Category Archives: CURRENT MOVIE REVIEWS

Hope you enjoy my movie reviews which reflect my opinion of the many movies I’ve enjoyed or not!

THE MENU (2022) – My rating: 5.5/10

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The Menu is a black comedy horror film directed by Mark Mylod, written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, and produced by Adam McKay, Betsy Koch, and Will Ferrell. Since I don’t like horror films, I had no desire to see The Menu. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I found myself in a situation where I had to make a decision; should I or shouldn’t I.  As it turns out, I should have stuck to my guns as this film has racked up my worst movie experience of 2022, in my opinion.

Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and his companion Margot Mills / Erin (Anya Taylor-Joy) travel by boat to Hawthorne, an exclusive restaurant owned and operated by celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), located on a private island. The other guests attending the dinner are (Janet McTeer) Lilian Bloom, a food critic; her editor Ted (Paul Adelstein); wealthy couple Richard (Reed Birney) and Anne Liebbrandt (Judith Light); George Diaz (John Leguizamo), a post-prime movie star and his personal assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero); and business partners Soren (Arturo Castro), Dave (Mark St. Cyr), and Bryce (Rob Yang). The group is given a tour of the island by the restaurant maitre d’, Elsa (Hong Chau), who notes that Margot was not Tyler’s designated guest for the evening. Slowik is a celebrity chef and the owner of the Hawthorne restaurant, who has a ritualistic mentality and has lost his passion for his craft. This became the sole point of The Menu and I don’t think it was worth the watch.  The courses and Slowik’s accompanying monologues gradually become more disquieting and violent, which in many ways became the beginning of the end.

The Menu focuses on the above twelve characters plus the staff.  If you are planning to see The Menu, any further information will definitely spoil it for you.  The menu choices were spectacular and the food was prepared with the expertise of a master chef.  The evening evolved into a fearful, crazy series of events that would send the best of us into a serious meltdown.  Murder, mayhem, and suspense are plentiful.  The message was ambiguous and the ending was just plain awful. Keep in mind, the trailers did a fabulous job of selling this movie as a horror story that seemed scary and thrilling. As of November 26, 2022, The Menu has grossed $15.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $21.7 million. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 89% of 214 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website’s consensus reads, “While its social commentary relies on basic ingredients, The Menu serves up black comedy with plenty of flavors.” Obviously, I don’t understand or agree with Rotten Tomatoes but my thoughts jive with my entertainment value.  The Menu is currently showing in theaters — Check It Out!

 

BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER: (2022) – My rating: 9/10

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Black Panther. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the sequel to Black Panther 2018 and the 30th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Wakanda Forever is directed by Ryan Coogler, who co-wrote the screenplay with Joe Robert Cole. The leaders of Wakanda fight to protect their nation in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. This most anticipated sequel was well done with a fitting tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda Forever was well worth the wait.

T’Challa, king of Wakanda (Chadwick Boseman), is suffering from an illness that his sister, Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), believes can be cured by the “heart-shaped herb”. Princess Shuri attempts to synthetically recreate the herb after it was destroyed by Killmonger. The Princess was unable to save King T’Challa before he is ravaged by the disease and passed on.

**** SLIGHT SPOILERS ****

One year later, Queen Ramonda of Wakanda (Angela Bassette) attends a conference and is under pressure from the attendees from other nations to share Wakanda’s [vibranium]. As the queen spoke, other parties were attempting to steal [vibranium] back in Wakanda, by force. Upon her return to Wakanda, Queen Ramonda implores Princess Shuri to continue her research on the heart-shaped herb, hoping to create a new Black Panther that will defend Wakanda. Princess Shuri refuses due to her belief that the Black Panther is a figure of the past. In the Atlantic Ocean, the CIA and U.S. Navy SEALs utilize a [vibranium]-detecting machine to locate a potential [vibranium] deposit underwater. The expedition is attacked and killed by a group of blue-skinned water-breathing superhumans led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta), with the CIA believing Wakanda to be responsible. Namor confronts Queen Ramonda and Princess Shuri, easily bypassing Wakanda’s advanced security. Blaming Wakanda for the [vibranium] race, he gives them an ultimatum: deliver to him, the scientist responsible for the [vibranium]-detecting machine, or he will attack Wakanda.

