Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Instant Family

Instant Family is an instant charmer. It’s a message movie that balances the funny with the feels and could very well raise critical awareness and interest in foster care and adoption. The film was written and directed by Sean Anders (Daddy’s Home) who drew on his own family story for inspiration. Just like the main characters in Instant Family, Anders and his wife took in three siblings born to a drug addict mom. Their journey was fraught with challenges – and laughter. So they decided to put that experience into the cinematic universe to help demystify the foster care and adoption process and celebrate the true meaning of family.

Review: A Private War

You simply can’t paint all journalists and all of journalism with the same broad brush. A Private War reminds us of that. The film follows the last ten years in the risk-fueled life of the Sunday Times of London foreign affairs correspondent Marie Colvin. The American-born journalist dedicated most of her adult life to exposing the human atrocities of war across the globe, up to the very moment of her untimely death in the besieged city of Homs, Syria on February 12, 2012. She was 56. A Private War pays homage to Colvin’s bravery, tenacity and bravado, while also exposing the physical and psychological trauma that resulted from the choices she made. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, Beirut, Hostiles) plays Colvin with admirable precision, nailing her unique voice and mannerisms; and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades, Anthropoid) delivers a strong supporting performance as Colvin’s frequent partner in the conflict zones, British-soldier-turned-photojournalist Paul Conroy.

Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

As biopics go, Bohemian Rhapsody is not a great movie. But it does feature plenty of strong performances and a final act that more than makes up for its shortcomings – particularly if you’re a fan of Queen and/or grew up in the ‘Live Aid’ generation. Bohemian Rhapsody chronicles the men and music that made up the iconic British rock band fronted by Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek, TV’s Mr. Robot) from 1970 until his AIDS-related death in 1991. To this day, the band plays on – in various incarnations – with Mercury’s influence still vital to its core, though his energetic presence is sorely missed. He was a unique dude.

Mainstream Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download (2018)

Despite a few (hotel reservation and RSVP) potholes on the road to this year’s Middleburg Film Festival, all’s well that ends well! And what an ending it was. The closing film was my favorite film – by far – securing my only four-star ballot after four days of movie madness in the Virginia countryside.

So, without further ado, here’s what I saw, and how I ranked ‘em:

Quickie Review: Halloween

The world is a scary place. So do we really need a movie about a homicidal maniac on the loose? Apparently, we do. At least, that’s what Hollywood is counting on with this sequel to the 1978 classic Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis. This time around, Curtis – reprising her role as Laurie Strode – is again confronted by Michael Myers, the shadowy masked figure who nearly killed her 40 years ago.

Review: First Man

I love Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Drive, The Notebook). I love space dramas, and true stories, and American heroes. I’m a big fan of director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land). But I just didn’t love First Man – much as I really, really wanted to. It’s a solid flick, for sure, with some great visual effects and a moving narrative about the risks and sacrifices astronaut Neil Armstrong (and many others) took in one way or another to advance our exploration of space. I was a mere toddler when Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, but I can assure you I was plopped in front of the TV along with half the planet to watch history unfold. No #FakeNews here! President John F. Kennedy issued a challenge, and we sent a man to the moon. How awesome is that? This is the stuff of movies! Which brings me back to… First Man.

Review: Venom

I don’t think the trailer does this film any favors. It makes Venom look way worse than it is, at least for anyone (like me) who doesn’t have a clue about this Marvel Comics character that is part human, part superhero, part alien blob. Don’t get me wrong. The film is a hot mess if you try to add up the sum of its parts. But a few of the parts are surprisingly entertaining. Okay, one part is surprisingly entertaining: Tom Hardy as disgraced investigative reporter Eddie Brock and his parasitic alter-ego Venom. When the two chat internally amongst themselves, the film is downright funny. Is it supposed to be? No clue.

Review: A Star Is Born

About a week after I first saw the latest version of A Star Is Born, I took advantage of a rainy weekend to catch up on the 1937 original, the 1954 remake, and the 1976 remake of the remake. Then I watched the latest version again. And I can honestly say, the newest one is my favorite, in part because it draws on the best parts of all its predecessors while bringing the classic tragic love story into present-day context, complete with an awesome original soundtrack. We’ll surely be hearing at least one of those songs at this year’s Oscars.

Quickie Review: The Old Man & The Gun

It’s Robert Redford, visibly older but still charming and fun to watch. And Sissy Spacek, visibly older (to a much lesser degree) but still charming and fun to watch. So, if you can forgive the lack of drama and stakes in this largely based-on-a-true-story heist film, then by all means, sit back, relax and enjoy what Redford, 82, says is his final on-screen performance, though we firmly support his right to change his mind.

Quickie Review: Free Solo (Documentary)

You slip, you fall, you die. That’s the simple truth at the heart of the sometimes meh, sometimes gripping (pun intended but also accurate) documentary Free Solo, about American rock climber Alex Honnold. The film follows Alex as he prepares – mentally and physically – to attempt his lifelong dream of climbing the face of the 3200-foot rock El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – without a rope. Is he nuts?