Sunday, September 19, 2021

Best Sellers: Movie Review

Funny, charming and predictable.
Best Sellers is a comedy-drama set in the modern-day publishing world. To get started, it emphasizes the comedy. Harris Shaw (Michael Caine) is a curmudgeonly old writer who answers the phone with “He’s dead.” and then throws it out the window. The only thing he likes is his cat, an absolute sweetheart of a cat, and hates all people. Lucy (Aubrey Plaza) is a 30-something head of a struggling publishing company left to her by her father and being circled by potential buyers.   2021

Directed by: Lina Roessler

Screenplay by: Anthony Grieco

Starring: Michael Caine, Aubrey Plaza

Friday, September 17, 2021

Silent Night: Movie Review

Dark, bleak, funny and interesting.

Silent Night is a smart, unsettling combination of a family holiday comedy, a relationship drama and an end of the world, apocalyptic horror. Perhaps The Family Stone meets 28 Days Later…, a bleak dark comedy about inevitable death but held when everybody gets together for Christmas dinner. It’s a story of privileged people accepting death but not accepting that others might not share their world view.   2021

Directed by: Camille Griffin

Screenplay by: Camille Griffin

Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Good House: Movie Review

A meandering tale of a life in crisis.

The Good House has a curious relationship with genre. Directors Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky introduced the movie as a comedy saying the highlight of Ann Leary’s novel is how funny it is and the caustic wit of the lead character. Hildy is caustic alright, but Sigourney Weaver’s take on her is a tragic character. An alcoholic who lies to everyone close to her and alienates everyone else. Very few laughs to be found.   2021

Directed by: Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky

Screenplay by: Thomas Bezuchas, Maya Forbes, and Wallace Wolodarsky
Based on the novel by Ann Leary

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline

Monday, September 13, 2021

You Are Not My Mother: Movie Review

A slow-burn horror with strong atmosphere and direction.

You Are Not My Mother is a slow-burn horror-drama based on an Irish folklore. I’m not familiar with this Irish folklore but it doesn’t seem to be a hindrance. The direction the story takes is clear, how the ending plays out is creepy without any unexpected twists – in other words, it fits the genre without shocking twists. This should be a homerun for fans of slow-burn horror movies.   2021

Directed by: Kate Dolan

Screenplay by: Kate Dolan

Starring: Hazel Doupe, Jade Jordan

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Montana Story

A quiet, thoughtful tale of past trauma.

Montana Story blends the tranquility of a ranch on the Rocky Mountain Front with the stress of death. Cal (Owen Teague) has returned home for his father’s final days. There’s a local family who has worked on the ranch for years and cleans and takes care of the house, and now there’s a hospice worker to help the dad pass peacefully. But it’s up to Cal to find money to cover all the medical bills, figure out what to do with the last remaining animal and then sell the ranch. Until sister Erin (Haley Lu Richardson) arrives.   2021

Directed by: Scott McGehee, David Siegel

Screenplay by: Scott McGehee, David Siegel, Mike Spreter

Starring: Owen Teague, Haley Lu Richardson

Friday, August 13, 2021

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions: Movie Review

Some insane action, but interesting rooms and compelling characters.

The premise of Escape Room works really well for a unique, original film. The first one pitted six strangers with one common link against one another in an unknowing game of life or death. That premise was really elevated by the focus on the psychology of the characters and their interactions. This sequel has forced six winners of past escape rooms together, including our two main heroes from the original.   2021

Directed by: Adam Robitel

Screenplay by: Will Honley, Maria Melnik
Daniel Tuch, and Oren Uziel

Starring: Taylor Russell, and Logan Miller

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Kissing Booth 3: Movie Review

Unpleasant, unromantic and not fun.
The Kissing Booth 3 is the stupidest instalment of the Kissing Booth trilogy, and this is coming from someone who kind of enjoyed the first two, but whatever charm there used to be is long gone. I hope the filmmakers and actors enjoy their Netflix money, because the audience isn’t going to. In other words, if you haven’t started the series yet, you don’t have to worry about finishing it.   2021