There is so much going on in this sequel of Wakanda, you don’t have time to think about the absence of King T’Challa but you’re aware that Wakanda is in need of leadership.  It is my personal opinion that Michael B. Jordan should somehow be resurrected as N’Jadaka / Erik “Killmonger” Stevens and given the lead role as “The New Black Panther” or let’s be audacious enough to call him “The African Panther of Wakanda”. While Shauri is impressionable in the role I can’t stop thinking of her as a slightly emotional tech and sort of a geek of Wakanda.  I think her size is too small for the role, just compare the muscles of her brother or Jordan against her small frame. The addition of the Talokan people was a real surprise and added much-needed action to the film.  CIA agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) returned as an asset to Wakanda. I suspect we’ll be seeing more of him in future sequels. Last but not least, Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) an MIT student and genius inventor from Chicago has arrived. She takes Wakanda on a technological journey like you wouldn’t believe. Just when I thought we were done with surprises, Everett’s ex-wife Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) appears as the Director of the CIA causing all sorts of havoc.  The plot, which contains many twists and turns is plentiful and keeps us guessing.  Overall, I really liked this sequel and highly recommend it to all.  As of November 15, 2022, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has grossed $205.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $150.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $355.4 million. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 84% with an average rating of 7.2/10, based on 333 reviews. The site’s critic’s consensus reads: “A poignant tribute that satisfyingly moves the franchise forward, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever marks an ambitious and emotionally rewarding triumph for the MCU.” Be sure to watch beyond the credits for a mind-blowing revelation.  Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently in theaters — Check It Out!

 

 

 

THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (2022) – My rating: 7/10

A poster of two men standing by a sea shore with a dog lying between them. The tagline reads, "Everything was fine yesterday."The Banshees of Inisherin is a dark comedy written and directed by Martin McDonagh. The film follows lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their friendship. The Banshees of Inisherin seemed like an interesting story, I think it was entertaining.  It reunites the two main stars, who previously worked together on McDonagh’s directorial debut “In Bruges” back in 2008.

In 1923, on the small fictional Irish isle of Inisherin during the Irish Civil War, folk musician Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) and Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell) appeared to have a friendship for many years.  Suddenly, without notice, Colm decides to dissolve their friendship.  Confused and upset Pádraic who doesn’t live far from Colm, becomes depressed and will do anything to restore their relationship. Pádraic’s sister Siobhán Súilleabháin (Kerry Condon) lives with her brother and is an acquaintance of Siobhán.  She cannot understand what’s going on with her brother’s old drinking buddy. Pádraic, though nice and well-liked by the islanders, is too dull for Colm, who wishes to spend the remainder of his life composing music and doing things that he will be remembered for. Pádraic’s life is destabilized by the loss of one of his few friends; as Pádraic grows increasingly distressed at the rejection, Colm becomes more resistant to his old friend’s attempts to speak to him. Colm eventually gives Pádraic an ultimatum: every time he bothers him or tries to talk with him, he will cut off one of his own left fingers with a pair of sheep shears. Siobhán plays the violin/fiddle with a local band, so cutting off any of his fingers would be devastating to his future as a musician.

I found myself waiting for a reasonable conclusion to this crazy story but reasonable never came.  In fact, things got more and more discombobulated.  The Banshees of Inisherin is a small production with a short storyline with not much to say about it.  You either enjoyed it or not.  Of course, the characters are well-acted, bringing much-needed interest to the story.  I didn’t find The Banshees of Inisherin very funny but it did keep my interest intact. As of 9 November 2022, The Banshees of Inisherin has grossed $3.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $7.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $11 million.  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 97% of 237 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Featuring some of Martin McDonagh’s finest work and a pair of outstanding lead performances, The Banshees of Inisherin is a finely crafted feel-bad treat.” The Banshees of Inisherin is not for everyone but I recommend it to those who are not looking for a lot of action.  The Banshees of Inisherin is currently in theaters — Check It Out!

