New Releases for the Week of October 29, 2021


THE FRENCH DISPATCH

(Searchlight) Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Bill Murray. Directed by Wes Anderson

The latest from the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel is described as a love letter to journalists, who are in this case stationed in a fictional town in France for an American newspaper during the 20th century. There, the stories published in the newspaper under the title “The French Dispatch” are brought to life.

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

Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Cinemark Orlando, Enzian, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for graphic nudity, some sexual references and language)

13 Minutes

(Quiver) Thora Birch, Amy Smart, Anne Heche, Peter Facinelli. On an ordinary spring day in a small town in America’s heartland, residents are given just 13 minutes warning to find shelter when the largest tornado on record hits the town head-on. Four families will experience the terror of trying to find loved ones in the chaos and fighting for their lives in the wake of complete and utter devastation.

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

Genre: Action
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs
Rating: PG-13 (for peril, bloody images, thematic elements and some strong language)

A Mouthful of Air

(Stage 6) Amanda Seyfried, Finn Wittrock, Britt Robertson, Paul Giamatti. A woman who writes children’s books about unlocking your fears has managed to get through life without facing her own. That all will change when her daughter is born and the trauma of her past is brought into focus.

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

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Amstar Lake Mary, CMX Merritt Square, Regal Oviedo Marketplace, Regal Pointe Orlando, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for some language)

Antlers

(Searchlight) Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene. In a small Oregon town, a middle school teacher and her sheriff brother become embroiled with one of her students who has a dark connection to a terrifying ancient creature.

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

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for violence including gruesome images, and for language)

Daisy’s Dream

(Vertical) Starring the voices of Angourie Rice, Sam Neill, Sharnee Tones, Grant Denyer. An abundantly adorable quokka dreams of being named the World’s Scariest Animal. With not much hope of that happening on its own, she enlists the help of a former champion, a grouchy saltwater crocodile.

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

Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

Heart of Champions

(Vertical) Michael Shannon, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Alex MacNicoll. A college rowing team descends into petty infighting and bickering after finishing last in the national championship tournament. A new coach, an Army veteran, uses his experience to get the young men to move past their rivalries and work together as a unit.

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

Genre: Sports Drama
Now Playing: Premiere Fashion Square
Rating: PG-13 (for some violence, suggestive material, partial nudity, and brief strong language)

Last Night in Soho

(Focus) Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp. A mousy aspiring fashion designer discovers she has the ability to project herself into the 1960s where she encounters a glamorous singer. But there is something far darker going on, and by the time she discovers what it is, it may already be too late to save herself.

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

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for bloody violence, sexual content, language, brief drug content and brief graphic nudity)

My Hero Academia: World Heroes Mission

(FUNimation) Starring the voices of Tetsu Inada, Yûki Kaji, Kenta Miyake, Daiki Yamashita. Japan’s greatest superheroes track down the perpetrator of a dastardly chemical attack.

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

Genre: Animé
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: PG-13 (for violent material, bloody images and some language)

Romantic

(Puri) Ramya Krishnan, Akash Puri, Ketika Sharma, Satya Aditya Bonepalli. Two young people fall deeply in love and begin to explore their sensual sides.

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

Genre: Romance
Now Playing: Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

Varudu Kaavalenu

(Sithara) Ritu Varma, Murli Sharma, Naga Shaurya, Viashnavi Chaitanya. Plot details not released.

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

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Now Playing: Amstar Lake Mary, Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Army of Thieves
Horror Noire
(Thursday)
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Snakehead
Son of Monarchs
(Tuesday)
The Spine of Night

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Antlers
Army of Thieves
The French Dispatch
Last Night in Soho
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Son of Monarchs

 

 

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Magic in the Moonlight


Emma Stone is shocked to discover she's co-starring with an Oscar winner.

Emma Stone is shocked to discover she’s co-starring with an Oscar winner.

(2014) Romantic Comedy (Sony Classics) Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney, Hamish Linklater, Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, George Shamos, Erica Leerhsen, Catherine McCormack, Ute Lemper, Didier Muller, Peter Wollasch, Antonia Clarke, Natasha Andrews, Valerie Beaulieu, Lionel Abelanski. Directed by Woody Allen

The world is fairly evenly divided between the romantic and the pragmatic. Pragmatists believe that everything is explainable and that there is little to no mystery left in the world. Romantics believe that there is much more to life than what the senses perceive and that there are things in the world that can only be described as magic.

Stanley (Firth) certainly counts himself among the pragmatic although, perhaps oddly, he makes his living as a magician, masquerading as a Chinese illusionist named Wei Ling Soo. While he would say that he does so to maintain his privacy as well as the illusion of mystery, it seems somewhat hypocritical at the very least and cynical for certain. In 1928, however, this isn’t really an issue.

