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About Me

I love entertainment...

Sex: Female
Language: English
Relationship Status: In a Relationship
Interested In: Men and Women

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Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India


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    Highest Rating

      • 5/5 (2 votes)
      • Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim
        5/5 (2 votes)
        Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim

        Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. Let me say that again because it’s little a hard to believe. Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. The first time I saw the promo of this film, I said to myself it’s going to be...

      • 5/5 (1 votes)
      • Interstellar
        5/5 (1 votes)

        Nolan’s "Interstellar," about astronauts traveling to the other end of the galaxy to find a new home to
        replace humanity’s despoiled home-world, is frantically busy and earsplittingly
        loud. It uses booming music to jack...

      • San Andreas
        5/5 (1 votes)
        San Andreas

        In a match between a supremely catastrophic California
        earthquake and the former wrestling star turned movie action hero Dwayne
        Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock, aptly enough here I guess, although he’s not thusly
        credited), who are you going to bet...

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        "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" is not just a love letter to Mr. Rogers. It is a love letter from Mr. Rogers to all of us, the same reassuring message of friendship and kindness Mr. Rogers delivered to a generation of children through his PBS series. In one scene, passengers on a New York Subway car recognize Mr. Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) and all start singing the theme song that lends its name to the movie. Audiences might find themselves singing along. Screenwriters Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster and Tom Junod, the journalist whose profile of Fred Rogers inspired the film, spoke to about Rogers' "compulsive intimacy" and gift for "profound listening."

        You did something very unusual and very brave in the film, a minute of silence, much of it just on Tom Hanks' face.

        Noah Harpster: Right at the camera.

        Micah Fitzerman-Blue: We tried in this movie to capture the spirit of Fred Rogers. Everything you read about him, everything that Tom experienced with him, showed that he was compulsively and confrontationally intimate. We wanted to give our audience that experience of doing what Fred had done with crowds. Often when Fred was accepting an award he would turn it back on the people who had given him the award and ask for that moment of silence to think about those who "loved us into being." Cinematically, it was a risk. Can you ask an audience to sit there and think about someone who they love, someone who loved them into being? We felt at the end of the day that it wasn't worth making the movie if we couldn't give them that. 

        Tom, the movies shows your character (played by Matthew Rhys and called Lloyd in the film) frustrated by trying to get answers from Fred Rogers for your story. Did he ever answer any of your questions when you were interviewing him for Esquire?

        Tom Junod: No, especially not the personal questions. But we became friends and spent a lot of time together after the interview. This summer I found a trove of my old emails with him and he would answer questions about faith and about God and about the nature of God and about politics and stuff. He would in email form answer questions but in person it was very much like the movie depicts. 


        The kinds of questions he asks you in the film about your childhood are like the questions you might get from a therapist. 

        TJ: Yes, he was like a roving therapist. I think he saw it as his ministry; there was no doubt in my mind that he was never proselytizing. His ministry was something I think beyond that, it was definitely non-sectarian but it was really a potent force in his life. 

        MFB: It’s like an emotional flash mob. 

        NH: He was a profound listener. Many people told us that when he asked you a question he would wait until you answered it, like really answered it.

        TJ: One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Lloyd asks him about his relationship with his sons. It is just so potent because of that. He goes silent for a while, then he thinks and he says, "Thank you very much for asking that question," and then "it was hard." That has a lot of force for sure for me. 

        Did I glimpse the real-life Mrs. Rogers in the Chinese restaurant scene?

        NH: Yes, Joanna Rogers is there, and other people from Fred's life. Bill Isler is there, Margy Whitmer was also there.

        MFB: Hedda Sharapan who directed so much of the academic underpinnings of the whole series; the whole team and Mr. McFeely, David Newell was also there.

        How has Mr. Rogers influenced the way you respond to people, either at work or at home?

        TJ: I always loved talking to people. But I had a friend who used to kid around with me saying “You're the guy I don't want to see at my door knocking," because my stories were pretty rough; I’ve definitely caused people to lose their jobs and so on. I do feel that my experience with Fred has made me much more aware of the human cost and potential of doing an interview. I’ve really come to look at interviews that I do with people as a profound human experience and I try to honor that in the things that I write. I always had a hunch that there was something more going on in an interview than me just asking questions and people answering but Fred’s the person who confirmed that for sure.

