Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Love & Gelato: Movie Review

Cute and annoying.
Another one of Netflix’s ‘An American girl must travel to a foreign country to find herself and fall in love.’ This time it’s Italy. Lina (Susanna Skaggs) is one of your super smart teen girls who know more about school than boys, the type of character that can exist outside of movies, but not this one; Lina is just way too pretentious. She also takes her mother’s dying wish too literally.   2022

Directed by: Brandon Camp

Screenplay by: Brandon Camp

Starring: Susanna Skaggs, Owen McDonnell

Friday, June 17, 2022

The Good Neighbor: Movie Review

A slow moving thriller with a great setting.
The Good Neighbor is an indie thriller set in Latvia. The characters included a couple of Americans and Brits, but they’re not just vacationing in Riga. The foreign angle is handled well since they’re all here long-term and they’re not treated as foreigners. David (Luke Kleintank) is an American journalist looking to uproot his life after a painful break-up; Grant (Bruce Davison) is a former colleague working for a European news centre and can hook David up with a job.   2021

Directed by: Stephan Rick

Screenplay by: Ross Partridge
Silja Clemens, Stephan Rick

Starring: Luke Kleintank, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Friday, June 10, 2022

The Score: Movie Review

An interesting film about nothing.
You know the old saying: Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should? I never would have thought that a crime drama and a musical would make a good pairing, and I still don’t. Two criminals singing their way through a heist is as bizarre as it sounds. But at the same time, it is interesting. The music is really good and you keep thinking maybe something is going to happen eventually.   2021

Directed by: Malachi Smyth

Screenplay by: Malachie Smyth

Starring: Will Poulter, Johnny Flynn, Naomi Ackie, Lydia Wilson, Lucian Msamati

Thursday, June 9, 2022

My Fake Boyfriend: Movie Review

A chaotic gay rom-com about social media and celebrity obsession.
If you’re going to go with a fake boyfriend plot, then you’re going to have to do something different, and My Fake Boyfriend definitely does. First it’s the social media editing on speed, then it’s the very natural inclusivity and fluidity of sexuality and relationships, and then it tackles society’s celebrity obsession and how fake relationships with fake people can have real effects – even positive ones.   2022

Directed by: Rose Troche

Screenplay by: Luke Albright, Greg Boaldin, Joe Wanjai Ross

Starring: Keiynan Lonsdale, Dylan Sprouse, Sarah Hyland, Samer Salem

Saturday, June 4, 2022

A Small Fortune: Movie Review

An indie thriller with a great Canadian setting.
A small Canadian thriller from the coasts of Prince Edward Island. A Small Fortune is set in the small fishing town of Skinner’s Pond with few people and fewer jobs. Kevin (Stephen Oates) and wife Sam (Liane Balaban) are expecting a baby; she’s begging him to head out west to find work to bring in money, but he’s content harvesting Irish moss each day bringing in not enough money to live off of. Enter a washed-up bag of money, and a criminal on its trail.   2021

Directed by: Adam Perry

Screenplay by: Adam Perry

Starring: Liane Balaban, Stephen Oates, Andrea Bang, and Matt Cooke

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Emergency: Movie Review

Smart, funny and way too real.
Wow. The type of movie that can take your breath away from a combination of laughter, shock and heart-breaking tragedy. Emergency is a dark comedy that can keep you laughing despite the seriousness and real world realizations of the consequences. Kunle and Sean are two Black students at university; they go from a teacher using the N-word to get ready for a night of partying to an unconscious White girl.   2022

Directed by: Carey Williams

Screenplay by: K.D. Dávila

Starring: RJ Cyler, Donald Elise Watkins

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick: Movie Review

Nice nods to the original and spectacular action.
It has been a long time since I last saw Top Gun but I’ve remembered how much fun it is. The first half of Top Gun: Maverick seems to want to recreate all of the individual elements of the original without capturing any of the movie magic, but don’t worry that changes just as quickly as Maverick can change course in an F-18. The final act, their mission, is dazzling. It’s fun, engaging, breath-taking and just really impressive movie-making.   2022

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

Screenplay by: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller and Glen Powell

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Perfect Pairing: Movie Review

Slow and cheesy.
A Perfect Pairing – first off, that title, is it ever cheesy. It took me awhile just to get over the fact that I was going to press play on a title so punny that it loops back around to witless. But you are getting what you expect: a romantic comedy centered around the wine industry. As is true for pretty much all Netflix rom-coms, the American heroine must fly across the world to find a suitable mate.   2022

