REVIEWED BY OUR LOCAL TEAM
HOLLY PARSONS AND MICK LYNCH
Starring: Kelsey Grammer, Joel Courtney, Anna Grace Barlow and Jonathan Roumie
Directors: Jon Erwin & Brent McCorkle
Writers: Jon Erwin, Jon Greg, Brent McCorkle
Jesus Revolution is a docudrama depicting the rise of evengelical christianity in the late sixties and early seventies.
The hippie movement, with its introduction to psychedelic drugs along with disenchantment to the Vietnam War, particularly among the youth, opened a door with many avenues to pursue. One of which, as the film declares, resulted in a devastating emptiness. Hoping to fill this void Chuck Smith, played by Kelsey Grammer, using the historic Jesus and the Bible as his thesis, created an affiliation of churches called Calvery Chapel, at last count 1700 world wide.
As a fellow human your trusty movie reviewer feels compelled to editorialize here. As the song played out: The First Cut is the Deepest. The spirit moves in a lot of us. But where it goes from there is up to the individual.
We are a nation of Africans, Indians, Asians, Persians, Arabs, Jews, Latinos, Europeans and Indigenous peoples. And as Rodney King so eloquently put it: “Can’t we all just get along?”
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink,
Ty Simpkins, Hong Chau
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Screenplay: Samuel D.Hunter
The Whale: is a gripping complex love story. The movie compels the innate dignity that always accompanies truth, while engendering a rawness toward the human dilemma.
Brendan Fraser’s Oscar nominated Charlie hubs the wheel of four mutually desperate lives spinning and changing in their own chaos.
Some may find ‘The Whale’ depressing. Some enlightening. Some cathartic. Some will be confused by it. Yet in many ways it seems a metaphor for life itself.
“Who are we to judge another’s lifestyle?” “At what point does self righteous societal scorn equate to destructive complicity?” Some might say in every instance.
Come and see.
Starring: Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Harry Hamlin & Glynn Turman
Directed by: Kyle Marvin
Executive Producer: Tom Brady
A true story.
Deliciously deceptive, this Patriots romcom carries us through the mesmerizing fantasies of four Tom Brady fanatics to a clutch in the pocket conclusion. Four women with a penchant for hero worship surrounding football and the need for some late in life inspiration, dive into the current of dreams and engineer themselves onto a trip to the big game.
Based on a true story, this homage equates what it takes to get through life or consummate a quarterback’s winning football career.
Who knew that the NFL could turn into a semi-psychedelic experience with non sequitor after non sequitor in this almost fairy tale of human as well as athletic redemption.
Antics galore continuously swerve between it’s ‘all in the head’ possible and it’s ‘all in the head’ impossible.
Starring four true veterans of class, comedy, and timing carry the story. That the films appearance in theaters coincides with Brady’s short retirement statement is perhaps telling. Is it a subtle nod to the underpinning of his career? Was inspiring others to live their best life his ultimate gift?
Director: Marc Forester
“A Man Called Otto”
Based on: International Best Selling novel “A Man Called Ove”
Screenplay by: David Magee
Starting from empty, one could say there’s no place to go but up. A hard shell usually breaks before it can soften. Yet we think it’s safe to say such human personalities are often colored by a series of life altering events, some heartfelt and joyful some painful or even crippling.
Tom Hanks as Otto reminds us of the guy who made us take down the baskeball net because the ball might bounce into his yard. But here we get to ride his back and feel his pain. And maybe even ask him for a glass of water.
This is a story that gently exposes the underpinnings. You know the kind that glue a life together… or can serve to tear it apart.
Mariana Trevino, who plays Marisol, is beautifully integral to Otto’s various transitions.
This isn’t a Scrooge type journey into the underworld. It’s not even a ghost story. But a ghost does exist…
As this beautiful tapestry emerges, exemplifying how culture and community, woven with love and compassion, delivers a five star life…we’re all in!
Written and Directed by: Sam Mendes
Starring: Olivia Colman, Michael Ward, Toby Jones and Colin Firth
A few moments into this movie and we suspect we might know her. Hillary, played with rawness and depth by Olivia Colman, reveals a peace interupted. A casual stroll through the inner workings inside a historic movie theater and then into the crevice again. Is it experience or delusion, dream or reality? Shining a light through a prism, casting a spell, shadow dances, what we think we see, what we think we know and perhaps need?