        NH: Quite literally. One of the first things we were told is that he would go to a knee and talk to a child eye-to-eye, which seemed so simple. Just that simple act of getting down on the level and talking with a child is so meaningful to them. So something as small as that really affected the way in which I was able to communicate with my kids. Also, I think that going through the world open and listening and, for lack of a better word, with kindness actually can have a massive ripple effect. 

        MFB: When we began this project, Noah had a two-year-old and a toddler. When we were on set last year I had an almost 3-year-old and now I have a baby on the way. Spending ten years steeped in Fred Rogers has made parenting seem a little less impossible and as Noah. My instinct whenever my kid cries would be to say, “Don't cry, it's okay don't cry.” That is so anathema to what Fred taught which is actually, "No, let's let me as a parent make it safe for you to have feelings and let me honor your feelings.” And not deny them and not try to fix them but just to be a place where they’re held safely. That for me is of all the lessons that Fred has taught is the one that I try to practice every day -- with moderate success.

        NH: And also I’ll say that's the opposite of what we were taught being a man is; the exact opposite which is like: fix it, make everything better. There’s a problem-solving like it's the exact opposite of the masculinity that we’re taught that has value.

        You worked on this movie for many years and yet it seems to have come out at just the right time. Do you feel that way?

        TJ: If this movie came out five years ago it could be the exact same movie but it would be a different movie. The context of this movie, the political context of the country, the emotional context of the country makes it a different movie; it gives it a different resonance than it ever would’ve had five, ten years ago. 


        By: Nell Minow
        Posted: November 18, 2019, 2:42 pm

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        Yasujirō Ozu expressed grand philosophical ideas through little moments of everyday life. He is, in my humble opinion, the most sensitive and disciplined director to ever hold a camera. Ozu disregarded how the rest of the world shot films and created his own cinematic language. He broke every rule there was and did it the most subtle way possible. Ozu’s films exercised the most discreet rebellion against cinematic norm. 

        Widely considered the most Japanese of all film directors, his films feature no heroes or villains. We simply witness life in motion. When we arrive at a significant moment, Ozu cuts to “pillow shots” or perfectly composed shots of landscapes, street signs, or inanimate objects. The idea was to give viewers room to breathe or provide them with the time to contemplate what they had just seen. It’s little thing like “pillow shots” that have allowed Ozu to create his own unique cinematic language.

        I think the awareness of how little of the world we’ll experience is what really drew me towards cinema. Films were like gateways to other worlds, and there’s no world I would rather visit than one directed by master Ozu. In a span of two hours, you experience a lifetime. You go through a stranger’s life journey with all its turbulences and unique epiphanies. And then it hits you, the realization that each and every one of us is living a life as vivid and complex as the other. 

        I’ve always had trouble writing about the films that shook me. Maybe it’s because I always thought that no matter what I wrote, I wouldn’t be able to do the movies any justice. Ozu's films have repeatedly changed my outlook on life. Particularly, the three masterpieces also known as the “Noriko trilogy,” which he directed in the early 1950’s. All three of the films, “Late Spring,” “Early Summer,” and “Tokyo Story,” had a profound effect on me at key moments of my life. 

        The first time I watched them back-to-back was around the time my grandfather passed away, and I remember it being one of the most profound experiences ever. Watching these films felt like I was going through something spiritual, something beyond human language. I remember after watching “Tokyo Story,” I kept thinking about what really happens when you lose someone you love. And how that person lives on in your memory, and the memories of every person he or she touched throughout his or her life. Part of who they are lives on inside of us. They become part of who we are, and eventually the time comes for you to project yourself as a memory to future generations, and that part of you is a synthesis of every person you lost and held dearly in your heart. So, in a way, no one ever leaves us; no one passes away, we are merely passed on.

        Ozu triggers these thoughts through simple imagery of peaceful scenery. The passing of trains, for example, is a reoccurring image in all of Ozu’s films and it holds much importance in his work. It marks the beginning or end of a life journey. The train is also a link between the younger and older generations for it connects the modern city of Tokyo with the old villages in Japan. Ozu was a master of subtlety and he often examined lives in transition. Maybe that’s why I always found myself resorting to his work when things got tough.

