August Round-up of Reviews

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Apologies for the absence as one again the post-Covid long haul recovery put my the use of my hands out for a bit again. But with some injections and hand/wrist braces on, I’m typing while I can and catching up on some late film festival and screening reviews. September will hopefully be much better!

And with that out of the way, my August Round Up Reviews on the following films:

“THE DAPHNE PROJECT”

Every so often you find a film at a festival that you just fall in love with, well that was me with “THE DAPHNE PROJECT” shown (virtually for me) at the Bentonville Film Festival. This little indie gem is written and directed by Zora Iman Crews and Alex Tibaldi, giving us a die-hard mockumentary in it’s truest form that had me laughing from moment one. Zora Iman Crews also plays Daphne Wilco, a wanna-be NYC ‘theater’ actress who inserts herself from being an extra into the “lead” role of Dionysus, in a super off-Broadway production of “The Bacchae”. The role, which is intended to be played by a male, but Daphne expounds on the fact that maybe a woman should play the role. Crews is hysterical as an over-the-top act that takes her self obsession and self-promoting to a whole new level of mock-ness, but can flip like a coin to show a more delicate emotional side as well…or does she? That’s the best part of the whole mockumentary is you never really know if it’s all just a smart act Daphne puts on for the cameras or not.  The ending is a surprise and also quite fun. The film maintains its solid state of comedic affairs thanks to star-in-the-making Crews, as it’s only lacking quality that I could see is the sheer fact it’s had to be clearly done as such a low budget, as it is noticeable in the supporting cast who hold it up somewhat at times, while struggling to keep up with Crews pacing. But honestly, if that is the worst thing I can come up with for this wonderful kooky 67-minute indie that kept me fully entertained the entire time, well then I’d just go with it and hope this gets all the accolades it so highly deserves and doesn’t get overlooked because of that one reason.

Grade: B+

“AMERICANISH”

This romcom follows the lives of three women navigating the different meanings and expectations of love as they try to stay true to their own identity. This is an upbeat film and while formulaic, one still looks forward to how things will play out for each in the end.

American-ish focuses on two sisters and their cousin: Sam (Aizzah Fatima), Maryam (Salena Qureshi), and Ameera (Shenaz Treasury) as they navigate romance, family life, tradition, and relationships with their own cultural identity while living in Jackson Heights, NY. American-Ish is directed by an American Muslim woman (Iman Zawahry and co-written by her and Fatima) making it the first Muslim romantic comedy, and what a hoot it is. Since all three characters are in different stages of their lives (between high school and early 30’s), and have different relationships with Muslim traditions, the comedy always feels fresh, making it funnier. While predictable and nice, it also crafts its own unique identity to help it stand out among similar rom-rom type films with it being not too heavy, as well as not too light, it’s just a fun movie based around likable characters we don’t get to see as often as we should.

Grade: B+

“ANNETTE”

It’s rare that I am left speechless by a film, not the “oh it was so amazing” type speechless, but the kind where I truly have no idea how to describe what I just saw. This was me after watching “Annette” and sad to say, it still is. As much as I love Sparks music, and I think this was supposed to essentially a modern opera of sorts there is still the fact that part of the entertainment is watching said performers actually singing, which means the storytelling is at a somewhat slower pace than most films. That means that you really need to be interested in the story and to put it bluntly, I simply wasn’t. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the fact that much of it I just didn’t understand as well so maybe not all the blame can be put on the film itself, and I’m completely willing to accept that fact. It could also be that I was setting myself up to fail when it comes to appreciating the picture, because I did almost no research on it before we saw it, but I rarely do as I don’t want to spoil the film by ‘knowing’ too much. Though to be fair, it might have helped me here though again, even after viewing and trying to do so didn’t work for me.

But I also just didn’t find and wasn’t really intrigued by the contrast between Henry McHenry (Adam Driver), abrasive stand-up comedian, and Ann Defrasnoux (Marion Cotillard), soprano. The relationship between the two I understood completely – what their lives entailed, how he tailspins as his career falters and hers reaches new heights – but then there was the ‘child’. The cross between a Chucky doll and Annie. I am completely and truly lost there. And ya know what? I’m okay with that.

Grade: D

This weeks movies start off with “Jungle Cruise”  and fun fact: when I was very little my parents took me on this ride and I started crying as I thought it was real and lions, tigers & hippos were coming after me. Thankfully that is not this movie and I’m happy to say there was no crying..but some good laughs as the chemistry between #emilyblunt & #dwaynejohnson is electric and they make this adventure pretty fun. Full review here: https://peggyatthemovies.com/2021/07/30/review-jungle-cruise-2021-disney-studios/
Grade: B-

Next is “Val” and it’s all about the wonderful Val Kilmer telling us his story..the good, the bad, and the Batman. Does this deserve a full review, yes, yes it does – as it was everything and so much more. Sadly, again, I just couldn’t type and oddly I feel like Val would understand this somehow. But it did break me and give me every emotion of not just empathy for what he is going through, but there was joy, grief, fangirling, understanding, hope – again, all the emotions. Being a fan, this was hard to watch sometimes and I shed some tears, but not all just for sadness, because what you see in his eyes is he is still here and still Val.
Grade: A

“PLAYING WITH SHARKS: THE VALERIE TAYLOR STORY”

Anyone who knows me knows my absolute and complete fascination and love of all things ocean, but most especially sharks. Yep, those ‘predators’ of the sea are my thing thanks to @e_w_wilder who loaned me ‘JAWS’ which I read in one schpiel. So Playing With Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story was everything for me. Valerie started as the 1st woman spear fisher in the 60’s and ended up being one of the first people with her husband Ron, to film sharks underwater. Almost every shark conservationist has started off a hunter, until they realize how beautiful these majestically amazing creature are that are literally less dangerous than dogs. But instead we kill millions of them and sadly have wiped out entire area of population not realizing that without them the oceans will literally die..and so will we.
Grade: A

“Stillwater” 

“Stillwater” received a 5 minute standing ovation at #Cannes and I have to be honest and say I just didn’t get that from it. I did get a somewhat okay story about what a out of his element dad Bill Baker (Matt Damon) might do to help his daughter Allison Baker (Abigail Breslin) and some articulated performances. And we can just leave it at that.
Grade: C-

“FREE GUY”

I’ve made it a point at this time in my film reviewing career (eight years of working hard at it btw) to not review movies that they couldn’t be bothered to invite me to view a screening or send a link. It’s frustrating for me and yeah, it kinda hurts at times. Let me make it clear, I don’t think I’m ‘entitled’ to get screening invites, but I’ve worked so hard at what I do, and I love love love it, am most of always thankful to be getting the media invites and I show that appreciation by stopping at See’s or a cookie place to give a little gift when I attend some media screenings. Look I get it, I’m not in the ‘big time’ but I keep trying, and reviewing as much as I humanly can and will continue to do so. But sometimes, more so lately, I feel like it’s a job within a job, within another job to try and get them, when at one point, pre-pandemic, I was consistently invited. I don’t know how I fell off the invites list, but Rosa from @Rosa’sReviews was nice enough to have me as her plus one to this screening as yes, she is in the big time of the listings being both RT & HCA approved. She also probably wrote a great review on it so go check out her page as well. I am most grateful to her for inviting me and truly minus about 25-30 minutes of ‘gamer talk’ this film was a lot of fun and quite entertaining.

That’s all I will say on it as here is to hoping I somehow get back in to more screenings again. I will not give up!

And that’s it for now – as always I will get out the reviews as I can and you can always check out: Peggyatthemovies.com or The Cherry Picks.com for some great full reviews.