Joker

Disturbingly, good. Extreme comment on today’s environment with a nod to it comic roots. Joaquin Phoenix embodied today’s Joker. Definitely Oscar worthy. An abused boy with behavioral health issues in today’s harsh society is at the root of this film. You have to walk away questioning the systems we have in place and our values. The film is a harsh look at the world in which we live as though the film maker is taking us to task to look at what we have created and exit in. The film leaves on the edge of Hollywood, showcasing the blurred lines of reality, absurdity and entertainment as it sets up for its possible second installment. This film certainly isn’t for everyone but if you want to think, have conversation and live for the moment in the dark world that surrounds the downtrodden, this is worth a gander. Everything about this film from direction and script, to casting and cinematography was done right. An excellent one for film study! Probably not for most date nights!

Harriet

Female empowerment and the word of G-d are the theme of this film with slavery as the catalyst. The movie is a nice homage, as you’d expect it to be, about a strong historical figure who had a tremendous impact and extraordinary will. Nicely cast, they support the true character of the woman who became Harriet Tubman played by Cynthia Erivo. While it’s beautiful one can’t help but feel this is a romanticized Hollywood version. Towards the end it is as though film is maturing around you, realizing it’s relevance, needing to ensure you understand the message, becoming preachy, taking you out of the structure of the film. While I appreciate the value of the film, not sure I see it as the Oscar contender it has become. Lukewarm for date night.

JoJo Rabbit

What a fun sad odd little film. Brilliant concept. The eyes of history through a boys experience as naivete and innocence is washed away. The film is reflective of current times showcasing struggle, absurdity in thought and narrowed vision. Well cast the filming was terrific. Stylistic and reminiscent of Mel Brooks. If you’re worried about Hitler being portrayed affably, don’t. Hopefully at the end of the film you contemplate the stories you have been told about those around you and seek to look beyond the stories and experience the truths for yourself. Date night worthy.

Hustlers

Snooze. I wasn’t aware of this story, based on real life strippers hustling wall street men. Frankly, it’s ok, that I didn’t. It’s your standard whoa is me, just making a living, life gets in the way oh well people get taken advantage of type movie. No surprises no edge of your seat feeling and no real peak.

JLo, well, she doesn’t seem to be able to decide if she truly wants to be an actress or simply rely on what she’s known for, the brand she’s created. As such, she keeps you at a distance in her performance leaving you without sympathy or any real feeling for her character. In fact, you wonder where the line is between fact and fiction! Constance Wu puts in a good performance but like with JLo, it’s hard to care much for her character.

I blame the director who despite the subject mater, puts together a safe film for which it’s easy to remain a distant third party voyeur . Cinematography and editing is good. Not sure why it’s up for any awards. Is it date night worthy…hmmm…yah I suppose so if you are looking for a light night of fun (wink wink) without much focus on the film.

Bombshell

It’s funny to have lived through this recent story and yet not know as much as I thought I did. Fox news, sexual harassment and the demise of Roger Ailes. Charlize Theron does an amazing job as Megyn Kelly and while the film is based primarily on her character, Margot Robbie and even Kate McKinnon (based on composites of real life women), share in that spotlight with Johnathon Lithgow. Nichol Kidman seemed a bit out of place with a bad wig while Alison Janey surprised with yet another interesting short lived character appearance. Is it Oscar worthy, not really. Is it interesting, yes. Will you be entertained, pretty much, there are points where it’s a bit dragged out. Overall, an entertaining movie for the night that could bring up discussion so, date night worthy.

Rocketman

Wow. Where do I start! First of all, how can you go wrong with Elton John. Seems to me this is a very clean version compared to what it could have been. Thrilled that the focus remained on him and how he arrived to his third act and not about celebrity, gossip etc. Next, editing, directing, cinematography were all in line with our modern attention span, fast moving and entertaining. Casting was absolutely spot on. But most of all, wow, Taron Egerton is fantastic and definitely someone to keep an eye on. He’s theatrically trained with confidence that radiates in the subtlety of his performance. You really fall in love with him and frankly, doesn’t hurt that he keeps taking his shirt off! No offense to Elton but it’s a fairly standard almost easily overshadowed story, made much more interesting by having the right mix of everything else. A musical vs a straight bio pic with music you already know, how can you go wrong for date night?

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.