Last Christmas

I figured that “Last Christmas” was going to be one of those typical Christmas romantic comedies, the kind with attractive leads meeting cute and falling in love. You know what I mean, a Hallmark of Lifetime movie, but with better production values. The female lead is Emila Clarke, from “Game of Thrones”, and she is somewhat of a train wreck of a person. She’s from an immigrant family from Croatia (Emma Thompson with a thick accent), semi-homeless in London and has a nowhere job in a Christmas ornament shop run by an Asian dragon lady. She also recently had very serious health issues. Out of the blue, this handsome stranger appears and wins her over. He helps her find her way in life, because she was pretty much drifting. The difference between this movie and other Christmas themed films is that it has a major “Sixth Sense” twist and I did not see it coming. The film itself has giant reality holes, like how does the ornament store stay in business year round and why does the lead character wear an elf costume most of the time? But I really enjoyed this film. It ends on a happy/sad/hopeful note. The two leads, Clarke and Henry Golding from “Crazy Rich Asians” have a lot of chemistry. A nice holiday diversion.

Jo Jo Rabbit

I have been reading a lot about “Jo Jo Rabbit” and its audacious plot, the type that you’ll either love or hate. It won awards at film festivals, while some audience members walked out. Jo Jo is a ten year old Nazi youth, who has an imaginary friend, Adolph Hitler. The writer and director, Taika Waititi, plays the dictator as buffoonish and simple minded and I must admit, he is very funny. Roman Griffin Davis, a newcomer, is Jo Jo and he is outstanding, believable and sympathetic while spouting Nazi rhetoric. The film turns a Hitler Youth Camp into a series of funny and ridiculous episodes. Jo Jo’s mother is played by Scarlett Johansson giving a great performance. Sam Rockwell is a clownish Nazi officer, sympathetic to Jo Jo. This film is not be for everyone. Some people may find its attempt at humor offensive. If you are not offended it is a crazy story with a lot of humor and some pathos. I liked it a lot.

Motherless Brooklyn

“Motherless Brooklyn” is a murder mystery set on 1950’s New York City. It concerns a detective, played by Edward Norton, with a tick-like disability, trying to find out who killed his boss and mentor. Norton also directed and the film is very atmospheric and shows a lot of details from the era. The supporting cast is excellent, including Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe and Bruce Willis and the plot keeps you guessing. The problem is that in trying to cover the details of the story, the film is slow. I thought it would have made a great mini series. Edward Norton once again gives a great performance and shows potential as a director. A good, but not great movie.

Terminator: Dark Fate

I have never been a huge Terminator fan, but I liked the new “Terminator: Dark Fate”. This time around robots from the future come back to kill a young woman who is instrumental in fighting them later on, like Sarah Connor was in previous editions. This time Sarah and a bionic person from the future named Grace try to keep the young woman safe. Of course one of the evil robots is chasing them and they enlist Arnold Schwarzenegger’s help. Lots of action, but this time it’s the women who do most of the fighting. Sarah Connor, still being played by Linda Hamilton is a true bad ass, still out to avenge the death of her son. Grace is also an incredible fighter. Lots of action and it keeps moving at a brisk pace. I recommend it.

Zombieland: Double Tap

I am not a huge zombie fan, but I enjoyed “Zombieland” ten years ago. The same cast is back in this sequel. Instead of just killing zombies, the film focuses on comedy. Woody Harrelson is hilarious. Jesse Eisenberg, who is usually so uptight, is still uptight, but in a funny way. And Emma Stone, who got her start in the original, lets loose. The funniest scene occurs when a couple of dopplegangers show up and bond with the gang. Also, there is a new character, a vacuous, no-brain Valley Girl that they find in a mall of all places. You will laugh throughout this film. Be forewarned: there is a lot of blood and swearing.

Downton Abbey

I have not watched the series “Downton Abbey”, so I wasn’t sure if I would appreciate the movie. The producers were smart because they spent a few minutes explaining what had happened and who the characters are. The plot involves a visit by the King and Queen and the preparations for the event. That may not seem like much of a plot, and it isn’t, but it is an excuse to show off the characters. It is the story of the upper class as well as their servants. Basically it is a very proper soap opera, like “Dallas” or “Dynasty” minus J.R. or Alexis. The acting is excellent. As usual Maggie Smith steals every scene she is in. Fans of the show will love this film, but for those of us who are not groupies, it was quite enjoyable.

 

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is the continuation of “Sleeping Beauty”s” villain’s story. In the original, we learned that Maleficent has a heart. In this one she is jealous because Prince Charming wants to marry her adopted daughter, the princess. She doesn’t mix well with the normal royals, especially the prince’s mother played by Michelle Pfeiffer. When she and Angelina Jolie get together it is a battle of the cheekbones. We learn where Maleficent comes from and just how evil a queen can be. Not as good as the original and a little bit darker, this film is campy fun. Angelina, even when she just stands there, commands the screen and Pfeiffer gives her a run for her money. If you like this type of movie, you will enjoy this one. If you don’t, do not waste your time.