Review: Styx

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Quickie Reviews: Gloria Bell; Yardie

What’s with all the remakes of decent if not exceptional foreign films lately? In recent months, we’ve seen Americanized versions of the 2011 feel-good French film The Intouchables (remade as The Upside), the 2014 Norwegian crime drama In Order of Disappearance (remade as Cold Pursuit), and now, Chile’s 2013 romdramedy Gloria (remade into Gloria Bell). In the case of Cold Pursuit and Gloria Bell, we’re treated to nearly shot-by-shot, word-for-word redundancy delivered by the same directors who helmed the original, well-received foreign flicks. Hey, let’s just throw in a lead actor popular with American audiences and do it all over again. Box office gold, right? Um, no.

Review: Five Feet Apart

Haven’t I seen this movie somewhere before? Yes, Five Feet Apart does indeed look a lot like the 2014 ailing-teen romantic drama tearjerker, The Fault in Our Stars. Only this time around, the affliction casting a shadow over budding romance is cystic fibrosis rather than cancer. The bottom line remains the same: chronic and terminal diseases suck. And while love can’t always conquer all, the battle is still worth fighting. Cue the melodramatic score and pass the tissues, please.

Quick Takes: Never Look Away; Transit; Woman at War

With Arty Chick off to parts unknown to direct a documentary, it’s possible her reviews will be fewer and farther between for a while. So I will try and highlight some of the artier films that I happen to see (and like). I’ll also note if they’ve been discussed on my weekly podcast, “The Cinema Clash” with Charlie Juhl, who tends to share Arty Chick’s passion for smaller, indie and foreign films. If we both a like a particular film, there’s a good chance you will too! Topping my list of recent forays into foreign-film land is the Oscar-nominated German film, Never Look Away. It’s part psychological drama, part war drama, part period romance. It takes place over the course of about 30 years, which helps explain the film’s three-hour running time.

Review: Captain Marvel

I’ll tread carefully here, though I don’t think there are many actual spoilers to worry about. That’s because Captain Marvel is an origin story meant to set the stage for future appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – most importantly, perhaps, in the highly-anticipated Avengers: Endgame. Suffice it to say, Captain Marvel (aka Carol Danvers aka Vers) is poised to become a worthy addition to a franchise that is generally dominated by super-dudes. She’s like a synthesis of Superman (I know, he’s DC Comics, but cut me some slack here) and two of my favorite Marvel Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America. She’s super-fast, super-strong and super-sassy, with an innate ability to absorb and shoot energy from the palms of her hands in a way that is likely to make Spider-Man quite jealous. So where did she come from?

Quickie Review: Apollo 11 (Documentary)

July 1969. I was barely two, so I don’t have any real memory of watching history unfold on television, as NASA attempted (and accomplished) its most daring mission ever: to put a man on the moon. Fast-forward fifty years, and I can almost believe I shared the moment in real-time with millions of other Earth-bound spectators. That’s what makes this new documentary so darned cool (especially in IMAX). It’s not just a rehash of the oft-seen grainy footage of astronauts in bulky suits skipping along dusty craters and planting the Stars and Stripes. Apollo 11 offers a much wider view, literally and figuratively, thanks to the discovery and restoration of a trove of 65mm wide format footage and more than 11,000 hours of previously-uncataloged audio recordings.

Quickie Review: How to Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World

I must confess: I did not see the first How to Train Your Dragon movie in 2010. And I found the 2014 sequel to be rather dark. Regardless, both films seemed to resonate with a lot of kids and adults. So I felt compelled to see the third and final installment of the trilogy, so at least I’d know how the story ends. Fortunately (and somewhat surprisingly) the story plays out quite well. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World offers up a satisfying conclusion for fans of the animated saga, based on the books of Cressida Cowell. The books – and movies – chronicle the adventures of a young Viking, Hiccup Haddock (voiced by Jay Baruchel), and his “Night Fury” dragon pal Toothless.

Review: Isn’t It Romantic

Isn’t It Romantic unabashedly satirizes and celebrates the RomCom, a genre I just so happen to unabashedly embrace. So while the movie falls far short of the classics it draws upon for inspiration (Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, 13 Going on 30, Sweet Home Alabama, Notting Hill, When Harry Met Sally…), it’s still an entertaining watch. Isn’t It Romantic seems hyper-aware of its flaws and limitations, closing with a cheesy musical number a mere 80 minutes or so after the plot – such as it is – begins to unfold, starting with a bonk on the head. You know the drill. Revel in it. Or recoil from it. Those are your only options.

Review: What Men Want

What men should want is not to be dragged to this movie for Valentine’s Day. And what men – and women – deserve is a stronger spin on a plot device that worked quite well in Nancy Meyers’ 2000 romantic comedy What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. Gibson (before he went all weird on us) played a chauvinistic executive who learned something about himself – and his treatment of women – after a mishap gave him the ability to hear women’s inner thoughts. This time around, the genders are reversed. Taraji P. Henson plays Ali Davis, a successful sports agent in Atlanta who gains the ability to hear men’s inner thoughts. She hopes to use her newfound power (a blessing and a curse) to score a high-profile client, and land the promotion she is entitled to in the boy’s club that is her workplace.

Review: Cold Pursuit

Cold Pursuit triggered a chilling case of deja vu. Not just because it’s another Liam Neeson revenge thriller. But because I’d seen the exact same movie before, in 2014 – a foreign film out of Norway called In Order of Disappearance (“Kraftidioten”), about a mild-mannered snowplow operator named Nils Dickman who sets out to avenge the mob-related murder of his son. Cold Pursuit is an American remake, made by the same director (Hans Petter Moland), with a few minor alterations. And I mean minor. The main character’s name has been changed to Nels Coxman (Neeson), and he’s a snowplow operator in Colorado. The narratives, the action, the motivations, the gallows humor, and the high body count remain essentially the same, as do the creatively varied ways in which people die.

Quickie Review: Serenity

Chances are you’ve already heard or read: This movie kinda sucks. So I won’t delve too deep into the waters of this fish tale gone awry. Suffice it to say, I expected more (better?) from a stylized thriller with an A-list cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke and Djimon Hounsou. I’m not one to automatically subscribe to the “If it’s released in January, it’s gonna stink” theory. Heck, The Kid Who Would Be King is actually pretty good. And M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass is looking better by the day! So what happened here? I have to believe that the cast saw something Inception or Interstellar-like in writer/director Steven Knight’s script that simply did not translate onto the screen. It fails quite spectacularly, mainly due to a plot twist that – tempted as I may be – can’t be revealed without spoiling the whole kit and caboodle. Here’s the general set-up: A fishing boat captain named Baker Dill (McConaughey) is hired by his femme fatale ex-wife Karen (Hathaway) to take her abusive current husband Frank (Clarke) out on a fishing trip and feed him to the sharks. For his troubles, she’ll pay him 10 million dollars. That’s a lot of tuna.