Directed by: Vnce Marcello

Screenplay by: Vince Marcello and Jay S. Arnold

Starring: Joey King, Jacob Elordi

Friday, July 16, 2021

Fear Street Part Three: 1666: Movie Review

Satisfying conclusion to the Fear Street trilogy.
Fear Street Part Three: 1666 opens right at the beginning of the curse of Sarah Fier and the evil that has infested Shadyside. All of the important characters from Fear Street 1994 and 1978 have been repurposed into their former 1666 selves, including the Deena and Sam/Sarah and Hannah romance that started all the trouble. This final instalment of Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy delivers exactly what the audience wants.   2021

Directed by: Leigh Janiak

Screenplay by: Phil Graziadei, Leigh Janiak,
and Kate Trefry
Based on the books by R.L. Stine

Starring: Kiana Madeira, Ashley Zukerman

Thursday, July 15, 2021

A Perfect Fit: Movie Review

An Indonesian copy of mediocre American rom-coms.

Far from a perfect fit, A Perfect Fit threw in random elements of a typical romantic comedy whether or not they belonged in this story, and failed to elevate it beyond a mediocre rom-com. I was hoping an Indonesian-produced and shot film wouldn’t look so Americanized. The cultural aspects were minimized, broadening the appeal but lessening the uniqueness.   2021

Directed by: Hadrah Daeng Ratu

Screenplay by: Garin Nugroho

Starring: Nadya Arina, Refal Hady

Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Green Sea: Movie Review

A compelling lead character with a weird, slow-moving story.

The Green Sea has created a unique world. The setting is the Irish countryside, away from a small town, Simone lives independently and solemnly. Simone is the central character but the tone and direction of the film is very hard to pin down. Traces of a psychological drama or thriller are most prominent, but then comes a science fiction emphasis, and interest in the story starts to fade when things start making less sense.   2021

Directed by: Randal Plunkett

Screenplay by: Randal Plunkett

Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Hazel Doupe

Friday, July 9, 2021

Fear Street Part Two: 1978: Movie Review

More atmosphere, less mystery.
Have you seen Fear Street Part One: 1994 yet? That’s your first stop. Part Two opens shortly after we left Deena, Sam and Josh. Possessed Sam is locked up in the trunk of Deena’s car as Deena and Josh go to meet Christine Berman (Gillian Jacobs) and get the story of how she survived the Shadyside massacre of 1978. It’s summer camp at Nightwing and teenagers are up to teenage stuff.   2021

Directed by: Leigh Janiak

Screenplay by: Zak Olkewicz, Leigh Janiak

Starring: Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd,
Ted Sutherland and Gillian Jacobs

Thursday, July 8, 2021

This Little Love of Mine: Movie Review

Meaningless, generic, but oh so beautiful.
I really hate it when romantic comedies can’t do any better than a meaningless generic title. Like what significance does This Little Love of Mine have? None. It is as meaningless and generic as you can possibly get, and they didn’t try that much harder for the actual movie itself. It is literally ‘big city lawyer goes back to hometown and falls for childhood friend’.   2021

Directed by: Christine Luby

Screenplay by: George Harrison

Starring: Saskia Hampele, Liam McIntyre

Friday, July 2, 2021

Fear Street Part One: 1994: Movie Review

Selling nostalgia and slasher gore in an R.L. Stine mystery.
Based on the Fear Street novels by R.L. Stine, Netflix’s release of Fear Street Part One: 1994 knows its target audience. We’re Gen X, 90s teens who grew up with R.L. Stine, came of age with Scream and slasher horror, and now we’re 38-45. And Netflix is selling us nostalgia with a three-week movie event. This is nostalgia – opens in 1994 at a bookstore in the Shadyside mall, follows that up with killer set-ups straight out of the Scream series, and sprinkled with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, Sophie Hawkins, Radiohead and Soundgarden.   2021

Directed by: Leigh Janiak

Screenplay by: Kyle Killen, Phil Graziadei
Based on the books by R.L. Stine

Starring: Kiana Madeira, Fred Hechinger, and Olivia Scott Welch

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Good on Paper: Movie Review

A romantic comedy that smartly drops the romance.
Good on Paper is very much an Iliza Shlesinger movie. It features her playing a version of herself, some of her stand-up material, and a lot of the themes from her stand-up. Something else to note up front is that this is not a romantic comedy. Comedy yes, but then it spins the romance into something with a bit more bite.   2021

