Category Archives: Movie Review

Champions: A 2023 Movie

I recently saw the 2023 movie Champions with Woody Harrelson as Marcus, a minor league basketball coach who is fired from his job for calling plays against the head coach, Phil (Ernie Hudson). He goes out to a bar and has one too many which results in a car crash. This lands him in court with a DUI charge. The woman judge gives him two options: either face considerable jail time or coach the Friends, a developmentally-delayed group of basketball players.

 His former coach had previously accused him of not getting to know his players personally and making real connections. This time, if he wants to win during his 90-day community service stint, he realizes that he must get to know the players.  He discovers that many of them live together in a group home and have jobs and unique talents. The team’s best player refuses to play for him and shakes his head and says, “Nope,” each time he sees Marcus. That is a mystery and something that Marcus will come to understand over time.

Quite by coincidence, Marcus already knows Jonathan’s (Kevin Iannucci) older sister, Kaitlin Olson (Alex) and that relationship had not gotten off to a good start. He realizes that he has a lot of work to do. The team has to take public transportation to the games and at one point, the bus driver leaves them on the side of the road due to their several idiosyncrasies. Fortunately, Alex, also a Shakespearean actor has her own van and agrees to become their driver. The bonding and relationship-building begin during their road trips.

They even travel all the way from Iowa to Winnipeg, for the Special Olympic Games.  The most hilarious member is Consentino (Madison Tevlin) who is a sassy, out-spoken girl that keeps the boys in line and makes them face their fears. She once retorted to a screaming coach, “I’m not deaf. I have Down’s Syndrome!”

At times, Champions is a feel good movie with a few drawbacks. It is rated PG-13 so some of the intimate scenes and the profanity could have been toned down or even eliminated for those young sensitive eyes and ears. It is based on a 2018 Spanish film called Campeones by Javier Fesserand David Marques, which also gives a voice to this special community. Ultimately, love conquers all and Marcus grows to become a more feeling coach as he sees his players as people with lives and personal stories!

Lynn M.
March 21, 2023

The Quiet Girl: Film to Book

After seeing the Oscars, I went to see The Quiet Girl on the big screen. It is set in Ireland and centers around a nine-year old girl’s life. It is spoken in Gaelic, a dying language still spoken in rural Ireland. Cait (Catherine Clinch) often wanders off and hides and the movie opens with her sisters looking for her as she lays still in a field.

And thus the story continues as she decides to go home to a house filled with children and a pregnant mother. She hides under her bed with no sheets and it is clear that she is a bed-wetter. The family is both poor and over-stretched for room and peace.  She has trouble reading at school and other students taunt her and tell her sisters that she is weird.  Then she overhears her parents saying that she is going away to her mother’s cousin’s home for the summer. The mother says that she can go forever as far as she is concerned. 

Her father drives her and he is clearly short-tempered, drinks heavily and even picks up some woman he knows as they drive to the cousin’s home. Once at the Kinsella’s wealthy home, they reluctantly receive her but the wife, Eibhlin is attentive. She takes Cait under her wing, bathes her, brushes her hair counting up to 100 strokes, teaches her to cook and gives her clothes from a nearby closet. Eibhlin sees that Cait is a bed wetter and after a discussion, Cait asks her if she should keep it a secret. She tells her that there are no secrets in their household and says that where there are secrets, there is shame.

This is the first subtle implication that there may have been some molestation going on and it is understood by Eibhlin. The nurturing continues and the father finally warms to Cait and he too, teaches her how to work on the farm. He times her daily as she runs down the long lane to the mailbox and he helps her with her reading. Through a neighbor’s gossip, Cait discovers that the Kinsellas’ son had drowned and that she has been wearing the dead boy’s clothes.

They take her shopping, doll her up, love her and singing and affection return to the grief-stricken Kinsellas. When the summer ends, she returns home and the audience’s hearts probably dropped, as mine did at that moment. She enters her home of poverty and her family members stand back and look at her in awe. She could never fit in. She sprints and runs to chase the Kinsellas’ car and catches them. It ends with Mr. Kinsella picking her up and holding her and his wife sobs in the car. Her real father has followed her and she can see him  over Kinsella’s shoulder. She is saying,”Daddy,” either to warn Kinsella or perhaps saying, you have been a real daddy to me.

This film was nominated as a Best International Film for 2023, though All Quiet on the Western Front won the category. It is the first Irish film ever nominated for the category and it was based on a novella (88 pages) called Foster by Claire Keegan. I immediately purchased it on Kindle and read it to compare it to the film. I must say that the movie producer followed the details almost to the letter.

