“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” was originally a short movie that has been expanded to feature length. It tells the bizarre story of a mollusk who lives a very full life. Most of his world is inside a house he shares with Dean and his dog, When Dean starts blogging about Marcel he becomes an internet sensation, eventually becoming the focus of a “60 Minutes” report, partially because Marcel is obsessed with Lesley Stahl. Before seeing this movie I was not sure what to expect nor how the makers could keep my interest for the entire time. It turned out to be clever, cute, original and sweet. A certain amount of reality has to be suspended, but it is worth it. If you are looking for heavy drama with important acting, this is not the film for you. However, if you want a unique and entertaining couple of hours, you will like Marcel and his friends.
Watching the new movie “Till” might be difficult, but everyone should see it. Not only is it a good film, but it is important historically. Emmett Till was a black teenager from Chicago, visiting relatives in Mississippi. He allegedly flirted with a white woman and was kidnapped, tortured and killed. His mother publicized his murder and the publicity was one of the defining events of the civil rights movement. The film focuses on his mother, Mamie, who went public with the event, showing pictures of his mutilated body to the press. She even went down to Mississippi to testify at his murderers’ trial. Danielle Deadwyler plays Mamie and it is a riveting performance that should be noticed during awards season. There are some slow parts and also graphic scenes. (They show Emmett’s battered body and it is difficult to watch.) This film shows how the Jim Crow south treated blacks and the injustices they suffered. At the end of the film there are some updates on what happened to Mamie and the Civil Rights movement. The thing that got me is that the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act was only passed in March, 2022! See this movie!
“Tar” is the fictional story of a female maestro, Lydia Tar. It is getting a lot of awards buzz. The only thing the main character truly cares about is her music and she is a brilliant conductor. However she has few other redeeming qualities and treats almost everyone around her like dirt. Cate Blanchett is Tar and she is brilliant in the role. Though the viewer has little or no empathy her and she is basically the whole movie. All other characters are under developed. The only person she seems to care about is her daughter and even then it is spotty. I do not say this often, but I hated this film! I kept thinking to myself “When will this thing end?”. It just went on and on and on showing what a horrible person Tar is. The music is excellent and I did learn a thing or two about classical music.
Jurassic World: Dominion
The latest installment in the Jurassic Park franchise is “Jurassic World: Dominion”. This time Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are living in the wilderness, raising a young girl who was cloned. Her mother was the daughter of the founder of Jurassic Park, who was also a scientist. The girl and a baby raptor are kidnapped by an evil corporation. Pratt and Howard go to save her, aided by Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum from the original “Jurassic Park”. There are plenty of dinosaurs all over the place, not just on one island. The special effects are phenomenal, but the story is getting a little long in the tooth. This film is basically an excuse to show dinosaurs running around wreaking havoc. While it is enjoyable and worth seeing on the big screen it is time for everyone to move on.
Brian and Charles
“Brian and Charles” is a small, independent British film about a reclusive Welshman who serves as his town’s handyman. He is also an inventor of some very eccentric inventions. His latest is a robot with a washing machine for a body. The robot takes the name of Charles and the two of them form an odd friendship. Like I said this is a little film, but it is charming, clever, witty and fun. The relationship between Brian and the robot is similar to a father and son, with Charles being rebellious and naive. This film is perfect to watch at home. I really enjoyed it.
Michael Bay has moved on from the Transformers movies and gone back to pure action. Thank goodness! This genre is what he does best. “Ambulance” is a pure adrenaline rush. From the time it starts until the last scene you will be on the edge of your seat. Jake Gyllehaal brings his adopted brother in on a bank heist that goes wrong. They end up escaping in an ambulance with an EMT and an injured cop. It’s car chases on the freeway and in alleys. We learn that Jake’s father was a master bank robber and his son went into the family business. I was exhausted when it was over which means Bay did a good job. It’s nice to have him back where he belongs.
