Killers of the Flower Moon or the Pain of Having No Control Over Your Pain

I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m one of the only professional critics who wasn’t going into the latest, Killers of the Flower Moon, from director Martin Scorsese with super high expectations. While I recognize the achievement in many of his films they often aren’t on my wavelength and not something I particularly enjoy (I famously hated his film Silence but have appreciated some of his films like Goodfellas.) Especially with it’s well over 3 hour runtime I anticipated KOTFM would be something I’d appreciate but struggle to get through. Well, now I have seen it I can say it is a tough sit but I found it surprisingly compelling and something I can genuinely recommend experiencing.

I think what makes KOTFM work so well is Scorsese has found a genuinely compelling story and he asks us to root for and against the right people so we are with the movie from the beginning and end up outraged, as we are intended to feel. What particularly struck me is the lack of control especially the female characters (in this case real life people who actually existed) have over their lives and choices. So often it is assumed that money=power and that is often true but it is only the case if you have the power to use the money effectively. All the Osage characters in the story have money from oil so one would think they have power but they do not control the use of that money therefore their power is easily manipulated.

This is made especially clear in the narrative by the fact that two with power, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Ernest Burkhart and Robert De Niro’s William Hale are complete idiots especially Ernest. And yet because of who they are and the color of their skin they have power and with their lack of care for their fellow humans they wield that power with disastrous results.

Lily Gladstone is getting deserved buzz for her incredible performance as Mollie Burkhart. Her character genuinely falls for the simple-minded Ernest but that decision is truly her only moment of power. Even as she fights diabetes with some of the first ever insulin injections she is completely at the mercy of her husband and other mostly white men in her life. She watches in horror as her family members are taken down one-by-one knowing her time is coming and knowing how little power she has. At one point she tries to get the President of  United States involved, and I suppose her money does get her some notice there but it’s so minimal compared to the easy power her husband so thoughtlessly bumbles about.

Watching KOTFM it’s easy to become angry and this is intentional. We as human beings bristle at the idea of inequalities around us. It’s gross what is happening to Mollie and we want to make it better. We hope that such atrocities couldn’t happen today all the while knowing the horrific statistics of violence towards Native American women- and those are women without the faux power of wealth like Mollie had. It’s maddening and makes the film very effective.

What makes it less effective is some of the direction of the actors by Scorsese. Most of it is compelling but there are times performances feel like caricatures more than realistic historical figures. This is particularly true with Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow’s attorney characters which felt like they were from a different less-grounded movie. I also felt some of the supporting and extra roles were amateurish and weak.

Other than that this is a compelling story that needed to be told, and I’m grateful to Scorsese for telling it. I guess there is comfort that there is some justice at the end of the film but only after such a price is paid and again only because a literal trip to the President was called upon to get it. (When she does say ‘you’re next’ to Ernest that’s a satisfying moment!)  Surely we can do better? Again it makes me mad. It makes me want to fight harder for people like Mollie who deserve power but are instead left to the whims of the despots and fools. We as a country pay the price. It’s tragic yet, like I said, compelling.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Current Mini Reviews (Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, The Other Zoey, Jesus Revolution, Once Upon a Studio)

Hey everyone! It’s time for an update on a bunch of recent releases I’ve seen. I’ve had a pretty good stretch of films and am excited to be starting Christmas coverage at Hallmarkies Podcast next week with the first Hallmark movie airing on Friday.


One of the great things about being engaged in cinema is it opens you to so many different kinds of experiences. You can laugh, scream, cheer, and occasionally go nuts with teens  at a concert and the latter is what you get to do with Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. I am obviously aware of Taylor Swift but I am far from a swiftie or fan of hers. I have nothing against her but just not very up to date on modern music unless it’s in a movie or Broadway show.

Anyway, the concert was super fun to experience with everyone singing and cheering. I can only imagine how much fun it is for fans or to go with a group. As a critic it’s hard to review such a fan-specific event but the concert is well put-together and Taylor is an extremely engaging performer. Again I was not familiar with most of the songs but she did a good job combining soft and hard and her stamina with the complicated arrangements and set-pieces is impressive (and some extremely fast costume changes.)

