Monday, September 27, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Auschwitz Report

Slovakia's Oscar submission for Best International Feature last year, “The Auschwitz Report,” is an important national story about the Holocaust now playing in theaters and on demand. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

TIFF with Abe: Silent Night

I really enjoyed “Silent Night,” which debuted at TIFF, an entertaining and admittedly dark look at normalcy at the end of the world. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

TIFF with Abe: Charlotte

Charlotte,” which debuted at TIFF, is a powerful and creative animated portrait of artist Charlotte Salomon, who was killed in the Holocaust at age twenty-six. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Dear Evan Hansen, The Guilty, I’m Your Man
New to Theaters and VOD: The Auschwitz Report
New to DVD: F9: The Fast Saga, I Carry You with Me
New to Netflix: The Starling, Intrusion

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Movie with Abe: Dear Evan Hansen

The highly anticipated movie version of the hit Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” arrives in theaters this Friday - and it's a solid update. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Movie with Abe: Best Sellers

Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza make an unlikely but terrific duo in “Best Sellers,” now playing in theaters and on demand. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

TIFF with Abe: Lakewood

Naomi Watts stars as a mother desperately trying to help her son during an active shooter situation in “Lakewood,” which debuted at TIFF. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Interviews with Abe: Everybody's Talking About Jamie

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with actors Max Harwood and Richard E. Grant Cinema Daily US about their new film Everybody's Talking About Jamie, which is now available on Amazon Prime Video. Watch our conversations in full below!




TIFF with Abe: Jagged

I’m excited to be covering the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I'm watching films virtually and reviewing them as soon as I can.

I'm writing up most of the films I see for Cinema Daily US. Head over there to read my take on “Jagged,” an Alanis Morissette biopic weakened by the singer's rejection of the film.

TIFF with Abe: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

I’m excited to be covering the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I'm watching films virtually and reviewing them as soon as I can.

I'm writing up most of the films I see for Cinema Daily US. Head over there to read my take on “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain,” a bizarre tribute to a futuristic animal artist.

Monday, September 20, 2021

TIFF with Abe: Encounter

I’m excited to be covering the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I'm watching films virtually and reviewing them as soon as I can.

I'm writing up most of the films I see for Cinema Daily US. Head over there to read my take on “Encounter,” which stars Riz Ahmed and spotlights family in a sci-fi drama.

TIFF with Abe: The Guilty

I’m excited to be covering the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I'm watching films virtually and reviewing them as soon as I can.

I'm writing up most of the films I see for Cinema Daily US. Head over there to read my take on “The Guilty,” the English-language remake of the “Danish film of the same name.”

TIFF with Abe: The Starling

I’m excited to be covering the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I'm watching films virtually and reviewing them as soon as I can.

I'm writing up most of the films I see for Cinema Daily US. Head over there to read my take on “The Starling,” an upbeat look at loss and relationship building.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Mad Women's Ball

I was very impressed with “The Mad Women's Ball,” which debuted at TIFF and is now available on Amazon Prime Video. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Movie with Abe: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Jessica Chastain is unrecognizable and incredible in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” opposite Andrew Garfield in a wild story that premiered at TIFF and is now out in theaters. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
New to Theaters and VOD: Best Sellers, Prisoners of the Ghostland
New to DVD: Zola, Whirlybird, The Human Factor
New to Amazon Prime Video: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, The Mad Women’s Ball
New to Hulu: Colette

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

TIFF with Abe: All My Puny Sorrows

I’m excited to be covering the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I'm watching films virtually and reviewing them as soon as I can.

I'm writing up a few films for The Film Experience. Head over there to read my take on “All My Puny Sorrows,” which features very strong performances from actresses Alison Pill and Sarah Gadon.

TIFF with Abe: Petite Maman

I’m excited to be covering the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I'm watching films virtually and reviewing them as soon as I can.

I'm writing up a few films for The Film Experience. Head over there to read my take on “Petite Maman,” director Céline Sciamma’s follow-up to “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”

TIFF Interview: Manny Perez

As part of my TIFF coverage, I got to interview Manny Perez for the second time, this time for his directorial debut, “La Soga 2,” once again for Cinema Daily US. Watch the conversation below!


TIFF with Abe: Mothering Sunday

I’m excited to be covering the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I'm watching films virtually and reviewing them as soon as I can.

