As with the weekly previews, our monthly preview will not be run as most theaters remain closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. We will resume publication of Pick of the Litter once theaters begin to reopen. Thanks for your patience and remember to stay home and stay alive.
(2020) Biographical Drama (IFC) Jesse Eisenberg, Ed Harris, Edgar Ramirez, Clémence Poésy, Matthias Schweighöfer, Bella Ramsey, Géza Röhrig, Karl Marcovics, Félix Moati, Alicia von Rittberg, Vica Kerekes, Tobias Gareth Elman, Kue Lawrence, Christian Clarke, Aurélie Bancilhon, Karina Beuthe Orr, Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey, Ryan Hadaller, Phillip Lenkowsky, Louise Morell. Directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz
Marcel Marceau is a name that likely many Americans under the age of 40 are unfamiliar with, other than perhaps in broad, general terms. He is considered perhaps the greatest mime who ever lived; certainly, the greatest of the 20th century. Few Americans – myself included – know much more than that. But did you know he was also a war hero?
Marcel (Eisenberg) is an aspiring actor working in a cabaret. His disapproving father (Marcovics) would prefer that his young son follow him in his trade – a Kosher butcher. However, both their plans are put into disarray with the Nazi invasion of France. Dad gets shipped off to Auschwitz while his son joins the French underground, mainly in order to protect a group of Jewish orphans but also to stay close to the comely Emma (Poésy), but also because the charismatic Georges (Röhrig) insists on it.
Opposing them will be Klaus Barbie (Schweighöfer), one of the most vicious and sadistic Nazis in history. Moving the orphans from occupied France to neutral Switzerland will take heroic measures – and the mime, who has heretofore not been too fond of children until recently and has served mainly as a forger, will find reserves of strength he didn’t know he had.
Eisenberg is kind of an odd choice to play Marceau, although his eternal boyish looks stood him in good stead when he was playing the 16-year-old Marcel. His French accent was kind of an on-again, off-again affair which was fairly annoying after a while. Still, Eisenberg manages to churn out perhaps his most likable characterization ever. He’s always played guys with a bit of a neurotic edge, but this is much more of a straightforward portrayal. Besides, I think the entire French nation would have risen up in protest had Eisenberg played him neurotic.
The last third is more in the suspense genre and Jakubowicz does a good job with maintaining a bit of an edge-of-the-seat tone, although to be honest since we know Marceau would go on to be an entertainer for another sixty years after the war, it is a bit anti-climactic – we know he’ll survive. Sadly, the movie is a good 20 minutes too long and terribly uneven; there are some good moments, as we’ve mentioned but there are nearly as many that don’t work. Jakubowicz makes some odd choices like having Ed Harris as General George S. Patton (!) show up in the beginning, and the end. While it’s true that Marceau did work as a liaison to Patton at the conclusion of the war, the insertion of the colorful general (who is subdued here) seemed a bit like name-dropping and didn’t particularly add anything to the story. Besides, even Harris would admit that nobody is ever going to equal George C. Scott’s performance as Patton.
This is a story that needed to be told, but it also needed to be told better. Marceau was undoubtedly a hero and few people outside of France are aware of it. The movie is sadly uneven and a bit self-indulgent but the heart is in the right place. Those willing to take a chance on it will be treated to a movie that’s worth the effort to seek out.
REASONS TO SEE: Eisenberg is at his most likable. The suspense elements work well.
REASONS TO AVOID: A bit of a slow-moving jumble.
FAMILY VALUES: There is enough violence to garner a restricted rating.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Although the film takes place in Strasbourg, France, it was largely filmed in Prague.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Vudu
CRITICAL MASS: As of 3/30/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 59% positive reviews, Metacritic: 56/100
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Hotel Terminus
FINAL RATING: 7/10
Normally on Thursdays Cinema365 runs a preview of movies opening in the Orlando area specifically, the state of Florida generally and in wide release nationwide. However, with the Coronavirus pandemic closing nationwide and nearly every major studio release (and several independent releases as well) pulled for either a postponed release or eventually moving directly to a streaming platform, we’ll be foregoing this column for the foreseeable future. We’ll continue to update our Coming Soon column as best we can while social distancing is in effect, but don’t expect a resumption of the New Releases column for at least six weeks and possibly longer.
