A few years ago “A Quiet Place” was a surprise hit; a unique, suspenseful horror film. Besides the different plot and very little dialogue it had an almost unseen predator and a lot of surprises. I love when a movie catches me off guard by being better than anticipated. So when I saw that they were making a sequel I wasn’t thrilled because they usually are not as good as the original. Once again I was pleasantly surprised because Part II is almost as good as the original. Instead of telling the same story by just changing around the scenes, this sequel’s plot is new and different. It moves the story along and is as suspenseful as the the first film. John Krasinski once again directs, but is only seen in a few flashback scenes. This time Emily Blunt carries the film. Like Part I, I was on the edge of my seat. The invaders are still scary and by conversing in sign language and pantomime throughout, it is even more suspenseful. The makers ended the movie at a point where they can make a Part III. If you liked the first one you will enjoy Part II. And it was great to see it on a big screen.
From the previews I was not looking forward to “Promising Young Woman”. It stars Carey Mulligan, who has never impressed me, and it seemed like just another revenge/slasher film. I read some of the reviews and they were glowing, so I decided to give it a shot. Boy was I surprised. First it is not a slasher movie, but it does involve revenge. The main character is a medical school drop out who seems to be drifting through life after her best friend dies. She seeks her revenge on men by acting blind, stinking drunk and letting them take her home, only to sober up. There are a lot of plot twists and the acting is outstanding. And this is Carey Mulligan’s best performance. This is one of those movies that makes you think about what happened after its over. It is different and entertaining.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is a new film on Netflix starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman in his last role. It’s the story of a recording session of a blues singer in the 1920’s. The film is based on a play by August Wilson and is a follow-up to “Fences” from a few years ago. Davis is transformed into a blue singer who is a star to her people. She is mesmerizing as a tough, single minded woman with immense talent and is ahead of her time. Boseman plays her horn player with his own past. while he looks frail, he is a powerhouse in this role. Both of the leads are being touted for awards and deservedly so. Great movie and the blues are great.
It seems like each generation has its own version of “Little Women”. There’s the Katherine Hepburn version from the 1930’s, the June Allyson version from the late 1940’s, the Winona Ryder version from the 1990’s, and now a new version from writer/director Greta Gerwig, of “Ladybird” fame. This latest retelling is different from the others. First, it is told in flashback. It is also very modern. Saoirse Ronan does a good job as Jo. Florence Pugh, as Amy, is a stand out and will probably be nominated for awards. The basic plot is the same, but it is told differently, which keeps your interest, even if you’ve seen other versions. Beautifully filmed, this is a movie that should be seen.
“The Rise of Skywalker” is the last chapter of the Star Wars saga. It is the episode that is supposed to tie up all of the loose ends. A lot of questions are answered but not everything. Rey is back as the Jedi hero who is supposed to save everything. Her true identity is revealed. Interestingly Kylo Ren has the hots for her. I don’t want to give away the plot because there are many twists. As usual the special effects are phenomenal. Also, the character development is non-existent. I remember when Episode IV came out in 1977 how unusual the aliens in the bar scene seemed. Today those type of creatures are all over the movie and they are common. I still have a lot of questions about certain characters, their origins and how they developed. One of the things that bothered me was how certain ghosts came back, mostly to advance the plot. Fans will not be disappointed. The saga has come full circle. Like I did when Episode VII came out, I may go back and watch all of the movies. P.S. “The Empire Strikes Back” is still the best movie of the series.
If you are an Eddie Murphy fan, you will like his new film “Dolemite is My Name”. Based on the true story of Rudy Ray Moore, a wanna be stand up comic from the ’70’s who became a cult star, this film allows Murphy to do some straight acting and let loose when he becomes Dolemite.It reminded me of the young Eddie Murphy from “Trading Places”. “48 Hours” and “Beverly Hills Cop”. His stand up routines are outrageous, hilarious and filthy. The rest of the cast are mostly unknowns, but each one does an outstanding job. Murphy is being touted for an Oscar nomination and he deserves it. This film is streaming on Netflix so you have no excuse not to see it. It’s been a while since I said “Don’t miss it” under Categories, so don’t miss it!
“Parasite” is the first South Korean film to win the Palm d’Or, their highest award. It is a comedy/mystery with social overtones. It has received rave reviews since its release. It’s the story of a poor family who infiltrate a wealthy family as their servants. They way they get their jobs is devious, interesting, and funny. The rich family doesn’t have a clue. The story turns dark when the wealthy family goes on a camping trip and the servants take over the house. None of the actors are known in the United States, but they do an excellent job. The story moves, has many layers and kept my interest for most of its two hours. Plenty of twists and turns. This film will likely be prominent during awards season, not only in the Foreign Language category, but for directing and writing.
“Judy” tells the story of Judy Garland’s final, tragic year. Almost everyone knows her story. Addicted to drugs, she has no money, no home and because of her erratic behavior, is unemployable. Even fifty years after her death Judy Garland is still quite recognizable, so portraying her is a real gamble. Renee Zellwegger’s performance is nothing short of amazing. She inhabits the roll. Her make up is spot on and she captures the essence of her personality, pathos, and humor. Zellwegger is able to show how she came alive on stage, even singing some of her famous ballads. When I saw her performing these songs I was in awe of how she captured Garland. The movie itself is so-so, just a retelling of a story that has been publicized to the max and is quite depressing. Like Jamie Foxx in “Ray”, Rami Malek in “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and Marion Cottilard in “La Vie en Rose”, Renee Zellwegger’s performance should go down in history as one of the greatest on the screen.
Sylvester Stallone is the King of the Sequels. Look at all the Rocky movies and Creed I & II. And then there is the Rambo series. In the 2019 version a seventy-something John Rambo is running a farm, training horses and taking pills to keep him calm. He is practically domesticated. Then his ward is kidnapped by Mexican sex traffickers and she dies. These actions bring back the Rambo we have grown to love. The first half of the movie sets up the story and is a bit slow. But when Rambo seeks revenge, the action goes into overdrive. He takes on the what seems like every Mexican gang member and wins. The body count is tremendous and very creative. This is a live action Road Runner movie. The violence is over the top and it is awesome. If you are looking for a film that is mentally stimulating, pass on this one. I loved it.
“Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles” is a documentary that tells the history of “Fiddler on the Roof” and how it has endured for over 50 years. It was the most unlikely play from the beginning and no one thought it would make it, let alone become a hit. There are clips of recent productions, but I especially liked the ones from a Japanese production. Wonderful music; wonderful story; it felt like I was learning the history of an old family friend. Loved it!