I have been a Marvel fan since the first Spiderman movie through the X-Men era and into the Infinity Wars, but I am not thrilled with the newest super heroes they are coming up with. They seem to be taking themselves too seriously, are darker and much more violent. “Morbius” follows this trend. It’s the story of a sick boy who grows up to be a brilliant scientist who is always near death. By injecting himself with bat blood he heals himself and gains super powers. There is a catch; he must drink blood on a regular basis in order to maintain his strength. Does this sound familiar? Ever hear of Dracula? His friend who is as sick as he is gets ahold of the serum and uses it for evil. Fighting, destruction and blood sucking ensues. Jared Leto, who has made a career of playing weird characters, continues along this path. There is a reason this film got a 16% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Lost City
“The Lost City” is an action/adventure/comedy starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum and Daniel Radcliff. Bullock is a shut in author of romance novels and Tatum has made a career of being her Fabio-like cover man. She is kidnapped because she knows something about archeology and Tatum follows her, but not before hiring a mercenary played by Brad Pitt. He is only in a few scenes, but he steals the movie and is the best part of it. This film is enjoyable fluff, sort of a “Romancing the Stone”-lite. Bullock and Tatum do have chemistry.
Three words to describe “The Batman”: Dark, dark, dark! The new take on the Batman tale is dark and melancholy. Gotham City has turned into a crime ridden cesspool with corrupt politicians, dishonest police and two bit criminals. The Batman seems to be the only one going after the criminals. Enter a new super criminal: The Riddler. But this is the 21t century and the criminals are not as they were in previous films. The Penguin is a homely corrupt businessman. The Riddler is mostly seen on video. Catwoman is an ally of the Batman. And everyone has secrets that intertwine them with each other. This is an interesting, different take on an old tale. Not much light, lots of rain and everyone speaks in whispers. At three hours long it held my interest because I wasn’t sure what would happen next. And Robert Pattison is a good choice for the caped crusader. This is the best film since the Christopher Nolan trilogy.
Oscar Thoughts III
The Best Actress category is the most competitive one this year. Unfortunately, my favorite for the award, Lady Gaga for “House of Gucci”, wasn’t even nominated. She gave a flawless performance. Instead here are the nominees.
Jessica Chastain for “The Eyes of Tammy Fay”. Chastain has become one of the best actresses in film. She’s given a number of great performances. This one is one of them. She went from an innocent, religious college student to a corrupted televangelist. Chastain makes this surreal person human. It is a great performance.
Olivia Colman for “The Lost Daughter”. Colman has become the Oscar “IT” Girl since her performance in “The Favorite” a few years ago. She was nominated last year for “The Father”, but didn’t win. I thought her performance in this film was unemotional and boring. For some reason the film and her performance are getting raves. I don’t get it.
Penelope Cruz for “Parallel Mothers”. Cruz stars in another Pedro Almodóvar film and she does a very good job, but it’s the plot and its twists that really make the film.
Nicole Kidman for “Being the Ricardos”. Kidman has become more beautiful and a better actress as she has grown older. Playing Lucille Ball is a daunting task and she carries it off. A masterful performance, showing how serious Ball was about her work and how she transformed herself when in front of the camera.
Kristen Stewart for “Spencer”. I have always thought that Kristen Stewart was a one-note actress, someone who moped her way through performances. Playing Princess Diana toward the end of her marriage, Stewart is spot on. What impressed me was her accent and how she pulled off the character. Like Kidman and Chastain, she played a well known person and made us forget that she was an actress, not just playing the character.
Like I said this is a very competitive category. Chastain, Kidman or Stewart are all deserving of the award, but from the awards and nominations so far, it’s seems to be between Chastain and Kidman. The former won the Screen Actors Guild award. It would be her first Oscar. I would give her the edge right now.
If I was voting, I would vote for Nicole Kidman. The fact that she pulled off playing Lucille Ball, one of the most familiar faces in media, is impressive,.