Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: The Rider

The Rider is an arthouse lover’s dream – quiet, authentic, raw, visually captivating with minimal dialogue. It’s the kind of indie that mainstream chicks like me can express a certain appreciation for, while still cautioning the masses that its greatest appeal will surely lie almost exclusively with the arty crowd. The film is a hybrid – part western, part docudrama, part biopic about a young cowboy whose days on the rodeo circuit come to a crashing halt when he suffers a devastating injury.

Review: Rampage

There’s just something about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that lets him get away with making disastrous disaster movies. Perhaps it’s the twinkle in his eye as his characters defy death for the gazillionth time, the gentle nod to the absurdity of the plot, the giant muscles in constant flex for the betterment of humanity… Whatever it is, it’s working for him. Rampage is ridiculous. But it’s not bad. Especially if you have a thing for monster movies, disaster movies, a high body count, cartoonish villains, stereotypical government ‘suits’, implausible stunts, self-deprecating humor and cheesy dialogue.

Quickie Review: Beirut

Beirut is a fairly standard spy thriller and political drama that takes place primarily in 1982 but still feels relevant and timely given the perpetual, seemingly futile efforts to secure peace in the Middle East. The film stars Jon Hamm (Baby Driver, “Mad Men”) as Mason Stiles, a US diplomat who flees Lebanon after a tragic incident at his Beirut home in 1972. Fast-forward ten years, and Stiles is called back to Beirut to help negotiate the release of a friend and CIA operative whose captors insist on talking only with Stiles, for reasons that relate back to his time in the war-torn country.

Review: Blockers

The premise certainly sounds horrifying and offensive: When three parents discover their daughters’ pact to lose their virginity at prom, they launch a covert one-night operation to stop the teens from sealing the deal. Sounds like a laugh riot, right? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, Blockers is quite funny. It’s also a hard ‘R’, so don’t be cueing this one up for Family Movie Night.

Review: The Miracle Season

The Miracle Season is one of those inspiring and bittersweet sports dramas about athletes overcoming adversity. In this case, the athletes are members of a high school girls’ volleyball team who struggled to regroup — and play on — after the tragic death of their team leader and star setter Caroline ‘Line’ Found. Here’s what the movie has going for it: The uplifting story is basically true; And, it stars two Oscar winners, Helen Hunt as tough-love coach Kathy Bresnahan and William Hurt as Caroline Found’s grieving father Ernie, who lost his wife to cancer just one week after his daughter died in a moped accident. Here’s the rub: Hunt and Hurt are all-stars. The rest of the cast is junior varsity. Not exactly a level playing field.

Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a futuristic homage to the past, circa 1980s, resembling somewhat of a cross between Avatar and Divergent with the added twist of being directed by the ever-popular and prolific Steven Spielberg (The Post). If all that appeals, then go to the top of the leaderboard and ready yourself for an appealing (though far from classic) adventure that explores the pros and cons of living in the real world with all its flaws versus disappearing into a virtual reality game that promises a real pot of gold at the end of the virtual rainbow. If you’re up on your pop culture references (it helps to have seen The Shining at least once), pine for those trips to Blockbuster for the latest on VHS, or still have an Atari in the storage room, then Ready Player One is worth seeing on the big screen. Plus, it’s got a pretty awesome soundtrack.

Review: Midnight Sun

Midnight Sun is like a Nicholas Sparks movie in training. It doesn’t pack the emotional wallop of a traditional Sparks tearjerker, but it does try hard to follow the formula. The movie opens with bright sunlight reflecting off the water as a teenage girl describes in voiceover how what we’re seeing is all just a dream. She can’t really be out in the sun. It might kill her. Thus begins a romantic drama about 17-year-old Katie Price (Bella Thorne) and her nighttime meet-cute with her longtime crush Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) – a guy she’s secretly been watching from the tinted windows of her house on the hill for about a decade.

Review: Love, Simon

There’s plenty to love about Love, Simon. It’s a charming romantic dramedy about a cool high school senior who has an awesome family, a great circle of friends, and one big secret: he’s gay. This isn’t some small indie drama that weighs heavy on the soul. It’s a sweet, lighthearted, relatable coming-of-age and coming-out story that plays a lot like a typical John Hughes teen ensemble movie updated for the times, where snapchat, texting and online forums are a primary means of communication. It’s backed by a major studio (20th Century Fox) so it actually has a fighting chance to reach a wide, mainstream audience – as it should.

Review: A Wrinkle in Time

I sooo wanted to like this movie. Really, I did. But despite its star power both in front of the camera (Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, etc.) and behind it (director Ava DuVernay), A Wrinkle in Time is a bit of a hot mess. It’s colorful, visually stunning in parts, and spreads a heartfelt message about familial bonds, embracing your faults, finding strength in your individuality and all that good stuff. But in the end, the narrative gets lost in the spectacle – and Oprah’s larger-than-life, eye-glittered presence is more of a distraction than a serviceable plot device. The story just doesn’t add up. I don’t recall that being the case with Madeline L’Engle’s classic novel, first published in 1962. I read it in the 1970s (when I actually devoured more books than movies – probably because I couldn’t drive) and have fond recollections of protagonist Meg Murry’s travels through time and space in search of her scientist father who went missing while studying the universe.

Quickie Review: Death Wish

Talk about bad timing. I’m not sure I would have liked this movie on any particular day in any particular year, but this week especially, it feels so… wrong. It’s a brutal remake of the 1974 brutal action crime drama Death Wish, with Bruce Willis taking on the role made famous by Charles Bronson. Heaven forbid there was hope to reignite the franchise. That would be a disaster. Please, Bruce, just stick to Die Hard(s) – or how about a Moonlighting reboot? I’m sure the NRA and vigilante groups will love this movie. That’s exactly why I hate it.