CVIndependent

Fri01242020

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

20 Jan 2020
by  - 
Edward Norton directs, writes the screenplay and stars in Motherless Brooklyn, a decent-enough adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel of the same name. It’s an OK movie, but it isn’t going to change anybody’s lives. Norton certainly made a good-looking film here. Motherless Brooklyn is set in the ’50s, and the period details are impressive; the costuming is first-rate; and the camerawork is stellar. As for the story … there is a convoluted plot involving murder mysteries and real estate development. It doesn’t feel like anything new—except for the twist that Norton’s private detective has Tourette’s syndrome. Norton does a convincing job of exhibiting this affliction through a series of verbal and physical ticks, coupled with obsessive-compulsive behavior. No doubt: The most-interesting aspect of this movie is Norton’s character, Lionel. Norton assembles a strong cast, including Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Ethan Suplee (before he got ripped) and Cherry Jones. Everybody…
14 Jan 2020
by  - 
Jason Bateman stars in and directs the first two episodes of HBO’s The Outsider, the latest miniseries based on a Stephen King novel. Man, does King ever walk away from the keyboard? Terry Maitland (Bateman) is arrested by Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) while coaching a Little League game—and the charges against him are shocking: Terry has allegedly killed a small boy, with witnesses placing him at the scene of the crime. There’s also surveillance video and forensic evidence that seemingly confirm his guilt. Yet Terry proclaims his innocence and has a solid alibi, including witness accounts and video confirmation that he was many miles away when the crime occurred. The first two episodes of the 10-part series offer a good setup, with Bateman doing a nice job both behind and in front of the camera. There’s no question I will be tuning in for more as the story continues on…
08 Jan 2020
by  - 
Antonio Banderas delivers what may be his greatest performance as a director dealing with physical and emotional pains in Pain and Glory, a semi-autobiographical film from Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Salvador (Banderas) is retired, struggling with migraines and back pain after major surgery, and unsure on whether or not he will continue in the art of filmmaking. He’s having bouts of nostalgia, leading him to be momentarily enthusiastic about an anniversary screening of one of his more beloved films. This brings him to the doorstep of Alberto (Asier Etxeandia), an actor with whom he’s been feuding. They happily discuss presenting the film together—while, in a very impromptu sort of way, getting Salvador started on a heroin habit. Flashbacks to Salvador’s childhood feature a fantastic Penélope Cruz as his mother, raising the precocious Salvador on little money in a cave-like dwelling. Banderas takes a reserved approach to the role that is…
30 Dec 2019
by  - 
Bill Cosby is rotting in prison after being revealed as a rapist, and no standup comedians have been doing shows with kids lately. John Mulaney to the rescue! John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch, on Netflix, is sharply written, with a fun, darkly sarcastic tweak that should have both kids and adults chuckling. The joy of the show is that it isn’t dumbed down for kids. The kids are funny as all hell, and they even upstage the hilarious Mulaney on occasion. The music numbers are cute/funny, and the sketches all offer up solid laughs. Guest stars include Richard Kind, David Byrne and Jake Gyllenhaal—proving he’s one of the funniest people on the planet, as a guy trying to create music without instruments. Bumper interviews with the kids provide funny revelations, including one from a girl who is afraid of pigeons. Standout musical numbers include one with a very…
29 Dec 2019
by  - 
In Fabric is one of 2019’s wackier movies. An unofficial homage to director Dario Argento by Peter Strickland, it follows a killer dress as the garment takes out victims during a busy shopping season. It has the weird score, the strange-looking fake blood that’s too brightly colored, and the sort of pacing that has made Argento a cult favorite. Marianne Jean-Baptiste stars as a mom looking to get back on the dating scene after her husband leaves her … so she buys a dress. The dress burns her when she wears it and sometimes jumps on people after hanging around on the ceiling. Strickland somehow makes this sort of beautiful and silly, rather than just silly. Later in the film, the story shifts to a soon-to-be-wed machine repairman (Steve Oram) who is also victimized by the strange garment. Fatma Mohamed takes the award for Weirdest Entity in a Weird Movie…
17 Dec 2019
by  - 
Michael Bay is back! That phrase used to leave me truly stricken with terror—afraid to approach a movie theater. However, things have changed a bit. First off, 6 Underground has gone straight to Netflix, so I can do stuff like pet my dog to calm down when the editing gets too frantic. Second, Bay seems to understand that he’s totally ridiculous by now. As with Bad Boys II, with which he seemed to be parodying himself, this one is so over the top that it actually winds up being a little on the fun side. Ryan Reynolds stars as a tycoon who becomes a “ghost”—in that he has faked his own death in order to seek vengeance on bad people. He puts together a team of death-fakers, including characters played by Mélanie Laurent, Adria Arjona and Dave Franco. They go after bad people in a series of car-chasing, building-scaling sequences…
