Movies at a Glance & New DVDs



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1917 (1hr 50min) **** ½  Recommended. Director/writer Sam Mendes’ WWI drama plunges the viewer alongside two young British soldiers experiencing the fear and horror of the front-line trenches. 1917 casts you into the heart of the battle following two young British soldiers through the trenches in one extended tracking shot throwing the audience into the action. Heartbreakingly real with the tension ramped high, the two undertake a nearly impossible mission through no-man’s land to save countless lives.  Scattered bodies, horses’ corpses, with rats feasting on the dead, paint a graphic picture of the living hell of war.  A crashing bi-plane, being swept up in a torrential river, German snipers in a bombed village at night, hauntingly illuminated by falling flares, adds to the dramatic action – interspersed with quieter emotional moments – traveling on a truck with soldiers from another division, who laugh and joke about anything and everything except the war. Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch book-end the movie alongside stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman. 1917 won Best Film at the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, the Producers' Guild Awards and the Directors' Guild Awards. (Park, Scotiabank Theatre, Park Royal, Metropolis). From guest reviewer producer Hugh Beard.
6 UNDERGROUND  (2hrs 8min)  **  Director Michael Bay is best known for his big budget, high concept, excessive special effects action films but is held in low esteem by. His latest effort wont change that.  An unnamed do-gooder American miniature magnets billionaire the critics (Ryan Reynolds) faked his own death so he could resurrect himself as a Ghost leader known as One to form a vigilante squad to liquidate terrorist leaders that governments would avoid antagonizing. He then approached five others to copy his lead by faking their deaths, Ghost Two being French spy Camille (Melanie Laurent), Three is hitman Javier (Manuel Garcia-Ruffo), Four is thief Billy (Ben Hardy), Five is doctor Amelia (Adria Ardona), and Six is parkour expert Dave Franco. their first target is the lawyer of four generals of the brutal fictitious middle-Eastern regime of Turgistan and his location is Florence in Italy. They plan to topple Turgistan's government and replace the ruthless General with his imprisoned brother Murat. Then follows indiscriminate ludicrous gory violence with killings, explosions and chases around the world. Visually stunning, if you turn your brain off, you might enjoy this. (Netflix).
NEW: THE ASSISTANT (1hr 25min) ** ½  This is the day in the life of Jane (Julia Garner), a former graduate of Northwestern College and an aspiring producer, who is now in a junior secretarial job in the Manhattan office of a renowned movie mogul (we never see him but Harvey Weinstein comes to mind) surrounded with male assistants of the boss. It’s Monday and she is up in her apartment before dawn and is driven to the production offices. For half an hour, we watch her perform her mundane daily chores. After turning on the lights, she gets coffee going while having her bowl of cheerios. She is then on the phone confirming flights and rooms at the hotel Peninsular in Los Angeles, followed by photo-copying scripts, taking phone calls, scheduling appointments, cleaning up trash, restocking items, and distributing water bottles. Apparently there were 400 people vying for her job and she is anxious to make a success at it. Gradually the other assistants start arriving. Meanwhile she puts up with accusing calls from the boss’ irate wife and then the boss, abusively screaming on the phone with Jane apologizing, and the other assistants watching. When tidying up, Jane comes across a single earring on the executive’s office floor. An attractive nervous young girl who was there earlier, came back to claim it.  The boss had booked gorgeous Sienna (Kristine Frøseth) into a luxurious hotel room for a meet and greet for a job consideration. Jane decided to visit human resources director Wilcock (Matthew Macfadyen) and report the earring incident. “Tell me what you want me to do here?” he asked, “I’ll file a complaint for you but you know how that will come off,” then sarcastically “Jealous? You don’t have anything to worry about. You’re not his type!” Devastated, she returned to the office, knowing her visit would be reported to the Boss.  She had no choice but to start to type, “ I regret the inconvenience I caused. I overreacted. It was not my place to question your decisions. I appreciate the continued opportunity to work with you and will not let you down again.”  We assume director/co-writer Kitty Green based her story on disgraced executive producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual activities while head of the Weinstein Company. Similar is the current film Bombshell about the women at Fox News who set out to expose CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Sorry, Kitty, I fear this is too little too late to attract the masses. Still, it's worth seeing. (Intl Village)
BAD BOYS FOR LIFE (2hrs 3min) *** ½  'Willing suspension of disbelief' goes a long way to enjoying Will Smith and Martin Lawrence's third 'Bad Boys’ buddy-formula movie. It's funny, entertaining, with a sharp, witty script, and spectacular action scenes. Miami narcotics detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) are having the time of their lives racing through downtown streets with lots of bad-boy banter. Formerly partners, Marcus is now a grandfather and wants to retire to his family. Mike plans to chase crooks for the rest of his life. Bringing them back together is Isabel (Kate del Castillo), wife of a Mexican drug lord they put away years ago, and her vengeful son, Armando (Jacob Scipio). They are hell-bent on assassinating everyone involved in sending Isabel to jail, especially Mike. A clever twist sheds new light on Isabel and Mike's past relationship. (Scotiabank Theatre, Park Royal, Metropolis)  From guest reviewer producer Hugh Beard.   
