Mini reviews – August wrap ups

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Just very behind due to complications still on my hands from long haul Covid – but wanted to do some quick August wrap ups of some mini-reviews of some films I didn’t get a chance to give all of them full reviews as again, the hands. Working on that – typing with supports on them helps so will have some full reviews coming up as well for some.


#roadrunnerafilmaboutanthonybourdain was the 2nd great food documentary of the year. A telling and honest look at a man who begged the question “How do you eat your way across the world?” And then proceeded to show us exactly how to do that. Sadly he also had some ferocious demons and essentially traded one addiction for another..Full review here: https://peggyatthemovies.com/2021/07/29/roadrunner-a-film-about-anthony-bourdain/
Grade: A

#PIG – I mean who knew we needed a movie about a stolen pig and truffles..well #NicCage did clearly as this was the best surprise of film watching in awhile. All thanks to a completely different story & performance..
Grade: B+

#Jolt – Honestly this was sinking low for #StanleyTucci & #BobbyCanavale – though they could be considered its saving grace as well.. there just wasn’t anything new or even believable about this #KateBeckensale film. I just don’t have a lot of words for it.
Grade: D

#OLD – great beginning/good ending. The whole middle is a befuddlement in just trying to hard to be weird vs. good. Though huge kudos to the location scout as the remote beach setting is beautiful. Acting is decent, but it’s just not enough for me to highly recommend.
Grade: C

That’s it for this week..have a few more in another post and again, full reviews coming back starting Sept. 1st. Click the link or go to:
Peggyatthemovies@gmail.com or TheCherryPicks.com

ROADRUNNER: “A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN”

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It’s June 2006 and I find myself at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market as I lived in West Hollywood at the time and 2006 was when it was still a true Farmer’s Market, not the bougie ‘let’s sell a piece of cheese for $40’ booths it has now. It was a true place of fresh picked fruit and veggies that everyone in town came to shop at. So imagine my surprise when I see Anthony Bourdain sitting there at a table, autographing his latest book. I mean the man that once ate a cobra snake heart is there, albeit looking a little out of his element with a somewhat fake smile plastered on his face, posing for the cameras, greeting fans etc. But being the professional he was at that time, he handled it all like it was just another episode of his then show on the Travel Channel “No Reservations” – the show that brought him the fame he so craved, yet as you find out during “RoadRunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain”, might also have been just fulfilling a part of his addictive side.

“Roadrunner” opens with a short look at how Bourdain became well, Bourdain. Through the journey which started in 1999, shows how the publication of Kitchen Confidential, in essence Bourdain’s memoir, that coincidentally was one of the best books ever written about the restaurant industry – leads to his TV career, and eventually to him becoming TV’s foremost ‘man about food’. I mean Anthony basically begged the question “How do you eat your way across the world?” and then proceeded to show us exactly how to do just that. But as his hit series ‘No Reservations’ went on, it became clear that his shows became about way more than just the food. As we watched, or I did at least, how Bourdain himself noticeably grew up over the years as well. And so it became not just about the food, but about the places and the people making the food around him as well. And honestly how could it not when in 2006 while filming No Reservations in Beirut, we watch as a war breaks out right in front of him and his film crew, between Lebanon and Israel. It’s almost surreal as you see how it effects Bourdain himself as people are lying about a pool, with bombs bursting in the air maybe 5 miles away. It’s an episode that everyone involved agreed profoundly changed Bourdain’s career, and his approach to the show, from that point forward. 

Anthony Bourdain stars in Morgan Neville’s documentary, ROADRUNNER, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of CNN / Focus Features

Director Morgan Neville is giving us Bourdain just as he was, completely unfiltered, as Anthony was more than happy to share his opinions on pretty much anything and everything, and he definitely didn’t shy away from talking about his drug-riddled past. In fact it made him the person he became, along with in his love for punk rock, mostly Iggy Pop and The Ramones, both of whom he did spent time with and did shows with among the many musicians he admired. Add in his two-pack-a-day smoking habit (which he did quit after the birth of his daughter), and you have a bad-boy chef image that would stick with him, whether it was deserved or not. There was a seemingly never ending journey for a odd happiness that simply seemed to evade him even when marrying his second wife Ottavia Busia; becoming a father for the first time at age 50. His filming and production crew, most of whom had been with him since the beginning, a chore especially for his long-time crew who were finding him harder and harder to work with as he changed over to a whole new show and somewhat differing format in “Parts Unknown”. And of course it only got darker from there as Neville takes us down the final turn of Anthony’s life with the much publicized and not always liked relationship with actress Asia Argento. While he doesn’t come right out and blame Argento for Bourdain’s suicide, it’s made clear to all that his death came days after the actress appeared in tabloid photos with another man. Though to be fair, there were so many signs and Anthony himself constantly referenced how he would like to go out, to make her out to be the only source of his depression wouldn’t be right and we do see so much more, like the attempt to decode Bourdain’s final Instagram post, which shouldn’t even been tried to decode. It’s a goodbye in his own way.

We also get a good idea of how loved and respected Anthony was by giving us the appearances and thoughts of many of his peers, including his best friend Eric Ripert, his brother Chris, artist David Choe – who gives us a somewhat startling, yet insightful statement from Bourdain who tells him “and my life is sort of s— now. You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?” which is when we really start to realize all the cracks that have been there all along. As much as we like to look and someone else’s life and wish it to be our own, sometimes if that wish does come true, we do find out it wasn’t all it looked cracked up to be. There are ups and downs in everyone’s lives and as wonderful as it might look on the outside, the inside can be a much different story.

Grade: A-

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Virtual screening courtesy of ~ Ginsberg/Libby PR

“ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN” IS IN SELECT THEATERS AS OF FRIDAY, JULY 16, 2021 // VOD/HBO MAX/CNN to follow.

REVIEW: “THE BIG SHORT” (2015) Paramount Pictures

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the big short
When Ryan Gosling’s character Jared Vennett asks the question to a room full of brokers.. “What’s that smell?” and answers it with “Opportunity” you know then and there to prepare yourself for a very different type of ride.

The film’s narrative is driven by four cynical, fringe Wall Streeter’s disgusted with the large banking institutions’ overriding greed for profits. Separately, but yet oddly together, they make the decision to capitalize on the ensuing housing market catastrophe and the financial meltdown of 2008 upon discovering the market frenzy is being driven by worthless collateral debt obligations.
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While I might never figure out how Director Adam McKay made deplorable humans, blinding fear, gut-wrentching outrage and delightful shaming so much fun to watch ~ He most definitely brought along his dark bag of laughs here, but planted them in such a way as to where we actually understood what was happening thanks to fun cameo explanations from the likes of Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, Anthony Bourdain cooking it right up, and even Selena Gomez gambling though her little monologue.

After a rather lengthy dizzying, yet delightful, character introduction, the film picks up pace as the drama begins to unfold. Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale), an eccentric financial analyst, with complete autonomy of an investment fund, uncovers variables in his economic forecast indicating a massive housing market collapse. He informs his higher up, Lawrence Fields (Tracy Letts), of his discovery and creates a financial prospectus. In essence, he creates a commodity of selling short on bundled mortgages.
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The bankers laugh themselves silly as they willingly sell Burry all the “insurance” he wants. Word quickly spreads of Burry’s perceived madness in a after-work cocktail scene. With interest piqued upon overhearing the Wall Street gossip of the day, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), scoops up the aspects of Burry’s move. Soon, he sells it to a group led by Steve Carell’s real-life character, Mark Baum and convinces them to buy in.

As the debacle is in full free-fall, Baum struggles with disbelief as he and his group have bet against their own umbrella entity, Morgan Stanley. The final team that has uncovered the impending financial crisis, made up of two Wall Street rookie wanna-be’s, Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) and Charlie Geller (John Magaro) who along with veteran trader turned-conspiracist Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), also struggle with the imploding financial system caused by corporate greed and indifference
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With a mammoth cast, the acting in this movie is pristine with the whole ensemble cast being in top form. With that said however there were three stand out performances that somewhat break this mold.
Ryan Gosling might be the funniest as he narrates and embodies the fact that he’s a scum bag and just rolls with it, offering an entertainingly slick performance. Christian Bale let us feel his pain and lonely genius, stole the show in every scene he was in. The only genuinely relate able character in the lot, Bale conveys a great deal of sensitivity, making it one of his best performances to date. Steve Carell dug deep and came up with a persona that brings Baum to life, even if he does over act at times which I guess is how he really is in true-life form.
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It was also nice to see Marisa Tomei, Hamish Linklater, Billy Magnussen, Rafe Spall, Max Greenfield and talented others working at a solid supporting level.

With all the ‘truth’ films out there this year, “The Big Short” is one of the more important ones of this group and also one of the best. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time as the film warns us in a way, who knows what will be the next basic human necessity to be denied by those few who hold power.

Grade: B+
@pegsatthemovies

Review Screening: Arclight Hollywood ~ Tuesday, December 8, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
In Select Theaters: Friday, December 11, 2015
NATIONWIDE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 23, 2015