Marriage Story

Perhaps this should be required viewing for anyone contemplating marriage or divorce. The film explores what happens as a couple goes through the evolution of a divorce.

When asked, those in the film were unable to define which genre the film was – perhaps a love story/slice of life. It has comedy, music, drama, love, all of it. Film style is just as mixed as the genre – from feeling like a play a movie utilizing mixed perspectives. Somehow jerking you in and out of everything works, like the tug of war the film represents. There are no rights/wrong or sides in this film.

Adam Driver does well as himself. Scarlett Johansen gets a good workout but her performance is expected. Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Julie Haggarty and Ray Liotta remind you of why they have had longevity in the business. Laura Dern not only has a great speech in the film but also a strong sparing match with Roy Liotta, so fun to watch.

While the film is on Netflix, I’m glad I saw it in a theater where I was captured to watch it start to end (didn’t hurt that free popcorn was involved). Date night only if you dare and use it for healthy discussion.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

What other movie could within the movie command a room full of theater goes to take 1 full minute to think about those who love them, to make them feel good! The movie is more about the effect Mr. Rodgers had on each person he was in contact with more than just who he was. This is not a biography as the film takes you through a writers experience a writer, during a difficult time in his life, in which he had to interview Mr. Rodgers. Tom Hanks doesn’t quite master the master but he is effective. Matthew Rhys on the other hand is a strong actor /master of subtext. Supporting cast, including Chris Cooper are terrific. Direction is really interesting as they go between Mr. R’s neighborhood/set and that of the life of it’s lead. While there are some bumps along the way, it was a more interesting movie than anticipated. Makes you want to be a better person and present with those in your life. Definitely a watch with the girls flick and possibly date night worthy.

Dolemite is My Name

The key to success is having a dream and despite all the naysayers, pursuing it way beyond your comfort zone. And… knowing your market! This is what you learn from watching this film. Eddie Murphy does a nice job depicting one of the G-dfathers of Hip Hop (Rudy Ray Moore) in his latest return to the screen. The cast is a bit of a hodgepodge which adds to the stylistic feel of the film. Much like Boogie Nights and The Disaster Artist, it’s a “period piece” perhaps filmed as Moore would himself have done it. Surprisingly brought to you by Netflix and not the movie-houses, you may want to make this one a group date night movie to better enjoy the experience – sometimes the audience can make it even more enjoyable.

The Laundromat

Kudos to Netflix for standing up to the lawyers who tried to ban this film!

Based on the Panama Papers, the director “plays” it well, wish I could say the same for Meryl Streep. Sadly, we know her tricks and she relies heavily on them – was it too many words, the fact that she’s trying hard to make a statement or she’s tired of digging in deep and becoming the character(s)?

Gary Oldman reminds us he is a powerful stage actor able to transcend mediums while Antonio Banderas performance is reminiscent of Evita. Supporting cast does just that and they do it well!

Like the subject matter the film clumsily breaks many rules but somehow it works. Learn about shell companies and get frustrated with the system. Date night with drinks, possibly part of game night!

Just Mercy

The film reminds one of Dead Man walking while reflect on where we are in the world with anger and ignorant determination. How do we ensure justice and fight the lack of justice is some states who still live in the past?

While the cast is strong, Jaime Fox surprisingly proves to be the weak link with a surprisingly unsteady performance wobbling between Oscar worthy and phoning it in. Based on a real life story, there are some sections that feel painfully slow and could have been tightened. Overall, it’s well done and reminds us that we need to get involved with life and connect with people beyond the internet. Real life still has bumps that we need to pay attention to. Potentially date night worthy, depends on how serious a night you would like.

Judy

Not sure what was more depressing – the end for Judy Garland or the movie. The question remains – what was the purpose of the movie? To highlight the opioid crisis plaguing America or to give you a taste of the challenges and tragedy Judy faced post studio rule. Left me wondering, in the age of #metoo, where are we at holding executives responsible for drug use.

The film is the ugly view of the end of Judy’s life in which she toggles between being charming and rising above, to being a tragic victim of life, with guilt driven choices clouded by ambition.

The elements are there, obviously a well made movie, just the script is lacking, relying strictly on the talents of the cast and cinematographer. There’s an attempt to handle the story with some tenderness for America’s beloved talent but it feels a bit more like Mommie Dearist meets Renee Zellweger .

Do not see it if you want Judy to remain a sweetheart or aren’t in the right frame of mind for the endless sadness that comes with it. Performances aside, can not recommend it for date night.

A Simple Favor

A stylized comedy mystery thriller, what could be better to take your mind off a stressful week! Directed by Paul Feig, with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, it’s a winning combination that puts women in the drivers seat. Semi predictable the direction, music and costumes keep you entranced. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are masters of their own domain who almost have chemistry together. It’s like watching the first few minutes of friends in the making but not quite getting past that. You get to linger in those delicious first few minutes but don’t necessarily need to go beyond, like a sequel. Yes to date night worthy, might even have some fun while watching, wink wink.