Category Archives: Music

REVIEW: “MARRY ME” (2022) Universal Pictures

“MARRY ME” is the new rom com directed by Kat Coiro rolling itself out just perfectly for Valentines Day weekend release. All I can say is something has happened to me where I think someone has cast a spell on me as this is the second rom com that I will scream at the top of my lungs “YES! YES! YES!” to in one week. Who am I right now? Someone who loves this movie apparently even though you think it might be cheesy and full of fluff, and it is, but it all works so well.

(from left, center Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) and Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) in Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro.

The film is about pop singer Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez), who together with her singing and real life partner Bastian (Maluma), are about to release their new album called, you guessed it “Marry Me”. With the simultaneous release they will then get married themselves onstage while filming live to an audience of over 20 million people. When Kat learns that Bastian has cheated on her with her own assistant no less, she cancels the wedding plans on the spot and while on film getting ready to married LIVE. While looking out into the audience in pain, she then randomly sees Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), who was bribed into coming by his co-worker Parker (Sarah Silverman), and with his daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman), in tow ends up in the with a sign that says ‘Marry Me and next thing you know, Kat spontaneously asks to marry him instead. With this one singular act, the lives of both Kat and Charlie both change completely, well at least Charlie’s does. With the assumption that Kat now seems a bit desperate by marrying a total stranger, and Charlie finding himself in the world he does not know with publicity he is not used to at all, the two just put on a show of trying to make the best of it together.

Look, we all know where this goes from here as let’s face it, it’s not rocket science. But it all comes down to how the story is told – even if we think we know the ending. And this is one story that is just all goodness, from how Charlie is the awkward math teacher who does Mathalons with his students, or as we watch as Kat basically continues with her life as well with what I’m sure might just be a bit of a glimpse into what Jennifer Lopez’s actual life is like. But it works, it just all works. Whether is be a moment where JLo pops in another amazing outfit, or sings and dances with the mathletes to teach them a whole new way to lose their nervousness in competition, or even when comedic Silverman’s character Parker tries to capitalize on Charlie’s new found fame – which ever it is, it all works.

(from left) Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) and Bastian (Maluma) in Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro.

Best of all here is the acting in the film is well done whether it be the supporting roles of Kat’s manager Collin (John Bradley), or her social media maven/assistant Melissa (Michelle Buteau). For Maluma, this is his first acting job in a movie, and as he’s really just playing a famous singer, much like his own career, he doesn’t really get the chance to come forward as an actor. But that’s okay, because that voice is heavenly and so is he. (sorry guys-a quick girl thing there). Owen Wilson is well, Owen Wilson. The same character he has played so many times with the exact same facial expressions, tonal quality to his voice and all – which is probably the best thing to say about his performance, other than again, it works as they do have chemistry. But guess who does all the heavy lifting here – Yep, it’s none other than our newly crowned Queen of Rom Coms, Jennifer Lopez! She sings, she dances, she blows your mind with how amazing she looks, she’s funny, and probably the biggest point of all – she gives it her all here by giving us hand down, her best Rom Com performance to date.

All I can do is leave you with these parting words. Say “YES! YES! YES!” to “Marry Me” this weekend as Jennifer Lopez sings and dances herself right into our hearts with this one.

Grade: B-

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Review Screening: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“MARRY ME” IS NOW IN THEATERS AND STREAMING ONLY ON PEACOCK

REVIEW: “CODA” (2021) Netflix

Catching up on some quick reviews from 2021 that I didn’t get to and starting off with the wonderful “CODA”.

I feel that at this point what can be said about “CODA” that hasn’t already been said by a gazillion critics since the movie’s debut on Apple TV+ earlier this year? Sadly, I don’t have the Apple so I only got the chance to see it while kitty sitting! But this story of a teenager, Ruby (Emilia Jones), who is the lone hearing person in her deaf family just struck such a cord with me that I would be remiss to not at least say how much it really just hit home with so many. It also continued to further the conversation on why Deaf and disabled stories need to be told and what writer/director Sian Heder did was open that door if even just a little, it’s finally deservedly been done in a most wonderful and effective way.

