Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! A couple of scary ones, a couple of funny ones, and a martial arts flick this week.
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex
Director: Jordan Peele
Genres: horror, mystery
Synopsis: The story begins when Adelaide (Nyong’o) is a child on vacation with her parents at the seashore. She wanders off to the house of mirrors and encounters something terrifying. Now an adult and married to Gabe (Duke,) the two are parents to teenager Zora (Joseph) and grade-schooler Jason (Alex.) When Gabe insists that the family take a vacation to the same seashore location where Adelaide’s childhood trauma happened, she knows it’s a bad idea but decides to go anyway, as Gabe’s co-worker and family are vacationing there and he wants and needs to impress the co-worker to build status at his job. Right away things go awry when a mysterious set of strangers that look just like them show up in their driveway and decide to make their lives a living hell.
Impressions: I made sure to watch this in the daytime as it looked so scary, and I’m glad I did. Late at night watching alone would have been too much. The premise as it unfolds is quite frightening to think about and witness. Thankfully the director was very limiting in how much graphic violence is in it; yet he uses psychological horror in a layered and effective way. There are some parts of this move I like more than others. I really loved the four main characters. Nyong’o felt believable in her role(s) and so did Duke, who I recently saw in Nine Days and really liked. The kids were not obnoxious and/or hamming it up at all. I also liked how they had substantial parts to play in the film and weren’t just window dressing. Adelaide’s doppelganger was not compelling and was so embellished as to almost be laughable. Some reviewers liked the vocal acrobatics she went through but I found it distracting and irritating. The plot did well through most of the movie but it just sort of disintegrated at the end. I understand what the director was trying to do in the opening sequence but it just didn’t have the effect for me that I think he wanted it to have. Also, being the conspiracy theorist I am, there was a doubt nagging in the back of my mind that the whole movie was just a spoof. I haven’t done any research to see if anyone else theorizes that but at some point I will. I think this movie would be ok for older teens to watch but no way any younger kids should see it.
Etc.: from imdb, just one of 101 bits of trivia on the movie:
The filmmakers did not need to do much work on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, as many games and rides are originals going far back as the 1910’s. Also, indeed there is an underground tunnel system under The Boardwalk, though it is mostly used for storage and as a shelter in case of any emergency. There is no hall of mirrors (as shown in the film) on the beach.
Awards: 85 wins and 132 nominations
BEWARE — THIS IS A SCARY TRAILER!
Yakuza Princess (2021)
Starring: MASUMI, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Eijiro Ozaki, Kenny Leu
Director: Vincente Amorim
Genres: thriller, martial arts
Synopsis: from imdb:
Set in the expansive Japanese community of Sao Paulo in Brazil – the largest Japanese diaspora in the world – YAKUZA PRINCESS follows Akemi (MASUMI), an orphan who discovers she is the heiress to half of the Yakuza crime syndicate. Forging an uneasy alliance with an amnesiac stranger (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who believes an ancient sword binds their two fates, Akemi must unleash war against the other half of the syndicate who wants her dead.
Impressions: I liked it because of where it was set. There are alternating stretches of low-key with martial arts action. The way it was left gave me an impression that it was a pilot that would be happy to continue with a sequel. The acting is decent. The sets are varied. Lots of fighting and violence with swords.
Etc.: filmed in Brazil
Last Night in Soho (2021)
Starring: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Michael Ajao, Terence Stamp, Diana Rigg, Matt Smith
Director: Edgar Wright
Genres: horror, drama, mystery
Synopsis: As the story opens, Eloise (McKenzie) is a small-town girl who designs clothes who lives with her grandmother. Her mother left for the big city looking for success but it ate her alive. When Eloise gets a scholarship to a school in the big city she is extremely excited but also nervous, as she fears the same fate that befell her mom. She moves into the dorm and quickly realizes she is a mismatch in many ways to the fast lives of her roommate and the other students. She sees an ad for a room to rent at an old house that’s been in the family of Ms. Collins (Rigg) for a long time. She does well in her classes and makes a friend of John (Ajao) a classmate, and starts to settle in, but then starts having strange dreams that involve going on adventures with Sandie (Taylor-Joy) that begin to turn increasingly sinister.
