Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Baby Driver Review

Wow, what a ride. Baby Driver is one of those movies that truly defies description and genre pigeonholing. It’s a pulsating, frenetic, stylish, clever, violent, romantic, heartbreaking, hopeful, tense, and witty action-drama-crime-heist movie with car chases, crashes, gunfights, double-crosses, stellar performances, and a soundtrack that is a character in and of itself. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baby Driver rev a few engines when the next awards-season rolls around – for editing, direction, cinematography, and possibly even for lead actor Ansel Elgort, best known among the YA crowd for his roles in The Fault in Our Stars and the Divergent series. Elgort nails it as Baby, an innocent-looking getaway driver eager to pay off a debt and get out of the crime business – especially after he meets his soulmate, Debora (Lily James, Downton Abbey, Cinderella) a waitress in the local diner where his mother used to work.

A Newlywed Reviews ‘Rough Night’

The Washington, DC screening of Rough Night coincided with the opening night screening and reception of the AFI Documentary Festival. Ironically, the free booze came with the latter. So while Arty Chick and I drank wine and schmoozed with documentary filmmakers at the Newseum, Guest Chick Maggie Mazzetti ventured down the road to watch Rough Night on our behalf. Maggie is a newlywed. So, really, who better to weigh in on a raucous comedy involving a bachelorette weekend than someone who recently engaged in prenuptial shenanigans (okay, hers were probably a bit more subdued and crime-free). Anyway, here’s Maggie’s take on Rough Night:

Review: Megan Leavey – A True(ish) Tale about a Marine and her Dog

Megan Leavey feels like a movie that started out as a pet project, gained momentum as a pet project, and made it to the big screen as a pet project, complete with some decent actors and, in the case of the screening I attended, a heartfelt introduction from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. His office was instrumental in helping real-life Marine corporal Megan Leavey adopt Rex, the bomb-sniffing dog that served alongside her in Iraq. If you’re a sucker for a tale about a woman and her dog, then Megan Leavey is there for ya. Hoorah.

Spoiler-free Review: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman – all the world is waiting for you – and the power you possess [at the box office]. So go kick some butt!

The greatest female superhero of all time finally gets her due in this big-budget, action-packed chick flick directed by Patty Jenkins, the first woman to helm a major DC Comic or Marvel movie. Golden-lasso-of-truth be told, Wonder Woman is not a perfect movie, but it is far better than the most recent DC Comic flicks (i.e. Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad) and it delivers a compelling combination of action, romance, backstory, plot, and inspirational message for our times. All packed into a solid two hours and 20 minutes.

Baywatch

Prepare to wade into shallow waters! I mean, c’mon, it’s Baywatch– the movie. Do you remember the television series? It’s not meant to be deep. It’s meant to be stupidly entertaining. And it is. Barely. For the most part, the film pokes fun at its soapy self, delivering what might have been a particularly raunchy, yet heartfelt “special episode” of the show, wherein the lifeguards get wind of a drug dealer in their midst and decide to bring down the bad guys (and gals) themselves instead of, you know, calling the cops.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Argh. The fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is, like many of the characters featured in the flimsy plot, simply dead on arrival. It’s a boring retread that fails to engage or entertain – even in IMAX 3D. Some folks around me actually nodded off behind those 3D glasses, only to be jarred awake by the occasional boom of a cannon or the loud, sword-swinging, ship-to-shore combat involving pirates both dead and alive, including the drunken, buffoonish, eye-liner-wearing Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Depp’s portrayal of the quirky Captain Sparrow used to be fun to watch, even when the films’ plots made very little sense. But now, the shtick is stale. He’s become a caricature of his caricature of a character. Fourteen years after Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl turned a Disney theme-park ride into a cinematic juggernaut, it’s time for Depp to retire the Captain and get back to the types of roles that showcase his versatility.

Cinema Clash podcast: Snatched; The Lovers; King Arthur; The Wall; Obit

I missed my chance to see the Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn Mother’s-Day-weekend comedy Snatched and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword before they opened, but that didn’t stop me from chatting about them with someone who did. So tune in to the Cinema Clash with Charlie and Hannah for lively debate about those two flicks, in addition to the dysfunctional marital drama The Lovers, the psychological war drama The Wall, and the surprisingly entertaining deadline-oriented documentary Obit.

Risk

Good timing. Just as the U.S. Justice Department is said to be considering, again, whether to charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for his role in the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of classified documents, a new documentary seeks to shed new light on the man himself. Risk is basically a companion piece or prologue to Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning documentary CitizenFour about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Snowden saga began to unfold as Poitras was doing her deep dive into Assange. Serendipitous, for sure, because CitizenFour tells a stronger story and is, by far, the better film.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does what a good sequel is supposed to do. It preserves the elements that made the first one a big success (intergalactic action and adventure, quirky characters, heaps of sarcasm, and an awesome soundtrack), while building on the backstory and expanding the ever-expanding Marvel universe. If you liked the first GOTG (2014), you’re sure to like the second at least as much, if not more – from the opening sequence featuring a baby Groot rocking out to classic tunes, all the way through the FIVE bonus scenes peppered throughout the closing credits.

Gifted

Gifted is admittedly schmaltzy and formulaic, but it fits a current void in our cinematic options for chick flick dramas. It plays a bit like a Nicholas Sparks movie – but with a smartass kid, a scene-stealing one-eyed cat, and the hunky Chris Evans (Captain America) as what one character describes as “the quiet damaged hot guy” at the bar. Evans plays Frank Adler, a single man raising his spirited young niece Mary (McKenna Grace) in a quiet coastal town in Florida. He’s been home-schooling the girl, but wants her to socialize more with other kids. So he sends her to public school, where her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) soon discovers that Mary is a math prodigy. That discovery sets in motion a debate over Mary’s education, and a custody battle between Frank and his domineering mother Evelyn (Scottish actress Lindsay Duncan).