        The “Noriko trilogy” helped me cope with my grandfather’s passing, and today it is helping me deal with the news that my father has cancer. Ozu films are achingly bittersweet and therapeutic that way. His serene cinema is that of contemplation; it almost always leaves you lingering in deep reflective thoughts. You find yourself accepting all of life’s uncertainties and inevitabilities. And for the briefest moments, you feel reassured that everything will be ok. I realize this far into my essay that I did not discuss what the films are about, or maybe I have. One thing I know for certain is, the sublime cinema of Ozu transcends life on this planet.

        By: Wael Khairy
        Posted: November 18, 2019, 2:41 pm

        • Entertainer


          “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” is the third of three announced 2019 Indian period piece films about Lakshmibai, one of the Indian leaders who led the fight against the British East India Company during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 (a TV series called “Jhansi Ki Rhani” was also released earlier this year). The two previous films, “Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi” and “Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy,” were mostly successful war dramas that focused on action and melodramatic intrigue (though Lakshmibai is only a supporting character in the latter movie).

          The makers of “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” don’t give viewers as many reasons to invest in their versions of these characters, not beyond speech-like declarations of intent and canned drama that often resolves itself in a matter of minutes. Any elements of this drama that require greater thought or emotional investment are too flimsy unless you’re already invested in them. The audience isn’t really invited inside the story or its ideas beyond applauding, tsk-tsking, or gasping whenever it’s ostensibly appropriate to do so.

          In “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi,” Lakshmibai (Devika Bhise, who co-wrote the movie with director Swati Bhise, her mother) is a generic symbol of feminist empowerment. Most dialogue in the movie is rushed and dull. Characters often declaim their values in opposition to each other whenever they’re not explicitly telling each other what they’re worried about. Lakshmibai is no exception: she tells us that “all our problems” will go away if she and her husband Gangadhar (Milind Gunaji) “have an heir and the English won't be able to take our beloved Jhansi.” They do, but that kid dies, so they decide to formally adopt their nephew instead.

          Minutes later, Gangadhar is on his deathbed, and he barely gets two lines in, both of which make him sound like a Magic 8-ball—“Listen to your fear. It will tell you what to do.” Meanwhile, she keeps right on expositing: “But without you, our enemies will see us as weak, and see this as an opportunity to attack us. Our neighboring kingdoms of Orchha and Datya have been waiting for this moment.” Ma’am, your husband is dying, can you please at least act like his expiration isn’t just a break between more important scenes?

          Lakshmibai soon digs in her heels against the most one-note, mustache-twirling Brits I’ve seen in a recent Asian period drama. Conflicted leader Hugh Rose (Rupert Everett) tut-tuts and refills the glass of hothead Robert Hamilton (Nathaniel Parker), who keeps barking about how he wants to destroy Lakshmibai and the people of Jhansi (“She will never surrender. She needs to be broken and destroyed!”). Meanwhile, soft-spoken emissary Robert Ellis (Ben Lamb) has a stiff-upper-lip sort of attachment to Lakshmibai, which he almost never expresses, except when he reaches out to grab her as she stumbles during a Sorkin-esque walk-and-talk ramble ("Do not presume to tell me what I can and cannot do,” she yells at him). They sneer and rant at each other, but there’s not much to what they’re saying beyond some tedious sloganeering, like when Ellis insists that Lakshmibai “is more than just a woman: she's an idea. And ideas cannot be captured or owned. She belongs to the people, not the East India Company.” I believe that there’s some truth to that sentiment, but heavy-handed dialogue and wan action scenes don’t make a great case.

          Speaking of battle scenes, most of the action in “Warrior Queen” happens across the screen, even during dialogue scenes. The movie’s visual compositions are, in that sense, more ornamental than dynamic. There’s a lot of side-to-side and frame-to-frame movement, but very little of it demands that viewers pay attention to what’s happening within the camera’s frame beyond a point. That lack of perspective can be seen throughout the movie’s major set pieces, including one set at night, when the Brits invade a castle, force the Queen to flee, and well, you’ll see. Or not, given that most of this scene is so poorly lit that it’s hard to get excited about much of what’s shown on-screen.