Directed by: Stuart McDonald

Screenplay by: Hilary Galanoy, Elizabeth Hackett

Starring: Victoria Justice, Adam Demos

Friday, May 13, 2022

Senior Year: Movie Review

Too subdued and unoriginal.
Senior Year is Rebel Wilson’s latest comedy offering. She’s 37, has been in a coma for the last 20 years, and now she’s returning to high school to graduate finally be named prom queen (graduation is for the un-cool kids). Cue all the 2002 jokes and how society has become so pretentious. It definitely has its fair share of cell phone jokes, an Ally McBeal joke, and how non-confrontational everything is now, but it’s relatively tame. I was expecting way worse.   2022

Directed by: Alex Hardcastle

Screenplay by: Andrew Knauer, Arthur Pielli and Brandon Scott

Starring: Rebel Wilson, Sam Richardson

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Perfect Family: Movie Review

Universal themes, well crafted characters.
What starts as a rom-com about family turns into a bittersweet comedy about the collapse of a picture-perfect family and an examination of gender roles in today’s society. The Perfect Family is not a pure comedy and it also shifts away from not one but two tales of romance to eventually reveal itself as an unexpected dramedy about women finding themselves at all stages of life.   2021

Directed by: Arantxa Echevarría

Screenplay by: Olatz Arroyo

Starring: Belén Rueda, Carolina Yuste and Gonzalo Ramos

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Getaway King: Movie Review

A silly dated action comedy.

A Polish true story masquerading as an action crime comedy, The Getaway King is more chaotic than it is interesting and more silly than it is entertaining. The backdrop is 1988 Poland at the end of Communism, and I would have to assume those that lived there at that time got a lot more of the backstory that would have made this more interesting. For the rest of us the historical and cultural significance is downplayed so much, it’s missing that crucial touchpoint.   2021

Directed by: Mateusz Rakowicz

Screenplay by: Lukasz Maciejewski and
Mateusz Rakowicz

Starring: David Ogrodnik, Robert Wieckiewicz

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Suicide for Beginners: Movie Review

Committing murders just for the fun of it is not that funny.

A dark comedy that seems to revel in how silly murder can be. Suicide for Beginners starts with a solid hook – an obviously depressed man is planning the perfect suicide, well murder-suicide since he has already kidnapped his ex-girlfriend. It’s dark and plays up the comedy dichotomy big time with bright colors in a cheerful suburb and a happy-go-lucky score backing it all.   2022

Directed by: Craig Thieman

Screenplay by: Ethan Hunter, Craig Thieman

Starring: Wil Daniels, Sara Tomko

Friday, May 6, 2022

Escape the Field: Movie Review

Creepiness but a lack of interesting characters in a corn field.
My first instinct of Escape the Field was a low-budget indie version of Escape Room, and yeah, very close to it. Escape Room spent more time at the beginning introducing the characters and then went more heavy into the action, whereas Escape the Field starts right in the middle of the corn field and tries to maintain a steady feel of creepiness.   2022

Directed by: Emerson Moore

Screenplay by: Emerson Moore, Sean Wathen, Joshua Dobkin

Starring: Jordan Claire Robbins, Theo Rossi

Along for the Ride: Movie Review

Light-weight drama and slow-burn romance.
A coming-of-age teen romantic drama that’s about finding yourself, Along for the Ride survives on the strength of its lead character. Auden (Emma Pasarow) is a smart girl, but not implausibly smart; she’s shy, but not so shy that she won’t at least try to hang out; she knows herself well enough that she likes being the smart un-cool girl, but now she’s trying to change herself to make friends, to fall in love.   2022

Directed by: Sofia Alvarez

Screenplay by: Sofia Alvarez
Based on the novel by Sarah Dressen

Starring: Emma Pasarow, Belmont Cameli

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Sex Appeal: Movie Review

Teen sex comedy with no comedy and no logic.

