JUST MERCY – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 16 mins. 

Just Mercy

“JUST MERCY is one of those rare films, that everyone must see!                              Kathy Kaiser

 

JUST MERCY – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 16 mins. 

DIRECTOR/WRITER:  Destin Daniel Cretton

WRITER:  Andrew Lanham, Based on the book by Bryan Stevenson 

STARRING:  Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Rafe Spall, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Tim Blake Nelson and Rob Morgan

Based on true life story of public defender, and Harvard grad Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), Just Mercy takes us deep into Bryan’s fight for justice for those wrongly condemned, and sitting on death row in Alabama, circa 1987.  And when local advocate Eva Ansley (Brie Larson) decides to work by his side, it seems there is no stopping them in their quest for justice, and to aid those wrongly accused…

Now, as Bryan starts to meet with numerous inmates sitting on death row, he comes across one Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who has been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of an 18-year old girl, despite tons of evidence, proving otherwise.  Stevenson is so moved by this case, and the overwhelming amount of evidence proving McMillian’s innocence, that he sets out on a quest to free him from death row.  But as the years fly by, Stevenson becomes entangled in the web of racism in Alabama, while he continues to uncover even more lies,  including the provoked and coerced statement by convict Ralph Myers (Tim Blake Nelson), as the determining factor for his conviction.  And as Bryan and Eva try desperately to keep the faith in hopes that justice will prevail,  they continue to find that the ways of justice in Alabama, seem to be completely one-sided…

I give JUST MERCY a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN!:  Powerful, moving, and yes, it brought me to tears… Just Mercy is one of those incredible films that you just have to see, to believe.  Bryan Stevenson’s real life-story is a testament to those incredible individuals who seek nothing more in this life, than to help their fellow man, as they manage to change the world, the best way they know how.  Michael B. Jordan is superb playing the Harvard graduate, who, much to his mother’s dismay, finds himself seeking to be a public defender for those sitting on death row, as opposed to taking one of the high-paying jobs, his education from Harvard afforded him.  Brie Larson is exceptional too, playing local advocate, and supporter of Stevenson’s work, Eva Ansley.  Foxx is also amazing, playing wrongly convicted felon Walter McMillian.  And very few times do you find that even the supporting actors are perfectly cast, but that is exactly what you will find with Just Mercy, as O’Shea Jackson Jr, Tim Blake Nelson, and Rob Morgan’s performances are exceptional throughout as well, and how closely they truly resemble the real-life individuals they are playing, is astounding!  It’s been a while too, since I have had the privilege to see an advanced screening where the audience was so moved throughout, that they showed their adoration for the subject matter numerous times throughout the film, but that is exactly what happened this week with Just Mercy, making this film even more special in my eyes.  And the fact that Director and Writer Destin Daniel Cretton saw fit to keep this film within the parameters of a PG-13 rating, is perfection in my mind as well, as now, even the youngsters can get a glimpse this powerful film as well, and as they should.  And if I haven’t convinced you yet, that Just Mercy is a total MUST SEE, then maybe the fact that the general public who attended this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival voted Just Mercy the “BEST FILM of the YEAR”, might also sway you to head out to a theater near you, to catch Jordan, Foxx, Larson, and the rest of the incredible cast, in this  extraordinary film!

LIKE A BOSS – Rated R – 1 hr. 23 mins. 

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“LIKE A BOSS is the total chick flick you need to check out, with all your girls in tow”  Kathy Kaiser

 LIKE A BOSS – Rated R – 1 hr. 23 mins. 

DIRECTOR:  Miguel Arteta 

WRITERS:  Sam Pittman, Adam Cole-Kelly (screenplay) Danielle Sanchez-Witzel (story) 

STARRING:  Rose Byrne, Tiffany Haddish, Salma Hayek, Billy Porter, Jennifer Coolidge and Karan Soni

As we meet lifelong friends Mel (Rose Byrne) and Mia (Tiffany Haddish), they have embarked on creating their own beauty company together, one incredible formulation at a time!  When one of their products catches the eye of global makeup company CEO Claire Luna (Salma Hayek), it seems that their business woes, might be a problem of the pas.  But, it might also mean the end of an era for their relationship too, if they’re not careful…

