Cyrano


The melancholy nature of love.

(2021) Musical (MGM/United Artists) Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Mendelsohn, Monica Dolan, Bashir Salahuddin, Joshua James, Anjana Vasan, Ruth Sheen, Glen Hansard, Sam Amidon, Scott Folan, Mark Benton, Richard McCabe, Peter Wright, Tim McMullan, Mark Bagnall, Mike Shepherd, Paul Biddiss, Katy Owen, Paul Hunter, Celeste Dodwell. Directed by Joe Wright

In the Golden Age of Hollywood, MGM Studios was known for their classic musicals, from those created especially for the screen to those fresh from the stages of Broadway. Times have changed since then; musicals are less popular with theatrical audiences, MGM is no longer the dominant studio in Hollywood (although they did at one point buy United Artists, a studio best known for being the home to the Bond franchise). Earlier than that, however, French playwright Edmund Rostand wrote the classic romance Cyrano de Bergerac, which always (it seemed to me) to be perfect fodder for a musical. There have been several attempts at setting the classic Rostand play to music, but this one finally gives the story the music it deserves.

Most of you are likely familiar with the story, even if you didn’t read about it in high school Lit; Cyrano de Bergerac (Dinklage) is a well-known man whose soulful poetry and rapier-like wit is the talk of the town. Sharper still is his skill with the sword. He is the type of man even in 18th century France who should have his pick of women, but one thing holds him back; his height (in the original, Cyrano was self-conscious about his prominent nose).

He is deeply in love with his friend, the beautiful Roxanne (Bennett) who is also being pursued by the pompous and devious Count De Guiche (Mendelsohn), who is in charge of His Majesty’s armies in one of the many wars France always seemed to find itself involved in back then. Cyrano is a soldier, but it is with one of his new recruits, handsome Christian (Harrison) to whom Roxanne has given her heart. In turn, Christian is smitten with Roxanne.

But Roxanne wants to be wooed, not just with flowers and longing looks, but with passionate love letters. Christian might have the makings of a fine soldier, but he is completely ill-equipped for this kind of warfare and Cyrano, wanting above all else for the woman he loves to be happy, agrees to write the letters for Christian. But the deception soon proves costly, for everyone involved.

Joe Wright, after helming such lush period fare as Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, had gone on a bit of a cold streak in the last few years, but shows himself back with a vengeance. His sweeping camera movements are perfect for the scope and romantic sentiment of the material, and the production design lends itself for just that kind of direction.

It doesn’t hurt that he gets one of the finest actors of our generation, Peter Dinklage, to play the lead. Dinklage doesn’t have a heroic singing voice, but he has an honest one and it is perfectly suited to the music, written by the brothers Dessner of the National (that band’s frontman, Matt Berninger, wrote the lyrics along with his wife Carin Besser, who also fulfills the same function for the National). The music is decidedly non-Broadway, and like the music of that band has a deeply wistful, romantic quality that is absolutely perfect for the story.

The off-Broadway stage play was adapted for the screen by Erica Schmidt (who also wrote the stage play), who happens to be Dinklage’s wife, and to further add to the nepotism element, Bennett is married to Wright. So it’s no surprise that the cast and crew seem incredibly comfortable working together and that comfort shows on the screen.

I can probably continue spouting off superlatives for this incredible film, which deserves all of them and more, but I don’t want to be boring (which this movie definitely is not). Anyone who has ever loved someone who didn’t love them back will relate to Cyrano’s plight, and for my money, getting Dinklage to play this role was a stroke of genius. Dinklage has always excelled at expressing emotions non-verbally and in the scene where Roxanne informs Cyrano of her love for Christian, it is absolutely heartbreaking to watch Dinklage’s reaction as Cyrano.

Schmidt also modernized Roxanne somewhat; she was a bit shallow in Rostand’s play, and there is a certain amount of that here as well (her attraction is essentially to Christian’s looks initially), but Roxanne wants more than just a pretty face. She is also not the luminous, nearly unattainable goddess that Roxanne is often portrayed as, but more of a pretty girl next door sort. Some might find her a bit too ordinary to inspire the depth of feeling in all three of the men here, but I kind of like that Schmidt made her less of an object here.

This is a movie that goes for your emotional throat and never releases it once the fangs are in, which of course is what Rostand wanted to do all along when he wrote his play more than a century ago. There are some incredible moments here – the soldiers fatalistic song “Where I Fall” is an absolute highlight, and Wright employs pro singers like Glen Hansard of the Swell Season, and Sam Amidon. I know that the initial plan was to release this in time for Oscar consideration, but that plan changed which is a shame because I suspect that the film would have some impact on the nominations. This is very clearly the best movie musical since Les Miserables and certainly one of the best movies of the year, even this early in it.