Empire of Light explores the liminal spaces where often we face our most exacting truths. Those places between destinations where becoming can lay waste to what was, driving us into destiny or into distraction. Whether we venture into our cracks or elevations of beingness…it is here we choose. Or do we?
This is not a film with your normal smoke and mirrors, plot side twists and act three resolutions. It’s a clearly articulated story of human experience. Set on the British seaside at Margate - viewers are transported into a ostensive era of peace shattering veneers that haunt us to this day, personal, societal and systemic. Reminding us once more that humanity carries with it a lingering disease of separatness and isolation.
Did we feel more in simpler times? Were the metaphors of life more profound? Was it easier then to replay the scenes of our lives and change the plot? Or, do the scars life casts our way remain equally indistinguishable from the shadow side of love? And when does truth occur after all? Is it relative or absolute or both?
All of these questions are buried within this narrative. In this story, the captive dreams beyond the unrequited struggle for equality and respect. One has to ask, when will the world simply, since somehow we are all permitted to breathe - protect space for each individual to be who they are?
We do, after all, have each other. As does Hillary have Stephen, played by Michael Ward. Co-anchored by a wonderful cast of workers in this theater of the absurd. All helping the story to end well.
Director: Brett Donowho
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Kerry Knuppe, Noah Le Gros
For cowboy fans THE OLD WAY is a classic western with a twist. Replete with sociopaths endemic to the gunslinger genre, the film includes a powerful character with conscience, communication skills and an unconventional anti-hero. Miss Armstrong plays Cages Daughter in the film. And is far and away the most captivating character on screen.
We are used to pushing our heros into the fray. Like Gary Cooper in High Noon, or Clint Eastwood in the Unforgiven. But here we are undecided. Cage appears to fashion his characters cold, detached demeanor after Eastwood’s inimitable style. But his underpinning is vague. Sinister themes develop a character who appears to have effectively morphed into impatient respectability on the one hand…only to regress to rage filled revenge on the other. Not to worry, our presumptive, reductive hero is continuously upstaged by a refreshing character of his own making, whose verve outwits even the most hardened adversary. Quite a feat for a cowboy flick!
The meaning of “The Old Way,” does grab you in the gut.
Written & Directed by: Damien Chazelle Staring: Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Diego Calva & Jean Smart
A story line of epic proportion. We view this unvarnished tale of Hollywood's deeply ingrained seductive obsession with power through the eyes and ears of Diego Calva’s Manny. A Mexican immigrant, attempting in the opening to cart an elephant into an orgy like cast and crew celebration.
“Eureka, we are not alone”, says Jack Conrad, portrayed by Brad Pitt , as he hears the voice of silent movie audiences inside his hangover fogged brain. While Margot Robbie’s Nellie LaRoy after crashing her car exclaims “I am a star.”
Brilliantly over produced, Babylon deeply explores the realities of destruction by fantasy. In a world where the entire production machine, including audiences, both perpetrates illusion, impersonates delusion, and ultimately succumbs to self-inflicted victimization.
Felliniesque in it’s structure – yet ostensibly devoid of the Italian master’s poetry, Chazelle’s use of subtlety breaks new ground by weaving musical hints from contemporary Hollywood as depicted in his film La La Land to augment a legacy that rarely actually approaches art.
Here we are. Masterfully conditioned by an entertainment system of our own design. Seemingly unable to discern truth. It’s tentacles reaching into every aspect of media as entertainment. Shocked to observe how far we’ve strayed.
Review - the MENU
Director: Mark Mylod
Writer: Will Tracy
Starring: Ralph Finnes & Anya Taylor-Joy
Runtime: 1 hr 47 minutes
“Is it true that the metaphor’s of life’s choices can be reduced to a 5 course meal? “ Asks Margo Hill a leading character in The Menu.
“My name is Margo, and in my line of work I never know where I might find myself, nor with whom.
Boundaries rarely confine me, and I haven’t been institutionalized into the passivity of the masses.
Finding myself transfixed by an oddly seductive meal curated by a forensic chef - was a stretch especially for me.
Often out of place and out of bounds but rarely out of options, that’s the creativity that fuels the independent soul of this free agent.
See “The Menu” where I share a beefy story.”
