Fellow Movie Buffs

Thursday, September 21, 2023


2015 * R * 1h 40m   This is not your typical teen drama. Not by a long shot. It stars Nat Wolff, Sarah Silverman, and Mickey Rourke. And it was a big surprise to me. An excellent little film, just about no one has heard of. Gotta love indie flicks!

Ed (Wolff) and his mom June (Silverman) are new in town. She's recently divorced and is looking for a stable relationship. But in the meantime, casual hook-ups will do. Ed is a bright student who gets an assignment to interview a friend or relative and write an essay about him or her. He picks his next-door neighbor Ashby (Rourke), a grizzly old codger who is supposedly a retired napkin salesman. While interviewing him one day, he sneaks down into Ashby's basement where he discovers a huge cache of military-grade weapons. After being confronted, Ashby admits to being a government hit man. 

Thus begins the adventure. Ashby has been given only a few months to live, so Ed volunteers to be his personal chauffeur, and the two have some interesting times together.--including bumping off some of Ashby's old bosses. Ed also strikes up a friendship with a quirky young girl Eloise (Emma Robert), and the story plays out in a fairly unpredictable manner. 

While all four leads were excellent, I especially enjoyed Mickey Rourke's performance. He plays a gruff, cantankerous old guy with a heart of gold, perfectly. It all adds up to a fun, different kind of film. 

4 out of 5 stars. 

Currently streaming for free with your library card on Hoopla.com. And to rent on Prime Video.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

"Fair Game"

 2010 * PG-13 * 1h 48 m  Wow! Talk about a riveting political thriller. I knew a little about the story before watching this fine film. But it plays out like a work of brilliant fiction. It's a well-crafted, well-acted movie everyone who cares about this country needs to see. Just more damning evidence about how corrupt the Bush administration was. Shame on us for not putting all these criminals behind bars. 

The story centers around Ambassador Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) and his wife Valery Plame (Naomi Watts). When Joe discovers the fact that the United States has been fabricating lies about the supposed cache of Weapons of Mass Destruction the Iraqi's had, he speaks out about it. The Bush administration, to discredit him, outs his wife who is an undercover operative for the CIA. It's one of the lowest points our government has ever reached. And it makes this move a must-see for all Americans. 

If you're looking for a great spy thriller, don't miss this excellent film. 

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Currently streaming  for free on Kanopy (with your library card) and Tubi (free with commercials). Also on The Roku Channel, Plex, Pluto TV, and to rent on Prime Video. 

Saturday, September 9, 2023

"Short Term 12"

 2013 * R * 1h 36m  I first saw this film shortly after it was released and I was blown away. I recently re-watched it and it had the same effect on me. Not only is it one of the finest indie flicks I’ve ever seen, the cast of relatively unknown actors (at the time) was equally impressive. It’s sort of like “The Breakfast Club” or “Diner” where a director assembles a group of young unknowns who eventually have meteoric careers shortly after. Here we have Brie Larson (“Room,” “Captain Marvel”) in her first starring role, John Gallagher Jr. (“Hush”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), Kaitlyn Dever (“Booksmart”) and Stephanie Beatriz (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) to name just a few. 


“Short Term 12” is the second feature-length film for writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton, and it’s based on his experiences as a counselor at a foster home for at risk teens. He originally released a short film with the same title in 2009. It received so much praise, he decided to make a full-length movie on the same subject. The film was made on a paltry budget of $600,000 and was filmed in just six weeks. It’s won numerous and well-deserved awards and should be better known.


The film opens with several counselors standing around welcoming the new hire Nate (Malek) to the group. Mason (Gallagher) is retelling an amusing story the rest of the gang has heard a million times before. Then suddenly, one of the kids in their care bursts out of the facility and makes a mad dash for the front gate. They’re immediately in hot pursuit and when they nab him, they all work together to calm him down. We find out that the policy is, if a kid makes it past the gate, the counselors aren’t allowed to touch them. 


Most of the film revolves around Brie Larson’s character Grace. She’s a very complex person. On the one hand, she’s a competent, disciplinarian who the teens look up to. She’s also a sensitive, vulnerable soul who we eventually learn has had to deal with her own personal demons. She and Mason are romantically involved and are both products of foster homes themselves. This gives them a deeper insight into what the kids in their charge are going through. I thought Ms. Larson’s performance was nothing short of breathtaking. You never feel like she’s acting—all this could have really happened to her. 


Contributing to the slice-of-life tone of the film is the camerawork. A fair amount of the movie is shot with a hand-held camera and while this can often can be irritating, here it draws the viewer in and makes you feel like you’re one of the gang. It has an intimate, almost conspiratorial vibe to it. The beautiful soundtrack also adds to the emotional aspect of the movie. It’s never front and center, but has a subtle, quietly understated quality to it. It’s often a bit sorrowful. 


I felt a couple scenes in “Short Term 12” were really pivotal to the story. They both involve one-on-one interactions between a counselor and a teen. In the first, Mason sits down with Marcus (LaKeith Stanfield) in his room. He’s soon to be released from the facility and is a brooding, angry kid. Mason plays percussion accompanying Marcus as he recites a very personal rap tune that reveals his deepest feelings about his relationship with the world at large. 


