Geek For E!

MOVIE REVIEW: The Father (opening 03.12.21 in theaters, 03.26.21 SVOD)

Film Synopsis: Anthony is 80, mischievous, living defiantly alone and rejecting the caretakers that his daughter, Anne, encouragingly introduces. Yet help is also becoming a necessity for Anne; she can’t make daily visits anymore and Anthony’s grip on reality is unravelling. As we experience the ebb and flow of his memory, how much of his own identity and past can Anthony cling to? How does Anne cope as she grieves the loss of her father, while he still lives and breathes before her? THE FATHER warmly embraces real life, through loving reflection upon the vibrant human condition; heart-breaking and uncompromisingly poignant – a movie that nestles in the truth of our own lives.

Geek For E Review (Matthew Snider)

This movie is not for the faint of heart nor the weak-minded. What unfolds is a “memento-esque” deep dive into dementia and how it impacts not only the person diagnosed with it but everyone around them as well.

Sir Anthony Hopkins puts in a spectacular performance as Anthony, an aging dad who seems to be quickly on the decline with his understanding of reality in his truly hard-to-watch battle with dementia.

The film takes place mostly in Anthony’s flat of over 30 years, or so it seems. As his mind unravels we are invited into what he sees. Some of which makes sense, yet a lot of which doesn’t. We meet Anne, his daughter and caretaker, and a few other outside characters but it mainly focuses on Anthony and Anne and their ups and downs in navigating this tumultuous relationship and disease impacting The Father.

Not only do the performances pull on your heartstrings, but it also brings you along for a ride on a roller coaster of emotions which is hard to swallow. You see so many sides of this disease ravage both Anthony and Anne that you are left exhausted and confused by the end of the film.

Directed by Florian Zeller, and lead by Sir Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, and many more familiar faces you can’t help but feel for these people, their story, their pains, and figuring out what the next right thing is for each of them.

What plagues this film is the direction giving by Florian. It follows the mind (or lack thereof) of Anthony which takes away from a fluid and linear timeline/story. Due to this “memento-esque” storytelling sometimes you lose the characters and their storyline amongst trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

While this technique is used to show the sheer confusion of dementia itself, it takes away from the storyline and the pain suffered by all a little too much.

The Father is a behind-the-scenes look into this degrading, frustrating, and life-altering disease that impacts more than 6 million Americans, and more than 50 million worldwide. 

It is a film that brings to the light family, and the senior years, and all that can come with it. The Father brings to the screen a story that is almost always behind closed doors, a story that asks you to suffer alongside its characters, to feel for them, to want to help, and to just sit and hold them. 

The Father is a film I recommend you to see, albeit with a box of tissues nearby.

MOVIE REVIEW: Judas and the Black Messiah (everywhere FRI 02.12.21)

Judas and the Black Messiah tells the true story of the rise of Fred Hampton (Kaluuya) as the revolutionary leader of the Black Panther Party and how the organization is infiltrated, and he is ultimately assassinated with the help of a fledgling crook named Bill O’Neal (Stanfield) supported by an unscrupulous FBI system led by J Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen).   

First and foremost, major props to Director Shaka Smith.  He is young, but learned, as this is his first true feature film and he succeeds admirably with his tone and angle usage.  The tension the audience feels with the inevitable betrayal and death of its lead character was palpable from the opening scene (and the lead wasn’t even in it).  It’s not surprising he was given the helm of this subject matter (he co-wrote the screenplay) and we even chimed in to ask why he wanted to make a film focused on the Black Panthers?  “The Panthers led with love,” he said.  It’s that type of passion that led him to make what he calls “a vast film, a dense film.”  He succeeded, watch the film.  You’ll see it’s range, its power to incite, Hampton’s propensity to love through a sea of racial hatred and most importantly ‘feel’ what it’s like to be a ‘Judas.’

