Is the five-time Grammy-nominated techno artist and animal rights activist, Moby, a self-absorbed asshole or one of the modern geniuses of music? Whichever side you fall on (and yes, when it comes to whether or not people like Moby, there usually is no in-between), everyone should be able to agree that "Moby Doc" is just polarizing as its subject.
There's no keeping this one quiet: "A Quiet Place Part II" is everything you would hope it would be.
Disney has a thing for its villains, and Cruella de Vil has always been one of the company's most iconic. New this weekend (in theaters and available on Disney+), "Cruella" gives us the origin story of a character who first appeared on-screen in the 1961 animated classic, "101 Dalmations" and who most recently was portrayed by Glenn Close in the live-action 1996 remake, "101 Dalmations" and its dog of a sequel, "102 Dalmations" (Close gives her seal of approval over this new version of the character, being that she's one of the film's Executive Producers).
Emma Stone is a perfect young Cruella de Vil, with the ability to be so likable and angelic at times but who can also turn on her devilish side with a quick flash of a look and a grin. There's nothing at all wrong with her rendition of the infamous Disney villainess, but "Cruella" is clogged with so much unnecessary and distracting nonsense that it - just barely - doesn't quite work.
Opening this weekend at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield is film intended for the whole family. "Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog" evokes memories of the Oscar-winning 1997 film, "Life Is Beautiful." In that movie, a Jewish father (played by Roberto Benigni) tries to make life bearable for his young child, despite the horrors going on around them.
"Shepherd" may not win the same awards or be quite as highly regarded when all is said and done, but it accomplishes something that is not at all an easy feat: It tells a story about the horrors of WWII, The Holocaust and the affront on Jews living in Germany and Europe at that time, by finding an angle that is accessible for a younger audiences and their parents. It teaches truths through the journey of a dog, and draws incredible parallels between the treatment of this Shepherd and how Jews were treated by Hitler's Nazi army.
I'm not exactly sure why, but the "horse movie" genre continues to thrive. It seems each and every year, we're given at least two (2021 will be no different, with the animated "Spirit Untamed" coming to Netflix this Summer as well).
The latest entry out of the gate is "Dream Horse," and here is the copy/paste description fitting of all horse movies: An unlikely horse, groomed by an unlikely person who is almost entirely out of their element, becomes a sensation after a lot of hard work, dedication and training montages...the evil businessmen of the "establishment" get in the way, but never so much as to knock the film from its PG-rating.
So if horse films are your bale of hay, then you'll probably love the familiar rhythms of "Dream Horse." For everyone else, you'll most likely want to avoid this for the manipulative, steaming pile of horse manure that it is.
"The Dry," based on the 2016 book of the same name by Jane Harper, is already one of the highest-grossing Australian films of all-time. Like many other films, it was set for release during the Summer of 2020, but didn't make its Melbourne premiere until last December.
Now arriving state-side, it's time for American audiences to discover what all the well-warranted hype is about.
It's a fine line that the new historical documentary "Final Account" tries to walk: Is examining the Holocaust from the perspective of Germans too dangerous a venture? How does one do so without appearing sympathetic to such unthinkable evil?
As those who survived and/or lived during the time of The Holocaust become fewer and fewer as the years go by, it becomes more important than ever to archive first-hand accounts of what occurred, for history's sake but also for the sake of future generations, so that they can contextualize, if not ever truly understand, this unimaginable human catastrophe. But until now, we've rarely heard from Germans who actually were involved in Hitler's Third Reich...the thought of even doing so seems blasphemous, at best.
"Final Account" is a legacy project in more ways than one...it is also the final film from documentarian Luke Holland, who passed away in 2020 after a long battle with cancer. In this, his final film, Holland assembles interviews from nearly 300 elderly Nazi perpetrators, recorded over the last decade, and the results are stunning.
Stunning, mostly because of how relevant it feels to today - where men and women alike can find themselves pledging blind faith to a horrific man, and a horrific cause - and how absolutely mind-boggling it is to think that something like what happened in the 1930s and 1940s is still entirely possible...and how little we've learned.
The 2018 novel, "The Woman in the Window," by author A.J. Finn, was a hot property in Hollywood and almost immediately after its release, was green-lit as a feature film. It attracted Oscar-caliber talent, like Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman, with an adapted screenplay by Tracy Letts and Scott Rudin. Esteemed director Joe Wright ("Darkest Hour," "Atonement") was brought on board and "The Woman in the Window" looked like a surefire hit.
That is, until disastrous test screenings with audiences sent the movie back into post-production and delayed it from its original October 2019 release date. The pandemic put it out even farther, and 20th Century Studios was more than happy to sell it off to Netflix, who purchased the rights to the film and then unceremoniously dumped it as a mid-May release (Netflix, a PR powerhouse, did little to promote it and doesn't seem to have much confidence in its performance).
It's never a good sign when a movie goes through so much, but even in knowing the film's journey, it still lands as a massive disappointment when it arrives and is ever worse than you expect. With Adams, Oldman, Moore and also featuring Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wyatt Russell and Anthony Mackie (the latter two of whom were recent co-stars in "The Falcon & The Winter Soldier"), you expect something great, and "The Woman in the Window" is not great...even if glimpsed through a window from across the street would one never reach that conclusion.
The "Saw" franchise is one of the most successful horror franchises of all-time, having grossed over a billion - with a "b" - since the first film hit theaters back in 2004. "Spiral: From the Book of Saw" is now the ninth film in the series and the first since the 2017 release, "Jigsaw."
The first two films in the series were fresh, unique and clever despite being labeled, perhaps correctly, as "torture porn." But the further we get away from that original pair of films, the more pointless the movies have become. Consequently "Spiral," feels like a copy of of a copy of a copy...an inauthentic wanna-be, much like the new killer it features who is yet again out for some twisted form of vengeance.
Zack Snyder has worked his way into the hearts of millions and is one of the most talked-about directors of the past year. The "Zack Snyder Cut" of "Justice League" that was recently released was well-received and dreamed into fruition by his fervent fan-base. But long before he ever took on The Caped Crusader and his Super-Friends, Snyder cut his teeth on a zombie movie...a George Romero zombie movie no less...the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead." It was Snyder's first feature-film and he returns to world of the undead with his own original zombie tale, "Army of the Dead."
Yes, it's way too long (it is a Zack Snyder film after all), and it never quite lives up to its outstanding opening sequence. But sometimes it's nice to just rest one's brain, and that particular muscle is not at all needed to enjoy this one. "Army of the Dead" definitely pays tribute to the zombie genre, in that mindlessness is not only welcome, it's the main dish.
If only it didn't take itself so seriously.
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