Friday, January 28, 2022

Movie Review: ‘The Lost Daughter’ might leave you with questions

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R

Runtime: 2 hours, 1 minute

Leda, a professor, is on holiday in the Greek island of Kyopeli. In what starts as a nice quiet getaway soon drudges up some torment from the past when Leda meets Nina and her family. Nina seems exhausted and almost trapped at times by the responsibility of being a mother. Nina’s experience, at least what Leda observes for the short time they see each other, runs parallel to Leda’s and the troubles Leda had raising her two daughters, who are now grown and out of the house. The viewer catches glimpses of Leda’s past.

This is not a movie where a lot happens, but there are a few things that happen that kept me asking questions and engaged as to where the plot was going. Adapted from a novel by Elena Ferrante, this Golden Globe-nominated movie stars Olivia Coleman, Dakota Johnson, Dagmara Dominiczyk, Ed Harris, Jessie Buckley, Peter Sarsgaard and Paul Mescal.

Leda (Coleman) arrives at a resort on the island of Kyopeli where Lyle (Harris) is there to help her with her bags. Her holiday starts very quietly and calm. Leda sees Nina (Johnson) on the beach with her child and surrounding family. It was clear seeing Nina with her child evoked something in Leda and reminded her of what it used to be like with her two children. We flashback here to young Leda (Buckley) and her children, Bianca and Martha.

“I’m suffocating,” Young Leda says.

Back in present-day, Leda is clearly annoyed by the boisterous presence of several members of Nina’s family, who hoot and holler, along with foul language that upsets Leda. She is told by Will (Mescal) that she should be careful because these are bad people.

As the movie rotates back and forth between Nina’s experience as a mother and Young Leda’s experiences there are clear similarities. Both are exhausted and get little help from their spouses.

“Children are a crushing responsibility,” Leda says to Callie (Dominiczyk), Nina’s Sister-in-Law.

While in a store, Leda runs in to Nina and Callie and when they question her about her children, she has a dizzy spell and almost collapses. It is later explained why Leda has disconcerting feelings about her children.

The movie semi-focuses on an item Leda has and it is still unclear to me why she did what she did with this item. This part alone kept me wondering what was going to happen.

This is not an edge-of-your-seat psychological drama.  I guess on the simplest of levels it highlights the difficulties that may arise with being a mother. On another level it tells the story of a woman who was in over her head and needed help. Nina and Young Leda are similar individuals, but they don’t live similar lives. Both react differently to being a parent. Despite this movie’s lack of any real action, I still wanted to see how it ended and was curious until the final minutes.

I would give this one thumb up and one thumb down.

Available on Netflix. <

Friday, January 14, 2022

Movie Review: 'The Tender Bar’ a nice coming-of-age movie

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R

Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes

J.R. is looking back on his life as an adult (narrated by Ron Livingston). He and his mother are on their own after she and J.R.’s father, The Voice, divorced. When his mother has trouble with the rent, they move in with her family.

From that point on, J.R.’s family is focused and encouraging to make sure he has the best life possible. Specifically, his Uncle Charlie who acts as a pseudo-father figure for J.R. into his adult years. You see J.R. grow and learn, make mistakes and live life.

Overall, not a bad coming-of-age movie. It has very little action, but an engaging plot. “The Tender Bar” stars Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, Daniel Ranieri, Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Max Martini, Briana Middleton and Rhenzy Feliz.

In 1973, J.R. and his mother move in with J.R.’s grandfather (Lloyd) after five months of not being able to pay their rent. It’s an assortment of people and personalities at his grandfather’s house which J.R. tells his mom he likes having around – especially his Uncle Charlie (Affleck). 

“When you’re 11, you want an Uncle Charlie,” says J.R.

When J.R. was 11 (Ranieri), he would listen to his dad, ‘The Voice’ (Martini), who was a disc jockey on the radio because that’s the only way he could hear him. He would later learn why his mother (Rabe) got upset whenever she heard ‘The Voice’ on the radio.

Uncle Charlie tells J.R. he’ll always tell him the truth. Uncle Charlie runs a bar called “The Dickens” where he encourages J.R. to read and is very supportive of him. J.R.’s mother is dead set on J.R. going to Yale University.

When young J.R. has a father-son breakfast at his school, his grandfather, a cantankerous man, goes in The Voice’s place and later tells J.R. to not let anyone know he’s a good grandfather.

When J.R. becomes college age (Sheridan) you see him experience life, love, work and so on. The movie juts back and forth to various stages in everyone’s life surrounding J.R., who remains close with his Uncle Charlie.

J.R. tells his mother he’s going to be a novelist.

He and his mom both want him to be happy; problem is nether knows how to achieve that.

My favorite thing about this movie was its soundtrack. I loved many of the songs from this soundtrack, like “Dancing in the Moonlight,” “It’s Your Thing” and “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” There are many more recognizable songs throughout the movie.

Based on a memoir of the same name by J.R. Moehringer, this is a captivating, but kind of slow movie. It starts strong but drags a little in the middle. I was interested to see where J.R.’s life was going, but aside from a few trials and tribulations, not a lot happens. Still a heartfelt, enjoyable movie. Worth watching.

Available in very select theaters and on Amazon Prime. <