Ana de Armas is a striking Marilyn Monroe. She nails the mannerisms, the facial expressions and the body language. With an impressive team of makeup, hair and costume artists, she becomes Marilyn Monroe, aka Norma Jeane.
This is the irony of "Blonde," a muddled, artsy and empty biopic about the iconic actress: For a woman whose talents were always overshadowed by her physical appearance, the movie looks just swell, but it is so caught up in its own glamour that it fails to glance inward.
Marilyn has always captivated the public, but we wish we knew more about her thoughts, her motivations, her mind. "Blonde" does none of this, even while pretending to pull back the curtain on her life. Instead, it perpetuates the same myths, stereotypes and negativity that has always been cast upon Monroe. This movie is not an answer to any questions we had about her. Instead, it represents part of the problem.
Musically-inclined director Baz Lurhmann cannot be criticized for his Elvis biopic containing "a little less conversation, a little more action."
"Elvis" is a sprawling, swirling, glitzy and glamorous remembrance of the King. It ends up being so fast-paced that it comes across as hollow, but that's not to say there isn't a lot to like about it. Carrying the lyrics to that aforementioned song like a motto for the film, Luhrmann infuses his story of Elvis Presley with "a little more bite and a little less bark, a little less fight and a little more spark."
It's a bit of a spectacle, not quite life-changing but larger-than-life...a whirlwind of flashing lights, gaudy costumes and shaking hips.
In other words, it's exactly what "Elvis" would have wanted it to be.
At first glance, Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem would not have been my first choices to play the iconic TV couple, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. However they will win you over with their loving, spirited portrayals in "Being the Ricardos," a captivating and funny glimpse into the lives of this mega-famous pair.
If Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is capable of doing anything wrong, he's yet to prove it. His directorial debut, "tick, tick...BOOM!" is a gloriously energetic ode to the theater, and one of its greatest creative minds, Jonathan Larson, the one-of-a-kind talent who gave us "Rent."
Before you go off ready to hand this year's Oscar to Will Smith or Benedict Cumberbatch, don't sleep on Andrew Garfield. He is an absolute firecracker as Larson and a commanding screen presence who single-handedly energizes each frame he's in. This is a crackling performance in an equally impressive film...one of the best of 2021 for sure ("tick, tick...BOOM!" is streaming on Netflix starting 11/19/21).
The best and most unbelievable stories are often true. That is definitely the case when it comes to Richard Williams, a man who wrote out an 85-page plan detailing how not one, but two of his young daughters would take the world by storm and become the two greatest tennis champions the world has ever seen. That's a bit far-fetched, but what makes it miraculous is that he wrote this plan years before they were ever born.
His story is the story of his two daughters, Venus and Serena Williams, who did go on to become two of the greatest tennis champs and athletes ever produced. They weren't the first female African-American all-stars (look up Ora Washington, Althea Gibson or Zina Garrison), but they did open up the door for an entire generation of young girls as they absolutely dominated their sport for nearly two decades.
"King Richard" is funny, touching and inspiring. It has the make-up of a traditional underdog sports film (an over-saturated genre to be sure), yet it doesn't feel like any of the others that have come before it. It's all held together with what will surely be an award-worthy turn by Will Smith, who after a few misfires ("Bad Boys For Life," "Gemini Man," "Bright") fires on all cylinders as the man behind-the-scenes in the life of two iconic Americans.
Believe the hype: It's almost unimaginable to think that Kristen Stewart won't win an Oscar for her nuanced, powerful portrayal as Princess Diana, in Pablo Larrain's haunting fable, "Spencer."
What is the value of a human life? Almost everyone would most likely agree that it's absurd to place a dollar amount on the worth of a person's life, but that's exactly what D.C. attorney Ken Feinberg (Michael Keaton) was tasked with.
In the days and months following the horrendous terrorist attacks on 9/11, Feinberg stepped in trying to do the right thing: He was heading up the daunting job of coming up with financial compensation for the victims of 9/11 and their families. But how does one go about valuing the compensation one should receive for the loss of a parent, sibling or child? Again I ask: What is the value of a human life?
Meyer Lansky is one of the most enthralling mobsters in American history, and yet, he seems to always be represented as a supporting player. Finally, Lansky is given his due.
There is a lot to like about "Lansky," and if you're a fan of Mafia movies or crime dramas, you won't be disappointed that you checked this out. But you can't help but feel that there was a better version of his story to be told on-screen.
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.
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.
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