 

ARMAGEDDON TIME (2022) – My rating: 8/10

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Armageddon Time is a coming-of-age drama written, directed, and produced by James Gray. Inspired by Gray’s childhood experiences, the story follows a young Jewish-American boy who befriends a rebellious African-American classmate and begins to struggle with expectations from his family and growing up in a world of privilege, inequality, and prejudice. While this film did not move mountains, it was informative for some who didn’t know, well acted, and offered no solutions — in other words, hopeless!

In 1980 Queens, New York City, on his first day in 6th grade, 12-year-old Jewish-American Paul Graff (Banks Repeta) becomes fast friends with an African-American boy named Johnny (Jaylin Webb) who was a year older because he was held back by a year.  Paul noticed that Johnny gets harsher treatment from their teacher, Mr. Turkeltaub (Andrew Polk) when they both joke around in class. The two still bond over their love of music. Paul often disassociates from his schoolwork and draws pictures instead, as he is a brilliant artist. Johnny had dreams of being an astronaut but is learning for someone in his situation, his dream is hopeless.

Paul lives with his financially stable family of Jewish heritage. He is very close with his grandfather Aaron Rabinowitz (Anthony Hopkins), who encourages him to pursue his aspirations of becoming an artist. His well-meaning parents, Irving Graff (Jeremy Strong) and Esther Graff (Anne Hathaway) do not support Paul’s career choice despite how well he sketches or draws. At night, Aaron tells Paul the story of how Aaron’s mother escaped antisemitic persecution in Ukraine, as she escaped to London before eventually immigrating to the United States with Aaron and her husband.

One day, Paul and Johnny are caught smoking cannabis in the restrooms, unaware that it’s an illegal drug. Furious, Esther forces Irving into beating Paul as punishment. Hoping that he becomes more disciplined, Paul is sent to a private school by his parents, where his older brother Ted Graff (Ryan Sell) is studying. Following Paul’s expulsion, Johnny realizes he’s never going to achieve his goals in this public school, so he stops going.

Paul’s private school is overseen and financed by Fred Trump (John Diehl), with his daughter Maryanne Trump (Jessica Chastain), one of the school’s famous alumni, delivering a speech to the students about working to earn success. Paul sees the improvements over his previous education but still doesn’t feel welcome at the school. Paul “befriends” other students but is unnerved by their racist comments when Johnny meets with him during playtime outdoors. Johnny has been living with his grandmother (Marjorie Johnson), who has Alzheimer’s disease.  Authorities are making preparations to place her in an institution so Johnny begins living in secret at Paul’s clubhouse, to avoid being put into the system under foster care.

This is the situation leading into Armageddon Time.  It’s one of despair and hopelessness but absolutely true.  Despite the two boys’ plans to better themselves, they just continue to bury themselves in more problems, at least one of them does.  The movie ends with Johnny still hopeless and Paul still privileged.  I’m not sure of the purpose of Armageddon Time except to show real-life problems due to racism and injustice.  The film was well acted, and the environment didn’t look anything like Queens, but that was mainly because the movie was shot in New Jersey.  I thought the Graff family was out of control, as the children were headstrong and seemed to defy their elders at every turn. FYI: Johnny’s character in real life was killed during a drug deal.  Armageddon Time has grossed $902,175 domestically, and $92,000 internationally, totaling $994,175 Worldwide.  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 75% of 153 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Armageddon Time finds writer-director James Gray excavating his own past and returning with a well-acted drama refreshingly free of nostalgia.” I found Armageddon Time depressing because of the current situation in the United States and the hopelessness of racism, greed, and power-hungry politics.  What is the answer? Armageddon Time is currently playing in theaters — Check It Out!

TÁR (2022) – My rating: 8.5/10

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Tár is a drama directed, written, and produced by Todd Field. This is his first film since the release of Little Children (2006).

Tár follows the life and downfall of a renowned female composer-conductor as she seeks to maintain her power, status, and image.

