TIFF Day 3 Log: (Violet, Mothering Sunday, Encounter, Dionne Warwick, Aloners)

Hey everyone! I had another busy day at virtual TIFF watching 5 movies (plus a Hallmark movie later that night)! It was a bit hit and miss as is always the case with festivals but I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to cover TIFF and get to see so many people’s creative output. I hope all of you get a similar experience at least once in your life. It’s exhilarating!

So here goes with today’s thoughts:

Violet

I’ve seen a lot of artistic films at TIFF but Violet is the first one that I completely connected with. It is unlike any movie I’ve ever seen before and I finished watching it excited and energized by what I had just experienced.

Violet is a tough movie to describe. It’s about a woman named Violet who works for a movie production company where she is passed over for promotions and not give the respect she deserves. One day she starts hearing a voice and having visions, which we see in images and written out on the screen.

Some will probably say it is a gimmick and it is but it totally worked for me. Director Justine Bateman and actor Olivia Munn capture anxiety and the female experience very well. Luke Bracey is also terrific in this and he and Munn have great chemistry. Violet is also only 92 minutes so it doesn’t wear out its welcome. I loved it!

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Mothering Sunday

You all know I love my period pieces so I was excited for Mothering Sunday. Unfortunately all the pieces didn’t come together despite director Eva Husson creating a handsome film on a small budget.

The story centers around a maid named Jane (Odessa Young) who is having an affair with an aristocrat from next door named Paul (Josh O’Connor). Colin Firth and Olivia Colman play Jane’s employers at her house.

Mothering Sunday has strong nudity which could have been fine but O’Connor and Young have no chemistry so it just feels tedious. There is also a flash forward with Jane as a writer and her love Donald that felt like it was from another movie.

I wanted to like Mothering Sunday more but it didn’t come together in a satisfying way.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Encounter

Encounter is a tough movie to grade. I can’t deny while I was watching I was engaged and the performances are really good. However, when I finished I wasn’t very satisfied with the conclusion or it was all put together. It also didn’t help that it was billed as a horror movie by the festival summary with ”evil bugs” attacking everyone and it is far from that description.

The film stars Riz Ahmed stars as Malik a troubled veteran who kidnaps his 2 sons to save them from their mother who he is convinced has been taken over by alien bugs. At first it seems like he might be telling the truth and that the invasion is real. However, fairly quickly any mystery is abandoned and he is declared crazy by all of the other characters including his parole officer played by Octavia Spencer.

The kids are fantastic and Ahmed puts in a good performance. I just think more could have been done to create ambiguity towards his character. We also see the kids be put in peril a lot which is upsetting without the payoff to make those scenes worthwhile.

I don’t think Encounter is a terrible movie but it could have been so much better with a more interesting script that capitalized on the films strengths better.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over

This is a pretty standard bio-doc about famed singer Dionne Warwick. It is very worshipful in its tone as most of these types of movies are. However, there were 2 things that made it worthwhile:

First, there is a fantastic sequence where we learn about a conference Warwick had with some ‘gangsta rappers’ like Snoop Dogg about the misogyny in their songs. Warwick tells them someday they will have daughters and they won’t want them listening to those songs, so they made changes. They have Snoop on the doc and he is great. It is really funny.

Another exemplary section is on Warwick’s AIDS activism. She faced bankruptcy and other financial problems and yet she continued to donate to the AIDS cause.

I usually know what I’m getting into with these bio-docs and this one did the job. It is very safe but I still enjoyed it and she sure can sing!

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Aloners

As someone who lives alone this film Aloners definitely connected with me. It is about a woman named Jina who works for a credit card call in center and lives in a small apartment alone. One day her neighbor is found dead and it starts Jina thinking about her own mortality and if she is going to be found dead alone someday.

Aloners works a lot better when it is outside of the call center instead of inside working. Gong Seung-yeon does a great job in the lead. She is positive but you can also feel the weight of the loneliness on her character. It’s brutal.

Here interactions with a young new employee at the call center are less compelling.That said, I overall liked the movie and am grateful they kept the humanity of the character and didn’t associate being alone as a negative. It’s a soul-crushing exploration of loneliness and what it means to be alone.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Have any of you watched any of these films? Let me know when you do. Thanks!

TIFF Day 2 Log: The Box, Attica, The Hill Where the Lionesses Roar

Hey everyone! Another day of TIFF has come and gone. I must own I did not get as many movies watched as I wanted because of a very busy day of podcasting obligations and other responsibilities. However, I still watched 3 movies, so here are my quick thoughts.

