Cinema Clash Podcast: Antebellum; Blackbird; The Way I See It; H is for Happiness; Cobra Kai

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Quickie Review: Synchronic

Synchronic is the type of film (a horror sci-fi drama) that I would have likely skipped if not for the appeal of its two stars Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan. I’d never heard of the filmmaking team of “Moorhead & Benson” (aka Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) who apparently made a name for themselves with films described as “quietly mythic.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, until now. Synchronic certainly fits that bill. And, to my surprise, I rather liked it – especially the second half, which is dominated by Mackie’s performance. He plays Steve, a terminally-ill paramedic who takes a mysterious hallucinogenic drug in the hopes it will help him find/rescue the missing daughter of his partner and longtime best friend Dennis (Dornan). It’s a high-concept mindbender shot with a total independent film vibe, brimming with atmosphere.

Review: Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You

Letter to You is a must-see documentary for fans of the Boss, and a should-see documentary for everyone else! The man – and the music- are simply mesmerizing. Perhaps I’m a tad biased, having spent a small fortune pre-pandemic to see Springsteen on Broadway (twice). But I can honestly say I enjoyed this documentary more than the filmed version of the stage show and more than last year’s cinematic filmed version of his melancholy album Western Stars

Quickie Review of a Quirky Short: John Bronco

I have no idea what I just watched, yet I found it quite amusing. John Bronco is a comedy short (37 minutes) that tells the unbelievable story of the rise, fall and ultimate redemption of John Bronco, legendary pitchman for the Ford Bronco. Unbelievable, because it’s fiction. I thought so, but wasn’t 100% sure… until Tim Meadows appeared as Bronco’s manager Donovan Piggot. John Bronco is a mockumentary that creates a legend who never was, yet resembles vintage pitchmen who did exist. Think the Marlboro Man aka Bob Norris, or Robert Conrad pitching Eveready Batteries. Classics in a rugged, golden age of advertising complete with earworm jingles, loyal followers and guest appearances on Carson.

Quickie Review: S#!%HOUSE

Okay, so maybe the title piqued my curiosity more than it deserved to. But I simply had to know if a little indie called Sh*thouse might be worth a sh*t. Fortunately, the film is not as crappy as its title. And it obviously struck a chord with judges of the (COVID-canceled) SXSW film festival, where it won the 2020 Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Film, probably for its ‘Before Sunset on a college campus’ vibe. The film skews arty and didn’t really float my mainstream boat, but I can see how it might appeal to up-and-coming auteurs who relate to young filmmaker Cooper Raiff who wrote, directed, produced and stars in Sh*thouse (aka S#!%HOUSE).

Quickie Review: Honest Thief

Honestly, Liam, what were you thinking? Honest Thief is simply not worthy of your well-documented ‘particular set of skills.’ The plot is beyond paper thin, making this particular action crime drama barely worthy of a special crossover episode of USA television’s White Collar and Burn Notice. On second thought, I’m being unfair to White Collar and Burn Notice. Those shows had much stronger character development and motivational clarity.

Neeson is, as always, watchable and likeable and resourceful; it’s the material that lets him (and us) down.

Review: Fly Like a Girl

If you’ve got a girl or know a girl interested in flying – in an airplane, on a shuttle, or even in combat –  then Fly Like a Girl is a must-see documentary, designed to help their dreams take flight. It plays like a standard inspirational sports documentary that encourages young athletes to aim high, even when the odds may be stacked against them. Only in this case, the ‘sport’ is aeronautics. Fly Like a Girl showcases a diverse group of modern women who’ve made a mark in what has largely been viewed as “a man’s world” and pays homage to some legendary female aviators who helped pave the way. Women defying gravity and stereotypes to do what they love. #GirlPower

Review: The War with Grandpa

If you’re willing to risk your family’s health to see The War with Grandpa hoping for some side-splitting comic relief amidst the pandemic, then sadly, the joke would be on you. At best, The War with Grandpa might serve as a tolerable 90-minute diversion for parents and kids really desperate for a PG-friendly Family Movie Night at the Drive-In. But there’s no way anyone should venture into a theater for this one! The War with Grandpa is a multi-generational dud, a lame paint-by-numbers dysfunctional family comedy based on an award-winning book (by Robert Kimmel Smith) that I can only assume plays better on the written page.

Review: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Seems like a ton of movies coming out in the midst of this pandemic are trying very hard to tell us something critically important about our past, present… and future. Count among them: The Trial of the Chicago 7. The film occasionally teeters on a high horse, as each member of the A-list cast gets a turn to shine in the Aaron Sorkin spotlight of zippy dialogue imbued with a mix of cynical and serious political and philosophical debate. But overall, it’s an interesting and important story to revisit, as it is based on true events eerily similar to current ones. And Sorkin does have a knack for transforming a courtroom drama into a crowd-pleasing spectacle.

Review: The Glorias

There is a line near the end of The Glorias about going in circles – as women, as a society, as a nation. A reminder, underscored in recent days by the death of liberal stalwart RBG and the nomination of a conservative to take her place on the Supreme Court. There’s an inherent, bitter irony in Ruth Bader Ginsburg having helped pave the way for an Amy Coney Barrett to take a seat at the Court and potentially unravel much of what RBG stood for. So perhaps the time is ripe for a movie like The Glorias, imperfect as it may be. The film reflects on the journey of journalist, feminist icon and social political activist Gloria Steinem as she helped build and guide the women’s movement from the 1960s until… well, at the age of 86, she is still alive and very much in the game.

Review: Enola Holmes

Raise your hand if you knew legendary fictional detective Sherlock Holmes had a sister? I didn’t. But then again, I grew up in the Nancy Drew era. I wasn’t aware of the emergence of the Nancy Springer young adult book series “The Enola Holmes Mysteries,” starting with “The Case of the Missing Marquess” (2006). Those books, and the Enola Holmes movie, honor the Sherlock Holmes canon (launched by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887) while offering up a fresh, female perspective designed to inspire and empower girls and young women. Now let me clue you in: