Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: JUDY

Renée Zellweger is the total package to play legendary performer Judy Garland. Zellweger is an actress who can sing (Chicago), do drama (Cold Mountain) and deliver a punchline (Bridget Jones). She leverages all of the above to bring life and star power to what might otherwise be a rather dry biopic about the singer and actress who rose to fame as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and died some 30 years later of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 47.

Review: Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey is a movie for the legions of loyal fans of the “Downton Abbey” television series, and I am quite confident they will be most pleased with this highly-anticipated opportunity to revisit the estate and all its inhabitants, from the aristocratic Crawley family upstairs, to the devoted servants down below.

What? You’ve never seen the show and don’t know a Crawley from a crawfish? Oh dahling, I’m afraid you must move on. Or binge watch the six seasons that ran on PBS from 2010 to 2015. Or, at the very least, watch this 10-minute recap on YouTube, followed by the extended series finale, available on Amazon Prime. That’s what I did. Sure, it’s a bit like sneaking into a marathon a mile or two from the finish line. But without that baseline of knowledge about the characters and their backstories, I would have felt completely lost. I’m sure I still missed plenty of subtext, but at least I was able to appreciate the fine acting, witty dialogue, gorgeous costumes, early 20th Century set design, and the bucolic scenery.

Review: Hustlers

Can/will Hustlers appeal to both men and women? I’m not sure. It’s a film about friendship and sisterhood, payback and… pole dancing. A stimulating crime drama served up with a side of T&A. And yes, it’s a perfect vehicle for Jennifer Lopez (Second Act, Maid in Manhattan) to showcase her assets. Does her performance live up to all the hype about a potential Oscar nom? I wouldn’t go that far – at least not yet. It’s way too early in awards season, with many strong movies and performances likely to emerge. Lopez does work the pole – and the drama – with a tremendous amount of flexibility and flair. But Hustlers itself is not an OSCAR movie. It’s like The Wolf of Wall Street meets Striptease (Demi Moore worked the pole in that rather forgettable flick from 1996). Hustlers includes the standard elements of most ‘true crime’ dramas: Money. Greed. Sex. Drugs. Excess. Revenge. Friendship. Betrayal. It also has shades of Magic Mike, i.e. there’s more to the movie than meets the eye(candy). The main characters have some depth.

Review: The Goldfinch

Some movies inspire me to run out and buy (or download) the books upon which they are based. The Goldfinch is not one of them. I’m sure it’s a fine book. It won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and spent more than 30 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. But that doesn’t make it ripe for the big screen. It’s a long book, and a slog of a movie – despite having an interesting premise, an appealing cast, and strong cinematography. When the first trailers hit, I pegged The Goldfinch as early Oscar bait. Now I predict it will vanish from contention almost as quickly as the painting of a tiny bird chained to its perch vanished from a bombed-out museum.

Review: Official Secrets

Remember back in 2003, when US Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the United Nations to make the case for war against Iraq, basing his appeal on what later turned out to be false intelligence linking Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda and Weapons of Mass Destruction? Of course you do. Need a refresher, or a reason to get your blood boiling all over again? Official Secrets should do the trick.

Review: IT Chapter Two

And so – barring any future studio or literary shenanigans – IT ends.

IT Chapter Two is the creepy, edge-of-your-seat follow-up to the creepy, edge-of-your-seat horror film that hit the big screen in 2017. If you’ve read the book it’s based on (Stephen King’s second-longest, at 1138 pages), then you’re not only a glutton for punishment, you have a pretty good idea how it all plays out. I went in without a clue. I emerged a tad worse for wear psychologically, but generally satisfied with the film – and its ending.

Brittany Runs a Marathon

Brittany Runs a Marathon starts off strong and finishes with a flourish of feels. But the “inspirational comedy” – inspired by true events – veers off course a few times as the film struggles with the same sort of identity crisis that plagues its lead character, Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell). She’s funny. She’s misunderstood. She’s everyone’s best friend. She’s her own worst enemy. She’s motivational. She’s mean. She’s broken. She’s fixed.

Review: Ready or Not

I wasn’t exactly ready for Ready or Not. Horror movies are not my thing. But with IT Chapter Two waiting in the wings, I thought it best to ease into the horror with a bit of camp. And that’s what Ready or Not is: a quirky, campy horror flick that is bloody entertaining, in an off-the-chain Grimm Fairytales sort of way. It’s about a new bride who gets roped into playing a deadly game of Hide and Seek with her rich and eccentric new in-laws immediately following her wedding on the grounds of the family’s creepy mansion. Aint love grand?

Quickie Review: Angel Has Fallen

This one’s easy: If you saw and liked Olympus Has Fallen and/or London Has Fallen, then there’s absolutely no harm in catching Angel Has Fallen. For the trifecta! The characters, tempo, plot, action, and carnage are predictable and familiar, except this time you get the added bonus of Nick Nolte coming out of the woodwork – or the woods- as the absentee dad of Secret Service Agent extraordinaire Mike Banning (Gerard Butler).

Review: Good Boys

Good Boys. From the creative minds behind Superbad, Pineapple Express, Neighbors and Sausage Party

Need I say more?

Actually, I do. ‘Cause this movie isn’t nearly as outrageous, raucous and raunchy as I expected it to be, given its pedigree. Sure, it has lots of sex jokes, alcohol and drug references, and squirm-inducing moments involving tweens. But it’s also surprisingly sweet – and very funny. It’s a bit like watching Stand By Me, without the spectre of death.