In the short story, Cait is telling the story and it seems less sad. She sees life through a child’s wonder but there are again subtle references to the relationship with the father.  One major difference is when Cait almost drowns in the well like the son had drowned. In the movie, we see her wet, cold and frozen after having fallen in the well. However in the book, a small hand pulls her into the well, implying that it was that of the drowned boy in whose room she now sleeps. 

The author was pressed on many unclear points in the story, but she gave nothing away; however, certain parts of the book’s text were underlined or highlighted pointing back to the real source of her disconnect from others in the family. The majesty of the Irish countryside, the superb acting and poignant thoughts about universal problems make both the movie worth seeing and the novella worth reading.

Lynn M.
March 15, 2023

Everything Everywhere All at Once: A Movie Review

Everything, Everywhere All at Once is a movie like no other. It shows how our altered states of consciousness bring both chaos and the possible infiltration from other minds.  Evelyn, (Michelle Yeah) has a lot going on in her life all at the same time. Her laundry business is being audited by the IRS; her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) has served her with divorce papers; her fragile and demanding father, Gong Gong (James Hong) is visiting and needs constant care and her only daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) has just introduced her to her new girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel)  Understandably, Evelyn is overwhelmed.

While at the IRS, she meets the IRS auditor Deidre (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is the typical Karen  who is dissatisfied with Evelyn’s messy papers and upset that Evelyn seems to be distracted. Actually, Evelyn is hearing other voices as some outside force attempts to take over her mind and body which sends her into parallel universes.

The fights begin and they are grisly, gruesome and not for the faint of heart. There are loads of confusion as events spiral out of control.  Both silence and nervous laughter could be heard in the audience as Deidre (Jamie Lee Curtis) also takes on altered states and becomes a highly combative killing machine. As someone asked, “Who doesn’t love Jamie Lee Curtis?”

The plot is action-packed and surreal as they battle the evil forces. Some of the characters are unknowingly at a crossroad as they come to grips with the fact that they cannot fix everything and be everything, everywhere all at once. Her daughter Joy, who turns out to be deeply possessed, summed it up by saying in essence, “Ultimately, nothing really matters.”

People have to go and see this movie for themselves and be the judge of this highly-charged piece. It is very different but it took a lot of acting skill by the entire cast to fulfill this writer’s vision. And that is perhaps what the Academy applauded!

Lynn M.
March 14, 2023

Blonde: The New Movie

I recently viewed the movie Blonde which just came out on Netflix. I read the book Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates this summer and I wanted to compare the book to the new film. So, I took out a new subscription with Netflix to have this experience because I was disturbed by some of the online comments. In this day of trolling and negativity, I wanted to form my own thoughts. 

The book Blonde has 738 pages, and I took in every line. Joyce Carol Oates refers to this look into Marilyn Monroe’s life as a fictionalized account and wisely so. However, she did in-depth research and the book was published twenty-two years ago. Of course, there is bound to be controversy.  

With the book’s content fresh in mind, I sat back and watched the new movie which is almost three hours long. Those who have read the book are better prepared for the onslaught of uncomfortable scenes. Therefore, they will not see the movie as being overly exaggerated or harsh. Let’s face it, Marilyn had a difficult time as many artists do. That is the dichotomy and thus, an artist was born. 

Andrew Dominik, the film director, did a phenomenal job. He was able to take so much material and put it into one flowing piece for viewing audiences. He had to leave out some years which also shaped Norma Jeane (Marilyn Monroe) such as her extended time in the orphanage and in foster care.

Her foster mother forced her to marry while she was still in high school because of her husband’s roving eye. She wanted her out of the house and Marilyn Monroe never forgave her and did not answer her letters once she became famous. As expected, that marriage, did not turn out well nor was it shown in the movie. 

I think that Ana de Armas totally embodied Marilyn. The movie stayed with me for hours after watching it and I think she did a masterful job. I did not detect her accent though some wrote that they found it to be a distraction. She was brave for even attempting to walk in Marilyn’s shoes. 

For those who study art, this is for them. It is amazing how the scenes go back and forth from black and white to color frames. When Marilyn was about to face another abortion, I liked the way they showed a small human being forming in her womb. Then, all could understand the depth of her pain and loss.

When she was involved in a threesome with Cass and Eddie, they just showed a merged, blurred picture of elasticity like a rubber band. This represented their physical and emotional interconnectivity.

