Zola

Twitter. This movie is loosely based on a 2015 twitter thread written by a kid who became victim of sex trafficking. It’s a smart film, cleverly directed with a talented cast but it falls short in not addressing that sex trafficking affects over 4.5 million victims, 100 calls for help a day. The film is entertaining and surprising unfortunately making it enjoyable. I say unfortunately as I anticipate a lot of kids seeing it and not seeing how truly disturbing it is or how easily it could have been them in the film. I can only hope that when it comes out it’s modified to teach and raise alarm. The gravity and weight are not heavy enough in the film. As for the rating… more like friends night with discussion to be held after.

Us Kids

The Parkland shooting happened in 2018, we’re coming up on it’s 2 year anniversary and it feels like it happened ages ago. Do you remember the kids who started a movement or know what has happened since? This documentary not only answers those questions but inspires one to realize that regardless of your age, you can make a difference.

These kids were traumatized and each has a different way of handling what happened. What’s interesting is seeing how much people dig into their beliefs and how these kids are able to reach out and say I hear you let’s start a dialogue and look for compromise. Many think the kids are against gun ownership and they aren’t. They stand for responsible ownership and accountability. They have been traveling the US and igniting the younger generation to action.

The documentary takes you through the journey of a slice in time to what you do with that and the long lasting effects it has, something the media rarely covers. These kids and vets have a lot in common, including the need for a better behavioral health system. The filmaker is a bit all over the place as there are so many points to make and lessons to learn but in all it’s a good film. Maybe we label this one intellectual date night as you’ll want to discuss it after!

Miss Americana

Success takes work. One person can make a difference. And kids matter. I suppose those are the primary messages of this “I just wanna be loved movie”.

You have to admire a 14 year old who knows what she wants from an early age and goes after it. She has tried hard to be a good person and all she has ever wanted is everyone’s love, happiest on stage, standard story. Through the movie you watch her have a couple of moments of maturity as she faces Kanya trying to make a fool of her, twice, for apparently no good reason and the toll it took on her facing her sexual assailant. It’s the latter that had her realize there was more to life than wanting to be loved and that she can use her star power to make a difference in politics.

My hope is that this documentary helps girls feel empowered as they become women and that like Taylor, they open their eyes and see what’s going on around them and take action.

You get a small glimpse of how she creates and what influences her but, her brand is still tightly controlled throughout the film. You see some vulnerability but either she’s too young or not just not loose enough for this to feel like much of a documentary. It will be available on Netflix shortly so no need to go to the theater – and, it’s not date night worthy.

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)