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‘Fast Fridays’ Leading Up to “F9” Release in June
Film

‘Fast Fridays’ Leading Up to “F9” Release in June

When "F9," the ninth installment in the massively successful "Fast and Furious" saga is released this summer, it's likely to reignite the global box office back to levels we haven't seen since before the pandemic. In the meantime, Universal Pictures and theatrical chains across the country are offering up a free nationwide screening series of all eight previous films. Some of you may have already noticed this as it kicked off officially last week, but participating theaters are ramping up and there should soon be over 900 locations screening every Friday into mid-June. “The Fast films are all about family, and Universal wanted to find a way to thank our huge family of Fast fans around the country for their passion and loyalty over the past 20 years,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s ...
“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” Offers Family Fun and Then Some (Review)
Film, Reviews

“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” Offers Family Fun and Then Some (Review)

I grew up on a steady diet of Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera shows, and Disney classics, and I'm not ashamed as a grown-ass man to still enjoy my fair share of animated films. Sure, there's plenty of family films every year that I have no interest in, but I have a soft spot for the ones that balance humor, heart, and creativity with gags that can delight a younger audience but are still genuinely funny for grown-ups. In recent years that has mostly been the stomping ground of Pixar, but they have plenty of competition now. The creative team behind "The Mitchells vs. The Machines" is worth its weight in gold. You start with Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe (both of whom wrote for Disney's "Gravity Falls") for direction and writing duties and then add in Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ("The...
Bob Odenkirk Delivers A Bit Of The Old Ultra-Violence in “Nobody” (Review)
Film, Reviews

Bob Odenkirk Delivers A Bit Of The Old Ultra-Violence in “Nobody” (Review)

If you're anything like me, the name Bob Odenkirk immediately serves up thoughts of laughter. Originally a comedy writer for Conan O'Brien, "Saturday Night Live," and, of course, the co-star of HBO's cult classic "Mr. Show with Bob and David," he transitions into full-blown action star in this new thriller from director Ilya Naishuller ("Hardcore Henry"). Odenkirk plays Hutch Mansell, quite literally a morality play "everyman." He works in a boring office for his father-in-law and lives a very quiet life with his family. There isn't much spark left with his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) and his son Brady (Gage Munroe) bears obvious disdain towards him. It's not until their house is broken into and a confrontation is had with the robbers that it becomes clear that things may not be e...
SFFILM Review: “Lily Topples The World”
Art, Film, Reviews

SFFILM Review: “Lily Topples The World”

After its recent world premiere at Austin's SXSW Film Festival, Jeremy Workman's superb new documentary "Lily Topples The World" won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature. The film is being featured this week on the lineup of the 64th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM) and it's a must-see. 22-year-old Lily Hevesh started posting videos of her unique domino creations at the tender age of nine. Over time, her ideas became more elaborate and she has built a massive following on YouTube where her videos have reached over a billion views. Before watching the film, I never could have imagined that being a "domino artist" was something you could make a living from. Something tells me that your average person still could not, but a small handful (of otherwise...
SFFILM Review: “Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché”
Film, Reviews

SFFILM Review: “Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché”

The 64th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM) is going on now through April 18th. It is the longest-running film festival in the Americas and this year they are doing a hybrid event that includes drive-in screenings happening in San Francisco along with over 100 films available to watch online for viewers in the United States. Co-directed by filmmakers Paul Sng and Celeste Bell, "Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché," is on the festival's documentary slate this year. It chronicles the life and career of Marion Elliot, better known professionally as Poly Styrene, frontwoman of legendary British punk band X-Ray Spex. She was a young biracial woman with braces and a flair for fashion when she saw the Sex Pistols play a raucous live show on her 19th birthday. Shortly after...
Gloriously Goofy “Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar” Out Now on Blu-ray and VOD (Review)
Film, Reviews

Gloriously Goofy “Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar” Out Now on Blu-ray and VOD (Review)

Comedians Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo became fast friends after meeting at The Groundlings, a Los Angeles-based improv comedy theater in the early 2000s. In 2011, the duo earned an Academy Award nomination for their uproarious "Bridesmaids" screenplay. A full decade later, Wiig and Mumolo have brought us two of the most gloriously goofy characters ever to be unleashed on audiences. They've now written, produced, and starred in "Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar," which is directed by Josh Greenbaum (better known as an award-winning documentarian behind "Becoming Bond" and "The Short Game"). Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig) have best friends for their entire lives and pretty much spend every waking moment together. After the store they work in closes down, they decide to take...
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is a Quickly Forgotten Battle (Review)
Film, Reviews

“Godzilla vs. Kong” is a Quickly Forgotten Battle (Review)

There were a few reasons why I was looking forward to checking out "Godzilla vs. Kong." For starters, 2017's "Kong: Skull Island" was legitimately pretty damn fun to watch and gave a great cast the opportunity to ham it up against some beautiful locations and solid effects work. Full disclosure: I have not seen the 2014 "Godzilla" reboot nor its 2019 sequel, "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," but when I saw that Adam Wingard had been secured to direct this new battle-centric sequel, my interest level piqued. His 2011 home-invasion thriller "You're Next" is one of my favorite genre films in recent memory, so I was interested to see what he would do with two of the most legendary cinematic monsters of all time. It's unlikely that any filmmaker could have given this lackluster effo...
COVID-19 Documentary “The Last Cruise” Hits HBO Max (Review)
Film, Reviews

COVID-19 Documentary “The Last Cruise” Hits HBO Max (Review)

Before most of us were even aware of the dangers presented by COVID-19, a group of cruise ship passengers and crew members were trapped in a living nightmare. The first cases of coronavirus were reported in late-December 2019. The Diamond Princess set sail from Yokohama, Japan to begin a trip across Southeast Asia on January 20, 2020. With over 3,700 on board from all over the world, it became one of the earliest lessons in how the virus could spread rapidly. Director Hannah Olson (“Baby God”) has constructed a fascinating documentary almost entirely of footage shot by people who were on board. Some of these clips captured on cell phones are shaky and difficult to watch, but also give us a historic glimpse into how things went from bad to worse.  The crui...
Oscar-Nominated “The Father” Debuts on VOD Today (Review)
Film, Reviews

Oscar-Nominated “The Father” Debuts on VOD Today (Review)

Movie theaters around the country are operating at lower capacities and many have remained closed entirely due to COVID-19. This has helped prompt Sony Pictures Classics to experiment with Premium Video On Demand for the first time with their highly acclaimed new drama, "The Father." It's the debut feature from Florian Zeller and is adapted from his own 2012 play "Le Père." Anthony Hopkins stars as an elderly man with dementia who is struggling to make sense of his surroundings. His daughter Anne (Olivia Colman, "The Crown") is trying to figure out how to balance her personal life while making sure her father is properly cared for. As his memory ebbs and flows, he forgets faces, places, and experiences. After angrily accusing a caretaker of stealing his watch (when in actualit...