Lead performances here are no surprise from Daniel Kaluuya (Fred Hampton) and Lakeith Stanfield (Bill O’Neal).  Kaluuya is a past Oscar nominee, I knew he could handle the subject matter but asked all the same what drove you to portray Hampton in the film?  Said Kaluuya, “his love for his people and I’m humbled and honored.”  What I wanted to see  (and have not from his past work) is his ability to feel.  To show a loving touch and nature.  His relationship with Deborah Johnson (mother to his unborn child, played masterfully by Dominique Fishback…more on her later) is where I hoped he could prove it.  And he did.  His ability to be softer and accessible and still be convincing as a revolutionary leader is what I needed to see, and I did (all without dropping his accent).  He’ll get an awards nod for this, but regrettably, he won’t win it.  Not because he isn’t that good with the character, but I’ve seen the Best Actor winner already (no spoilers from a Geek!)

Lakeith Stanfield who portrays the ‘Judas’ that is Bill O’Neal gets a nod and hats off from me.   It’ll be sensitive to read, but I’ll write it all the same – he brings (to me) a bit of Richard Pryor ‘scared n*gga’ to his roles which seems to fit this film perfectly, after all he’s portraying a Judas – he should be afraid.  Not in his dialogue, but in his eyes when it’s needed.  From the opening scene which showcases his characters range as a thief, you can see an underlying fear which stays with him as he confidently infiltrates the Panthers, rises through its ranks, deals with the FBI and even becoming Head of Black Panther security.  All the while with a confident but doomed look for the fraud he knows he is.   There’s a moral burden even portraying such a character, and he spoke about it at great length.

The unsung hero here is relative newcomer but soon to be household name, Dominique Fishback who portrays the lead character Hampton’s empowering, viscerally literal, and fierce girlfriend and fiancé.   I had to look up the actress, could there be anything in her past work that showed an inkling of what she poured out here?  From her introduction, playing a waifish adorizing young girl – her delivery was perfect.  Deifying Hampton but still with a mind of her own – hats off to Director/writer Shaka King for writing her well and major ups to the make-up/production crew for her onscreen appearance.  I thought she was 16 when her character meets Hampton for the first time at a rally, I had to Google to find out, the actress is nearing 30yo.  You go girl, reached right back into that younger time and brought her through with shining colors, I hope the awards machine sees you this season.

See this film people, if not for its social relevancy – than just to get a bit of education in Black History month.  Do you really know what the Black Panthers were all about?  A- #JudasandtheBlackMessiah

Judas and the Black Messiah (in theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max, FRI 02.12.21) – Win Tickets Now!

Judas and the Black Messiah tells the true-life story of Fred Hampton who was the Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party that was fatefully betrayed by an FBI placed informant into the organization.  Academy Award nominee Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) stars as Hampton, with thriller alum LaKeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You) starring as William O’Neal the fateful betrayer. 

CONTEST:

Find the Facebook post from us that brought you here and post up your best homages to actor Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield or meme a message on the Black Panther Party.  You can get creative with your posts, just stay PG-13.  To be eligible, YOU MUST add the hashtag #JudasAndTheBlackMessiah to your post. If GeekForE ‘LIKE’s’ your post, you are a winner and we’ll Inbox you your unique redemption code.  The code can be used at participating movie theaters or through Fandango online (we’ll send you the additional details!)  Facebook voting begins right now, and all LIKE’s will be issued by THU 02.11.21 (just in time for the show!)

PVOD & Twitter Watch Party: The Croods: A New Age (FRI 12.18.20 @ 7PM)

The future ain’t what it used to be.

DreamWorks Animation’s THE CROODS: A NEW AGE is on PVOD this Friday, December 18th

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | #CroodsNewAge

The Croods have survived their fair share of dangers and disasters, from fanged prehistoric beasts to surviving the end of the world, but now they will face their biggest challenge of all: another family

The Croods need a new place to live. So, the first prehistoric family sets off into the world in search of a safer place to call home. When they discover an idyllic walled-in paradise that meets all their needs, they think their problems are solved … except for one thing. Another family already lives there: the Bettermans. 

The Bettermans (emphasis on the “better”)—with their elaborate tree house, amazing inventions and irrigated acres of fresh produce—are a couple of steps above the Croods on the evolutionary ladder. When they take the Croods in as the world’s first houseguests, it isn’t long before tensions escalate between the cave family and the modern family. 

