Review: 'How To Survive a Pandemic' a gripping new documentary streaming on HBO Max
The race to create a viable vaccine for COVID-19 takes center-stage in the new HBO documentary, "How To Survive A Pandemic," a film that champions science and those that champion it.
"The Slap Heard Around The World" is all that anyone is talking about (rightly so) or will remember from the 2022 Academy Awards. But it was bad even before that moment, dubbed on Twitter afterwards by Mark Hamill as "#UgliestOscarMoment_Ever."
3 hour and 42 minute run-time, after all the hoopla surrounding the decision to move and minimize eight of the awards to the pre-show? "The Army of the Dead" is the "fan-favorite" movie of 2021? The most cheer-worthy movie moment - IN THE HISTORY OF MOVIES - is..."The Flash enters The Speed Force"? Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are brought on-stage to celebrate the 50th anniversary of "The Godfather," despite the fact that Robert De Niro was not in that film?
WTF is going on?
"The Lost City" is the sort of romantic-adventure-comedy that seems to have been missing from the movie landscape in recent years. Movies like "Romancing the Stone," "Jewel of the Nile" and the "Allan Quatermain" films of the 1980s are channeled for "The Lost City," a movie that just barely works, powered by a star firing on all of her charismatic cylinders.
Predicting the 2022 Oscars!
The 94th annual Academy Awards are right around the corner, airing this Sunday, March 27th at 8pm (EST) on ABC. Though ratings have been down across the board for ALL awards shows since the pandemic, this year's Oscars are trying hard to bring in more overall viewership with a few new twists (some a bit controversial) and some special treats for their movie-loving audience.
Musical performances from Billy Eilish & Finneas, Beyoncé, Reba McEntire and Sebastian Yatra have already been announced, as have a list of presenters including Dj Khaled, Jennifer Garner, Bill Murray, Tony Hawk, H.E.R., Shawn Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, Tyler Perry, Woody Harrelson, Mila Kunis and John Travolta, to name a few. It was also recently announced that Rachel Zegler, the 20-year-old star of the Oscar-nominated "West Side Story," will also be a presenter, after an online campaign went viral when she revealed that she was not invited to attend the Oscars. The Oscars will be hosted by Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, and it's the first time the Oscars have gone with a host since Jimmy Kimmel hosted in 2017 and 2018.
There are a lot of opinions when it comes to the Oscars, especially in our divided times (I urge you to read a fantastic article where two opposing film lovers - one very pro-Oscars and one very, very against them by clicking here). But with the theme of the show this year being "Movie Lovers Unite" (#MovieLoversUnite), the Oscars are hoping to get people more involved than ever, having added a "fan favorite" vote-in category as well as having average folks vote for their favorite movie scene of all-time.
Predicting what will happen at the Oscars this year, how many people will watch (or not watch) and who will win is all part of the fun. In that spirit, here are my best predictions in all 23 categories for this year's 94th Academy Awards (full disclaimer: Yes I have seen all entries and these opinions are made without any inside knowledge, and represent who I THINK will win, and not necessarily who I would WANT to see win):
The pandemic had much more of an impact on the movie industry than just at the box office. You can sort of tell the kind of film that was made during lockdown: Small, character-driven dramas or thrillers that utilize very few locations and minimal casts.
This weekend there is an example of how to accomplish this effectively (see "The Outfit"), and how difficult it can be. With "Windfall" (on Netflix Friday 3/18), we're happy that the cast and crew got out there and made a movie, but the result is a banal so-called "thriller" that's so minimal you'll nearly forget it's even there.
Mark Rylance is a national treasure. He delivers an astounding performance as a tailor - no a "cutter" - in the surprisingly effective gangster drama, "The Outfit." It's a clever play on words representing not only the main character's profession, but the slang descriptive title of the underground, organized crime syndicate that formed all over America in the mid-20th century.
It features a great ensemble, led by Rylance, and is easily one of the best films of the year thus far, even if its third act prevents it from achieving greatness.
"Deep Water" might be remembered - if at all - for being the movie that started an off-screen romance between its two stars, Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. There must have been real chemistry between the two, but you'd never know it by watching "Deep Water," a cold plunge into shallow erotic thriller territory, by a director who has been kept on ice for nearly two decades.
Time travel films invite scrutiny, perhaps more than any other genre of film. One staple that nearly EVERY time-travel story always adheres to is that you are not to run into your past self. We all know this is a HUGE time-travelling no-no. To do so throws things way out of whack and could in fact fold the time-space continuum into itself, creating a paradoxical implosion that would end the universe as we know it. Or something like that, typically.
"The Adam Project" has a clever take: What if we just don't think so hard about all that time-travel logic? What if we just went on an adventure? It seems simple (and perhaps blasphemous to the diehard sci-fi geek), but throwing logic out the window would allow a person to not only run into their former self, but actually talk, chat, hang-out and even save the world together along with their mini-me.
That's the underlying premise of "The Adam Project," a film that by no means is a "good film," yet it has enough clever dialogue and meaningful moments buried within it to qualify as a passable, family-friendly time-travelling adventure...one that I'd bet will land successfully with kids and adults alike.
It's too bad that Pixar's latest charmer "Turning Red" is being sent straight to Disney+. This totally unique and diverse tale is the sort of family film that would tremendously help out the sagging domestic box office still reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
There has been buzz about "Turning Red" being too narrowly focused, and I don't think this is an inaccurate criticism, with context. It's just a bit of a sexist accusation that this is being aimed at a movie about a young teenage girl dealing with the realities of puberty and family pressures...we almost never would hear a film about any other topic be categorized as "too narrowly focused" or "unrelatable" by the majority of middle-aged, white and male film critics (yes, of which I am one).
I've never fought in war, or lived in the sixties, or have been to outer-space, and I've also never thought that films in any of these genres have somehow been "unrelatable" simply because they aren't my exact experience. Heck, the entire pull of movies for me is that it allows for empathy for those that are NOT like me.
If you're still not convinced that "Turning Red" is only for women, Asian-Americans, or some other prescribed demographic? Look no further than my five-year-old son, who watched "Turning Red" and despite some of the content flying well-over his head (unrelatable!), he was quick to declare it as his new favorite movie...ever!
It occurred to me while watching "The Batman" that it doesn't really matter where the movie starts, where it ends, or what timeline it is adhering to. In some ways, I'd be totally OK with the character of Batman being treated somewhat like James Bond...each Bond movie is its own adventure, perhaps loosely connected to others or perhaps every once in a while acting as direct sequels to previous films. Different actors can portray the iconic character, with a parade of directors putting their unique spin on the franchise each go-around. As long as the familiar "musts" are included - the uttering of "Bond. James Bond," for example - each movie can push the envelope or tell its own story.
In many ways, Batman is even more suited for this sort of approach than James Bond or maybe any other character in film history. There are so many takes on the character in the comic book, from the "Zap! Boom! Pow" bright and corny 70s version to the dark and brooding "Dark Knight" popularized by Frank Miller in the early 1980s. The Rogues Gallery of iconic villains can act as a never-ending spring of antagonists for our hero, and there are enough side characters in the DC Universe to keep things going for another couple generations.
In that spirit, "The Batman" is as good as a Batman movie has ever been, or possibly ever can be. It might be jarring at first to accept yet another version of this character, in a previously unvisited timeline with yet another actor under the bat cowl, but if you accept this like a Bond film, where this movie isn't meant to connect to anything else and is simply a Batman story, then you will be floored by how effective this rendition can be.
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