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Reflections, Ruminations and Review: Richard Jewell

This movie hits close to home on so many levels. I was living in Atlanta in 1996, freelancing in news, and was even supposed to be volunteering as a pseudo security guard at Centennial Park on the night of the bombing. I still have the uniform, though I never “served” – opting instead for a paid gig with NBC NewsChannel, helping local affiliates cover the Olympics from a rooftop about a half-mile away from the park. I remember getting home from work after midnight, turning on the TV and a short time later, hearing about the bombing. I remember transitioning from NBC to CNN when the Games ended. I remember the media frenzy surrounding Richard Jewell, who lived with his mother in an apartment complex off Buford Highway, close to my favorite bowling alley. I don’t remember to what extent I believed or shared the details about Richard Jewell’s alleged role in the bombing. But I do recall having great faith in our sources at the FBI and ATF, and in the reporting of our hometown paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They all said he did it. He didn’t.

Oops doesn’t quite cut it.

Review: The Report

We Chicks both saw The Report at the Middleburg Film Festival last month. We were both fans of this political thriller that should be seen widely, and agreed that its audience may be limited by the subject matter. And that’s unfortunate, because it’s an important story, extremely well done, that could very well change hearts and minds about a very dark moment in our country’s all too recent past.

Review: Tag

Tag pretty much delivers on what the trailer and the promos promise: an entertaining adult comedy action movie featuring a diverse group of guys who spend one month out of the year continuing a highly-competitive game of Tag they started as kids. The movie was inspired by a true story that was featured in the Wall Street Journal and on a segment of CBS Sunday Morning. The stakes and physical gamesmanship are exaggerated for comedic and dramatic effect in the film. But it’s comforting to know that facsimiles of these guys really do exist, and their primary motivation is admirable: it’s not so much about the game as it is about having a reason – and creating the opportunity – to stay in touch (literally and figuratively) no matter where life takes you.

Quickie Review: Beirut

Beirut is a fairly standard spy thriller and political drama that takes place primarily in 1982 but still feels relevant and timely given the perpetual, seemingly futile efforts to secure peace in the Middle East. The film stars Jon Hamm (Baby Driver, “Mad Men”) as Mason Stiles, a US diplomat who flees Lebanon after a tragic incident at his Beirut home in 1972. Fast-forward ten years, and Stiles is called back to Beirut to help negotiate the release of a friend and CIA operative whose captors insist on talking only with Stiles, for reasons that relate back to his time in the war-torn country.

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.

Minions

Within the context of the Despicable Me movies, minions are a breath of fresh air – entertaining, silly, musical misfits. But give them a movie of their own, and the yellow thingamajigs obsessed with ‘bananas’ simply lose much of their appeal. Kids will still be moderately entertained by the gibberish-speaking blobs, but older kids and adults may find the Minions movie a bit of a bore.

Million Dollar Arm

Slumdog Millionaire meets Jerry Maguire? That’s a major-league oversimplification, but Million Dollar Arm works for a lot of the same reasons that those flicks did: good writing, good story, great casting, a lot of humor, and even more heart. Plus, it’s based on real events, which makes it even more endearing. This flick goes in the ‘win’ column for chicks and dudes alike.

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids really is like The Hangover with chicks. And like The Hangover, this smart adult comedy should appeal to both sexes because, well, it’s pretty darn funny – even when it’s gross.

The Town

Okay, I think it’s time that we all forget about Gigli and admit that Ben Affleck is one very talented guy. Returning to his working class Boston roots with The Town, he has stepped to the top of the ladder both with his direction and his nuanced portrayal of the central character in the piece, Doug MacRay.