Cinema Clash podcast: Incredibles 2; Tag; A Kid Like Jake; Hearts Beat Loud; The Misandrists

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Shock and Awe

The most shocking thing about Shock and Awe is how shockingly flat it turned out to be, given the star-power behind it as well as the timeliness of its core message about the role of the free press in a democracy. With a cast list that includes Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Tommy Lee Jones and actor/director Rob Reiner, the biggest question you’re left with after the film is the same question raised in the film itself: How the hell did this happen? It should have been so much better – so more people might actually see it.

Review: Blindspotting

Every year, a few of those ‘smaller’ movies come along that you feel compelled to champion, in a concerted effort to make sure they don’t get lost in the barrage of major studio releases. Blindspotting is one of those films. And not just because I got to meet its co-writer/stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal (photos below) and once worked with the film’s editor, Gabe Fleming (on America’s Next Top Model). It’s simply a darned good movie that’s provocative, entertaining and timely.

Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing. Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing.

The story may be lame as heck, but who cares? Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again delivers exactly what I expected: a groovy movie musical with a simple plot built around lyrics to ABBA songs — just like the first Mamma Mia! nearly a decade ago. In some ways, the sequel is even better, thanks to the singing, dancing and acting chops of Lily James (Baby Driver, Cinderella) as a younger version of free-spirited Donna Sheridan, the role inhabited by Meryl Streep in 2008. Streep is back for the sequel, but only for a brief yet poignant scene in the final minutes of the film (no spoilers). And oh yeah, Cher pops in too – as Donna’s showstopper (and scene-stealer) of a Mom.

Review: Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade is a different breed of teen dramedy that plays so authentic and real that it could almost pass for a documentary. It’s also authentic and real enough to play like a horror movie for parents of girls between the ages of 13 and 15. Oh, to be 14 again. Not! Adolescence was hard enough with a landline and Instamatic camera. Imagine how tough it can be in this age of smart phones, YouTube, Instagram, emojis and social media mayhem. Eighth Grade takes us there. It follows eighth-grader Kayla (Elsie Fisher) as she struggles through her final week of middle school and prepares for that next big step on the education and socialization ladder – high school.

Quickie (documentary) Reviews: Three Identical Strangers; The King

Three Identical Strangers is a fascinating documentary that runs the gamut from joyous and surreal to shocking and sad. It tells the story of three complete strangers – Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman – who serendipitously discovered, at the age of 19, that they were identical triplets who’d been separated at birth and adopted by three different families in New York. Their story became a tabloid sensation in 1980 as the trio quickly bonded and capitalized on their newfound fame. But that’s just part one of the story. The second part is far more sinister, revealing details of the brothers’ adoption and their families’ unwitting participation in a secret psychological study about human behavior and nature versus nurture. It’s the type of documentary that tells a great story and lends itself to plenty of discussion and debate long after the credits roll.

Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

As a sequel to a lightweight Marvel movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp does its job. It’s entertaining and finds a way to work in the necessary connections to the Avengers franchise and the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you skipped the first Ant-Man, or expect to see Ant-Man courting a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or couldn’t care less about the Avengers, then move along. This movie isn’t for you. If, however, you enjoyed the first Ant-Man flick, wonder why Ant-Man was a no-show in Infinity War, or simply like Paul Rudd (I mean, really, who doesn’t like Paul Rudd?), then take no shame in embracing the family-friendly buzz around Ant-Man and the Wasp. It is summer, after all.

Cinema Clash podcast: Incredibles 2; Tag; A Kid Like Jake; Hearts Beat Loud; The Misandrists

Incredibles 2 scored big at the box office in its opening weekend, and rightly so. It was a great family film for Father’s Day, and it’s certainly the early front-runner for best animated movie of 2018.

Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The ‘Jurassic’ world as we know it is devolving — into a standard, formulaic and largely predictable monster movie franchise. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is still watchable, mainly thanks to the appeal of its returning star of the human variety, Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy). But it doesn’t have the combined charm, tension, terror and character development of 2015’s Jurassic World or the originality of the 1993 classic Jurassic Park. As sequels go, it’s definitely better than the completely forgettable Jurassic Parks 2 and 3. But those films set the bar pretty darn low. If it isn’t careful, the next Jurassic World – as yet untitled, but due in theaters in 2021 – could drive the franchise into extinction, or at least put it on the endangered species list.

Review: Tag

Tag pretty much delivers on what the trailer and the promos promise: an entertaining adult comedy action movie featuring a diverse group of guys who spend one month out of the year continuing a highly-competitive game of Tag they started as kids. The movie was inspired by a true story that was featured in the Wall Street Journal and on a segment of CBS Sunday Morning. The stakes and physical gamesmanship are exaggerated for comedic and dramatic effect in the film. But it’s comforting to know that facsimiles of these guys really do exist, and their primary motivation is admirable: it’s not so much about the game as it is about having a reason – and creating the opportunity – to stay in touch (literally and figuratively) no matter where life takes you.

Quickie Reviews: Hotel Artemis; American Animals

If Ocean’s 8 feels too safe a bet, and Hereditary looks too darn creepy, have no fear — you’ve got a couple of quirky alternatives to choose from in a crazy crowded weekend at the box office. Hotel Artemis stars Jodie Foster as “The Nurse”, the caretaker of a secret “members only” hotel/ER that caters to wounded criminals. The rules are simple and few: No guns. No cops. No killing the other patients. But on a single night in riot-torn Los Angeles 2028, rules are broken – and blood is shed.