Movies at a Glance & New DVDs



                                                                     MOVIES AT A GLANCE.

For NEW DVDs click HERE                                                                           


(2hrs 14min) *** The biopic of British rock group Queen earned unanimous praise for Rami Malek as lead singer Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara. Early in life living with his parents, Freddie was a luggage handler in Heathrow. He formed a close relationship with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) – they were engaged briefly - and they remained friends till his death. He was a fan of the group Smile: guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), bass player John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello), and became their lead singer, naming the group Queen. They sold their van to afford recording a successful album and Elton John's manager John Reid (Aiden Gillen) booked them on a US tour. In 1974 they attained international success with albums Sheer Heart Attack and A Night at the Opera featuring Bohemian Rhapsody. The band's popularity continued through the '90s but soured when Freddie's change of attitude caused a rift over years till their highly acclaimed reunion for 1985's Band Aid. The second half basically without music has long dull sequences and Freddie's homosexuality is played down. Good but not great ... though the music makes this worth seeing (Intl Village)
THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND (1hr 53min) *** ½ Nigerian English actor Chiwetel Ejoifor (12 Years a Slave) makes an impressive directorial debut and is co-writer of this inspirational British drama set in rural Malawi, based on the memoir by William Kamkwamba. In 2001, William (Maxwell Simba) lived with his impoverished family led by uneducated father Trywell (Ejoifor). The farming family struggled annually with scorching drought followed by torrential rain, thus causing famine. At 13, he had a fascination for electronics and scavenged parts from the scrap yard to repair radios for the villagers. With crop failure, his father (Ejoifor) couldn’t afford William’s school tuition although the boy snuck into science classes and read library books. He was adamant he could build a makeshift wind turbine using dad’s only form of transportation, his bicycle, and other odds and ends, bringing water into the parched community. It’s a compelling life or death survival story with a splendid breakthrough performance by Simba. (Nefflix) 
THE FAVOURITE (2 hrs 1min) **** Recommended. The historical comedy-drama film is based on fact with the story told by Churchill and the Duchess of Marlborough in their biographies, It's a female lesbian-centric love triangle in the early 18th century between Queen Anne and her two favourites, imperious Sarah Churchill Duchess of Marlborough and her ambitious cousin Abigail Hill (eventually Baroness Masham). Anne was plagued by ill health and obesity, causing depression throughout her life while often requiring a wheelchair. Strong willed Sarah had a very personal rapport with the Queen as her confidante, influencing and advising in every aspect of her royal duties. But then scheming new arrival Abigail discreetly observed how Sarah manipulated the affection-hungry queen and, while Sarah was away from court, Abigail consolidated her attachment to the Queen and eventually ended up in the royal bed! The film won the Grand Jury Prize in Venice, Colman won Best Actress at the Oscars and Baftas, and at Gotham the Jury Ensemble Performance went to Colman, Weisz and Stone, and deservedly so. (Fifth Avenue)
FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY (1hr 48min) *** ½  Here’s an unusual real life sports story of English professional wrestler “Paige.” The World Wrestling Entertainment shows are not legitimate contests but purely entertainment-based with matches scripted and choreographed. English director/writer Stephan Merchant based his amusing story on the 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family about the working-class, closely-knit Norwich professional wrestling family consisting of Patrick “Rowdy Ricky Knight” (Nick Frost), Julia “Sweet Saraya” (Lena Hedley), and teenagers son Zak “Zodiak” (Jack Lowden) and Goth-girl daughter Raya (Florence Pugh), rechristening herself “Paige,” WE Divas Champion at age 21!  When American talent scout/coach Hutch (Vince Vaughn) came searching for new wrestlers, only 18 year old Raya was chosen to go to Florida for the tough training. That left Zac jealous and depressed. The NXT program is unbelievably hard and Raya felt intensely lonely, fearful of failure and rejection. Credit to Merchant and a terrific cast for a believable, entertaining first biographical film of a superstar wrestler “doing it for the family.” (Intl Village)  
NEW: GLORIA BELL (1hr 41min) ** Chilean director/screenwriter Sebastien Lelio won 2018’s Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards for A Fantastic Woman but there’s no hope in Hades he’ll win any award for this monotonously disappointing Julianne Moore reimaging of his 2013 Spanish-language film Gloria. And yes Laura Branigan’s 1982 hit song is played over the closing. If there’s a plus, apart from reliable Moore, it would be for the selection of 1980s pop music which permeates the soundtrack, with Moore singing along to several of them. It’s 10 years after her divorce from Dustin (Brad Garrett) and since her two children, recent father with wife MIA Peter (Michael Cera) and yoga instructor Veronica (Alanna Ubach), are adults, insurance agent Gloria (Moore) has decided she doesn’t want to be alone and frequents a singles disco where she meets