Review: Mudbound
Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mainstream Chick with Greta Gerwig @Middleburg

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Quickie Reviews: Wish Upon; A Ghost Story; City of Ghosts; The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

For those who don’t go bananas over blockbusters like War for the Planet of the Apes, there are some alternatives out there. But, be careful what you wish for.

Wish Upon This creepy horror movie from the director of Annabelle starts out with a fair amount of promise, but quickly deteriorates into a dud. It stars Joey King (White House Down) as Clare Shannon, a High School teen whose widower dad (Ryan Phillippe) gives her an old Chinese music box that he found while dumpster diving. She’s able to decipher enough of the Chinese lettering on the box to know that it will grant her seven wishes. But for some reason, she doesn’t clue into the second part of the message, which basically warns that for every wish, there’s a blood price to be paid. So she starts making the typical teen wishes (to get the shallow stud muffin to fall in love with her, to be rich, to be popular, etc.) and people die. Gruesome, twisted deaths. Oops.

Review of Spider-Man: Homecoming

Ever wonder what a ‘Generation Z’ Peter Parker would be like? If so, look no further than Spider-Man: Homecoming, the latest (reboot? reimagining? prequel? pseudo-origin story?) of your friendly neighborhood superhero (and Avenger in training). As introduced briefly in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, English actor Tom Holland is the newest, and youngest Spidey to don the suit in what is, in essence, Smallville: the Spider-Man edition (i.e. instead of Tom Welling as a young Clark Kent navigating the challenges of both High School and superheroism on TV, you get Tom Holland as a young Peter Parker navigating the challenges of both High School and superheroism on the big screen). The film certainly provides a fresh and interesting take on the iconic character and his place in the Marvel franchise; I just don’t feel like we needed it. But since we’ve got it anyway, here’s the bottom line: Spider-Man: Homecoming is perfectly entertaining for what it is (a superhero coming-of-age comedy drama action flick) and sets the stage for a Spider-Man for a new generation. Only time will tell if Holland has more web-slinging staying power than his predecessors Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3) and Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Young Spidey’s integration into the Avengers franchise could give him a solid advantage.

The Big Sick Review

The Big Sick is an offbeat romantic dramedy based on the real-life courtship between Pakistan-born actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his therapist-turned-writer/producer wife, Emily V. Gordon. The pair co-wrote the script that dramatizes – in a clever and witty way – the struggles they went through to overcome cultural differences, and a major health scare, to find their happily ever after. Kumail is played by Kumail Nanjiani (not necessarily the smartest casting decision) while Emily is played by Zoe Kazan, who has much stronger acting chops, even though she’s in a coma for half the movie. The film is bittersweet and also rather timely as a platform for showcasing misconceptions about Muslim culture.

Baby Driver Review

Wow, what a ride. Baby Driver is one of those movies that truly defies description and genre pigeonholing. It’s a pulsating, frenetic, stylish, clever, violent, romantic, heartbreaking, hopeful, tense, and witty action-drama-crime-heist movie with car chases, crashes, gunfights, double-crosses, stellar performances, and a soundtrack that is a character in and of itself. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baby Driver rev a few engines when the next awards-season rolls around – for editing, direction, cinematography, and possibly even for lead actor Ansel Elgort, best known among the YA crowd for his roles in The Fault in Our Stars and the Divergent series. Elgort nails it as Baby, an innocent-looking getaway driver eager to pay off a debt and get out of the crime business – especially after he meets his soulmate, Debora (Lily James, Downton Abbey, Cinderella) a waitress in the local diner where his mother used to work.

A Newlywed Reviews ‘Rough Night’

The Washington, DC screening of Rough Night coincided with the opening night screening and reception of the AFI Documentary Festival. Ironically, the free booze came with the latter. So while Arty Chick and I drank wine and schmoozed with documentary filmmakers at the Newseum, Guest Chick Maggie Mazzetti ventured down the road to watch Rough Night on our behalf. Maggie is a newlywed. So, really, who better to weigh in on a raucous comedy involving a bachelorette weekend than someone who recently engaged in prenuptial shenanigans (okay, hers were probably a bit more subdued and crime-free). Anyway, here’s Maggie’s take on Rough Night:

Review: Megan Leavey – A True(ish) Tale about a Marine and her Dog

Megan Leavey feels like a movie that started out as a pet project, gained momentum as a pet project, and made it to the big screen as a pet project, complete with some decent actors and, in the case of the screening I attended, a heartfelt introduction from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. His office was instrumental in helping real-life Marine corporal Megan Leavey adopt Rex, the bomb-sniffing dog that served alongside her in Iraq. If you’re a sucker for a tale about a woman and her dog, then Megan Leavey is there for ya. Hoorah.

Spoiler-free Review: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman – all the world is waiting for you – and the power you possess [at the box office]. So go kick some butt!

The greatest female superhero of all time finally gets her due in this big-budget, action-packed chick flick directed by Patty Jenkins, the first woman to helm a major DC Comic or Marvel movie. Golden-lasso-of-truth be told, Wonder Woman is not a perfect movie, but it is far better than the most recent DC Comic flicks (i.e. Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad) and it delivers a compelling combination of action, romance, backstory, plot, and inspirational message for our times. All packed into a solid two hours and 20 minutes.

Baywatch

Prepare to wade into shallow waters! I mean, c’mon, it’s Baywatch– the movie. Do you remember the television series? It’s not meant to be deep. It’s meant to be stupidly entertaining. And it is. Barely. For the most part, the film pokes fun at its soapy self, delivering what might have been a particularly raunchy, yet heartfelt “special episode” of the show, wherein the lifeguards get wind of a drug dealer in their midst and decide to bring down the bad guys (and gals) themselves instead of, you know, calling the cops.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Argh. The fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is, like many of the characters featured in the flimsy plot, simply dead on arrival. It’s a boring retread that fails to engage or entertain – even in IMAX 3D. Some folks around me actually nodded off behind those 3D glasses, only to be jarred awake by the occasional boom of a cannon or the loud, sword-swinging, ship-to-shore combat involving pirates both dead and alive, including the drunken, buffoonish, eye-liner-wearing Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Depp’s portrayal of the quirky Captain Sparrow used to be fun to watch, even when the films’ plots made very little sense. But now, the shtick is stale. He’s become a caricature of his caricature of a character. Fourteen years after Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl turned a Disney theme-park ride into a cinematic juggernaut, it’s time for Depp to retire the Captain and get back to the types of roles that showcase his versatility.

Cinema Clash podcast: Snatched; The Lovers; King Arthur; The Wall; Obit

I missed my chance to see the Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn Mother’s-Day-weekend comedy Snatched and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword before they opened, but that didn’t stop me from chatting about them with someone who did. So tune in to the Cinema Clash with Charlie and Hannah for lively debate about those two flicks, in addition to the dysfunctional marital drama The Lovers, the psychological war drama The Wall, and the surprisingly entertaining deadline-oriented documentary Obit.