COME TO DADDY (1hr 33min) * ½  In all fairness to this bizarre gruesome horror Canadian film,  it has a positive approval rating of 95% from 40 reviewers with only 3 disapprovals.  For the curious, be prepared for “graphic nudity, sexual content and “strong” language throughout!”  Here’s the story.  When 35 year old musician Norval Greenwood (Elijah Wood) receives a letter to visit him from his estranged father he hasn’t seen since he was 5, curious, he heads off to a remote hideaway in an Oregon forest overlooking a lake to reconnect with dad.  Initially unreceptive, he invites him in, but is that daddy, then attacking him and dropping dead? Underneath a carpet he finds a hatch leading down to a large bunker and there he finds his father David, beaten, bloodied and chained up, with three strangers determined to get information about their stolen money out of him. (Rio Theatre). . .
DOLEMITE IS MY NAME (1hr 58min) *** Essentially for, by and with blacks, the motherf***** word is in every sentence. Production values are high, including performances, direction, camerawork, set design and score, with a strong comeback performance by Eddie Murphy as filmmaker/comedian Rudy Ray Moore portraying outrageous flamboyant character Dolemite on stage and in blaxploitation films as from 1975, utilizing sex, violence and drugs to shock and provoke audiences. In 1973 Los Angeles, Moore was a struggling singer in a record store, having problems getting his music played. At night as MC at an African-American club he created an alter-ego the “baddest motherf***** ever” called Dolemite, decked out in gaudy pimp outfits, and he was a hit. Crude, foul-mouthed records of his stage act led to him creating his own cheap, bawdy film which in turn became hugely successful blaxploitation films. He persuaded lonely, downcast, ex-back up singer Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) to join him on stage and then recruited writer (Keegan-Michael Keya), a former actor D’Urville Martin  (Wesley Snipes) as director and inexperienced UCLA students as technicians for his chaotic raunchy films. (Netflix)
FORD v FERRARI (2hrs 32min) *** The Italian luxury sports car Ferrari Company had consistently won the prestigious Le Mans race which frustrated Ford president Henry Ford 11 (Tracy Letts) and executive Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal). Ford commissioned engineers and designers to build a new racing car, the Ford GT 40, to defeat Ferrari at Le Mans.  He hired manufacturer and retired ’59 Le Mans winner, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), who chose erratic racing car engineer and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as chief test driver. They worked out the design flaws of the GT 40 Mk 1 prototype but Shelby chose two other drivers for the 1964 Le Mans and no Ford finished the race. Ford was furious but allowed Shelby to solve the problem of why the car broke down. A test and fiery brake failure almost killed Miles. The constant sparring between Damon and Bale is fun and the racing well photographed but it’s overlong and the technical details of the car problems were tedious. It’s worth seeing for Bale’s performance. (Intl Village)  
FROZEN 11. (1hr 44min) *** ½ Animation. On a budget of $150 million, the 2013 original grossed $1.276 Billion, and now here’s the exquisite sequel. The songs are again written by Robert Lopez and  Kristen Anderson-Lopez, with Into the Unknown the lead single. It starts with King Agnan of Arendelle  (Alfred Molina) and Queen Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood) telling their children Elsa and Anna a complicated mythology about an enchanted forest, surrounded by a powerful mist, ruled by four stones representing earth, air, fire and water. Agnam entered the enchanted forest to make peace with the “Northuldra” but something went wrong and the tribe was forever trapped in the locked-down forest. Years later, Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) hears a mysterious voice beckoning her “into the unknown” forest to confront a family secret. And so the adventures start with Elsa joined by Princess Anna (Kristen Bell), her boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Sven the Reindeer and wise-cracking snowman Olaf (Josh Gad). Elsa discovers the true source of her powers, but Arandelle is in danger as she has awoken massive powerful spirits. This is now the highest grossing animated film ever!  (Intl Village, Metropolis)