She also includes over 40 songs which is amazing for any performer so we definitely get our moneys-worth for the cost of admission. I had a great time with Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour and if you can see it in IMAX or at an xd screen I highly recommend it.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy


In addition to Taylor we have a new rom-com out in theaters this weekend called The Other Zoey. It stars Josephine Langford as Zoey who gets in a screwball comedy situation where she is mistaken as a different Zoey by a hunky soccer player who gets amnesia and thinks she is his girlfriend also named Zoey. The catch is that she is cynical and not interested in romantic comedies, so for her to be stuck in the plot of an outlandish screwball comedy is ironic and funny.

They try and give The Other Zoey an edge to separate it out from Hallmark romances by having characters be polyamorous and lie to each other, but a lot of that edge falls flat. Langford’s character is pretty unlikable in the film but she does have decent chemistry with both male leads (Drew Starkey, Archie Renaux.) If you are jonesing for a rom-com this is sarcastic and funny enough to satisfy that itch. Not great by any means but passable entry in the genre.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy


I finally got around to seeing Jesus Revolution on the plane and after hearing good things I can say I really enjoyed this intriguing faith-based film. It is made by one half of the Erwin Bros, Jon Erwin (with Brent McCorkle) and so far I have enjoyed all of the Erwin Bros films. They are making by far the strongest narratives right now in the faith-based market. They still have flaws but they aren’t afraid to put story over ministry and have characters with flaws that learn and grow.

Jesus Revolution tells the story of a group of hippies that turned to evangelicalism and religion in the early 1970s. We get to follow a number of real life characters including: Kelsey Grammer’s pastor Chuck Smith who embraces, at first reluctantly the movement, Joel Courtney as a confused teen in love named Greg Laurie and Jonathan Roumie (who plays Jesus on The Chosen) as the charismatic leader Lonnie Frisbee. These are fleshed out, imperfect characters. Not the paragons of virtue we sometimes see in this genre.

They do have enough messaging for fans of the genre but overall it’s a compelling story well told and I learned about a movement I’d never heard of before. Worth a watch.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy


I am sure there will be some people who will turn up their noses at Once Upon a Studio and criticize it as empty fan service but even though I have been very disappointed in Disney lately I’m not that cynical. For the 100 year anniversary of the studio they created a little short showcasing their animation (I really appreciate they kept it to just Disney and no Pixar, Star Wars or anything like that.)

It’s a simple concept of 500 characters from the studio gathering together to take a family photo. What I love is they didn’t just stick to the successful properties like The Lion King or Frozen but we have characters from shorts like Johnny Appleseed and from flops like Gurgi from The Black Cauldron. There is a particularly touching moment where Mickey greets a painting of Walt Disney and thanks him for all the memories. You’d have to be pretty cynical to not appreciate a moment like that.

Of course animation lovers and Disney fans have to see this short. I look forward to seeing it before their new film Wish coming out next month.

If you got to see it what characters did you enjoy seeing again the most?

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

So there you have it. An all positive update! Happy moviegoing! 

If you like my writing and want to support what I do check out the patreon for some great perks here.

NYFF Update and Reviews (Janet Planet, Eureka, The Delinquents, Perfect Days, The Taste of Things)

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. Last week I had the wonderful experience of being in New York and attending the New York Film Festival (NYFF) for the 3rd year in a row. It’s a long festival and I was only able to attend for 5 days (I could have planned better with the Columbus Day holiday but I did what I could.)

The most exciting part of the trip for me is finding the HI NYC Hostel which has private rooms and dorm-like bunks for incredible deals. I stayed for 5 nights for $417, which is unbelievable for New York! I highly recommend it


My hostel stay in NYC @HI USA Great deal. Perfect solution #thriftytraveler #hostellife

♬ Soft and minimal instrumental music(1259336) – MaxRecStudio

Anyway, I was able to see 5 films at the festival and here are my thoughts:

The Delinquents-

First up we have The Delinquents which was a big hit out of the recent Cannes and I left feeling mixed about that film. It’s a long film at over 3 hours and is divided into 2 parts- the first part being a small bank robbery scheme and the second a love story involving both men being in love with the same woman. I vastly preferred the first part over the second.

This is a very cerebral movie to be called a ‘heist movie.’ In fact, all of the films I saw at the festival were what is coined as ‘slow cinema’ but the beginning focusing on the 2 men and the after-effects of their scheme was compelling. It shows the impact of money and the pressure of keeping a secret.

