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…

Movie of the Week: ‘Dirty Pretty Things’

“Dirty Pretty Things” (2002) – Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Senay (Audrey Tautou) are human beings without a country.  They are immigrants living in London but under a precarious environment. Okwe, from Nigeria, is here illegally, and Senay, from Turkey, works through the system to become a British citizen.  Although, that’s a lengthy process, and at the moment, she can’t rightfully take employment in England yet.  Still, both need to make a living.  They do, although under hidden circumstances, because every person of authority is a possible threat.  Unfortunately, their specific…

‘Black Widow’: This MCU cloak-and-dagger story somewhat satisfies

“Black Widow” (2021) – Budapest.  Hungary’s capital city is also the country’s largest, with 3 million people living in the greater metropolitan area.  Budapest is known for old-world architecture and a slew of museums, theatres, and operas.  If you’re hungry, a mean goulash or chicken paprikash could satisfy, or an easy, breezy boat ride along the Danube River might soothe the soul. Well, Marvel fans – including this critic – have wondered about some specific events in the Queen of the Danube – involving Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint…

‘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…

On June 19, ‘They’re Trying to Kill Us’ will live on Tribeca at Home

The 2021 Tribeca Film Festival runs from June 9 through 20, and not only is the prominent movie celebration playing in New York City, but the films can be streamed anywhere in the U.S. through Tribeca at Home. One film, in particular, has a prominent Phoenix, Ariz. connection.   Phoenix Suns’ All-Star point guard Chris Paul – along with pop superstar Billie Eilish – executive produced “They’re Trying to Kill Us”, directed by John Lewis and Keegan Kuhn. This important and timely documentary tries “to find answers to why Americans of…

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…

‘Spirit Untamed’ is cute, but it’s also a paint-by-numbers ride

Lucky Prescott’s (Isabela Merced) name doesn’t suit her, at least for the first 10-plus years of her life.  Her mom – Milagro Navarro (Elza Gonzalez), a world-class horse rider – dies in a circus accident (within the opening few minutes of this movie).  To make matters worse, instead of her father, Jim Prescott (Jake Gyllenhaal), providing oceans of support, he unilaterally and inexplicably decides that his sister, Cora (Julianne Moore), will care for Lucky.  Cora says to Lucky, “Something broke in your father.” And how!  Jim later explains his actions. …

‘Cruella’: A film to behold rather than enjoy

“Cruella” – Cruella de Vil is one of Disney’s most feared villains, right up there with Maleficent, Ursula, and Scar.  The Hunter in “Bambi” (1942) won’t win any Man of the Year awards, especially from this critic.  “Bambi” was my first movie experience in 1975, and I remember crying my eyes out when the title character’s mom died.  I haven’t watched that film since, so yea, Disney antagonists sometimes leave a mark.  In that case, a permanent one.  Of course, Cruella originates from “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1961). She…

‘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…