‘The Booksellers’ is a celluloid page-turner

“The Booksellers” – According to a 2019 Pew Research Center study, 73 percent of U.S. adults have started at least one book in the past year, but this is down from a 2005 Gallup News Service poll, in which 83 percent did. Why the drop?  Well, one can point to several factors:  longer work hours, shorter attention spans, social media’s rise, instant gratification needs, home streaming services, and the Joe Exotic documentary series.  Actually, Netflix released “Tiger King” in 2020, a year after the 2019 findings, so we can’t blame…

‘Selah and The Spades’ doesn’t deal a winning hand

“Selah and The Spades” – Selah Summers (Lovie Simone) is cool.  She’s a top student at Haldwell, a prestigious boarding school in the Philadelphia suburbs.  She’s a cheerleader too, but not the peppy, do-gooder, always-sunny type, because Selah has fought on the front lines at home and at Haldwell.  These days, her mother quietly pushes this talented kid to pursue perfection, at least with her grades, but voices aren’t upturned between mother and teen.  They don’t have to reach ugly, combative heights in 2020, because – off-screen – enough verbal…

‘Trolls World Tour’ might be a good at-home distraction…or not

“Trolls World Tour” – “So tell me what you want, what you really, really want.  I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha).  I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah.” – Spice Girls, “Wannabe” “One man’s nonsense is another man’s sense.” – author Peter Cameron, “Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You” Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is over the moon.  Over the moon…in her world.  She’s Queen Poppy of the Troll Pop Kingdom, a place with rainbow-splashed mushrooms, truckloads of glitter and more neon pink…

The troubling drama ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ always hits the mark

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” –  Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) is in trouble. She’s the oldest, 17, in a working-class family with younger siblings, her mother (Sharon Van Etten) and an aloof, frosty stepfather (Ryan Eggold), and this troubled teen often feels overlooked.  Ignored.  Her mom’s semi-disregard for Autumn is not out of malice, but with other kids to tend to, her eldest – in a pinch, when such time-squeezes may appear in bunches – can fend for herself. So, this reserved, unsure-of-herself teenager tolerates her way through her small town in…

Oscar-nominated ‘Corpus Christi’ spins an inspirational tale and a tense countdown

“Corpus Christi” – “No seminary accepts convicts like you.” – Father Tomasz (Lukasz Simlat) “Doesn’t matter where you’re coming from.  All that matters is where you are going.” – Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia) Daniel (Bielenia) doesn’t wish to think about his previous travels. This slight, young Polish man – with glittery sapphire eyes and an impish crewcut – has crashed into life’s dead ends and incessantly circled in nowhere cul-de-sacs.  He actually resembles an Eastern Bloc version of Scottish hooligan Renton (Ewan McGregor) from “Trainspotting” (1996), but sans any mates to…

Movies at Home: ‘1917’ arrives on Blu-ray on March 24

It might feel like we’ve been cooped up in our homes, apartments or condos for 101 days, but here’s some good news:  a 2020 Best Picture nominee, one that takes place 103 years ago, arrives on Blu-ray on March 24. “1917”  Sam Mendes uniquely-filmed WWI epic is our #6 film of 2019, and but it’s first on our minds today. Here’s our review: “1917” – “I wanted you to feel like you were there with the characters, breathing their every breath, walking in their footsteps. The best way to do…

The female creators and cast crack open big surprises in ‘Blow the Man Down’

“Blow the Man Down” – “The simple truth is that you can understand a town.  You can know and love and hate it.  You can blame it, resent it, and nothing changes.  In the end, you’re just another part of it.” – Brenna Yovanoff The Connolly sisters, Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor), reside in Easter Cove, Maine, a fictional coastal town that – actually – is not so picturesque.  Sure, it meets the ocean, but a wintertime chill smothers and covers the whole local-lot, as snow and…

‘First Cow’ grazes into a long-winded but mesmerizing underdog story

“First Cow” – “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”  – Albert Einstein Writer/director Kelly Reichardt grew up in Miami, Fla., but you wouldn’t know it from her films.  She set “Wendy and Lucy” (2008) and “Meeks Cutoff” (2010) in Oregon, a modern-day tale and a one from 1845, respectively.  2016’s “Certain Women” took place in Montana, and her new movie “First Cow” heads back to Oregon and the 19th century. Somewhere in the Oregon Territory wilderness, a quiet, reserved cook – appropriately nicknamed Cookie (John Magaro) – travels with…

Vin Diesel’s ‘Bloodshot’ feels like ‘Boreshot’

“Bloodshot” –  Don’t mess with a United States soldier.  Apparently, Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), a modern-day mad scientist of sorts, didn’t get the memo.  To make matters worse, his middle name might be Frankenstein, because in “Bloodshot”, he brings a soldier back from the dead and gives him some monster powers. Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) prides himself on surviving countless dangerous missions and returning home to his wife Gina (Talulah Riley), but evidently, his commanders sent him on one too many assignments, because an unsuspecting adversary terminates him.  (Please…

‘Greed’ isn’t that great

“Greed” – “Greed is good.”  – Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), “Wall Street” (1987) Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan) – the head of Monda, an international apparel corporation – is filthy rich. How rich? Well, Monda just paid a 1.2 billion (British) pound dividend to its owner, McCreadie’s wife Samantha (Isla Fisher).  Samantha then purchased a yacht for 100 million that proudly scoots around Monaco with no apparent altruistic purpose, and hey, that leaves 1.1 billion to fund her favorite 2020 U.S. Presidential candidate!  Okay, don’t expect the latter, although one…