Movie of the Week: ‘Without Limits’

“Without Limits” (1998) – Steve Prefontaine is one of the all-time great American long-distance runners, but in 2021, some may not have heard of the man nicknamed Pre. During the early 1970s, however, he was the University of Oregon’s favorite son, and he probably still is. The UofO has held the annual Prefontaine Classic meet on campus for 46 years running (pardon the pun). Director Robert Towne is no stranger to the sport. He wrote and directed “Personal Best” (1982), a film about a pair of female athletes training for…

‘Calvary’: It’s a sin to skip this dark whodunit

“Calvary” (2014) – Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a good and decent priest, but despite his earnest nature, he’s unfortunately living under extreme duress in a small seaside Irish community.  Although scenic beauty surrounds him at every winding, country-road turn, many of the townspeople spew ugly hostility.  The biggest danger, however, comes from a man who enters his confessional and threatens to kill him in one week’s time.  Writer/director John Michael McDonagh weaves a dark whodunit that really plays like an old western, as it methodically marches towards Father James’…

‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain’ travels on several personal roads

“Roadrunner:  A Film About Anthony Bourdain” – “Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” – Anthony Bourdain “In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit.  It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family.” – Anthony Bourdain Anthony, a chef at Les Halles, shared a kinship with this restaurant, but in 2000, he found a bigger family, the world, through a tell-all book.  He wrote a New York Times Best Seller, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly”,…

‘I Carry You with Me’ thoughtfully and uniquely conveys a personal immigrant story

“I Carry You with Me” – “I had that dream again.  I have it all the time.  It’s so real.  I’m in Mexico, my home.  I’ve returned.” – Ivan For Ivan, traveling back to Mexico can only be a far-out wish that will never – foreseeably – come to fruition.  It’s present-day, and this 40-something is riding the New York City subway, staring out a window, and thinking about his journey that brought him to The Big Apple.  Director/co-writer Heidi Ewing immerses her beautifully crafted and acted “I Carry You…

‘Zola’ runs 90 minutes, which is too long to be stuck in this on-screen weekend

“Zola” – “You want to hear a story about how me and this bitch fell out?  It’s kind of long, but it’s full of suspense.” – Zola (Taylour Paige) This cinematic tale – “Zola”, directed by Janicza Bravo – is based on a real-life 2015 Twitter post by A’Ziah Zola Wells, but this wasn’t an ordinary mention about her birthday, an adorable pet video, or a delicious meal photo.  This 20-year-old delivered a mindboggling-long social media post that totaled 148 connected Tweets, and it detailed her dubious weekend with a…

‘F9: The Fast Saga’: The series jumps the shark (again) and something much bigger in the 3rd act

“F9: The Fast Saga” (2021) – Saga is the right word when describing “The Fast and the Furious” series.  Director Justin Lin’s “F9: The Fast Saga” is actually the 10th film if you include “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (2019).  Ten films dating back to 2001 is quite the cinematic run, and by comparison, Hollywood released six James Bond, seven “Star Wars”, and four “Star Trek” movies over the same period.  Thankfully, only one “Cats” film reached theatres, but I digress. According to BoxOfficeMojo, these films have raked…

Hayek, Jackson, and Reynolds can’t save ‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” – Salma Hayek, Ryan Reynolds, and Samuel L. Jackson are three of the biggest movie stars working today, and hey, all three are big-screen comic book characters, to boot.  Don’t forget that Jackson played a Jedi too. So, after assessing their remarkable acting resumes, let’s all recite this together:  “We’re not worthy!  We’re not worthy!” Well, in 2017, this superhero triad starred in the sophomoric action-comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”, and when a film rakes in 176 million dollars worldwide on a budget of “only” 30 big…

Movie of the Week: ‘Personal Best’

June is Pride Month, so our Movies of the Week will be LGBTQ-themed.  Let’s start the celebration with a look back at the 1980s, writer/director Robert Towne’s “Personal Best”! “Personal Best” (1982) – A few drops of water fall on the bone-dry earth, and once the camera pulls back, it reveals that a track athlete anxiously anticipates the starter’s gun to fire. With long blonde locks and dressed in tight-fitting polyester athletic wear, Chris Cahill (Mariel Hemingway) is about to race in the hurdles at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR…

‘A Quiet Place Part II’ is a louder, worthy sequel, but it sacrifices the original’s brilliant beats

“A Quiet Place Part II” – Leading up to April 2018, how many moviegoers raised an eyebrow when learning that John Krasinski was directing and co-writing a major studio release about visually-impaired aliens with other-worldly hearing who wipe out most of civilization, and a surviving family of five – a mom, dad, two children, and an infant – lowered their tones and lightened their steps to dodge the aforementioned invaders? This critic did.   Jim from “The Office” (2005 – 2013)?  What does Krasinski know about horror films?  What did…

‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ plays it safe and flatlines

“Those Who Wish Me Dead” – Connor Casserly (Finn Little) lives a comfortable, orderly existence in Jacksonville, Fla.  His attentive dad (Jake Weber) and he enjoy a strong relationship and play by the rules at home, school, and work. Connor’s about 11, an age when boys still listen to the fathers.  If need be, this particular kid will follow his pop to the ends of the earth.  In director/co-writer Taylor Sheridan’s “Those Who Wish Me Dead”, he does.  Owen (Weber) and Connor find themselves in grave danger because two assassins…