Just when all seems lost, a new threat will propel both families on an epic adventure outside the safety of the wall, one that will force them to embrace their differences, draw strength from each other and forge a future together. 

The Croods: A New Age features the voice talent of returning stars Nicolas Cage as Grug Crood, Catherine Keener as Ugga Crood, Emma Stone as their daughter, Eep; Ryan Reynolds as Eep’s boyfriend, Guy; Clark Duke (Hot Tub Time Machine) as Thunk and Cloris Leachman as Gran. They’re joined by new stars Peter Dinklage (HBO’s Game of Thrones) as Phil Betterman, Leslie Mann (Blockers) as Hope Betterman, and Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: Episode VIII-The Last Jedi) as their daughter, Dawn. 

The film is directed by Joel Crawford, who has worked on multiple DreamWorks Animation films, including Trolls and the Kung Fu Panda franchise, and is produced by Mark Swift (Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted).

Genre: Animated Comedy

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage, Kelly Marie Tran

Directed by: Joel Crawford

Produced by: Mark Swift

MOVIE SCREENING: Do The Right Thing & Get Out (WED 08.12.20 @ 7PM)

Don’t call it a comeback geeky faithful, we’ve been here through all this crazy COVID stuff but we’re not letting it get us down.  If you can’t go in a theater, how about going to one outside?  Sounds crazy for Millenials, but Gen X & Y know all about drive in-movies and now with coronavirus at our door, drive-ins are making a comeback.  Luckily we have one here in the Maryland area (also another a bit up north and further south in VA, but that’s a story for another day).  The good news is, the movie studios are embracing the drive-in format to promote new and old films.  Now, let’s not get carried away when we start thinking about what the film selections will be in the drive-in format.  It’s extremely unlikely that say, Warner Bros will make a special 70MM to drive-in movie format copy of their incredible new sci-fi thriller ‘Tenet’ which was due to come out like five months ago.  But it is very likely they’ll dust off some of their older, quality and entertaining releases to the drive-in format.  And that brings us to our special ticket giveaway for this week courtesy of Amazon Studios & actor/producer Michael B Jordan (Creed, Fantastic Four).  Check the details below the banners and we hope to see you (and all the humans you can comfortably, and social distance style, fit into your car) at the movies!

Amazon Studios and Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society present to you ‘A Night At The Drive-In.’  A nation-wide screening of selected films celebrating multi-cultural voices.  This week, nation-wide is your opportunity to catch Spike Lee’s 1989 comedy-drama-thriller, ‘Do The Right Thing.’  The film centers on one of the hottest days in 1980’s Brooklyn and the simmering racial tensions that come to the surface as the heat heightens; culminating into a powerful and thought-provoking narrative about race, class, gender and even ageism in America.  One of Lee’s best works and it cemented him as a versatile, opinionated and worldly Director.  Directly following that film, will be Jordan Peele’s 2018 thriller ‘Get Out.’  Set against the backdrop of current day America, the film takes you on a journey deep into the bowels of race, trust, prejudice, belief, love, and betrayal (of yeah, there’s some comic relief too).  The world knew writer and Director Jordan Peele had talent from his previous work in comedic stage and TV acting, but winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for this film cemented his moxie and slow draw film style into the cinematic landscape.

We’re super stoked that Michael B and Amazon are doing this and when asked why he was embarking on such a bold summer move, he said “with this drive-in summer series, I hope that friends and families are able to not only enjoy, but to learn and grow. Now more than ever, amplifying Black and Brown stories means engaging culture to speak to hearts and minds about the world we live in. As we use this opportunity to reimagine community and proximity, I am excited that these films will be shared and celebrated all across the country.”

As part of the concessions for the screenings, all attendees will receive refreshments provided by Black and Brown owned businesses, which are Path Water, Pipcorn Popcorn and Partake Cookies.