I give LIKE A BOSS a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD!  This total Chick-flick of a comedy brought a big ol smile to my face, as I enjoy the work of all of these ladies very much!  The chemistry between Byrne and Haddish is palatable throughout, and as much as I love Haddishs’ brash comedic roles, I was also pleasantly surprised by how not going “Full-bore Haddish” played out better for her “a tad bit more serious “ role. I also thoroughly enjoyed the performances by Billy Porter and Jennifer Coolidge too, with her role playing out very reminiscent of her character in Legally Blonde, volumes 1 & 2.  And as much as I love Hayek, I don’t really like when she plays “the mean girl”, but with that said, her performance is good in that particular role throughout Like A Boss as well. And the message conveyed thanks to writers Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly, is a rally cry for female empowerment, and following your dreams, which is  fabulous for every woman viewing this film too.  So with all these positive accolades, why not give LIKE A BOSS a perfect review?  Well because even though it’s a perfect girls night out film to check out at a theater near you, none of the performances throughout are totally mind blowing, and even though I did laugh throughout, it’s not over the edge funny either, thus leaving me no other choice but to give it a “less than totally glowing” review…

EDDIE MURPHY TO BE HONORED WITH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD AT 25TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS GALA EVENT WILL AIR LIVE ON THE CW NETWORK SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2020 FROM THE BARKER HANGAR IN SANTA MONICA

Dolemite_is_My_Name_poster

EDDIE MURPHY TO BE HONORED WITH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD AT 25TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

GALA EVENT WILL AIR LIVE ON THE CW NETWORK SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2020 FROM THE BARKER HANGAR IN SANTA MONICA

(Los Angeles, CA – December 30, 2019) – The Critics Choice Association (CCA) announced today that film icon Eddie Murphy will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards.  Murphy will be feted for his extraordinary roles over the years, most recently his brilliant portrayal of the legendary Rudy Ray Moore in Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name, for which he is nominated for Best Actor.

The star-studded gala will once again be hosted by film, television, and stage star Taye Diggs, and broadcast live on The CW Television Network on Sunday, January 12, from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET (delayed PT).  As previously announced, Kristen Bell will receive the fourth annual #SeeHer Award during the ceremony.

Eddie Murphy is the most commercially successful African American actor in the history of the motion picture business and is one of the industry’s top-five box-office performers overall. Murphy is on the very short list of actors who have starred in multiple $100 million pictures over the past three decades, from Beverly Hills Cop to Daddy Day Care.  Some of his other most beloved hits include 48 Hours, Trading Places, Coming to America, Harlem Nights, The Distinguished Gentleman, Bowfinger, The Nutty Professor and Shrek.

Murphy can currently be seen portraying the legendary underground comic personality Rudy Ray Moore in Dolemite Is My Name from Netflix and recently wrapped production on Coming 2 America, the long-anticipated sequel to the 1988 box office hit.

In 2007, Murphy received critical acclaim for his portrayal of James “Thunder” Early in the DreamWorks film Dreamgirls, a performance which would garner him the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor as well as earning him his first Academy Award® nomination in the same category.

Critics’ Choice Awards are bestowed annually to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement.  Historically, they are the most-accurate predictor of Academy Award nominations.

The 25th annual Critics’ Choice Awards show will be produced by Bob Bain Productions and Berlin Entertainment.  The CCA is represented by Dan Black of Greenberg Traurig.

Follow the 25th annual Critics’ Choice Awards on Twitter and Instagram @CriticsChoice and on Facebook/CriticsChoiceAwards.

About CCA
The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 400 television, radio and online critics. It was organized this year with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the blurring of the distinctions between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com.

About The CW
THE CW TELEVISION NETWORK launched in 2006 as America’s fifth broadcast network, with programming targeting younger viewers, a demographic highly sought after by advertisers. The CW, a joint venture between Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corporation, broadcasts a six-night, 12-hour primetime lineup, Sunday through Friday. The CW’s primetime programming is also available to stream for free, without authentication, on the ad-supported cwtv.com and The CW app, now available on every major OTT platform. In daytime, The CW broadcasts a Monday through Friday afternoon block, and a three-hour Saturday morning kids block. The CW’s digital network, CW Seed, launched in 2013, and offers original short-form digital content as well as past seasons of fan-favorite television series. For more information about the network and its programming, visit www.cwtvpr.com.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/yjprss4ngfl1fuu/Eddie%20Murphy%20Reel.mov?dl=0

UNCUT GEMS – Rated R – 2 hrs. and 15 mins. 

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“Sandler has proven with this performance, that he can go way beyond the funny man we know, and then some!” – Kathy Kaiser, Matineechat.com

 

UNCUT GEMS – Rated R – 2 hrs. and 15 mins. 

