Review: Ready or Not

I wasn’t exactly ready for Ready or Not. Horror movies are not my thing. But with IT Chapter Two waiting in the wings, I thought it best to ease into the horror with a bit of camp. And that’s what Ready or Not is: a quirky, campy horror flick that is bloody entertaining, in an off-the-chain Grimm Fairytales sort of way. It’s about a new bride who gets roped into playing a deadly game of Hide and Seek with her rich and eccentric new in-laws immediately following her wedding on the grounds of the family’s creepy mansion. Aint love grand?

Quickie Review: Angel Has Fallen

This one’s easy: If you saw and liked Olympus Has Fallen and/or London Has Fallen, then there’s absolutely no harm in catching Angel Has Fallen. For the trifecta! The characters, tempo, plot, action, and carnage are predictable and familiar, except this time you get the added bonus of Nick Nolte coming out of the woodwork – or the woods- as the absentee dad of Secret Service Agent extraordinaire Mike Banning (Gerard Butler).

Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Most movies with Down syndrome characters treat them with kid gloves, painting them as lovable but limited people. But in The Peanut Butter Falcon Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is anything but a sweet sidekick. He’s a young man with a dream of becoming a pro wrestler, and to that end he escapes from the residential home where he’s being housed, and teams up with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) a man on the run from some pretty angry people he’s wronged. What follows is a funny odd couple/road flick with lots of heart as Zak and Tyler elude their chasers and share an adventure in the wetlands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Review: Cold Case Hammarskjold

In this thoroughly odd documentary, Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger heads to Zambia after hearing conspiracy theories and tall tales about how UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold was murdered in 1961. In his search for the truth he’s joined by Swedish aid worker and part-time detective Göran Björkdahl, and as they dig both figuratively and literally, they begin hearing about a secret society of spies and assassins from South Africa who may have been the perpetrators of the killing. At first it sounds entirely outlandish, but as the story widens, it seems there actually is some nefarious group called the South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR) and one of their members tells the tales of their many bad deeds on behalf of corporations and governments. And it’s gripping.

Review: Good Boys

Good Boys. From the creative minds behind Superbad, Pineapple Express, Neighbors and Sausage Party

Need I say more?

Actually, I do. ‘Cause this movie isn’t nearly as outrageous, raucous and raunchy as I expected it to be, given its pedigree. Sure, it has lots of sex jokes, alcohol and drug references, and squirm-inducing moments involving tweens. But it’s also surprisingly sweet – and very funny. It’s a bit like watching Stand By Me, without the spectre of death.

Review: Blinded by the Light

I’m a devoted Springsteen fan. I’ve seen him in concert several times, recently spent a boatload of cash to see him on Broadway – twice – and easily recall popping a ‘Born in the USA’ cassette tape in and out of my Sony Walkman throughout the mid-1980s. So when it comes to the film Blinded by the Light, I totally get it. The Boss – and this cinematic tribute to his music, message and influence – both rock.

Review: Piranhas

In this adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s (Gomorrah) coming of age novel a group of fifteen-year-old boys in Naples transform themselves from one of the city’s many adolescent street gangs into a gun toting mafia presence. These boys begin the film as pretty naive, just out to have some fun, but when Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli) grows weary of his mom being extorted for “protection” money he seeks out the son of a murdered crime boss and soon he and his friends are working for a drug dealer and making some serious money. And from there they work their way up the food chain, leaving their childish lives behind in a pool of blood.

Quickie Review: The Kitchen

The Kitchen. Just stay out of it.

As much as I’d like to support a film helmed by a woman (Andrea Berloff in her directorial debut) and led by a strong ensemble cast featuring a trio of talented women (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss)… I can’t find any reason to recommend The Kitchen.

Review: Tel Aviv on Fire

You might not think that there’s much humor to be found in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Palestinian director Sameh Zoabi has crafted a very amiable farce that spans the borders and steps lightly around the conflicts. In Tel Aviv on Fire, Palestinian bumbler Salam (Kais Nashif) falls into a writing job on a very popular Palestinian soap opera. But he soon finds his freedom depends on the story going the way a certain Israeli Defense Force officer (Yaniv Biton) at the border crossing wants it to. Meanwhile Salam is also wooing an old flame and dealing with the diva antics of the soap’s French lead. And as he’s running around trying to please everyone, the show must go on.

Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain is based on a book that’s apparently reduced plenty of readers to a puddle of mush since its publication in 2008. The film adaptation aims to do the same – and succeeds, to some degree. Complicit in the drive to unleash the waterworks is a cast that includes the king of the half-crooked smile, Milo “Jack Pearson” Ventimiglia (This Is Us) and a sweet, philosophical golden retriever whose mix of comical and poignant inner thoughts are voiced by Kevin Costner. It’s a heartfelt, bittersweet tale that pet owners can easily appreciate and relate to. But it’s also sad – and at times maddening. Way more so than I expected (having not read the book), especially for a film rated PG. Maybe that stands for ‘Pet Guidance’ suggested. So be sure and ask your dog if the material seems suitable for family viewing.