Also, for those who weren’t aware, the annual Florida Film Festival that normally runs in April (and was set to run the third week of April this year) has also been postponed until further notice (possibly August). You can keep up to date on their webpage here as to when the long-running festival will resume and of course we will be set to cover it once it does.
Again, in case you missed it, we are in a serious situation. I know it’s not easy being cooped up at home, but we still have the Internet, we can still stream movies, we have all sorts of technology to keep us occupied. The best thing we can possibly do right now is not panic, stay home for all but urgent needs, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and ignore any news other than from trusted sources like the CDC. It’s not just our own lives at risk remember – it’s the lives of friends and loved ones who may not be able to fight off this virus as easily as you or I might. Be considerate of others during this time; when out shopping, just buy what you need. We’re all in this together. Those of you hoarding sanitizer, toilet paper and other supplies – go eff yourselves.
We live, as the Chinese curse goes, in interesting times. The world is caught in a pandemic of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus, which is not just your ordinary flu. Whether you believe that the crisis has been blown out of all proportion by the media, or has been used as a tool in the re-election campaign in the President, or has been mishandled by governments around the world, there is no doubt no matter what side of the political fence you sit on that it has begun to affect our daily lives and that effect will only intensify in the coming days.
While film festivals and sporting events have been canceled – including the Miami Film Festival, which I have been covering (reviews to come shortly), as yet mainstream movie theaters remain open – at least for the time being. However, there won’t be a lot of content for them in coming weeks – there are no more wide releases left in the month of March as both A Quiet Place – Part II and Mulan have been put on indefinite hold, while other films have been re-scheduled for later in the year or even next year. Even if the disease runs its course and theaters remain open for the duration, there won’t be a lot of major studio content in them for the month of April. While there are as of yet no plans to delay or cancel the Florida Film Festival, the plans for that celebration will depend greatly on how able Orange County is able to deflect the pandemic from overwhelming emergency services. Walt Disney World, for example, will be closed for the next two weeks. That doesn’t happen often.
Here at Cinema365 World Headquarters, we’ll continue to review movies as often as possible. I work from home so the need to go out into the world is not great, which is a blessing. However, I urge my readers to take precautions – wash your hands regularly, try to avoid large gatherings of people in close proximity as much as possible, and see a doctor immediately if you exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19. Keep informed by checking regularly with the Center for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov) periodically. I hope to see all of my readers make it out to the other side of this crisis as intact as possible. Cinema365 sincerely wishes that you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe as much as possible.
Cinema365 is taking a well-deserved and much-delayed vacation. The site will be down until February 12th; the next two Weekly previews will be skipped. We’ll be back on the 12th, however, with more reviews and more fun. See you back here then!
(2018) Adventure (Warner Brothers) Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jessica McNamee, Masi Oka, Raymond Vinten, Mai Hongmei, Wei Yi, Vithaya Ransringarm, Rob Kipa-Williams, Tawanda Manyimo, Mark Trotter, Jeremy Tan, Sui Fong Ivy Tsui. Directed by Jon Turtletaub
Sharks have been a popular movie villain ever since Steven Spielberg brought forth Jaws as quite possibly the perfect summer movie back in 1975. Given Hollywood’s propensity to the maxim “bigger is better,” it was only a matter of time before we got a gigantic prehistoric shark wreaking havoc.
Jonas Taylor (Statham) is a deep-sea rescue specialist who has an encounter with something huge during an unsuccessful rescue of a sub. Essentially laughed out of the business, he retires to Thailand to get drunk and stay drunk – two things it is quite possible to do in Thailand. However, when an experimental submersible in which his ex-wife (McNamee) is a crew member is trapped below the Marianas Trench (don’t ask), he is enticed back, headed to the sleek 2001-esque research station below the ocean bankrolled by tech gazillionaire Morris (Wilson) and headed by Chinese scientists Dr. Zhang (Chao), his comely daughter Suyin (Bingbing) and precocious granddaughter Meiying (Cai), as well as Jonas’ buddy Mac (Curtis). Needless to say the giant creature Jonas saw is real (Nyah! Nyah! Toldja so!) and turns out to be a gigantic prehistoric shark that has been extinct for 200 million years; except it wasn’t, it had just gone from being a shallow water predator to a deep sea diver because…reasons.