DIRECTORS / WRITERS:  Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

WRITER:  Ronald Bronstein

STARRING:  Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, LaKeith Stanfield, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel and the Weeknd

New York Jewelry tycoon Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is in search of his next big score, making high stake bets in hopes of setting up his family for a lifetime. Now, trying to balance his gambling decisions, family matters, and all his unscrupulous “business associates” coming at him from all directions, Ratner can’t help himself, but to stay in search of “the ultimate win”…

I give UNCUT GEMS a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN! The Safdie brothers have created a role for Sandler this time around, that takes him 180 degrees from his comedic roots, and then some, proving that he really is an incredible actor, regardless of the material.  And this movie as a whole…WOW!  It is so chaotic throughout, that my anxiety was on overdrive!  I even had to take a step back to take in the experience of what all just happened on screen, before I could respond to the Studio rep of what I had just experienced.  In other words, if you are looking for some big laughs along the way like we are accustomed to getting when watching Adam “Do his thing”, think again, as this intensely real and frenzied film draws you in, and doesn’t let go!  Besides Sandler’s award worthy performance throughout every inch of this film, there are also above average performances by LaKeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, even Kevin Garrett, playing himself.  Just know going in too that UNCUT GEMS is going to ignite your senses, and leave you asking the question “what just happened”, just like A24 Studios managed to do with their previous films GOOD TIME (2017) & CLIMAX (2018,) and if you have experienced those films, then please take heed when I tell you that no one under 17 should be viewing this film, even if they love Sandler’s funny films, so you think it’s okay to let them see UNCUT GEMS…because between the extreme storyline, and graphic nature of this film, it is definitely not for any youngsters under 17 to experience.  In other words, even though I am definitely telling you to head out to a theater near you to see Sandler in all his glory, please keep this Holiday Movie outing to a theater near you, strictly for “the Adults” in the room.

Review of LITTLE WOMEN – Rated PG – 2 hrs. 14 mins. 

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“A beautifully crafted film…Greta Gerwig’s work is astounding throughout every inch of this classic and contemporary masterpiece!” Kathy Kaiser, Matineechat.com 

LITTLE WOMEN – Rated PG – 2 hrs. 14 mins. 

WRITER/DIRECTOR:  Greta Gerwig, Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott 

STARRING:  Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothy Chalamet, Tracy Letts and Christopher Cooper

Louisa May Alcott’s best-selling novel, Little Women comes to life at the hands of, and intertwining storylines created by one of the most gifted Writers, Directors and Actors of this generation, Greta Gerwig.

As we travel back in time, we meet sisters Jo March (Saoirse Ronan), Meg March (Emma Watson), Amy March (Florence Pugh) and Beth March (Eliza Scanlen), struggling with their mother Marmee (Laura Dern) to keep their family together in the midst of the Civil War, while their father is off in Washington.  As these little women find themselves struggling to keep their sisterly connections strong, within the midst of their ever changing lives, it seems that sisters, and family, are truly the only things we really need in this life…

I give LITTLE WOMEN a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN!  Greta Gerwig’s remake of this classic tale is as extraordinary as it is breathtaking, as she channels the sights, sounds and feelings of four young women, and their struggles they face as they come of age.  Most excitingly within the frames of this incredible remake, is the way that Gerwig manages to share Louisa May Alcott’s own story, intertwined within the characters of her book, turning this film into sheer magic as it graces the big screen!  Curse the Hollywood Foreign Press for not giving Gerwig a nod for her incredible work on this film, as it truly is a sight to behold.  I so hope the Academy rectifies this situation, as she truly deserves accolades from the way she turned this classic story, into a totally contemporary remake.  And talk about the perfect cast throughout…Saoirse Ronan is once again on “top of her game” giving another award worthy performance as the strong willed, and sometimes stubborn Jo March.  Watson is perfectly cast too, as she plays older sister Meg March.  Pugh is formidable as well, giving a dimension to young Amy March that makes her even more engaging throughout this film.  Add in the perfect performances by Chalamet as young Laurie, forced to face his unrequited love for Jo, Dern’s impeccable performance as Marmee, and the small, but intricate role to this storyline of the role of Aunt March, played be Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep, and you end up with one beautifully constructed masterpiece of film making, that will stand the test of time, as it engages even more young women throughout the generations, to embrace the work, life and times, of Ms. Louisa May Alcott!

THE TOP 10 FILMS OF 2019

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2019

Well, its that time of year again, when the last of the films of 2019 are about to hit in theaters, the award nominations have already started, and we all wait with anticipation to see who will take home the prize for BEST PICTURE!