Arnold (John Tuturro), divorced a year ago and with two dependant daughters. Neither of them work, relying on his financial support, and they are constantly on his mobile phone which he never switches off, answering immediately when either calls. Gloria and Arnold start an affair and, as a paintball enthusiast, he teaches her how to shoot paintballs! Gloria lives alone in her Los Angeles apartment with the radio on constantly and is visited uninvited by her neighbour’s hairless sphynx cat which she keeps ejecting. She throws a birthday party for Peter in which she introduces Arnold to her family including Dustin, his new wife Fiona (Jeanne Tripplehorn), her mom (Holland Taylor), married friend Vicky (Rita Wilson) and Veronica who informs everyone she is engaged and is moving to Sweden with her surfer fiancé. With the drinks flowing and Gloria inebriated, photos from her marriage to Dustin and their subsequent years are shown. Arnold leaves to answer a phone call and never returns which infuriates Gloria. When back together, he suggests a weekend in Las Vegas which is interrupted by another phone call, this time advising his ex has had an accident and he must return immediately. Gloria strips to entice him to stay and at dinner she drops his phone into the soup. When he excuses himself she assumes to go to the men’s room, he doesn’t return. Gloria is beginning to realize Arnold is unreliable and is unable to even mention her to his daughters. She turns up at his home and when he appears she takes aim with his paint balls. That’s about as exciting as it gets. Remake was totally unnecessary. (Fifth Avenue)
GREEN BOOK. (2hrs 10min) **** Recommended. The Negro Motorist Green Book was a segregation guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans during the period when open discrimination against non-whites was widespread, particularly in the Deep South. In 1962, famed, multi-lingual, wealthy Jamaican black classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) hired a New York temporarily unemployed nightclub bouncer, Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), as his chauffeur and security on an eight week private concert tour down the unfriendly south. The contrasting personalities make for a hugely entertaining drive although with expected altercations imvolving rednecks and belligerent racist cops. "Doc" is dignified, refined, elegantly dressed and his pianos must be Steinways while Tony is completely the opposite, sloppy, continually smoking, eating and talking, sometimes simultaneously. Balancing high comedy and serious drama, the marvelous chemistry between the mismatched traveling companions resulted in it winning the People's Choice Award in Toronto and Best Picture at the Oscars. Both performances are brilliant. (Fifth Avenue)
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD. (1hr 44min) *** ½  Animation. This is the third and final installment from writer-director Dean DeBlois in the computer animated action-fantasy trilogy. Young viewers will remember the likeable lead Vikings Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Astrid (America Ferrara) and their budding romance.  Hiccup’s beloved black Night Fury dragon Toothless has discovered and is attracted to a White Fury, not knowing Warlord Grimmel the Grisley (F Murray Abraham), notorious dragon destroyer, had been given prisoner Night Fury by warlords as a bait to lure Toothless for the warlords’ use as an alpha. Hiccup and Toothless have been rescuing captive dragons and bringing them back to Berk resulting in the first Viking-dragon utopia!  Hiccup was informed by dad Stoick (Gerard Butler) of the Hidden World, a safe place for dragons at the end of the World. Berk chieftain Hiccup must find the new home before Grimmel and his army attack them., Dreamworks’  beautifully crafted visuals are spectacular and the emotional moments endearing. (Intl Village, Metropolis)
MARY POPPINS RETURNS (2hrs 10min) *** ½ It's been 54 years since Walt Disney's Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews debuted, garnering 13 Oscar nominations and a superlative music score. Based again on the book series by P. L. Travers, the sequel takes place three decades after the first in the 1930s depression-era with the return of Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), former nanny of now adult Jane (Emily Mortimer) and brother Michael Banks (Ben Wishaw), following the family's personal loss. Widowed Michael has three children, Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Noel Dawson). Financially struggling, he is given a re-possession notice by Fidelity Fiduciary Bank's greedy new president William Wilkins jr (Colin First) and he needs to find missing certificates proving they own valuable shares in the bank, Enter Mary Poppins and, assisted by lamplighter friend Jack (Lin-Manual Miranda), the adventures start, including sequences combining live-action and hand-drawn animation which include Mary's eccentric east-European cousin Topsy (Meryl Streep) and the Balloon Lady (Angela Lansbury). The production numbers are spectacular and the performances by Blunt and Miranda are delightful. But overall and especially the score, it's not quite supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! (Intl Village)
