New Releases for the Week of June 18, 2021


THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD

(Lionsgate) Ryan Reynolds, Salma Hayek, Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Grillo, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Richard E. Grant, Antonio Banderas. Directed by Patrick Hughes

Still unlicensed and under scrutiny, Michael Bryce has a new client – not the hitman, but his even more volatile wife, the con artist Sonia Kincaid. However, the three quickly find out they are well over their heads in a global plot that could plunge Europe under the iron grip of a despot.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Action
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for some sexual content, pervasive language and strong bloody violence)

12 Mighty Orphans

(Sony Classics) Luke Wilson, Robert Duvall, Vinessa Shaw, Martin Sheen. A devoted high school football coach leads a team of twelve scrawny orphans to the state championship, inspiring a nation reeling from the Great Depression.

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For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Sports Drama
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, AMC Lake Square, Cinemark Orlando, Cinemark Universal Citywalk, Regal Pavilion, Regal The Loop, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: PG-13 (some suggestive references, brief teen drinking, smoking, language and violence)

Gaia

(NEON) Monique Rockman, Carel Nel, Alex van Dyk, Anthony Oseyemi. An injured forest ranger is rescued by two off-the-grid survivalists. But what is at first a welcome intervention grows more sinister as their beliefs in the deity of the woods leads to a shocking confrontation.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Amstar Lake Mary, Cinemark Universal Citywalk, CMX Merritt Square
Rating: R (for nudity, language, bloody images, sexual content and some violence)

Limbo

(Focus) Sidse Babett Knudsen, Kenneth Collard, Amir El-Masry, Vikash Bhaj. A promising young musician from Syria who is forced to flee the civil war there finds himself separated from his family, stuck on a remote Scottish island while he awaits the outcome of his asylum hearing.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona Beach
Rating: R (for language)

Los Hermanos/The Brothers

(Patchwork) Aldo Lopez-Gavilán, Ilmar Lopez-Gavilán. Brothers Aldo, a pianist living in Havana, and Ilmar, a violinist living in New York City, are separated by more than miles. A geopolitical divide has separated the brothers for more than half a century. This poignant film tracks their parallel lives in music, their emotional reunion and their incredible first performances together.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Music Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

Our Ladies

(Sony International) Tallulah Grieve, Eve Austin, Kate Dickie, Chris Fulton. A rural Catholic girl’[s school choir gets a chance to enter a national competition in Edinburgh in the 1990s but the girls are far more interested in having a good time than in winning the competition.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs
Rating: R (for teen drinking, brief graphic nudity, sexual content and language throughout)

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It

(Roadside Attractions) Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Morgan Freeman. The acclaimed actress went from a life of poverty in Puerto Rico to becoming one of the few actors to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian Theater, Regal The Loop
Rating: PG-13 (for suggestive material, some strong language and mature thematic content)

The Sparks Brothers

(Focus) Ron Mael, Russell Mael, Jane Wiedlin, Mike Myers. The Mael brothers have spent decades at the head of Sparks, a pop band with eccentric instincts. This Edgar Wright-directed documentary traces the group from their formative years in the Seventies through their most recent releases.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Music Documentary
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Avenue, AMC Disney Springs, Regal Winter Park Village, Studio Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: R (for language)

Sweet Thing

(Film Movement) Will Patton, Lana Rockwell, Nico Rockwell, Jabari Watkins. Two siblings try to cope with an alcoholic father and an uncaring mother and ultimately run away from home, creating a temporary life for themselves.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Batman: The Long Halloween Part One (Tuesday)
The Birthday Cake
Clairevoyant
(Tuesday)
Demon Slayer: Mugen Train
(Tuesday)
Les Nótres
Life in a Year
(Tuesday)
Love Spreads
Luca
Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer
Siberia
Stalker
Take Back
Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

The Birthday Cake
Gaia
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
Luca
Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It
The Sparks Brothers


The Go-Go’s


They got the beat.

(2020) Music Documentary (Eagle RockBelinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Jane Wiedlin, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, Margot Olaverra, Ginger Canzoneri, Elissa Bello, Pleasant Gehman, Miles Copeland, Kathleen Hanna, Sting, Terry Hall, Lee Thompson, Lynval Golding, Chris Connelly, Dave Robinson, Paula Jean Brown, Richard Gottehrer, Stuart Copeland, Jann Wenner, Martha Quinn. Directed by Alison Ellwood

 

What the hell is wrong with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? More to the point, why aren’t the Go-Go’s in it?

This is a band that has never truly been taken seriously. Even at the height of their fame, they were written off by critics as a lightweight pop band, conveniently ignoring the fact that they were trailblazers. They didn’t have a Svengali behind them as the Runaways, who have received far more props from the critical community. They achieved their success on their own. Maybe it’s because they flamed out so quickly, but there are bands in the Hall that have had shorter careers than they.