Impressions: This is another one I decided to watch during the day so as not to get too frightened. I loved the cast in this. The contrast between the insecure yet extremely determined Eloise and the devil-may-care flaunting of the fast-living Sandie set up a very compelling dynamic that cranked up the tension as events continued to unfold. The friendly and supportive John brought welcomed interludes of relief. Jack (Smith,) the fast-talking promiser of dreams come true and the mysterious Silver Haired Gentleman (Stamp) gave a nice balance to it all. There is no mistaking that this is Eloise’s story to tell. Or is it? Things get downright freaky at the end, and I’m glad I could pause it and step away for a few minutes to look outside. It’s a well-made piece of scare/thrill/guess that I highly recommend. Warning: some disturbing scenes of violence and other things that may be triggering.
Etc.: filmed in London and surrounding area; imdb has 125 bits of trivia about the movie, including this one:
Final performance of Diana Rigg, who passed away on September 10, 2020. The film is dedicated in her memory.
Awards: 15 wins and 55 nominations
The Addams Family 2 (2021) animated
Starring the voices of: Oscar Isaac (Gomez,) Charlize Theron (Morticia,) Chloe Grace Moretz (Wednesday,) Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton (Pugsley,) Nick Kroll (Uncle Fester,) Snoop Dog (Cousin It,) Bette Midler (Grandma,) Conrad Vernon (Lurch)
Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon, Laura Brousseau, Kevin Pavlovic
Genres: animation, adventure
Synopsis: The Addams Family all cram into their super RV to go on what Gomez and Morticia think will be a bonding experience with the kids. They’ve also been led to believe that Wednesday was switched at birth in the hospital nursery, which Wednesday overhears them talking about. The trip ends up being a search for the truth and adventures that end up successfully drawing the family closer together. Of course because it’s animated and because the family is just so strange and wacky, there are lots of funny encounters along the way.
Impressions: I saw the first animated The Addams Family and enjoyed it. This one doesn’t hold up as well. My mind runs at a much slower pace than the action does in this and it feels like too much being unpacked all of the time. It would have been more enjoyable for me at half of the pace. There are neat gadgets that I’m sure kids would like to see. My hands-down favorite part of this was with Snoop Dogg as Cousin Itt. Geared toward young kids and rated PG.
Etc.: from imdb: The coconut cups Gomez and Morticia drink out of on the beach say “Bermuda Triangle.” In ‘The Addams Family’ (1991), Fester’s long-standing absence from the family is explained by his being lost in the Bermuda Triangle.
Awards: 1 win and 2 nominations
Girl Most Likely (2012)
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss, Christopher Fitzgerald
Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Synopsis: Imogene (Wiig) lives in NYC amongst the highbrows with her shallow boyfriend who doesn’t care about her and her shallow friends. When her boyfriend dumps her she goes to her childhood seaside NJ home to heal up emotionally. At the house are Zelda (Bening,) her free-spirited mom, Ralph (Fitzgerald,) her adult brother with Aspergers, George (Dillon) her mom’s boyfriend of the moment, and Lee (Criss,) the boarder her mom has rented her room out to keep things entertaining – and none of them will let Imogene indulge in too much self-pity. It’s a hilarious journey for the whole family, who seamlessly welcomes the basketcase back into their fold.
Impressions: I truly enjoyed this movie much more than I thought I would. Wiig is at her best in it and she pushes the envelope of comedy just right. Everyone shines. I think I will be buying this one, it’s that good. It has a decent mix of locations and has such a tender heart in all ways.
Etc.: filmed in 12 locations in NJ and NY
Awards: Unbelievable it got no nominations and/or wins! Something is wrong here!