          I also don’t see the comfort that “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” might be able to provide beyond a basic sort of solidarity, the kind that’s written in toothless, klutzy dialogue like “These events, tragic as they are, will either will either end this mutiny, or be the start of something much larger—a war of independence.” “Warrior Queen” is not the first movie about this subject to be helmed by a woman—“Manikarnika” was co-directed by star Kangana Ranaut—nor does it feature a stand-out performance like those other movies do (Ranaut is very good in “Manikarnika”). So while I suppose you could do worse than “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi,” I know you could do better.

          By: Simon Abrams
          Posted: November 15, 2019, 2:52 pm

          • Entertainer
            Entertainer published a blog post Earthquake Bird


            There’s a decent movie buried somewhere deep in the willfully dull “Earthquake Bird,” now on Netflix. If one looks hard, you can see the themes of the story that were almost certainly given depth in the novel by Susanna Jones that’s lacking here. It takes great effort to find what interested director Wash Westmoreland and company in the source material in the first place, but it feels like a project that reaffirms something I’ve long argued: just because something works in one medium doesn’t mean it will in another.

            At its core, “Earthquake Bird” is a mystery. Any movie that literally includes footage featuring the king of late '80s and early '90s thrillers Michael Douglas ("Black Rain" in this case) in an early scene and uses an interrogation-flashback structure has at least some desire to thrill and intrigue you on a basic level. One of the main problems with the film is that it’s barely a mystery. At times, it’s reminiscent of “Burning” in the way that film had a mystery and potential murder in the backdrop, but it used them to tell a greater story about culture and gender and privilege. The problem is that Westmoreland doesn’t invest enough in the 'greater story' here, giving us a dull protagonist and a flat leading man and never figuring out the tone. This isn’t drama or thriller—it doesn’t have enough stakes for either.

            Alicia Vikander plays Lucy Fly, an expat living in Tokyo and working as a translator. Lucy is an odd duck, one of those people with a vacant stare that can be a little off-putting and suspicious. We’re supposed to suspect her when the cops show up at her office with some questions about a woman named Lily Bridges (Riley Keough). Lucy and Lily were roommates and friends, but Lily’s body has just turned up. What does Lucy know? The film plays out in flashback, becoming a romantic drama for a bit before returning to the story of what exactly happened to Lily Bridges.

            We learn that the quiet, shy Lucy met a photographer named Teiji (Naoki Kobayashi), with whom she started a relationship. Teiji seems more comfortable behind the lens, and the early scenes of romance between are about as passionate as watching paint dry. One of the main problems with “Earthquake Bird” is that we never quite get invested in the relationship between Lucy and Teiji, which could arguably be a byproduct of the unreliable narrator telling the story to the authorities but feels more like just bad filmmaking and acting. Lucy is a mystery, but not in a way that builds intrigue. There’s a difference between a character who is distant because she carries secrets or trauma yet to be revealed, and a character who just registers as underwritten and flatly performed. Lucy is the latter.

            Thank God for the always-interesting Riley Keough, who gives her too-few scenes some life. Yes, Lily is supposed to be the yin to Lucy’s yang, the hot to her cold. And, of course, the new friend in their life means a probably love triangle after Teiji notices Lily too. But could “Earthquake Bird” be that simple? The story of a woman who killed her friend after that friend turned into a romantic rival? Of course not, and most people will see the twist of “Earthquake Bird” coming from pretty far away, presuming they care enough to try and figure it out.

            The most interesting aspects of “Earthquake Bird” are the most frustratingly underdeveloped. Lucy considers herself human bad luck. She’s been around tragedy often and blamed herself for that tragedy. This is the kind of inner monologue and character development that’s easier on the page than on the screen, and Westmoreland gets to it too late in his story, unsure how to balance the character of Lucy with the mystery of Lucy. There are also weak elements about the mystery of foreign culture in the dynamic between a British woman, American friend, and a Japanese man. Again, the cultural issues feel like something likely richer in the source, but just window dressing here on a really boring window.