SCREENING INFO:

Box offices opens @ 7PM and closes at 10PM – you are free to arrive and claim your ticket anywhere in between. The first film begins @ 8:30PM (hey…the sun has to go down right?). COVID policies are in effect – you must wear a facemask for entry and there is a $15 charge to bring in outside food.

TICKETS: Check our Facebook page, that’s where the ticket code will be posted in the 9PM hour (FRI 08.07.20)

Some helpful tips for attending films @ Bengies:

  • The theater and box office open at 7PM, and best seating goes to those who get there early, but NOTE!  4×4’s and SUV’s only get one row of dead center parking (at the back of the lot), otherwise you are located to the 45 degree left or right of the screen
  • You are not allowed to run your car during the film.  If you try and cheat by turning the key over without engaging the engine (cause you need some AC bad), make sure your car battery is strong.  If not, no worries, Bengies is prepared with mobile car jumpers (no charge), however, once they start your car – you will have to leave the facility
  • You cannot sit any higher than your vehicle.  What does that mean?  If you drive in with a Ford F150 with a nice towbed and decide you’ll place your lawn chairs in the bed to get as high a seat as possible…you’ll be asked to take them down.  In fact, Bengies has staff wandering around with stretches of rope to help you bring your rear hatch doors down to no higher than your vehicle’s height.
  • Don’t test them on the personal food.  If you plan to bring your own food, pay the $15 fee at the gate.  There are roaming Bengie staff looking for you, and they know what their food items look like!  You’ve been warned.

Movie Review: The Mauritanian (in theaters FRI 02.12.21)

(G4E Reviewer: Matthew Snider) I went into this film blind, as in knowing nothing, seeing nothing, something that put me in a good place to really dive into the drama that unfolded.

The Mauritanian or prisoner 760 is based on a true story about one of the hundreds of detainees that were unlawfully kept in-prisoned in Guantanamo Bay after the 9/11 attacks on US soil.

The premise as described on Wikipedia is as follows: The film follows Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Rahim), who is captured by the U.S. government and languishing in Guantanamo Bay detention camp without charge or trial. Losing all hope, Salahi finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Woodley). Together, they face countless   obstacles in a desperate pursuit for justice. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Cumberbatch), eventually reveals a shocking and far reaching conspiracy.

The Mauritanian brings to light a true story of one Mo Salahi who unravels and is built up all throughout this wonderful film. The pain, the confusion, the hatred, the broken hope and the restoration and forgiveness that is woven in and around this drama is one to really sit with.

The film brings together a heart breaking story of truth and lies, of death and life, of despair and hope, and of good and evil. 

Yet it doesn’t have a villain. 

Not the justice system, not the guards at Gitmo, not the Christian attorney or even the Islamic people group as a whole. This film really shows you people. Hurting and lost people.

In some of the last words we hear from Mo at the ending of the film, he explains to the judge that in the Arabic language, the word for Freedom and Forgiveness is the same.

With this powerful line delivered with such heart and faith, it truly gives us a picture of what humanity, in such a time as this, really needs to look too.

We need to believe the best about each other, and to forgive so that we can find freedom in all our circumstances. The Mauritanian is a film of black and whites, and a large grey area, but plays on both sides of the line. It plays on your heart strings and asks you to see people, not just a movie.

4 out of 5 stars (Matthew Snider, G4E)

Movie Premier: Antebellum (FRI 09.18.20, on PVOD everywhere)

“Enter to win a copy of Antebellum available to watch on Friday, September 18th.” To enter, check the details below the banner and movie synopsis, and we’ll see you (virtually) at the movies!

Veronica Henley (Monae) stars as a 21st century high-powered woman of industry who finds herself stalked, kidnapped and enslaved in a horrifying reality that may or may not be real.  Trapped in a slave world, she’s forced to confront her past, present and future demons in a race against time for her very life.  Produced by the minds that brought you ‘Get Out’ and written/Directed by Advocacy filmmakers Bush & Renz, this insane and mind-bending suspense thriller will have you gripping the cushions!