The romance, unfortunately, was so bland and uninteresting that the movie really lost me in the long second part. I really didn’t care about this manic pixie dream girl woman that both men become infatuated with and felt like I was watching them vacation with her for no reason. My friend Conrado enjoyed it way more than I did so maybe you will too but it in the end was a disappointment despite the strong first part.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Janet Planet-

Like I said, all the films I saw at NYFF were on the slow-burn side of things and Janet Planet was certainly no exception but I do think it is overall successful in what it’s trying to do. Playwright Annie Baker has made a simple yet compelling film that follows an 11-year old and her Mother through the a summer in 1991.

There isn’t much plot here but newcomer Zoe Ziegler is charming as the little girl and her relationship with her mother Janet played by Julianne Nicholson feels authentic and real. It will try the patience of some viewers who need more story but I enjoyed following them around for a summer especially with how cute Ziegler is.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Perfect Days-

Sometimes all we need in a ‘slow cinema’ film is a captivating lead performance and that’s what we get with Kōji Yakusho in the film Perfect Days. He literally plays a toilet cleaner in Tokyo and for the first part of the film we see him go through his routine of work and other activities including cleaning a lot of toilets. I know you are thinking what could be worse than watching someone clean toilets but we get to know the character Hirayama so well through these mundane actions and it turns out he is a deep thinker and poet who loves classic rock he plays on his cassette tapes.

There are strong homages to the Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu especially his film Tokyo Story which I recently reviewed for my blind spot series. Particularly in the dream sections it can feel almost too similar and more an imitation rather than a subtle tribute. However, we learn quite a bit about this simple man especially once his niece pays him a visit. So, if it sounds like a film you could tolerate I recommend Perfect Days if only for the lovely lead performance by Yakusho.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy


I hate being too tough on small films but there are times when a film at a festival is just not on my wavelength and that was the case with Eureka. It tells 3 stories and I particularly found the middle story to be a painful watch that felt like anything but short.

It starts out with a black and white western starring Viggo Mortensen which was alright. I also liked how the director Lisandro Alonso merges the shorts together despite them being different times and filming techniques but the second short about a female police officer on a reservation was dull to the extreme and then the 3rd short involving Native Amazons fighting over a female tribe member did nothing for me. It all felt self-indulgent and annoying. I get what Alonso is trying to say about colonialism but it has to be done in a more interesting way than watching a woman make routine traffic stops. No thanks!

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

The Taste of Things-

My last film of the festival turned out to be my favorite and one of my favorite movies of the year: The Taste of Things. This is an sumptuous and tender film about two people who express their passion for life and each other through food.

Juliette Binoche is warm and sexy as chef Eugenie who is courted by her colleague in the kitchen Dodin played by Benoît Magimel. They have smoldering chemistry together and the film is so well made. You definitely have to love food, particularly French food and this is not a vegan-friendly film! They will hate it but I loved it.

If you have seen the classic Danish film Babette’s Feast you will have an idea of what to expect with The Taste of Thing. It also reminded me of Mostly Martha in that they all involve characters who express their love through the service of preparing food for their loved ones. I like the fact that both Eugenie and Dodin don’t seem to have much of an employer and seem to mostly cook for themselves. It adds to the escapism of the film and makes their efforts feel more personal than if they were doing it for an employer.

I hope they remember The Taste of Things come awards season because it is truly special and if it comes to a theater near you I highly recommend it.

10 out of 10

Smile Worthy

If you attended the festival I’d love to hear about your favorites and what you have enjoyed most at the theater in 2023! 

If you like my writing and want to support what I do check out the patreon for some great perks here..


‘Strange Way of Life’ or Almodóvar’s Sexy Short That’s Too Short

Hi everyone! I am writing to you from the Big Apple where I am here to attend a few days of the NYFF. I wish I could attend the entire festival but that isn’t possible. Nevertheless, I am grateful for what I can attend. I actually forgot to pack my power cord for my computer so I probably won’t update my thoughts on the films until I get back but make sure you are following me on social media to see what I think of what I get to watch. Before all of that and while I still have some battery power I have to give my thoughts on a short, Strange Way of Life, I was able to see before leaving on my trip. It’s by famed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar and I found it to be a sexy, enjoyable little short. My only complaint is why is this a short? There was more story to be told!

Strange Way of Life is a western starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke. Hawke is the sheriff who has a warrant for Pascal’s son but the 2 men have a history together and we even see their younger selves depicted in a very sexy scene drinking wine out right out of a barrel.

