REVIEW: Scott’s ‘Last Duel’ is a dull, callous film

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.

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REVIEW: By the numbers biopic about Tammy Faye salvaged by cast

This biopic starts by showing Tammy Faye’s youth, and she just happened to share the hometown of yours truly.

Before her career as a television evangelist, this film shows Tammy (Jessica Chastain) growing up in the small northern Minnesota town International Falls (Go Broncos). From an early age, Tammy loves the energy and music of the church and it leads her to attending North Central Bible College in Minneapolis.

There, she meets Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield). The two quickly fall in love and soon get married. Rather than continue the college route, the two decide to be preachers on the road. Their talent soon get them picked up on TV and from there, build their own media empire. Unfortunately, it’s all too good to be true for the Bakkers.

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REVIEW: Pros outweigh cons with 9/11 drama ‘Worth’

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.

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REVIEW: Hudson’s stunning performance not enough to fully salvage generic ‘Respect’

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.

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REVIEW: ‘The Courier’ is an interesting, but not game changing spy thriller

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.

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REVIEW: Despite strong lead performance, ‘U.S. v Holiday’ doesn’t hold up

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.

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REVIEW: While flawed ‘The Mauritanian’ manages to hold a viewer’s interest

In 2019, “The Report showed audiences awful actions done by the United States government during the War on Terror.

In a similar fashion, “The Mauritanian” does the same thing, although this time with a more specific focus.

“The Mauritanian” refers to Mahamedou (Tahar Rahim), a man who was held at Guantanamo Bay for well over a decade without ever having an official charge brought against him by the United States. The intelligence services of the government claim he was a key recruiter for the terrorists that attacked on 9/11, but Mohamedou denied having anything to do with the plot.

Despite his denial, though, he’s arrested and taken into U.S. custody at the Cuba facility. There, he’s put in a legal situation where he will be prosecuted by military attorney Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), who lost a friend in the 9/11 attacks. Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster), meanwhile, decides to become Mohamedou’s legal defender after learning about the situation, with the help of her assistant Teri (Shilene Woodley).

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REVIEW: ‘One Night in Miami’ is a magnificent movie

A night where Ali was fighting was probably already exciting. But what takes place in this movie between the legendary boxer and three others was extraordinary.

“One Night in Miami” is set in 1964 and mostly takes place after Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) wins the heavyweight title. Following the fight, Clay meets up with activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and NFL running back Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). On top of celebrating Clay’s win, the night also marks a turning point, where the champ is going to announce that he’s joining the Nation of Islam.

Clay’s decision then sparks debate and conversations between the four men about politics, the Civil Rights Movement and the extent to which artists and athletes should get involved. The movie features the four both finding common ground and having complete disagreements.

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REVIEW: ‘Ma Rainey’s story doesn’t translate well to Netflix

Netflix’s latest picture takes audiences back to the Roaring 20s with a Blues tale based on a play.

Viola Davis plays the titular character here, who was a real life singer. Gertrude “Ma” Rainey was a woman with several hits during the 1920s, including “Black Bottom.”

This movie picks up with her and her band visiting a Chicago office to record that song and others for an album. The movie follows Ma’s experiences, and her band members’, such as Levee (Chadwick Boseman) as the recording session goes on.

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REVIEW: Romance in ‘Ammonite’ has a spark, but never ignites

Two Oscar caliber actresses lend their talents to the screen in “Ammonite,” but what they have to work with doesn’t live up to their abilities.

“Ammonite” is the sophomore feature directing effort by Francis Lee. Taking place in the 1840s, the film follows the fossil researcher Mary Anning, who works along the shores to find preserved animals, like Ammonites. It’s quickly shown that Anning mostly keeps to herself, as the only company she has is her mother played by Gemma Jones.

However, one day a man fascinated by Mary’s work visits her office. After the’re introduced, he suggests his wife Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan) observe Mary’s work and research as a way to alleviate the young woman’s depression. As the two spend more time together, Mary and Charlotte begin to form a relationship.

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