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Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Quickie Review: Halloween

The world is a scary place. So do we really need a movie about a homicidal maniac on the loose? Apparently, we do. At least, that’s what Hollywood is counting on with this sequel to the 1978 classic Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis. This time around, Curtis – reprising her role as Laurie Strode – is again confronted by Michael Myers, the shadowy masked figure who nearly killed her 40 years ago.

Review: First Man

I love Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Drive, The Notebook). I love space dramas, and true stories, and American heroes. I’m a big fan of director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land). But I just didn’t love First Man – much as I really, really wanted to. It’s a solid flick, for sure, with some great visual effects and a moving narrative about the risks and sacrifices astronaut Neil Armstrong (and many others) took in one way or another to advance our exploration of space. I was a mere toddler when Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, but I can assure you I was plopped in front of the TV along with half the planet to watch history unfold. No #FakeNews here! President John F. Kennedy issued a challenge, and we sent a man to the moon. How awesome is that? This is the stuff of movies! Which brings me back to… First Man.

Review: Venom

I don’t think the trailer does this film any favors. It makes Venom look way worse than it is, at least for anyone (like me) who doesn’t have a clue about this Marvel Comics character that is part human, part superhero, part alien blob. Don’t get me wrong. The film is a hot mess if you try to add up the sum of its parts. But a few of the parts are surprisingly entertaining. Okay, one part is surprisingly entertaining: Tom Hardy as disgraced investigative reporter Eddie Brock and his parasitic alter-ego Venom. When the two chat internally amongst themselves, the film is downright funny. Is it supposed to be? No clue.

Review: A Star Is Born

About a week after I first saw the latest version of A Star Is Born, I took advantage of a rainy weekend to catch up on the 1937 original, the 1954 remake, and the 1976 remake of the remake. Then I watched the latest version again. And I can honestly say, the newest one is my favorite, in part because it draws on the best parts of all its predecessors while bringing the classic tragic love story into present-day context, complete with an awesome original soundtrack. We’ll surely be hearing at least one of those songs at this year’s Oscars.

Quickie Review: The Old Man & The Gun

It’s Robert Redford, visibly older but still charming and fun to watch. And Sissy Spacek, visibly older (to a much lesser degree) but still charming and fun to watch. So, if you can forgive the lack of drama and stakes in this largely based-on-a-true-story heist film, then by all means, sit back, relax and enjoy what Redford, 82, says is his final on-screen performance, though we firmly support his right to change his mind.

Quickie Review: Free Solo (Documentary)

You slip, you fall, you die. That’s the simple truth at the heart of the sometimes meh, sometimes gripping (pun intended but also accurate) documentary Free Solo, about American rock climber Alex Honnold. The film follows Alex as he prepares – mentally and physically – to attempt his lifelong dream of climbing the face of the 3200-foot rock El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – without a rope. Is he nuts?

Review: Night School

Pass or Fail? Depends on how high (or low) you set the bar for a formulaic comedy with the likeable yet totally predictable Kevin Hart. If really low (like, lower than Ride Along 2), then Night School eeks out a passing grade. Otherwise, skip it. Or at least wait until you’re stuck on an airplane or a long car/bus/train ride and want to kill a couple hours with a weak but relatively harmless ensemble comedy featuring Girls Trip breakout star Tiffany Haddish.

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Review: The Children Act

The Children Act is a quiet and thoughtful drama starring two of the most versatile actors of our time: Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, Saving Mr. Banks, Harry Potter) and Stanley Tucci (Big Night, Spotlight, The Hunger Games). Thompson plays Fiona Maye, a British High Court judge tasked with making difficult, time-sensitive decisions involving the health and welfare of children. Her job is all-consuming, and her devotion to it has taken a heavy toll on her 20-year marriage – to the point where her loving but frustrated husband Jack (Tucci) tells her he is going to have an affair. The pronouncement sends Fiona into an emotional tailspin just as she’s getting swept up in the high-profile case of a teenage boy dying of leukemia.

Review: Life Itself

Don’t let the trailer fool you. Life Itself is not This Is Us. Yes, it is a multi-generational family drama written and directed by This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman, and yes, you will need tissues. But even Fogelman will tell/warn you that Life Itself is darker and heavier than his serial television weep-fest. It’s a melodramatic soap opera of a film that tells the story of two families – in New York and Spain – whose lives are connected by tragedy. It’s heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting even as it seeks to manipulate our emotions with a heavy-handed theme that ‘Life’ is an unreliable narrator of our story. The film is broken up into “chapters” to drive the point home.