This film is not for everyone however, it was brilliantly done and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett)
is one of the greatest living composer-conductors and the first female chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. In an interview with Adam Gopnik (Himself)  at The New Yorker Festival in New York City, she promotes several new projects, including most prominently, her upcoming live recording of Mahler’s 5th Symphony. Lydia relies on Francesca Lentini (Noémie Merlant), her attentive personal assistant, and Sharon Goodnow (Nina Hoss), her sickly wife, and concertmaster. Lydia has lunch with Eliot Kaplan (Mark Strong), a conductor who also manages a fellowship program she founded for aspiring women conductors. Lydia discloses her plan to replace her assistant conductor, Sebastian Brix (Allan Corduner), presumably with Francesca, and to fill an open cello position in the orchestra.  Later, Lydia (as a  guest) teaches a class at Juilliard. She ridicules a student’s lack of interest in conducting the classical masters on the basis of identity politics, encouraging the students to look past superficial differences to the music underneath, from which they can learn. The criticized student storms out.  In Berlin, Lydia receives Vita Sackville-West’s novel Challenge, sent by Krista Taylor, a former member of her fellowship program. It is suggested through dream sequences and email interactions that Lydia groomed Krista into a sexually transactional relationship that later fell apart. Lydia attempts to blacklist Krista, encouraging Francesca and other conductors to delete any emails from or about her.

As you can see, a pattern of corrupt behavior has developed in Lydia. Her character is now displayed as a nasty person.  Lydia continues her bad behavior, which takes her to even darker places.  I was mesmerized by this story which was brilliantly told.  Lydia continues to spiral down a darkened path that ends up in the most bizarre circumstance I’ve ever encountered.  FYI: Mahler Symphony No. 5, I. Trauermarsch is the movement that Lydia is primarily concerned with conducting throughout Tár. Its opening acts as a backdrop for the film’s climactic moments. I can’t say enough about Cate Blanchet’s acting abilities, she will go down as one of the best.  In the United States and Canada, the film made $158,620 from four theaters in its opening weekend, then $330,000 from 36 theaters in its second. In its third weekend, the film made $500,035 from 141 theaters. Expanding to 1,087 theaters in its fourth weekend, the film made $1.02 million, finishing 10th. On Rotten Tomatoes, 92% of 210 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Led by the soaring melody of Cate Blanchett’s note-perfect performance, Tár riffs brilliantly on the discordant side of fame-fueled power.” I highly recommend Tár, which is playing in theaters — Check It Out!

TICKET TO PARADISE (2022) – My rating: 7/10

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Ticket to Paradise is a romantic comedy about a divorced couple who decide to team up and sabotage the impending wedding of their daughter. The film is directed by Ol Parker and written by Parker and Daniel Pipski.

I expect “Ticket to Paradise” to be an end-of-the-summer fill-in. However, despite being totally unbelievable with a familiar, overdone topic, it was still a  nice getaway, funny, and well done.

David (George Clooney) and Georgia Cotton (Julia Roberts) were formerly married.  Having gone through a bitter divorce 20 years ago, the Cottons are currently in a hate relationship and regret having ever been married. Their daughter and only child, Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) graduates from law school and goes on vacation with her best friend and fellow graduate Wren Butler (Billie Lourd) to Bali. While snorkeling off the coast, their tour boat inadvertently leaves them behind. They are rescued by a young Balinese seaweed farmer named Gede (Maxime Bouttier). Lily and Gede are immediately attracted to each other and start a relationship. 37 days later, Lily emails her parents, David and Georgia, to let them know she and Gede are getting married, plus she is staying in Bali permanently, giving up her legal career before it begins. David and Georgia form a truce to try and convince Lily that she is rushing into things and making the same mistake that they made. Their flight to Bali turns out to be piloted by Paul (Lucas Bravo), Georgia’s long-term boyfriend. Paul picked this flight to fly as a surprise to Georgia enabling them to spend time in Bali and then return home together. So the fun begins.  Plots, twists, and turns commence as David and Georgia give their verbal blessing to Lily and Gede, but secretly plan a “Trojan horse” strategy to sabotage the wedding from within.