POLAR (1hr 58min) * ½  Mads Mikkelsen plays it straight in this appallingly awful neo-noir gross-out action-comedy, badly scripted and over-acted by cartoonish characters.   Hired assassin Duncan Visla (Mikkelsen), aka The Black Kaiser, is due to retire in a couple of weeks on reaching 50 from the private security Damocles Corporation and he is due $8 million in pension. But the company’s head, Mr. Blut (Matt Lucas), is heavily in debt and in order to pay off his creditors he has commissioned a hit squad to kill off former agents before they reach the mandatory retirement age, thereby permitting him to accumulate the millions owed them. Blut’s assistant Vivian (Katheryn Winnick) is sent to persuade Duncan to complete just one more killing in Belarus of supposedly Green’s murderer. He refuses and, leaving a false trail, retreats to a small remote lakeside cabin. Duncan has reoccurring nightmares of his numerous victims, including a botched hit on a family of which one child was spared and to whom he has donated a fee of $200,000 in an annual trust fund.  Duncan befriends a young shy girl Camille (Vanessa Hudgens) living closeby. Duncan goes to Minsk for the contract killing, only to discover it’s a trap to kill him!  He decides to eliminate the entire gang but is betrayed, Camille is drugged and taken prisoner, and a changed up Duncan is tortured relentlessly. Is escape possible?  (Netflix)
ROMA (2hrs 15min) ** Definitely not designed for mainstream audiences, it’s for staunch film critics, festival and art house patrons who will rave about. Written, directed, shot and co-edited by Mexico’s Alfonso Cuaron, the bleak black and white semi-autobiographical screenplay is slow, set in 1970-71 and centred on the life of a beloved live-in house keeper, expressionless Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), caring for a middle class family in the neighbourhood of Colonia Roma on the outskirts of Mexico City. The family consisted of Sofia (Marina de Tavira) and forever absent husband Dr. Antonio (Fernando Grediaga) and their four boisterous young children, It becomes obvious that Antonio has a mistress and his “business” trip are excuses. When Cleo becomes pregnant, her boyfriend deserts her. Sofia takes the family and Cleo to a friend’s hacienda in Mexico City for New Year at a time when there was open hostility on the streets between landowners and workers, resulting in many deaths. Shots and scenes linger for far too long although the photography and production are sumptuous. It has won numerous Best Film Awards worldwide including Oscar's Best Foreign Lasnguage Film. (Netflix) 
A STAR IS BORN (2hrs 15min) *** First made in 1937 with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, then in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Here is A Star is Re-Born, a heavy on original music version of the tragic story of a popular country-rock star who meets a young unknown singer/songwriter, propels her into stardom while falling in love with her. Jackson Maine (Bradley Copper) is a hugely successful superstar who gets personal support from older brother/manager Bobby (Sam Elliott), aware of Jackson's battle with drink, hidden from the public. When Jackson hears waitress Ally (Lady Gaga) singing her own songs, he invites her on stage with him and that's the start of her success as a performer and a romance that leads to marriage. A smarmy English producer/manager (Rafi Gavron) persuades her to change her image and to go solo and she out-does Jackson. The underwhelming melodrama is tired, overly long with 20 songs, including the award winning duet "Shallow."  Enjoyable but not great! (Intl Village)
NEW: TRIPLE FRONTIER (2hrs 5min) ** That’s the frontier between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, and director/writer J.C.Chandor’s concept is simple: five former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist of millions in cash belonging to a drug lord, hiding in the sparsely populated jungle multi-border zone of South America, and for a change they intend to share the loot among themselves. There is nothing new and very little excitement within the two hours. The first boring hour is spent with the guys reuniting. There’s Tom (Ben Affleck), Santiago (Oscar Isaac), Bill (Charlie Hunnam), Ben (Garrett Hedlund) and Francisco (Pedro Pascal) and disappointingly there is minimal character development of them. Tom is a divorced realtor and he drives his young daughter to school saying “I love you” to which she replies “I miss you.” The heist is Santiago’s plan. Working as a private military advisor combating drug crime in Colombia, he learns cartel king-pin Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos) doesn’t trust banks and uses home as his bank. Santiago’s friendly assistant Yovana (Adria Arjona) assists him in getting them into Lorea’s gated grounds in exchange for smuggling her and her brother into Peru. While Lorea is at mass, the team breaks into the sparsely guarded mansion and kills everyone although William is wounded. They discover the money hidden within the walls, far more than the expected $75 million. They packed $250 million into large bags and drove to the helicopter where the bags were attached by a dangling rope for the ride over the 11,000 foot Andes to a waiting boat on the river. The extra weight was excessively heavy for the helicopter at high altitudes and to unburden they had to dump bags along the way. We’re now into the second hour when greed takes over. The helicopter crashed on the other side of the Andes beside a cocaine field with an armed community insisting the bags were on their property and therefore theirs.  Following a brief gun fight, tension is resolved with the villagers who sold them donkeys for a million to carry their bags. More predictable drama follows on the narrow ledge high above a ravine which men and donkeys must negotiate while being attacked, and meanwhile word has spread below that the team is coming their way and Lorea’s gang is ready for them at the beach. Even with the long delayed action, the pacing is lethargic although the visuals are impressive throughout. (Netflix)    