And whether your family heads out over the Holidays to catch a film together, or you just want to catch up on all the fabulous films you might have missed throughout the year, I have comprised my list of the ~ TOP 10 MOVIES OF THE YEAR ~ THAT YOU HAVE TO SEE ~(Technically 11, because I just couldn’t leave out either of my #10 Choices – and there are a few Honorable mentions that you might want to check out listed here too!)  and regardless if you’re catching them at a theater near you, on DVD, or on your favorite streaming service before the accolades start arriving…you have to catch these films…So let’s get started…:

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#1 MOVIE OF THE YEAR – ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD – From its all-star cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, & Margot Robbie, to its perfectly scripted storyline, to its nod to Hollywood glimmering through each passing frame, Quentin Tarantino Writes and Directs the most fabulous film to hit the big screen this year, and even after viewing it 5 separate times with family and friends, I still managed to catch something new, that I hadn’t caught before within all the nostalgia hitting on screen, making ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD my absolute favorite film of the year!

 

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#2 MOVIE OF THE YEAR – THE IRISHMAN Leave it to Scorsese to create a film for Netflix that was leaving a big wake months before it ever hit a big screen near you, much less on your television screen at home via the streaming service.  From its Academy award winning, star studded cast, to its persuasive storyline of “what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa”, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci make sure that this film is totally worth spending the 3+ hours it takes to see it through, alas making it the longest running time film to hit this year’s list too!

 

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#4 MOVIE OF THE YEAR – MARRIAGE STORY – When Academy Award nominated Director & Writer Noah Baumbach decided to take his own life experiences to big screen, sharing the pain and anguish that comes from a failed marriage and inevitable divorce, and puts it all on full display for the world to see, you get one of the most incredibly moving performances I have seen all year from his male lead, Adam Driver.  Driver’s performance is so poignant and heart-breaking, it totally rocked me to my knees!   Still playing on the big screen at Landmark’s Plaza Frontenac Theatre,  this film is a definite “Must See on the Big Screen” for me, although you can presently catch it on Netflix too, if you just want to catch it in the comfort of your own home!

 

MV5BZjU0Yzk2MzEtMjAzYy00MzY0LTg2YmItM2RkNzdkY2ZhN2JkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg4NjY5OTQ@._V1_SY1000_SX667_AL_#5 MOVIE OF THE YEAR – JOJO RABBIT – Who would have thought that a young man channeling an imaginary friend – who is none other than Adolf Hitler himself – as he struggles through life with his single mother, and a stowed away Jewish girl in his home during World War II, would turn out to be one of the funniest, and moving films of the year… and that is exactly what Director and Writer Taika Waititi managed to create with his latest creation JOJO RABBIT!  This film is truly one of the most fabulous films to hit the big screen this year, and with star-power to boot, including and incredible performance by youngster Roman Griffin Davis, and funny and heartfelt performances too by Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell! And if you haven’t had the chance to catch it yet on a big screen near you, this film is presently playing at Landmark’s Plaza Frontenac Theatre, so get your tickets NOW!

 

ROcketman#6 MOVIE OF THE YEAR @ Matinee Chat with Kathy Kaiser is ROCKETMAN – Taron Egerton is totally channeling Elton John throughout this fabulous film (He is SUPERB), as this biographical masterpiece takes you into the life of this child prodigy, and John’s friendship with Music Composer Bernie Taupin.  I mean, what’s a year in film without an incredible musical to put a little pep in your step…and ROCKETMAN does not disappoint!  My only wish throughout the film, was that we got to experience more of Elton’s life, beyond his years with Taupin.  But with that said, if you love Elton’s music like I do, you most definitely have to catch Egerton is his award worthy performance, as this legendary entertainer!

 

THe Peanut Butter Falcon

#7 MOVIE OF THE YEAR  – THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON – When Directors & Writers Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson set out to create a film for their friend Zack Gottsagen, little did they know that there “Sweet little film” about a young man with Downs Syndrome, who dreams of one day becoming a professional wrestler, would strike a chord with so many of its viewers along the way, including me! 😉  And securing Shia LeBeouf as the lead was a total God-send too, as he places his most incredible acting to date, within the frames of this film.  And when you add in the other exceptional performances by Dakota Johnson,  Bruce Dern, Thomas Haden Church, and John Hawkes, you end up with one incredibly moving and heart-warming story, that stays with you long after this beautifully crafted film is through…

 

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Long SHot

#9 MOVIE OF THE YEAR – LONG SHOT – Well, I can’t put a list together of TOP 10’s without making sure that one film from my favorite genre makes it onto the list, and even though it seems that Hollywood doesn’t really want to venture out to make many Rom/Coms anymore, LONG SHOT made me fall in love with it,,,from its hilarious antics, to its palatable picture perfect chemistry you get to experience between Theron and Rogan.  I know, I know, I thought going in too, “what kind of cornball premise is this movie, and  can Theron and Rogan really pull off a relationship fueled film together?  And suffice to say, the answer is 100 times YES!!