The Box

My first movie of the day came from Venezuelan director Lorenzo Vigas and is entitled The Box. It tells the story of a Mexican teen that is sent to retrieve his estranged father’s remains after a mining accident. While there he meets a man who looks just like his father and he follows him working around Mexico.

I’m definitely torn on this movie. It started out strong and I was invested for the first 20 or so minutes and then it began to lose me. The narrative becomes rambling and the characters don’t grow or change in the way they need to in order to make a compelling film. The young boy’s story is sad but I never emotionally connected with him or what he was going through.

There is also nothing in the cinematography or filmmaking that makes it stand out or particularly special. The Box unfortunately is a pass.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Attica

Sometimes I think I prefer documentaries at festivals. They are more straightforward and not as pretentious as the fictional films can be. Attica is a great example of such a terrific documentary. It tells the story of the 1971 prison uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

This is an event I’d heard of but didn’t know much about and Attica does a great job of not only informing us about the details of the uprising but showcasing as many perspectives as possible. We hear from a variety of inmates (who are very charismatic interviewees), the children of the hostages and the family of the prison staff also involved.

Some of the footage in Attica is shocking but history can be shocking. It’s remarkable how much footage director Stanley Nelson found and at times it can feel like watching scenes from a concentration camp. It’s that horrific but I never found it exploitative. I was riveted the entire runtime watching things play out and the individuals finally getting the chance to tell their stories.

I would be surprised if Attica is the best film out of TIFF but we will see. Either way it is definitely worth a watch.

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy

The Hill Where the Lionesses Roar

When I heard this film’s title The Hill Where the Lionesses Roar I knew I needed to check it out. It sounded visceral and exciting. Unfortunately the title is probably the most interesting part of the film. It’s not a bad film but it didn’t do much to excite me. It’s pretty standard indie fair.

The Hill tells the story of 3 teen girls in Kosovo who create a friendship pact that they will be there for each other as they grow from children to women. The new actors all do a good job and there is a rawness to their performances I appreciate. It also has some beautiful cinematography and uses music well.

The problem is everything feels played out and tired. The girls end up becoming a Kosovian version of the Bling Ring and it’s hard to believe in such a small area they would stay undiscovered as long as they are. Even so, I didn’t feel like I got to know the individual girls very well. They feel like standard indie teen characters and for most of the movie they aren’t given anything interesting to do. The narrative ambles about looking for a story and not finding much of one worthy to tell.

I’m perhaps making The Hill Where the Lionesses Roar sound worse than it is. It’s a serviceable indie coming of age story. I was just hoping from the title it would stand out more.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

TIFF Day 1 Log: As in Heaven, Petite Maman

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. This week has been very busy with all my normal busyness plus getting ready for the beginning of TIFF (The Toronto International Film Festival). I am blessed to be accepted as accredited press with the ability to participate in the digital festival (I hope to go in person next year but I was too afraid of getting caught in Canada with a surprise attack of COVID to go this year.

Unfortunately the festival had a rough first day with the digital player not working on any browser. This caused them to reschedule some of the screenings and I was only able to get 2 films in. On the plus side I was able to get ahead on other projects so I should be able to watch more movies this weekend.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on the 2 movies I did get to see today as part of the festival

As in Heaven

As in Heaven (Du som er i himlen in Danish)

First time filmmaker Tea Lindeburg tells a story about a young girl named Lise who is trying to help her family get through the long couple of days of her Mother being in labor and enduring a difficult pregnancy. Her and her children struggle with the thought of losing their mother and Lise hopes to someday escape the small world of her farm.

This movie is beautiful with some of the most striking cinematography I’ve seen in a long time. I also felt like I connected with the characters as my Mother had difficult pregnancies when I was a teenager (obviously this is a period piece but I still connected with the worry).

It will definitely be too slow for some as there isn’t a ton of plot. It’s a fly on the wall kind of movie where you watch and experience life with the people in the film. It also has some pretty grisly birthing scenes so viewer beware! Still I was moved by As in Heaven and I recommend it to anyone who can handle the pacing and challenging subject matter.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Petite Maman

One of my most anticipated films of the festival was Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman. I really enjoyed her film Portrait of a Lady on Fire from 2019 and this more modern story of 2 young girls looked very sweet.

Unfortunately, now that I’ve seen it I must own to being quite disappointed. Nearly everyone else I know seems to be loving this so maybe my hype hurt my experience but I didn’t see anything special in this film.

