The 1920s are brought to life in this new Netflix feature, with a black and white look reminiscent of movies from the era.
“Passing” stars Tessa Thompson as Irene, a light-skinned black woman who lives in Harlem with with her husband, an African American doctor (Andre Holland), and two sons. The movie picks up with Irene out and about one day where she runs into a friend from high school.
That friend is Clare (Ruth Negga), who is African American, but because of her light skin and blonde hair, “passes” as white. The film explores the friendship between Clare and Irene, and how it relates to race and class.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Passing’ swings for the fences, but it’s a miss for Netflix”
Diana, Princess of Wales, has been portrayed on screen for decades, in everything from TV movies to the critically acclaimed series “The Crown.”
Perhaps no film has featured a portrayal as intimate and powerful as the one in “Spencer,” though.
Kristen Stewart stars as Princess Diana, who’s joining the rest of the British Royal Family in Norfolk at the Sandringham Estate for the holidays in 1991. The film follows Diana closely, from Christmas Eve through Boxing Day, showcasing her strained relationship with the rest of her family, her struggles with mental health and commitment to be a strong parent for her sons.
Where “Spencer” differs from other biopics about Princess Diana and other films about the royals is the hyper-focus. The movie centers nearly exclusively on Diana, and what she has to go through.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Spencer’ is a master class character study”
The beginnings of the Northern Ireland Conflict are shown at a humble, micro-level, through the eyes of a young boy in this new film from Kenneth Brannagh.
The film is somewhat autobiographical, as Brannagh, who wrote and directed, grew up in Belfast, before his family relocated as the situation was heating up. The movie is told from the perspective of Buddy (Jude Hill), who lives with his family, which includes brother Will (Lewis McAskie), mother (Caitriona Balfe) and father (Jamie Dornan).
While his mother is always present, his father is mostly home just on the weekends, as he works as a contractor in England. The work situation comes into play heavily during the movie, as Buddy’s father sees moving the whole family to England as a good option with tensions heating in Northern Ireland.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Belfast’ is a relatable, enjoyable black and white feature”
Ridley Scott’s historical epics have been rather disappointing, with 2014’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and 2010’s “Robin Hood” missing the mark.
Sadly, Scott’s latest effort, “The Last Duel,” doesn’t get in the win column.
“The Last Duel” is set in France during the 1300s and follows three characters, two of them being the knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and the squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), who served on the battlefield together. The third lead character is Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), Jean’s wife.
As fellow warriors on the battlefield, Jean and Jacques not only have respect between each other, but a friendship as well. The friendship begins to strain, though, as Jacques begins enforcing rules set by the local Count Pierre d’Alencon (Ben Affleck), which Jean finds unfair. The situation reaches a boiling point when Marguerite accuses Jacques of rape. As a result, the two warriors are set on a path toward a deadly showdown.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Scott’s ‘Last Duel’ is a dull, callous film”
For many Americans who lost loved ones on September 11, the impacts were long lasting, partially because of the ensuing financial matters.
In “Worth,” audiences are shown the government program set up to provide monetary support to those families.
In this film based on a true story, Michael Keaton stars as Ken Feinberg. A DC lawyer, Feinberg volunteers to helm a government program designed to provide funding to families who lost loved ones in the attacks, as well as survivors.
As part of the program, Feinberg and his team form an algorithm, determining how many dollars each family is set to receive. However, the algorithm is met with criticism for how it appears to value each life differently based on income.
The main criticism is driven by a widow-turned-activist, Charles (Stanley Tucci), who lost his wife in the attacks. The film follows how the two try to resolve their differences and improve the program.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Pros outweigh cons with 9/11 drama ‘Worth’”
Aretha Franklin was a powerful force in music and Civil Rights, and this movie certainly touches on both of those aspects.
One just wishes the quality of the film had been above that of a standard biopic.
“Respect” mainly follows Franklin’s (Jennifer Hudson) childhood and roughly the first 10 to 15 years of her career. The film opens with Franklin losing her mother and the impact the death leaves on her.
From there, it follows how music helped Franklin open up again after her mother’s death. Then, the picture focuses on how Franklin went from a lead singer at her father’s (Forest Whitaker) church to a struggling singer, and then finally breaking through to success.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Hudson’s stunning performance not enough to fully salvage generic ‘Respect’”
As an American, I’m not too versed in legends from the British Isles. Fortunately, the themes presented in “The Green Knight” are universal.
Dev Patel stars in the medieval fantasy as Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur. After accepting a challenge one fateful Christmas, Gawain is set on a path where he must go on a quest and face the mysterious Green Knight.
Gawain sets off on the adventure knowing full well that he may likely perish in the journey. However, with greatness at stake, he continues forward with the quest.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Green Knight’ is a strong, melancholic medieval feature”
I guess now I know who to thank for the high scoring Big 12 games on Saturdays.
Luke Wilson is Coach Rusty Russell in “12 Mighty Orphans.” As the name implies, the movie centers on a group of orphans who live at a Texas home for children and teenagers without families. Sadly, their home has seen better days and one of the educators, Frank (Wayne Knight), mistreats the students.
However, their fortunes begin to change when Russell arrives at the school in the midst of the Great Depression, along with his wife Juanita (Vinessa). On top of both Russells being teachers, Rusty also has experience as a football coach. He decides to apply that and forms a team. As orphans, though, the unit has to fight for respect both on and off the field.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Despite problems, ‘Mighty Orphans’ still cross the goal line for the win”
The spy game is always a dangerous one to to play. It’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s turn to learn that lesson in this new historical drama.
Cumberbatch plays Greville Wynne in “The Courier,” a film that takes place during one of the most tense periods of the Cold War. Wynne is British salesman who often travels for work. Along with visiting neighboring countries, Wynne also travels to some Eastern Bloc nations.
Because of his ability to do business in the Soviet area, Wynne is recruited by the CIA and MI6 to go to Russia and meet with an informant. He’s told by the agencies that he is only to visit the informant, Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), and return documents to MI6, appearing as just a regular salesman conducting business However, with the Cuban Missile situation nearing, surveillance of what Wynne is doing begins to increase.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Courier’ is an interesting, but not game changing spy thriller”
There are many politicians, musicians and others who deserve good biopic movies. There are also a lot of not so good biopics out there about interesting people.
Unfortunately, Billie Holiday meets the former and this film fits the latter.
“The United States vs Billie Holiday” follows the titular singer (Andra Day) mostly during her career in the 1940s, with a heavy focus on her song “Strange Fruit.” The song references lynching and came not long after an anti-lynching bill was rejected by the United States Senate.
Early on in the film, the FBI is shown as being paranoid of the song to the point where they fear the music will encourage the Civil Rights movement more. Driven by this, the agency targets Holiday, mainly by going after her on drug charges, as Holiday was using substances during her career.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Despite strong lead performance, ‘U.S. v Holiday’ doesn’t hold up”