The Rossis family are, in many ways, just like the average American family. They also happen to be predominately Deaf and by telling this story, which is filled with so compassion and humour (spoiler alert- people with disabilities can be funny as well), it did a lot to further the sadly, under-discussed topic of disability representation in films with people with actual disabilities. There are so many elements of this movie to love. Every thing from Troy Kotsur’s portrayal of Frank Rossi, the embarrassing father, who talks about sex with a boy Ruby likes, but yet is also her biggest supporter in learning what her true passion is and why she feels obligated to help her family, and finally sees what her true passion is and why she loves music. Marlee Matlin, whose portrayal of her mother Jackie, widely opens up the door so far closed until now, onto the unspoken of discussion on how disabled/Deaf parents relate to their children. The aforementioned Jones and Daniel Durant as her brother Leo Rossi, who is as well deaf, as two siblings whose desire for responsibility and independence are brought to the forefront, but the story in how they are perceived in totally different ways, is what makes it all the more special.

And the acting is just truly one of the best things that just makes the film all the more special. Every single person from Kotsur, Matlin as the openly in love deaf couple showing they not only have to deal with the same hardships hearing people deal with, but add into that, their being deaf to the outside world, to the wonderful Emilia Jones, who characterizes flawlessly the hardships, the happiness and finally comes into her own in spectacular fashion. I hope we see many awards nominations and wins come there way this season as it’s all much deserved.

This movie captured the little things that I think we all didn’t know we truly wanted to see and learn about in the ‘disability narrative’, one that I know I want to see more of.

Hopefully we all will.

Grade: A

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“CODA” is now showing on Apple TV+

Review: “In The Heights” (2021) Warner Bros.

We all go to the movies for various reasons. Some love the fear and horror, some love thrillers or animation, and then there is the sheer joy of seeing a movie that just makes you smile and want to dance and “IN THE HEIGHTS” is that movie. With it’s joyful incredible large-scaled choreographed dancing and singing, Heights is a cinematic treat for your eyes and ears as well. There has never been a more perfect time to release this film until now in the Summer! baby! Summer! On the serious side, this is an important film for all and it is what we all need as well in our lives, a bit of music, dance, joy and a story about life and a dream.

Starting us off in the way up the A train line in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights lives twenty-something Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a dreamer whose pursuit of that dream is to go beyond the corner bodega store he owns and works at, and head back to the Dominican Republic to re-open the bar his dad once owned. The barrio portrayed here is chock full of colorful characters from all parts of life and the world. Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz), the always-wise, all-knowing, grandmotherly figure of the barrio; Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), is a young, beautiful, vibrant and optimistic woman with a strong desire to become a fashion designer, along with nail salon owner and queen of neighborhood gossip circle Daniela (Daphne Rubin-Vega). Lastly is Usnavi’s younger cousin Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV), who has ambitions beyond his somewhat slacker style as behind it all, is a quick, highly intelligent young man. And of course there is Benny (Corey Hawkins), best friend to Usnavi, and dispatcher at the local neighborhood service run by the neighborhood’s oldest business owner, Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits). Benny meanwhile is thinking he might be promoted and is working towards opening his own business as well. Returning home on that one hot, sweltering July morning is Nina (Leslie Grace), who’s dropped out of Stanford despite the neighborhood’s awe of her being the only one to get away. Her father has been finagling the finances at the cab company to keep Nina at the college, though there are deeper underlying issues that soon surface.

The adaptation, as one would assume, had to alter from the stage production but that job is done by none other than Quiara Alegria Hudes, who penned the musical’s book. Three-time Emmy nominee Christopher Scott really brings the musical numbers to life through such exquisite choreography that you can get lost in. At one point realizing just the enormity of this production and how many people are involved in some of the larger dance scenes left me in awe. In the director’s chair is Jon M. Chu, and his skills shine in this enchanting tale of unity, community and following your dreams, wherever and however they might end up. The music supervisor here is none other than Steve Gizicki, an old personal friend of some 20+ years and he does a fantastic job here.