Ticket to Paradise was filmed in Barcelona, which is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful.  The story was somewhat pleasant and the humor was enough to keep us laughing throughout the film.  If you’re looking for suspense, drama, or something new, you won’t get it in this movie.  As I said, this film was a nice getaway and to some, cute.  George and Julia looked amazing.  They don’t seem to age and I don’t think I see signs of botox or surgery.  Being veteran actors, their portrayal of David and Georgia Cotton was brilliant.  I will note that getting a law degree takes quite the effort and to give it up before getting one’s foot wet, is inconceivable to me. As of October 23, 2022, Ticket to Paradise has grossed $16.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $82.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $98.7 million.  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 56% of 168 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.60/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Ticket to Paradise may not send viewers all the way to the promised land, but this reunion for a pair of megawatt stars is still an agreeably frothy good time.”  I recommend Ticket to Paradise, which is currently playing in theaters — Check It Out!

 

BLACK ADAM(2022) – My rating: 8/10

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Black Adam is a superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Produced by New Line Cinema, DC Films, Seven Bucks Productions, and FlynnPictureCo., it is a spin-off from Shazam! (2019) and the eleventh film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), serving as the first installment of Phase One. Black Adam is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani.  Being this character is new to me, I was anxious to see what Black Adam was all about.  The film was as good as any Superhero film which passes my okay-to-go-and-see status.

In 2600 BC, the tyrannical king of Kahndaq, Anh-Kot (Bodhi Sabongui), sought the power of dark magic and planned to forge the crown of Sabbac in order to gain the supernatural power of six demons. After attempting to stage a revolt, a young slave boy Hurut (Jalon Christian) is given the power of Shazam, transforming him into Kahndaq’s heroic champion Teth-Adam (Uli Latukefu), he kills Anh-Kot and ends his reign.

In the present day, Kahndaq, a country in the Middle Eastern region of Africa, is oppressed by the Intergang. Archaeologist Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) tries to locate the Crown of Sabbac with the help of her brother Karim (Mohammed Amer), and colleagues, Samir (James Cusati-Moyer) and Ishmael Gregor/Sabbac (Marwan Kenzari). As Adrianna obtains the crown but they are ambushed by Intergang, a militant, criminal organization.

The remainder of this story is sort of a run-of-the-mill plot for superheroes trying to fill in the blanks.  While this has been done before, the film was still exciting and had some pretty funny scenes.  The team leader of the JSA (Justice Society of America), Carter Hall / Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), and the rest of his crew, Kent Nelson / Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Maxine Hunkel / Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Albert “Al” Rothstein / Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) were called in by the Public Government official, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to assist in handling Adam who is huge and powerful. Destruction was plentiful as well as endless fighting. The special effects were brilliant. Dwayne Johnson played the all-grown-up Teth-Adam / Black Adam to perfection. I was especially impressed by Adrianna’s son, Amon Tomaz (Bodhi Sabongui) who is a wiz on the skateboard. All in all, Black Adam was a decent film with a decent plot but didn’t motivate jaw-dropping responses like I felt with Avatar or Black Panther, which were both new births to the screen.  Black Adam has made $26.8 million on its first day, including $7.6 million from Thursday night previews, both the highest of Johnson’s leading career and besting Shazam!s totals.  On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 41% based on 208 reviews, with an average rating of 5.10/10. The website’s critic’s consensus reads: “Black Adam may end up pointing the way to an exciting future for DC films, but as a standalone experience, it’s a wildly uneven letdown.” IMDB has a 7.2 rating out of 33,947 IMDb users. I think Black Ada is a worthwhile watch and is currently playing in theaters only — Check It Out!

AMSTERDAM (2022) – My rating: 9.5/10

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Amsterdam is a period comedy thriller written, directed, and produced by David O. Russell. It was released in the United States by 20th Century Studios. The story is based on the Business Plot, a 1933 political conspiracy in the US, and follows three friends—a doctor, a nurse, and a lawyer—who are caught in the mysterious murder of a retired US general. The trailers for Amsterdam gave a compelling synopsis into seeing this movie. For me, I think the message and the film are great.