The Go-Go’s emerged from the L.A. punk scene that gave us bands like X, Motels, The Germs, and the Minutemen, among others. Jane Wiedlin, the manic pixie dreamgirl guitarist for the band, talks candidly of her own depression which led to a suicide attempt at 15; she was rescued by a punk scene that empowered her and inspired her to join a band with vocalist Belinda Carlisle.

The nascent group were more enthusiastic than accomplished. Early footage of them shows a band that can barely play their instruments, but even though their music is very different than what it would eventually become, that pop sheen can still clearly be heard. They eventually added guitarist Charlotte Caffey who turned out to be a talented songwriter who gave them their first hit single, “We Got the Beat,” inspired by a viewing of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.

They became better, growing a following. They added a new drummer, Gina Schock, who turned out to be a world-class skin-pounder. And then when original bassist Margot Olaverra, who resisted the band’s shift from pure punk to a more pop-oriented sound, became ill, they recruited former Textones guitarist Kathy Valentine to take her spot. Valentine, who had never played bass before at the time, recalls learning the entire set of her new band in a two-day cocaine-fueled binge.

An early milestone was an invitation to tour England as an opening act for the Specials and Madness, two ska revival bands who the Go-Go’s opened for in L.A. It turned out to be a difficult tour; the Go-Go’s didn’t play ska music and often got booed off the stage, or spat upon by white nationalists who were fans of the ska movement (which is kind of ironic, when you think of it; most of the ska bands at the time were integrated and the music itself was based on music from Jamaica). It did get them attention enough from Stiff Records, the influential English independent label which then released “We Got the Beat” as a single. During the tour, Wiedlin became romantically involved with Specials frontman Terry Hall and the two wrote another song that would become a signature of the band: “Our Lips are Sealed.”

Miles Copeland, manager of The Police, signed the band to his fledgling IRS Records label who released their debut album, Beauty and the Beat. Jet-propelled by the two singles, it rose to number one on the charts and established the group as a major hitmaker. From there, they got on the rock and roll treadmill of touring, making a new album, touring, rinse, repeat.

Like other bands in the industry, the group was beset by the usual problems; squabbles about royalty payments, drug use (Caffey hid a burgeoning heroin addiction from the band, even as she continued to write the majority of their hits), Even as the Go-Go’s were becoming one of the biggest acts in rock and roll, the seeds of their implosion were planted; they fired their longtime manager Ginger Canzoneri for a more corporate management team, and eventually Wiedlin left the band. They replaced her briefly with Paula Jean Brown, but the chemistry of the band had already been affected. Six months after Wiedlin left the band, the rest of the group called it a day.

Ellwood has assembled a pretty standard rockumentary with plenty of interviews. The band is remarkably candid about their own foibles with the exception of Carlisle who while forthcoming about her own drug habit in the past, doesn’t mention it here and only obliquely refers to the role her own ego played in the schisms that ultimately broke the band apart. Ellwood does a good job of capturing the bond that still exists between the band (as the documentary was being completed, the band recorded their first material together in nearly two decades). She’s less successful at offering context of how the band was affected by their era – and how they affected succeeding eras. Only Bikini Kill’s outspoken Kathleen Hanna really remarks on the influence the band had on female musicians that came afterwards.

It’s hard to understand why this band hasn’t gotten the credit that is due them. Their music was never outwardly political or topical and thus became timeless; they sang about love and lust and loneliness; the things we all relate to. They did it with a relentlessly cheerful beat and irresistible pop hooks. There is skill involved in all of that but the band ended up being marginalized by everyone except their fans.

Nobody really took them seriously back then, a head-scratching attitude that continues to this day. There is the fact that they are all very attractive women and there is a tendency to look at attractive women as incompetents who get by on their looks rather than talent. It could be the mere fact that they are women, but when I think back to the recent documentaries on Joan Jett and Hanna, women whose music was more aggressive than that of the Go-Go’s, and the critical reception to both of those who hailed the subjects of those films as innovators and trailblazers. Well, so were the Go-Go’s but even now I don’t see the same type of acclaim being accorded them. Perhaps a more strident documentary was needed to maybe force people to listen. This band deserves better. They always have.

REASONS TO SEE: Puts the spotlight on a group that never really got its due.
REASONS TO AVOID: More or less a standard rock doc.
FAMILY VALUES: There are some drug references, profanity and some adult themes.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The Go-Go’s were the first (and to date, only) all-female group to play their own instruments and write their own songs to have a number one album on the Billboard charts.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, DirecTV,  Fubo, Google Play, Showtime, YouTube.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/7/2021: Rotten Tomatoes: 98% positive reviews; Metacritic: 81/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Bad Reputation
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
Little Fish