It’s the little things of ‘In The Heights’ as well. If you’ve ever had a true neighborhood Abuelas’ food then you understand how here, you can almost smell and taste her cooking straight from the film. Or the dancing ~ you feel as though you are there doing the cha cha salsa dancing with them, and trust me, it is no easy feat to dance like that, most especially the ladies part. And if you didn’t feel right at home in the nail salon, well then you my friends, are going to the wrong nail salon. While one or two musical numbers might have stretched and went a bit too long, and it’s also possible the second act feels like it drags a bit here and there in comparison to the first and third acts, these things are minor nit picking as all in all, it’s just truly a very entertaining watch. Lengthy as it is, it’s truly a 2 hour 24 minutes love story. But not just a love story in the traditional sense, but a love story about a city, a place, a time and about it’s people. The senses of it all you can taste, feel and smell – all through the music and dance.

The acting and dancing is out of this world, though I did NOT know Jimmy Smits was a singer! While everyone is shooing Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera and Gregory Diaz IV as the new faces to follow, to put Anthony Ramos as being in that category as well is just a bit on the incorrect side, as he has been putting in the good work since Monsters and Men in 2018, and can we say A Star Is Born co-star anyone? But enough with the young stars as they have wonderful careers ahead of them and were all sensational here. But a standout here that many seem to overlook is our Abuela herself, Olga Merediz, as she is simply wonderful here in her supporting role and I truly hope she is not forgotten about during supporting nomination time, just because she didn’t sing and dance up a storm, she held this group together like a true neighborhood Abuela.

No matter the tiny criticisms, there’s something truly radiating about the film’s vibrancy and joyful enthusiasm – which is, frankly, what we all need right now. And do yourself one last favour before you leave, stay for the post-credit scene.

B+

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Review Screening: Monday, January 7, 2021 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.

IN THE HEIGHTS” OPENS IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE AND ON HBO MAX ON FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 2021

REVIEW: “SOUND OF METAL” (2020) Amazon Studios

SOUND OF METAL” is an exploration into not only the reality of those who are deaf of which so much is so poorly represented in film and television, but also what the destructive nature and high cost of denial and self-deception can lead to in the face of the hard truths that come to light. This first feature from Writer-Director Darius Marder – gives an insightful look into a world where sounds can’t be taken for granted and uses the hearing loss of a heavy metal drummer to explore what happens when the life we know is suddenly snatched away.

Riz Ahmed is Ruben, a speed metal/punk drummer for the band Blackgammon, along with his lead singer/girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) who screams out the punk-style lyrics for the band. We watch as Ruben’s euphoria in the moment of drumming is clearly within himself (all the while noting his many tattoos including the Please Kill Me across his chest) and change dramatically during a performance. Afterwards, we see the happy couple living a nomadic lifestyle in their RV in what seems to be a perfectly simple life of a clean-eating, smoothie drinking band on tour not reflected in their style of music. The first crack in the facade of things is seeing Lou’s scratching from anxiety and you realize something might be up with Ruben as well.

The core conflict of this film is when Ruben learns that he is having hearing issues with it leading into his learning that the hearing condition will not only worsen but could be permanent, as he goes against all advice given to slow down the music career and talks ‘options’. Instead Ruben whom we also find out is a recovering addict, just goes full steam ahead in defiance and frustration in trying to figure out how he will afford cochlear implants to get his hearing back and life will once again be “normal”. Ahmid’s wonderful performance here allows us to feel and experience the moment Ruben realizes he has a problem, and how he begins to process this. His girlfriend however, can see the writing on the wall and wants desperately for him to get better and accept his condition as she is the one who moves to get Ruben into a rehab for the deaf. But this is anything but easy as there is immediate tension between Ruben and Joe (Paul Raci), the head honcho who runs the rehab. Why this immediate tension is put to the forefront is due to the very real split within the deaf community and the feelings surrounding cochlear implants and whether being deaf is something that needs “fixed” or is even a disability. Note: Deaf people have managed just fine for many years without implants and have formed entire communities and relationships that don’t define them as being disabled… hence the problems with what Ruben wants to do versus if it really needs to be done. The quality of the writing and acting here though, really give you thought as to looking at both sides here and that is what gives us all pause as is he right or wrong in what he wants.

