‘Sound of Metal’ resonates with Ahmed’s Oscar-worthy performance

“Sound of Metal” – Director/writer Darius Marder’s feature film debut lands like a gut punch, a barrage of them.  One particular body blow confronts us very early in the first act, and for the remainder of the emotional, 15-round/two-hour runtime – led by Riz Ahmed’s Oscar-worthy performance – the audience tries to recover. Well, “Sound of Metal” doesn’t feature actual fisticuffs, but Ruben (Ahmed) fights through and for something that he lost. His hearing. Marder offers an immediate introduction to Ruben and his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) from the film’s…

‘The Croods: A New Age’ has more yabba dabba doos than yabba dabba don’ts

“The Croods:  A New Age” – “Tomorrow!  Tomorrow!  I love ya, tomorrow!  You’re always a day away!” Moms with adolescents running around their humble abodes have probably felt that their teenagers never follow the rules.  By comparison, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a model young man! You see, while sinking in the tarpits to their apparent demise, Guy’s parents told their son to find Tomorrow, a paradise of sorts or their version of Eden, and he respects his folks’ wish. Wait, tarpits? This animated film – “The Croods: A New Age”…

It’s best to sail away from ‘Come Away’

“Come Away” –  “They said, ‘Come sail away.  Come sail away.  Come sail away with me.’” – Styx, “Come Sail Away” (1977) Director Brenda Chapman (“Brave” (2012), “The Prince of Egypt” (1998)) helms “Come Away”, a Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland origin story, so magic and wonder should sit at the very top of this live-action, PG-rated tale.  Peter and Alice Littleton (Jordan A. Nash and Keira Chansa) are the featured children, and a grown-up Alice (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) narrates their story to her kids and looks back to a…

‘Freaky’: This switcharoo horror movie lives up to its name…for a while

“Freaky” – “Ah, freak out!  Le freak, c’est Chic.  Freak out!” – Chic, “Le Freak” (1978) Vince Vaughn stars in director Christopher Landon’s “Freaky”, and a first glance, perhaps the “Swingers” (1996), “Old School” (2003),  “Wedding Crashers” (2005) actor is caught up in a comic, twisted role play with Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Heather Graham. Well, he is involved with a role play, but in an unexpectedly way.  Vaughn channels his inner Barbara Harris and his surprising turn as Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” (1998) to portray…

‘The Climb’ ascends to hilarious heights

“The Climb” – “In order to get people to love you, you’ve got to get some people to hate you.”  – Robert Braathe Kyle (Kyle Marvin) and Mike (Michael Angelo Covino) are pals. More than pals, these two 30-somethings are BFFs, and in fact, Mike is Kyle’s best man.  Kyle is marrying Ava (Judith Godreche), who is French, and all three – and presumably, family and other friends – are in France for the wedding. Happy days are here! As the movie opens, Mike, an avid cyclist, invites Kyle on…

‘Let Him Go’: Lane and Costner embrace this effective 20th century western

“Let Him Go” – “You let it be known, you’re looking for a Weboy, they’ll find you.” The last time that we saw Diane Lane and Kevin Costner on the big screen together, they played Superman’s parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent, in “Man of Steel” (2013), and in director/writer Thomas Bezucha’s “Let Him Go”, they portray a caring mom and dad as well.  Margaret and George Blackledge (Lane, Costner) don’t live in Smallville.  They reside in Montana. For many years, Margaret broke horses, and George – a long-time lawman –…

Review: ‘The Thing’ (1982)

“The Thing” (1982) – “I don’t know who to trust.” – Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) We’ve all heard that phrase before.  Perhaps you attended MBA school, competed in a beauty pageant, or watched “Survivor”, the reality television show in which contestants compete for a million dollars in the remote locales of Borneo, the Pearl Islands, or Cambodia.  Although Richard Hatch, Sandra Diaz-Twine, and Jeremy Collins voted their “Survivor” castmates off the island, no one felt like their lives were in jeopardy. (Now, wear a Michigan Wolverines jersey to an Ohio…

‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’ is a good success

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” – “This film is unsuitable for children under the age of 3.” – Four by Two Films And how! The aforementioned, extremely valid warning appears just before the opening credits to “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” – which, naturally, is a follow-up to director Larry Charles’ megahit “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (2006). After watching this wild, distasteful, uncomfortable, no-holds-barred comedy, this critic can think of many…

This gorgeous ‘Rebecca’ reincarnation would work better as a series

“Rebecca” – Ever been to Monte Carlo? Yea, me neither, and the beyond-picturesque, seaside playground for the megarich – that sits in the French Riviera – is a bucket list trip, for sure.  To boot, the Cannes Film Festival is just 55 kilometers southwest along the A-8, so let’s make a second stop during a future holiday in May. For the moment, this critic will have to look back at memories of an NCAA Basketball Tournament weekend at Las Vegas’ Monte Carlo Hotel about 20 years ago, but I bet…

‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ argues that 1968 and 2020 aren’t so different

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” – The Left Coast hosted The Summer of Love in 1967, a time when 100,000 young people converged on San Francisco for music, art, and a sense of community. In August 1969, the East Coast hosted Woodstock, the famous conglomeration of all-star musical acts and 400,000 human beings touching down on an Upstate NY farm for three days of peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll/folk melodies. In between these iconic events, the American Midwest held an altogether different affair, the 1968 Democratic Convention.  Hosted…