I think your enjoyment of this short will depend on how much you enjoy classic romance tropes. If you roll your eyes at swoony scenes or anything tiptoeing near erotica than this isn’t for you. I expect many wanting more artistic Almodóvar will be disappointed how conventional this is but as a fan of romance novels and swoony scenes I really enjoyed it. I’d love for Almodóvar to make this a series of shorts about these two men- perhaps elaborating on their past love a little more.

I saw Strange Way of Life short as a stand-alone but it will be playing with Almodóvar’s pandemic short The Human Voice which was also fascinating. If it sounds like your kind of thing I definitely recommend it.

7 out of 10

If you like my writing and want to support what I do check out the patreon for some great perks here..

‘Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie’ or They Go from Super Dogs to Super Super Dogs and It’s Cute

Sometimes I admit my job as a film critic can be a little bit strange. Especially as an animation expert I can find myself critiquing films that I am definitely not the target demographic for. Such is the case with the latest from Nickelodeon Movies, Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie. Not having any experience with the franchise I thought the original Paw Patrol: The Movie was cute with a surprising story arc for little Chase who has PTSD and anxiety from trauma he experienced as a puppy. I have also gotten to know the director of both Paw Patrol movies, Cal Brunker, on social media and even had him on my podcast last month:

So now we have the new movie Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie and while it is a step down from the first film it has enough heart and positive messages to make it a worthwhile family film especially for the franchise’s fans of any age.

In this entry the focus is on little Skye (McKenna Grace) who was born the runt of her litter and always felt like she was lagging behind, smaller, weaker than all the other dogs. She basically has a giant case of imposter syndrome within the Paw Patrol and is very insecure why Ryder includes her in the group at all.

This doesn’t last for long, however, when the Paw Patrol pups get magic crystals that give them super powers. I’m not sure why this addition is necessary when you already have dogs flying planes and driving cars. Aren’t they already super powered? Nevertheless, it creates an effective story arc for Skye as she finally feels powerful and worthy of being on the patrol and she leads the charge against the evil ‘not mad’ scientist Vee Dance (Taraji P Henson.)

I do  think the change in the franchise from regular super dogs to super superhero dogs feels generic and played out but the designs are still cute and like I said, Skye’s story is sweet enough to make it worth recommending especially for family’s of small children. The voice cast is all solid and the animation is bright and colorful. If you enjoy this franchise and liked the first film I’m confident you will have a good time with Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

If you like my writing and want to support what I do check out the patreon for some great perks here..

‘THE CREATOR’ or Love Will Keep Us Together Even After Nuclear War…

If you have been following my reviews for any amount of time you know I am a bit of a tough sell when it comes to the sci-fi genre. A lot of it can get too bogged down by world building and lore I don’t care about and forget the emotional core to the story. I was worried that would be the case with Gareth Edwards’ new original sci-fi film The Creator. It’s not perfect but the relationship at its center carried me through the weak sections and I found it to be one of the best movies of 2023.

The story is set 50 years in the future where AI and man are at war after a nuclear explosion took out a million humans. John David Washington plays Joshua Taylor a special forces operative who is take down the AI. His wife Maya, played by Gemma Chan, is pregnant and the 2 have a deep and abiding love for each other that is the motivating force for Joshua in the story. They aren’t together long but the chemistry was so believable between the two that I bought his choices throughout the film.

I don’t want to spoil much more but basically Joshua becomes responsible for an AI child that is also a weapon and all the while he is putting together clues concerning his wife an her disappearance. It seems like some people were underwhelmed by this script but I thought it did what it had to do to give the character motivation and an emotional connection to his wife and the child that gave hope and meaning to the action.

Speaking of the action that is more where I had issues with the film. Edwards’ gets a little too explosion happy with a giant ball of fire being the solution to most problems and the ending to most scenes. They start to lose their impact when they are happening ever few minutes. It also does get confusing on what exactly the little girl’s powers are and what Joshua needs to do to protect her (and why he was picked over everyone else to help her.)

Nevertheless, The Creator looks great and I honestly expect some convoluted elements in a sci-fi film like this. The score by Hans Zimmer was supplemented by lots of “Clair de Lune” segments which was an unusual choice for this genre (you’d expect something more synthesized like in the Blade Runner films).