Yet, as loud and vibrated ‘Sound of Metal’ really is, there is a sense of tranquility to it with the rest of the film carrying out the process of all the questions we wanted answers to. Did Ruben finally accept that his deafness wasn’t necessarily the life-ending disability he thought it was? Did he feel guilty over the way he left things at the rehab? Does he feel like the surgery might be a mistake? Whether you agree or not what we all can agree on agree is that the use of sound in this film was absolutely fantastic and incredibly artful and you very much feel like you are living in Ruben’s headspace. At many points throughout the movie, we hear things exactly as Ruben does, whether that means hearing nothing at all or just muffled sounds. Again, Riz Ahmed is wonderful in this role and proves his career is only on going up. up and away. Olivia Cooke didn’t give me much with a one expression, one note performance even when outwardly she changed dramatically. Paul Raci is top note as well as the rest of the small supporting cast throughout.

The clarity and intense scenes of silence are some of the most captivating and devastatingly powerful throughout the film.  It leaves open the possibility for people to take away from it what they want and the beauty of it all again is seeing both sides of the story as it will definitely make you feel something one way or the other.

Grade: A-

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Review screening: Courtesy oAmazon Studios

“SOUND OF METAL” IS NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON PRIME

REVIEW: “THE BEE GEES: HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART” (2020) HBO

“The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” is informative, entertaining, and heart wrenching as Director/Producer Frank Marshall reveals the band’s soul and the power dynamic that propelled them to superstardom. Probably the most heart breaking part is it’s being told mostly from the point of view of Barry Gibb, the last remaining Gibb brother.

The memories are wonderful moments here as we are taken through the Brothers Gibb early life in Australia. Contrary to what most thought myself included, the brothers were not Australian but born on the Isle of Man and their parents then immigrated from Manchester, England to Australia in the early 50’s where they started their singing trio consisting then of Barry, and twin brothers Maurice & Robin. Returning to the UK in 1967, the height of Beatles fame no less, the Australian producer Robert Stigwood with his insightful visionary eye signs The Bee Gees and we watch as they break into the UK charts after only five months. This leads to a string of hits as well as a massive touring schedule of the USA and Europe before rivalry between Robin and Barry caused the break-up of the band in 1969, the first of a few splits they have over the years.

We follow the story along with commentary from everyone from Eric Clapton, Mark Ronson, Nick Jonas, Chris Martin and Justin Timberlake sharing either first hand stories or how they were influenced. In the case of Nick Jonas, first hand knowledge of what it’s like to shoot to fame overnight in a band with your brothers and how it can affect not only each person individually, but the family dynamic as a whole. We see how the Brothers Gibb rise to the heights of stardom, only to fall dramatically down and get caught in the tidal wave of egos, drugs, drinking and then realize together they are much stronger than when solo. The comeback is monumental as we watch how they evolve to come to Miami, Florida and make famous the ‘Miami sound’ which takes off immediately in underground gay clubs. We are also introduced to younger brother Andy Gibb, whom they refer to as the ‘caboose on the end of the Gibb train of talented brothers’ and as we know, became very successful in his own right. All this leads into how a semi-famous TV star named John Travolta being signed to a million dollar three picture deal – an unheard of deal at that time and one of these pictures was to be ‘Saturday Night Fever‘. Moving along, the brothers go to the ‘Honky Chateau’ where Elton John had just finished recording his highly touted album of the same name and it’s there that the Bee Gees go on to create that magic that was the very successful Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on which every song was a major hit.

It all comes to a crashing halt thanks to their music being labeled ‘Disco’ – something the Bee Gees did not want to be labeled into any type of genre, and a guy named Steve Dahl starting a “Disco Sucks” campaign at Kaminsky Park after a baseball game. He called for everyone to bring their most hated Disco album and burn them along with hundreds of others. Basically it ended up being more of a racist, homophobic record and book burning which The Bee Gees got caught up in through no fault of their own all equaling the end of an era. It was also the night they announced that Andy Gibb would become an official Bee Gee brother – something that sadly never came to fruition as Andy would pass later that same year.

The last chapter here focuses on another rebirth of sorts for the trio as they ended up writing some top hit songs for the likes of Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton duet, Celine Dion and of course who can forget Barry Gibb’s duet with Barbra Streisand. Barry sums up their career perfectly in noting they never wanted a label put on them even though many tried, they just had different periods in their long career.