            Worst of all, “Earthquake Bird” is just dull. A mystery like this needs to simmer to a point, but there’s so little rising action here that your mind will wander, especially while watching it on a streaming service with the biggest catalog in the world. Like its shy protagonist, "Earthquake Bird" almost feels like it’s happy to just get lost in the crowd.

            By: Brian Tallerico
            Posted: November 15, 2019, 2:52 pm

            • Entertainer
              Entertainer published a blog post Feast of the Seven Fishes


              “Feast of the Seven Fishes” is based on a graphic novel/cookbook by director Robert Tinnell. Only once does Tinnell pay tribute to his screenplay’s origin; there’s a moment where the townscape suddenly erupts with cartoon bubbles flying over houses. But he repeatedly returns to the preparation and consumption of food, specifically the meal in the title. The cooking scenes comprise the best moments in this episodic film. The Oliverio family kitchen is blessed with brothers Carmine (Ray Abruzzo), Johnny (Paul Ben-Victor) and Frankie (Joe Pantoliano). Johnny runs the show, ruling with an inflexibility the overtaxed Johnny complains about, while Carmine smokes his stogie and playfully tries to get out of work. The trio are the keepers of an Italian Christmas tradition that goes back at least 100 years. As the day progresses, several other family members and friends join in, assisting in this gigantic endeavor while good-naturedly ribbing each other.

              One of the people who shows up to help is Katie (Addison Timlin). She’s the only first-timer at the Oliverio house, a friend of a friend who’s caught the eye of Tony (Skyler Gisondo). Part of the youngest generation, Tony is torn between dream of art school and his expected role as the future heir of the family butcher shop. After years of expensive private schools, Katie has escaped the West Virginia town of her birth to attend an Ivy League university. Several times in “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” someone refers to Katie as a “cake-eater,” a slang term I had to look up in Urban Dictionary. It apparently means “someone rich enough to have their cake and eat it too.” Upon meeting Katie, Tony’s great-grandmother Nonnie (Lynn Cohen) calls her something else in Italian: a “puttana.” I didn’t have to look that one up.

              Tony’s burgeoning relationship with Katie is complicated by his past with the equally blonde Beth (Madison Iseman). Beth is still so hung up her ex that she performs stunts like working at a strip club to trigger Tony’s protective side. The stripper stunt occurs while Tony is out on his double date with Katie, their mutual friend Sarah (Jessica Darrow) and her boyfriend, Angelo (Andrew Schulz). This scene, and several others featuring Beth, veer dangerously close to the teenage sex comedy genre popular in this film’s 1983 timeline. Thankfully, Iseman is allowed to reveal more complex shadings in later scenes. Beth finds a kindred spirit in the town’s resident nerdy intellectual, Juke (Josh Helman). Besides being thoughtful and observant of his friends’ trials and tribulations, Juke is also the recipient of an amusing running gag that most certainly feels ported from a 1983 comedy.

              Since it’s in the holiday movie subgenre, “Feast of the Seven Fishes” has themes about family, finding romantic love and the fear of being alone on Christmas. Movies of this ilk often tend to be intolerable, but Tinnell pulls us from the abyss in two ways. First, he establishes an immersive feel for the town where his characters live. There’s a tinge of rose-colored glasses-style nostalgia present, but it’s balanced out with the genuine love one feels for their hometown. We become familiar with the bar where his teenaged characters drink (the drinking age was 18 until 1986), the inside of everyone’s houses, and the geographical lay of the land.

              Second, Tinnell often pairs Tony and Katie, who have the blandest storyline, with far more interesting people who liven up their arc. Katie has a great scene of conspiratorial revenge with Frankie and a tense church scene with Nonnie. The latter has Nonnie threatening to put the evil eye on anybody who’d hurt Tony’s feelings. Both wind up in the Oliverio’s kitchen, where the cooking brothers put them on the spot and tease out character development details. Gisondo and Timlin give good performances, but Cohen, Helman, Abruzzo, Pantoliano and Ben-Victor outshine them. The latter three would be perfect in a cooking movie spin-off.