THE GENTLEMEN (1hr 43min) *** ½ Fans of writer/director Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock and Two Smokin' Barrels will love this black comedy crime thriller set in London’s East End’s underworld. Ruthless American billionaire Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) when at Oxford sold pot to wealthy students and built a marijuana empire by cutting lucrative private deals with impoverished British aristocrats, creating labs under their estates. He and wife Rosalind (Michelle Dochery) want retirement and to sell his business to billionaire Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong). The talk of a sale of this magnitude immediately sparks a turf war. Tabloid editor’s (Eddie Marsan) snub led to him approaching blackmailing investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant) to trace the shady dealings and to sell his findings to Pearson’s wily right-hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam). Chinese gangster Dry Eye (Henry Golding) made an offer and was thrown out. Young amateur boxers break into Pearson’s lab but are stopped by Coach (Colin Farrell) who apologetically offers his services to Raymond. The stylish film is highly entertaining with snappy dialogue and an unusual cast performing brilliantly. (Fifth Avenue, Scotiabank Theatre, Metropolis) 
THE HIGHWAYMEN (2hrs 12min) *** This has been in development by writer John Fusco since 2005 initially as a Paul Newman and Robert Redford project about a couple of retired Texas Rangers who were hired to apprehend notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde. Texas governor "Ma" Ferguson (Kathy Bates) disbanded the Texas Rangers to introduce a new younger generation of law enforcement officers and high on their wanted list was trigger happy, wild and young Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow whose crime spree started in 1931 ending in 1934, killing 9 lawmen during that time. Unable to apprehend them and stung by bad publicity, Ma called out of retirement and gave "highwaymen" status to former Ranger Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) and Manny Gault (Woody Harrelson) and the overly long film follows their exploits in tracking down and eventually killing the celebrated murderous wild and young couple. Much of the film relies on the officers' chemistry, including a lot of dry humour, and director John Lee Hancock made the perfect choice of old pros Costner and Harrelson. (Netflix)
NEW: HORSE GIRL (1hr 44min) * ½  Looking for a weird psychological movie?  If so, you’ve come to the right place. Sweet, simple, somewhat socially awkward and timid Sarah (strong performance byAlison Brie) works in an arts and crafts store alongside her boss Joan (Molly Shannon). She especially enjoys watching at the stables specifically a horse that used to be hers (we’re not told what happened) and is now ridden by a teenager to whom she gives unwanted advice. Her guilty pleasure in the apartment is watching reruns of supernatural sci-fi crime shows like Purgatory. Her room mate Nikki (Debby Ryan) introduces her to her boy friend Brian’s (Jake Pickering) shy buddy Darren (John Reynolds), recently split from a relationship and who incidentally has the same name as Purgatory’s hero. Against all odds the two hit it off and she announced she had a boyfriend.  At night Brian finds Sarah in the dark with her face pressed against the blank wall which has strange scratches. Is she just sleep-walking? We begin to get an idea of likeable Sarah’s declining mental state and her warped perception of reality, and we, watching her downward spiral, are entirely sympathetic. She is prone to nose bleeds and having strange visions and recurring nightmares. She receives some monetary support and a car from her wealthy step-father Gary (Paul Reiser), following her mother’s mental breakdown and suicide. In Sarah’s strange frightful visions and hallucinations with time shifting experiences, she believes she is the clone of an alien abduction and that she is her grandmother’s clone!   Her first meeting with Darren ended in a kiss and their second was a dinner date and, in an extended sequence which starts off romantically, ends with a drive to the cemetery and her disturbing, heartbreaking babbling about clones while listing off conspiracy theories to explain her current state which terrifies Darren.  Initially you may think this is going to be a quirky comedy, which incidentally was co-written by Brie and director Jeff Baena, but then we learn both her mother and grandmother had severe mental health issues. Be forewarned this is hard to watch and could be disturbing to some audiences. (Netflix) 