                                                              NEW DVDs

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday March 19
THE FINAL WISH. Lin Shaye, Michael Welch, Melissa Bolona, Spencer Locke, Tony Todd, Jonathan Daniel
MARY POPPINS RETURNS. Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep
SPIDER MAN: INTO THE SPIDER VERSE Animation. Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld.

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday March 26  &  29
AQUAMAN. Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Nicole Kidman, Ludi Lin
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK. Regina King, KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Dave Franco
SECOND ACT  Jennifer Lopez, Milo Ventimiglia, Vanessa Hudgens, Leah Remini, Treat Williams
STAN & OLLIE (Laurel & Hardy) Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston
March 29: AT ETERNITY'S GATE Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Oscar Isaac

NEW DVDs .... starting Tuesday April 2
BUMBLE BEE  Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Stephen Schneide
THE MULE  Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Dianne Wiest, Andy Garcia
VICE. Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Tyler Perry, Alison Pill, Lily Rabe, Eddie Marsan

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday April 9
A DOG'S WAY HOME Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Edward James Olmos, Bryce Dallas Howard
HOLMES AND WATSON   Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Rebecca Hall, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, Ralph Fiennes
ON THE BASIS OF SEX. Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, Sam Waterston
WE DIE YOUNG.Jean-Claude Van Damne, David Castaneda, Elijah Rodriguez, Nicholas Sean Johnny
WELCOME TO MARWEN  Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monáe, Eiza González

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday April 16
GLASS.James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Samuel L. Jackson
REPLICAS. Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, John Ortiz, Emily Alyn Lind, Emjay Anthony
THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Tom Taylor, Rebecca Ferguson, Patrick Stewart,