Category Archives: Woman Director

REVIEW: “LUCY AND DESI” (2022) Amazon Studios

Who knew that it would be director/actress/comedian extraordinaire Amy Poehler that would bring us the “LUCY AND DESI” movie we all needed this year. While 2021 was us an Aaron Sorkin version, that was truly based on only just a moment in time in the life of this most beloved of all TV histories famous comedic couple, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

(Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

This documentary is not only a love story to Lucy and Desi, it is about THEIR love story as well. One that with all it’s publicized up’s and down’s, was one for the history books in more way than just one. Here we not only learn about a long-forgotten box of discovered audio tapes from Lucy herself, but these tapes allows us to hear much of their history directly from horses mouth so to speak, Lucy and Desi themselves on home video and recordings. And boy are they a joy to watch. Here you get the true story of how Lucy started her career, as a model no less because she was stunningly beautiful, leading her to Hollywood where she was dubbed “Queen of the B’s” aka B-movies at the time, as those were the days of Hollywood starlets being signed to a singular studio and their films picked for them.

And we see Desi’s life as well, coming from a prominent Cuban family affiliated with the Bacardi rum empire at the time, and whom lost everything when the 1933 Cuban revolution took place at the age of 14, he was one of the few of his family who was sent and made it to the shores of the USA. Starting off young in Xavier Cugat’s band, Desi branched out on his own and is the man we can thank today for the infamous ‘Conga line’, something that you will most probably be participating in at most weddings, and most definitely on a cruise ship at some point or another. As well, it shows some classic Desi performances of his still-famous-around-the-world signature song, “Babaloo”.

But the two were destined to meet and that moment happened on the set of and RKO movie entitled “Too Many Girls”, sending them into a whirlwind romance, and into marriage just a short time later. That whirlwind romance never truly ended for either of them, though both moved on eventually, it’s one of those true stories in life of a love that never really dies. Amy Poehler delivers a masterful review of the rich, varied, fascinating history and this famous duo, by giving us peeks into not the just good, but the hardships as well. From Desi time in the Army and their long separations, to the Communist scandal, to Desi’s unfaithfulness stories being plastered on the front page of every gossip rag in town. But through it all, the fact that it was Lucy who demanded that Desi be her not just her real husband, but her TV husband as well – something America had never before witnessed, an Anglo-white woman, with a Cuban-born immigrant as a real life couple. And not just that, but the many firsts the couple did such a showing a pregnancy and having a child on TV, sleeping together in a double bed, buying out RKO and making it their own Desilu Studios with multiple hit sitcoms coming out of it, besides their own. And two of the biggest deals in the entertainment world at the time, making re-runs of shows possible, and having a woman run a studio. These accomplishments might not seem like much today, but they paved the road for making it as such.

Some of the best parts though come from their daughter, Lucie Arnaz-Luckinbill, as she speaks so lovingly about her parents true love story with clips from notables such as Carol Burnett, Norman Lear, Bette Midler, and Charo, sharing their admiration and love for Lucy, not just as a friend, but honouring all of her achievements and the giving moments that she shared with each of them. And sadly, it also shows the hardships of the end of their lives with Desi succumbing to lung cancer, with his daughter taking care of him till the end, yet Lucille herself coming to spend a last day with him watching re-runs of their show, laughing and reminiscing the good times. Lucy herself would pass three years later from heart issues.

Photo by Leonard Mccombe/The LIFE Picture Collection/ Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on the launch of Desilu Studios

In the end, they said their “I Love You’s” to each other, and probably just like the rest of us, realized that even sometimes just love isn’t enough to hold you together, but it also never leaves you. And even today, we can watch those ‘I Love Lucy‘ re-runs and laugh, smile and realize, yes everyone still loves Lucy.

Grade: A

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

LUCY AND DESI will premiere March 4, 2022 exclusively on Prime Video

REVIEW: “FRESH” (2022) Searchlight Pictures

One thing not to be expected upon watching the opening scene of “FRESH”, director Mimi Cave‘s new horror comedy thriller, is laughing your head off at said opening scene with Chad (Brett Dier) and Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), while watching them on a date. Chad is the guy you never want to find yourself on a date with, but it’s hilarity like this that makes you think this is just going to be a harmless little rom-com. Well you will have sorely mis-judged your expectations because you are about to be taken on a fantastic wild little ride that you will not soon forget.

