Review: Styx

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: Apollo 11 (Documentary)

July 1969. I was barely two, so I don’t have any real memory of watching history unfold on television, as NASA attempted (and accomplished) its most daring mission ever: to put a man on the moon. Fast-forward fifty years, and I can almost believe I shared the moment in real-time with millions of other Earth-bound spectators. That’s what makes this new documentary so darned cool (especially in IMAX). It’s not just a rehash of the oft-seen grainy footage of astronauts in bulky suits skipping along dusty craters and planting the Stars and Stripes. Apollo 11 offers a much wider view, literally and figuratively, thanks to the discovery and restoration of a trove of 65mm wide format footage and more than 11,000 hours of previously-uncataloged audio recordings.

Review: Styx

Styx is the story of intrepid German ER doctor Rike who’s on a solo sea voyage when she’s suddenly sucked into a life or death situation. What begins as a peaceful vacation taking her from Gibraltar to Ascension Island way out in the Atlantic Ocean, quickly turns into a riveting, edge of your seat morality story when she comes across a shipping trawler adrift carrying desperate refugees.

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.

Quickie Review: Minding the Gap

I’m not a big fan of the skateboarding scene and when I heard this documentary was one of the five Oscar nominees, I knew I had to watch, but I wasn’t planning on getting into it much. But wow! Yes, it is set in the skateboard dude world, but it’s more than that. It’s a coming of age story of three boys/men in the depressing town of Rockford, Illinois, where skateboarding is the only good thing they have in their lives. Bing Liu is the filmmaker and one of the three. He started out just shooting for the fun of doing skate videos for YouTube, but found the stories of his two best friends resonated with his own and continued for more than a decade, ending up with a sobering take on toxic masculinity and its effect on sons. It’s not easy to watch, but it is an amazing film.

Review: I Am Not a Witch

In this odd little satirical film from Zambian-born director Rungano Nyoni, 8-year-old Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) is branded a witch and sent away to the camp where all the other witches are kept. It’s a strange place that tourists are brought to to see the women (yes, they’re all female) all tied to enormous spools of white ribbon, which allow them only limited freedom to roam and keeps them from flying away. Shula is told she can either accept the spool or be transformed into a goat. She grudgingly takes on the spool.

Review: Isn’t It Romantic

Isn’t It Romantic unabashedly satirizes and celebrates the RomCom, a genre I just so happen to unabashedly embrace. So while the movie falls far short of the classics it draws upon for inspiration (Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, 13 Going on 30, Sweet Home Alabama, Notting Hill, When Harry Met Sally…), it’s still an entertaining watch. Isn’t It Romantic seems hyper-aware of its flaws and limitations, closing with a cheesy musical number a mere 80 minutes or so after the plot – such as it is – begins to unfold, starting with a bonk on the head. You know the drill. Revel in it. Or recoil from it. Those are your only options.

Quickie Reviews: The Isle; Untogether

The Isle is for the horror flick lovers out there. It’s set in 1846 on an island off the coast of Scotland that is shrouded in mist. Three survivors of a shipwreck row ashore to find it nearly abandoned. But then they meet the only four people still living there, a couple of women and a couple of men. And they can tell that things are not normal, and the island folks are not opening up about what happened to all the others who lived there, and the 3 men really want to get off the island, but can’t seem to find a way. Then they start dying. It takes some time for the men to figure what’s happening, and once they do, they’re powerless against it.

Review: What Men Want

What men should want is not to be dragged to this movie for Valentine’s Day. And what men – and women – deserve is a stronger spin on a plot device that worked quite well in Nancy Meyers’ 2000 romantic comedy What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. Gibson (before he went all weird on us) played a chauvinistic executive who learned something about himself – and his treatment of women – after a mishap gave him the ability to hear women’s inner thoughts. This time around, the genders are reversed. Taraji P. Henson plays Ali Davis, a successful sports agent in Atlanta who gains the ability to hear men’s inner thoughts. She hopes to use her newfound power (a blessing and a curse) to score a high-profile client, and land the promotion she is entitled to in the boy’s club that is her workplace.

Review: Oscar Nominated Short Films 2019

I always look forward to watching the shorts. (Short being 40 minutes or less, so some of them aren’t all that short.) This year’s crop had clear winners and losers for me in each of the categories. Some of them felt like films I’d already seen. And overall, I think there have been stronger years for shorts.  However, they’re always worth seeing.  And as I do each year, I will renew my call for theaters to start showing them before the features.

Trailers to this year’s shorts can be found here.