              Speaking of which, the food scenes are a major asset here. There are several montages where food is either being cooked or explained to the viewer. It works better if you like seafood, though that’s not a prerequisite. Just like at your own real-life holiday get together, the dishes look good enough to make you forget the drama happening around the dinner table. As far as Christmas romance movies go, “Feast of the Seven Fishes” is quite watchable, funny in several spots and sweetly poignant in others. Not everything works, but what does works well enough to recommend it.

              By: Odie Henderson
              Posted: November 15, 2019, 2:52 pm

              • Entertainer
                Entertainer published a blog post I Lost My Body


                Jérémy Clapin’s “I Lost My Body,” a surprise winner of the Critics’ Week Grand Prize this year at Cannes (the first animated movie to do so), is a visually sumptuous slice of macabre storytelling that works best when it uses its director’s magical sense of composition and less when it feels weighed down by narrative. There are some passages that are as unforgettable as any film this year, animated or otherwise. It often feels like a dream, or at least something caught between waking and sleep. When it loses that sheen and focuses on a relatively creepy story of a young man who basically stalks a woman that he hopes likes him, the tonal balance falls. Luckily, there’s enough of the former to warrant a look. It’s certainly like nothing else you’ll see this year.

                “I Lost My Body” is the story of a severed hand. Yes, like something out of a black-and-white B-movie you saw late at night on network TV, “I Lost My Body” opens with a severed hand pushing its way out of a medical refrigerator, finding a way to rip open the bag that holds it, and then beginning a long journey across the Parisian night. Don’t worry—this is not an animated movie in which the hand sings and dances. It just crawls, like a variation on Thing from “The Addams Family.” But it has undeniable, and almost inspirational purpose. The hand will face all kinds of threats across the city, from an amazing scene with rats under a subway train to speeding traffic, but it never gives up its drive. We don’t know what that drive is. We just know it’s headed somewhere. These scenes are wonderful, almost entirely free of dialogue, buoyed by a great score by Dan Levy. I could have watched that hand for hours.

                I was much less interested in the story of a pizza delivery boy named Naoufel (Hakim Faris) and his interest in a young lady named Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois). After poorly delivering her pizza one night, he finds a way to get closer to her, leading to a relatively traditional love story in which the guy is much creepier than he probably thinks. Some of that can be explained away by Naoufel’s existence. He lives with his brother and uncle, and there are hints of tragedy in his past which will become clear in the film’s final act. I became invested in Naoufel finding happiness, but never cared about the love story. There’s a stronger version that either strengthens it or discards it entirely, but it feels half-done here.

                Much stronger is the way that Clapin and co-writer Guillaume Laurant, a regular collaborator with Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie”) and author of the book on which this is based, keep returning to hand imagery, even outside of the actual appendage crawling across the French landscape. We get snippets of flashbacks to Naoufel’s childhood, and it’s often centered on something like a hand in the sand or feeling the breeze outside of a window. There’s a tactile nature to the storytelling here that ties the two halves together before the dots are connected in the final act and we learn who that hand belongs to and where it’s been going all along.

                Like a hand without a body in a dark room, “I Lost My Body” snuck up on me. I found it whimsical and magical at times, leaden at others, but there’s a power to the final ten minutes or so that really works. Without spoiling anything, you realize this isn’t so much a love story as a story of how we go on after tragedy. Don’t be surprised if you see yourself in that creepy hand, pushing forward through conflict, feeling your way in the dark. 

                By: Brian Tallerico
                Posted: November 15, 2019, 2:53 pm

                • Entertainer
                  Entertainer published a blog post The Good Liar


                  When I sit down to write a review, I generally try to not give away any plot details that might be deemed spoilers, and try to avoid revealing anything that hasn’t been featured in the trailers. That said, I still find myself at a loss reviewing “The Good Liar” because this isn’t the case of a film where there are only a couple of details to avoid, if at all possible. Here is a film where virtually every aspect of its existence, right down to its title and cast list, could very well be considered to be spoilers by some observers, no matter how cagily I try to handle them. So, if you are especially sensitive to such things, I would recommend that you simply put this review aside entirely and save yourself the aggravation. If you are one of those people, I suppose I could just tell you right now whether you should ultimately see it or not but, you know ... why spoil it for everyone else?