As we’ve now met Noa on the date from hell, we soon find out she is just one of the many young, single women who has been looking for love in all the wrong places, like dating apps, hence the terrible date with Chad. So when she randomly meets the charming and very good looking Steve (Sebastian Stan), in the produce section at the local grocers, she falls for his charming ‘cotton candy grapes’ line and ends up exchanging numbers. From there, things move fast, a little too fast if you were to ask her best friend Molly (Jojo T. Gibbs), as Noa ends up throwing caution to the wind and goes on a weekend getaway with Steve. But I mean who wouldn’t – honestly, they have great chemistry and he is fun, different and yes, re-‘Fresh’ing.

Honestly, not knowing much about this film is how you should go into watching this one, as it made me feel glad to not have anything revealed to me beforehand. Watching everything unfold as it does and finding out who Steve really is, is just something that needs to be as savoured as the meals Steve prepares for Noa. But be prepared as this skillfully directed film has a plot that is as diabolical as they come and those meals Steve cooks, can be profoundly disturbing. But perhaps the best part is as psychologically terrifying as this one is, it barely touches on any in your face violence or gore, but instead its the sheer psychological terror of each minute, that keeps you entirely focused on what’s happening in front of you. And mind you, some of the things happening will chill you to your core as the subject matter is grisly, but in mostly in the thought of it all because it is so realistically handled by Cave’s direction here as it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Fresh can be genuinely disturbing and unsettling, at times even nauseating, but you will also find that you can’t look away for a second and this is mostly because of two factors, those being Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones. They are insanely good here as Stan is so charming, yet so dark and mysterious, turning into almost repellant, and yet feels like he is what you would get if swiped right on a hot Tinder version of Hannibal Lecter, because yes, we would swipe right on him. Edgar-Jones, plays her persona more than just convincing as she uses reverse psychology on Steve and does it so competently and never gives into the victim cliché. And there is a dance scene that should just not be missed by anyone and this whole film should truly fall into cult classic heaven. Even the supporting cast comes through here adding belief into each scene. While I admit it’s one fault is the ending felt a bit rushed and cheesy, but with the first 30 mins getting you in the mood before revealing the big “surprise” twist, it really doesn’t matter.

Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones in the film FRESH. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

But again, I can’t stress enough to go into this as blind as possible but also be prepared for what’s to come as It can get quite unnerving and rather intense at times, but in oddly all the right ways. Here is what I know and what will stick with me for some time – Mama Rosa’s meatballs will never look the same for me for some time to come, and after watching this and The Tinder Swindler, I am never dating again – well that is until ‘Steve’ pops up on my phone.

Grade: B

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“FRESH” premieres exclusively Hulu Friday, March 4, 2022

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-

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

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+

RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT (2021) Roadside Attractions

Have you ever looked at someone’s life from the outside and just said to yourself “wow, I wish I could be just like them”. Well that’s what so many thought when looking at Rita Moreno and this great in-depth documentary about one of Hollywood’s most trailblazing actors, can confirm you just might still want to be.

The now 89-year-old actress, born in Puerto Rico, Moreno came to New York with her mother as a child at age 6, leaving behind her brother and father, whom she never saw again in her life. Moreno dropped out of school at the age of 15 and earned the money for her family as a dancer at the age of 16. When the boss of a Hollywood studio was in town, she auditioned with her mother: “I styled myself like Elizabeth Taylor, because that was the only actress who looked like me at the time.” She got the contract and from then on played everyone small role that looked somehow exotic, from the ‘Indian girls’ to the Asian dancers, and yes, even the playing Russian/Hungarian girls and incredibly, all of them with the same accent.

We see the good, the bad, and the ugly side of Rita’s life, not just the ‘grazing at the surface’ good things. It shows how Rita struggled with hating her Hispanic roots, because it limited her as an actress. She tells how she was sexually abused, was forced into an abortion by her then-boyfriend Marlon Brando, with whom she had a very turbulent 8 year on/off relationship with, and then tried to commit suicide. The film shows exactly why Rita is such a beloved actress and person as despite all the obstacles and what she has been through, she never gives up and learned to value the woman she is. Rita grows into her own person throughout the movie, telling how everything that put her down at the time just made her stronger.