The entire cast was superb! There was a lot of new talent on display and not surprisingly, Adrien Brody was great as Arthur Miller. This movie is keeper for those who read, first. Otherwise, three hours might be a bit much for those looking for a quick spin on 36 years of a memorable life. It took a New Zealand-born Australian film director and a Cuban-Spanish actress to put our beloved American Marilyn Monroe back in the spotlight again! 

Lynn M. 
October 1, 2022 

Bullet Train: A Movie Review

Seeing Bullet Train was a great escape for me and certainly two days after the Queen’s death. I needed to be on a different stratosphere for a few minutes and I was convinced that Brad Pitt could get the job done. He always brings a light touch with a slight sense of humor and of course, there is his undeniable charm.

In this caper, Brad Pitt (Ladybug) is a hired assassin in Tokyo, Japan. Once he enters a speeding bullet train, he is not able to get off because the action moves at the same speed as the train. It is non-stop. Several colorful characters, who are also passengers on the train, have their own agendas. They clash leaving dead bodies often in a grisly fashion, but still with a comedic twist. There are a lot of bumps, bruises and contact fights while all of them are in pursuit of the silver suitcase which houses the loot.

Ladybug regularly answers his ringing cell phone with his female handler on the other end who consoles him, encourages him and gives him his orders. In between calls, he runs into a host of other assassins who have their own varied methods of execution. He just wants to get off the train as viewers get a peak into modern Japanese culture and technologies. There is a memorable children’s car with human, disguised Disney-like characters who may well be another combative assassin.

Towards the end, few are left to tell the tale as Ladybug finally gets off the train after it crashes and burns. The woman that had kept him grounded on the phone then shows up and it is a shocker as she makes her cameo appearance. I won’t reveal her identity here.

Bullet Train is a great way to forget about the real and present world for a couple of hours. I crunched through a huge bucket of popcorn long before the excitement was over and it was worth every cent!

Lynn M.
September 20, 2022

Haute Couture!

In the movie, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Mrs. Harris is a cleaning woman in 1957 London. She is a widow and in living in sparse conditions and one day she sees a designer dress in one of her client’s closets and falls in love with it. Each day, she admires its beauty and wants one for herself. She starts thinking of ways that she could go to Paris to visit one of the fashion houses.

She and a friend go to the dog races and she bets all of her money on a greyhound called Haute Couture.  He stops mid-race and she is devastated. But then a series of events heave good fortune her way. She receives a surprise military pension back pay from her late husband, the man from the betting booth at the dog race returns her lost money and she receives a reward for returning an expensive piece of jewelry that she found on the street.

She decides to book a flight to Paris and has an abundance of cash on hand. Once there, she finds her way to the House of Christian Dion with the help of some local guys from the station. Of course, she doesn’t fit in with the high-end fashion clientele, but once they discover that she has cash, they are willing to work with her. And, a debonair gentleman asks her to be his guest at the fashion show when he sees that she is being ostracized by the others.

The fashions are breathtakingly beautiful and when she sees the dress she wants, a well-known snob sitting next to her bids on the dress first. She is forced to make another choice, but soon discovers that they make each dress for the buyer. Thus, she needs to stay in Paris for at least another week.

Things work out because one of the young workers has an extra bedroom and she is even allowed to wear his sister’s clothes. She enjoys Paris, is wined and dined and even hits a few hot spots. There are a lot of twists and turns but she makes friends and even encourages the workers to voice their concerns to Mr. Dior. She ultimately leaves with her tailored gown in tow.

Watching this movie reminded me of my own roots with fabric. With two designer sisters who could make coats and wedding gowns without a pattern, many memories flourished as I watched Mrs. Harris tour the fashion house. The cutters, the button sewers, the fitters all made me remember the hours that I painstakingly waited as a child as my mother slowly turned the pages in the huge pattern books at the fabric stores. I was so bored, but quite like osmosis, my first piece of furniture was a Singer sewing machine in a cabinet when I moved into my first apartment.

This movie was a great escape and I am happy that I caught it before it left the big screen. As the credits rolled at the end, they creatively put fashion designs on both sides of the screen. They changed every few seconds quite like a display window. Mrs. Harris ultimately discovered that there is no place like home where she returned to find even greater joy.

In the African American culture, when one visits the Mother Land (Africa), the best gift upon return for a true friend is a piece of fabric. Once that fabric is unrolled, there are so many possibilities.  Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris was another golden nugget in my 2022 summer adventures!