I was right about the 2 girls being cute. They are adorable little girls and the child actors do a great job playing and having fun together. They don’t feel like the too precocious child actors you sometimes get in Hollywood films. We all know kids just like these girls.

The problem is with the script. Nothing really happens. You spend a weekend with the girls as they help pack up one of their recently deceased Grandmother’s homes. That’s it. They pack things, eat cereal, build forts. It’s cute but not enough to sustain a feature film. It’s once again an indie festival film that would have been much better as a short.

It’s interesting because both Petite Maman and As in Heaven are slice of life narratives but the latter worked more because the stakes are so much higher if the family loses their mother. In Petite Maman it’s cute but the emotional weight isn’t there. Like I said, I’m definitely in the minority on this one but that’s part of the festival experience. I always have a couple festival favorites I don’t love.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

So there you have it. Hopefully tomorrow I will have many more films to log! Happy movie viewing!

[REVIEW] ‘Come From Away’ or Broadway at Its Most Optimistic

For those of us musical theater geeks one of the hardest aspects of the pandemic has been the closure of Broadway in New York City for over a year. Even if fans like myself weren’t planning a trip to NYC we still looked forward to the latest cast recordings and new shows coming from the big apple. Knowing it was shut down made me literally cry. It just seems wrong for such a light to be turned off.

Fortunately movies and television have filled the musical void left in our hearts with incredible films in 2021 like In the Heights and series like Schmigadoon. We also got the filmed stage musical of Hamilton last year which was a total joy. In the next few months I am highly anticipating the release of Dear Evan Hansen and West Side Story. In a weird irony 2021 is a great year to be a musical fan!

In the meantime Apple TV is treating us to a filmed musical on their platform: the Tony award nominee for Best Musical Come From Away. I was so excited to see this performance because I have long wanted to see the musical on Broadway but haven’t gotten the chance (much like with Hamilton. I wish more shows could be filmed like this). Fortunately I am glad to say this recording lived up to my expectations. Not only is Come From Away a great piece of musical theater but it is one of the most heart-warming films I’ve seen all year. It’s truly Broadway at it’s most optimistic.

Come From Away tells the true story of when 7000 people were forced to emergency land in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland after planes were grounded on 9/11. The show features a cast of 12 actors who play the various roles of both the townspeople and the passengers on the planes. They are all great switching from their characters seemlessly but my favorite is Jenn Colella as a pilot Beverley Bass.

Because most of the songs are group numbers there is not as much the director can do to make the show cinematic. It’s a filmed stage musical. If that’s not your thing than you won’t enjoy this but if you are open to the artform there’s lots to love. The show is so positive and hopeful without being cloying. It reminds you that when things get tough most humans respond with kindness and love. And in this day and age we need more of that- or at least I certainly do!

This is a kind of a musical where the songs flow together and there aren’t solo numbers you’d hear at a Broadway concert. In that sense you could say they are forgettable but they work very well within the show. My favorite song is probably ‘Me and the Sky’ which is sung by Colella.

If you are looking for something to boost your spirits and remind you of the good in the world Come From Away is the perfect watch. It comes to Apple Plus on September 10th and is under 2 hours (short for musical theater!) so it is definitely worth your time. Cheers to the good people of Gander who were there for strangers when they were displaced and cheers to the whole Broadway community who were left dark by COVID. We value and believe in you!

8 out of 10

Blind Spot 68: Godzilla (1954)

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. Before starting this review I must own is for my August blind spot pick and as you know it is September. This is the first time in 68 months of this project I have been late. I just got back from a trip to visit friends in Texas and combined with a very busy month reviewing movies I let it slip away and not get done. Not that anyone cares but myself! I like being consistent in my posts but things like this happen to the best of us!

So here goes!

This month for Blind Spot we are talking about the classic monster movie, Godzilla, from 1954. I have seen the modern Godzilla movies like this year’s Godzilla vs Kong but have never seen any of the classics. I’m not sure why but it’s true!

Check out my friend Alexander Robinson’s channel for tons of great Godzilla content

So what did I think of the original Godzilla film from Toho Studios in 1954? I quite enjoyed it. More than I was expecting to be honest! Like King Kong, the film’s stop motion animation/suitmation has a charm to it that the hyper-realism of today’s CGI can’t match. I also love the black and white cinematography and the simple, clean message told throughout.