Doing her due research here and getting it right, director Mariam Pérez Riera visited with the likes of: Morgan Freeman, Lin-Manual Miranda, Gloria Estefan, Whoopi Goldberg, Eva Longoria, Mitzi Gaynor, West Side Story co-star George Chakiris to name a few, and Moreno’s co-star on the much loved and critically acclaimed Latina version of “One Day at a Time”, Justina Machado. She collected anecdotes about Moreno’s daughter Fernanda Luisa Gordon, (an actress in her own right who performed with her mom), she scoured film and newspaper archives with journalistic meticulousness and peppered her documentary with countless glossy recordings and glowing testimonies. All of it showing that Rita has truly always been a force to be reckoned with and not just the first Latina to collect an Oscar in the 60’s when something like that was unheard of, and then went on to be the first Latina to win the celebrated EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, & Tony) as well.

Rita wearing her film titled top

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It’ ~ has thus become a film that shows how much has changed in Hollywood and is a true monument to a young girl who evolved into a strong, wonderful woman who has done a lot for this change. And yes, if I could be even the teensiest bit like Rita, well of course I would GO FOR IT!

B+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT” opens only in theaters June 18th, 2021

REVIEW: “HOW IT ENDS” (2021) SXSW Online Film Festival

Shot entirely during the pandemic, “HOW IT ENDS” takes on a delightfully quirky look of a one young woman’s journey of her last day on earth. While it was a bit chilling to note was how the streets of LA were essentially a ghost town, it definitely ended up playing in the movie’s favour. Being that the movie was very minimalistic due to pandemic restrictions, directors Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein use this to their advantage as it aptly adds to the general aesthetic of the idea that it’s all about to end.  

With the jist of the story being that an armageddon-type meteor is speeding towards a collision course with Earth and will extinguish all life as we know it. Liza (Zoe Lister-Jones), and her younger metaphysical version of herself (Cailee Spaeny), charmingly referred to as “YS,” take to the streets of Los Angeles on a journey to find one last party and instead find themselves on a journey of self-discovery as well. Initially, Liza has no interest whatsoever in attending this party and just wants to hang out by herself and get stoned, eat a pile of pancakes, drink some wine and let it all go. Liza’s only problem is well, Young Liza, who pressures her(self) to attend the Apocalypse Party being thrown by Mandy (Whitney Cummings).

How It Ends’ is an interesting and hilarious concept. Some of what makes this film so charming is the realization that until she set out on this journey, no one could see or knew about her ‘YS’, or so she thought. Running into an eclectic cast of characters along the way is all part of the fun and delight here. From a reconciliation with her mom (Helen Hunt), or realizing she wants to tell her ex-boyfriend Nate (Logan Marshall Green), that she really does love him — to hashing out a long overdue grudge with her friend Ali (Olivia Wilde), or stopping by her dad’s (Bradley Whitford), it’s all in a days work when it’s the last day on earth. By using characters and having a metaphysical younger version of themselves works hugely in the film stories favour as it turns out they meet others with the same along the way, only adds to the delight.

While Lister-Jones might be doing triple duty here as a writer/director and lead of the film, its truly Cailee Spaeny that carries us up and off, elevating the entire movie and delivering an impressive performance that I just couldn’t take my eyes off. Truly they are brilliant together, forming an aura of pure enjoyment and putting a smile on every viewers’ face. Keep an eye out for the standout cameos as well as so you don’t miss the appearances by: Finn Wolfhard, Logan Marshall-Green, Fred Armisen, Bradley Whitford, Sharon Van Etten, Olivia Wilde, Lamorne Morris, Helen Hunt, and Colin Hanks.

Honestly, if it ever comes down to the time where all life is about to end, and earth itself is about to cease to exist… you realize you’re left with nothing but yourself, and all the unfinished business you’ll need to deal with so you can die in peace. Doing something that you might regret later is an inevitability of life, but making amends with it shouldn’t be left to an extreme chance or to the very last moment when everything is about to end… and this is a message I can get behind.

