REVIEW: ‘Bliss’ breaks down due to story, pacing issues

During my viewing of “Bliss,” I was starting to have flashbacks of 2019’s “Serenity,” another January release. At the very least, “Bliss” is better than that feature, but only slightly so.

Owen Wilson plays Greg in “Bliss,” a man who seems to be lost in thoughts of a dream home while at work. Unfortunately, his lack of attention ends with him being fired from his position. Not long after, he finds himself in a bar with Isabel (Salma Hayek), a woman who informs him that she can manipulate reality around them.

She’s able to do this because, according to her, the world they’re living in isn’t actually a real one. Basically, Isabel says the simulation theory is real and what she and Greg are in is an artificial reality. With this new information, Greg begins being pulled in two directions, and has difficulty in determining what’s real and what’s not.

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REVIEW: Repetitive dialogue makes ‘Malcolm and Marie’ mediocre

Zendaya and John David Washington do verbal battle in this new romantic drama on Netflix.

Washington stars as the titular Malcolm in this feature, a director who’s just coming home from the premiere of his first big movie. After getting home, with his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya), Malcolm begins talking about how his movie will be interpreted by the public as well as his thoughts and feelings about being a filmmaker.

As Malcolm continues, Marie interjects into the conversation, and the two begin talking about the film and its influences. Eventually, the talking turns to debating and as a result, their relationship is explored, along with their backgrounds.

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REVIEW: ‘Sylvie’s Love’ lacks romantic spark

Tessa Thompson trades the superhero genre for a romantic drama in this new Amazon film.

Thompson stars as the titular main character in “Sylvie’s Love.” At the start of the movie, Sylvie is working at her father’s record store where she meets Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha), a member of a jazz band in which he plays the saxophone.

The group is still looking for their big break so Robert decides to work at the record store to make extra money. After a short while,  Robert and Sylvie grow closer and a romance develops. However, their career ambitions and other personal commitments keep them from fully coming together for several years.

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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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A Minnesota-made movie: ‘Hearts Want’ review

In July I founded the Minnesota Film Critics Alliance and one of the best parts of doing so has been connecting with really talented people.

One of them is Ruth Maramis, who reviews films at FlixChatter. Her movie-related work doesn’t end there, though.

Maramis was also an executive producer and the writer for the short film “Hearts Want.” Since its release, the picture has picked up recognition from several film festivals.

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REVIEW: ‘Chemical Hearts’ hindered by screenplay

OK, I can handle the teenage angst, but when pseudo-intellectual babble is poured on top, it becomes too much.

“Chemical Hearts” centers on the character Henry (Austin Abrams), a senior who becomes the editor of the school newspaper in his final year. As the fall semester gets started, he meets a new student, Grace (Lili Reinhart), who joins the newspaper team.

Grace walks with a cane, as she has an apparent leg injury and keeps to herself for the most part. Henry, though, wants to get to know her and as time goes on, begins to form a relationship with Grace. However, she’s still dealing with trauma from an event in her past.

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REVIEW: ‘Cold War’ is a captivating romantic drama

“Cold War” is a movie about trying to escape, but it’s certainly not escapist entertainment.

The picture tells the story of a singer, Zula (Joanna Kulig), and a composer, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot). Zula and Wiktor find themselves as part of a government funded music group in Poland, which is tasked with giving pro-Stalin performances.

The two soon find themselves in a romance, but they’re also in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, making things difficult. As a result, the two consider fleeing Poland. However, the power of the government and life in general throw a lot of issues at the couple.

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REVIEW: ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ burns bright with quality

Like the very paintings featured in this movie, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is a true work of art.

Noemie Merlant portrays Marianne in this film, a young woman who arrives in a secluded area of France to work on a portrait for a family. Marianne soon learns that a woman, (played by Valeria Golino and only known as The Countess), her employer, wants a portrait of her daughter Heloise (Adele Haenel), who’s arranged to be married.

Heloise, though, has no interest in going through with the marriage and refuses to pose for a portrait. In an effort to connect with her, Marianne begins to take walks in the scenic coastal areas of France with Heloise and the two begin to connect. From there, the relationship only grows as the two understand each other more and a romance blossoms.

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REVIEW: ‘Gloria Bell’ glows thanks to Julianne Moore

Director Sebastian Lelio had some experience going into this project, since “Gloria Bell” is actually a remake of his own 2013 Chilean film “Gloria.”

Gloria, played in the American version by Julianne Moore, is a woman who frequents disco dance clubs in Los Angeles on a regular basis. Having been divorced for about a decade, Gloria visits the clubs and mingles with some of the guys there, with the hope of maybe sparking a new relationship in mind.

During one of her outings, she meets Arnold (John Turturro), another divorcee who’s also looking for a new relationship. The two hit it off and begin dating each other. However, they find out that they might not be the most perfect match.

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REVIEW: ‘Downhill’ enjoyable thanks to mix of drama, dark comedy

“Downhill,” aka, “Marriage Story: On Ice.”

This movie taking place at a ski resort in Austria follows a family of four on vacation. The family includes the parents Billie (Julia Louis Dreyfus) and Pete (Will Ferrell), and their two sons Finn (Julian Grey) and Emerson (Ammon Jacob Ford). The family appears to have some stress from vacation traveling, but seem to be ready for a pleasant trip in Europe.

However, the situation gets rocky when a controlled avalanche to provide more snow on the slopes causes a sequence of events that results in a rift between the married couple. The rest of the trip explores their drama as they navigate the rest of their vacation.

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