Does the world need a teen sex comedy, bordering on the trash of 1980s teen sex comedies, but from the perspective of a smart female student? I can understand why some might be tempted to say yes, but we have Blockers and Booksmart to fill that void with good movies instead. Trash is trash and does not help the fill the void of under-served demographics.   2022

Directed by: Talia Osteen

Screenplay by: Tate Hanyok

Starring: Mika Abdalla, Jake Short

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Backpackers (AKA: Without Saying Goodbye): Movie Review

Come for the romance, stay for the scenery and then go look up trips to Peru.
Released with two titles Backpackers and Without Saying Goodbye and both titles fit. A romantic dramedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the movie stays true to the genre’s format but also doesn’t feel stale. That’s entirely thinks to the location. Set in Cusco, Peru, it doesn’t just make you want to visit there, it makes you want to live there.   2022

Directed by: Bruno Ascenzo

Screenplay by: Bruno Ascenzo

Starring: Stephanie Cayo, Mazi Iglesias

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Rescued by Ruby: Movie Review

A dog movie about positivity and optimism.
While Disney is busy churning out Marvel content, here’s Netflix releasing a really enjoyable family-friendly dog movie. It’s very similar to Disney’s Eight Below, perhaps not as much of an adventure, but the same pull of emotions. Led by former teen heartthrob Scott Wolf and recent teen heartthrob Grant Gustin, all the characters are easy to like. Even the mean (but not really mean) sergeants are likable.   2022

Directed by: Katt Shea

Screenplay by: Karen Janszen

Starring: Grant Gustin, Scott Wolf

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Hater: Movie Review

A political movie trying to present a balanced message.
Political movies are always going to be divisive, that’s just the nature of the genre. The Hater with that title, it’s liberal and libertarian politics and a lead character that seems to be built off of Twitter, probably has an even tougher hill to climb. But The Hater is legitimately funny has surprisingly well written characters and makes an obvious attempt to not talk down to or insult Republicans.   2022

Directed by: Joey Ally

Screenplay by: Joey Ally

Starring: Joey Ally, Meredith Hagner, Ian Harding, Bruce Dern

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Hyperions: Movie Review

Lacklustre superheroes.
The Hyperions is a superhero unlike any superhero movie. A mix of a low-budget 60s action-comedy plus superheroes plus dysfunctional family drama. An odd mix to be sure. I get why people might gravitate towards this. It looks familiar but is actually very different and unique, and filmgoers are generally starved for uniqueness especially when superheroes are involved.   2022

Directed by: Jon McDonald

Screenplay by: Jon McDonald, Mike Timm

Starring: Cary Elwes, Penelope Mitchell

Friday, March 11, 2022

Exploited: Movie Review

A sex-filled horror slasher.

The one-sentence premise of Exploited, a college freshman finding a video of a possible murder and wanting to unravel the mystery, could go a number of different ways. I was not expecting a psycho-sexual horror film that verges on pornography and pure evilness. Horror fans are probably less surprised by the directions this film took, but for those that are horror-averse, this is not a fun watch.   2022

Directed by: Jon Abrahams

Screenplay by: Carl Moellenberg, Anthony Del Negro

Starring: Jordan Ver Hoeve, and Will Peltz

Saturday, March 5, 2022

The Mystery of Her: Movie Review

Sweet and uncomplicated.
The Mystery of Her has a great premise for a finding yourself coming-of-age movie. Ali (Andrea Figliomeni) was in a car accident and loses her memory. She literally doesn’t know who she was and as she starts piecing together moments of her life, she questions whether or not she was happy and what she wants. Standard fare for a teenager feeling lonely and confused and the premise serves as a great hook.   2022

Directed by: Nicholas DiBella

Screenplay by: Nicholas DiBella, Paul Root

Starring: Andrea Figliomeni, Winter Andrews

Friday, March 4, 2022

Meskina: Movie Review

Universal rom-com theme that over does it in every aspect.
There’s a universal appeal to Meskina, a Moroccan-Dutch rom-com, that takes the common sit-com-like premise of a 30-year-old woman unlucky in love and her family takes it upon themselves to fix her life. The potential humour is obvious – but at least the film knows that and plays up its very playful and broad style. The film also knows the obviousness of its storyline, such that the comedy is highlighted and no time is wasted in set-ups we can all see coming.   2021

Directed by: Daria Bukvic

Screenplay by: Fadua El Akchaoui, Daria Bukvic, and Ernst Gonlag

Starring: Maryam Hassouni

American Girl: Movie Review

Slow and distressing, but also well-made, compelling and tender.
Fen, a 13-year-old Taiwanese girl living in America, is forced to move back home when her mother gets cancer. American Girl can be hard to get into since it’s a slow drama about death, dying, grief, depression and anger. A lot of unpleasant, negative emotions with no reprieve, except it’s such a well-made movie, and the more you watch, the more powerful and tender it gets.   2021

