Friday, February 19, 2016

The Witch

Director Robert Eggers The Witch is an eerie tale of religious fanaticism in Colonial New England during the early 1600s.
Farmer William (Ralph Ineson) does not agree with the town’s religious slant and is banished with his family which includes five children. 

Things go awry with the crops and, then, the baby son disappears, taken by a witch. Gradually, three of the other children become possessed and the oldest daughter (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is just coming into womanhood, is blamed for being a witch, herself.

 That’s all I will relate about the spooky plot.

However, I will say that Cinematographer Jarin Blaschke camera work, along with Composer Mark Korven’s music, creates a beautifully austere mood that keeps you guessing as to what will come next.  But, what does come next is often truly shocking.

This is a unique take on horror films that is equally rewarding for those who are not necessarily fans of this genre.

I give The Witch a 4 out of 5.

Monday, February 15, 2016


Director Tim Miller’s Deadpool has struck the Millennial funny bone with Ryan Reynolds playing the would-be superhero Deadpool, saved from terminal cancer, but hideously disfigured by a mutant (Ed Skein), for whom he searches, thinking his body, as well as his relationship with his fiancée (Morena Baccarin) can be restored. 

For me, the reference laden script by Rhett Reece, Paul Wernick, Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld is sporadic, sometimes hitting and sometimes falling like a flaccid piece of meat.

The best scenes are those with Ms. Baccarin, who is an incomparable beauty.  And, thankfully, the old adage of “always leave them laughing” is followed with an exciting, funny and fun-filled ending.

I give Deadpool a 4 out of 5.

Zoolander 2

It’s silly, it’s stupid, it’s zany, it’s like a feature-length Saturday Night Live sketch, but, if you’re in the right mood, Zoolander 2 will provide a lot of laughs, especially if you’re a fashion aficionado or watch Fashion Police.
 It’s refreshing to see Ben Stiller back in comedy after While We’re Young and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  Kristen Wiig is at her best, as are Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell.
And, Penélope Cruz is always a treat.  Plus, there are more cameos than, perhaps, any film this century, including all the fashion icons from Anna Wintour to Tommy Hilfiger, pop stars from Sting and Katy Perry to Demi Lavato and Justin Bieber, actors from John Malkovich to Susan Sarandon and newscasters from Matt Lauer to Katie Couric.

With all that, the script by Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Nicholas Stoller and John Hamburg is in conflict between comedy and adventure and doesn’t fully succeed in either genre.

I give Zoolander 2 a 3.6 out of 5.

How To Be SIngle

Director Christian Ditter’s How To Be Single is a cute film about the trials and tribulations of singles in New York and, presumably, elsewhere, as they struggle to find themselves and meaningful relationships.

Dakota Johnson plays the central character with sensitivity and aplomb.  Leslie Mann is hilarious and Alison Brie adds to the fun, along with Anders Holm and Damon Wayans, Jr.  Unfortunately, Rebel Wilson still does not know how to do slovenly while being engaging.  As I’ve said before, she needs to better study Melissa McCarthy’s successful technique.

Writers Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein and Dana Fox have hit a lot of high notes, but this is no When Harry Met Sally.

I give How To Be Single a 3.5 out of 5.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

With a title like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I had to see Writer/Director Burr Steers’ new film.
If nothing else, it will introduce young horror fans to Jane Austen.  And, I think that’s a good thing.

Actually, the film is well-done with Cinematographer Remi Adefarasin and Production Designer David Warren doing a great job in creating and capturing the era.  It only errs in being a bit too long and a bit too faithful to the original story…except, of course, for the zombies.

The other reason I was interested to see the film was Lily James, who I thoroughly enjoyed in last year’s Cinderella.  Here, she turns in an excellent performance as a warrior version of Elizabeth Bennett and her sisters, played by Bella Heathcoat, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady and Suki Waterhouse do an admirable job in backing her up. 

I give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a 3.5 out of 5. It might have been a bit higher except for the stupid mid-end credit FU ending so cliché in horror films.