Lynn M.
July 30, 2022

God’s Pearl: A Movie Review

After seeing the movie, Respect a second time, I am finally ready to weigh in on this artistic piece. This biopic lies close to my heart for multiple reasons.

Aretha Franklin

First, I was living in Detroit in the 50’s, when the movie actually opens. Two, I remember where I was when I heard the song Respect for the first time. I spent my teen and young adult years listening to Aretha Franklin’s music. And three, Jennifer Hudson and I share our Chicago roots. I recall the day that Mayor Daley proclaimed a day in her honor after her Dreamgirls movie debut.

Having said all of that, I am somewhat peeved about some of the critics’ comments about this movie. Many of them do not understand black life and they do not get it.  They have not lived it and they misunderstand black life in all of its myriad forms. Yet, I sigh and take a step back as they have their rightful say. 

First, it would take a week to tell all of Aretha’s 76 years of living on this earth. Respect is quite like a short story.  It is not the whole enchilada. It offers its viewers a slice of life. Respect covers a twenty-year span of Aretha’s life and it does it quite well.

 It takes risks because it touches upon topics that most people would rather not deal with and certainly not view. Sexual and physical child abuse and exploitation are never comfortable subjects. She endured all of these and most often by those people she trusted the most, as a motherless child.

I compare Aretha’s life to that pearl that evolves after much wringing, aggravation and irritation that goes on inside of the oyster shell.  She was initially powerless to fight back against the powerful men who sought to control her. But, she took the reigns of the horses’ carriage and galloped on into greatness leaving them all gasping behind in the dust.

This pearl of God lives in the hearts of all. For those who are faint of heart, don’t see Respect and miss seeing what shaped this iconic gem. Those people should just go to YouTube and search for an Aretha concert and be entertained.  But for the true thinkers and reflectors of life, go see Respect and see a grand piece of art on the big screen!

Lynn M.
September 11, 2021

Little Women: A Movie Review

220px-Little_Women_(2019_film)The new movie version of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women moves with great rapidity. It makes me think of Hemingway’s title, A Moveable Feast. It serves up scrumptious bites and small morsels from this well-known plot in a circuitous fashion.

If the viewer does not know the plot with some level of detail, he or she may have a hard time following at times. The new director (Great Gerwig) uses flashbacks but not in a linear way and it will take some time to reflect and see the whole scheme of things.

For those who know and love the Civil War Era story of the March family, it is a treat as one enjoys the creativity used in telling this age-old tale. The beautiful period dresses and clothes, the use of the actual Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, the low candle-lit rooms, the snowy scenes and the beach adventures all add to the beauty of times gone by.

The rivalry between the sisters, the death of a sibling and the absent soldier father help to display Jo March as the guts and backbone of this family of women. Her scribblings sustain her as she gets ideas from the theatrics that the wardrobed girls act out in the attic.

Jo is central to the story and though she does not get the trip abroad nor the boy next door, she gets so much more. She becomes a published writer and truly exemplifies Alcott’s legendary life. Filmmakers are still using her words over 150  years later.

In truth, Alcott did write for eight hours at a time and when one hand was tired, she wrote with the other hand. The movie showed her changing hands and it got many other facts right. It did not, however, show the sister’s art drawn on the walls of the home but then, one would have to take a trip to Concord to see it.  Also, the family often experienced poverty and despair due to the father’s progressive beliefs which made him ride against the tide. Alcott was the breadwinner for many years through her writing.  One would have to delve deeper and do some more research to know her real plight.

This new version of Little Women takes a lot of risks, but the fine acting helps to pull it into its final stop. Notables like Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper,  Meryl Streep along with several newcomers all assist as this story is told from an independent woman’s point of view. It closes with Jo March holding her newly pressed book in her arms after negotiating her royalties with her publisher. And that is fair enough!

Lynn M.                                                                         January 7, 2020

Bombshell: A Movie Review


It took me a while before I could weigh in on the movie Bombshell. I needed several days to let what I had seen and heard sink in, fester and digest. The movie focuses on three high-profiled anchorwomen at a major news station. They each harbor horrific secrets about how they climbed the corporate ladder and one has the wherewithal to breakaway and file a lawsuit.

The pace of Bombshell is fast with rapid movement, so it takes the viewer a while to truly realize the depth of what is going on in these women’s lives. Two of the women are mothers and the breadwinners for their families. It is up to them to keep up their current lifestyles.