Andy Gibb – passed away from heart inflammation on March 10, 1988

Maurice Gibb – passed from complications from a surgery on Jan 20, 2003

Robin Gibb – passed from cancer on May 20, 2012

Barry Gibb is still alive and would rather have them all back and no hit songs.

Grade: A

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Review screening: Courtesy of 42 West and HBO

“THE BEE GEES: HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART” COMES TO HBO ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2020  

REVIEW: “EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA” (2020) Netflix

“EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA” is the story of two clunky but charming singers, who chase their pop star dreams to perform for their country in the very popular International Eurovision song contest. We see Lars (Will Ferrell) as a child watching ABBA at the 1976 Eurovision and from that moment on in life, he aspires to be everything like them. Singing along to ‘Waterloo’ is too amusing for his family as they all laugh at him, this upsets young Lars and he loses their respect, especially from his father Erick (Pierce Brosnan) who does a wonderful, darkly comedic portrayal of one of those dads who had zero faith and belief in his son on this lifelong endeavor.

Fast forward to 2020 and we see Lars teaming up with his childhood best friend and local singer Sigrid (Rachel McAdams) who along with Lars are ‘Fire Saga’, the hometown band in their small town village in Iceland. They have a few fans at local bars but they are dreaming big and are entered into a knockout competition to have the chance to sing at Eurovision. Sigrid wants to get close to Lars, but he thinks it would get in the way of the music and would be a distraction. When the other contestants are blown up, Lars and Sigrid are Iceland’s only chance left and off they go.

On this wild ride that ensues their journey through the Eurovision contest and predicaments they find themselves in, they meet their crazy fellow contests, attend some wild parties where Sigrid finds she has herself an admirer in the Russian favourite, the arrogant and flamboyant Alexander (Dan Stevens), who gives an downright amusing performance here. He comes between Sigrid and Lars who have a love attraction, until Lars decides to not perform and goes home where he not only feels lost, but realizes that Sigrid is his true love and he must return to her – well that and OMG they actually qualify for the contest itself.

As someone who has never watched more than 10 minutes of a Eurovision contest, I must confess that the film is just a little much needed diversion from everything serious happening all around us on a daily basis. And while we shouldn’t just BOOM! forget everything, we as people can do two things at once at take a momentary diversion for a hot second to enjoy this as it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a hilarious satire of all that Eurovision entails.  The over the top performances, the voting fix of neighbouring countries, the notable guest starring roles of past contestants, and yes, the noticing of that Britain never gets a vote, just all add up to a gaggle of tidbits to make this comedic enough for all of us to at least crack a smile at.

All of it’s in good fun though you might not get a complete laugh out loud moment, you will be charmed by this one as even the Icelandic accents are funny, done in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. Again, the characters are more enjoyable and charmingly funny rather than a “ha!ha!” laugh-out-loud type funny. But with some sporting singing from both McAdams and Ferrell to close it all down, makes it one to check out.

Grade: B-

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“EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA” IS AVAILABLE TO WATCH ON NETFLIX

REVIEW: “YESTERDAY” (2019) Universal

A world without music from The Beatles? It’s hard to “Imagine” right.  But of course it’s not as simple as never having their classics played on the radio or not being able to find an album or song lyrics, basically any idea of them ever existing. Of course, that’s a bit too much to tackle in a movie, so director Danny Boyle  simplifies things by serving up a 12 second global power outage in which starts the beginning of ‘Yesterday’.

The film tells the story of Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), an amateur musician who is trying to break into the industry with the help of his best friend Ellie Appleton (Lily James), but during that random power outage,  he gets hit by a truck riding his bike home and wakes up in an alternate universe where several things have turned out to have never existed, but most importantly the Beatles and their songs. Jack decides to take advantage of this, and uses the Beatles’ music to launch his career, becoming the most famous pop star in the world.

That premise sounds great, and I was looking forward to a surreal comedy, but to be honest, it doesn’t quite live up to it, instead getting distracted by what the actual main plot turned out to be: a cliche romantic comedy with the childhood friend that is secretly in love with the protagonist, only for him to figure it out for himself later. aka..a generic romcom.