Grade: B

@pegsatthemovies

Review screening : Courtesy of 42 West PR and SXSW Film Festival

REVIEW: “WOMEN IS LOSERS”(2021) SXSW FILM FESTIVAL

It’s the early 1960’s in San Francisco, California and the social rules of the time, laws, cultural norms and obstacles are set in place to keep women ‘in their place’ which as the old saying goes, is essentially barefoot and pregnant. It’s worth pointing out that at this time period in America a woman could not open a bank account on her own, get a credit card in her own name, let alone get birth control unless married. All this sums into an old Janis Joplin song released around the same time period, even titled the same, and you realize there couldn’t be more fitting way to put meaning and a story to lyrics than Lissette Feliciano’s film “WOMEN IS LOSERS”. Pulling out a story from an old Joplin song might seem odd, but when you hear and listen to the words, you understand exactly what direction Feliciano’s film is taking you.

Celina (Lorenza Isso) is 17-year-old Latina Catholic schoolgirl living in a household with an abusive alcoholic father Don Juan (Steven Bauer), and sadly, compliant to the violence is her mother Dona Carolina (Alejandra Miranda). Along with her best friend Marty (Chrissie Fit), she goes to a party for her boyfriend Mateo (Bryan Craig), who has just returned from service in the Vietnam War. A minor indiscretion and being told “nothing can happen the first time,” results in Celina getting pregnant. Until that moment, her two favourite things were school, where she is somewhat of a math wiz, and having fun with Marty. After losing Marty to a back-alley botched abortion by a dentist of all people, Celina realizes she has no option but to accept the shame given from her community, school and family. So cue to nine months later Celina gives birth and starts to raise her son on her own, with no help from Mateo.

Being from such a structured, strict, religious community and having not finished her high school education, Celina struggles at a menial job to earn and put away money for her son’s future. She is constantly under the eagle eye of her supervisor Minerva (Liza Weil) who tries to find fault in everything she does. But eventually with her strong work ethic, she catches the eye of her superior, Gilbert Li (Simu Liu), who has his own Chinese immigrant story as well. While Gilbert promotes her from typist to teller at the bank, as he gives her a helping hand as well and teaches her the ways of investing in land, housing etc., there is of course there is always an ulterior motive and Celine learns this the hard way. She also earns the respect of Minerva, who is also defying community with her own inter-racial relationship and gives her a helping hand as well – but with no ulterior motives attached. During all this Mateo and Celine reconnect, marry, although ultimately unsuccessfully, as he is not only jealous of Celine’s work ethic, but he goes back to his old cheating ways with Lois (Alessandra Torresani). Seemingly the only way out for her is divorce or she will fall into being something she does not want be – exactly like her mother.

Director: Lissette Feliciano – “Women Is Losers”

The acting by lead Lorenza Isso truly makes the character of Celine come to life as she gives us her all with every emotion of wanting to laugh, cry, and fight right beside her. The supporting cast of Craig, Chrissie Fit, Miranda, Liza Weil, Liu are all fantastic and only add complexity to this colourful story. There is one scene at the beginning that shows the range of this cast that is done a-la ‘West Side Story‘ style, of a dance off that is truly a choreographed wonder to watch. In addition to the wonderful cast is what it is precisely that “Women Is Losers” brings to the table. To start off with, it speaks volumes about the true struggle of not only women, but marginalized women whether it be because of race, colour or religion – someone is always trying to hold you back. For every step taken forward, five are added to reach the next level. But there is always a price, and while this story ends well, so many do not. If anything to take away from this film, it’s the celebration at the end of Roe v Wade at the end and how this right must never be taken away again as more women like Marty will pay the price of doing so.

Grade: A-

@pegsatthemovies

Review screening : Courtesy of 42 West PR and SXSW Film Festival

REVIEW: “ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI” (2021) Amazon Studios

A stylish and promising debut from Regina King at the helm “ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI” is a fascinating watch with King working in close collaboration with Kemp Powers to adapt his own play to the screen with a story that pits four iconic figures and their beliefs against one another. The film is set mostly at the Hampton House, a motel in Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood and was one of only a few places for Black entertainers and celebrities to stay while performing at the swanky clubs and hotels of the then segregated Miami Beach.

After Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) wins the World Heavyweight Championship from Sonny Liston in Miami, he meets up with Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), all legends in their own right, to discuss their individual roles that they can play in the civil rights movement amid the upheaval of the 60s. Clay has promised Malcolm X that he will embrace Islam and change his name to Muhammad Ali the next morning. Ali/Clay’s boxing career had reached new heights, but he was barred from Miami Beach due to Jim Crow laws at the time, but he also unaware that Malcolm has just broken ranks with Elijah Muhammad, the national leader of the Nation of Islam at the time.