It definitely surprised me how little Godzilla appears in the film. A lot of people complained about that in the recent 2014 version of Godzilla (including myself) but if they were basing off of this original film I can see why they kept him rather sparse. The only difference between this and 2014 is the Godzilla action is more consistent throughout the film where in 2014 it all comes at the end.

The new films struggle to integrate the human characters with Godzilla (especially King of the Monsters, which was so stupid). They do a much better job with in that regard here. I particularly liked Momoko Kōchi as Emiko the female who is torn between the 2 scientists Ogata and Serizawa. She reminded me a lot of Sally Hawkin’s character in The Shape of Water and wouldn’t be surprised if Guillermo del Toro took some inspiration from her (he is a big Godzilla fan obviously by his own kaiju film Pacific Rim. I liked Emiko because she was a damsel in distress without being useless and annoying as the archetype often is. It shows characters can be archetypes without being morons.

If you think about the anti-nuclear warfare message of Godzilla (1954) it must have been especially poignant back in 1954 when World War II was so fresh in the Japanese consciousness. What might seem like dumb fun to us now was probably all too real a fear for moviegoers then. When Serizawa struggles to give the oxygen destroyer to the people because it might be used as a superweapon that is only too real for 1954 audiences.

I do think I enjoy King Kong more than Godzilla because we get more invested in Kong’s story compared to Godzilla. When Kong is chained up and put on display it’s so devastating and I didn’t feel that kind of connection to Godzilla.

Still I can understand why they have been constantly trying to remake Godzilla 1954. It’s a great film and manages to combine spectacle with message extremely well- not an easy task to do. If you haven’t seen it I recommend watching it on HBO Max or as part of the Godzilla collection from Criterion.

8.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

CANDYMAN and THE GREEN KNIGHT: Two Unpopular Opinions

Hello everyone! I hope that you are having a great August and that you and your family are healthy and well. Today I have 2 recent movies to update you on: The Green Knight and Candyman. The 2 films don’t have much in common except for the fact I seem to not enjoy them nearly as much as most seem to be. Unpopular opinions are always an interesting experience for any film fan but let’s break down my thoughts on both films:

The Green Knight

Director David Lowery is one of the most compelling and effective directors working today. I love his version of Pete’s Dragon he did for Disney and appreciated his bold contemplation of grief and our human legacy in A Ghost Story.  Very few directors can so seamlessly move from mainstream fair to arthouse indie with such ease, while still maintaining a clear and obvious point of view. It’s very impressive.

Now we have his take on the Arthurian legend ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ in The Green Knight. I must own when I first saw the film I did not enjoy it. I found it obtuse, confusing and slow. However, almost everyone I know loved it, proclaiming it the best movie of the year that I decided to give it another watch. I rarely do this but they were doing a virtual screening last week so it was convenient so why not?

So what was the result of my second watch? I still don’t love it but I did appreciate it more. It was nice to be able to watch it at home where I could take a break if needed and even have the original story open to provide insight into the confusing sections.

There are positives to the film. Dev Patel is wonderful. I am a huge fan of his. I loved last year’s Personal History of David Copperfield. I love Lion and Slumdog Millionaire is one of my favorite films of all time. He’s great in this film and is easy to root for even when he is being a scoundrel.

The Green Knight is also a beautiful film with gorgeous cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo. It’s the kind of movie they should make an artbook for because it is so stunning.

All that said I still find the narrative to be unnecessarily confusing. Going from dream, to reality, back to dreams without any clarification is baffling and certain choices don’t make any sense like Alicia Vikander playing two characters. Are they supposed to be twins? What does that mean?

The whole movie in general lacks a sense of purpose. What is it trying to say? I am sure whole video essays will be made expounding upon it but whatever its message is certainly left me cold.

I’m struggling with what rating to give it because I did appreciate it more the second viewing, but I still didn’t love it. In the end, I have to be authentic to my experience and not worry what other people think.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Candyman

Everyone who reads my reviews knows I am not the biggest horror movie fan. However, I have been trying the last few years to get out of my comfort zone and watch movies like Halloween, Scream and more. Being a big fan of Get Out I was intrigued by Jordan Peele’s name attached to the new sequel to Candyman (he’s a producer and writer) I decided to give the movie a try. I was hoping it would be a gripping horror movie with a message like Get Out. Unfortunately, that was not my experience. Others seem to be loving this film but I thought it was a very weak entry into the horror genre.

I will say I have never seen the original Candyman but my brother has and we watched the movie together. He helped fill me in on anything I was missing from the previous film. It’s billed as a ”spiritual sequel” so I don’t think watching the 1992 film is required to understand this film.