The best moments of this film are to do with the central premise of the alternate universe, where Jack would reference something, only for the people around him to say “what’s that?” I mean, it’s the same joke in different words basically every time, but hey, the way they execute it is pretty good. There are also some decent satirical moments with Jack interacting with the music industry, personified by Jack’s manager Debra (Kate McKinnon), and an extended cameo by Ed Sheeran, who falls victim to some self-deprecating jokes, and Rocky (Joel Fry) his ‘roadie’ who honestly was one of the funniest characters in the film.

Speaking of the Beatles, you’d be surprised by how little they actually contribute to the plot. For a film that is named after one of their more famous songs, you’d think that their music and impact to society would be more than just a plot device for the main character to achieve his success. There’s no real commentary as to why the Beatles music is so great, you’re just told, over and over again, that they’re the greatest band ever, and that a world without them ever existing would suck. Sure, that is something I would agree with, but the film doesn’t really add much of their own perspective to that side of the story, it just takes that idea as fact.

The romance is decent, but cliche and overall unremarkable. Screenwriter Richard Curtist definitely knows how to write romances, having written several well regarded romcoms, like “Love Actually” and “About Time“, but I would say that ‘Yesterday’ isn’t quite up to that standard. Same goes for Danny Boyle and the other films he directed compared to this. The direction isn’t bad, but it’s bland and doesn’t really add much to the story.

I guess if you like romcoms and Beatles music, this movie will definitely be watchable, and truthfully, it is entertaining enough..but just barely enough and it slides through it’s two hour run time, and overall I’m disappointed that they didn’t take full advantage of the great premise and really run with it.

Grade: C+

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Media Review Screening: Monday, June 24, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Universal Studios

‘YESTERDAY’ IS NOW PLAYING IS THEATERS WORLDWIDE

REVIEW: “ROCKETMAN” (2019) Paramount Pictures

Where do we start here…well with Elton Hercules John a.k.a. Reginald Kenneth Dwight of course. This is one movie I predict is going to get very mixed reviews because while it has an R rating and can show a bit more spunk, it’s also more Broadway musical and flits between scenes of Elton’s life at a very high speed, most especially in it’s second half.  I predict many will love it, and some might revile it. I was caught somewhere in the middle. Without giving any actual spoilers away and going step by step through the film every scene, consider this:

1. If you absolutely do not like musicals, save your money. This is the John/Taupin equivalent of a Rodgers & Hammerstein show. It is not presented as a straightforward biopic in the same manner as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘, though honestly these two films shouldn’t even be compared side by side because of many different factors, some of which include the rating (R vs PG-13), that they were two completely totally different types of musicians, one was  a band, one is a solo artist etc.. so just don’t do it. Don’t compare. It’s silly.

2. Much as I like Elton John, this “rock & roll fantasy” of his life treads a little too far into campy territory for me, with two, maybe three very (thankfully) brief moments in the film that can only be described as cringe-worthy. (“Oh, come on, guys–seriously?” moments.) There were times when I genuinely felt this was going to end up as the Ken Russell version of ‘Tommy’ for the new millennium.

 

These few things however, are about my only problems with the film. Credit must be given where it’s due:

1. Taron Egerton is just amazing as Elton. Some might see his acting as occasionally over the top, but frankly and for all we know, maybe EJ really did act that “extremely” at times, considering his anger issues. His singing, most of the time, is virtually spot-on, catching EJ’s lilting singing style quite well.

2. The supporting cast: Jamie Bell (Bernie Taupin), Bryce Dallas Howard (Sheila – Elton’s mother) , Richard Madden (John Reid – EJ’s agent & self-centered 1st lover), Stephen Graham (Dick James), a simply standout performance by Tate Donovan (L.A.’s Troubador Club manager Doug Weston), Gemma Jones (Ivy, EJ’s grandmother) & Steven Mackintosh (Stanley – EJ’s cold, uncaring father) and all others in the film are essentially faultless.

3. Much as I wasn’t prepared for a musical/rock opera, it’s hard to find fault with the staging and choreography of the musical numbers. Very professionally done.

4. You will learn many things about EJ’s life in this film, most especially his early family life that you may not have known before…I know I did.

5. Don’t leave right away after the credits roll.

So, is it worth seeing? My criticisms aside (and we all know what they say about opinions), it really comes down to this: if you’re a fan–and especially a dedicated fan most definitely go see it. Decide for yourself if my few gripes hold any water.