Introducing each of the characters in their everyday vocations as Cook is a hugely successful singer although he seems to be struggling with being accepted across the board i.e., by white audiences, Brown is a famous NFL player, but he’s also just had a taste of movie stardom and likes it, the soon to be Muhammad Ali is the World Heavyweight boxing champ and Malcolm X is a minister and one of the biggest leaders of the Civil Rights movement at the time. The struggles they faced in being black men sets the film up for a rather powerful main act where they discuss how they can use their positions of varied success to be heard during the civil rights movement.

This film has a dash of ironic, humorous moments which serve it well, because a good chunk of the film is a bit intense and lags at times with the rhythm getting bogged down for a few scenes, but there are some lively moments, especially revolving around musical performances. The acting by the four leads though is what kicks this film up at least ten notches as they give it their all, even though their were a few times their personas felt a bit pushed and character-ish. It’s so very difficult when an actor portrays a real person though all of them found a fine balance within their performances. Leslie Odom Jr showed off his singing chops, Ben-Adir gave us a talkative beautiful Malcolm X, Goree gave us all the ‘float like a butterfly – sting like a bee’ he had, but my personal choice was Aldis Hodge’s portrayal of Jim Brown, especially as Mr. Brown is still the only member here still alive. Hodge captured him as I someone who supported his friend, yet was also moving in the direction of ‘going Hollywood’ at time when not many men of colour had that opportunity. I think my only beef is the female co-stars Joaquina Kalukango as Betty X and Nicolette Robinson as Cooke’s wife Barbara, got the short shrift here with a scarce amount of lines, but then it is a story about the four men so on the other hand, it makes sense. Add in the wonderful Lance Reddick, Michael Imperioli, Beau Bridges in supporting roles and you’ve got yourself kicking up more notches up to round out this film. The production design, costumes, and soundtrack were beautiful and having said that, there are parts of the dialogue which are genuinely stirring.

‘One Night in Miami’ is an absorbing & entertaining film about the power of these men who while having some conflicting ideals, are really all striving for the same common goal.

Grade: B+

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Review screening: Courtesy oGinsberg/Libby PR

“ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI” IS OUT IN SELECT THEATERS WHERE AVAILABLE AND COMING TO PRIME VIDEO ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 2021

REVIEW: “NOMADLAND” (2020) Searchlight Pictures

Opening titles of the film: “On January 31, 2011, due to a reduced demand for sheetrock, US Gypsum shut down it’s plant in Empire, Nevada, after 88 years. By July, the Empire zip code, 89405, was discontinued.”

And thus we begin our journey into this remarkable film which gives us an eye opening look into what happens to the people who have worked their entire lives at one job, where their livelihood and all they know, is suddenly taken from them. Where they are then forced to pack up and vacate due to the fact the company they gave their lives to, also owned their homes. From that opening we follow Fern (Frances McDormand), a hard-working 60-something widow who has lived her entire adult life with her husband who recently passed from cancer, in Empire, NV. before it became a ghost town. With no choice but to convert her van into a home on wheels to live in, we see Fern adopt a semi-nomadic lifestyle and initially she starts off working for Amazon before deciding to leave and start moving from place to place as she hustles from part-time job to part-time job while travelling through the campgrounds of America.

The various jobs that she works throughout the film and the people she interacts with all complement the film’s character development giving us an insight most of us will never be privy to. While most of the supporting characters are not in the film for too long, they are all thoroughly unique and interesting as well. Along the way, Fern meets and makes friends with others in her same situation, sort of a group of mostly elderly outcasts who’ve been equally affected by America’s crippling recession. While new friends like Swankie (Charlene Swankie), the sweet Linda (Linda May), and silver-haired David (David Strathairn), who clearly wants more than just a friendship with her, Fern seems to have committed to the nomad lifestyle. While all these people in the caravans that travel around are all feeling out what is in front of them, they are also all finding the independence of this unplanned situation both freeing and limiting. You truly empathize for them and realize that the nomad lifestyle is not only one rooted in hardship, such as financial difficulty, but can also be one of hope for some of them and puts forth the struggles each of them face within themselves and others.