I personally enjoyed The Creator more than the Blade Runner films or the recent Dune because I cared more about the relationships at its core. They felt real and drew me into the story, made me invested on what was going to happen next. Some have compared The Creator to Edwards’ film Rogue One but that didn’t have the romance at its center to draw me into the film. It just had characters I didn’t care about that didn’t have a meaningful connection to each other. Both Joshua’s relationship with Maya and the little girl are more moving than anything I got in Rogue One. It’s also really impressive what Edwards’ did on a very small $80 million budget.  If you liked the recent Avatar: the Way of Water I bet you will like this. They are both immigrant stories with relationships at their core and I found both to be very moving and visually dazzling experiences.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

If you like my writing and want to support what I do check out the patreon for some great perks here.

Current Mini Reviews (Ernest & Celestine 2, Dumb Money, Jawan, Camp Hideout, The Inventor)

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. I’ve been busy as normal but wanted to take a second and update you on everything I’ve been watching. As I get ready to start both the holiday and Oscar season it’s more important now more than ever to support quality criticism. If you can support the patreon it means a lot. You can find more information here.


The original Ernest & Celestine from 2012 is one of the most charming movies I’ve ever seen. So attempting a sequel was a risky enterprise to say the least; however, the team behind Ernest & Celestine have risen to the challenge and made something that’s still charming and has something to say about music, the rule of law and of course friendship.

Our pair head to Gibberitia so they can fix Ernest’s violin but unfortunately the city is under a martial law where only one note of music is allowed. Even the birds aren’t allowed to tweet or sing. This could be heavy-handed in the wrong storytellers but here it never tonally moves away from the sweetness of the original friendship story. We also get to understand Ernest’s family and how he became the crusty old bear we know and love.

I love the current era of hybrid animation that’s bold and crazy but it is also a welcome breath of fresh air to get simple sweet stories told with sketchy animation like we have here. I loved Little Nicholas earlier this year and this is its worthy companion. I think it’s great we are in a golden revival of animation where we get the best of all types and styles and this is about as perfectly crafted as you could hope for with this style. It’s one of those movies I can’t imagine anyone disliking. I’m sure there will be someone but it’s definitely not this critic.

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy


Dumb Money is one of those movies where the binary system of fresh/rotten or smile/frown prove difficult. It’s an ok movie. I didn’t hate it by any means but I do have some major problems with its storytelling. I,Tonya‘s Craig Gillespie (which I didn’t love as much as some but did recommend) tries his hand again at a creative take on a true story but in this case the story lacks focus and the screenplay feels very  surface-level.

The main problem is he is trying to tell too many of the stories of investors impacted in the GameStop “short squeeze” of 2021. There are  a dozen or so characters that all get arcs and all have stories but none of them are explored enough so it feels like we are watching people look at their phones for 2 hours and talking about should they hold their stocks or not… While very dramatic for them it’s not compelling for a feature film.

I can see why this would be more interesting as a documentary where you can spend more time explaining the complexities of a short squeeze and what was happening with the stock but that’s hard to do for a narrative unless you employ flights of fancy like they did in The Big Short. I would recommend watching that instead.

Also I really thought the music was strange and didn’t seem to fit with the characters or story.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy


Ever since I first saw Baahubali 1 and 2 I have really come to appreciate the world of Tollywood and Bollywood cinema. I do not pretend to be an expert on the genres and I am sure there are many films I should see from India but it’s been a fun experience of movie-going so far. Last year of course there was RRR and now we have Jawan which is by director Atlee S. Ramanagirivasa. It’s a movie you have to be patient for but it is worth the investment and ends up being a ton of fun.

Jawan stars Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan in 2 roles- one in current time and one in 1986. The movie flips around between the 2 time periods and it can get a little confusing but if you wait it all comes together in a satisfying way at the end. It also takes a while for the first song and dance sequence to come in but I enjoyed them when they did.

There’s simply an awe and spectacle to these films that I love. The violence is big and bloody but so over-the-top that it’s not offensive or jarring. I love the energy and sincere desire to entertain in every frame and that’s the case with Jawan. It’s a blast.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy


One has to wonder what the makers of Camp Hideout were thinking giving it a theatrical distribution. It screams Disney Channel movie (or DCOM) or Nickelodeon and probably could have found an audience there. The pre-teen protagonists at summer camp and the juevenile sense of humor would probably be very engaging for the 10-13 year olds that watch those channels but alas I have to judge it as a feature film.