Warner Brothers marketed this as a fun, light summer movie which I suppose a film about people getting swallowed whole by a giant shark would have to be. It really doesn’t live up to the trailer though, although Statham really makes an effort to take the movie on his broad shoulders. Sadly, the movie suffers from hoary plot clichés and underwhelming CGI and comes off as a kind of Plan 9 from the South China Sea. It does skirt the so bad it’s good territory.
Despite all its shortcomings, there is something about the movie that is endearing, although it could have used a little more self-awareness – why, oh why didn’t someone say “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”? – and a little less cool gadgetry. For my money, the movie came within one uneaten chunky Asian kid from getting a more respectable score.
REASONS TO SEE: Statham gives it the old college try.
REASONS TO AVOID: Sketchy CGI and a predictable plot.
FAMILY VALUES: There is aquatic violence, some bloody images, peril and some profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The movie has been in and out of development since 1996 when Disney (!) first bought the rights to the novel. It has bounced around a variety of studios (New Line, Warner Brothers) and directors (Guillermo del Toro, Jan de Bont) in that time.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Fandango Now, Google Play, Microsoft, Movies Anywhere, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 1/2/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 46% positive reviews: Metacritic: 46/100
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Jaws III
FINAL RATING: 5/10
NEXT: The Spy Who Dumped Me
(Columbia) Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Awkwafina, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Alex Wolff, Colin Hanks. Directed by Jake Kasdan
The gang is back, sucked into the world’s most dangerous videogame like dust bunnies in a vacuum cleaner. This time they are there to rescue one of their own and will brave unexplored territory – deserts and mountains in addition to the jungle – to make it home alive.
(Universal) Imogen Poots, Cary Elwes, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue. A black masked killer stalks sorority women at a college during Christmas break in this remake of a classic 1974 horror film.
See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG-13 (for violence, terror, thematic content including sexual assault, language, sexual material and drinking)
(Vertical) Robbie Amell, Stephen Amell, Sung Kang, Greg Byrk. *insert gravelly trailer voice here* In a world where 4% of the world’s population has super powers, those with extraordinary gifts have been discriminated against and forced to live in poverty. A young power-enabled man who is fighting to survive and is drawn into a seedy underground of crime.
Hell on the Border
(Lionsgate) David Gyasi, Frank Grillo, Zahn McClarnon, Ron Perlman. This is the true story of Bass Reeves, who went from being an escaped slave during the Civil War to becoming the first African-American marshal in the American West.
Mickey and the Bear
(Utopia) Camila Morrone, James Badge Dale, Calvin Demba, Ben Rosenfield. Mickey Peck works a job in a taxidermy shop in Anaconda, Montana. She must cope with her father, a veteran with severe PTSD who isn’t getting better, an oversexed boyfriend and her upcoming high school graduation – all without her late mother. This amazing first film from Annabelle Attanasio was recently reviewed by C365 – check the link in the section “Scheduled for Review” below.
(Warner Brothers) Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm. Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort is the story of the security guard at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta who thwarted a bomb planted in Centennial Park and then wrongly came under suspicion for planting it there. The film has been controversial due to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution taking exception to the portrayal of its coverage and one of its reporters.
The Two Popes
(Netflix) Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins, Juan Minujin, Sidney Cole. Pope Benedict, a staunch conservative, is the leader of a Catholic church in crisis. He soon develops a relationship with the cardinal who would one day become Pope Francis, one who has sought to reform the Church.
ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:
The Great War
Kettyolanu Ente Malakha
Line of Descent
The Mandela Effect
ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE/KEY WEST:
Kettyolanu Ente Malakha
Line of Descent
One Cut of the Dead
ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG/SARASOTA:
ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:
SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:
FILM FESTIVALS TAKING PLACE IN FLORIDA:
Vero Beach Wine + Film Festival at Sea, Port Everglades, FL