Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Ordinary Love

Ordinary Love offers a master class in quiet, meaningful, relatable and subtle performances from two veteran actors, Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) and Liam Neeson (Taken, Schindler’s List). They play Joan and Tom, a loving, long-married couple whose comfortable routine is disrupted by an unexpected diagnosis of breast cancer. The film shines a light on the everyday challenges a couple can face while attempting to navigate uncertainty, illness and grueling treatments with a sense of humor, grace and intimacy. There’s also tremendous sadness, anxiety, frustration and fear.

Review: Olympic Dreams

Olympic Dreams is an odd little indie meet-cute that takes elements of a romantic dramedy, sports movie and documentary, puts them in a blender, and spits out an uneven story that is overshadowed by a very cool setting: the 2018 Winter Olympic games in PyeongChang, South Korea. It’s about a relationship that develops between cross-country skier Penelope (Alexi Pappas) and volunteer dentist Ezra (Nick Kroll). They are two lost souls at a crossroads in life.

Snapshot Review: The Photograph

The Photograph is a fairly straightforward romantic drama that is slow to develop and fails to rise above ho-hum despite its very likeable and very attractive leads – Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield. She plays a New York museum curator named Mae; he plays a rising-star journalist named Michael. They are brought together by the mystery of an old photograph of Mae’s recently-deceased mother Christina (Chanté Adams), a renowned photographer whom Michael has been researching for a story. The film intertwines Mae and Michael’s budding romance with flashbacks from a past romance involving Mae’s mother and a young beau in Louisiana.

Review: Downhill

If you head into Downhill expecting a raucous, LOL comedy filled with humorous gaffes and charming banter between Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, you’re in for an uphill climb. Downhill is a slow, occasionally poignant, occasionally funny remake of the critically-acclaimed Swedish dark comedy Force Majeure. If you saw the 2014 Swedish film, you probably saw the better version.

Review: Birds of Prey

There wasn’t much to like about Suicide Squad back in 2016, other than Margot Robbie’s scene-stealing performance as Joker’s crazy cartoonish girlfriend Harley Quinn. Three and a half years later, Harley is front and center, stealing the whole show as Joker’s crazy EX-girlfriend in Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). The movie takes characters from the DC Extended Universe to all sorts of wild and wacky extremes, fueled by #GirlPower – in front of the camera, and behind it. It’s an R-rated girl gang action movie that’s quirky and irreverent and violent and self-aware and for the most part, frenetically entertaining. Obviously, it’s not for everyone. Think Deadpool meets John Wick – if John were a Jane dressed as a clown princess. You either jump in and buckle up and enjoy the ride… or choose a more sedate alternative.

Review: The Assistant

The Assistant is the #MeToo movement’s searing indie alternative to Bombshell. It’s a slow observational drama that follows a day in the life of a junior assistant to a powerful media executive who is never named, or even seen. The boss-man is just sporadically heard, feared, revered and referred to by various people in the office, where actors, production executives and pretty young things wander in and out throughout the day to conduct “business” – however that may be defined.

Review: The Rhythm Section

Think of your heart as the drums, your breathing as the bass. That’s pretty much my only takeaway of note from The Rhythm Section and I’m still not sure how it works. Then again, I’m no musician. Or assassin.

The film, based on the popular novel by Mark Burnell, stars Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick, a broken young woman bent on revenge and craving redemption after she learns that a plane crash that killed her entire family was no accident. I’ve heard the book was quite good. Unfortunately, the movie is not. The ‘rhythm’ is off on everything – from the plot, to the editing, to the music and the casting.

Review: The Last Full Measure

I really wish I could bestow high critical honors on The Last Full Measure because I totally support what it aims to do: share the story of a true American war hero and the decades-long effort to have his sacrifice acknowledged with a Congressional Medal of Honor. However… while the movie is inspired by actual events, it leans too heavily on character composites, over-dramatization, creative license, and one righteous speech after another by a cast of heavy-hitters. Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, Ed Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, Diane Ladd, the late Peter Fonda. Each delivers passionate dialogue that feels like something you’d see on a Memorial Day tribute to the nation’s fallen. Or a star-studded made for television movie. It feels exactly like what it is: a passion project that finally made it to the big screen as a low-budget indie. The key takeaway: U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper William H. “Pits” Pitsenbarger risked – and gave – his life to save dozens of men caught in an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam on April 11, 1966. He deserved a Congressional Medal of Honor, and his parents finally got to accept one on his behalf 34 years later. A very rare honor for an enlisted Airman.

Review: The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen is a stylish crime caper with writer/director Guy Ritchie’s fingerprints all over it. It’s very much a “Guy” movie – and a “guy movie”, with a splash of estrogen provided by Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) in some lethal-looking Christian Louboutin stilettos. She’s surrounded by an A-list cast of chaps including Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant winding their way through a witty and wily narrative about drug syndicates, blackmail, bribery, murder and all-around mischievousness. The plot thickens, and thins, simmers and boils over to yield a dish that’s a bit messy, but still tastes good.

Review: Bad Boys For Life

“Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do…?” Gonna make a movie and a sequel or two.

It all began in 1995, with Bad Boys, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as two Miami narcotics detectives who live by the motto, “Ride together. Die together.” Then came Bad Boys II in 2003, with more of the same. And now, there’s Bad Boys For Life, more of the same – again – with a slightly twistier twist than its immediate predecessor. In other words, you know what you’re in for with this franchise: Two longtime friends who drive each other crazy also have each others’ backs through a barrage of violence, comedy, drama, car chases, motorcycle chases, helicopter chases, bloodshed, bromance, and collateral damage.