Friday, February 22, 2019

Quote of the week

Movie Review of “42”

By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: PG-13

In honor of Black History Month, the Windham Public Library has been showing films the past couple of Friday evenings about the challenges faced by African Americans in our history. The films included, “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Selma”. Today, Friday, February 22; the library will present the last of their black history evening films with the 2013 movie, “42”.

Before I go any further with this review, I must admit – I haven’t seen this film yet. Yes, even I think it may be strange to review a film you haven’t had a chance to watch. But I thought I would grab reviews from others who have enjoyed (or perhaps not enjoyed) the film and share it with you in the event you have Friday evening free and wish to watch a free movie with your family or friends.

The synopsis of the film, “42”, goes something like this: “In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, defies major league baseball's notorious color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team. The heroic act puts both Rickey and Robinson in the firing line of the public, the press and other players. Facing open racism from all sides, Robinson demonstrates true courage and admirable restraint by not reacting in kind and lets his undeniable talent silence the critics for him.”

According to Mick LaSalle who wrote a review for Rotten Tomatoes: “Appealing as drama, the movie is also an enticing trip back in time. The world of 1947, when Robinson became the first black player in major league baseball, may have been a nightmare in terms of social justice, but the fabric of the suits, the gleam of the cars and even the old-fashioned fonts on the street signs make us want to linger there. Watching it is like inhabiting a late-'40s technicolor travel short. "42" - named after the number on Robinson's jersey - is beautiful just to look at it.”

Roger Ebert had this to say: “If you were offended by the supposedly profligate use of the n-word in “Django Unchained,” it stands to reason you’ll be outraged by a scene in “42” in which Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman climbs out of the dugout and spews cruel racist epithets at Brooklyn Dodgers rookie Jackie Robinson.

You can see the pain and rage on Robinson’s face as he tries to concentrate on his at-bat, knowing if he goes after Chapman, the headlines won’t be about the hateful manager — they’ll be about the first black player in the major leagues ‘attacking’ the opposition.”

Ebert also stated that “42” is a valuable film — a long overdue, serious big-screen biopic about one of the most important American pioneers of the 20th century.

O.E Scott wrote in the New York Times: “After a clumsy and didactic beginning — in which every scene ends with Mark Isham’s score screaming “This Is Important!” in Dolby — the movie settles into a solid, square rhythm. By then we have met Robinson, played with sly charm and a hint of stubborn prickliness by Chadwick Boseman.”

If my Friday night opens up and is free, I’ll be at the Windham Public Library at 5:30 p.m. to enjoy “42” and learn a bit about history. Join me, won’t you?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Quote of the week

Movie Review of “Widows”

By Ben Parrott

Rated: R

I love anything directed by Steve McQueen, so last Friday night I couldn’t help myself when I passed the RedBox at Hannaford and realized “Widows” was available to rent. This movie is available on Redbox at most locations in the Southern Maine area.

“Widows” is a 2018 heist film and it stars popular actors such as Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson. The plot follows a group of women who attempt a heist in order to pay back a crime boss after their criminal husbands are killed on a botched job.

The plot goes something like this: Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), a renowned thief, is killed alongside his partners Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Florek (Jon Bernthal), and Jimmy (Coburn Goss) during a botched robbery. His widow, Veronica (Viola Davis), is threatened by crime boss Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), from whom Harry and his partners robbed $2 million. Jamal needs the money to finance his electoral campaign for alderman of a South Side ward, where he is running against Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the next-in-line of the racist Mulligan political family who have historically dominated the alderman position.

Basically, “Widows” is a heist movie that contains mayhem and a plot that contains too many twists and turns to count. It also contains grief, dread and desperation rather than the more popular movie themes of greed, ambition and rebellion.

“Widows” gives this world not only what it needs, but also what a lot of people are looking for in today’s culture and that is a film based around a group of strong and independent women. Veronica, Linda, and Alice, once dependent on their husbands, must take matters into their own hands in order to clean up the mess left by their spouses, reclaiming their independence. They are joined by single mother and Linda’s babysitter Belle. Together they attempt to complete what would have been their husbands’ next job in order to pay their debt and move on with their lives.

The filmmakers don’t really care about the money, politics, or strict rules.

According to other reviews, “a viewer expecting a jaunty fable of female empowerment along the lines of “Ocean’s 8” is likely to be nonplussed by the abstraction and melancholy of this film. But those are also its most surprising and interesting traits. It may lack the energy for fun, but at least it has the nerve to be sad.”

My perspective is that the film breaks the norm of what it means to make a heist film and rather than the fun and more light-hearted nature of the “Ocean’s” franchise, “Widows” is a serious film full of suspense. It deals with racism, corruption in politics, crime and the lengths a person will go to in order to save themselves and especially their reputation. A fair warning goes out to the faint of heart as this film is quite graphic and frightening, however, Director Steve McQueen does a phenomenal job of keeping it tasteful and sophisticated in this piece auteur cinema.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Quote of the week

Netflix Movie Review of “The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: TV-MA

He’s very well known. From Dr. Peter Venkman to Carl Spackler to Mr. Bishop, Bill Murray has been all over the film and even some of the television screen. In this documentary, director Tommy Avallone discusses the famous Bill Murray stories - strange encounters with the actor in everyday life.

