Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Barbershop: The Next Cut; The Dark Horse; The First Monday in May

Barbershop: The Next Cut is the second sequel (or maybe the third if you count the spin-off, Beauty Shop) to the 2002 surprise hit, Barbershop, about a day in the life of a barbershop on the South Side of Chicago. The shop, run by Calvin (Ice Cube) serves as a lifeline to the community. But the community is changing. And in The Next Cut, Calvin is contemplating moving his family, and the shop, to the North Side to protect his teenage son from the gang violence permeating the streets. Cedric the Entertainer is back as the comic relief, playing Eddie, a barber who can’t be trusted with scissors or a razor, but is there to tell it like it is. The movie gets a bit heavy-handed with the messaging and a few sub-plots are more of a distraction than a delight. But it means well. It’s got heart, and enough humor to prevent it from being another Chi-Raq. It ties up way too neatly in the end, given the current climate on the South Side, but overall, the movie provides an accessible and timely message worth sharing with teenagers, regardless of demographic and locale.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Boss; Demolition; Mr. Right

The Boss – Sadly, The Boss kinda sucks. Or, to put it more gently, it’s really weak. The R-rated comedy starts out with huge promise and some very funny moments, but fizzles rather fast. Here’s the gist: Melissa McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a very successful but not-so-nice Suze Orman/Martha Stewart hybrid type who gets sent to prison for insider trading. She emerges from prison friendless and broke, but determined to rebrand herself and rebuild. Considering she screwed over a lot of people during her rise to the top, including her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), Darnell’s road to redemption is sure to be a rocky one. The Boss is no Bridesmaids. The plot is extremely contrived, relying mostly on physical comedy gags to break the monotony. Without a doubt, the character of Michelle Darnell needs to stay relegated to smaller, SNL-style skits. This full-length feature film treatment doesn’t do her, or the audience, any justice. Case dismissed.

CinemaClash Podcast: Batman v Superman; My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2; Marguerite; Eye in the Sky

I recorded the latest CinemaClash podcast with Charlie Juhl before I had a chance to actually see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I knew it would crush the competition at the box office, and it did. Fortunately, I think the expectations and insights shared during the podcast turned out to be right on target. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. I wasn’t going to skip it. Ben Affleck (Batman/Bruce Wayne) and Henry Cavill (Superman/Clark Kent) wore their suits sufficiently well, given what they were tasked with in setting up the whole ‘Justice League’ franchise. Batman v Superman throws a lot at you in 2 1/2 hours, and you really need to have seen Man of Steel and the Dark Knight movies to successfully process all the backstory, future plot points, super-heroes, and super-villains. If you’re a newbie to the genre, don’t expect to like this movie. It’ll seem like a hot mess. Anyway, check out the podcast for more (spoiler-free) debate about B v S, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, a French indie called Marguerite that foreign film and opera buffs may want to check out, and a timely, compelling film about drone warfare that stars Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky. And more! Take a listen:

The Divergent Series: Allegiant

Here’s the deal. It doesn’t really matter what I think of Allegiant, the third installment of the Divergent series franchise, based on the best-selling books by Veronica Roth. It only matters what the target audience thinks. So, with that in mind (and due to a scheduling conflict on my part), I sent a member of said target audience to watch the movie in my place, and here’s what she had to say:

Miracles From Heaven

Miracles From Heaven is like ‘a very special episode’ of Touched By an Angel or Highway to Heaven or some tv-movie you might see on the Hallmark Channel or ABC Family at Christmas or Easter. It doesn’t need to be seen on the big screen unless you’re a huge fan of the aforementioned programs and/or a good Christian family looking for a faith-based movie to affirm your faith in god, prayer, and miracles. The movie is based on a book that is based on a true story about a Texas girl named Anna Beam (Kylie Rogers). At age 10, Anna was diagnosed with an incurable digestive disease that miraculously went away after she fell 30-feet, head-first, into a hollow tree. That’s not a spoiler. That’s the story.

CinemaClash Podcast: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Knight of Cups, Embrace of the Serpent, and more!

I’m not a big fan of horror movies, but 10 Cloverfield Lane is more of a psychological drama filled with twists and turns and solid performances that keep you on the edge of your seat for a surprisingly entertaining – or at least, attention-holding – two hours. For more (spoiler-free) insight and debate on 10 Cloverfield Lane, Knight of Cups, Embrace of the Serpent, and more, check out the latest CinemaClash podcast with me and my cinema nemesis Charlie Juhl:

CinemaClash Podcast: Zootopia, London Has Fallen, WTF

Check out my latest podcast with Charlie Juhl. This week, Charlie and I clash over Zootopia, London Has Fallen, and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. He thinks my tastes are shallow. I think his are pretentious. Take a listen, and let us know what YOU think!

Zootopia

Zootopia is by far my favorite animated movie since Inside Out and a great choice for the whole family. It’s one of those Disney movies that throws a few bones to the older kids and adults in the audience without diluting its sweet and simple message about pursuing your dreams and not getting caught up in stereotypes.

Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt is full of pretty people, decent-enough acting, and CGI spectacle. But it’s also pretty boring. Like, epically boring. I don’t expect it to live the immortal life enjoyed by some of the gods in the movie, but it may get a second lease on life as a mediocre rental. Here’s the gist: Gods of Egypt is about a mortal named Bek (Brendon Thwaites) who calls on the powerful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones) to emerge from a self-imposed exile to help Bek rescue his true love. First, they must wrest control of Egypt back from Horus’s evil brother, the merciless god of darkness Set (Gerard Butler, who basically recycled his wardrobe from The 300). It’s sort of like the Disney classic Aladdin meets the 2014 dud Exodus: Gods and Kings. There’s romantic drama, action, epic battle scenes, gods that sprout wings and travel across the heavens, sibling rivalry, and – ultimately – the heartfelt message that with the right mix of courage and sacrifice, mortals and gods can work together to return Egypt to a land of peace and prosperity!

Race

It’s a shame that Race, an inspiring biopic about American track-and-field superstar Jesse Owens competing in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and Eddie the Eagle, an inspiring biopic about an awkward British ski jumper competing against all odds in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary are both hitting theaters at about the same time (with Race first out of the gate). Both are good. Neither is great. Race has far deeper political, historical, and sports-related significance, and despite some dramatic license (and omissions), has a story and supporting characters based in fairly well-documented fact.