Candyman tells the story of artist named Anthony who moves into the Cabrini-Green neighborhood of Chicago where housing projects have been left abandoned in the place of large skyscrapers, which he is now living in. In looking for inspiration for his art he starts to dive into an urban legend of the Candyman which comes to prey on victims when they say his name into a mirror 5 times.

Writing that description it sounds more fun than it is. The problem is director Nia DaCosta fails to build up tension well. There’s a ton of exposition but we aren’t made to care about the characters so when they are put in peril it’s not as tense as it should be. For example, there is a scene with some teens in peril that we barely know, so the horrors that happen are more by-the-numbers than exciting.

There are some gross scenes but that’s not enough to make for a compelling movie, especially in one obviously trying to say so much. Like I said, most of the messaging is in long sections of exposition, not through dynamic character growth. Instead of being enlightening I found myself waiting for the next gruesome scene because at least then something fresh was happening.

Candyman reminds me a lot of Velvet Buzzsaw but not as good because at least that film had top-tier acting (some of the acting leaves much to be desired particularly by supporting players here) and it had a sense of humor about it’s characters and kills. This is blandness masquerading as a socially conscious horror movie.

For an interesting perspective from, Robert Daniels, a Black film critic I admire click here.

As for me, I cannot recommend Candyman. If you see it let me know what you think!

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

[REVIEW] ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ or That’s How You Tell an Origin Story!

After the successful conclusion of the Marvel Infinity Saga a lot of skeptics wondered if the best days of the MCU were behind the studio. Indeed with the weak entry of Spider-man: Far From Home it was easy to start asking those questions. Fortunately Marvel has not only produced some incredible television with Wandavision and Loki in 2021 but their latest origin story movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is one of their best yet!

Shang-Chi stars Simu Liu of Kim’s Convenience fame (a show I adored) as a young man who has a secret identity as a martial arts fighter having been trained by his father from an early age. As the movie starts he is working as a parking attendant with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) when he gets a message from his father and goes to warn his sister (Meng’er Zhang) of impending peril.

There are a number of reasons this movie works so well but the biggest is its focus on a family and their complicated relationships with each other. Tony Leung is absolutely fantastic as Wenwu, Shang-Chi’s father and leader of the Ten Rings clan. He is handsome and charismatic, not to mention great with the action scenes (of course).

I also loved the dynamic between Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing. It’s a relationship with some pain as all the relationships are in this movie. Awkwafina is fantastic as Katy and her and Shang-Chi have one of the sweetest, most understated relationships in the MCU. The villain is also one of the best in the series.

As expected, the action throughout the film is outstanding. Marvel hired Andy Cheng, the fight choreographer behind many Jackie Chan films like Shanghai Noon and Rush Hour and it shows! It’s a cliche to say but it really is a pulse-pounding great time at the movies. Not only is it exciting action but it is shot with a flair that allows you to appreciate what is happening to the characters.

Simu Liu is charming as Shang-Chi and the whole cast has great chemistry together. The script reminded me of a cross between an Iron Man and Thor film. There is fantasy and mythical lore that you’d see in Thor and the cheeky, likable performance we see in Iron Man. It’s the kind of movie I walk away thinking ‘who won’t have fun at that movie?’. Of course some will but the vast majority will have a great time.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has it all. It’s got great characters with meaningful relationships. It has a cracking script loaded with witty banter, well-choreographed action and a cast with wonderful charisma and personality. It’s one of the best origin stories in the MCU in many years and I look forward to seeing the characters in future entries.

I even liked the winks at Iron Man 3, which is an MCU film I don’t care for.. It also has a terrific mid-credits scene so make sure to stay around.

8.5 out of 10

Smile worthy

[REVIEW] ‘The Protégé’ or Maggie Q is Awesome

This Wednesday I had the chance to attend 2 film screenings: First, the violent action crime, thriller, The Protégé, and second the mystery, sci-fi, romance Reminiscence. Of the 2 I prefer The Protégé. I don’t know if that is saying much but if you are looking for an action movie with a kick-butt lead character you could do worse than Maggie Q in The Protégé.

The Protégé is directed by Martin Campbell who is most well known for his Bond movies like GoldenEye and Casino Royale. Here he has Maggie Q in the lead as an assassin who is asked to look into a mysterious disappearance and then it becomes a revenge story when someone she loves is threatened.