Directed by: Kimmy Gatewood

Screenplay by: Iliza Shlesinger

Starring: Iliza Shlesinger, Ryan Hansen

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Back for Good: Movie Review

Solid addition to the quarter-life crisis genre.
In Back for Good, Max (Molly Donovan) is a 20-something struggling actress in New York City. Her agent committed suicide, she works as a waitress serving assholes, and her roommate just kicked her out. One phone call from an ex-boyfriend and Max decides on the spot to move back home to Pittsburgh. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it is a solid addition to the quarter-life crisis genre.   2017 (2021 release)

Directed by: Bailey Donovan, Molly Donovan

Screenplay by: Bailey Donovan, Molly Donovan

Starring: Molly Donovan, Ian Cramer

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Welcome Matt: Movie Review

Creative and funny, but weak drama.
There’s a strong creative effort put into Welcome Matt, and a sense of community coming together. Made during the pandemic, writer and director Leon Pierce Jr. has made the most of the limitations. It's very indie, and I’m not sure the agoraphobia topic is his forte, but it’s clever and funny, and all the pieces, especially the lead character, fit together really well.   2021

Directed by: Leon Pierce Jr

Screenplay by: Leon Pierce Jr

Starring: Tahj Mowry, Adriyan Rae

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Potter's Ground: Movie Review

Unique style, poor story.
Potter’s Ground opens on a dry, bare expanse of land. A family, during the Civil War, is burying their dog. The young daughter nonchalantly says the monsters under her bed did it. Parents, as they are prone to do, tried to reassure her that there are no monsters living under her bed. There is no such thing as monsters. However, when children aren’t scared so much as confident in their beliefs, they are usually right about something.   2021

Directed by: Michael Butts

Screenplay by: Scott Crain

Starring: Isaiah Stratton, Scott Crain

Saturday, June 5, 2021

I Am All Girls: Movie Review

An important story lost in poorly focused action.

At first, I Am All Girls is reminiscent of Lost Girls. Another Netflix movie, a thriller-drama based on a true story about trying to find abducted girls. However, after the true story intro, and then the movie begins with the race to find the girls, it becomes clearer that this is more like The Captive – where they tell the audience how it ends at the beginning. It was an interesting but controversial approach with The Captive, but feels like the wrong approach here.   2021

Directed by: Donovan Marsh

Screenplay by: Wayne Fitzjohn, Marcell Greef,
and Emile Leuvennink

Starring: Erica Wessels, Masasa Mbangeni

Friday, June 4, 2021

Weekenders: Movie Review

Well written indie romance with awful characters.
Weekenders is very minimalistic and indie in its approach. Four people in one house where they talk and drink through their feelings. I have issues with the premise and the very frustrating characters, but the execution is good. The film is surprisingly engaging despite how awful the people are. It’s an odd combination, but filmmaker Erik Bloomquist has serious skills as a writer and scene builder; however, I would never be friends with his friends.   2021

Directed by: Erik Bloomquist

Screenplay by: Erik Bloomquist, Carson Bloomquist, and Peyton Michelle Edwards

Starring: Erik Bloomquist, Peyton Michelle Edwards, Ehad Berisha and Maggie McMeans

Sunday, May 30, 2021

We Broke Up: Movie Review

Solid comedy and simplistic drama.
We Broke Up has a very simplistic premise: a young couple break up before a wedding they’re both attending and decide to pretend they’re still together. The potential for comedy is obvious, and it works. The film starts quick and light with jokes involving Lori and Doug’s break-up, disagreements about who gets to attend the wedding, and then we arrive to meet the happy-go-lucky bride, the insane groom, and the disapproving mother. All game for providing more laughs.   2021

Directed by: Jeff Rosenberg

Screenplay by: Jeff Rosenberg, Laura Jacqmin

Starring: Aya Cash and William Harper Jackson

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Night Shift: Movie Review

Random unfunny chaos of idiot brothers being idiots.