I'm writing up most of the films I see for Cinema Daily US. Head over there to read my take on “Mothering Sunday,” an ode to love, loss, and dreams of a different life.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Movie with Abe: Dating and New York

I really enjoyed the romantic comedy “Dating and New York,” now playing in theaters and on demand. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Language Lessons, Small Engine Repair
New to Theaters and VOD: Dating and New York
New to Digital: Language Arts
New to DVD: Together Together
New to Netflix: Paradise Hills
New to Amazon Prime Video: The Voyeurs
New to Hulu: The Killing of Two Lovers, Flower, La La Land

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Interviews with Abe: The Voyeurs

I was delighted to have the chance to speak with actors Justice Smith and Ben Hardy for Cinema Daily US about their new film The Voyeurs, which debuts tomorrow on Amazon Prime Video. Watch our conversations in full below!




Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Movie with Abe: Small Engine Repair

John Pollono directs and stars in “Small Engine Repair,” featuring fine performances from him and from Jon Bernthal, Shea Whigham, and Ciara Bravo. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Movie with Abe: Language Arts

Ashley Zukerman and Sarah Shahi star in “Language Arts,” a look at ability and acceptance. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Movie with Abe: Who You Think I Am

Juliette Binoche stars and impresses in “Who You Think I Am,” a strong drama about Internet deception now playing in theaters. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Who You Think I Am
New to Theaters and VOD: The Big Scary S Word, Wild Indian
New to DVD: Sun Children, In the Heights, 12 Mighty Orphans
New to Netflix: Worth
New to Amazon Prime Video: Cinderella, 21 Grams
New to Hulu: Undine

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Movie with Abe: Cinderella

I very much enjoyed the modern musical update of “Cinderella,” which arrives on Amazon Prime Video this Friday. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Movie with Abe: Aristocrats

I had the chance to see another very worthwhile Japan Cuts selection, “Aristocrats.” I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Together, Unapologetic
New to Theaters and VOD: No Man of God
New to VOD: Welcome to Happiness
New to Amazon Prime Video: The Courier
New to Hulu: We Broke Up, Disobedience, Love and Monsters, In the Earth, Four Good Days

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Movie with Abe: Together

James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan are both terrific in “Together,” a pandemic movie that's both funny and powerful, opening tomorrow in theaters. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Movie with Abe: Till Death

Megan Fox stars in a thriller about a woman literally chained to her dead husband and struggling to survive, “Till Death,” which is now on DVD and is definitely not a must-see. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Interview with Abe: Welcome to Happiness

I had a lot of fun talking to director Oliver Thompson and stars Paget Brewster and Brendan Sexton III for ShockYa about their film “Welcome to Happiness,” which debuts its director's cut/special edition on VOD this Friday. Watch our conversation in full below!


Monday, August 23, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Protégé

Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Keaton star in the entertaining action movie, “The Protégé,” which is coming to theaters this Friday. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Movie with Abe: The Magnificent Meyersons

There are some positive plotlines and characters in “The Magnificent Meyersons,” but overall this family comedy, which is now playing in theaters, doesn't really work. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Movie with Abe: Annette

Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard star in a truly unique and memorable musical, “Annette,” which arrives on Amazon Prime Video tomorrow. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Movie with Abe: It's a Summer Film

The popular Japanese film “It's a Summer Film” made its U.S. premiere at Japan Cuts. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Movie with Abe: Last of the Wolves

The very violent but compelling Japanese crime film “Last of the Wolves” made its North American premiere at the New York Asian Film Festival. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Wildland, Ma Belle My Beauty, Flag Day, The Protégé, The Magnificent Meyersons
New to DVD: The Truffle Hunters, Small Axe, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
New to Amazon Prime Video: Annette
New to Hulu: Blast Beat, Jungleland

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Movie with Abe: Flag Day

Dylan Penn stars alongside her real-life father Sean Penn in “Flag Day,” a film with memorable performances that is now playing in theaters. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Interviews with Abe: CODA

I was delighted to be able to participate in conversations with the director and stars of one of my favorite films of the year, “CODA.” Check out excerpts of the interviews with director Siân Heder and stars Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Daniel Durant, and Troy Kotsur at Cinema Daily US. Read my review of the film from Sundance here.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Movie with Abe: Beckett

John David Washington headlines a decent if unmemorable thriller, “Beckett,” now streaming on Netflix. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters and Apple TV Plus: CODA
New to Theaters: Not Going QuietlyRespect, White as Snow
New to Theaters and VOD: The Meaning of Hitler
New to VOD: Naked Singularity, Swan Song
New to Netflix: Misha and the Wolves, Beckett, Quartet
New to Hulu: Together Together, AWOL