For more information on the film, visit the official site: www.antebellum.movie. Share your thoughts with us on social using the tags; @AntebellumFilm #Antebellum

CONTEST: If you didn’t know, ‘Antebellum’ will be released directed to premium streaming this FRI, 09.18.20.  Winners of our contest will receive a ‘1-time use electronic code’ which will allow you to stream the entire film from the comfort of your home…free of charge!  How do we pick you for the code?  Check it out below!

Find our Facebook page and post up your best images of star Janelle Monae – as many as you can.  Add the hashtag #antebellumfilm to your posts and sit back.  If G4E ‘LIKE’s’ your image, that LIKE will be turned into an entry for our random drawing of stream codes.  SO, post as many images/hashtags as you can – you only increase your chances of winning (although you can only win a code once!).  The writers of G4E will take all entries/LIKE’s and draw names – if you are a code winner we will direct Facebook Messenger you the stream code for the film.  All winners will be notified by THU 09.17.20 @ 9PM (so you can make your weekend plans!)  Remember, our LIKE is your entry to the contest – we will contact you directly via Messenger if your LIKE/Name is drawn as a winner.

TwiView: The High Note (2020)

The High Note is all about reaching for your dreams and never giving up in the face of adversity. Maggie (Dakota Johnson) is an overworked, and probably really underpaid personal assistant to music superstar Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). Both women yearn to move forward in their careers. Maggie wants to be a music producer, and Grace wants to reach new heights with her music. But reaching for their dreams doesn’t come without pitfalls and setbacks.

So how is the movie? I am in love with The High Note. The High Note is just the movie needed right now. The situations portrayed in the movie are relatable for so many that the movie sucks you in and you cannot help to love and cheer for the characters. I want to buy the Blu-ray and soundtrack right now and put them on repeat because the soundtrack and Tracee Ellis Ross are so superb. I give The High Note an A. The movie also stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ice Cube, Diplo, Bill Pulman, Zoe Chao, and June Diane Raphael. The High Note is PG-13 due to strong language and ever so slight suggestive references and will be available at home on-demand starting 5/29/2020. – (R. Barry)

TwiView: Onward (2020)

Pixar movies always hit you with a one, two punch. They hit you with laughter, then punch you in all the feels, and Pixar’s new movie Onward is no different. In Onward we follow two brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), who want nothing more than to see their father again. When their mom, Laurel Lightfoot (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), gives them a gift that gives them the chance to bring their father back for one day they go on an epic quest full of magic and discovery.

While not the best movie Pixar has released Onward is still a highly entertaining fantasy movie full of magic, elves, centaurs, manticore’s, and beyond. The story and most of the humor seem geared towards the older crowd, but the animation and some of the humor younger kids will find funny. (If you have ever played Dungeons and Dragons it will be hysterical.) As a parent, the concepts and story moved me to tears so pack a tissue or two. Onward also stars Octavia Spencer as The Manticore and Mel Rodriguez as Colt Bronco. I give Pixar’s Onward a solid B+. Onward is rated PG for some action/peril and is in Theaters 3/6/2020.

TwiView: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), A-

You know it’s hard to reboot a videogame into a movie with the right formula.  Many have tried and failed (anybody ever see Super Mario Bros?), but hats off here because this Sonic works and borrows just enough visible cues from the game to make this a delight for the 6, 16 and even 60yr olds of the world – and that’s no small feat.  The story centers on our blue hero who is chased from his home world and into ours only to be comically and relentlessly hunted by the evil Dr. Robotnik (of course it’s Jim Carrey, who else could portray a methodical genius and a haphazard buffoon at the same time!).  Aiding Sonic on Earth is an upstart Montana town Sheriff James Marsden (Cyclops of X-Men fame) who struggles with his place within a small Montana town and yearns for some action.   When Sonic and Robotnik hit the scene, we’re all treated to a videogame style melee that hits all the marks.  I was truly surprised at how enjoyable and just plain fun this was to watch.  I’m even going all-out on my fearless box office forecast:  It will be #1, it will beat Fantasy island & The Photograph on its way to a $40M+ box office weekend.  A- (why a minus?  Just something about the demographic makeup of the fictional town of Green Springs, Montana – but it’s a movie, so I’ll let it slide)