In 1918, Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) is sent by his estranged wife’s parents to fight in World War I. While stationed in France, Burt meets and befriends an African-American soldier named Harold Woodsman (John David Washington). After they sustain injuries in battle, Burt and Harold are nursed back to health by Valerie Voze (Margot Robbi), an eccentric nurse who makes art out of shrapnel she removed from wounded soldiers. They also develop lifetime friendships with the wounded soldiers.

**** SOME SLIGHT SPOILERS BELOW ****

Burt, Harold, and Valerie move to Amsterdam, where they live together and become close friends until Burt returns to New York City to be with his wife Beatrice (Andrea Riseborough). Harold, who has fallen in love with Valerie and begun a tenuous romantic relationship with her, also leaves to go to New York and fulfill his own aspirations.

Fifteen years later, Burt has opened his own medical practice catering to veterans of the war, but still remains friends with Harold, who is now a lawyer. They have not heard from Valerie since they left Amsterdam. Harold asks Burt to perform an autopsy on Bill Meekins (Ed Begley Jr.), a senator who served as the commander of their regiment during the war, at the behest of Meekins’ daughter Elizabeth Meekins (Taylor Swift), who believes that her father was murdered. Burt performs the autopsy with the help of nurse Irma St. Clair  (Zoe Saldaña).  The autopsy yields revealing information.

From this point on the story really gets involved.  The appearances of at least 10+ A-list actors are part of this stela cast which includes Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldaña, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Taylor Swift, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, Rami Malek, and Robert De Niro. It’s been my experience that when too many well-known actors appear in a movie, it seldom turns out well.  Surprisingly, Amsterdam was not one of them.  According to IMDB, “this film was inspired by the Business Plot, a 1933 political conspiracy in which wealthy American businessmen and bankers plotted a military coup d’état to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt and replace him with a fascist veterans’ organization headed by U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler. Butler revealed the plot in testimony under oath to the U.S. House of Representatives Special Committee on Un-American Activities in 1934. The committee concluded that a plot was indeed concocted, but none of the plotters were prosecuted.” While Amsterdam has a dark side to it, I thought it was funny, mysterious, and well-acted.  As of October 18, 2022, Amsterdam has grossed $12.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $18.7 million. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 33% of 215 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The site’s critic’s consensus reads: “Amsterdam has a bunch of big stars and a very busy plot, all of which amounts to painfully less than the sum of its dazzling parts.” Obviously, I do not agree with Rotten Tomatoes. I also think media exposure and advertising for Amsterdam were insufficient for this time-appropriate, period piece.  Amsterdam certainly comes at the right time considering all the bias and controversy we are experiencing right now. I highly recommend Amsterdam which is currently playing in theaters — Check It Out!

 

BROS (2022) – My rating: 5.5/10

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Bros is a romantic comedy directed by Nicholas Stoller from a screenplay he co-wrote with Billy Eichner, who is also an executive producer on the film. Stoller, Judd Apatow, and Joshua Church also produce the film. I thought Bros was going to be very funny but the best jokes were given away in the trailers. Most folks I spoke with thought Bros was going to be a satire. I’m not sure what it was, as I didn’t like most of this film and almost walked out of the theater after about 30 minutes of play. I decided to give it some time and it got a little better.

Bobby Leiber (Billy Eichner) is creating another episode of his New York podcast and radio show called The Eleventh Brick at Stonewall. He talks with callers about his written works on gay history and gay icons. He claims to be fine with being single and not having found love, hooking up with random men over Grindr (a dating app).

While attending an awards ceremony for the LGBTQ community, he wins an award for “Best Cis Male Gay Man” (a person who was assigned male at birth and whose gender identity is male). He announces that he has accepted a position as a curator for the upcoming new National LGBTQ+ History Museum in Manhattan, the first such museum in the world.

