Currently browsing the "Adaptation" category.

Quickie Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

The Sun Is Also a Star is a fine though forgettable romantic drama for the YA crowd and possibly others who’ve read the best-selling novel of the same name by Nicola Yoon, the author of “Everything, Everything,” which was turned into a movie that included such a dreadful twist that I declined to post a review back in 2017. The Sun Is Also a Star has the same general vibe and target audience as Everything, Everything but is significantly better, better. It’s a meet-cute movie that delves into themes of love, chemistry, destiny, fate, immigration, deportation and assimilation. All in the span of a (rather slow) day.

Review: The White Crow

“White crow,” as the film informs us early on, is a term used to describe a person who is unusual, extraordinary, not like others, an outsider.

A Rudolph Nureyev.

For those unfamiliar with political and dance history, Nureyev was a promising young talent in Leningrad’s famed Kirov ballet company when he shocked the Soviets and the world by defecting to the West at the conclusion of a Parisian tour in 1961. The White Crow is Nureyev’s story, as told through the lens of actor/director Ralph Fiennes who pulls double-duty as Nureyev’s Russian dance instructor Alexander Pushkin. Fiennes chose a dancer over an actor to portray Nureyev – a leap of faith that ends up sacrificing story in the service of art.

Quickie Review: Red Joan

There’s no denying Judi Dench’s watchability factor. The Grand Dame of cinema commands the screen whenever she’s on it – which isn’t all that much in the not-so-thrilling spy thriller Red Joan. Don’t let the poster, trailer and top billing fool you. Dench is merely a high-profile vehicle for bookending a story told primarily through flashbacks, with Sophie Cookson (Kingsman: The Secret Service) playing young Joan Stanley, an impressionable and idealistic Brit turned longtime spy for the KGB.

Quickie Review: The Chaperone

Louise Brooks was a silent screen phenomenon. A woman whose style all others copied. But before she was a star, she was just a teenager in Wichita, Kansas. The Chaperone is the story of her trip to New York at the age of 15 to attend a prestigious dance school and launch her career. And though she’s the one who became a star, it’s her chaperone who’s at the center of this Masterpiece Theater drama. A local woman named Norma Carlisle (Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey) overhears Louise’s mother at a party lamenting that her daughter is in need of a chaperone and volunteers her services. She has an ulterior motive, of course. She’s escaping a fractured marriage and also searching for her birth mom who abandoned her decades earlier in a New York orphanage. Written and directed by Downton Abbey alums Michael Engler and Julian Fellowes, this period drama is a fascinating tale of liberation and self-discovery.

Quickie Review: Dumbo

There’s a reason we don’t review too many kids’ movies, even if we happen to see them: they aren’t really for us. A few weeks ago, I saw the animated adventure film Wonder Park but didn’t get around to a formal review (other than on the Cinema Clash podcast) because it was just okay. Fine for kids, tolerable for the adults who accompany them. Dumbo has the potential to appeal to a much larger audience of family filmgoers because it’s a live-action remake of a 1941 Disney animated classic, it’s directed by twisted fairy tale auteur Tim Burton, and it’s got some high-profile cast members including Danny DeVito, Colin Ferrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green and Alan Arkin. But ultimately, much like Wonder Park, this new Dumbo is just okay and has some dark elements that could be scary for the wee ones.

Review: The Aftermath

I’m not normally one for period dramas but I was intrigued by the basic premise of The Aftermath: former enemies forced to reconnect on various levels of humanity in the immediate aftermath of World War Two. If that had indeed been the driving narrative, The Aftermath might have presented a fascinating exploration of a story rarely (if ever) told on the big screen. Alas, the movie merely claims a unique setting for a standard, superficial love story about two grieving strangers who find comfort in each other’s arms, sacrificing one relationship for another. It’s not a bad story; it just represents a missed opportunity to tell a better one.

Quickie Reviews: Gloria Bell; Yardie

What’s with all the remakes of decent if not exceptional foreign films lately? In recent months, we’ve seen Americanized versions of the 2011 feel-good French film The Intouchables (remade as The Upside), the 2014 Norwegian crime drama In Order of Disappearance (remade as Cold Pursuit), and now, Chile’s 2013 romdramedy Gloria (remade into Gloria Bell). In the case of Cold Pursuit and Gloria Bell, we’re treated to nearly shot-by-shot, word-for-word redundancy delivered by the same directors who helmed the original, well-received foreign flicks. Hey, let’s just throw in a lead actor popular with American audiences and do it all over again. Box office gold, right? Um, no.

Quick Takes: Never Look Away; Transit; Woman at War

With Arty Chick off to parts unknown to direct a documentary, it’s possible her reviews will be fewer and farther between for a while. So I will try and highlight some of the artier films that I happen to see (and like). I’ll also note if they’ve been discussed on my weekly podcast, “The Cinema Clash” with Charlie Juhl, who tends to share Arty Chick’s passion for smaller, indie and foreign films. If we both a like a particular film, there’s a good chance you will too! Topping my list of recent forays into foreign-film land is the Oscar-nominated German film, Never Look Away. It’s part psychological drama, part war drama, part period romance. It takes place over the course of about 30 years, which helps explain the film’s three-hour running time.

Review: Captain Marvel

I’ll tread carefully here, though I don’t think there are many actual spoilers to worry about. That’s because Captain Marvel is an origin story meant to set the stage for future appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – most importantly, perhaps, in the highly-anticipated Avengers: Endgame. Suffice it to say, Captain Marvel (aka Carol Danvers aka Vers) is poised to become a worthy addition to a franchise that is generally dominated by super-dudes. She’s like a synthesis of Superman (I know, he’s DC Comics, but cut me some slack here) and two of my favorite Marvel Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America. She’s super-fast, super-strong and super-sassy, with an innate ability to absorb and shoot energy from the palms of her hands in a way that is likely to make Spider-Man quite jealous. So where did she come from?

Quickie Review: How to Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World

I must confess: I did not see the first How to Train Your Dragon movie in 2010. And I found the 2014 sequel to be rather dark. Regardless, both films seemed to resonate with a lot of kids and adults. So I felt compelled to see the third and final installment of the trilogy, so at least I’d know how the story ends. Fortunately (and somewhat surprisingly) the story plays out quite well. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World offers up a satisfying conclusion for fans of the animated saga, based on the books of Cressida Cowell. The books – and movies – chronicle the adventures of a young Viking, Hiccup Haddock (voiced by Jay Baruchel), and his “Night Fury” dragon pal Toothless.