Night Shift takes a long time for the narrative to start taking a logical form, and by that point the random chaos has just driven the movie boring and pointless. I think (I’m guessing here because the weird cuts to random scenes to open the movie doesn’t help anything) the point is that these brothers are feeling lost, do not know how to deal with death, and are finally at the do something or lose everything stage.   2021

Directed by: Joey Menzel

Screenplay by: Joey Menzel

Starring: Jesse Morton, Anthony Winnick

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Breaking News in Yuba County: Movie Review

An insane dark comedy with a killer cast.
Breaking News in Yuba County is a very chaotic dark comedy that only works because of its cast. Sue Buttons (Allison Janney) is a depressed, lonely suburban wife with an awful telemarketing job, a cheating, morally-bankrupt, criminal husband, no friends who actually like her and family members who couldn’t care less about her. And today’s her birthday. Everybody forgot because nobody cares.   2021

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Screenplay by: Amanda Idoko

Starring: Allison Janney, Mila Kunis

Friday, March 12, 2021

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: Movie Review

Unlikable, unfunny, relentless absurdity.
Apparently, I'm contrarian to some of the big releases thus far in 2021. After liking Locked Down and hating this one, I’m feeling backwards. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar isn’t funny. Ridiculous, yes; absurd, yes; silly, yes; energetic and colourful, of course. But it’s hateful not likable, too far removed from anything relatable to be funny. Comedy should have at least an element of truth, this has none, it’s pure nonsense.   2021

Directed by: Josh Greenbaum

Screenplay by: Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Crazy About Her: Movie Review

Smart, sensitive and funny.
This one caught me off guard. With that premise, I was concerned with how wrong it could get. But Crazy About Her is smart and sensitively written and holds true to the rom-com genre. Most romantic comedies that bring in mental illness will go dark or dramatic, but this remains (mostly) funny and romantic throughout. It has a sharp wit, is entertaining and is still a tender and thoughtful portrait of mental illness.   2021

Directed by: Dani de la Orden

Screenplay by: Natalia Durán, Eric Navarro

Starring: Álvaro Cervantes, Susana Albaitua

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Geez & Ann: Movie Review

A leisurely romantic drama that has its charms.

Geez & Ann is an Indonesian teen romantic drama. It starts out very sweet and charming and cute, but before the half-way mark drama takes over, weighs it down and really slows it down. However, these characters have a fairly unique path and take the film in a different evolution than usual for the genre even though it feels very familiar.   2021

Directed by: Rizki Balki

Screenplay by: Cassandra Massardi, Adi Nugroho

Starring: Hanggini, Junior Roberts

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Promising Young Woman: Movie Review

Entertaining with a dark truth and tragic emotional edge.
Promising Young Woman is a polished, original, wild ride of revenge, but at its heart, it’s an impassioned story of a young woman with a fractured psyche and an astute examination of society that needs a harsh reckoning to come to terms with its treatment of sexual abuse. This is writer-director Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut and is best summed-up with one-word: Wow.   2020

Directed by: Emerald Fennell

Screenplay by: Emerald Fennell

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham

Friday, February 19, 2021

Minari: Movie Review

The American dream, as it tries to tear apart one family.
Minari is a curious film as it tackles small issues with a big brush. It feels like a movie that is going to explore racism in middle America in the 1980s, but instead spends most of its time on the family dynamics of Korean immigrants. Originally settling in a city in California approx. a decade earlier, a husband and wife and their two kids have moved to a farm in rural Arkansas.   2020

Directed by: Lee Isaac Chung

Screenplay by: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Namaste Wahala: Movie Review

Chaotic energy with wild shifts in tone.

Namaste Wahala is my first Nollywood film (Nigerian film industry) and they seem to have taken a lot of cues from Bollywood; it’s bright and colourful, with massive shifts in tone and a few random song breaks. Based on Netflix’s advertising, I think it was supposed to be their foreign entry for Valentine’s Day, but the many shifts in tone take it far from a romantic comedy.   2020

Directed by: Hamisha Daryani Ahuja

Screenplay by: Temitope Bolade, Diche Enunwa

Starring: Ini Dima Okojie, Ruslaan Mumtaz

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Squared Love: Movie Review

Rom-com with the lowest common denominator.
It feels like there should be a good movie somewhere in Squared Love – a combination of romance and thriller which plays more in line with a rom-com than something dark or sinister. However, it’s “thriller” plot is so childish it’s really surprising that it’s meant to be for grown adult humans. I like the playful nature, but they aimed way too low. Betting on the lowest common denominator for your audience is not cool.   2021

Directed by: Filip Zylber

Screenplay by: Wiktor Piatkowski, Marzanna Polit

Starring: Adrianna Chlebicka, Mateusz Banasiuk

Friday, February 12, 2021

Fear of Rain: Movie Review

Good characters pulled in too many directions.