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Movie with Abe: Respect

Jennifer Hudson is the best reason to see the otherwise standard biopic “Respect,” which opens in theaters this Friday. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Interview with Abe: Cosmo Jarvis


I had a chance to pose questions to an actor who has very much impressed me in a few roles, Cosmo Jarvis, centered on his part in “The Evening Hour.” Check out my interview with him at ShockYa. Read my review of the film here and watch my video review here.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Movie with Abe: Naked Singularity

I was intrigued and generally engaged by “Naked Singularity,” which is now playing in theaters and coming to VOD this Friday. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Suicide Squad

I liked the new blockbuster sequel, “The Suicide Squad,” which is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max, much more than the first film.. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Naked Singularity, Swan Song
New to Theaters and HBO Max: The Suicide Squad
New to Theaters and VOD: John and the Hole
New to Theaters and Digital: Whirlybird
New to DVD: The Killing of Two Lovers
New to Netflix: Vivo, Magnolia
New to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video: Catch Me If You Can
New to Hulu: Princess Cyd, Watchmen

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Movie with Abe: Vivo

I absolutely loved “Vivo,” a new animated musical with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda now streaming on Netflix. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Interview with Abe: Fully Realized Humans

I had so much fun speaking to Joshua Leonard and Jess Weixler for Cinema Daily US about creating their expectant parents comedy Fully Realized Humans, which is now available on VOD and should go right on your watchlist. Watch our conversation in full below!


Monday, August 2, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Green Knight

I really did not like A24's newest film, “The Green Knight,” now playing in theaters. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Last Mercenary

Jean-Claude Van Damme anchors the light, entertaining action-comedy “The Last Mercenary,” now streaming on Netflix. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Movie with Abe: Stillwater

Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin star in “Stillwater,” which is loosely based on the Amanda Knox story and is now playing in theaters. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Nine Days, The Evening Hour, Stillwater, The Green Knight
New to Theaters and VOD: Sabaya, Lorelei
New to VOD: Fully Realized Humans
New to DVD: The Birthday Cake, The God Committee
New to Netflix: The Last Mercenary

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Interview with Abe: Benedict Wong

It was a true pleasure speaking to actor Benedict Wong for Cinema Daily US about his role in the film Nine Days, which I saw at Sundance in 2020 and am so thrilled is finally being released this Friday. Watch our conversation in full below, and check out my review and video review from Sundance too!


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Birthday Cake

The Birthday Cake,” which arrives today on DVD, is a familiar and relatively standard mob movie. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Movie with Abe: Settlers

Brooklynn Prince is the best reason to see the standard sci-fi drama “Settlers,” now out in theaters and on demand. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Movie with Abe: Broken Diamonds

Lola Kirke and Ben Platt star in “Broken Diamonds,” a sibling drama that's now out in theaters and on demand. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Movie with Abe: Joe Bell

Mark Wahlberg stars in “Joe Bell,” which is out in theaters now and doesn't do a great job bringing its true story to the screen.. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Old, Joe Bell
New to Theaters and VOD: Here After, Settlers, Broken Diamonds
New to VOD: Film Fest
New to DVD: Die in a Gunfight, Gully, Dream Horse
New to Amazon Prime Video: Jolt

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Movie with Abe: Old

Old
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Released July 23, 2021

Few filmmakers have established such a distinct – and temperamental – reputation for building up audience expectations as M. Night Shyamalan. His breakthrough feature, “The Sixth Sense,” was released when he was only twenty-nine years old and earned multiple Oscar nominations and a high bar for twist endings. This horror-averse reviewer hasn’t screened any of this filmmaker’s work from the past decade, especially following the miserable “The Last Airbender,” but a return trip to a screening room was in store for his latest high-concept piece that delivers more in terms of its ideas than its execution.

Several families on a tropical vacation are given a recommendation for a hidden, private beach that will make their stay infinitely more relaxing. When they arrive, they are horrified to find a dead body in the water. Two parents (Vicky Krieps and Gael Garcia Bernal) are startled to realize that their children Maddox and Trent, formerly eleven and six, have now aged several years (Thomasin McKenzie and Alex Wolff). Other guests on the beach include a cocky doctor (Rufus Sewell), his wife (Abbey Lee), elderly mother (Kathleen Chalfant), and the couple’s young but aging daughter (Eliza Scanlen), a nurse (Ken Leung) and his epileptic wife (Nikki Amuka-Bird), and a lonely rapper (Aaron Pierre). As the hours drag on and the impossibility of their situation becomes clear, they wonder if they can do anything to stop time from passing far too quickly.

