Malcom & Marie

Malcom & Marie is a character driven story, revolving around a destructive and emotionally draining argument that takes place after an awards ceremony where Malcom, an up and coming filmmaker, played by John David Washington, forgets to thank his girlfriend Marie, a model and former drug addict, who is played by Zendaya. This leads to a series of hurtful and I will use my friends term “spirit murdering” arguments where the two lovers bring up past events and trauma to gain an argumentative advantage over the other. The characters themselves do not have much redeeming about them, and its hard to see how their relationship could survive even one night of such vicious emotional assaults. Yet somehow this defective couple thrives on the conflict, and go from loving one moment, to fighting and loving again throughout the course of a night.

Although the characters are exhausting, the artistic presentation, and great acting, make the film worth watching. Choosing to shoot the film in black in white, with a flair for 60s styles nostalgia in a modern setting was a creative and visually appealing choice. The house the couple stayed in was awesome, but the acting is really what makes the film shine. Washington really showcases a range of believable emotions, as he embraces the role of the narcissistic, loving and emotionally abusing boyfriend, who means well, but cannot help attempting to destroy his girlfriend Marie’s psyche in their arguments. Initially, Zendaya appeared uncomfortable in this adult themed role initially, but maybe that was just my own discomfort seeing Spiderman’s high school girlfriend become a woman. Zendaya attacked this role with relish as she played the supportive girlfriend who, also had a series of emotional breakdowns as she swayed from loving to hating her boyfriend Malcom throughout the film. The movie takes place solely in the house and only has two characters, which was great artistic choice. This creates a sense of claustrophobia, as Malcom and Marie continually orbit each other in small spaces, although they have a large house and yard, they could use to get away from one another.

I would definitely spend the cash to see this one, just due to the acting, but you will be drained by the end of the film. Grade B.

Wandavision

Marvel is back…with a…sitcom?! Yes you heard correctly, two of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes from the Avengers, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are back, starring in a sitcom. Now when I first heard of this concept, I definitely said, “this sounds stupid”. When I saw the trailer for Wandavision, I definitely said, “this looks stupid.” Needless to say, when Disney Plus released two episodes this weekend, despite my feelings, I watched Wandavision anyway, because hey, it’s Wanda and Vision from the Avengers! So for those of you who don’t know, Wanda, the Scarlet Witch and Vision a powerful robot made by Tony “Ironman” Stark himself are superheroes from the Avenger films. In the Marvel films, Vison and Wanda are romantically linked, and Wandavision continues this romance, although Vision was killed in Avengers: Infinity War…right? Hmmm a mystery.

Wanda and Vision appear to be trapped in some form of 50s/60s reality where they are living life, like a sitcom. Wanda and Vision appear to be oblivious to this fact, but clues and circumstances begin to happen that begin to make them question their reality. Wanda appears to be more aware than Vision, but she realizes something is amiss when a colorful toy helicopter crashes into the yard of her black and white world. However, her main priority is to focus on the love and companionship she shares with Vision, although neither one of them can remember when they got married, or any important details about their lives. This is the story so far in the two episodes released.

Wandavision is truly a sitcom that borrows unashamedly from classics like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Dick Van Dyke show and probably a host of others, along with it being shown in black and white. The question is why? Why would Marvel do this to fans? Well, like I said there is a mystery, but will anyone stick around to see what the mystery is? If a viewer turns on this show and sees Wanda and Vision prancing around in black and white, doing 50 and 60 style sitcom pranks, and scenarios will they roll their eyes and turn the show off? I would be hard pressed to see a regular viewer want to stick around and watch this. I struggle to see young Marvel fans stick around to watch Wandavision. I myself, have become intrigued, so I know I will stick around to the end. The creator of this show will either be classified as a mad genius or fool, for bringing such a unique and creative show to streaming. The question is…are we ready for it? If you are invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then definitely SPEND THE CASH, to see this because it definitely ties in, but where and how remains to be seen. Regular non-MCU fans may want to MAKE THE DASH.