Samuel L Jackson plays her mentor who saves her from a traumatic childhood in Vietnam and they basically have a father/daughter dynamic. Their relationship helps soften Maggie Q’s character and gives the action stakes because she doesn’t feel invincible even when racing through scores of bullets unscathed.

Michael Keaton and Maggie Q also have chemistry. She’s the assassin and he’s the hit-man sent in by the criminal underworld to stop her. Their sexy repertoire is what you want in a movie like this.

Make no mistake The Protégé is an extremely violent movie with lots of brutal action. I wish that more of it had been hand-to-hand instead of with guns. It might be more shocking with guns but it’s less interesting to watch than martial arts/fighting.

The movie also starts to feel repetitive and has a major plot twist that is difficult to believe even for a movie like this. I don’t see many movies like this but my guess is others will call it tired and ‘we’ve seen it all before’ and they are probably correct. I’ve never seen movies like John Wick so The Protégé probably feels fresher to me than it might for others.

The reason to see The Protégé is Maggie Q. She’s awesome and I hope this is a jumping off point for more action roles in her career. We could use more female action stars like her especially being part Vietnamese.

She rocks. The movie is just fine if you can stomach the violence.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Current Mini Reviews

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I have had a very busy week with my podcasts and other responsibilities. Of course you know that means some more of my mini-reviews!

Follow the Light

Follow the Light Review – Fantasia International Film Festival 2021

First up is a film from Japan called Follow the Light that I saw virtually as part of the Fantasia Film Festival. This is the kind of sci-fi I enjoy that’s sweet and gentle in its characters and messaging. It also doesn’t over-stay its welcome at under 2 hours.

The film tells the story of a young man named Akira who is trying to fit in a new school in a rural town that is falling apart. One day returning from school he notices crop circles and a girl named Maki is laying inside one of them.

The journey the 2 characters go on is beautifully filmed with a great score which reminded me of what Radwimps did in Your Name. It also had moments between Akira and his father that reminded me of a Kor-eeda film.

In a festival with lots of gore and horror Follow the Light is a welcome surprise.  It does take a while to get going so don’t give up on it!

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Paw Patrol: The Movie

PAW Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Calls - Outright Games

I am not very familiar with the Paw Patrol television series but I know enough to know it is for pre-k children under the age of 5. I am sure there will be a fair share of grown up people ranting and raving about this film. However, I enjoyed what this film. The animation is a definite upgrade from what I’ve seen in the show and the action is well done.

The best part of Paw Patrol: the Movie is the message of teamwork and accepting ourselves flaws and all. Many kids will be able to relate with Chase and his insecurities and Liberty and her desire to be part of the team. It’s a cute movie kids will enjoy and parents will find tolerable. I appreciate the villain had a Saturday morning cartoon buffoonery about him. That was fun.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist

Anime Director Satoshi Kon Honored in New Documentary – ARTnews.com

Anime director Satoshi Kon is such a fascinating character in the world of film. I love all of the films I’ve seen of his including Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers and Millennium Actress.

In this documentary we go through Kon’s filmography and look into how each film was made and the influence it had over other films. It includes testimonials from many other directors including Darren Aronofsky, Mamoru Hosoda and more. It might have been nice to learn about Kon’s upbringing and start into film but still for fans of Kon or anime it’s a must see.

This is also part of Fantasia Fest virtual screening 2021.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

The Last Letter from Your Lover

The Last Letter From Your Lover | Netflix Official Site

I actually wasn’t planning on watching this movie because it is based on a novel by Jojo Moyes who I can’t stand but I was asked for a podcast to give it a look. In the end, the cast elevates this material but it still drags on for far too long to recommend.

It tells the story of 2 women played by Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley separated by many years. Jones finds some love letters between Woodley’s character and her lover (as the title would imply) from the 1940s. The chemistry between all the couples doesn’t work and there isn’t enough of a compelling story to draw the viewer in. It does pick up a bit in the last act but I found it mostly quite dull.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Resort to Love

Resort to Love age rating: Is it appropriate for kids?

Resort to Love is another Netflix rom-com that’s stuffed full of beautiful people at a beautiful beach but the script let’s them all down. My biggest problem is the humor is too broad and silly for the story it is telling. I found myself cringing more than I was laughing.

Christina Milian is an engaging actress and in a better script she can be great. I even enjoyed her previous effort for Netflix entitled Falling Inn Love. That was a sweet silly rom-com. This tries to hard with the antics and silliness for my taste.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

So there you have it. What have you been watching lately? I’ve got a lot of screenings coming up so get ready for more reviews. Thanks tons!