By Holly Parsons
BLACK PANTHER - WAKANDA FOR EVER
Cast: Letitia Wright · Lupita Nyong'o · Danai Gurira · Winston Duke ·Angela Bassett
In Tribute To: Chadwick Bozeman
Director: Ryan Coogler
Producer: Marvel Studios
Deep memories abide beneath the strata-sphere of contemporary reality. We cherish its inkling while savoring in every possible shallow distraction, fleeting glimpses of a flourishing life delivered from cradle to grave…
This is what makes a movie worth seeing; why we should break our habitual days and nights to venture out. Perhaps some of us long for that quickening experience that shatters the glass of our normal. The drum beat that speaks of life’s inequities in tandem with the ecstatic.
Wakanda Forever reflects this struggle, waged by humanity for eons between the sacred rings of the tree of life. We instinctively know an enriching life is possible for all; but collectively how do we get there?
Set in Marvel Studios iconic universe, fantasy and reality play out with unrelenting elegance. Broken by grief, culturally rich ceremonies serve to honor and celebrate hero’s lost to soon.
Chadwick Boseman, the actor who stared in ‘Black Panther One’ tragically left us beyond the movie screen this past year. And his requiem is thematic throughout the film. His essence seems to carry us through some outrageous video type battles, to the final mutually agreed upon solution.
Leadership offers a creative path to this peace posited by vengeance, dark and destructive. Which path is chosen? What is learned and how much have we to lose before earning life’s wisdom? To see is to believe – and this African dance beyond time might help us live it.
Review by: Mick Lynch and Holly Parsons
TICKET TO PARADISE
At first blush, Julia Roberts and George Clooney lend considerable comedic light while embarking on an ill advised covert operation well beyond their scope.
Divorced for twenty years, they can’t stand each other, but still are in lock step to block their daughter’s choice to live in Bali with it’s purity of nature, rather than Wall Street.
So we ask, is there enough oxygen on this island paradise to sustain anymore misspent moments…projected in every direction?
And why is their child casually rejecting a career similar to their own?
It’s a story of oppositional values. In a clearly imbalanced world the depth and the wisdom of youth takes center stage. For who in truth really knows who they are except through the process of not this or not that. Does learning what we don’t love reveal what we do?
With a daughters trust at stake, can old lovers, complicated by parenthood, jaded by contempt - ever evolve? In the residue of a failed relationship is there still the possibility of buried treasure.
Twists of fate feature prominently as this story unfolds. Natures majesty inspires art and culture everywhere in our world, yet there something extremely fragile about Balinese tradition reliant as it is on natures delicate balance…just like us.
Review by: Mick Lynch and Holly Parsons
Written, Directed and Produced by: David O. Russell
Cast: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldaña, Mike Myers, Taylor Swift, Rami Malek, and Robert De Niro.
Amsterdam, a brilliantly constructed unique, subtly surreal, soulful film is as much about people as it is about awakening resistance.
Yet the the scent was in the air; the seeds of bigotry and power were joining forces. From a quickening of enduring influences emerges one of the worlds most culturally inclusive and diverse city’s (circa 1930), we witness a warriors pact forged like no other in the theater of war. Here we witness a new kind of patriot… born of self referencing truth.
Personal in their rendering, our characters lives almost skirt past the impending treachery. Showing us that even the most compassionately directed can be manipulated.
The weaving of nuance is tenderly kindled by plot twists that rise precariously from love only to reveal shallow urges, decadent and deceitful power plays, both personal and systemic.
Quietly spoken, we all can be too busy heavy lifting to notice our freedoms slipping away. Parallels draw the viewer deftly through a maze of choices - circling between want versus need. While unapologetically awaking us to our current political dilemma.
Stories of this ilk are always timely. Reflections of the past remain present in the future only if we forget our compass in treacherous terrain. Heartfelt in Amsterdam.
Review by: Holly Parsons & Mick Lynch
THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING
Cast: Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton
Director: George Miller
Adaptation: Director George Miller and Augusta Gore from the short story collection “The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye” by: A.S. Byat
Producers: George Miller and Doug Mitchell
Rare does a mythical story completely capture the silky space between worlds of wonder and what we contrive as truth.
If I had three wishes what would they be? The forever rhythm of a hypnotic dance? The radiance of a cosmic cloud? A peaceful planet of course. But in my heart of hearts - what?
In this epoch adventure love auspiciously weaves its spell through scenes, eras and artifacts floating magically in dimensions where prosaic prose try’s, but often fails to deliver.
Elementally elegant, masterfully crafted, a perfect balance is struck. Wrapped in unforgettable wonder, is the gift for anyone wise enough to catch it on the big screen.
Review by: Mick Lynch & Holly Parsons