REASONS TO SEE: Dinklage is perfectly cast and does a fabulous job. The music is absolutely amazing. Lush production values. A movie that wears its heart on its sleeve. Rough around the edges where it needs to be. The best movie musical in ten years.
REASONS TO AVOID: Bennett might be a little bit too “girl next door” to be Roxanne.
FAMILY VALUES: There is violence, some of it brutal; there’s also suggestions of intimacy, brief profanity and mature thematic material.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Dinklage and Bennett reprise their roles here from the stage version, which they premiered in Connecticut in 2018 before a brief off-Broadway run in 2019.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/25/22: Rotten Tomatoes: 86% positive reviews; Metacritic: 68/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Roxanne
FINAL RATING: 10/10
NEXT:
Butter

New Releases for the Week of February 25, 2022


STUDIO 666

(Open Road) Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Rami Jaffee, Whitney Cummings, Leslie Grossman, Will Forte, Jenna Ortega, Jeff Garlin. Directed by BJ McDonnell

Rock and roll hall of famers Foo Fighters settle into a mansion in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles to record their tenth album, unaware of the terrifying history of the place. Soon, frontman Dave Grohl will find himself dealing with sinister forces that threaten the lives of the band and worse yet, getting the album done on time for the label.

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

Genre: Horror Comedy
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for strong bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, and sexual content)

Bheemla Nayak

(Sithara) Pawan Kalyan, Rana Daggubati, Nithya Menen, Samyuktha Menon. Sparks fly when the egos of a police officer and retired army officer collide.

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Genre: Action
Now Playing: Amstar Lake Mary, CMX Plaza Orlando, Regal Pavilion Port Orange, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: NR

Butter

(Blue Fox) Alex Kersting, Mira Sorvino, Mykelti Williamson, McKaley Miller. An obese high school boy, tired of being bullied and marginalized, decides to commit suicide in a live stream online on New Year’s Eve, and tells everyone so. As the day approaches, he finds himself reveling in a newfound popularity, but can he go through with it?

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Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs, CMX Merritt Square, Regal Waterford Lakes
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic content involving suicide, crude sexual material, language , and drinking – all involving teens)

Cyrano

(United Artists) Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Mendelsohn. The classic Edmund Rostand novel Cyrano de Bergerac is remade into a lush musical, with songs supplied by members of The National.

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

Genre: Musical
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, CMX Daytona, CMX Merritt Square
Rating: PG-13 (for some strong violence, thematic and suggestive material, and brief language)

The Desperate Hour

(Roadside Attractions) Naomi Watts, Colton Gobbo, Sierra Maltby. A recent widow, while out jogging in the Colorado woods, discovers there’s an active shooter at her son’s school. As she races back, she becomes aware that her intervention is required if her son is to survive. From acclaimed Australian director Philip Noyce.

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Genre: Thriller
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic content and some strong language)

Desperate Riders

(Lionsgate) Trace Adkins, Drew Walters, Vanessa Lee Evigan, Victoria Pratt. A young ,man recruits a gunslinger to help rescue his mother wo has been kidnapped by a notorious outlaw. However, it soon becomes unclear whether the woman wants to be saved.

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Genre: Western
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: PG-13 (for language, thematic elements, drug content and some suggestive material)

Drive My Car

(Janus) Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura, Reika Kirishima, Yoo-rim Park. A widowed stage director, contracted to mount a production of Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima, finds the road to moving on with his life in the unlikely hands of the taciturn driver assigned by the theater festival to chauffer him around town.

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Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Enzian
(Friday through Sunday only)
Rating: NR

Gangubai Kathlawadi

(Pen Marudhar) Alia Bhatt, Tareeq Ahmed Khan, Abhinay Raj Singh, Ajay Devgan. A woman defies local conventions to become a major player in the Indian underworld.