In another similar scene, Grace tries to get a new kid Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) to open up. She’s a smart but aloof teen who’s convinced she’ll only be at the facility for a short spell until her dad comes to get her. Grace convinces her to read a short, children’s story she’s written where it becomes apparent her father has abused her. This is something the two have in common as it’s revealed further on in the film. 


“Short Term 12” is a powerful, heartfelt drama. It deals with some pretty heady subjects, and you can’t help but feel for just about every character in the film. While it’s a fairly serious film overall, it’s not depressing. And there are plenty of humorous moments to keep the mood on the lighter side. When it was over I thought to myself, “That’s it? I wish I could spend a bit more time with these folks!”

5 out of 5 stars


Note to parents: The film is rated “R” mainly because of strong language and the subject matter.


You have a ton of viewing options. Currently streaming for free on Hoopla and Kanopy (with your library card), Freevee and Tubi. Also on The Roku Channel, Plex, Pluto TV, Peacock and other services. 

Friday, September 1, 2023

"Ups and Downs"

 2017 * Not Rated * 59m  Take a road trip theme, mix in some Northern Irish, add a generous amount of Down's Syndrome, stir in some comedy and you'll  end up with a charming, sweet movie called "Ups and Downs". If you're in the mood for something a bit different, then you're going to love this little indie gem. 

Conal (James Martin) is a 22-year old Northern Irish lad with Down's Syndrome. He lives with his younger sister Gemma (Rosie Barry) and his mom Fionnula (Susan Lynch). Both he and his deceased dad were big fans of the heavy metal band Ash. One day he tricks his sister into going with him to Belfast to hear them in concert. Naturally, nothing goes according to plans, which is what makes this such a fun movie. Of course as soon as his mom discovers he's missing, she's in hot pursuit of her two children. 

I loved just about everything about this movie. The acting, storyline, writing, and scenery were all great. Mr. Martin was absolutely captivating--he seems like a very cool kid. About the only negative is it was a bit hard to understand the dialogue at times. Maybe I should have watched it with subtitles. 

4 out of 5 stars

Currently streaming for free on Kanopy.com (with your library card) and YouTube.

Sunday, August 27, 2023


 2006 * Not Rated * 1h 47m   If you're looking for some offbeat, off-the-wall fun, you'll enjoy this film. And if you're a fan of Steve Buscemi, even better. I've loved him in just about everything I've seen him in. In "Deleiious" he takes crazy to a whole new level. 

Buscemi plays Les, a celebrity photographer, determined to get the shot heard around the world. He's a whacky paparazzi, always chasing pop singers and actresses for the perfect shot. And he's just barely eking out a living doing it. One day he befriends a homeless kid Toby (Michael Pitt) who dreams of becoming an actor. As luck would have it, Toby meets and falls for a cute young pop star K'Harma Leeds (Alison Lohman). This makes Les furious and he soon plots revenge. I won't tell you any more about this hilarious movie. 

The film is just a fun romp and Steve Buscemi is at his best here. If you're looking for something whacky, give this one a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

Currently streaming on Kanopy (with your library card), Freevee, and Tubi. Also on Peacock, Plex, Pluto, and other services. 

Friday, August 18, 2023


 2008 * R * 1h 22m  Every once in a while I like to watch a good, scary movie. You know, the kind s that scare the crap out of you. Well, somehow I missed this one when it came out. And it sure delivered. Like most horror movies, it was a little bit predictable. But it was so well done, I didn't mind. 

Seth and Polly (Paulo Costanzo and Jill Wagner) plan on spending the weekend camping. When they mess up their tent while trying to set it up, they decide to head into town and rent a cheap motel room. On their way, they run into Dennis and Lacy (Shea Wigham and Rachel Kerbs). He's a criminal on the lam and she's his junkie girlfriend. They take the couple hostage and when they hit an animal on the road, their troubles begin. 

The animal is a bizarre beast full of splinters. It attacks Lacy who turns into a zombie. When their truck overheats they are forced to stop at a gas station. They're soon trapped inside the station with zombies trying to break in and eat them. The film is fairly low budget, but I thought the acting, script, and the alien creature were all above average. Pretty scary overall. 

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Streaming for free with your library card on Hoopla.com. Also on Tubi, Plex, Pluto TV, and to rent on Prime Video. 

Sunday, August 13, 2023

"Golden Years"

 2016  * Not Rated * 1h 36m   I ask you, who doesn't love a good heist movie? When I think of the genre, a ton of action packed, intense films come to mind. The Sting. Reservoir Dogs. The Usual Suspects. Dog Day Afternoon. Ocean's Eleven. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of the list of great ones that have been made over the years. Golden Years, while not quite in the same class as those films, is definitely worth watching. 

This film centers on a couple of senior citizens who get into the life of crime, quite by accident. Arthur and Martha Goode (Bernard Hill and Virginia McKenna) are happily retired. Then one day, they're informed that their pension has been cut. And this is something that has a huge impact on their circle of friends. So Arthur decides to take matters in his own hands and he proceeds to rob a bank. Eventually his wife finds out and she agrees to help him in their quest to supplement their incomes. 

What proceeds is just a fun romp as we follow them on their vacation visiting National Trust properties, while robbing banks in each town they visit. I wouldn't dub the film a classic by any means, but I thought it was great fun. And it's as charming as you'd expect from an excellent cast of British actors you've seen in a dozen other films. 

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Currently streaming for free with your library card on Hoopla.com, The Roku Channel and Tubi. Also to rent on Prime Video.