There have been lots of movies in recent weeks (not complaining!), both theatrical and on streaming, so here is a run-down of several of the movies I've managed to catch up with, along with my thoughts on each film.
I have FULL reviews of the following films:
"The Fabelmans" - Full Review
"Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" - Full Review
"Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" - Full Review
Read on for more!
It's at least an original tale, and it's also one of the most progressive attempts by Disney ever made. The story about a father and a son, and that son's relationship with his own son, won me over in the end, as it deals with the expectations that one generation places on the next, and the inherent disappointment that sometimes follows.
The younger son is the first openly LGBTQ+ character to appear in a Disney film, and the themes dealing with taking care of our living, breathing Earth may be a bit on the nose for some to stomach. But this is a colorful and impressively realized adventure, if not Disney's most innovative film.
Genre: Animation, Family, Adventure.
Run Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.
Starring (voices of): Jake Gyllenhaal, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu, Dennis Quaid, Alan Tudyk.
Co-Directed by Qui Nguyen (also wrote the script, feature-film directorial debut) and Don Hall ("Raya and the Last Dragon," "Moana," "Big Hero 6").
Disney's "Strange World" is now playing theatrically.
"Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths"
Here's a helpful tip: Just Google the meaning of the word "Bardo" before watching this film, and it will inform you as to what exactly is happening in "Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths."
This is the latest masterpiece of cinema from two-time Academy Award winning director, Alejandro Innaritu ("Birdman," "The Revenant"), and it's admittedly not for everyone...and a whole lot to chew on. But it's never uninteresting, and it's one of the most gorgeously shot films of 2022.
It's an amalgam of dream sequences, introspection and observation, and it speaks directly to the experience of an American immigrant in the 21st Century. Innaritu leaves it all on the screen, but even with a run-time of nearly three hours, it never feels bloated or over-stuffed.
This one is sure to divide audiences, but I found it to be a profound and bold piece of work from a vulnerable filmmaker at the top of his game. It's not Innaritu's most focused work, but it may be his most personal.
Genre: Comedy, Drama.
Run Time: 2 hours 39 minutes.
Starring: Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Griselda Siciliani, Ximena Lamadrid.
Written and Directed by Alejandro Innaritu ("The Revenant," "Birdman," "Biutiful," "Babel," "21 Grams").
"Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths" is in limited theatrical release and is streaming on Netflix beginning on December 16th, 2022.
Ryan Reynolds generally plays the same person over and over, but if you're a fan of that smarmy persona, then you're in for a treat with "Spirited." His Ebenezer-like character actually fits him well, and Will Ferrell is as funny as ever, even if his role as The Ghost of Christmas Present seems a bit muted for what we may be used to from the dynamic comedian.
This is a modern twist on A Christmas Carol, a film that is fully aware of "Scrooged" and every other version of the story that has come before it. Oh, and it's also a musical, but the musical numbers themselves are served up like punchlines, for maximum laughs.
The best part about "Spirited" is that it isn't mean-spirited, and its lightness and breeziness may make it the perfect specimen to become Will Ferrell's second-best Christmas Classic (it's not nearly as funny or lasting as "Elf," but I can see it having rewatch-ability from year to year). It drags in long chunks, but the comedic chemistry between Reynolds and Ferrell kept me smiling throughout.
Genre: Comedy, Musical.
Run Time: 2 hours 7 minutes.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, Octavia Spencer, Patrick Page, Sunita Mani.
Directed by Sean Anders ("Instant Family," "Daddy's Home," "Daddy's Home 2," "Horrible Bosses 2," "That's My Boy").
"Spirited" is in limited theatrical release and is available to stream on Apple TV+.
"A Christmas Story Christmas"
I wanted desperately to love "A Christmas Story Christmas," but it runs out of gas quickly, burning only on nostalgia alone.
This isn't the first sequel to the iconic 1983 film "A Christmas Story," but it is the first one to get Peter Billingsley to return to his role as Ralphie Parker. Now a grown man with a family of his own, he returns to his old house to make more Christmas memories, although this time around the memories are likely to be forgotten by the audience.
The writing is quite awful and the structure that worked in the first film - hearing Ralphie's thoughts via voice-over - worked when it was a child doing the thinking...hearing the inner thoughts of a middle-aged man just doesn't have the same narrative power. There's a million callbacks to the original films that fans will appreciate, but "A Christmas Story Christmas" - though not as humiliating as a pink bunny suit - feels just as unnecessary.
Genre: Comedy, Family.
Run Time: 1 hour 38 minutes.
Starring: Peter Billingsley, Erinn Hayes, Julie Hagerty, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb.
Directed by Clay Kaytis ("The Christmas Chronicles," "The Angry Birds Movie").
"A Christmas Story Christmas" is available to stream on HBO Max.
"She Said" is the true story of how two New York Times journalists helped expose and ultimately take down Miramax movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, for his ongoing sexual harassment and misconduct over the course of several decades.
Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) meticulously work lead after lead in their pursuit of the truth. They have help from two managing editors at the Times (played by Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher) and their sprawling, in-depth story kicked off the entire #MeToo movement in Hollywood.
Weinstein's face is never shown...but we get to hear the accounts of several of his victims (including Ashley Judd, who appears as herself in the film). This movie belongs to them.
No doubt an important film, this is undeniably a by-the-numbers newsroom movie...it takes place in-the-weeds of investigative journalism and shares DNA with other films like "All the President's Men" and "The Post." That's pretty good company to be in.
Genre: Drama, History.
Run Time: 2 hours 9 minutes.
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan, Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Sean Cullen, Jennifer Ehle, Ashley Judd.
Directed by Maria Schrader ("I'm Your Man," "Love Life").
"She Said" is in theaters now.
Looking for a specific movie or review?