The cast is pretty solid with Corbin Bleu and Amanda Leighton putting in nice work as the lead camp counselors and Christopher Lloyd piping in for a few scenes. The problem is they have a bizarre plot with mafia thugs that are following our lead teen Noah played by Ethan Drew. We even get the Home Alone style antics left over from the 90s with the thugs ending up in booby traps and covered in mud. Then they awkwardly try to wedge in faith-based heartfelt moments that seem like they belong in another movie. It just all doesn’t work.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

I was pretty excited when I saw a small stop motion animated film called The Inventor was coming to my local AMC. I had heard about it from Annecy Film Festival in France and usually such small films don’t get a big release (I usually have to go to the Broadway downtown if at all to see them.) I was hoping it would be a hidden gem but unfortunately I left underwhelmed.

There are things to like particularly the animation. The mixture of stop motion and 2D sketchy animation had an old UPA feel to it and I enjoyed the vintage aesthetic and tone in the film. Unfortunately the story just wasn’t there and I felt like I was watching those old education film reels I used to watch in elementary school. I like learning about da Vinci but even he has to be given something interesting to do. Perhaps this could have worked better as a short but I grew tired of it even with the enchanting animation.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

So there you have it! If you have seen any of these films let me know what you think of them. 

If you enjoy what I do and value quality criticism please support me at my patreon here.

Current Mini Reviews (Aristotle & Dante…, A Haunting in Venice, Golda, The Hill, MBFGW3)

Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well. Time has been flying by as I am busy trying to keep my podcasting/critic career afloat while looking for a new full-time gig (If you ever thought about joining the patreon now would be an amazing time to do so here.) Nevertheless, I have a few films to catch you up on. Make sure you are following me on social media because I post on instagram and youtube shorts my out of theater reactions to every film and theatrical production I see.

But here we go!

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe-

This is the kind of film that inspires me to read the book. I have no doubt the book is much better because so much of the content seemed tailor-made for a novel (particularly lots of time with the 2 leads corresponding via letters.) There were also elements of this indie film that felt a little sloppy with noticeable ADR flubs and some weak acting performances.

All that said, the core emotion of the story really works and the 2 lead performers have a lovely repartee together. I also really enjoyed Eugenio Derbez as Aristotle’s father (you can barely recognize it is him under a large bushy beard!) Some are saying this is a teen Call Me By Your Name and that may be a bit generous (also that was about a teen…) but it is a very sweet teen love story with a big heart. I’d definitely recommend it and I can tell you I will be reading the book right away!

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

A Haunting in Venice

The Hercule Poirot films from director Kenneth Branagh are an interesting trilogy because nobody I know loves them (some have varying degrees of fun but they aren’t favorites to most) but they keep getting made with huge all-star casts in them. The latest gives a horror take on Agatha Chritie’s Halloween Party novel and sets in the most popular place for movies in 2023- Venice. The result is probably the best out of the 3 films but still has some of the same problems the other 3 have.

First of all Branagh has made a great looking film that makes good use of the spooky atmosphere the old house in Venice provides. The performances are also good with Michelle Yeoh stealing the show as a medium hired to communicate with the spirits of the house. Jamie Dornan also does a lot with a small role as a struggling father trying to help his son.

The problem these Poirot films have all had is instead of building clues organically we get random scenes followed by a long exposition dump at the end that is supposed to clear everything up but feels unsatisfying and dull. I guess this is the way the books are but if that’s the case Branagh’s job as the director is to make the stories more cinematic. Still, if you like mysteries you’ll probably have an ok time with this and it makes for a fun Halloween-time release.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy


I hope all of you have the chance to participate in National Cinema Day on August 27th. I normally don’t go to films on Sunday but I wanted to participate in the national support of cinemas and with it being an educational film it seemed harmless. My choice for the event was the new bio-pic Golda. Going into it I knew nothing about Israeli prime minister Golda Meir and as an instructional tool it was insightful on that level.

It’s interesting seeing Golda so soon after Oppenheimer because they both have commanding lead performances portraying enigmatic real-life leaders but they also both left me a little cold, keeping their subjects at an emotional distance from me. Even though Golda is a lot shorter than Oppenheimer the pacing still dragged and the editing between personal scenes and supposedly tense war-room negotiations was off. Still, I did learn a lot about Golda and it was interesting enough for a mild recommendation. I tell you one thing Helen Mirren set a record for number of cigarettes smoked in a movie for this film! So many!

