Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well and enjoying this fall weather. I am super busy as usual. Make sure to check out the Hallmarkies Podcast as the Christmas movie season is well underway. We are reviewing all the Hallmark Christmas movies and as much of everything else as we can.
I also have lots of other movies to talk about and review. Today I have 3 recent films to catch you up on. I wish I could do longer reviews on each one of them but am running out of time
So here goes:
Empire of Light
It’s hard to not hold a movie like Empire of Light to a high standard when it is chocked full of incredible talent. It’s one of those tribute to cinema we’ve been getting a lot lately from director Sam Mendes and you can feel his personal touch throughout the film. It also is shot beautifully by the great Roger Deakins and has an impactful score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Add to all that some of greatest actors working today with Olivia Colman and Colin Firth and this thing should be outstanding but unfortunately it’s not. The screenplay has nice moments including a lovely scene at the movie theater at the end but too often the scrip tries to do too much and be too much. It’s part romance, part political protest, part tribute to cinema, part exploration of mental health stigmas, and the list goes on and on. None of it feel successfully explored despite the best work from all involved. I certainly didn’t feel any chemistry between Olivia Colman and Michael Ward (who plays her young lover.)
There might be a few Oscar nominations that sneak out of this for score or production design but most are going to view this as on of the big disappointments of 2022.
4 out of 10
Sometimes I really enjoy a micro-indie film. I love the intimacy and the pull up by one’s bootstraps mentality to them. A fun example of this type of project is the new film Murder, Anyone from director James Cullen Bressack takes a screenplay written by his father the late Gordon Bresseck and executes it using 2 simple sets and mostly only 4 actors.
One set-piece has 2 writers (Maurice LaMarche and Charles M. Howell IV) working on a story- one wants it to be a movie, the other wants it to be a play. Then on another set we have the actors of the script (Galadriel Stineman who I recently interviewed along with her husband Kevin Joy) bringing it to life as the writers write.
Stineman is a lot of fun as the noir femme fatale and especially with the recent mystery resurgence the satire here is very relevant and funny. The movie also doesn’t wear out its welcome at only 81 minutes. Not all the jokes work but enough do for me to recommend the film.
6 out of 10
My Father’s Dragon
Everyone who follows my work knows I’m a huge fan of Cartoon Saloon especially the films by Irish animator Tomm Moore. However, I also enjoyed director Nora Twomey’s first film The Breadwinner. Now she has her latest that is going to Netflix called My Father’s Dragon.
As opposed to The Breadwinner, Dragon is a much simpler story with whimsy that will entertain the whole family, but seems designed for small children under 7. It is based on a book about a little boy named Elmer who runs away to Wild Island to help a captive dragon.
The animation is luminous and lovely. I also really enjoyed the music by Mychael and Jeff Danna. Cartoon Saloon always uses music so well. There is tremendous voice cast with Jacob Tremblay, Gaten Matarazzo, Whoopi Goldberg and more.
For some small children they may find sections alarming or upsetting but this should be managed by the many delightful scenes that will inspire their creativity and imagination.
I enjoyed Elmer as a character and a lot of children should be able to relate to his struggles trying to fit in in a new area and wanting to prove himself with a great adventure. The story does drag in spots but overall I really enjoyed My Father’s Dragon. It is an enchanting adventure for families and one of the best animated films of 2022
8.5 out of 10
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