Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! I finished S3 of Hinterland last night and cannot recommend this series more highly! The acting is superior, the plots are intricate, and the beauty of the country of Wales is shown in its full glory. Hoping that they make a S4. Check it out on netflix if you have it.
International Falls (2019)
Starring: Rachael Harris, Rob Huebel, Matthew Glave, Mindy Sterling, Kevin Nealon, Eric Griffin, Charles Carroll
Director: Amber McGinnis
Genres: indie, drama, comedy
Synopsis: One main character (Harris) is a married clerk who works at a hotel who has always dreamed of doing standup comedy but has never left the nowheresville town of International Falls, MN. The other main character (Huebel) is a burned out traveling standup comedian who has come to the hotel to do his show for a couple nights. Each is going through their own set of personal turmoil and turn to each other for emotional support.
Impressions: The atmosphere remains low-key with minimal movement, which the sub-zero winter weather parallels. There is a lot of really good dialogue going back and forth between these two characters. Imagine Jon Stewart and Kristen Wiig going back and forth. The vulnerability and the intimacy of the dialogue is what makes the film special. An underlying theme examines the nature of one’s dreams. Another is exploring the deep roots of comedy.
Etc.: Filmed in the real International Falls, MN, with interiors filmed in Dallas, TX
Awards: 4 wins and 4 nominations
Hope Gap (2019)
Starring: Annette Bening, Bill Nighy, Josh O’Connor
Director: William Nicholson
Synopsis: The only son (played by O’Connor) of a couple (played by Bening and Nighy) married for 29 years gets sucked back to his home beach town when his father pronounces he’s found love with another woman and then promptly leaves the family home to move in with his new love. The story focuses mostly on the mother and how she adjusts to being deserted. It also peripherally looks at how the son’s behaviors parallel his father’s introverted, reticent ways and how that has worked against him in his own quest to find a life partner.
Impressions: Bening does a great job of playing an obnoxiously pushy, attention-seeking individual who is compelled to poke and prod at her husband and son and then gets confused and hurt when they shrink away from her. Nighy plays the solicitous husband who always disappoints his demanding wife and has resigned himself to it until fate intervenes. O’Connor’s character has been so tightly controlled by his mother that when he finally has his own place in the big city he is clueless what to do with his freedom. Despite what might sound like a passable plot, as it plays out it feels wooden except when Bening’s character’s neediness cloys. The landscape is gorgeous, but they show the same places so often it makes them seem like filler.
Etc.: Based on the director’s own life experience, when his own parents’ marriage broke down after 33 years.
Awards: 1 nomination
American Murder: The Family Next Door (2020) (netflix)
Starring: real people
Director: Jenny Popplewell
Genres: crime documentary
Synopsis: Without narration, the story is told exclusively through chat logs, social media posts and videos, home movie footage, police and court logs and video footage, news interview footage, and other assorted multi-media. It tells of a Colorado couple with two small, adorable children that seem to be the perfectly happy family unit. They have dual high income, a brand new mansion in a brand new subdivision, at least one giant expensive motor vehicles, etc. Their lives are documented in obsessive, excruciating minutiae on social media. Then the wife and kids disappear; it doesn’t take long before the husband becomes the primary suspect.
Impressions: The lines between horrific reality and entertainment blur in a disturbing way in this show. We’ve seen these kinds of plots play out on tv shows a million times, only this time it’s real. It feels like voyeurism peering into the most intimate details of the family’s life, and what may be even worse is that the mother in the show put all of that info out on social media and in text messages to her friends. Where are the boundaries anywhere in all of this?
Etc.: Intense video footage towards the end.
Awards: too soon
Hubie Halloween (2020) (netflix)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Julie Bowen, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider, Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, Michael Chiklis, Shaquille O’Neal, and many more!
Director: Steven Brill
Genres: comedy, family
Synopsis: Hubie is a 40-something virgin still living with his mother and is still in love with his high school sweetheart (but is too shy and feels undeserving to let her know) in Salem, MA. He’s also the long-time bullying target of most of the people in town. Hubie is honest and kind. He’s also hypervigilant, feeling he has to live up to the legacy of his ancestors who stood out against the “witches” burned at the stake. Oh, he also scares easily (think Don Knotts in the Ghost and Mr. Chicken.) Hubie is the annual self-appointed safety monitor for Halloween night, making sure everyone stays safe and gets home safe after the partying is over. There is extra special danger afoot this year for Halloween, and Hubie is put to the test. Will he be able to keep everyone safe?
Impressions: Hubie Halloween reminds me of those old TV Disney movies but more savvy, funny, and diverse. Hubie Halloween is geared towards middle- and high-schoolers, but there is enough in it to amuse adults as well. There are lots of sight gags but also some more mature jokes that probably fly over the heads of the young people but aren’t too raunchy even if they don’t. There are several running gags that I found delightful. There are many many cool Halloween decorations and costumes throughout. There are people of all ages, sizes, colors, and orientations which is always a refreshing addition to a movie. Sandler plays Hubie just right. He’s not too goofy and is hilarious and endearing with his quirks. Perhaps what I like best about Hubie Halloween is its heart. With the nonstop bullying going on, there are key kind-hearted people that refuse to take part. There is a very clear anti-bullying message trying to be imparted to young viewers — and maybe the message is gently being given to older viewers as well? I can see this becoming an annual movie to watch like the traditional Christmas movies. I’m adding it to my list. Scare factor? Mild chills only.
Awards: too soon