IN THE TALL GRASS (1hr 30min) ** ½ "After hearing a young boy's cry for help, a brother and sister venture into a vast field of grass in Kansas but soon discover that there may be no way out."  Based on a novella by Stephan King and son Joe Hill, Vincenzo Natali should have adapted and directed a shorter film. Pregnant Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and brother Cal (Avery Whitted), driving to San Diego, pull up beside fields of tall grass opposite an old church. Becky hears a distraught young boy, Tobin (Will Buie Jr.) and his mother Natalie (Rachel Wilson), calling for help and, curious, they are lured into the grass, become separated and lost. Tobin’s father Ross (Patrick Wilson) shows up looking for his son while Tobin finds Cal and shows him a mysterious ancient rock. When Travis (Harrison Gilbertson), father of Becky’s baby, finds out that the siblings have not shown up at their destination, he looks for them, finding their car by the church, and he enters the grass searching for them.  But then a car arrives at the church and it’s Ross, Natalie and Tobin who chase after their dog heading into the field at the sound of Travis' voice calling for Becky!  Intrigued?  It gets really convoluted with excessive repetition. (Netflix)
THE IRISHMAN (3hrs 19min) **** Recommended.  Director Martin Scorsese can count on numerous award nominations with his epic crime drama based on I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. Cancer-ridden, wheel-chair bound, War vet Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Nero) in a Philadelphia nursing home reminisces about his career as a Labour leader and a Mafia hitman. In the 1950s, Sheeran, driving meat delivery trucks, made deals with Befalino crime family’s Felix (Bobby Cannavale). When arrested, family lawyer Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano) got him off and he started working for boss Russell Bofalino (Joe Pesci) as mob enforcer. Russell introduced him to popular Teamsters union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), wife Maryanne (Jennifer Mudge) and daughter Peggy (Anna Paquin) who disapproved of dad’s criminal life. He became bodyguard for Hoffa who eventually got arrested and jailed for jury tampering. His Teamsters replacement was Frank Fitzsimmons (Gary Basaraba) who squandered the union’s resources, aggravating Hoffa. On release, Hoffa was forbidden to participate in Teamsters activities but openly planned to regain Teamsters control where he was no longer accepted. The crime families’ heads were not happy and Hoffa’s death was sanctioned.  Powerful and totally engrossing unfortunately with a drawn out unnecessary ending! (Netflix)
JOJO RABBIT (1hr 48min) *** ½ What a captivating satirical black comedy this is with screenplay and direction by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi. Based on Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, the 1940s-set story of brainwashed 10 year old Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) a loyal Hitler Youth whose mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), was hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin MacKenzie) in their home behind a false wall. Jojo is fiercely patriotic with an imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (Waititi) with whom he converses regularly. He and tubby buddy Yorki (Archie Yates) attend a Hitler Youth Training camp run by Nazi Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell) with assistants Finkel (Alfie Allen) and Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson). To pass “the test,” Jojo must kill a rabbit and, when he can’t, he runs off with the boys calling him Jojo Rabbit. There’s lots of dark funny stuff as well as the macabre, such as bodies hanging in the town square (“they did what they could”). The casting is perfect. Davis is superb, and all this is highly original and entertaining. (Intl Village)
JUST MERCY (2hrs 16min)  *** ½ Just Mercy dramatizes a real-life injustice with solid performances, guided by the steady directorial hand of Destin Daniel Cretton. Don't be swayed by the Oscar snub – Just Mercy is worth seeing.  After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jorden) heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned. He learns that a high-profile case against a death row inmate had been trumped up, ignoring the testimony of black witnesses who swear they were with him at the time of the murder. Based on the true-life story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), sentenced to death for the murder of an 18-year-old white girl in an Alabama town, justice is blinded by the white folk's outrage of the brutality of the killing, putting the prosecutors and police under enormous pressure to bring closure to the town by quickly solving the case. Stevenson encounters racism and a shocking setback as he tirelessly fights to save McMillian's life.  (Intl Village)  From guest reviewer producer Hugh Beard.