11 Dec 2019
by  - 
Adam Driver busts out a spontaneous piano-bar rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “Being Alive” in Marriage Story. That alone justifies taking the time to watch the film, now streaming on Netflix. Fortunately, there are other reasons besides Driver’s surprisingly amazing voice to see the movie … actually, a lot more. Driver and Scarlett Johansson are incredible in writer/director Noah Baumbach’s best movie yet—an alternately searing, touching and hilarious look at a marriage’s end times. Nicole and Charlie Barber work together in a theater company; she’s a performer, while he’s the director. The movie starts with them deciding to go through a divorce; they promise each other things will remain amicable, and lawyers won’t get involved. Nicole will go to Los Angeles and pursue film acting, while Charlie stays in New York to work on his latest play getting to Broadway. They are determined to share custody of their young son. This…
02 Dec 2019
by  - 
One man puts it all on the line to expose the CIA’s torture tactics post-Sept. 11 in The Report, a film—based on real life—from writer-director Scott Z. Burns. Adam Driver acts his heart out as Daniel Jones, a U.S. Senate staffer tasked by, among others, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (a droll Annette Bening) to get to the truth about the CIA’s use of extreme interrogation tactics, mainly waterboarding, on suspected terrorist prisoners. Jones (a real guy) basically proved the U.S. was breaking international law, and the film shows how high members of the government and the CIA tried to prevent him from exposing this fact. While the movie is a decent history lesson, and Driver is good, the film is a bit drab and unintentionally funny at times. Burns doesn’t quite have a grasp on the material here, and the resulting movie should be far more shocking and disarming than it…
26 Nov 2019
by  - 
The Peanut Butter Falcon is one of this year’s better directorial debuts. Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz deliver a real winner with a terrific cast. It’s a strange and funny Southern odyssey with a whole lot of peanut butter, moonshine, epiphanies and—last but not least—wrestling. Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, is basically a prisoner in a retirement home, abandoned by his family. Zak has aspirations to be a wrestler—and he breaks out one night on his quest, wearing nothing but underwear. He comes across Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a troubled but goodhearted fisherman who creates a situation for himself after which he must hit the road. The two form a bond and start heading south toward Florida, where Zak’s wrestling school awaits. LaBeouf, who continues to shine after his career hit a bump, is at his best here opposite Gottsagen, an actor who actually has Down syndrome—and…
18 Nov 2019
by  - 
While Disney is cooling off on big-screen Star Wars plans after the upcoming Rise of Skywalker, the mega-company’s new streaming service is bringing the Star Wars goodness with a promised multitude of TV shows—the first of which is The Mandalorian. Ewan McGregor will reprise his Obi-Wan role for an upcoming series—but we have to wait a little longer for that. In the meantime, we get this gem about a bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) in Boba Fett-type armor, set a few decades after the events of Return of the Jedi. Creator and showrunner Jon Favreau knows what Star Wars geeks want to see. The first two episodes bring lots of sand-planet goodness, with references to everything from Salacious Crumb to … well, I don’t want to give anything else away. Let this review also stand as a ringing endorsement for the streaming service itself. It’s a treasure trove for lovers of…
14 Nov 2019
by  - 
Bill Skarsgård gets perhaps his best showcase yet—outside of his Pennywise makeup, that is—in Villains as Mickey, a small-time crook who robs grocery stores with Jules (Maika Monroe). When his car runs out of gas minutes after a heist, they wind up in the house of George and Gloria (Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick), who seem stuck in the 1950s, judging by their TV set. They also seem to be psychos, thanks to a secret in their basement. Mickey and Jules try to work their way out of the predicament, one that eventually involves Mickey strapped to a bed while Gloria does an erotic dance for him. The film is strange, mostly in a good way; it’s oddly directed and written by the team of Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. Monroe, who is quickly becoming one of the more reliable cult-film actresses in the business, is great as Jules, who…
12 Nov 2019
by  - 
The Disney+ streaming service, launching today (Nov. 12), includes a brand-new version of Lady and the Tramp—a sweet little live-action redo of the classic 1955 animated feature. This film works, primarily due to the casting of both the actual dogs and their voices. Justin Theroux, a well-known dog-lover, is perfect for Tramp, a schnauzer mutt living the street life. The dog he provides the voice for is a perfect match—and is the spitting image of his animated counterpart. Tessa Thompson provides vocals for Lady, a cute-as-all-heck cocker spaniel. The live-action animal-talking is well done, and the film is more engaging than the recent remake of The Lion King. The plot remains simple: Rich dog meets stray dog; rich dog becomes stray dog; dogs fall in love. There are some major changes (there’s no Siamese-cats song, for starters), but fans of the original will find a lot to remind them of…

Page 1 of 34