Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to All. No Irish-themed movies today, but if I may make a recommendation for one if you are in the mood to watch one? See “Ondine.”
Mr. Right (2016) (netflix)
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth, James Ransone, Anson Mount, Michael Eklund, RZA
Director: Paco Cabezas
Genres: comedy; action; romance
Synopsis: An unstoppable Zen hitman meets up with Miss Naive Nice Girl and the chemistry is off the charts. The romance storyline criss-crosses with the hitman messiness. It’s dark comedy and what at first appears as a horrible mismatch (in plot and casting) works to good effect. The bad guys aren’t like the red shirts in Star Trek, they actually have developed characters. I was shocked to recognize Anson Mount (Bohannon, the star of the great TV series, Hell on Wheels) as the main villain; and just as shocked to see RZA playing one as well. Tim Roth does a good job in this. Sam Rockwell almost feels too big for this movie, but his character needs that elevation I think.
Starring: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Alex Hibbert, Jaden Piner, Patrick Decile
Director: Barry Jenkins
Genres: coming-of-age; bullying; LGBT; drama
Synopsis: the film starts when Trevante’s character is a youngster trying to fend for himself while his mom hits the crack pipe. He’s different and his peers sense it so they try to beat him up. It isn’t certain if the differentness is because he’s quiet and sensitive or because he has other gender leanings. One of the other kids takes an interest in him. A drug supplier, played with excellence by Mahershala Ali, and his girlfriend take him under their wings when he’s locked out of the house, needs a hot meal, or a bed to sleep on. Their support continues into Trevante’s high school years, where his sense of alienation and introversion continues, which continues to invite bullying. He and his childhood friend have a tenuous connection in high school but end up going their separate ways. The story continues into their adulthood but that’s all I will say about it. The film is beautiful, though a harsh world for a young man to keep hope alive. Trevante’s character never says much, but you know exactly where he’s at at all times. Great movie and highly recommended.
Etc.: Nominated for a total of 288 awards and won 229 of them! Only covering the Academy Awards for 2017, it won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay. It was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Best Achievement Directing, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, and Best Achievement for Music Written for a Motion Picture.
The Addams Family (animated/Pixar) (2019) (netflix)
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Tituss Burgess, Jenifer Lewis, Elsie Fisher, Conrad Vernon, Aimee Garcia
Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Synopsis: For the pixar-like animation it is, it’s ok. What bugs me about it is how fast-paced it is. The camera never rests on anything! The storyline is ok. It shows how the Addams Family settled in their castle on the hill that is on the outskirts of a pristine generic strip mall subdivision type of community. The fog on the hill has hidden their castle – until it doesn’t. The villain in this story is a “queen of versaille” type realtor who is pushing to sell ultra-rich homes and attempts to turn the sheep-like townspeople into a torch-carrying mob to run the lovable Addams Family out of town. I like what they’ve done with Wednesday and Pugsley, as well as Lurch and Cousin It (played by Snoop Dogg.) Morticia is well-done but again, the camera never rests to give any real expressions on their faces. It’s fluff, mindless entertainment.
Gemini Man (2019)
Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, Linda Emond, Theodora Woolley, Douglas Hodge, Ralph Brown
Director: Ang Lee
Genres: science fiction; action
Synopsis: Will Smith is one of “the CIA?s” best snipers and has killed hundreds faithfully and without question for years; but Will has had enough. He can’t sleep anymore and wants out. He’s just about to heave a sigh of relief and relax when events transpire that pull him back into the action full force. It doesn’t take long to realize that the damned good young dude they’ve sent to kill him is a younger version of himself. There are many hand-to-hand combat scenes between these two. The back story on how the younger Will came to be is explored. Dilemmas naturally arise when duplicates of the same person are pitted against each other.
There are two main things that highly irritated me about the movie. One is how severely Will Smith gets beaten up by his younger self. The other is the way they used special effects on not only the young clone’s face but on Will Smith’s face. I actually am not sure they did use CGI on Will’s face or whether he’s had plastic surgery. Whatever it is, it looked terrible! It felt like everybody in this movie was just going through the motions.
Starring: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf
Director: Christian Petzold
Genres: post-World War II drama
Synopsis: Powerful story line about a woman who survived the death camps of World War II but whose face was horribly maimed by being shot in the face. She undergoes reconstructive surgery and goes against doctor’s recommendation that he make her look unrecognizable to anyone; she wants to look like herself again. Johnny, her husband, wasn’t at the camp she was at and she is desperate to find him. She’s been told he betrayed her to the Nazis to avoid imprisonment but she doesn’t believe it. She finds Johnny but he doesn’t believe it’s her; he pulls her into a terrible intrigue. The movie was well-done, with no expense spared in recreating a bombed out Germany after the war. What was difficult to accept about the plot was the expectation that the viewer suspend disbelief when Johnny did not recognize his wife, especially after her surgeries were done and she was restored to her original looks (for the most part.) The title refers to both a nightclub and the main character’s rise from the ashes of her horrific experiences.
Etc.: German movie with English subtitles; good classical music soundtrack
All the Bright Places (2020) (netflix)
Starring: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Alexandra Shipp, Kelli O’Hara, Lamar Johnson, Virginia Gardner, Felix Mallard, Sofia Hasmik, Keegan-Michael Key, Luke Wilson, Chris Grace, and many more
Director: Brett Haley
Genres: grief recovery; mental health issues; drama
Synopsis: One teenager lost a sister in an auto accident and one teenager has trouble recovering from an abusive childhood at the hands of his father. One teenage has a loving mother and father and one teenager has a workaholic mother always out of town and a young adult sister who is often gone at work or with friends and lives him with way too much time alone. The character played by Justice spontaneously saves the character played by Elle from jumping off of a bridge. From there friendship blossoms. Then something more. The big question in this well-made movie asks can a person move beyond the horrible life circumstances that get hurled at them? The chemistry between the two teens is special. Together they help each other heal. The film is emotion-saturated. The two main characters are able to hold the viewer’s attention with ease.
Etc.: This would be a really good movie for parents and teachers to show their children and students to open up a dialogue about the topics covered in it.