THE KING (2 hrs 20min) ** ½  Based on several plays of William Shakespeare’s Henraid, it was re-written by Australians director David Michod and filmmaker Joel Edgerton. The meticulous production is sumptuous early 15th century, but the dialogue ponderously dull.  Slight, delicate Timothee Chalamet as King Henry V was not the right choice while Sir John Falstaff (Edgerton) is serious and silent here compared to his comic Shakespeare creation. When brother Thomas (Dean-Charles Chapman) and estranged dad Henry 1V (Ben Mendelsohn) died, rebellious, drinking and carousing son Prince Hal on his ascension to the throne changed his ways, becoming responsible but surely. The arrogant Dauphin of France (Robert Pattinson) sent an assassin to kill him, failed and taunted him into war. Vastly outnumbered by the French, the Duke of Dorset (Steven Elder) recommended retreat but Falstaff forecasts heavy overnight rain which would cause the French in heavy metal armour and on horseback to be bogged down in mud, trying to avoid English lethal long-bowmen’s accuracy. The battle of Agincourt is well directed and choreographed in this otherwise overrated bland screenplay. (Netflix)
THE LAUNDROMAT (1hr 36min) ** Director, photographer, editor Steven Soderbergh has gathered an impressive cast including Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Sharon Stone, David Schwimmer, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeffrey Wright, Will Forte and James Cromwell for his biographical comedy-drama. Documents containing personal financial information about wealthy individuals and public officials had previously been kept private. While offshore business entities are legal, some of the shell corporations were used for illegal purposes, including fraud, evasion of tax and international sanctions, till 2016 and the Panama Papers. Crooked firm founders, Jurgen Mossack (Oldman) and Ramon Fonseca (Banderas), explain the scam (“tax avoidance is not tax evasion”). A New York widow (Streep), curious about a meagre insurance payout, discovered a West Indies building full of P.O. boxes, with millions of files linking offshore tax schemes to the world’s wealthiest. The contract was with a dubious cheap insurance company fraudulently sold to another company, and these were shell companies that didn’t exist. Based on actual secrets, the Panama Papers reportedly revealed Donald Trump’s name 3,450 times! (Netflix)
LITTLE WOMEN  (2hrs 15min) *** ½ Published in 1968, it follows the lives of four sisters, Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy, daughters of Father (Bob Odenkirk) and Marmee March (Laura Dern), from teenagers to adulthood. Actress-turned-director/writer Greta Gerwig’s direction is flawless as are the settings, costumes and performers.. Jo (Saorise Ronan) is headstrong, tomboyish and anxious to break into the literary world.  Meg (Emma Watson) wants to start a family preferably with John Brooks (James Norton), tutor to family friend Laurie (Timothee Chalamet) who is in love with Jo. Wanting to be a musician, Beth (Eliza Scanlen) loves the piano and is invited to play in the home of Laurie’s grandfather Mr. Lawrence (Chris Cooper). Amy (Florence Pugh) wants an artistic life and has a crush on Laurie, though realizing he loves Jo.  In New York, Jo meets German teacher Friedrich Bhaer (Louis Garrel) who initially is critical of her efforts at writing a book. Then there’s judgmental cantankerous Great Aunt March (Meryl Streep) who believes women should be obedient fir a good marriage! You girls know the familiar story.  (Intl Village, Fifth Avenue)  
MARRIAGE STORY (2hrs 16min) **** Recommended. Netflix’s witty, smart, heartbreaking family drama written, directed and produced by Noah Baumbach is nominated for numerous Awards.  Theatrical director Charlie (Adam Driver) and actress wife Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) live in New York where they adore 8 year old son Henry (Azhy Robertson). Nicole accepts a lead role in a, L.A. TV pilot, and, with Henry, moves in with mother (Julie Hagerty).  Surprisingly the couple is discussing separation but want to split amicably, avoiding lawyers. Nicole hires a high-powered divorce lawyer (Laura Dern) to whom she admits to being mentally swamped by egotistical Charlie. In L.A. to visit, Charlie is served with divorce papers. Lawyer Jay (Ray Liotta) advises playing dirty which Charlie refuses. He rents an apartment to be near Henry and hires family lawyer  Bert (Alan Alda). In court there’s a ferocious battle between the lawyers. The couple decides to talk but that ends in devastating, bitter accusations. They’re essentially good, imperfect, loving people, but can they reconcile for Henry’s sake?  (Netflix)