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

The Hill

I have to admit I knew almost nothing going into The Hill. I knew it was a baseball movie but I wasn’t even aware it is a faith-based film so I’m not sure if the experience will be different for those with proper expectations. I am not a traditional Christian but am open to faith-based films. I have particularly enjoyed films from the Erwin Brothers (I Can Only Imagine, I Still Believe, Woodlawn, American Underdog all got positive reviews from me.) Unfortunately other directors in the genre have struggled to find the same nuance in their scripts and The Hill is in that camp. A lot of the baseball elements in this true story worked well enough but the religious elements felt so heavy-handed and clunkily written it hurt my enjoyment of the film.

I also felt the acting, even from Dennis Quaid, was uniformly weak and seemed like it was more out of a low budget Sunday School video than a feature film. And it’s all a real shame because in Rickey Hill’s story you have a story of someone who beat incredible odds to barely make it as professional baseball player. It’s always interesting when the hero in the sports story doesn’t win the big game and that’s basically what you have here in Hill’s very brief professional career. Sadly the script isn’t interested in such a complicated legacy but is content with cliched scenes of the preacher father who doesn’t understand his talented son despite everyone else believing in him. A number of my Christian friends seem to be enjoying this one but the script let me down and I would recommend any of the movies I mentioned above far above The Hill.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3

Anyone who has followed my content knows I am normally not a big fan of wedding movies when it comes to rom-coms. They tend to bring out the petty and annoying side of characters and the conflict is frustrating. That’s why it is a miracle I enjoyed the first My Big Fat Greek Wedding as much as I did. In fact, it is one of my favorite comedies because it is a rom-com that doesn’t forget the com. It’s genuinely funny and the couple rises above the wedding chaos with great chemistry and heart.

Unfortunately the sequel I did not enjoy so I wasn’t super excited for a third entry in the series. Now that I’ve seen it it’s…ok. I do think it is better than the 2nd film because the dynamic of going to Greece for a reunion is funnier than bothering daughter Paris at career day. Unlike the first one, most of the comedy in this film comes right out of a sitcom and is generic at best. However, I laughed just enough to give it a mild recommendation. If you are from a big family you’ll probably chuckle at some of the silly antics and the family dynamics are still a lot of fun.

5.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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Blind Spot 93: OUT OF SIGHT

In a way it’s kind of amazing it has taken me this long to check off Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight in this blind spot project. It’s a movie I have heard about for years and is a favorite of many of my friends but I just never got around to seeing it. A lot of my blind spots are rated R films from the 90s and earlier because growing up I didn’t watch mature films. It really wasn’t until around 2012 that I realized the rating system was dumb and began challenging myself with more adult content in my media.

It’s funny because this trailer for Out of Sight makes it seem like it’s practically a rom-com and it is a very sexy movie but the relationship is more of a side-story rather than the main focus of the film. I would think of it more as a sexy version of Oceans 11 than a rom-com  (Soderbergh also directed George Clooney in the Oceans films.)

It’s funny because Jennifer Lopez plays the least likely person to be named Karen ever in a film…but her role is as a US Marshall who is forced into a trunk with Clooney’s Jack Foley as he escapes from prison. They then end up in a tit-for-tat with each other over the course of several years. The two actors do have sizzling chemistry and the main sex scene is very spicy but it all works for the story.

One of the strongest aspects of this film is the atmosphere and tone Soderbergh along with his cinematographer Elliot Davis creates. It looks great and all the characters ooze with cool and a slick style that draws you into the story. It reminded me of Pulp Fiction without Tarantino’s more annoying qualities. These are people I am interested in that don’t seem concerned with crafting sound bites but instead making the next great deal and how good they look while doing it.

It’s interesting because Out of Sight was one of Lopez’s first roles and it showed a lot of potential she wouldn’t realize again (despite my enjoyment for her mostly terrible rom-coms) until Hustlers in 2019 (which I think was just an ok movie but she was good in it.) In this movie, however, she brings a strength to Karen that makes her a believable force alongside Clooney and the rest of the cast.

We also get memorable roles from Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Michael Keaton, Albert Brooks and more. Like I said, it’s a film that’s loaded with great atmosphere and panache which makes it a very engaging watch. I can see why it has gained a bit of a cult following and is a favorite of so many.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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