Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. It seems we are back in a full-blown movie release schedule because I’ve been so busy watching both indie and mainstream movies I haven’t seen much television- aside from one I will be reviewing on this post- there just isn’t the time!
I will have 2 full reviews this weekend for the latest Guardians of the Galaxy movie and for the endearing and wonderful Are You There God It’s Me Margaret adaptation.
But for now let’s have some mini reviews!
I think you will know from the description whether Kelly Reichardt’s new movie Showing Up is for you. Her movies are always minimalist when it comes to plot and exorbitant when it comes to pacing but I still enjoyed some of them like First Cow and Wendy & Lucy.
Unfortunately this one was not for me. When you do this kind of slice of life slow film where you follow a character around living their life the character or characters have to be compelling and I just didn’t find that to be the case here. It tells the story of a group of artists in Portland, Oregon who are forced to interact with each other even though they’d rather be doing their art.
Michelle Williams plays the lead Lizzy, and she never seemed moved by her art. At one point one of her sculptures is burned in a kiln and she shrugs it off like it is nothing. Why should we care about her artistic journey if she doesn’t seem to care? Hong Chau has some funny moments as Lizzy’s negligent landlord but it wasn’t enough to interest me in the story or characters. I simply didn’t care and the 107 minutes really dragged.
I know this movie has its fans. I’m just not one of them. I’d rather watch First Cow again any day.
4.5 out of 10
My Sister’s Wedding
On the other end of the indie spectrum we have an interesting little film called My Sister’s Wedding. This quasi-rom-com/family drama is written and directed by Kenneth R Frank and while flawed it creates compelling characters and situations that makes it worth a watch.
I do have to confess the dysfunctional family movie (particularly around weddings) is not usually my favorite but occasionally with works for me like Father of the Bride, My Best Friends Wedding and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This film is not on those levels but it does have something to offer and situations anyone can relate with.
The story follows a woman named Allison (Samantha Sayak) who is trying to keep everything together for her sister’s (Lauren A Kennedy) wedding. Her parents are married only on paper and the fact the wedding is a mixed race lesbian wedding provides all kinds of drama.
Jennifer Jiles steals every scene she’s in as the mother and the conflict with the Catholic priest was nuanced and moving.
I don’t think this film has a distributor yet but if you get to see it I think it is worth a watch
6 out of 10
Peter Pan and Wendy
Expectations are a weird part of movie watching. I try to go into every movie as objective and hopeful as possible but sometimes it’s hard to not be caught up in the hype of a new release. Such was the case with David Lowery’s new film for Disney Peter Pan and Wendy. It’s a perfectly enjoyable take on the Peter Pan mythos, but I was hoping for something more memorable. Still I do recommend it. Just go in with the appropriate expectations (it’s certainly on the better part of these Disney live action remakes but that’s not really saying much especially after last year’s disastrous Pinocchio remake.)
You all know I’m not a big fan of these Disney live action remakes but Peter Pan has been done so many times this feels like another entry in the series than a remake of the 1953 animated classic. Supposedly there is more of an emphasis in this version on Wendy (Ever Anderson) but the animated film gives Wendy practically as much screen time, even giving her a whole song to sing to the Lost Boys with “Mother” (Kathryn Beaumont’s vocals for Wendy and particularly that song are gorgeous.)
Jude Law makes for a grimacing and scary Captain Hook and Jim Gaffigan is fun as Mr Smee. The film is also paced nicely at a lean 109 minutes.
Some people have said Peter Pan and Wendy is too green but I saw that as Lowery trying to place his indie stamp on the picture. I just wish he had brought some of his story choices from Pete’s Dragon (the best of the live action remakes by a long mile) into this film. It all ends up feeling fine. If you are in the mood for a take on Peter Pan it’s perfectly enjoyable version but nothing more.
6 of 10
Boonie Bears: Back to Earth
It’s always interesting to watch more populous mainstream films from other countries. I feel like because of the international Oscar we tend to get the more prestige projects the big action films or films for children that get a big following in other countries. This is part of the reason why I found The Wandering Earth movies so fascinating. It’s interesting to see what other people find entertaining. Such is the case with the latest Boonie Bears movie, Boonie Bears: Back to Earth, a phenomenon out of China, and I can see why. I haven’t seen any of the other Boonie Bears films but this latest is the 5th installment and there is evidently a television show in China that is the most popular children’s show in the nation.
The story is kind of similar to Kung fu Panda in that it is about a bear who Bramble who dreams of being a famous superhero but is forced into cleaning trash with his family. However, when an alien comes down to earth things start to change and he might learn being a superhero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The message of Boonie Bears is fairly mundane one about having self confidence and believing in yourself but it’s still a positive one and the animation is bold and clear throughout the film. You can tell this film had some major money put into it especially in the action scenes.
This isn’t the kind of film that will appeal much to adults but I don’t think it is trying to be. It’s a well animated, bright, colorful, positive superhero adventure.
6 out of 10
Sanditon season 3
If you follow me on social media you know I have not been a fan of the first 2 seasons of PBS’s Sanditon. Especially with esteemed Austen writer Andrew Davies at the helm, the writing has been pedestrian at best and it is only my loyalty to Jane Austen that I felt a need to watch the 3rd season. This new season is a massive step up from the previous 2 but the whole series feels like a massive missed opportunity- particularly when they could have done anything with Austen’s unfinished novel.
The biggest bonus of season 3 is they do not have the incredibly annoying Esther back. It’s not the actress Charlotte Spencer’s fault but anytime the story came back to her it was like death to the series. Now they have more of Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) and her on and off again romance with Alexander Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes). The 2 have great chemistry and while their story should have been given more time it overall works. We also have Georgiana Lambe’s (Crystal Clarke) story of her inheritance being threatened and her deciding whether she should get married.
I never thought I’d be saying this about Sanditon but the season felt a little rushed and I could have used a couple more episodes. I also didn’t love the plotline with Lady Denham’s (Anne Reid) near-marriage to Mr Pryce but it wasn’t as bad as the Esther plots.
Still, this series could have been campy and fun but it just proved frustrating and clueless about what people want from regency romance (and especially Austen.) Still, I give it a mild recommendation because they did make noticeable improvements and with the chemistry of the leads I had a decent time watching it.
6 out of 10
So there you have it! If you get to watch any of these films please let me know what you think. Thanks!
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