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

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Bill & Ted Face the Music

Talk about raising the stakes! In 1989, Bill & Ted – informed by a visitor from the future that they were destined for musical greatness – went on a most Excellent Adventure through time, to save themselves from a failing grade in high school history. In 1991, those same metalhead slackers went on a Bogus Journey involving The Grim Reaper, robotic duplicates, and a Battle of the Bands. Now – 25 years later – Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan (Keanu Reeves), aka “Wyld Stallyns,” must write the song that will save the entire universe – in the next 75 minutes! Fortunately, they still have access to their time-travel phone booth, and they have kids old enough to help: Bill’s daughter Thea (Samara Weaving) and Ted’s daughter Billie (Brigitte Lundy-Paine). And let’s just say – the apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Review: All Together Now

We must be in the final throes of summer, with yet another teen drama based on a popular Young Adult (YA) book. Netflix brings us All Together Now, a sometimes heartbreaking but also uplifting tale about a friendly, selfless, cheery High School teen struggling to stay optimistic in the face of mounting adversity. The film is based on the book “Sorta Like a Rock Star” by Matthew Quick, and the vibe is about what you’d expect from the producers of engaging teen movies Love, Simon and The Fault in Our Stars.

Quickie Review: Words on Bathroom Walls

Words on Bathroom Walls is the latest in a string of films adapted from popular novels – YA and otherwise. But as far as I can tell, it’s only being released in theaters at the moment, which makes it hard to find and even harder to break through as anything resembling a “must see” in the age of COVID-19. And that’s rather a shame, because the film explores a topic rarely seen on film and certainly not from this perspective. It tells the story of Adam (Charlie Plummer, All the Money in the World), a mostly typical teen who gets diagnosed with schizophrenia – and expelled – midway through his senior year of high school. He sometimes sees and hears people that aren’t there, which can lead to frightening psychotic breaks. Adam ends up getting accepted to a Catholic school on the condition he take his meds religiously. This prove difficult when the drugs interfere with his love of cooking (he dreams of going to culinary arts school) as well as his budding romance with Maya (Taylor Russell, Waves), the school’s smart, attractive, clever and industrious presumptive valedictorian. Adam tries to keep his mental illness a secret from Maya, and all his classmates, and ends up walking a very tight rope.

Review: Chemical Hearts

Chemical Hearts doesn’t quite fit the mold of a typical teenage romantic drama. Sure, there’s plenty of teen drama and teen angst and teen heartbreak. But there’s also an extra layer of character study and conflict grounded in the grief and circumspect motives of Grace Town (Lili Reinhart), the teenager who captures the heart of 17-year-old Henry Page (Austin Abrams) at the start of their senior year of High School.

Review: Desert One

Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-80; but the memories are vague. I recall watching Ted Koppel’s nightly updates (the precursor to Nightline), grieving over news of a rescue attempt gone awry, and celebrating the hostages’ return just as Ronald Reagan took the oath of office in January 1981 after a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter. Desert One recalls all of that – and much more. The documentary is both evocative and enlightening. It offers revealing details of the failed mission to rescue 52 Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where they were ultimately held for 444 days. And it serves as a tribute to the sacrifice of eight servicemen who died when a helicopter crashed into a transport plane at “Desert One,” the staging area for the mission, which was in the process of being aborted when the accident occurred.

Review: Made In Italy

What are the odds of two films set in Italy, where art plays a prominent role, both coming out on the same day? I guess, in a pandemic, all bets are off. The audiences are likely to differ though for the unpredictable adult drama The Burnt Orange Heresy and the predictable, yet harmlessly watchable father-son melodrama Made in Italy, starring real father and son Liam Neeson and Micheál Richardson.

Review: The Burnt Orange Heresy

The Burnt Orange Heresy is an ‘arty’ film, in more than ways than one. It drew me in early on, meandered ever so slowly in the middle, then came back around to end with an artistic, cerebral flourish. The best part about the film is that it absolutely grants permission to regurgitate some lofty-sounding critique replete with praise and consternation for the way it uses art as a backdrop for exploring themes of manipulation, greed, romance, mystery, addiction and mental illness. That – and it’s got a darned good cast.

Review: The Secret: Dare to Dream

I vaguely remember getting caught up in “The Secret” craze circa 2006. One of my more spiritual-minded friends passed along a copy of the popular self-help book by Rhonda Byrne. Visualize your goals and dreams, it implored (ever so gently), and – voila! – they will surely come true. No comment.

Cynical and jaded as I may be, I do understand ‘The Secret’ appeal – especially in these crazy times. And that’s why the rather lame movie, The Secret: Dare to Dream, gets a ‘kumbaya’ pass. Embrace what it’s going for; forgive the rest.

Cinema Clash podcast: Radioactive; Yes, God, Yes; The Rental

I thought about writing up a quick review for Yes, God, Yes. But then I thought, no, God, no. It was awkward enough talking about it with my podcast partner Charlie. The film is a coming-of-age dramedy about a Catholic school teenager who goes off to a religious retreat (aka “Jesus Camp”) for a few days to purify her soul after stumbling upon a racy AOL chatroom, and getting caught up in a scandalous rumor involving a classmate – and salad.

Review: Radioactive

Who coined the term “radioactivity”? Who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize? Who was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes? What husband and wife duo shared a Nobel Prize in chemistry? Who are the first mother and daughter Nobel Laureates? The answers have one common denominator: Marie Curie.