Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Just in time for Passover… a new Holocaust movie! It’s hard to believe that 80 years after Hitler hatched his maniacal plan to exterminate Jews, there are compelling stories of faith, survival, heroism and sacrifice still making their way to the big screen. The Zookeeper’s Wife isn’t nearly as gripping and powerful as the likes of Diary of Anne Frank or Schindler’s List, but it’s a valiant effort and comes along at a time when the nation – and the world- can use a good reminder to “never forget” what happened, how it happened, and the dangers of a lunatic leader with a cult following. Not to mention the importance of resistance – and persistence. For that very reason alone, it’s worth checking out The Zookeeper’s Wife, based on the nonfiction book by Diane Ackerman. It recounts how a Polish couple who ran the Warsaw Zoo helped save hundreds of Jews during the German invasion, by using the zoo as a way-station for men, women and children to escape from the ill-fated Warsaw Ghetto.

Life

Life begins as a space drama reminiscent of The Martian or Gravity and morphs into a horror movie that’s more like Alien. It’s a mash-up that didn’t really work for me, so I left the theater disappointed, grossed out, and less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a sequel. Yes, Life leaves the capsule door open for a Life 2, just in case the sci-fi thriller finds itself an audience. I put Life on par with recent (weak) space fare, including The Space Between Us and Passengers, and a few notches below Arrival, which features a similar alien blob that is more visceral than literal in its threat to humanity. The alien creature that co-stars in Life is a flesh-hungry critter that picks off its cast-mates one by one. So don’t get too invested.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast represented near-perfection for an animated musical when it competed for Best Picture honors in 1991. So it’s hard to imagine that any reimagining of the “tale as old as time” could possibly hold a candle – or a lumiere – to that instant classic. But Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast does what it set out to do, and that’s bring a strong cast, a contemporary vibe, and a few new songs to audiences old and new. And while it’s not perfect, it is quite enchanting.

Cinema Clash podcast: Kong Skull Island; The Ottoman Lieutenant; The Last Word; Neruda; The Marseilles Trilogy

On this edition of the Cinema Clash with Charlie and Hannah: An epic monster movie that’s thin on story but big on spectacle; a love triangle wrapped in a weak war drama set in the Ottoman Empire; Shirley MacLaine gets the The Last Word in a film that Charlie detests and Hannah struggles to defend; a Chilean poet-turned-politician gets the fictionalized biopic treatment; and not one, not two, but three French films for the cinephilic Francophile (aka Charlie). Ooh-la-la! Listen now, or download for later!

Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is a monster movie spectacle. If you like the likes of King Kong, Godzilla, and Jurassic Park, with a bit of Apocalypse Now thrown into the mix, then you’ll surely be satisfied with Kong: Skull Island. If the aforementioned titles don’t get your cinematic juices flowing, then you can skip this latest spin on a really, really big ape and the island he reigns over. I didn’t not like it, but I wasn’t blown away either, because I’m simply not a monster movie maven. It took me decades to get around to seeing the original Jurassic Park. This film has a similar vibe. Humans invade the turf of giant creatures and pay a hefty price.

Cinema Clash podcast: Logan; Table 19; Before I Fall; Land of Mine; My Life as a Zucchini

On this edition of the Cinema Clash podcast with Hannah (Mainstream Chick) and her movie nemesis Charlie: A grim final farewell to Logan; Table 19 serves up some lukewarm wedding comedy; Before I Fall aims for the YA crowd; Land of Mine wins Charlie’s vote for best foreign language film; My Life as a Zucchini (Ma Vie de Courgette) offers up a smart, animated tale about orphans, not veggies; and Hannah mixes up her mammals. #oops #BeerFail #WhatIsAWolverineAnyway?

Just click on the box and Tune in!

Cinema Clash podcast: Get Out; Rock Dog; Kedi; Bitter Harvest; Punching Henry

On this edition of the Cinema Clash with Mainstream Chick and her cinema nemesis Charlie Juhl: The best movie of 2017 so far. You’ll want to Get Out and see it! Plus: the (pooper) scoop on the Chinese-American computer-animated comedy Rock Dog; the philosophical underpinnings of Kedi, a documentary about cats in Istanbul; the bitter truth about Bitter Harvest; a mockumentary drama about a struggling comedian looking for his big break in Punching Henry; a few wayward Oscar predictions; and beer. Let the clash begin!

Table 19

Table 19 is a so-so romantic comedy that practically screams CHICK FLICK from the get-go. We haven’t had one of those in a while, so for anyone craving the genre, it’s worth taking a seat at the Table. The film has some genuinely funny and poignant moments and is extremely relatable for anyone who’s ever been seated with a random group of strangers at a wedding reception. It’s a bit like The Breakfast Club – wedding edition. The plot centers around ex-Maid of Honor Eloise McGarry (Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect, Up In the Air) whose boyfriend, the bride’s brother, recently dumped her via text message. After a raging internal debate, Eloise decides to attend the wedding as originally planned and is exiled to Table 19, along with five other misfits who fall into the category of obligatory invitees who “should have known to just send regrets – but not before sending something nice off the registry.”

Logan

Logan could be one of the most divisive Marvel movies of all time. Hardcore fans of the Wolverine mythology may appreciate this dark, R-rated send-off to the most iconic and sardonic of the X-Men superheroes. But I was not prepared for, and did not enjoy, the grim final farewell (or so it appears) to Logan/Wolverine, portrayed for nearly 20 years by the multi-talented and seemingly ageless Hugh Jackman. I’m not a huge X-Men fan (I prefer the Avengers), but I’ve always had a soft spot for the bitter, sexy, ripped, self-healing Wolverine who was blessed and cursed with immortality and killer claws. This Wolverine is different. He’s bitter, aging, self-loathing, and just no fun at all. Apparently, that’s what the filmmakers were going for. And that’s what some film critics and fanboys are raving about. But I don’t like hyper-violent, bloody, raw, and depressing. Especially in my Marvel movies. Deadpool earned its R-rating with unexpectedly entertaining raunchiness and wit. Logan gets its R-rating from a string of curse words and a very high body count. Heads will roll… literally.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Great Wall; A Cure for Wellness

This is a really great week to catch up on one (or more) of those Oscar-nominated movies that are still in theaters or available on DVD or VOD. Why? Because, comparatively speaking, the new releases are rather dismal. Granted, I didn’t have a chance to see the new Ice Cube/Charlie Day comedy Fist Fight, about a couple of high school teachers engaging in a good ol’ fashioned afterschool throw-down. But I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise that you can save that one for a rainy day or a plane ride. It’s probably mindlessly entertaining. Can’t really say the same about The Great Wall or A Cure for Wellness. But if I had to pick among those two, I’d definitely go with The Great Wall because at least it’s got Matt Damon (Jason Bourne, The Martian) — and cool views of one of the great wonders of the ancient world.