 

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#10 MOVIE OF THE YEAR – THE REPORT – This Amazon Prime Original Film stars Adam Driver in another award worthy performance this year, as Senate Staffer Daniel J. Jones, who has been tasked with finding out what’s really happening within the CIA’s post 9/11 Interrogation and Detention program…and what he finds, and reports, leads him down a painful path, with tortureistic results…

 

Bombshell

#10 MOVIE OF THE YEAR – BOMBSHELL –  Centered around the true-life story of the fall of FOX News CEO Roger Ailes, and starring Academy Award winner Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Academy Award Winner Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, and Academy award nominated actress Margot Robbie as fictitious character Kayla Pospisil, as they all give exceptional performances throughout, and prove that there truly is “power in numbers”, once you decide to forge forth to expose your hedonistic, and sexually exploitive Boss!

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:  Even as I comprised my BEST FILMS of 2019, there are a few others that I wavered back and forth with, so I have to share these with you too, as they truly are MUST SEE’s as well...

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UNCUT GEMS – Have you ever sat through a film that is so chaotic, yet so riveting, that you walk out of the theater asking yourself, “what just happened?”  Welcome to A24 Studios new release UNCUT GEMS, featuring an award worthy performance by Adam Sandler, proving that besides being “the funny man about town”, Sandler has what it takes to take on a very serious role, and nail an incredible performance throughout every inch of this film!

 

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HARRIET – Cynthia Erivo gives an Oscar Award worthy performance as Harriet Tubman, who’s ingenuity and courage saved hundreds of slaves throughout her life, ultimately changing the course of our Nations history…

 

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KNIVES OUT –  With an all-star cast, including Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, the list goes on and on…this  “who done it” film, is going to keep you on the edge of your seat, the whole way through…

 

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AVENGERS: END GAME – No, I’m not a Marvel junkie, and yes, I struggled on whether or not to place this film in my TOP 10 of the YEAR, as this final installment moved me to my core, and then some.  I know, it’s not as if one of my favorite actors of all time bit the dust in real-life, but my favorite Marvel character of all time sure did, leaving me in a pool of tears throughout the remainder of “the best film in the Marvel Universe”, since the Original IRON MAN!

 

Judy

JUDY:  Renee Zellweger gives the performance of her life, as legendary entertainer Judy Garland, during the end of her allustrious, and increasingly tragic, life-long career.  This performance has Oscar written all over it, and I can’t wait to see if channeling Judy, makes all of Renee’s dreams come true!

 

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JOKER: One of, if not the most astounding performance by an actor this year, Joaquin Phoenix takes on the role of JOKER.  This prequel film of how the DC Character comes into existence, had the whole world talking, as Movie theaters ramped up security, since the tragic incident in Colorado during the release of The Dark Night Rises!  This film is both dark and demented,  but it also shows a side of mental illness that we don’t usually get to travel down, bringing to light the anguish and torment of someone who is trying to exist with this disease.  Joaquin should be taking home the Oscar this year, for his absolutely incredible performance throughout every inch of this film!

CATS – Rated PG – 1 hr. 50 mins. 

Cats

CATS – Rated PG – 1 hr. 50 mins. 

DIRECTOR:  Tom Hooper 

WRITERS:  Lee Hall, Tom Hooper, based on T.S. Eliot’s poems titled “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” 

MUSIC BY:  Andrew Lloyd Webber 

STARRING:  Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Ian McKellan, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Jason DeRulo, Rebel Wilson and Francesca Hayward

Based on the Broadway Musical CATS, which originally hit the stage in 1982, and adorned the Winter Garden Theatre stage for 18 years ~ we meet a menagerie of discarded Jellicle cats, that decide each year, which one of them will ascend to the great unknown, only to return to a new Jellicle life…