This film’s poster reveals its general premise by showing a woman’s legs on the beach, one normal and youthful and the other with a skeletal foot. How this can be a possible isn’t important, but what these characters do want to figure out is exactly what’s going on and what the “rules” are that might enable them to escape a fate that will certainly kill them all. That process is cumbersome and messy, and the dialogue involved is far from convincing. Characters walk up and down the beach without urgency and seem to get too easily distracted from the very urgent task at hand. Additionally, there’s no real consistency to how the aging process works, and there’s an overindulgence in gruesomeness that doesn’t feel at all necessary since the true horror of this scenario is that time is passing too quickly for any of them to be able to stop to figure out how to combat it.

Like Shyamalan’s previous films, this one relies on a major twist. Fortunately, when that moment inevitably arrives, the film becomes infinitely more compelling, but that doesn’t justify the time spent to get there. This is an intriguing concept but one that gets stuck too much on the shock of its reveal and the tediousness of the conversation that seeks for far too long to deny its truthfulness. This is a strong cast with plenty of impressive credits, yet they’re not given a fantastic platform here, relegated to arcs that don’t feel terribly emphatic and then recast with other actors if they survive long enough to make it to the film’s end. It does present tremendous food for thought, but burrowing out of the uninviting and unremarkable middle for a worthwhile end isn’t entirely satisfying.

C+

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Movie with Abe: Jolt

Kate Beckinsale stars as someone with a deadly anger management problem in the generally enertaining action movie “Jolt,” which comes to Amazon Prime Video this Friday. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Interview with Abe: Christina Ricci

I got to speak with actress Christina Ricci about her new film “Here After,” which opens in NY and on demand this Friday, for Cinema Daily US. Watch our conversation in full below:


Monday, July 19, 2021

Interview with Abe: Film Fest

I got to speak with director Marshall Cook and star Matt Cook about their new movie “Film Fest,” which expands wide to major VOD platforms this Friday. Here's our conversation about their send-up of the film festival experience:


Saturday, July 17, 2021

Movie with Abe: Pig

Pig
Directed by Michael Sarnoski
Released July 16, 2021

There are people who prefer to live away from society, and because much of civilization stays within such close proximity to others, that manner of existence can be seen as unusual, and to some, objectionable. Anyone accustomed to being around others at all times may find it difficult if not impossible to understand how someone who hasn’t had that experience might not want or be prepared for it, even if circumstances force it to be the case. Any immersion back into a life long left behind can be trying and full of conflict.

Rob (Nicolas Cage) spends his time hunting for truffles with his loyal pig by his side, content to interact only with those he absolutely must, which is mainly Amir (Alex Wolff), the man who purchases what he’s selling. Rob’s peaceful routine is brutally disrupted when his pig is stolen, prompting him to pursue every possible avenue to find it. His search brings him back into the culinary world, a more polished and urban environment that he’s used to given his wilderness lifestyle. Rob has no desire to reacquaint himself with his past but wants nothing more than to find his beloved pig.

Cage is an actor known for over-the-top performances in action and genre movies, but he has a history of truly quality roles scattered in between the showier paycheck roles. The Oscar winner for “Leaving Las Vegas” and nominee for “Adaptation” delivers a grounded turn as Rob, a man whose patience for other people is minimal and who has deliberately chosen the way he wants to live, only to be drawn back in because he wasn’t left alone. It’s most reminiscent of his focused portrayal of anger in the extremely underrated “Joe,” absent of much happiness and probing the motivations and emotions of a man living on the fringes of society.

Cage is the only actor with a good deal of screen time, though Wolff and Adam Arkin do turn in fine work as his most frequent associates. This film’s title is indicative of what Rob cares about, and as a result there’s not too much else which is featured over the course of the film’s ninety-minute runtime. Like an acclaimed film from last year, “First Cow,” this film explores the bond between men and animals in a way that’s far more intellectually expressive than actually full of watchable or invigorating content.