                  Set in London in 2009, the film opens as two people of a certain age find themselves chatting on a dating website and agree to meet for a casual dinner. This is where Roy (Ian McKellan) and Betty (Helen Mirren) come together and after an initial bit of awkwardness—each one utilized a fake name online—they quickly hit it off. Their relationship is not necessarily romantic, per se—Betty just lost her husband a year earlier and is not ready for something along those lines—but they become companions close enough so that when Roy’s bum knee acts up one night, Betty doesn’t think twice about letting him spend the night at her tastefully appointed home. The only fly in the ointment in this otherwise sweet-sounding story is Betty’s grandson Steven (Russell Torvy), who is instantly suspicious of Roy and worries that his vulnerable grandmother is rushing into things far too quickly.

                  By this point, we already know that Steven’s suspicions are pretty accurate for Roy is a con man who likes fleecing women like Betty out of their savings. He doesn't so it so much for the money as the sheer thrill of putting something over on the kind of person who might think themselves too smart to fall for a con job in this day and age, and who would certainly be too embarrassed to report it to the police and risk humiliation. With the aid of his partner (Jim Carter), Roy’s plan is to convince Betty that, as a way of planning for their financial futures, they should put their respective bankrolls (with hers clocking in at nearly three million pounds) into a joint account that each will have access to but which he will, of course, drain immediately before disappearing. Although Roy has done variations of this scam many times before, there are a couple of complications this time around. One involves the unexpected reappearance of one of the victims of his previous job. That person is dealt with easily enough (if a bit messily) but there is an added complication in that it seems as if Roy might actually be developing something resembling feelings for Betty, especially after learning of some health issues she has kept quiet.  Before long, the two decide to go on holiday and this is he point where I really must beg off from revealing anything else.

                  “The Good Liar” was directed by Bill Condon, who is best known for such tony adult-oriented projects as “Gods and Monsters,” “Kinsey” and “Mr. Holmes” as well as a side gig working on musical extravaganzas like “Dreamgirls,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Greatest Showman.” Before those films, however, he was responsible for a number of low-budget and occasionally lurid potboilers with titles like “Murder 101,” “Dead in the Water,” “Deadly Relations” and “The Man Who Wouldn’t Die”—most of which could have served as effective alternate titles for this one. In many ways, this film feels like a fusion of those two otherwise dissimilar filmmaking periods by taking a storyline (adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the book by Nicholas Searle) that is undeniably twisty and trashy in equal measure and using the formidable presence of the two leads to distract when the story threatens to go off the rails. This is especially important because it quickly becomes apparent that this is one of those stories where nothing is quite as it seems, and leading to a shocking revelation that most will see coming, at least in the broad strokes. A film of this sort needs an airtight plot—or at least airtight enough to keep you from questioning things as it is running—but there are a few too many instances in which characters say and do things solely because the plot requires them to do so.

                  For roughly the first half, the film is reasonably light. But over the course of the second, it starts introducing some fairly dark thematic material that jibes uneasily with the earlier tone, and then leads to some revelations in the final act that are so bleak and despairing that they wind up throwing the whole film off balance. Without going into detail, I don’t object to the content but the film does not earn the right to utilize such dramatically charged material in this kind of context. Having not read the book, I cannot say whether it handled these developments in a defter manner but Condon cannot quite figure out a way to use them in a suitable or satisfying way.

                  “The Good Liar” is ultimately a near-miss that offers up a few reasonable diversions along the way, the main one being the inspired pairing of the two leads. Their work here probably wouldn’t crack any lists of their Top 20 or so performances, but the sheer fun of watching them playing off of each other helps give their scenes a charge that they might have lacked in other hands. For his part, Condon keeps things humming and offers up a well-staged suspense sequence set in the Charing Cross underground station to boot. As a whole, “The Good Liar” is not quite good enough to deserve the comparisons to the works of Alfred Hitchcock it's clearly aiming for, though it is just good enough to suggest what Hitchcock himself might have done with it on a second pass. 