I give CATS a rating of DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY:  If you love musicals as much as I do, I know you have been waiting with bated breath to see this award-winning, longest running Broadway musical to date, hit the big screen.  And with such an incredible cast, including my favorite late-late night host James Corden, songstress Extraordinaires Jennifer Hudson and Taylor Swift, the “Dame” herself Judi Dench and the incredibly talented Idris Elba in the mix, you know that this much anticipated film is going to be a big hit right!  Well, maybe not so fast!  As incredible as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music is throughout, the film itself, just misses the mark in so many directions, it’s kind of hard to know where to start.  From Hooper’s misdirection – including his keeping the pipes of Jennifer Hudson at bay until almost the end of the film, to the not exactly cat-like persona portrayed by everyone throughout this film, to the not quite provocative, although some of the scenes seem to try to get to that point of confusion throughout, this film is quite simply misstep after misstep, after misstep.  The fact that I had to fight not falling asleep through at least the first hour of this slowly moving musical, became excruciating.  Even sadder for me, was the fact that Taylor Swift’s performance – albeit only being about 10 minutes throughout the entire film – outshines in both acting and singing what Hudson gets to put on screen.  I was even more surprised when I realized that Amblin films was behind this creative disaster, as Spielberg usually has a much better eye than what ended up screen with this ill-fated production (Hoping his next musical project West Side Story, fares much better in 2020). I was even more saddened throughout by the fact that even Judi Dench didn’t have the star power this time around, to save this “cat”astrophe of a film.  Please take it from someone who will sit through Musicals all day, every day, if given the chance, no matter if on stage, on the big screen, or even on TV at home that CATS will now be my one exception to the that rule – as I truly don’t know if I can force myself to sit through this film EVER again…

BOMBSHELL – Rated R – 1 hr. 48 mins.

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“Powerful performances throughout…is just beginning”  Kathy Kaiser, Matineechat.com

BOMBSHELL – Rated R – 1 hr. 48 mins.

DIRECTOR:  Jay Roach

WRITER:  Charles Randolph

STARRING:  Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, John Lithgow, Allison Janney, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton and Malcolm McDowell

Based on the real-life takedown of Media mogul Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), due to his unscrupulous sexual harassment of his female anchors at Fox News, we step into the embattled  lives of Fox and Friends Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), America LIVE host Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), and new blond bombshell about the newsroom, Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), who are given no other option, but to bring to light the sexual misconduct that they must endure, if they want their careers to reach the “pinnacle of greatness” at Fox News.

I give BOMBSHELL a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN!  This film is absolutely incredible in every way, including the “bombshell of a storyline” of what Gretchen Carlson was eventually able to accomplish, once she took on one of the most unscrupulous men in media, Roger Ailes.  And as far as performances go this year, you can’t miss Charlize Theron on the big screen, playing Megyn Kelly!  She is so incredible throughout, at times it’s as if Megyn Kelly is really on screen, playing Megyn Kelly!  She is destined for more Best Actress nods along the way too, beyond her Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and Critics Choice nods; as I’m sure she is destined to receive an Oscar nod soon too for this truly outstanding, and untouchable performance!  Nicole Kidman is good too, playing the woman who finally decides enough is enough, and starts the process to take down Ailes, with or without any backing from her fellow employees.  But for me, the other incredible performance throughout this film comes from Margot Robbie.  Her performance as the young, wanna be anchor, making her way up the ranks at FOX, and her encounters with Ailes, is nothing less than sheer perfection too, which is why she has received numerous nods for Best Supporting Actress for her performance this year too!  And as much as I love John Lithgow (he still holds a place in my heart from his performance opposite Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment), him paying the disgusting in every way Roger Ailes, is an actual nauseatingly perfect eye opener into the ways that sexual harassment rears its ugly head.  Even the casting of Malcolm McDowell as FOX CEO Rupert Murdoch, Allison Janney as Lawyer Susan Estrich, and Kate McKinnon, in one of my favorite roles she has played to date, that of Fox Analyst Jess Carr, are all perfectly played out, adding a lot of depth to this already fabulous film.  Suffice to say, there isn’t a flaw anywhere in this film, oh, except for the way Roger Ailes sexually harassed many of his staff throughout his entire tenure at Fox News… so if you are looking for a real no holds barred, perfectly crafted film to catch at a theater near you this weekend, make it BOMBSHELL, if for no other reason, than to catch Theron and Robbie’s incredible performances before the awards start rolling in 😉

STAR WARS:  The Rise of Skywalker – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 21 mins. 

Stars Wars Episode IX THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

This Review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser

STAR WARS:  The Rise of Skywalker – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 21 mins. 