Grade: B-

@pegsatthemovies

 

Media Review Screening: Wednesday, May 22, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

“ROCKETMAN” IS NOW PLAYING WORLDWIDE 

REVIEW: “A STAR IS BORN” (2018) Warner Bros.

“A Star is Born” version 4.0 is here. And with it, we get not only Lady Gaga, but Bradley Cooper in his directorial debut doing double duty as lead actor as well. Straight off the bat I have to say this was a fantastic film with deserved praise for both its stars performance and their chemistry. The rise of fame from Gaga’s character to the declining career of Cooper’s was a roller-coaster ride of emotion. And the soundtrack can be just summed up as WOW!.

This 2018 updated version is very much in tune with today’s world and thankfully so, as I can only confess to seeing the last two versions and they were too kept in time with the day/age of music of that period. The first half of film for me is certainly the strongest part as we get to meet our main characters Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), a musician who is struggling to cope with his life and Ally (Lady Gaga), who thru a through a random stop, meetup where she is performing at a drag bar that Maine stops in while in an alcoholic stupor, for just one more cocktail.

We get a very good supporting cast here who all stand on their own in their parts of the story. Once again, I am impressed by Andrew Dice Clay’s performance – something I’d never thought I’d see or say, as Ally’s father Lorenzo. Her sidekick throughout the film is Ramon (Anthony Ramos) and her manager who takes her down fame’s sidewalk Rez (Rafi Gavron). Cooper has his own great support in Sam Elliot as his much older 1/2 brother Bobby. Bobby is the one who has picked Jackson up off the ground – literally – and wrapped him up at night before any major damage can be done.

Cue to the second half of the film. While still great does have more than a few cliche moments which can be a bit distracting especially if you have seen the other versions. Coopers directorial eye is certainly great capturing some great brilliant musical performance shots and always capturing the characters emotional thoughts. I certainly would have liked more Dave Chappelle scenes and loved the different type of character he played.

If I had to sum up this film – acting/directing/story/soundtrack in the best way possible it would be as follows: Gaga out-sings Cooper by a long shot, though make no mistake, he does a passable job. But Cooper on the other hand, out acts Gaga – who again, does well for a first time starring role – but cannot compete with either Streisand or Garland’s previous acting performances while her voice is just as comparable. Realistically speaking, those two are a tough act to follow for ANYONE. I know everyone is screaming Oscar, but personally, and again this is just me, I think it might be to early to call that yet – though it’s all a possibility.

While it’s a very tough job to pull this off as this type of story was maybe thought to have been done to death, but truly congratulations to all on a job well done.

Grade: B
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Monday, October 1, 2018 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
‘A STAR IS BORN’ IS OUT WORLDWIDE FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2018

DAY 4: COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST ACTRESS”

It’s the 4th day of the Countdown and we are at none other than Best Actress..

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Isabelle Huppert, ElleMY PICK
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performance as bold as this one. Huppert simply blew me away in one of the probably the oddest roles I think I’ve ever seen portrayed. I’ve never seen anything like it and probably never will again. Sadly, she won’t win for this piece of brillance.

Ruth Negga, Loving
While she was fairly one-note, but engaging enough here, I really only started to like this performance so much once she started speaking and really putting forth as the first 30+ min she just really never said anything. I just can’t put forth an award pick for that.

Natalie Portman, Jackie
While I think I enjoyed this film more than some did as it just got to me a little emotionally than I thought it would, she did go ‘caricature’ at times with it. While she was a front-runner for some time, I don’t think she even comes close to Huppert.

Emma Stone, La La LandWINNER
Yeah – I like Emma but this is really just another cutsey performance to me. Let’s face it, her singing/dancing parts aren’t all that good, but the ‘auditions’ parts were really good. That’s really all there is to it.

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Am I’m surprised Meryl Streep even got a nomination, no even though it’s almost annoying at this point, because even though the whole movie was a huge let-down, we all really do love her. And yes, I think she solidified her nomination when she gave that speech at the Golden Globes which was quite epic, but this award isn’t about best speeches.

@pegsatthemovies
Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!