MURDER MYSTERY (1hr 37min) ** Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston are together again in a comedy mystery. Pity the film isn’t near the standard of the gorgeous European locations. Police officer Nick Spitz (Sandler) and wife Audrey (Aniston) fly to Europe for their long delayed honeymoon’s 15th anniversary. On the flight she meets billionaire viscount Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans) and he invites them to join a party on the family super yacht in Monte Carlo, which includes Cavendish’s ex-fiancee Suzi (Shiori Kutsuna), his cousin Toby (David Walliams), actress Grace Ballard (Gemma Arterton), Colonel Ulenga (John Kari), bodyguard Sergei (Olafur Darri Olafsson), Maharajah Vikram (Adeel Akhtar) and Grand Prix driver Juan Carlos (Luis Gerard Mendez). Their host, billionaire Malcolm Quince (Terence Stamp), announces he has a new will eliminating all of them, and then the murders start. Sorry, this is tedious, boring and dull. (Netflix)
PARASITE (2hrs 12min) ***½  Sub-titled. South Korean director Bong Joon-ho and his satirical black comedy thriller won the Palme d’Or major awards, involving two contrasting families: the Kims, poverty-stricken con artists, and the Parks, vulnerable, wealthy upper class. When a student friend suggests Kim’s son should temporarily take over his lucrative job of teaching English to the Parks’ daughter, that leads to the scheming Kim family getting both chauffeur and loyal housekeeper fired while dad and mom replace them and his sister is given the job of teaching art to the Park’s son. When they leave for a brief holiday, the Kims make themselves at home, contemplating life as permanent residents. The sacked housekeeper makes an unexpected return, saying she left something in the basement. That turns out to be her husband, living in a hidden secret furnished bunker for years. They panic when the Parks phone that they are returning home immediately and the culprits are forced to hide. To go any further would necessitate revealing plot spoilers with multiple twisted grisly blood splattered revelations and reversals. The film is overlong with later slow elongated scenes. It surprisingly won Best Picture, Best Director and Screenplay at the Oscars but unsurprisingly Best International Feature Film. Definitely not my choice!  (Fifth Avenue).
TAYLOR SWIFT: MISS AMERICANA (1hr 26min) *** ½ This is documentary filmmaker Lana Wilson’s look at the career of the 30 year old award winning singer / songwriter.  At 13 she started to write and sing her own songs and at 15 she signed a Country Music record deal, the youngest person to write and perform a #1 single on the Country Charts.  Her second album won her 4 Grammy awards and youngest Album of the Year winner. She had extraordinary pop chart success and endless sold out shows and awards. “A nice girl smiles and waves and says thank you. I became the person everyone wanted me to be.”  At 2009 VMAs accepting Best Female Video Award, she was interrupted by rapper Kanye West and the conflict escalated on social media. A backlash led to her disappearing from the spotlight. It was then she broke her silence on politics, having always been told,  “Don’t force your politics on people,”  “I feel good about not being muzzled anymore.” .She’s beautiful, genuine, intelligent and articulate and it’s easy to like her. The special is uneven but a must see for her fans. (Netflix) 
THE TRAITOR  (2hrs 25min)  *** The autobiography is about Corleone’s powerful, wealthy Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino), the first Mafia boss who in 1987 betrayed his Sicilian syndicate by turning informant to Judge Salvatore Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi), eventually entering Witness Protection in the United States and opening the door for future defections in Italian organized crime. In 1984 Palermo attended a clan meeting with members of both Sicilian Mafia families having brokered a fragile truce while dividing Italy’s growing heroin trade. Rival new boss Totò Riina (Nicola Calì) systematically massacred his rivals and families.  Buscetta took his third wife (Maria Candida Fernando) and six children to Rio de Janeiro, leaving his two sons in the care of trusted Pippo Calo’ (Fabrizio Ferracane). Fatal! Buscetta was extradited back to Italy while his family fled to Florida. Imprisoned, he gradually opened up to Judge Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi). and he began coupling names and their victims to photos. A lengthy repetitious sequence of the bizarre, chaotic Maxi Trial lasted from 1986 to ’92 and resulted in 366 Mafioso being jailed. (Intl Village) 
THE TWO POPES (2hrs 5min) **** ½ Recommended.  My choice for 2019’s best film is director Fernando Meirelles’ biographical, vastly humorous and entertaining drama written by Anthony McCarerten. Bavaria’s Pope Benedict XV1, born Joseph Ratzinger, headed the Catholic Church from 2005 till his unexpected resignation in 2013. He was succeeded by Argentine’s Pope Francis, born Jorge Bergoglio.  On John Paul 11’s death, the conclave elected Ratzinger as new Pope while Bergoglio was runner-up. In the ensuing seven years, Catholicism suffered a succession of scandals and cover-ups (pedophile priests). A flashback covers Bergoglio’s youth leading to his conversation with a priest, prompting his decision to join the Jesuit priesthood. When his letters of resignation were ignored, he flew to Rome, not realizing Benedict had invited him to visit. Their first meeting is an intelligent sharply written sequence with the two men debating heatedly over the rule of God and the church’s current role. The next day there’s another superbly written conversation, more personal and relaxed, with Benedict playing piano and watching his TV show “Inspector Rex” Both are Beatles fans!  The following day both men confess their past serious failings (“All humans make mistakes’). The final scene years later shows the two Popes enjoying pizza while watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final between Germany and Argentine! Multi-Award nominations!  Bellissimo!  (Netflix)