There are a few different ideas at play in Fear of Rain, all revolving around the struggle with schizophrenia and not being sure what is real and what is not real. That’s certainly not new territory for a movie, especially not a thriller, but the movie does have a lot of calm moments in the middle with some thoughtful drama.   2021

Directed by: Castille Landon

Screenplay by: Castille Landon

Starring: Madison Iseman, Harry Connick Jr.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Right One: Movie Review

A different kind of rom-com with a unique character.
What we have here is a good premise with a bad title masquerading as a romantic comedy. I get the desire to market it as a rom-com, certainly an easier sell than a drama about grief and mental illness. The Right One is also sort-of half and half. Two lead characters from very different movies combining to give us something unique.   2021

Directed by: Ken Mok

Screenplay by: Ken Mok

Starring: Nick Thune, Cleopatra Coleman

Friday, January 22, 2021

Breaking Fast: Movie Review

Mature and inclusive, a rom-com with emotional candor.
Breaking Fast could be a straight-forward romantic comedy but instead it breaks the mold with layered characters and thoughtful discussions on dramatic themes. It includes commentary on family, religion, religious extremists, sexual orientations and acceptance, does so with the best written characters this genre has seen and then wraps that all up in a joyful rom-com plot with really high indie production values.   2020

Directed by: Mike Mosallam

Screenplay by: Mike Mosallam

Starring: Haaz Sleiman, Michael Cassidy

Monday, January 18, 2021

Our Friend: Movie Review

Effective comedy and drama, unnecessary time jumps.
I get what Our Friend is trying to do: a weepy cancer drama that is not about a person dying of cancer but about the positives that a friend can bring while a person is dying of cancer. But the film does itself no favours with the constant time-jumps. Instead of setting itself apart, it’s brought down by unnecessary disorder that doesn’t add anything to the story.   2019

Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Screenplay by: Brad Ingelsby

Starring: Casey Affleck, Jason Segel, Dakota Johnson

Friday, January 15, 2021

Locked Down: Movie Review

A conversation with two great characters.
A mainstream HBO release billed as a heist comedy starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor, most people would not envision this movie. Produced during the pandemic and featuring our now-too-well-known lives of Zoom calls and quarantine, Locked Down is a very different take on the heist comedy – namely in that it really isn’t, this is a character-centric relationship dramedy that ventures into a department store heist for its final act.   2021

Directed by: Doug Liman

Screenplay by: Steven Knight

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Wild Mountain Thyme: Movie Review

Wildy insane and tedious but vividly captured.

John Patrick Shanley is an interesting writer and an accomplished filmmaker who has been making movies for over thirty years including the Oscar-winning Moonstruck and Doubt. And now here we are with Wild Mountain Thyme with all the pedigree, including Christopher Walken and Emily Blunt, to be a major awards player, but it most definitely will not be. Not that Shanley cares.   2020

Directed by: John Patrick Shanley

Screenplay by: John Patrick Shanley
Based on the play Outside Mullingar

Starring: Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Spontaneous: Movie Review

Wildly creative, insane, funny and poignant.

Spontaneous is wildly original and insane with a touch of poignancy and real world politics. Teenagers start spontaneously combusting with no reason why. The FBI arrives “Are you blowing up your classmates?” “Um, no?” “Ok, back to the drawing board”. The politicians offer their thoughts and prayers, and unsurprisingly, that doesn’t solve it either. What are the still living students supposed to do?   2020

Directed by: Brian Duffield

Screenplay by: Brian Duffield
Based on the novel by Aaron Starmer

Starring: Katherine Langford, Charlie Plummer