May 12 2023

Book Club: The Next Chapter

Four life long friends who missed the opportunity to tour Italy as young women take it upon themselves to seize the moment as pandemic restrictions are lifted. Now it’s up to Vivian, Carol, Sharon, and Diane (Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen, and Diane Keaton) to follow their literary hearts for the trip of a lifetime. Written By Bill Holderman and Erin Simms and Directed By Holderman, this mostly tame and situational comedy romp delivers the chuckles in predictable form but gives its stars a chance to shine in a form that feels like an extended sitcom. That is to say, target audiences may get a kick out of this, but don’t expect miracles to be worked here either. To really make a splash, sharper faster writing could have gone a long way to really showcase the comedic power of the ensemble, instead it’s a simple game of set em up and knock em down ten pins, just going through the motions with the gutter bumpers up. Fortunately, running an hour and forty seven minutes in length, welcomes are not overstayed, Book Club: The Next Chapter is rated PG-13.

Apr 28 2023

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.

Navigating the awkward pre-teen and teenage years is hard enough; but, eleven year old Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) has the added challenge of her family’s move from the city to the suburbs. Finding her own stride and getting along with the other kids at school, all the while exploring her own faith will make 6th grade particularly interesting. Meanwhile, for mom and dad (Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie) learning to raise an emotionally balanced daughter will come with its own surprises and lessons learned along the way. Written by Kelly Fremon Craig and based on the book by Judy Blume and Directed by Fremon Craig, this incredibly endearing and heartwarming coming of age tale that’s been a staple in school libraries for over 50 years brings to light the importance of individuality while navigating life. And, now with multiple generations of readers looking to the screen to see how well the story translates, a collective sigh of relief to say, it does it perfectly. Thoughtful and contemplative, hilarious and awkward when it needs to be, Fremon Craig has struck gold with this honest and sensitive look at what it is to grow up while questioning everything. Spot on portrayals from the ensemble nail the intricacies and sometimes delicate subject nature to boot. Meanwhile, score from Hans Zimmer adds the slightest bit of whimsy, and, a nod to art direction staying immersive and period appropriate start to finish. Running a brisk hour and forty five minutes, consider this your weekend entertainment escapism planned. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret is rated PG-13.

Apr 21 2023

Guy Ritchie’s the Covenant

U.S. Army Sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds himself injured in combat miles from base and stranded deep in Afghan enemy territory, but, with the aid of his interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim), there’s a chance he may live to return stateside, but what about Ahmed’s fate? The bond between the two can only be described as a covenant. Written by Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies, and Guy Ritchie and Directed by Ritchie, this hyper testosterone fueled film checks the action and wartime valor boxes thoroughly. Although, with the exit of the U.S. occupancy in Afghanistan so fresh in the public mind, there’s something that feels “too soon” yet also “never forget” about this film that serves as an important reminder to the blunders of the U.S. government and its hubris across party lines. Meanwhile the heavy lifting from both Gyllenhaal and Salim and their ability to play off of each other’s subtleties is what truly sells the film overall. Further, score from Christopher Benstead is particularly notable in that it proves to drive the film without the typical Ritchie rock and rolla style soundtrack. Running two hours and three minutes in length this slightly bloated story could stand to lose a few extra minutes but still works overall. Guy Ritchie’s the Covenant is rated R.