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.

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!

Unbelievable

Small change from the usual path to talk about a series on Netflix based on a true story about a rapist and strong women. From strong women cops to a very strong victim, this one will capture your attention for throughout the series as you look for justice to be served. There is no Hollywood spin which can leave you a bit unsatisfied, but isn’t that good? Masterful cast well placed. Music, cinematography and direction contribute to making it a series you want to binge and understand. People are messed up but there are some good ones out there, with luck you find them. Given the serious matter, can’t say it’s date night worthy but if you enjoy watching a good book unfold, curl up with you glass of wine and blanket for this one. (PS makes you want to watch a new female copy series with Merritt Wever and Toni Collette)

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.

See You Tomorrow

Stefan Bristol directs what on the surface looks like it wants to be a Disney film that pokes fun at the 80’s and includes a nod to Michael J. Fox. For some reason, Goonies even comes to mind. But Spike Lee is the producer so you know it won’t be light and fluffy, serious issues need to be tackled like his standards – racial discrimination and neighborhood issues. Beyond that, there’s grief and a strong black female lead, Eden Duncan-Smith looking for hope. Astro, the young man who plays Calvin, her brother, has a moment in the film in which he has such strong intensity, it encapsulates the entire feeling and message of the film. No neatly tied bow at the end of this film as director has faith in his audiences intelligence. As for the rest, sets feel like a Spike Lee film, music is good – didn’t really notice it, cinematography ok. You’ll need a small tissue box. A little too heavy for kids. Not sure I’d say date night worthy or a must see but an interesting watch.

Berlin, I Love You

A thinking persons movie. Apparently this is the latest installment from the “Cities of Love” franchise. And, it’s meant to focus on the possibility of love – something that seems to have been lost. This film is comprised of a series of shorts with a small thread to string most of them. Reminds me of movies in the 90’s. Interestingly some of the shorts have celebrities but all are character driven making them more intriguing. Mickey Rourke in particular was caught my attention despite being, well unrecognizable (what did he do to himself?!). Current topics are touched without being overt – like self driving cars, immigration or Weinstein. At the base it seems to me to be more about rebuilding/rebirth than love. Found it interesting but not everyone’s cup of tea therefore, date night only if you are looking to have interesting conversation after.