B-

Friday, July 16, 2021

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Mama Weed, Roadrunner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain, Pig
New to Theaters and VOD: Die in a Gunfight

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Movie with Abe: Gunpowder Milkshake

I really enjoyed the action movie “Gunpowder Milkshake,” which is now playing in theaters and streaming on Netflix. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Movie with Abe: Die in a Gunfight

Die in a Gunfight
Directed by Collin Schiffli
Released July 16, 2021 (Theaters and VOD)

Many people spend a great deal of time thinking about how they will be remembered when they are gone. For some, their legacy is intricately connected to how it is that they die, because the manner in which their life ends says something about how they lived. That may be more due to unrealistic expectations and ideas created by popular culture, but a confident sense of mortality can inform an attitude of invincibility. Those who walk around as if they are untouchable and wouldn’t be bothered by death usually don’t live long, but their time is most certainly memorable.

Ben Gibbon (Diego Boneta) has never had a good relationship with his wealthy family. The discord is rooted in his eagerness to provoke, and the return of the woman he never stopped loving, Mary Ratchart (Alexandra Daddario), who happens to be the daughter of his parents’ generations-long rivals, only further ignites his passion for civil disobedience. Ben’s determination to be reunited with Mary puts him on a collision course with an obsessive security guard (Justin Chatwin), a hippie hitman (Travis Fimmel) and his girlfriend (Emmanuelle Chriqui), and his loyal best friend Mukul (Wade Allain-Marcus) that seems destined to end in bloodshed.

This film is heavily stylized, introducing its story first with animation and voiceover narration. While there isn’t anything particularly unique about either Ben or Mary, the framing of this story absolutely presents it as such, utilizing colorful graphics to explain who characters are and jumping in to the most interesting moments of their lives to show who they truly are. That cinematic quality enhances a plot that isn’t all that creative, infusing energy and a wondrous moodiness into the misadventures that befall its ensemble. It isn’t afraid to follow its narrative wherever events might take it, subverting expectations while at the same time fulfilling them.

The entire cast in this film is well-utilized, starting with the charismatic Boneta and the reliable Daddario. From their first scenes, it’s clear that they shared a passion, and whatever happened in between their previous time of closeness and the current moment may as well be irrelevant since those feelings have returned again and are strong as ever. Fimmel and Chriqui are having a lot of fun, and Chatwin shows true commitment to his role. This film is full of violent and blunt encounters, but the way in which it is constructed make it well worth watching and, like its protagonist always hopes, not easy to forget.

B+

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Movie with Abe: Mama Weed

Mama Weed
Directed by Jean-Paul Salomé
Released July 16, 2021 (Theaters)

There are reasons that stereotypes exist, and they usually stem from what someone has experienced or what someone believes they have experienced. Those two may not be one and the same, but the idea of having had a negative interaction with an individual of a particular class or ethnicity may prejudice someone against working with other people they think share the same heritage or values even if that irresponsible and closeminded perspective couldn’t be further from the case. General expectations can often be used to one’s advantage since, in all likelihood, not conforming to what others are looking for can allow someone else to operate completely under the radar and unnoticed.

Patience Portefeux (Isabelle Huppert) works an interpreter for the Paris police, translating between the French authorities and the Arab population that often finds itself in their crosshairs. She also devotes a considerable amount of time to caring for her elderly mother (Liliane Rovère) and engaging in a romance with her captain (Hippolyte Girardot). When her worlds collide and she ends up with a large supply of drugs no one knows she has, she finds herself in a unique position to set up a side business that she can ensure no one else is able to monitor since she is the one doing the translating for the very people looking for her.

This film is based on the novel “The Godmother” by Hannelore Cayre. It’s a story that, similar to Clark Kent’s classic Superman costume, relies heavily on the idiocy of Patience’s police peers who hear her own voice on a recording and have no idea that it’s her, and who don’t realize that she’s purely making things up when she translates her own words and those of the people she’s working with from wiretaps. There’s a tremendous suspension of disbelief necessary to take this narrative seriously, but fortunately it’s full of comic touches that make it light and entertaining, making its legitimacy not of paramount concern.

One of the best reasons to see this and most films is Huppert, who continues to deliver marvelous performances that show what she’s capable of doing. It’s particularly fun to see her become this allegedly Moroccan drug kingpin and infuse humor into the moments in which she’s dodging security cameras and trying to work with less-than-subtle partners who don’t closely follow her instructions. This film boasts a few surprises along the way, leading to an enjoyable conclusion that leaves enough open-ended to make its contents memorable and enthralling.

B+