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Genre: Crime Biography
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC West Oaks, Amstar Lake Mary, Cinemark Universal Citywalk
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Against the Ice (Wednesday)
Big Gold Brick (Friday)
The Burning Sea (Friday)
Caged Birds (Friday)
The Desperate Hour (Friday)
Destination Fear: Trail to Terror (Thursday)
Driven to Murder (Sunday)
Family Squares (Friday)
Girl in the Shed: The Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez (Saturday)
Hellbender (Thursday)
I’ll Find You (Friday)
Love, Tom (Thursday)
Love is Colorblind (Tuesday)
My Wonderful Life (Monday)
No Exit (Friday)
The Pink Cloud (Tuesday)
Restless (Friday)
Servants (Friday)
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming (Friday)

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Against the Ice
Butter
Cyrano
Family Squares
I’ll Find You
Love, Tom
No Exit
Studio 666




New Releases for the Week of June 4, 2021


THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT

(New Line) Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, John Noble, Eugene Bondurant. Directed by Michael Chaves

Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren take on one of their most difficult and wrenching cases yet; the possession of a young boy, leading to a historic case in which a suspect in a murder used demonic possession as a defense.

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Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for terror, disturbing images and violence)

American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally

(Vertical) Al Pacino, Meadow Williams, Carsten Norgaard, Marcus Rafinski. The story of Millard Gillars, an American woman in Germany who became infamous as Axis Sally, part of the propaganda arm of the Nazi war machine, and her subsequent trial for treason after the war.

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Genre: Biographical Drama
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: R (for a sexual assault)

The Dry

(IFC) Eric Bana, Genevieve O’Reilly, Keir O’Donnell, John Polson. A federal agent investigates a decades-old cold case involving the death of a teenage girl in his drought-stricken hometown which may have a connection to his own family.

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Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: R (for language throughout and violence)

Gully

(Vertical) Amber Heard, Charlie Plummer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Robin Givens. Three friends from a rough L.A. neighborhood go out on an all-night partying binge, but when their rampage ends, retribution begins.

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For more on the movie this is the website
Genre: Crime
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk, Universal Cinemark at CityWalk
Rating: R (for sexual content, a sexual assault, pervasive language, drug use and strong violence)

The Killing of Two Lovers

(NEON) Chris Coy, Clayne Crawford, Arri Graham, Bruce Graham. A man who struggles to keep his family together while he is separated from his wife. Though they have agreed to see other people during their separation, he struggles to come to terms with her new relationship.

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Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: NR

Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement

(PTC International) Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, H.R., Howard Wuelfing. A documentary about the punk scene in Washington DC in the 80s and 90s which spawned some of the most influential music of its era.

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

Spirit Untamed

(DreamWorks Animation) Starring the voices of Jake Gyllenhaal, McKenna Grace, Julianne Moore, Andre Braugher. A young girl’s life is changed forever when her family moves from the city to a frontier town, and she befriends a wild mustang she names Spirit.

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Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG (for some adventure action)

Super Frenchie

(Greenwich) Matthias Girard, Julien Carr, Todd Davis, Eric Roner. Coming from humble beginnings, Matthias Girard weighs his status as one of the premiere BASE jumpers and skiers in the world with the needs of raising his young family.

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Genre: Sports Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian
<Rating: NR

Undine

(IFC) Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz. A young historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development is dumped by her boyfriend, Undine is cursed to kill the man who betrayed her or return to the water from which she came.

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Genre: Fantasy
Now Playing: Enzian
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

The Carnivores
City of Ali
Death in Texas
Edge of the World
Flashback
Good Funk (Tuesday)
Grace and Grit
Monuments
My Tender Matador
The Real Thing
Under the Stadium Lights
The Unhealer (Tuesday)

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

City of Ali
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Super Frenchie

Jinn (2018)


East meets west.

(2018) Drama (Orion) Simone Missick, Zoe Renee, Hisham Tawfiq, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Dorian Missick, Kelly Jenrette, Ashlei Foushee, Maya Morales, Upasana Beharee, Damien D. Smith, Horace Dodd, John Zderko, Emily Adams, Megan Clancy, Kobie Dozier, Matthew Excel, Gabriel Garzaro, Sara Kamine, Mike C. Manning, Fahad Olayan, Che Ladon, Evelyn Smith, Kat Purgal. Directed by Nijla Mu’min

We use the term “coming of age” blithely when it comes to movies, but in reality, it is no easy thing. It is often excruciatingly painful and difficult to manage even under perfect circumstances. As we all know, circumstances are rarely perfect.

Summer Jennings (Renee) looks to have a near-perfect life. A beautiful African-American girl in her senior year in high school, she is in love with dance and is hoping to get in to Cal Arts. Her mother, Jade (S. Missick) has been divorced from her dad for a while, but she has a great job as a local TV meteorologist. Summer has a dance team – a clique, really – and plenty of friends.