Fast Color

I have circled around this movie showing on Amazon Prime, for a few months. The premise seemed interesting, but I always seemed to find something better to watch instead. Last night I finally clicked the link and gave it a shot. I liked the backdrop world for Fast Color, which involved the Earth going through an 8 year drought, in which no rain has fallen on the planet. The film is set in present day, and the world is on the verge of collapse with grocery stories barely stocked with any food stuffs and water selling for high prices. Although the world is teetering, everything is much like we know today, everything still functions, there is law and order, but there is just less, and everything is dirty. Think the COVID toilet paper shortage, but with everything. Now this by far was the most interesting aspect of the film. Now the film starts off with Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) on the run, from who knows what, and she takes temporary shelter in a seedy hotel. All of a sudden she begins to seizure, and a tremendous earthquake, rocks the hotel and surrounding areas. Eventually we discover she is being pursued by the government who is aware of her abilities, and are attempting to capture her for experiments. (The movie never explains any of this.) Ruth returns to her mom’s house that she left years ago when she was addicted to drugs. There is tension in the household because we learn that Ruth also had a daughter that she abandoned when she left her mom’s house. The movie then sheds light on the fact that Ruth’s powers are generational, and are passed down from mother to daughter. The power manifests as colors, which they can use to reconstruct and build things. For a reason we learn later, Ruth’s powers are blocked, which cause her seizures and the earthquakes. The rest of the movie, is more about the reconnection of Ruth with her mother, and her now pre-teen daughter. She attempts to reconcile with her mom, while trying to teach her daughter to avoid the mistakes she made. I liked the premise of the film, but it moved slowly, and left many story angles dangling that would have been exciting to pursue. How did the government learn about her? Why was she running? What led to the drought? So many questions, but the creators of the movie seemed more interested in the reconnecting relationship with Ruth and her family, than exploring the bigger issues. Nothing wrong with that, but if left me feeling that the film was incomplete. YOU CAN SAVE THE CASH AND DASH ON THIS ONE! Grade D+

raising dion

Raising Dion can be found on Netflix. Although I enjoyed the first 9 episode season, I can see how adults would not want to invest the time to watch this show. Raising Dion is made primarily for kids, in elementary, early middle school, or for adult big kids like myself who just like a decent superhero yarn. Dion (Ja’Siah Young) is a 7 year old boy, whose father allegedly drowned under some strange circumstances. Dion is raised by his mother Nicole (Alisha Wainwright), who is struggling to keep the household and job together, while she mourns the loss of her husband Mark (Michael B. Jordan). Dion begins to manifest special abilities and his mom, is not sure how to handle it. Nicole eventually turns to her deceased husband’s best friend, Pat (Jason Ritter) who watches over Dion as the godfather, and ensures that Dion has a father type figure in his life. Just like any superhero show, if there is someone with budding superpowers, then of course there has to be a villain, and Raising Dion does not disappoint in this area either. I found the villain concept to be rather creative and intriguing, and it has a pretty good payoff at the end of the season. The show is definitely about Dion, but to me the focus is on Nicole and her difficulty accepting the reality of her situation, and that life is much more complicated than it already is. As much as I enjoyed watching this series, and my wife enjoyed it too, I did find Dion and Pat the godfather to be rather annoying at times. Despite these annoyances, and the kid friendly approach, I found it to be engaging, and very interesting towards the end. However, would I recommend you purchase a Netflix subscription just to see Raising Dion? No! SAVE THE CASH AND MAKE THE DASH! Grade C+.