                  By: Peter Sobczynski
                  Posted: November 15, 2019, 2:53 pm

                  • Entertainer
                    Entertainer published a blog post Charlie's Angels


                    “Charlie’s Angels” is the reboot you never knew you needed in your life.

                    As writer, director, producer and co-star, Elizabeth Banks has achieved a tricky (if somewhat inconsistent) balance between reveling in the playful, escapist fun of the original 1970s TV detective series and asserting a wholly necessary and modern feminist vision. Her movie is brisk and knowingly silly, but it also slows down occasionally to allow her characters to connect and interact as strong, loyal women looking out for each other. 

                    Of course, the clothes are great: racks of shimmery, sequined knockouts and rows of fierce pumps. And it wouldn’t be a “Charlie’s Angels” adventure without a variety of wild costumes for the ladies to don for their undercover assignments as well as an assortment of high-tech gadgets. (The Altoids that aren’t really Altoids are handy.) But Banks—who’s swaddled in a range of luxurious coats and sunglasses herself as the Angels’ subtly wisecracking Bosley—is more interested in what those kinds of outfits symbolize when you’re woman, and how the exterior image can be used as a means of manipulation. As a woman directing a “Charlie’s Angels” movie (following the early 2000s offerings from McG), her gaze reflects her deep appreciation of female power.

                    This much is clear from the film’s opening sequence in which a platinum-wigged Kristen Stewart (who runs away with this movie—more on that later) seduces a shady businessman over dinner in all the most obviously flirtatious ways. The fact that he has no idea she’s slowly but surely tying him up in literal knots is a testament to her skills but also his idiocy. Men can be malleable, and the women of “Charlie’s Angels” know how to use that to their advantage.

                    The actual crime solving seems secondary—and truthfully, the doo-dad that drives the narrative in Banks’ script couldn’t be more McGuffin-y. It’s a hand-held device that, in theory, is a revolutionary and Earth-friendly means of generating energy. But in the wrong hands, it could also be used as a weapon. Dun dun dunnnn!

                    Established Angels Sabina (Stewart as a bad-girl heiress) and former MI6 agent Jane (the commanding and charismatic stunner Ella Balinska) team up with the brilliant, young engineer who devised the technology and blew the whistle on its possible improper use to keep bad guys from stealing it for their own nefarious purposes. Elena (Naomi Scott of the live-action “Aladdin”) is our conduit into this glamorous and dangerous world, but her scientific strengths also provide just the right complement for this team. If the statuesque Jane is the all-business brawn and Sabina is the quick-witted, wild-card decoy, Elena is the exceedingly capable brains of the operation, and it doesn’t take her long to get up to speed.

                    Sam Claflin plays the smug and insanely wealthy tech bro whose company is releasing the device and Nat Faxon is Elena’s jerk boss who wants to sell it on the black market first. Jonathan Tucker is the wiry and tatted assassin on a mission to stop Elena and her new friends from exposing whatever underhanded plan is in the works (and there’s a red herring in that regard, not that it really matters). And Djimon Hounsou and Noah Centineo get little to do as two of the men who aren’t completely selfish jerks. It’s a solid cast of actors who know better than to take any of this too seriously.

                    But “Charlie’s Angels” is truly about the women in a way it never has been before, for better and for worse. The girl-power vibe that provides the film’s energy is unmistakable and often exhilarating, but it can also be heavy-handed. We didn’t need an opening montage of girls and women doing awesome things around the globe; it’s clunky and feels out of place. Similarly, while it’s an intriguing and relevant detail that one of Jane’s former informants in Istanbul also runs a women’s clinic, we didn’t need to see the van full of birth control pills and tampons the Angels provide to understand that this is an important service.

                    These are minor speed bumps along a breezy ride, though. And no matter the setting—from massive action set pieces (which are sometimes choppily edited) to quieter moments of the Angels sitting around chatting—it’s obvious that Stewart is having a blast letting loose in a rare comic role. She’s magnetic in an entirely different way. She’s never had the opportunity to show off her off-kilter timing or her inspired physicality quite like this. Her Sabina is a constant surprise—not just for us, but for the villains around the world who have the misfortune of finding themselves in her sights.

                    By: Christy Lemire
                    Posted: November 15, 2019, 2:53 pm


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