“Russian Doll” another tight Netflix show that works

“Russian Doll” is a tightly-focused, high concept time loop adventure set in New York, starring Natasha Lyonne, who apparently has been in everything, but whom I wasn’t familiar with before seeing this.

At least not knowingly. Apparently she was in “Robots,” “American Pie,” and “Pee Wee’s Playhouse.” Lyonne is one of those actresses that has a wealth of secondary and background roles but lacked a role that gave her real star power until Netflix gave her that opportunity. Continue reading ““Russian Doll” another tight Netflix show that works”

Reviews in brief: The Equalizer 2 and Christopher Robin

Sometimes life gives you a movie that has so many interesting moving parts that you just have to write 2,000 to 3,000 words about it. Sometimes life gives you some perfectly-acceptable films that, while they leave room for fleshed out opinions on thm, there just isn’t a lot to talk about it. This week in film did that very thing to me, henchforth this first installment of InReview Briefs. Today’s lineup comprises of “The Equalizer 2” and Disney’s “Christopher Robin.”

So let’s just jump into it. Continue reading “Reviews in brief: The Equalizer 2 and Christopher Robin”

Mamma Mia! 2 is a goofy, fun time

Here we go again.

When I first saw that subtitle for the new “Mamma Mia!” film, I read it with some contempt. Memories of Pierce Brosnan and pre-“Into The Woods” Meryl Streep singing plagued my memories, and I couldn’t sleep. I put “Mamma Mia!” 2 on my most anticipated summer movies list only because I thought that certainly there was no way it could be good. It was a sequel to a movie based on a musical that butchered the “musical” part by forcing tone-deaf celebrities to sing, only saved by its fantastical cinematography and ABBA soundtrack. It’s a film that I’ve never been able to finish, though to be fair, I’ve never been given the first film a proper shot. Jukebox musical romantic comedies aren’t exactly my cup of tea, but I’m a firm believer that with effort, any good genre film can be enjoyed based on the codes and conventions of its native genre, the trick is just picking up on them and adjusting your expectations accordingly.

So for the second film, I was actually able to get into it.  Continue reading “Mamma Mia! 2 is a goofy, fun time”

The Berkshire County movie you never knew about

I live in Berkshire County, Mass., not that you would know that given the content of this website. It’s a quiet, quaint little corner of Massachusetts where quite frankly not a lot happens, at least when you consider all the attractions over the border into New York or in the Eastern part of the state, so I was surprised when I typed in “Berkshire County Movie” in Google and a real movie popped up, created by a real filmmaker that made rounds in film festivals in 2014 and 2015. Continue reading “The Berkshire County movie you never knew about”

Ant-Man and the Wasp Review #7,456,247

Yes, I’m finally reviewing this. It’s been a whole week since this came out, meaning that I’ve missed the Google search engine wave for this film by, say, three weeks when you account for early reviews.

But I talked about this film last week in my box office predictions column, so here you go! The obligatory “Ant-Man and the Wasp” review! Continue reading “Ant-Man and the Wasp Review #7,456,247”

The First Purge: Make it the last Purge

I’ve never thought much of the “Purge” films. I know the first one had great potential, but failed to stick the landing, and they got progressively better from there. “The Purge: Election Year” was a film I planned to see but never did, but I respected what it was trying to do: Tackle in some small way the political climate surrounding the yearly Purge, a period of time where all crime is legal for 12 hours because apparently humans are inherently violent and they need the catharsis, even if it was done under the guise of a mostly shitty Blumhouse horror flick.

And thus, I have revealed my hand, which is empty. Coming into the new “Purge” movie, “The First Purge,” I lacked any prior viewing of the previous three films, figuring that this might be the perfect time to jump into the series because it’s a prequel. This film poises itself to answer the question of how the Purge started, complete with advertisements boasting a portrayal of America very similar to our own, red “Make America Great Again” hats and all. Continue reading “The First Purge: Make it the last Purge”

Jurassic World 2: Liar Revealed Part 5

I like dinosaurs. Chances are, you like dinosaurs, too. But I don’t like liar revealed stories, at least how Hollywood has been using them.

Don’t get me wrong, when done right, a proper liar revealed story can add extra depth to already complex stories, while giving the audience a “gotcha” moment that makes sense and, as a result, is deeply satisfying. But when done poorly, liar revealed stories can feel shoehorned in cheaply, and in the worst cases, can create plot holes and inconsistent characters.

But first, let’s get back to the dinosaurs. This is “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom!” Continue reading “Jurassic World 2: Liar Revealed Part 5”

The Incredibles 2 is just plain ok

“The Incredibles 2.” What do I have to say about this? Finally, after an unnecessary but genius “Toy Story” sequel, multiple mediocre “Cars” sequels – even a sequel to “Monsters Inc.,” does Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles” get a second installment.

I was unaware that many people were asking for this.

Don’t get me wrong, a second “Incredibles” could have been fun, groundbreaking in fact. Bird is a fantastic writer-director, and given that he had 13 years to come up with a sequel, this film was always destined to be good, even incredible. However, while the first one ends on an obligatory sequel bait scene, that seemed to be making fun of sequel bait scenes (the scene’s villain, the Underminer, would look at home right next to “Deadpool 2”’s original X-Force squad of rejects), the film wraps up in a way that doesn’t leave very much room for Pixar to explore the character they set up, unless they aged them considerably. Continue reading “The Incredibles 2 is just plain ok”

Ocean’s 8 is Ocean’s Gr8

Actually, it’s not. In fact, it’s downright mediocre at times, but I guess that’s what happens when you are dead set on including a pun in your headline before you see a movie, regardless of how you feel about it.

“Ocean’s 8” is the latest installment in the long dead “Ocean’s” franchise, resurrected by Hollywood’s desperation to cram anything into theaters with a recognizable name. This time around, the film boasts a primarily-female cast, led by Sandra Bullock as the estranged sister of franchise main character Danny Ocean, Debby Ocean. This time around, the goal is to steal the Toussaint, a $150 million necklace associated with British royalty. Continue reading “Ocean’s 8 is Ocean’s Gr8”

Jumanji 2017: Jungle 2 Jungle

2017 saw a lot of awful things hit the silver screen. “Justice League” reared its ugly head, “War for the Planet of the Apes” gave us an uninspired conclusion to what was a promising series, “Alien: Covenant” made us question why anyone liked “Alien” in the first place, and we got another “Transformers” sequel. Golly gee.

But in my opinion, one of the worst movies to come out of last year was a film that epitomizes sequel and reboot culture so perfectly that you probably forgot about it.

That movie is “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

I mean “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” Don’t jokes translate so well in text?

Mr. Van Allsburg

“Jumanji” was originally a children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, adapted into a popular 1995 movie starring the late great Robin Williams. The adaptation was about as true to the source material as say, Disney’s “The Jungle Book” adaptation, but it worked and there was a cartoon later that included more elements from the book, so all was forgiven. Suffice it to say, it included enough inspiration from the source material to make this type of story work, while adding its own touches that made it stand on its own two feet.  Continue reading “Jumanji 2017: Jungle 2 Jungle”