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep is actually a sequel to The Shining, so if you haven’t seen The Shining or are not familiar with it, then this movie will have a lot going on that you are not going to understand. Although there is a lot going on, a new person seeing this film for the first time, will realize that the movie is referencing a past event, which may create interest in seeing The Shining, or it may not. Doctor Sleep takes places decades after the events at the Overlook Hotel where Jack Torrance lost his mind to the ghosts of the hotel. Jack’s son Danny, (Ewan McGregor) has the gift of the Shining, and he is now a grown man and an alcoholic. The Shining is some form of telepathy. Danny comes across a young girl named Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran) who is also endowed with the Shining, and the two begin to communicate via writing on a black board using their mental powers. What they don’t realize, is that there is a group of people, led by a woman named Rose who feed on the Shining. Rose and her “Crew” spend much of the movie tracking down kids with the Shining and feeding on them. Rose discovers that Abra exists, and she realizes Abra is one of the most powerful wielders of the Shining she have ever seen. The crew begins to track Abra’s whereabouts, so they can have a feast of feasts on her. Abra with the help of Danny proves to be more capable than Rose or the Crew imagined, and a game of cat and mouse ensues. By itself, the movie doesn’t bring much new to the table with this genre. In a sense, the villains in this movie are vampires, but they don’t drink blood, they inhale “steam” the actual power that is the Shining. Rose and her crew look like traveling gypsies, and they are not scary. The only thing special that you see about them is that their eyes glow when they feed. The film eventually makes its way back to the Overlook Hotel for the grand finale, but the ending is never really in doubt and there are no real surprises. This is not a scary movie, nor is it really suspenseful. Typically, I would dismiss this film, however, if you are a fan of Stephen King and the worlds he has created via his books, then you know everything he has written has some connection to a larger universe. Since I read the Dark Tower series, I spent much of the movie wondering about the connection these vampire like creatures had to the overall Dark Tower Universe. There were so many ideas in this film that I would like to see explored. Where did Rose and the Crew come from? How does the Shining work? What will Abra do next? So many questions, but no answers. My wife and I enjoyed watching it, but you could definitely Save the Cash and Dash on this one. Grade C-.

MA

A group of high school teens find a woman who is willing to buy them alcohol and let them party in her basement. They dub her MA, and her basement becomes the hotspot for all the local high school teens. The parties are fun at first, and she is pretty cool for an old lady, but she starts to get too attached to them and wants to party more than them. When they start to brush her off, MA shows flashes of a dark side. They realize too late that MA has an agenda, and it doesn’t bode well for them. MA is a not a grisly horror movie, but you could definitely see something like this happening in the real world. Its pretty straightforward, but it is a good couple’s movie, that will entertain you. Spend your Cash on this one. Grade A.

The Third Day

The Third Day is a six episode limited series, that is one of the weirdest shows I have ever watched. Jude Law plays a character named Sam, who lives in England. Sam is out near a river mourning the death of his son, who had been murdered years before by an immigrant. As he reflects on his sons death, he is startled by the voice of children. He goes to investigate and stumbles on a teenager named Epona who has just attempted suicide by hanging herself. Sam saves her, and takes her home. Epona lives on a small island called Osea, which is only accessible by a 2 mile long winding, causeway. A causeway is a road that goes across a water way, that is accessible for a time before being covered by water. The causeway in Osea is open for four hours and then it is closed because the road is then completely covered by water. (Special note- the island of Osea and the causeway really exists!) Once Sam arrives on the island, the people act strangely towards him, and seem to hide Epona when he tries to check on her, which makes him suspicious. Epona’s father seems bent on hurting him for some reason, and Sam prepares to leave the island, only to be trapped when the causeway recedes. Sam soon discovers that there is more to the island of Osea and its inhabitants than he could ever have imagined. Although he wants to depart the island, and leave the mysteries of Osea unsolved, every attempt to leave the island is thwarted. After three episodes, you may wonder where the show is going, but if you power through to the sixth episode, the ending will be satisfying to say the least. If you have exhausted all of your shows, and are looking for something to take you through the weekend, then it is okay to Spend the Cash on this one. Grade C+.