Bobby joins his friend Henry (Guy Branum) at a nightclub in the city where a new gay dating app is being launched and spots Aaron Shepard (Luke Macfarlane), whom Henry describes as hot but “boring”. Aaron and Bobby flirt and exchange a kiss, but Aaron doesn’t appear interested in Bobby. A few days later, the two start to spend time together, but the relationship is rocky, as Bobby’s excessive outspoken behavior ends up causing a rift between the two men.

This is where this shaky story starts to take shape or not. Even a small role and appearance by Debra Messing couldn’t save this boring, badly acted movie.  For the first time in over two decades, I almost walked out on a film.  It sounded like Bobby was reading from a handheld script, plus he was always angry, and his acting was totally unconvincing.  He talked so much, the dialogue became annoying rather than informative. I didn’t expect much from Bros and the film lived up to my expectations. I will say halfway through, the story got a little better but not enough for me to say it was worth the watch. There were many gay talented actors like Harvey Fierstein and Guy Branum who had great scenes but the big problem was the incredibly loud, unlikeable Billy Eichner. So here’s the box office and critical response to Bros: The film went on to debut $4.9 million, finishing fifth at the box office. Bros have gone on to gross worldwide $10,836,000. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 89% based on 152 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site’s critics’ consensus reads, “Bros marks a step forward in rom-com representation – and just as importantly, it’s a whole bunch of fun to watch.” IMDB users were not as nice.  Bros is currently playing in theaters — Check It Out!

 

 

DON’T WORRY DARLING (2022) – My rating: 7.5/10

A man and a woman closeup face-to-face in bed.

Don’t Worry Darling is a psychological thriller directed by Olivia Wilde from a screenplay by Katie Silberman, based on a story by Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke, and Silberman. A young wife living in a 1950s company town begins to believe there is a sinister secret being kept from her by the man who runs it. I thought the film closely resembled The Stepford Wives, which was originally released in 1975 with Joanna Eberhart and Katherine Ross and then remade and released in 2004 with Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken. I was anxious to see this new movie, which was decent but not great but I did find it resembled The Stepford Wives when referring to the ultimate goal.

Don’t Worry Darling opens with Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack Chambers (Harry Styles) living in an idyllic neighborhood in the 1950’s American company town of Victory, California. Every day, the men go to work at Victory Headquarters out in the surrounding desert, while their wives, among them Bunny (Olivia Wilde) and Margaret (KiKi Layne), stay home to clean, relax, rare their children, if any, and prepare dinner for their husbands. The women are discouraged from asking questions about their husbands’ work, which is classified, and are also told not to venture out into the desert where Headquarters reside. Margaret has become an outcast after taking her son out into the desert.  The trip resulted in her son’s apparent death, but Margaret claims that Victory took him from her as punishment. While attending a party hosted by Victory’s enigmatic founder, and leader Franck (Chris Pines), along with his wife Shelley (Gemma Chan), Alice sees Margaret’s husband Ted (Ari’el Stachel) attempt to give her medication. This becomes the beginning of the end for Victory, or is it?

Don’t Worry Darling is not a horror story but a horrible situation for anyone who drinks the cool-aid, reference to Bill Jones. The movie is slow-moving for the first half but picks up in the third quarter, never becoming too exciting. Brilliantly acted, the characters gave the aura of weirdness with a tinge of suspense.  You knew something was up, but couldn’t imagine what. If things work out, a stamp of lifetime privilege should display across each member’s forehead. One of the most memorable features of the film was the music.  Old songs played continuously throughout the movie.  I even found myself singing very lowly in the theater.  As of September 28, 2022, Don’t Worry Darling has grossed $24.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $14.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $38.8 million. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 38% based on 262 reviews, with an average rating of 5.4/10. The website’s critic’s consensus reads, “Despite an intriguing array of talent on either side of the camera, Don’t Worry Darling is a mostly muddled rehash of overly familiar themes.” While I view Don’t Worry Darling as a couple of steps up from the Rotten Tomatoes website, I do think it’s worth seeing. BTW, I didn’t like the ending and there were some questions that were never answered.  Don’t Worry Darling is playing in theaters — Check It Out!