dad’s surprise, Junior knows the art of Brazilian dance-fighting. That gets him out of one scrape, and then he throws up on two hookers. Dad just roles his eyes and continues to mentor him in the ways of street violence and sex. After all, he thinks Junior’s mama raised him to be a white boy. He’ll have none of that.
Tim Story is in the Director’s chair for this, the 5th film in the Shaft series. About the only credit attributed to him that I recognize is Fantastic Four in 2005. Other than that, he’s done mostly TV work.
By the end of the movie, the three generations of Shaft men are seen striding through the streets of Harlem in matching shades and burgundy suede dusters, ready for the sixth film in the series.
I need to say at this point, do not bring your kids to this movie. Recently I saw two parents taking their perhaps 6 and 8 year old daughters to see John Wick III. Come on people!

Shaft (2019) runs 1 hour and 51 minutes and is rated R.
Should I see this movie? 

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

This is one of those films with a difficult title to remember. Even the ticket taker at Regal stumbled over it as he confirmed our purchase....