UNCUT GEMS (2hrs 15min)  ** ½  Adam Sandler gives the performance of his career as he yells his way throughout two hours, with the f word in virtually every sentence.. In 2012 New York City, Howard Ratner (Sandler), a jeweller and a sporting events gambling addict, struggles to pay massive debts, including $100,000 owed his loan shark brother-in-law Amo (Eric Bogosian), always accompanied by henchman Phil (Keith Williams Richards)  Howard owns a Gems and Jewellry store that includes his young mistress Julie (Julia Fox) who he intends to marry after Passover following a divorce from Dinah (Idina Menzel).  Howard receives an uncut black opal embalmed in a rock from Ethiopia, and wants to sell it for a million to solve his debt problems. Basketball superstar Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics wants to borrow it for luck to that night’s game and in return leaves Howard his Celtics championship ring as collateral. Howard sneakily pawns the ring and places a bet on Garnett to win. He does, and the gang comes after Ratner for the money owed. Frankly I found it monotonous and overly long. (Netflix)  
THE WITCHER  (TV series of 8 episodes. Each 1hr) * ½  It’s a heavy confusing mess so watch it for the elaborate effects and fight sequences. In Episode 1, hero Geralt Rivua (Henry Cavill) bursts out of a lake in an impressive battle with a giant kikimora. Episode 4 has dazzling effects followed by boring dialogue in Episode 5. This is the English adaptation of the short stories and novels by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski of Witcher (Spellmaker), influenced by Slavik mythology. White wigged Geralt, possessing superhuman physical and mental abilities, has been trained since childhood as a monster hunter. Other main characters are Ciri (Freya Allan), granddaughter of Queen Calanthe of Cintra (Johdi May) and Geralt’s adopted daughter, and powerful sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) who has a complex close relationship with Geralt.  Initially, Yennefer is a hunchback with Elven heritage! The stories jump around and go backwards and forwards hopelessly in an incomprehensible convoluted manner. The editing is appalling, the dialogue wooden and the acting and story line disappointing. (Netflix)   

                                                              NEW DVDs....

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday February 18
21 BRIDGES  Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, Stephan James, Keith David, Taylor Kitsch, J.K. Simmons
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper
JO JO RABBIT Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant,
MIDWAY Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart,Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Woody Harrelson

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday February 25
FROZEN 11  Animation Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina
KNIVES OUT Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette
OPHELIA   Daisy Ridley, Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, George MacKay, Tom Felton, Devon Terrell

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday March 3.
DARK WATERS Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, Bill Pullman
PLAYMOBIL:THE MOVIE Animation. Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Adam Lambert, Meghan Trainor, Daniel Radcliffe
QUEEN & SLIM  Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Cloe Sevigny, Flea, Sturgill Simpson

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday March 10
BOMBSHELL Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, Alice Eve, Alanna Ubach, Kate McKinnon, John Lithgow
CHARLIE'S ANGELS  Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinksa, Sam Claflin, Patrick Stewart
SPIES IN DISGUISE Animation Will Smith, Tom Holland, Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Reba McEntire,
TRAUMA CENTER Nicky Whelan, Bruce Willis, Tito Ortiz, Texas Battle, Steve Guttenberg, Heather Johensen
UNCUT GEMS  Adam Sandler, LaKeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Eric Bogosian, Judd Hirsch

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday March 17
BLACK CHRISTMAS Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue, Brittany O’Grady Simon Mead, Cary Elwes
THE COURIER  Andrew Prendergast, David Haring, James Edward Barker, Marc Goldberg, Dermot Mulroney