Directed by: Feng-I Fiona Roan

Screenplay by: Bing Li, Feng-I Fiona Roan

Starring: Caitlin Fang, Kaiser Chuang

Thursday, March 3, 2022

The Weekend Away: Movie Review

Campy thriller told as a serious drama.
I feel more disappointed by The Weekend Away than I did by Netflix’s last popular murder mystery-thriller Brazen. The Weekend Away isn’t as trashy or quite as low-budget and presents a much more serious dramatic air, but that’s kind of the problem. If I have to take this seriously, then I’m disappointed by the weak acting, the bad dialogue, and the weird editing which minimizes all the supporting characters.   2022

Directed by: Kim Farrant

Screenplay by: Sarah Alderson

Starring: Leighton Meester, Christina Wolfe

Sunday, February 27, 2022

A Week in Paradise: Movie Review

Melodramatic romantic drama.
A Week in Paradise is a romantic drama that just leans so heavily into the melodrama of it all. How do movies in this genre still not understand that you can’t take yourself this seriously? The first half of the movie is a massive slog to get through. A cheating husband, a wife who is just so distraught she can’t possibly go to work, so okay, a week in Nevis will do.   2022

Directed by: Philippe Martinez

Screenplay by: Kate Wood

Starring: Malin Akerman, Philip Winchester

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop: Movie Review

Old-fashioned and low-key, a British mystery.

Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop is, as you can probably guess from the title, an old-fashioned and juvenile mystery. A family-friendly mystery meant for … kids? Except probably not, with a cast full of adults, a potential murder on their hands and an English country-side setting straight out of classic novels, it’s more like a Miss Marple mystery to be solved by the Scooby Doo gang.   2021

Directed by: Brad Watson

Screenplay by: Josh Ridgway, Kate Wood

Starring: Nathalie Cox, Kelsey Grammer

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Ledge: Movie Review

Suspend your disbelief.
I always appreciate it when filmmakers can make a compelling movie set in essentially one location, but The Ledge is hanging from some very precarious threads. It has all the ingredients of a good story: our heroine is a very strong, very tough girl who isn’t going to let a group of douche bros get away with murder. Her main obstacle is literally the side of the cliff with one ledge she can stand one. And the villains, four asshole friends, who are my main source of frustration.   2022

Directed by: Howard J. Ford

Screenplay by: Tom Boyle

Starring: Brittany Ashworth, Ben Lamb

Friday, February 11, 2022

I Want You Back: Movie Review

A screwball rom-com.
I Want You Back is a sort-of throwback romantic comedy. It meanders a bit before it ends up in screwball comedy territory, but leans into comedy with entertaining plot turns throughout. It’s a rom-com that starts with heartbreak and ponders the depression and loneliness of life before it ever tries selling us on a romance. It balances humour and grief and delivers something that’s funny and sweet.   2022

Directed by: Jason Orley

Screenplay by: Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger

Starring: Jenny Slate and Charlie Day

Friday, February 4, 2022

Book of Love: Movie Review

Bad characters and bad writing.
Book of Love is the type of romantic comedy you want to like more than you do. They cast Sam Claflin, and then can’t do anything else right. Henry (Claflin) is a novelist, comparing himself to E.M. Forster, but instead being met with criticism he argues against and a bookstore selling his novel at “Buy 1, Get 3”. Unbeknownst to him, his novel has been translated into Spanish and is a massive hit in Mexico, so off he goes.   2022

Directed by: Analeine Cal y Mayor

Screenplay by: Analeine Cal y Major,
and David Quantick

Starring: Sam Claflin, Veronica Echegui

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Mainstream: Movie Review

Loneliness and unrequited love.
Mainstream has ended up on the wrong side with critics and audiences. Everybody says they understand its message and then comes up with a different message than the person before them. Obviously a movie has missed the mark if nobody can agree on what its saying just that it did so badly. I’m not going to argue that my interpretation is correct, but it does ring true throughout the movie for me.   2021

Directed by: Gia Coppola

Screenplay by: Tom Stuart, Gia Coppola

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Being the Ricardos: Movie Review

Nostalgic and engrossing.
Making a drama about a comedy. I love Aaron Sorkin but turning I Love Lucy and its beloved star into a tawdry-esque drama is just asking for public backlash. I’m not surprised I’m on the other side of this than the majority of other critics and viewers, just disappointed. Being the Ricardos is a very quintessential Sorkin tale of old Hollywood. He loves the history of sitcoms and how writing and politics collide. And if you do as well, this is worth your time.   2021

Directed by: Aaron Sorkin

Screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem