REVIEW: “WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE” (2019) Annapurna Pictures

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Imagine my surprise sitting five minutes into this movie and realizing it all seems so familiar somehow.  Unfortunately that is the fate of being an avid reader as well as film goer, I realized I’d read Maria Semple’s wonderful 2012 novel “WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE” (no ? mark by the way) maybe a year or more ago.  And the bad thing about doing so, is it takes you into that dreaded  “spoiler alert” zone which we all try to avoid.

As director Richard Linklater has nabbed this one up and added Cate Blanchett in the lead role of Bernadette Fox, Billy Crudup as her husband Elgin, and rounding out the lead family roles with newcomer Emma Nelson as their daughter Bee.  He takes this rather dark comic tale of a highly creative, yet completely unhappy woman, who’s suppressed her creative talent for a few decades and finally seems to rediscover it through an unlikely journey.  The book is also, as the title suggests, a mystery, though the film seems to leave this portion by the wayside.  The story told comes mostly from two viewpoints. The first part which let’s us get to know the character we are dealing with, comes from Bernadette herself in emails to ‘Mangula’ her India based ‘virtual assistant’ and really have her coming off like a rich woman, who does nothing but bitch and moan about the other women in the picture, neighbor Audrey (Kristen Wiig) and Soo Lin (Zoe Chao). All this whilst living in a decaying mansion meant to have be re-done for years, and did we mention the loads of wealth thanks to husband Elgin having accrued it as a tech titan.

The other half is mostly woven together by Bee, who’s become the sole focus in her mother’s stuck in neutral life. It soon becomes clear that Bee’s also the only person in Bernadette’s orbit who truly understands and accepts her and her ridiculous bad behaviour towards pretty much anyone within shouting distance.  The endless seams being put together here a lot of Bernadette’s misery, the odd way she defects from the community she lives in as they shun her. Yet even though she practically destroys neighbor Audrey’s house, oddly she is also the one to help her escape from the realities she can no longer face and helps her embark on a new journey of adventure and discovery.

Linklater’s undertaking of this book was maybe as task he wasn’t quite up for as while he does great by casting Blanchette who relishes this type of character and can play this persona in her sleep, but he also misses some very pertinent portions of the book that makes the film seem almost uneven.  It’s like he left the best parts of the book on the cutting room floor. Wiig is wonderful as well, and some cameos by Lawrence Fishburne, Megan Mullally, and Steve Zahn are fun, and newcomer Nelson does well on her first go round her being in such stellar company, she definitely holds her own.   While the cinematography is wonderful once they get into the Antarctica portion of the film – it’s almost piecemealed together with what the purpose is of her leaving, what she is trying to do out there, how she gets there, how her husband and daughter try to find her is just given to you here, and it’s lines are not well connected, whereas as the book makes you really understand and feel the panic of not knowing where her mother is or why. Again, major plot portions are skimmed over when they are integral to the story.  Linklater just took to long to help us understand the complexity of Bernadette and her real struggles in skips and starts rather than with the flow that was needed.

While the film has it’s quirky, funny moments, I feel like a lot of this was a swing and a miss for Linklater who is always trying to challenge himself. There are things to appreciate, like the musical score and performances but not a whole lot else in this rather uneventful and non memorable film.  In other words I’m telling you to read the book and do so after you’ve seen the film. It will make much more sense then.

Grade: C

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies and Instagram: peggyatthemovies

 

Media Review Screening: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV Film group.

“WHERE’D YA GO BERNADETTE” IS IN U.S. THEATERS NOW 

INSTA-REVIEW: “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD” (2019) Universal

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Four and a half years since we last saw our dragons, they are back in #HowToTrainYourDragon : The Hidden World.  In this one we have little older and wiser Hiccup (JayBaruchel)and he is still leading the effort to save dragons with Astrid AmericaFerrera. Yet not everything is golden as new villain Grimmel the Grisley FMurrayAbraham is out to get them. In between we have a little love affair brewing between #Toothless and new white-scaled dragon #LightFury .

While all of it is fun and it’s a beautifully done film and the Dragons franchise are some of the best animated films ever – it does come up a bit short at achieving the highs of its predecessors.

There is a little lack of the emotional punch in comparison to the first two. And while it might not shine as bright as the two previous works, the few shortcomings the story line has, they don’t overshadow the charm the characters and story bring you.

Grade: B-

@pegsatthemovies

 

Media Review Screening: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures

 

7 DAYS OF OSCARS: DAY 5 ~ “BEST ACTRESS”

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We are on Day 5 of my “7 Days of Oscars” – and into the Best Actress category.

BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, Carol
I mean it’s Cate. It’s rare that you will catch her in a bad performance. I liked her in ‘Truth’ earlier in the year, and while I didn’t love this film, she was as always, very good. Enough said.

Brie Larson, RoomWINNER
There isn’t really anything to add here from what I noted on my Golden Globes review. Nothing’s changed. I like Brie a lot, but I can’t truthfully think this is anywhere close to being a performance or film that should be here..but hey..again, my hopes are still up that maybe she will share the award with Mariska Hargitay from Law & Order:SVU if she wins.

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
No offense to Jennifer here, as I do like her a lot and I’m sure she has many more awards coming in her career. This isn’t going to be one of them, and truth be told, wasn’t really strong enough of a role to really be here.

Charlotte Rampling, 45 YearsMY PICK
While this wasn’t my favourite film of the year as it was rather slow-moving, Rampling’s performance was simply put, sublime. If there were true Oscar gods, she would win! 😀

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
While the story itself was rather sappy at points, Saoirse really was quite good here. It was what I would call a sweet-type performance and she would be my 2nd choice here.

Tomorrow, as we are coming close to the end of “7 Days of Oscar” and the Best Actor category.
Till then.. #Oscars2016 #peggyatthemovies

‘Cinderella’, ‘Insurgent’, ‘Danny Collins’, ‘Jauja’, ’71’, ‘The Salvation’, ’50 Shades of Grey’

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So I’ve seen a bunch of films lately that have all been pretty average or just plain bad..with one I really liked!! And as sometimes we all feel like a bad film has just sucked it out of us, I didn’t even feel like giving some of them a review..but then decided to suck it all in and just put them all in one with a few bits about each and let everyone make up their own minds to see them or not.

I’m starting with the one that actually surprised me out of the group because I actually did like it…not love it mind you, but a good ‘like’ is pretty much all I’m looking for now-a-days from a film!
So let’s begin:
cinderella
CINDERELLA (2015) Disney Studios – Every little girl knows this story by heart growing up..it’s truly a little girls fantasy that no matter how crappy things are, you have the chance of one day meeting your ‘prince’. We all bank on it somewhat that it could actually happen. And then you grow up. ha! What surprised me was how much I liked revisiting this version of the story. Richard Madden as “Prince Kit”, (whom I loved and miss as Robb Stark), really made a very believable Prince and Lily James is a quite wonderful “Cinderella”. Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother was perfect, and it’s always nice to see ‘Daisy’ from Downton Abbey (one of my fav. characters of that show) Sophie McShera “Drisella” and Holliday Grainger “Anastasia” doing a fun spin on the wicked stepsisters. Throw in Stellan Skarsgard as the “Grand Duke” and Derek Jacobi as the “King” and you have a well-rounded out cast that brings some new blood & life to this story. And that’s what I liked best of all about it. Told in a little bit more updated version, though not time-wise, but tale-wise, brought it all to life in a really nice wrapped up gift. Was it super fantastic and the best Cinderella story ever told..nah..but it certainly was a nice breath of fresh air and a decent enough way to spend an afternoon reliving the little girl inside of me.

Grade: C+

Next on the list:
Insurgent_poster
INSURGENT (2015) Lionsgate/Summit Ent.
For this one I actually looked back at my review of “Divergent” from back in March of 2014. https://peggyatthemovies.com/2014/03/26/peggyatthemovies-review-of-divergent-2/ .

Basically I could just repeat it almost word for word except for a few minor things.. Like first off how this one was worse, second of all; bad bad casting decision on Naomi Watts as “Evelyn”, Four’s mother. And yes, the lovely Theo James reprising his role here, though annoying enough he kills the best character they had of all as I noted in my Divergent review also, “Eric” (Jai Courtney) this time round. You know my motto, you’re only as good as your villain and Courtney played a good villain.
Miles Teller as “Peter” steps it up some this time, but after you’ve seen him in Whiplash, it’s hard to take this performance seriously as you now know what he’s truly capable of. Ansel Egort “Caleb” is pretty non-existent both in character and performance, and Shailene Woodley coming back as “Tris” is annoyingly bad…again. I mean in an opening scene she decides to chop off all her hair for a new look.. now we know with the hack-knife that she’s using there is no way this is coming out well.. but oh no..not with Shailene..it’s perfectly coiffed hair cut. Please. Stop it.

I didn’t hate the first one, but I liked this one even less and losing a good villain and not adding anyone of consequence..I think I might be out of town, or ya know, busy washing my hair for the next one.

Grade: D

Moving on—
danny collins
DANNY COLLINS (2015) UNIVERSAL

Sigh. I j’adore Al Pacino. I always have. I’ve met him a few times, sat next to him at a movie at Sony once and he shared his candy with me and is truly one of the nicest guys ever. He’s also Al freaking Pacino!!! I mean… enough said right.

Well here he plays “Danny Collins”, an aging rock star who’s manager & best friend “Frank Grubman” (Christopher Plummer) discovers 40 years after the fact, that John Lennon wrote him a letter telling him to basically stay true to himself at what he was doing at the time. Clearly he didn’t and now decides to change his life and sit down and write the songs that were true to him back then, thinking his now-aged audience will want to hear them. They don’t. There is a back story here that I won’t even get into because it’s so passe’ but I will say that Bobby Cannavale as his son “Tom Donnelly” is refreshingly good and I don’t think gets enough credit for his work ever. Annette Benning “Mary Sinclair” as the hotel manager whom Collins is trying to woo into having dinner and maybe more, with him, of course carries herself. Jennifer Garner “Samantha Donnelly” as Tom’s wife holds her own in this company. There are a few really nice, fun moments and as you see them coming a mile away, a few harder ones also, though you pretty much can see in sight what the ending is. In December I went to a screening with a Q & A with Mr. Pacino afterwards of “The Humbling”. This film is almost a cover version of that one except here he is an aging rock star vs. an aging actor.
But ya know what.. no matter as I will always go see an Al Pacino film.

Grade: C-

Neeexxt…
jauja
JAUJA (2014)
I will be deadly honest with you all here. I am not completely sure what this film was even really about. I went because I was invited to a screening with Viggo Mortensen doing a Q & A afterwards and as I am a big fan of his, I thought “sure I’ll go”. Huh.. I think it’s basically a journey of a father, “Gunnar Dineson” (Mortensen) and daughter “Ingebord” (Villbjork Malling Agger) thru a desert though I’m not sure where they are going exactly, and the daughter runs away with her boyfriend in the middle of it, though there is another person they are hunting, or is he hunting them?? And then he meets a witch in a cave while searching for her.. or does he really?? again, completely confused. And then BOOM! all of a sudden it’s present day and it’s the same daughter living in a nice house but without the father. The whole film switches between Danish & Spanish speaking and let’s just all agree to say that I didn’t get it and call me completely lost on this one.. like ‘we have to go back to the island’ LOST. 🙂

I will say Viggo was an absolutely wonderful guy with a lot to talk about. I think he could tell that I might be a little confused by the film and offered to have me to stay for the second screening they were having later. I told a white lie and said I had plans..which I kinda did. They involved me watching the Malaysian Grand Prix a little later. 🙂 And we ended up talking mostly about football aka soccer, as he brought it up when speaking and it turns out we like the same teams. So there ya have it.
Movie grade: D
Conversation with Viggo grade: A 🙂 Viggo

71
’71
Being a fan of Jack O’Connell‘s I saw this film a few weeks back and while for the most part, I liked it, and liked his performance as “Gary Hook” the somewhat dis-oriented British soldier who during a riot on the streets of Belfast during the height of the Irish Catholic/Protestant war i.e., 1971, gets left behind by his unit.
What follows was a bit of a convoluted story for me of him being chased down, beaten up, shot, and surviving a bomb attack all in a matter of what..48hrs. I dunno.. a lot of it just seemed a bit implausible for me. And what’s with him always constantly getting the crap beat out of him in pretty much every single film he’s ever done!! ha! Sorry..sorry.. I know I shouldn’t even be commenting that because this is a serious film..but hey. I call it as I see it.

The side story here is of course religion and how much these people hate each other over it..once again..I’m never that great with these story lines because I’m not religious and can’t imagine killing someone over it. But it’s gone on for thousands of years, and as we all know in Ireland, it was really heavy duty for about 30+ or so years until the ‘peace treaty signed about 17 yrs ago, with this time period truly being the height of it all. There is also a nice sub-plot of crooked police detectives “Sgt. Leslie Lewis” (Paul Anderson), “Capt. Sandy Browning” (Sean Harris) helping both sides in a way and the rest of a good supporting cast including Sam Reid as “Lt. Armitage” who is O’Connell’s commanding officer and seemingly the only person really looking out for him & on his side to find him. This is a rough movie, not altogether great, but it will keep you watching till the end.

Grade: C

Almost to the end..

the salvation
THE SALVATION (2014) IFC Films

Since this just came for a one week run here in L.A. a few weeks ago, I had the chance to catch it on at my favourite art-house theatre, the NuArt. But whoa.. what a film. I mean if one more thing happened to Mads Mikkelson’s character here. Well I just don’t think it would be humanly possible. To put it lightly..this is a dark dark film (yes pun intended) that just takes you places that I probably never want to visit again.

It’s a Western, but not like one you’ve ever seen before because it’s not just Cowboys & Indians here. It’s really like how it must have truly been because there were tons of immigrants coming from all over and settling in as cowboys, though in every Western you’ve ever seen, they just pretend that suddenly everyone was just a regular old southern boy without an accent drifting out West. ZZZzzzzz

Well this one is 1870’s America, the gold rush is on, and this peaceful Danish settler “Jon” (Mads Mikkelson) has been separated from his wife & son for 7 years and finally brings them out to be with him. Literally within an hour of being here, they are kidnapped, his wife raped & murdered & young son also murdered by two degenerates, one of them being a character named “Paul” (Michael Raymond–James). Jon sets out, with his brother “Peter”(Mikael Persbrant) to avenge their deaths and hunts them down and kills them, which then leads to the unleashing of notorious gang leader “Delarue” (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) coming after them as Paul was, unbeknownst to Jon, Delarue’s brother. The really weird townspeople then desert him in his hour of need because they don’t want to die, ends up most of them do. Eva Green is thrown in as a character named “Madelaine” who has her tongue cut out so she doesn’t speak..which doesn’t matter as she really can’t act anyways.. and then comes some really hard core horrible death scenes and basically anything that can go wrong for Jon does, until of course it doesn’t.

This isn’t a great film, it a super depressing one to be honest, but it’s also not horrible. Mads is quite good as a cowboy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan even better possibly as the villain, though you know my motto, you’re only as good a your villain..yeah that doesn’t apply here. Jonathan Pryce “Keane”, Eric Cantona “Corsican”, Sean Cameron Michael “Lester” and Jose Domingos “Raul Delgado” all offer good supporting characters. This film was definitely a mixed bag for me.

Grade: C

50 shades
50 SHADES OF GREY (2015) Focus Features/Universal Pictures

What was the big deal here is all I kept thinking about while watching this film. I thought I was going to be watching the second coming of Deep Throat or some really trumped up S & M film or something the way everyone was going on about it..and all I got was an actually very tame, quite badly done film about this guy, “Christian Grey” (Jamie Dornan) wanting to control this girl “Anatasia Steele” (Dakota Johnson). She’s a literature student who works in a hardware store (of course she does) and he’s a tormented handsome, self-made millionaire businessman..ZZZzzzz oh sorry I drifted off there for a minute just telling with that ridiculous storyline. They are like the new Twilight couple featuring some S & M sex vs. vampires & wolves. Control in the way of having her sign a contract before sex, because he doesn’t spend the night with anyone or have relationships..blah blah blah.. of he does end up doing so, she ends up letting him take her to the ‘The Red Room’ and with some reeaaally bad dialogue thrown in and possibly worse acting, you have the story in a nutshell. I don’t think two people with less chemistry together have made a movie about sex so badly before. And truly, there wasn’t anything hardcore about this. Why all the fuss?? So the guy has a dungeon like room full of sex toys.. a few sex scenes that seriously weren’t that far out there at all. I feel like I must have missed something..but if I did, that’s okay because I will probably miss the next few ones in the trilogy also unless they up their game and their acting ..a lot.

Grade: D

So now you see why I just threw them altogether in one review. I like some, but didn’t love any of them. And now I’m caught up, back and ready to go! 😀
@pegsatthemovies
peggyatthemovies.com

(See grading scale)

+++#peggyatthemovies.com ~ REVIEW OF “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2″+++

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There are times when I love going to see a good animated movie, and sometimes not.  I didn’t have that ‘not’ problem here with “How to Train Your Dragon 2” because I had taken my nephew 5 years ago to see the first one and had enjoyed it.  As with a lot of animated movies..they say they are for kids, and this one definitely is, but they always have a bit of an adult element to them also. And most of the time also a message.. again. also done here. 

This second chapter of the trilogy of the “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON” franchise, take us back to the mystical world of “Hiccup” (v/o Jay Baruchel) and his now faithful dragon “Toothless”.  It’s a much different place now as their is peace, love and harmony between the dragons and the villagers.  This time around all that is at stake with threats from a new, and very powerful enemy, “Drago” (v/o Dijiman Hounsou).  During a flight of fancy, dragon-racing game Hiccup and his friends, “Snotlout” (v/o Jonah Hill), “Fishlegs” (v/o Christopher Mintz-Plasse), “Tuffnutt” (v/o T.J. Miller) twin sister “Ruffnut” (v/o Kristen Wiig), who as always, give us some of the best laughs of the movie, when she goes after the handsome “Eret” (v/o Kit Harrington) and with Hiccup’s now also grown up, girlfriend, “Astrid” (v/o America Ferrera), they discover a fortress made of ice in which they find a ‘mysterious’ woman, “Valka” (v/o Cate Blanchett) whom has spent the past 20 yrs ~ which turns out to be how old “Hiccup” is ~ freeing captured dragons and caring for the injured ones. 

Turns out that “Stoic” (v/o Gerard Butler) and “Valka” know each other..quite well as a matter of fact as she is “Hiccups” long lost, presumed dead, mother.  Cue the violins (and adult part of the movie) here as it’s the emotional scene coming up where they all get back together as a family immediately, of course and fall back in love on sight.  “Drago” in the meantime feels that all dragons should be captured and enslaved and “Stoic” and his ever-present sidekick, “Gobber” (v/o Craig Ferguson) immediately want to go to battle, whereas the naive “Hiccup” feels that if he can only meet to speak with “Drago”, he will see his reason and change his mind. But as expected. difficult consequences occur ~ note to parents, younger children will probably not understand this part well, and it leads into what could be an emotionally upsetting outcome, but you will soon see the outcome of this and it ultimately leads to the age-old ramification (and message within the movie) good overcome bad and the weak can defeat the strong with all the right attitude. 

This is certainly a fun movie, for both adults and kids alike as it’s pretty visually dazzling and I was able to see it in 3D so the action sequences were definitely made fun with that!!  

Grade: C+

GRADING SCALE: A = OSCARWORTHY; B = ABOVE AVERAGE~MUST SEE; C= AVERAGE~SHOULD SEE; D = SEE AT YOUR OWN RISK; F = YEAH..DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY.. ( + OR – ) GIVES IT A BIT UP OR DOWN

DAY 4 – COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS – BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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Have I said that I loved this movie yet??! ha! yes, I don’t care what Ross Von Metzke says – the movie is great and Amy Adams was pure GOLD in this role.. I’ve liked her in a few things before,but this was definitely her starring vehicle. Will she win?? well, she has a really good chance and it would be deserved if she did. 

I like Blue Jasmine and I really liked Cate Blanchett in this role..you couldn’t have asked for a better actress to pull off a Woody Allen starring role than her. I mean remember Scarlett Johannson in ‘Match Point’  yeah..enough said – she was awful..but Cate is wonderful and really made this movie.. Will the Woody Allen controversy hurt her..yeah there is a big chance it could.. here’s to hoping it doesn’t.

Oh Sandy Sandy Sandy…3 words for you..’The Blind Side’ in which you were so fantastic and totally deserved that Oscar.. This..oh..Sandy..I’m sorry..but no. just no. 

Who doesn’t love Dame Judi..I dare anyone to say they don’t. And her performance here is stellar as usual..and as much as this movie broke my heart and made me hate what those horrible religious zealots did to the real Philomena – I don’t think it’s going to garner her an Oscar this time around. 

I know I didn’t love this movie as much as some.. Meryl is always always good and considering she sat behind me at the premiere..:)  I just felt like I’ve seen her do this role time and again. It wasn’t anything new.. 

“Blue Jasmine”

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‘Blue Jasmine’ is a full on Woody Allen movie..It’s like you can always tell a Woody Allen movie even if no one told you he wrote & directed it.. He just has a certain style..and I’ve always liked it. Was it his best..nah..I think it’s been awhile since there has been a fantastic Allen movie..but it was really good. It had it’s moments of laughter, sadness, quirky & kind of a message dare I say… Cate Blanchett is stellar as always, but who REALLY shocked me was Andrew Dice Clay of all people in a supporting role.. and did a really good job!!! Grade: B – #peggyatthemovies