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Showing posts from April, 2020


Comedians inevitably want to be taken seriously, if not in life then in dramatic film roles. And they are often quite capable. But I am quite happy queuing up a movie with comedic giants like Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and expecting a light hour or so of quality laughter. Warning: Downhill is not a funny movie. That is not to say the movie is devoid of humorous moments, but they are more of the uncomfortable, awkward situational variety than pratfalls and belly laughs you’d expect from man-child Ferrell or Seinfeld foil Dreyfus. After all, there’s skiing in this movie. You mean Ferrell doesn’t get tangled up in a lift or take an agony-of-defeat tumble down a black diamond run? Nope. This is the story of Pete and Billie, a couple silently struggling in their relationship following the death of Pete’s father eight months earlier. Pete is in awe of his father’s memory, and uncomfortable assuming the mantle of family patriarch. A seemingly therapeutic family ski vacation

The Hunt

The release of this film was delayed last September when it coincided with mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. They thought the timing would be better now with six months of lesser shootings behind us. Doubly cursed, the second release coincided with the nationwide pandemic shutdown of movie theaters, so it has been released as a streaming option for home viewers at a cost of twenty dollars. Maybe we’re just not supposed to see or enjoy this movie. This is the latest offering by BlumHouse, Jason Blum’s production company known for twisted tales with gobs of violence and gore. They most recently brought us  The Invisible Man  and  Fantasy Island .  The sleeper hit  Get Out  was also a BlumHouse feature. The story line – liberals hunting conservative humans for sport – is far from that simple. As is the case in many films lately, a cell phone is the first character we meet, this time displaying a group text conversation that is either a joke in poor taste or commentary on a plot

The Lighthouse

Our second film while sheltering in place cost $4.99 on Amazon Prime. This one made it into a list in our local paper of movies recommended while in isolation. What the article didn’t say is that, if you’re feeling down and despairing over your current plight, there’s nowhere to go but up after you see how much worse it could be, as depicted in  The Lighthouse. Filmed in black and white and set in the late 1800s somewhere in New England, this is a tour de force for both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. The choice of monochrome perfectly draws the viewer into the bleak and lifeless rocky setting, more often than not awash with either crashing waves or relentless rain. But the stormy human relations within the lighthouse chip away more consistently at the sanity of the two men and the viewer's tolerance. Dafoe plays Thomas Wake, a crusty old salt so stereotypically embodying the image of New England fishermen he might have walked off the label of a Gorton’s Seafood label. He

Just Mercy

A late 2019 entrant that became available early this year enjoyed only a brief stay in theaters before being relegated to streaming services. Since we are currently unable to visit our local theater, I am reviewing films that we pay to see at home. This is a true story, another profile of American racism that makes you gasp at how recently African Americans suffered virtual lynching through rigged justice systems, in this case that of Alabama in the early 1990s. Michael B. Jordan ( Creed, Black Panther ) stars as Bryan Stevenson, an idealistic recent Harvard law school grad and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. This film is adapted from Bryan’s book of the same name. It tells the story of his work to overturn the wrongful murder conviction of Walter McMillian (Jaime Foxx), waiting on death row and without hope even of an appeal. This is the first film appearance by Jaime Foxx since 2018’s  Robin Hood . While not inactive since his career best perf