‘The Fall of the American Empire’ does not have highs and lows

“The Fall of the American Empire” – Three numbers:  .1, 188 and 90. The richest .1 percent of Americans earn 188 times as much as the bottom 90 percent, according to a 2017 study featured on inequality.org.  The 2019 numbers surely have grown more disproportionate, but if one thinks that the U.S. is the only country with such frightening statistics, the answer is no.  Include Canada too. Set in Montreal, writer/director Denys Arcand (“The Barbarian Invasions” (2003)) disburses “The Fall of the American Empire”, an economic inequality commentary delivered by…

‘Ma’: Spencer is a terrific villain, but she’s stuck in a clunky story

“Ma” – “Get home safe.  That’s all I care about.” – Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) “Don’t make me drink alone.” – Sue Ann Erica (Juliette Lewis) and her high school-aged daughter Maggie (Diana Silvers) drive towards a small-town destination, and a single-stack nuclear power plant looms over the endless acres of leafless, dormant trees.  Little did they know that their lives would soon blow up, after Erica decided to move back to her hometown and into a modest three-bedroom ranch that sits on a dead end street. They should have…

‘The Sun is Also a Star’ barely flickers

“The Sun Is Also a Star” – “It’s fate.” – Daniel Bae (Charles Melton) Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi) stands in the middle of Grand Central Station and looks up at its celestial ceiling.  Daniel (Melton) notices Natasha and sees stars too.  For Daniel, it’s love at first sight or at least serious interest at first sight.  Natasha is wearing a blue polyester jacket, one that sports the phrase “Deus Ex Machina”, and divine intervention strikes him.  He decides to follow her to say, “Hello,” in person.  For the sake of…

‘UglyDolls’ offers cute music and positive messages but through a discounted narrative

“UglyDolls” – “It’s not easy being green.” – Kermit the Frog Moxy (Kelly Clarkson), a rejected doll from a toy factory, proudly sports pink fur and three teeth and lives with her fellow oddities in Uglyville, a coastal community, complete with rugged, steep peaks made from cardboard boxes.  Her friends Uglydog (Pitbull), Babo (Gabriel Iglesias) and Ox (Blake Shelton) love Uglyville, and Moxy appreciates her home too, but she dreams of becoming the best doll-friend to a little girl in The Big World. Ox, the town mayor, wishes that Moxy…

This lovely ‘Storm Boy’ remake induces therapeutic showers of tears

“Storm Boy” – Mr. Proud, Mr. Ponder and Mr. Percival. Mike (Finn Little) is about 10 years-old and lives on an isolated beach with his dad (Jai Courtney) in Southern Australia, and one morning, he stumbles upon three abandoned baby pelicans. These tiny babies with pink skin and shut eyes are as vulnerable as snowballs in a desert.  Mike scoops them up before they – along with the audience – melt,  and with his friend Bill (David Gulpilil), they devise ways to feed these tiny, precious creatures. Soon, Mr. Proud,…