Fellow Movie Buffs

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"Into the Forest"

This loosely falls into the "Post Apocalyptic" genre, which is a favorite of mine. The story revolves around two sisters, brilliantly played by Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood. They live with their father in the middle of the woods, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. When power outages mysteriously occur around the country, they have to fend for themselves. When their dad dies in an accident, they're totally on their own. While it's somewhat slow-moving, Or, "nuanced" as some critics like to say, it's a beautiful shot and acted drama, that will hold your attention right until the end. The movie is based on a novel, that I'll have to look for.
4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

"Set it Up"

A refreshingly smart rom-com about a couple of personal assistants who work for over-the-top, driven bosses. They happen to meet while fetching a late night dinner for their employers, and devise a plot: if they can get their bosses romantically involved, they'll gain a bit of personal freedom. The movie is somewhat predictable, as you'd expect, but it's still thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.  Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell, the two leads, are both perfect in their roles as matchmakers. If you're in the mood for something light, "Set It Up" is nice evening of pure escapism.
3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"The Late Bloomer"

Warning: this is a total guy-flick. The absolute polar opposite of a so-called chick-flick. You know it's aimed at men when just about every third word is either dick or cock, and not referring to detectives and roosters. While it's not quite on the same level as "This is Spinal Tap" or "Wayne's World", it is a funny/dumb movie well worth watching, if you're in the mood for some mindless entertainment. The allegedly true story is about a 30-something sex doctor, who advises people on how to channel their sex urges into other positive activities. The reason he's so focused on this is he's never gone through puberty, due to a benign tumor which has been pressing on his pituitary gland. After he has an operation to correct this, he experiences puberty over an intense three-week period. Johnny Simmons did a decent job playing the doctor, but I especially enjoyed his two friends, played by Beck Bennett and Kumail Nanjiani. Their quick and humorous banter warrants watching the movie a second time. And J.K. Simmons (no relation to Johnny) was excellent as always.
4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"The Land of Steady Habits"

I don't know how the actor Ben Mendelsohn has gone under my radar, but he has. I've seen a couple of his films lately, and have thoroughly enjoyed his performances. In this Netflix original film, he plays a well-to do middle-aged man who is going through a mid-life crisis. He quits his job as a financier and leaves his wife. Then he starts having regrets about his actions, but it's too late to reverse the damage. He befriends a troubled neighbor kid and the two get into mischief together. It's a quirky little, slice-of-life movie that I thought was great. There isn't a lot of action, and the plot is pretty subtle, but overall, it was a lot of fun. One question I have is, how do Aussies manage to totally lose their accents when they play American characters?
4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"To All The Boys I've Loved Before"

I'm a total sucker for high school romance movies. This movie is one of the few Asian-American focused movies I've seen in a long time. The story is about a nerdy girl who hooks up with a guy. They pretend to be in love to get his ex-girlfriend jealous. As you'd expect, they fall in love. It's fairly predictable, but the film is very well done. Kudos to Netflix for making an  intelligent movie for young people.
4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"The Kindergarten Teacher"

To their credit, Netflix has recently been producing quirky, indie films. And that's a good thing. I'm so tired of the predictable, overproduced Hollywood drivel. One of the better movies I've seen from them is "The Kindergarten Teacher". It's a remake of an Israeli movie from a few years ago. The movie stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays, surprise, a kindergarten teacher. She takes an adult ed poetry class, where her poems aren't very well received by the teacher or classmates. One day, she discovers that one of her students makes up unique and original poems. She starts presenting them in class as her own, and they're extremely well received. The story is about her obsession with her 5-year old pupil and Ms Gyllenhaal gives an Oscar-worthy performance. I haven't seen the Israeli version, but I can't it being as powerful as this remake.
4.5 stars out of 5

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

"The Darkest Hour"

Okay I confess, this is one of the few movies I've rated that wasn't streaming on Netflix. It most likely will be soon, but I was so impressed by it, I thought I'd review it anyway.  First of all, Gary Oldman IS Winston Churchill. I can't imagine anyone personifying him better that Oldman did. A well-deserved Oscar winning performance. The story deals with the beginning of WWII when it didn't look good for the Brits. Germany had overrun most of Europe and the English were barely holding on to Calais and Dunkirk. The story focuses on Churchill's dilemma on whether to make a peace deal with Hitler or to fight them to the bitter end. The cinematography is remarkable to the point where I said to myself, several times through the movie, "Wow, that was an amazing shot." I like the fact that the movie focuses on a small part of the war, rather than do the typical Hollywood take, which would encompass the entire war. Definitely worth at least one rewatch.
5 stars out of 5