DIRECTOR/WRITER:  J.J. Abrams 

WRITER:  Chris Terrio, based on the Characters created by George Lucas

STARRING:  Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Keri Russell, Lupita Nyong’o and Joonas Suotamo

As we venture into the final episode of the Star Wars Saga as we know it, it seems that those surviving as a part of the Resistance, are about to engage in battle with the First Order once more, taking us into another battle of good vs. evil, throughout the Galaxy…

I give STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD:  Now, for all you Star Wars fanatics out there, of course you’ve had your tickets for tonight’s release for months now, and there is no way that you wouldn’t see this final installment on a big screen near you! I also know that you, as I, have been waiting in anticipation to see what this final installment has in store for George Lucas’s masterful film and storyline creation.  But, for those of you who just enjoy the films, reminiscing back to 1977 when it all started, you may interested in my “less than totally blown away” review of this final feature.  Don’t get me wrong, this film is intense from beginning to end, as the action throughout harkens back to the Star Wars of yesteryear, as Abrams and his team tried to bring back as many elements as possible to make their storybook ending come full circle.  Good intentions didn’t prevail this time though, as the storyline they came up with throughout felt rather disjointed, as if they knew they had to reach the finish line, but weren’t quite sure on how to go about creating a powerful, meaningful, or slightly profound way to do it, which I totally feel is what ALL Star Wars junkies deserved in this final showdown.  Maybe Lucas should have taken the writing into his own hands to finish off what he started…  Maybe Abrams and his team struggled on what to do with the untimely death of Carrie Fisher? Maybe Abrams and his writing team should have ventured deeper into the lives of the characters we have come to love for decades, since they arrived on movie screens many moons ago, and found a way to truly take us deep into a galaxy, far far away, for this one last joy ride!  But sadly, it just doesn’t happen.  Yes, we manage to reach a final destination, but it felt anticlimactic at best, which made my heart ache, as the rather mundane, and sometimes almost sterile turn of events that was taking place on screen, just wasn’t doing it for me.  As much as I wanted to totally love every minute of this film, I just left the theater feeling like, okay been there, seen that, and not really much more.  Not exactly the feeling I was sooooo longing for since the trailer for this final installment popped in early April.  But with all that said, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the following with you too, before this review is through, and that fact is, I am so glad that I gave Adam Driver a second chance playing Kilo Ren.  Truth be told, I wasn’t quite sold on his performance when he first appeared in 2015’s The Force Awakens, as without him this time around, and his performance throughout this film, The Rise of Skywalker would have been even more disappointing for me than it was, when it was all said and done…so thank you Adam, for keeping the ending of an era since my teenage years, from becoming a complete let down!

THE TWO POPES – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 5 mins.

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THE TWO POPES – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 5 mins.

DIRECTOR:  Fernando Meirelles

WRITER:  Anthony McCarten

STARRING:  Jonathan Pryce & Anthony Hopkins

Inspired by true events, this film ventures into the life Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Price), who is rather frustrated with the Catholic Church and the direction it’s headed, so he seeks out approval from Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) to retire from his post in 2012.  Facing his own inner-demons, and what he feels may just be what the Catholic Church needs in the 21st century, Pope Benedict denies Cardinal Bergoglio his request, as these two leaders find themselves anguishing over what’s right for the Church ~ pinning tradition against progress for the betterment of the Catholic Church.  As these two men confront their pasts, and strive for a sense of forgiveness for one another, these two very different men, finally reach a devout understanding of the road they must forge ahead, for their billions of followers, all around the world.

I give THE TWO POPES a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN:  Whether you are a devout Catholic, or just intrigued by the fascinating world of the Vatican, the performances of Pryce as Pope Francis, and Hopkins as Pope Benedict, are some of the finest work in film this year.  And even though this film will be popping on Netflix is just a few weeks, I must suggest that you head out to the Tivoli in the Central West End to catch this beautifully crafted film this weekend on the big screen, as seeing it on your television, just won’t do it justice!  From the incredible performances by Pryce and Hopkins respectively (Pryce is nominated for Best Actor and Hopkins for Best Supporting Actor for this year’s Golden Globes), combined with the incredible imagery throughout every inch of this film, The Two Popes is destined to be receiving accolades all throughout this upcoming awards season, and rightfully so.  And as the year comes to a close, I must give Kudos to Netflix this year, as they have crafted some truly exceptional work, including this latest creation, as it deepens your conviction to the evolution of Life, of Faith, and of humanity itself as well, every step of the way…

RICHARD JEWELL – Rated R – 2 hrs. 9 mins.