This isn’t completely all about one woman’s journey, it’s truly a movie about life and although the film is slow paced, it is so well done and entertaining that time flies. It was also very clever of our uncomparable female director Chloe Zhao, to cast non-actors and genuine nomads in a lot of the roles as it really give it a genuine feel into nomadic life and I wish everyone of them could be named here as they were all wonderful. There is a lot of reasons to watch this film and probably one of the biggest is Francis McDormand’s one woman showcase that she gives us here, carrying almost the entire movie on her shoulders alone with ease and it’s a beauty of a performance to be sure. ‘Captivating’ is the closest one word description one comes to as watching this woman attempting to keep it all together while still grappling with the grief of her husband’s death and the loneliness of the open road makes you feel as though you’re taking the journey with her. You can’t ask for her to give much else than that.

Along with all of that, you have the stunning cinematography that shows us the beautiful nature and appealing beauty of the American West. Truly, Chloe Zhao is the Queen of the beautifully done, long winding road films – films that visually show us not only a terrifically done story, but that there really is still so much beauty in this world to be seen and had.

Grade: A

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“NOMADLAND” IS OUT IN THEATERS WHERE AVAILABLE (OVERSEAS) AND COMING TO THE U.S. IN FEBRUARY 2021

REVIEW: “PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” (2020) Focus Features

Emerald Fennell is tackling the “paybacks are a bitch” scenario putting front and center the toxic behaviour we have all experienced at one time or another as women as she turns the tables and changes the game in a whole new way with her directorial debut here in “PROMISING YOUNG WOMEN”. This is also hands down probably 2020’s best film of the year, along with it being the one that you MUST see for yourself and not read the spoilers before seeing it as it was made to be entertaining, but also very BLUNT to get an important message across. ‘Promising Young Woman’ challenges at every turn the idea of what a “good guy” actually is.

Like so many other films have done before it, the movie gives us an incredible new take on the anger I think a lot of women feel, but it also doesn’t completely vilify men as a gender purely because they are men. Fennell’s stellar direction is so meticulous as it zigs exactly when you think it’s going to zag and zags exactly when you think it’s going zig with twists and turns during every jaw-dropping second of it.

Doing my absolute best to give you the outlining of the plot without a massive spoiler the jist is: Carey Mulligan plays Cassandra Thomas, a brilliant former med student who seemingly had a bright future until a disturbing event clearly turned her life upside down. It’s an event so stunning that we the audience don’t know what it is, but it’s affected her life in a grave manner. As we slowly watch and find out those said events unfold, just turned 30 year old Cassie still lives at home with her parents Susan (Jennifer Coolidge) and Stanley (Clancy Brown), works at a coffee shop, and doesn’t date or have any friends. But by night, she sits in a club, face down in a red leatherette booth, seemingly black out drunk. It’s a nightly routine – she goes to a club, acts too drunk to stand, and waits for a “nice” guy to come over and see if she’s okay. Needless to say Cassie leads a very different life as there is definitely something else here at play as she attempts to right a past wrong, very cynically and calculating as she does so. So she is living this secret double life at night…until she isn’t..or is this one of those zig zags mentioned earlier? Again, this is for you to find out and find out you will as every single delicious moment of this thriller come at you over and over again.

Promising Young Woman also give us an impressive supporting cast. From Adam Brody as her first ‘conquest’ Jerry to Bo Burnham as our cutesy-type doctor RyanLaverne Cox as her delicately blunt boss Gail, and Alison Brie who nails her role as former medical school classmate Madison while demonstrating how truly insidious and internalized misogyny can be and how this type of toxic behavior is often normalized in both men and women. Max GreenfieldAlfred Molina, Molly Shannon and Connie Britton all show up for impressive performances and Chris Lowell as Al Monroe is a character no one will be forgetting any time soon. And then there is Carey and Oh Carey! what a performance this is. Her wicked-bad acting powers this film all the way through as she salutes what her character stands for – which is essentially all of us. Never have I seen her take something and truly encompass all that female rage, romance, heartbreak and horror brings us all, in one spectacular performance.

As a warning, the ending is difficult, but at the same time, you can’t see it ending any other way as it’s a cross between triggering, healing and educational all wrapped up and honestly it’s true – revenge has never looked so ‘promising’. Please go see it.

Grade: A+

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Review screening: Courtesy oGinberg/Libby PR

“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” IS OUT ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN THEATERS/DRIVE-INS WHERE AVAILABLE AND ON VOD IN JANUARY