‘Kin’ misfires its laser gun story

“Kin” –  Speaking from personal experience, many preteen boys who grew up in the late 1970’s enjoyed “Star Wars” (1977) and wished to own laser guns similar to Han Solo’s and/or Chewbacca’s.  Sure, sheriffs and outlaws firing rifles during “Bonanza” reruns carried a certain admired machismo, but laser guns discharging explosive light missiles provided an indescribable allure. With certainty, a significant subset of these anxious, excitable kids asked their fathers, “Dad, have ‘they’ invented laser guns yet?” Again, speaking from personal experience. In 2018 Detroit, one would be hard-pressed to…

Close honors “The Wife” with an Oscar-worthy performance

“The Wife” – Look back at any decade since 1979, and Meryl Streep could be called America’s Most Celebrated Actress.  Streep collected 21 Oscar nominations and nabbed three wins over her career, so it is difficult to make a case for another actress to topple this aforementioned, fictional acting title.  In the 1980’s alone, Streep collected seven Oscar nominations and two Best Actress wins for “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979) and “Sophie’s Choice” (1982), but if she is the most decorated actress from the 80’s, Glenn Close might be the runner-up.…

‘The Captain’ leads a cinematic trip into dark, dangerous territory

“The Captain” – In April 1945, Herold (Max Hubacher), a young German soldier, is running for his life from his own army and some locals, however, in an incredible stroke of luck, he stumbles upon a pristine captain’s uniform.  He suddenly forms a brand new identity – with his new appearance – which commands respect, but can Herold convince his fellow soldiers and officers that he is a captain? Hubacher delivers a highly convincing performance as a desperate man who must continually swallow his fear to survive, and over time, his…

‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ offers an unsettling look and lesson into conversion therapy

“The Miseducation of Cameron Post” – Conversion therapy is the practice of changing an individual’s sexual preference from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological techniques or spiritual interventions, citing Wikipedia. One might think that this alarming tradition ended decades ago in the United States, but that’s not true. According to a January 2018 study from UCLA’s The Williams Institute, 698,000 U.S. adults (ages 18 – 59) have received conversion therapy.  These rituals are not behind us either, because the same study added that 57,000 U.S. kids (ages 13 –…

‘The Happytime Murders’ shoots itself in the foot

“The Happytime Murders” – “It ain’t a crime to be warm and fuzzy, but it might as well be.” – Private Investigator Phil Philips Yes, society treats puppets as second-class citizens in 2018 Los Angeles.  Puppets work, play and live with humans but are considered inferior or inherently subordinate, because their primary color fabric-exteriors and pillowy interiors make them different from people.  This overt racism is now coupled with a recent puppet-killing spree, and Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) – a scorned former police detective – is determined to find the…

‘Mile 22’ is a long way from a satisfying action movie

“Mile 22” – Twenty-one years ago, film critics and fans began taking Mark Wahlberg’s acting career very seriously with his memorable performance as Eddie Adams (aka Dirk Diggler), an awkward bus boy turned porn star in Paul Thomas Anderson’s wild 70s piece “Boogie Nights” (1997).  With Wahlberg’s charisma and built-in bankability via his music career, he excelled as an action hero and leading man in “Three Kings” (1999), “Rock Star” (2001) and “The Italian Job” (2003), but raised the bar in 2006 with a Best Supporting Actor nomination as Dignam,…

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ offers a wealth of fun but the script needed a tighter budget

“Crazy Rich Asians” – Singapore is a wondrous place.  Located just one degree above the equator in Southeast Asia, this small island city-state (only 31 miles by 17 miles) bustles as a massive business hub and hosts over five million residents.  Malay is Singapore’s single national language, but the country proudly boasts three additional official ones: English, Mandarin and Tamil.  The multi-lingual culture is no accident, because the island’s gorgeous, tropical beauty, towering skyscrapers and commercial importance are universal attractions. In director Jon M. Chu’s film, he wholly and beautifully…

‘Dark Money’ sheds light on a massive political problem

“Dark Money” – Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (2010) – “Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections.” No matter your political stripe, it is difficult to declare that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision on Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission is good for the country’s democracy.  This ruling – a 5-4 decision – opened up the floodgates for corporations to spend unlimited funds…

Go towards the unruly, raw comedy ‘Never Goin’ Back’

“Never Goin’ Back” – “I know that in my past I was young and irresponsible, but that’s what growing up is.”  – Lindsay Lohan Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone) are young and irresponsible. They dropped out of high school, waitress at the Buttermilk Café, barely make ends meet, and begrudgingly live with other housemates, including Jessie’s brother Dustin (Joel Allen).  Ending their diploma-pursuits was not a terribly wise and graceful career move, but the girls stumble into a series of additional missteps that completely exasperate their delicate financial…

Macdonald shines and warmly fits in ‘Puzzle’

“Puzzle” – “Every day is sort of a jigsaw puzzle.  You have to make sure that you’re putting the most important things first.” – Julia Hartz, Eventbrite CEO “I might be good at this.” – Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) Louie (David Denman) is content.  He enjoys fixing cars at his auto repair shop in a small town located about a half hour from New York City.  He married Agnes, they have two boys with their youngest Gabe (Austin Abrams) ready to graduate high school and they own a beautiful  getaway cabin…