 

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DIRECTOR:  CLINT EASTWOOD

WRITERS:  Marie Brenner, Billy Ray

STARRING:  Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm, and Kathy Bates

As we meet the meek and mild Security Guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser), he is laser focused on getting back into law enforcement, but for the time being, he’ll settle for being a security guard at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta…

When Richard finds a suspicious backpack on the grounds, he notifies the police in the area of what he’s found, as he works feverishly to get the hundreds of people near the backpack a safe distance away.

When the package explodes, killing and injuring many in its path, this man who tried to save as many lives as possible, has now been labeled a terrorist, and a killer by the media, local law enforcement, and the FBI.

With no choice but to hire a lawyer, Richard reaches out to past fellow employee Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), in a desperate attempt to save his own life and reputation from the powers that be, and that of his mama’s too…

I give RICHARD JEWELL a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD.   Who better to tell this story, than the man who has brought us such incredible films as SPACE COWBOY, MYSTIC RIVER, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, JERSEY BOYS, and a few other exceptional true stories, including SULLY and AMERICAN SNIPER – the one, the only Clint Eastwood!  This true story brings to light the real tragedy that occurs when someone is wrongly accused, and the suffering and torment that the media, and law enforcement can inflict, under the guise of justice.  Sam Rockwell is brilliant playing defense Lawyer Watson Bryant.  Kathy Bates is receiving accolades too for her small, but significant role as Richard Jewell’s Mother, Bobi Jewell.  And who else to play the POS FBI agent that is hell bent on bringing Richard to justice than St. Louis’s own Jon Hamm, who’s made a career out of playing these types of roles. The only deterrent for me throughout this film was the good, but eventually rather annoying character of Richard Jewell, played by Paul Walter Hauser.  Hauser’s quirky, yet undeniably loyal to law enforcement persona plays out well at first, but his portrayal of this vilified hero, begins to wain on my nerves by the end of the film.  It pains me to say this, as I’m sure Walker tried to recreate a real-life representation of the man himself, Richard Jewell, but I just found that Walker’s performance was bugging me profusely by this films end.  If you enjoy true stories that take you deep into real people’s lives, then by all means, please head to a theater this weekend and catch Richard Jewell on a big screen near you.  But if you are thinking that this film is going to be as entertaining as Sully or American Sniper, it’s not that goo, so you might want to just wait to catch Richard Jewell in the comfort of your home, once it hits on Netflix, or other streaming service.

JUMANJI:  THE NEXT LEVEL – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 3 mins. – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

 

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DIRECTOR/WRITER: Jake Kasdan 

WRITERS:  Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Chris Van Allsburg

STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Alex Wolf, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Awkwafina, Nick Jonas, Morgan Turner and Madison Iseman 

Well, the gang may have left high school, and headed in their own separate ways, but the time has come for them all to head back to the place they love more than anywhere else…HOME!  And what better way to celebrate, than to head back into the Jumanji game, nope, wait a minute that’s not right, as only Spencer (Alex Wolf) feels the need to head back into the game, as he longs to relive his glory days as Eddie (Dwayne Johnson/Danny DeVito), and now, when his friends figure out that he’s gone back in, it seems they must all venture in to get him back, but surprisingly, the game has changed, and taken a few other players along for the ride this time too…

I give JUMANJI:  THE NEXT LEVEL a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD OR A STREAMING SERVICE!  Even though I was totally pumped to see Dwayne Johnson back with Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan this time around, the storyline for me, gets rather muddled in translation.  Maybe it’s because the adventure seems less exciting than the original.  Maybe it’s because the writers decided to mix up our players, taking away from its ambiance and familiarity.  Or maybe it’s just that this storyline, even though it has additional dimensions, doesn’t play out as well, even with the addition of Danny DeVito and Danny Glover along for the ride!  I mean, even the return of Nick Jonas for this next installment couldn’t save it from becoming a rather slow, and sometimes mundane transition to get us to the next installment, which happens to be the most exciting part of this film for me, as it totally seems as if we might be heading back to 1995’s JUMANJI, which may turn out to be the saving grace for this franchise, if that’s truly the intended storyline for the final installment ~ but, please also note that this is total speculation on my part of where we might be headed, from my own interpretation from the end of this film…but by the same standpoint, it sure would be super cool if that is where we are headed, even with the untimely passing of Robin Williams…