Jade feels like she’s missing something in her life and one day decides to go to a mosque. She is received warmly there, particularly by the Imam (Tawfiq) and after an afternoon of prayers and reading the Koran, decides to convert to Islam. At first, with the school talent show coming up, Summer barely notices but the more Jade gets into it, the more zeal she has. She insists that Summer also convert and Summer does, but Summer is exploring her sexuality, as teenage girls will, and trying to fit her new religion into the life she’s used to. Her attraction to Tahir (Harrison), the son of another single mom at the mosque (Jenrette) further complicates things.

First time writer-director Mu’min based the script on her own experiences growing up in Oakland (the story is transplanted to Los Angeles) and in the richly drawn Summer the experience shows. Renee is quite a find, rarely making a misstep in her performance, showing a lot of maturity in her body language and in her choices. She is definitely a talent to look out for.

There is a feeling of authenticity to the relationships Summer has and the choices that she makes. Summer is not always the ideal daughter – she can be casually cruel to her friends and her burgeoning sexuality causes her to make some poor choices, but Summer is basically a decent young girl trying to find herself amidst all the hormones and most teens will certainly see some common ground with their own experiences, particularly African-American girls but I think regardless of ethnic background, there is some insight to be had here even if you are not a teen any longer.

The movie treats Islam with respect, something that is kind of rare these days. It is portrayed here as a kind and compassionate belief system. Yes, Jade does tend to go overboard with the strict adherence but that tends to be true of any convert to a new religion. We do see Jade having to cope with her station’s reluctance to allow her on the air wearing a head scarf, but the anti-Islam hysteria that has swept the nation over the past 20 years isn’t referred to much, just obliquely.

This is a very good film, although it is bound to make a lot of far right sorts apoplectic. The title refers to a mythical creature that changes its form, and refers to Summer, who is throughout the film trying new looks, new hairstyles (you could make a drinking game out of the various colors she dyes her hair). That is another part of being a teenage girl, finding a look that expresses who they are. This movie ought to help some girls, searching for an identity, to bring their choices into focus.

REASONS TO SEE: Strong movie for teens, particularly African-American girls.
REASONS TO AVOID: Tends to lean towards the soap opera side.
FAMILY VALUES: There is profanity as well as sexual content.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Dorian Missick, who play’s Jade’s ex-husband David, is married to Simone Missick (who plays Jade) in real life.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Google Plus, Microsoft, Vudu
CRITICAL MASS: As of 5/10/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 95% positive reviews, Metacritic: 70/100
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Waves
FINAL RATING: 8/10
NEXT:
Rewind

New Releases for the Week of November 22, 2019


FROZEN II

(Disney) Starring the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

Elsa has magical powers, that much we know, but where did they come from? The question has become more important with her kingdom hanging on the line, Elsa, Olaf, Anna, Kristoff and Sven must undergo an adventure that even Elsa’s powers may not be able to protect them on.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website
Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG (for action/ peril and some thematic elements)

21 Bridges

(STX) Chadwick Boseman, Siena Miller, Keith David, J.K. Simmons. The son of a slain cop is given responsibility to track down a pair of cop killers. As his investigation deepens, he goes from being the hunter to being the hunted.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Crime Drama
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for violence and language throughout)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

(TriStar) Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper. A jaded and broken reporter is assigned to interview Fred Rogers, and has his life transformed by the experience.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Biographical Drama
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG (for some strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild language)

The Irishman

(Netflix) Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin. A former World War II veteran who earned his living postwar as an operative for a notorious crime family, reminisces about his part in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. This is the latest from legendary director Martin Scorsese and is said to be one of his best ever.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Gangster
Now Playing: Enzian Theater
Rating: R (for some strong violence, and for language and brief nudity)

Waves

(A24) Kelvin Harrison Jr., Lucas Hedges, Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown. A suburban African-American family in South Florida led by a well-meaning but domineering father navigate the shoals of love and loss in this Oscar hopeful.
See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Romance
Now Playing: Enzian Theater (opens Wednesday)
Rating: R (for language throughout, drug and alcohol use, some sexual content and brief violence – all involving teens)

ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:

Adithya Varma
Age Out
The Courier
Pagalpanti

ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE/KEY WEST:

Adithya Varma
Age Out
Cunningham
Frankie
George Reddy
Pagalpanti
Synonyms

ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG/SARASOTA:

The Divine Move 2: The Wrathful
Edie
Pagalpanti

ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:

Adithya Varma
George Reddy
Pagalpanti

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

21 Bridges
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Synonyms
Waves

FILM FESTIVALS TAKING PLACE IN FLORIDA:

Key West Film Festival, Key West FL
Ocean Dance International Film Festival, Miami FL