The Midnight sky

George Clooney directs and stars in this film as an astrophysicist named Augustine who monitors the heavens for a returning spaceship the Aether, which was on a deep space mission to discover a habitable planet for humanity. While in the Artic, the Earth suffers a catastrophe, and the human race is dying. Many of the researchers at the outpost choose to leave the facility, so they can spend their remaining days alive with their families. Augustine chooses to stay, so he can warn the Aether to turn around and go back to the planet they have discovered. Augustine soon discovers that he is not alone, and a young girl has somehow stayed behind. Now he has to watch her, and keep her safe as he has to trek across the frozen wasteland of the Artic to another research base miles away that has the proper equipment that will allow him to communicate with the incoming space vessel. The movie follows both Augustine on the ground, and the crew on the spaceship who are oblivious to the events that have unfolded on Earth. This is not a popcorn movie, but a strong character driven tale, that finds elements of hope, joy and friendship in brief moments as the characters struggle to survive the dangers on Earth and in space. Spend the Cash on this one! Grade B+

wonder woman 1984

I loved the first Wonder Woman movie, and I enjoyed Wonder Woman’s roles in Batman vs. Superman and Justice League. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman 1984, drops the ball on what could have been another outstanding outing for Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. The film takes place in 1984. The director gets everything right, the clothing, cars, attitudes, music, culture, everything screams 1980s. This was one of the coolest aspects of the movie. The story revolves around an artifact called the Dream Stone, which grants wishes to a person, but exacts a price in exchange. Wonder Woman, her friend Minerva (Kristen Wiig) and the main villain, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) make wishes that began to have effects on themselves and people around them. Wonder Woman’s wish brings back her old flame Steve Trevor from the first Wonder Woman movie. Maxwell Lord starts to make wishes to make him the most powerful person on Earth with Wonder Woman in hot pursuit. Although, why didn’t Maxwell just wish all his enemies to be gone, including Wonder Woman? Minerva makes a wish that leads her to becoming Tigris. Her storyline just seemed to center on her gaining power over a man that harassed her on the street. Wonder Woman had potential, but the story just didn’t work. Nevertheless, Gal Gadot is still awesome as Wonder Woman, but she didn’t have much to work with. The most interesting story line in the film, actually was the interaction between Maxwell Lord and his young son, who was vying for his attention. The last ten minutes when Maxwell realizes his son may be killed and he sacrifices everything to get to him tugged on my heart strings, but that is about all that elevated my emotions with this film. Audiences have higher expectations for their superhero fare these days and Wonder Woman doesn’t deliver. Just because the movie is made in the 1980s doesn’t mean it has to follow 1980s superhero storytelling. Wonder Woman 1984 is like a mix of Superman III with Richard Pryor, Batman Forever, with Jim Carrey, and the Amazing Spider Man 2 with Jamie Foxx. All three of those movies tried to make their movies funny by bringing in comedians, and they failed. Wonder Woman follows this same path, without a comedian, and the results are the same…fail! Wonder Woman 1984 is too hokey, and the story too weak to spend cash on! MAKE THE DASH! Grade D.

soul

SOUL is a quaint story of a Jazz musician who has never gotten his big break, and goes through life as a part time music teacher with unfulfilled potential. Minutes into the story, Joe comes to a crossroad, where he is given the offer of a full time job as a middle school band teacher, or a once and a life time opportunity to play with a well renowned Jazz saxophonist. Unfortunately, Joe dies before he gets to make his choice, and on his way to the “Great Beyond”, he escapes and arrives to the “Great Before”, where conspires with 22, a pre-soul that has not been placed in a body to escape back to Earth to get his body back. Some funny hijinks occur, which involve a body switch with a cat, and a soulful tale is born! SOUL has beautiful music and a nice moral story about selfishness, giving to others and pursuing your purpose in life. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it had some funny moments, good story and great animation. I would SPEND THE CASH on this film. Grade B