Murray started on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1976. He came from the Second City Improv group and after his success on SNL, his movie career began to soar.  “Caddyshack”, “Ghostbusters”, “Lost in Translation” and “Life Aquatic” are just to a few of the movies that are a household name.
The documentary begins with various people describing stories they’ve heard or experienced in which there is an encounter with Murray. Stories that include: A wedding photographer recounts meeting Murray while taking a couple’s engagement photos, or when Murray crashed a house party, where he danced and was the DJ. He also stopped by a bar and was bartender for a night, just out of nowhere.

He is slightly compared to Bigfoot in this documentary, but Murray has been spotted more times than Bigfoot and everyone is very accepting of these random Murray appearances. One person stated, “he has the power to make other people have an amazing experience.” He doesn’t make a big deal about himself, he’s just there to have fun and live in the moment, which is a big part of Murray’s lifestyle.
The documentary continues with more Murray appearances, some standard, like a Comic Con presence, others weirder, like randomly joining a kickball game. One of the funnier things he has said during these unplanned appearances is “no one will ever believe you,” which is true, unless you have proof.

Murray’s random presences aren’t just only wild experiences that happen out of nowhere. There are lessons that he inadvertently teaches to these unsuspecting individuals. He is about having a good time, the documentary explains. A theme in many of Murray’s movies and himself is ‘it doesn’t matter’ it’ll all even out in the end; a ‘roll with the punches’ attitude.

Individuals who have had encounters with Murray say he connects with people on a very human level. When he shows up at a party, he’s not there to perform or show off his celebrity, he’s there to just hang out and get to know people, to create a moment that people will doubt really happened, even after it happened. He is such a famous person, but he still finds the time for people. He removes the barrier between celebrity and regular person. I’ll admit, watching this made me want to meet Bill Murray.

This was an interesting documentary about an interesting guy. If you are a Bill Murray fan, I’d recommend it. If you’re just looking for something to watch, this is probably not for you as it airs a little on the slow side. While Bill Murray has made appearances all over the world, it made me ask the question, could Bill Murray appear right here in Windham, Maine? You never know.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Movie Review: “The Details"

By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: R

I love quirky movies and I especially love the quirky Toby Maguire so I couldn’t resist watching “The Details”. Although dark comedies are not my usual go-to films, I was willing to give this Netflix movie, directed Jacob Aaron Estes, a try.

Briefly, Jeff Lang (Tobey Maguire) and wife Nealy (Elizabeth Banks) are a young Seattle couple with a two-year-old son. Jeff is an OBGYN and Nealy owns - what I think might be a small floral shop, but this is unclear. Considering a second child, they decide to enlarge their small home and also lay expensive new grass in their backyard. But there are worms in the grass and so raccoons regularly destroy it by uprooting the lawn on a nightly basis. Jeff goes to great lengths (it becomes more of an obsession) to get rid of the raccoons, including mixing poison with a can of tuna. Soon after, their neighbor Lila (Laura Linney), an older, lonely, cat woman, visits Jeff and reports that her cat Matthew, is missing. Jeff not yet realizing the connection, hopes Matthew will turn up safe.

The Toyota Prius driving Langs appear to live the idyllic suburbia life, but all is not what it seems. Ten years into their relationship, the spark of youthful love has subsided, and Jeff looks elsewhere to fill in the missing gaps and to reignite passion. He does so with a tryst with a former medical school classmate, Becca (Kerry Washington), who is married to Peter (Ray Liotta).  When Peter finds out, he blackmails Jeff in a roundabout way, and this is when things begin to fall apart – “uprooting” a seemingly perfect life. It doesn’t seem Jeff has learned his lesson because he also slips into a rendezvous with Lila.

Feeling down and unfilled, Jeff decides to donate an organ to a basketball friend, Lincoln (Dennis Haysbert), who is slowly dying and as a result of the donation, saves Lincoln’s life. One would think everything would turn around and become better for everyone at this point, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The Details” is likely one of the most bizarre, absurd films I’ve ever seen. As one movie reviewer put it, “the movie plays like a demented fairy tale, replete with butterflies, rainbows and cross-bows.”
All the acting was superb – especially Laura Linney’s performance. Her execution of the eclectic, 1960s throwback, crazy neighbor is worthy of an Oscar. As for Maguire, he still seems like the unpopular teenage kid named Peter who was bit by a spider in the popular “Spider Man” series and I simply couldn’t get past that image. Maguire’s role as a husband and doctor was not a good fit for him.

Although considered a comedy, I never laughed once. The film was way too bizarre for me to find any humor in it. With that being said, I do believe it is worth the time spent to dive into something a little strange from time to time and watching “The Details” might be a good “stretch beyond your comfort zone” movie. It certainly is for those who are into watching peculiar films. It is not, however, a movie for the whole family. Adults only.

Quote of the week - Black History Month