These women are forced to dress in sensuous, short dresses so that the viewers can see their legs. They are never allowed to wear pants on the stage sets. They may be called from their work desks at any given time of the day to go and service some troll in upper management. One even had a private elevator for the women to be transported into his office.

The movie is tastefully done, and we are shielded from the actual acts that these women had to perform to keep their jobs. This could neither be about the need of the libido nor some regular sexual desire during a regular workday. It was about the abuse of power and a way denigrate vulnerable women who had few options.

It is interesting how these men that have been called out during the Me Too Movement hold their heads down in shame. What could provoke such heinous acts toward women? Was there a hatred for the mother figures in their lives? Is there some type of Oedipus complex operating in their psyches? Would they want some corporate powerhouse to do the same things to the college-educated women in their families who were trying to build a career?

These questions are endless but as the saying goes, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord John Dalberg-Acton). Again, people hang their heads in disgrace when their hideous deeds are unearthed. And I say people because in one instance from the movie, one of the women was being sexually abused by the head honcho upstairs and by a female coworker after late nights of heavy drinking.

I cannot think of any sane, well-balanced person that needs sex throughout the workday. It is simply a way to deny these women the right to feel whole and in control of their own lives and bodies. Bombshell was about women, but chances are there are some stories brewing about what some men have had to do to keep their incomes as well. How sad!

The major actors were outstanding and obviously Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow and Kate McKinnon made their roles quite believable. They gave me insight into a disturbing world and the movie Bombshell still has me thinking!

Lynn M.

December 31, 2019

When We Collide


Whenever you leave a movie cinema or play and you do not want to hear a sound, you know that you have just witnessed some great art form. You want to stay in the moment and continue thinking about what you just saw, heard and felt and you don’t want a song from the radio or a show on the television to interfere with your continual engagement.

I was hesitant to see Queen and Slim when I heard that they were a black couple on the lam after one of them shot a police officer. I felt that it would more than likely not end well but when I read that the Screenwriter (Lena Waithe) was educated at one of our local middle schools, graduated from the city’s only high school and graduated from Columbia College in Chicago’s Loop, I took a deep breath and dove in.

This movie still has me thinking because though it is a story that we all know too well, it is so much more. It is a journey into the hearts, minds and souls of two young people who were out on a first date in Cleveland when things went terribly wrong. They had just had a meal together and as he, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) was driving, he swerved after trying to get his cell phone from her. It was a light moment until they were pulled over.

After following all the commands of the police officer, things further escalated when Queen, (Jodie Turner-Smith) an attorney, got out of the car to ask for a warrant while her date was being frisked. The police office shot her in the leg for questioning his authority and Slim reacted by taking his gun and shooting him.

Thus, the story begins. Queen decides that she wants to go to her Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) who lives all the way down in New Orleans. Slim simply wants to call his family but she feels that the phone call would be fatal for them both.

A scenic road trip with all genres of music playing in the background ensues and they first run out of gas in Kentucky. A sheriff picks them up and they eventually lock him in the trunk of their car and take his pick-up truck. They spare his life because they were not intentional killers but accidental killers.

They travel the American south, witnessing everyday life like people picking cotton, children out playing on skateboards late at night, people dancing in a honky-tonk or juke joint and they finally make love on a side road in a car. They start talking and baring their souls to each other and their bond strengthens.

By this time, their pictures are on every front page of the newspapers and there is a big price on their heads. On the other hand, their ordeal sparks protest by those who are compassionate with their plight. They make it to New Orleans and the uncle can only help to a degree. From there, their plan is to go to Georgia, eventually Florida and then to Cuba. A Georgian couple and a young a police officer both assist them at one point. In the interim, Queen finds her mother’s grave and makes peace with her. Slim slips and calls his father to tell him that he loves him.

You hold your breath as they continue their journey and when they get to Florida, they meet their Judas. They go to meet the plane when law enforcement shows up in full force. They continue to hold hands and she is shot in the heart. He bends down and picks up his Queen and raises her to a high status. They all fire on him and when he falls, they end with one on top of the other. It is powerful. And then, we see the he black, gold-grill wearing, marijuana smoking, trailer park sycophant counting his cash from his simony actions.

Queen and Slim is being compared to Bonnie and Clyde, but they do not continually kill anyone. They were just two young people who got caught up in bad situation. The music is great. The plot is well-oiled with no rusty hinges and the acting is memorable. Though the ending is sad, the journey is divine!

Lynn M.                                                                       November 30, 2019