Stanley is the sort that can alienate the nicest of people in a matter of seconds. Pompous, arrogant and smug, he is completely certain that he is right in all things and the smartest person in the room. The trouble is, he usually is. He is engaged to Olivia (McCormack), a fellow intellectual pragmatic and a fine looking woman as well. They are very well-matched on the surface and Stanley feels a good deal of affection towards his bride-to-be. At the end of his world tour, he intends to vacation in the Galapagos with her.

 

However at the close of his Berlin show he is met by his old friend and fellow illusionist Howard Burkan (McBurney) who comes to him with a challenge. A woman by the name of Sophie Baker (Stone) purporting to be a psychic has attached herself to the Catledge family of Pittsburgh who happen to be friends of his. Their callow son Brice (Linklater) has become smitten with the girl, having already proposed marriage. Mother Grace (Weaver) is obsessed with making contact with her lately departed industrialist husband.

Stanley, a notable debunker of charlatans, leaps at the chance. Burkan drives him to their home in the South of France with a brief stop to lunch with Stanley’s dear Aunt Vanessa (Atkins) who practically raised him and instilled in him the practicality that makes up his personality, although she despairs at his prickliness that makes him something of a social hand grenade.

Nobody knows who Stanley is once they arrive at the Catledge villa; he introduces himself as an importer of Brazilian coffee beans. He meets Sophie and her suspicious mother (Harden) and proceeds to let slip his disbelief in the occult. However at a séance, he is unable to detect how she makes a candle levitate nor does she seem to be the source of the rapping noises that are overheard. The great debunker has to admit he’s perplexed.

 

He grows further so when she seems to know things she couldn’t possibly know – even Aunt Vanessa is taken with the charming young lass. The more he begins to doubt his own convictions, the more alive Stanley feels – and the more he begins to fall for the beautiful young girl. However, he can’t keep that nagging feeling out of his head that there is no such thing as magic. It’s a war in his soul for which it seems there can be no compromise.

Allen has been in a bit of a career renaissance in his 70s with nine films released including two of his most acclaimed and commercially successful – Blue Jasmine and Midnight in Paris. I will admit that I had fallen out of love with Allen not long after Broadway Danny Rose and The Purple Rose of Cairo – it seemed to me that most of his movies between then and now were passionless and seemed to be the work of someone who was working to stay busy. However Midnight in Paris did change my mind and I have again begun to look forward to his new movies – not that all of them have been great. Still I had high hopes for this one.

It is charming to be sure, a throwback to an early era – not just the era of the flapper when this is set, but also to the comedies of the ’70s which this is more akin to which were in turn inspired by comedies of the 30s and 40s. Call this a throwback of a throwback if you will.

 

Firth proves himself a phenomenal performer, once again showing that he may be the best male actor of this decade. His Stanley takes the guise of an inscrutable Oriental because Stanley himself is inscrutable; for all his bluster and bravado he is unable to express his emotions any better than those he despises can express their intellect. Stanley is clearly not a likable fellow yet Firth makes us like him in spite of his faults and by the time the movie ends, Stanley has made an organic and believable change. It’s not just good writing that accomplishes this – Firth makes it real.

Most of the rest of the cast does the kind of solid work you’d expect from a cast with this kind of pedigree – not to mention from a Woody Allen movie. Allen has always been able to get good performances from his actors.

I’ll have to admit that the second act seems a bit rushed and that the movie ends up a little bit more neatly tied up in a bow than I might have expected. I supposed when you’re 79 years old and you’re still churning out a movie every year (and sometimes more) without fail, you can be forgiven for taking a few short cuts.

 

Nonetheless this is solidly entertaining and charming. I have to admit that I do love movies set in this era and I love those kind of 70s-era all-star events that made the Agatha Christie movies so entertaining. While not a murder mystery per se, it has some elements you’d find in a movie by the mistress of the murder mystery. If Allen continues to make movies of this quality, I for one won’t be disappointed.

REASONS TO GO: Colin Firth is really, really good. Overall charming and recalls not only the Roaring ’20s but also the ’70s as well.

REASONS TO STAY: Ending is rushed a little bit. A few shortcuts are taken.

FAMILY VALUES:  There’s some innuendo and period smoking (which is apparently a big no-no for the MPAA these days).

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This is the ninth movie made while Woody Allen was in his 70s. Should he release a movie next year, it will be his tenth.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 8/27/14: Rotten Tomatoes: 48% positive reviews. Metacritic: 54/100.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: The Great Gatsby

FINAL RATING: 7/10

NEXT: The Giver