Candyman (2021) He’s still got it! Although this time out he’s much more stylized and just as deadly. Don’t say his name 5 times, it’ll only draw him out. I’d call this a continuation of the original, yet still a sequel, but this time it’s a struggling artist named Anthony who happens upon the lore of Candyman and the derelict public housing of Cabrini Green which is now a fully gentrified bustling area. It’s still a horror film, but done slicker, almost like the film is a work of art on the screen, an ode to the character Candyman. As Anthony descends into the madness, he discovers there was always something more to the legend, and that the plight of today’s world brings a necessity for Candyman. But, for all it’s vision (and it does look good sans the blood splattering), and it’s storied reach (thanks to Oscar winner Jordan Peele), there’s an element missing. The original left you scared in real life to utter his name in your own mirror. After watching this version, it almost felt like a harmless dare to speak it. You’ll like the urban style, you’ll love the on screen delight for the eyes of a bustling Chicago art scene – you’ll be ho-hum about those who ‘get it’ from Candyman but you’ll revel in the fact that Candyman still lives. And what is up with #VanessaLWilliams from the original? It’s been 30yrs since the original film and she still looks 25?! You go girl 🙂 B-
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.
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
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)
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.
What do glitter kitten gadgets, spies, and pigeons all have in common? You will find them all in the new movie Spies in Disguise. Lance Sterling (Will Smith) is a top spy who works alone. Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) is a scientist trying to make the world a better place with his gadgets. When things for Lance go awry, he seeks out Walter, and one of his gadgets, to help him disappear. But Walter’s definition of disappearing is slightly different from Lance’s, and Lance finds himself turned into a Pigeon. Finding that he can no longer do things on his own Lance must team up with Walter to save the world.
Spies in Disguise offers up an all-star cast, beautiful animation, and laughs. Tom Holland, Will Smith, and their pigeon sidekicks have the standout performances of the movie. Rated PG Spies in Disguise does contain animated action and violence, rude humor, and does contain some animated nudity (butts) that might make it a little too intense for really young kids. I give Spies in Disguise a B-. Spies in Disguise is in theaters now. (R. Barry)
All is well in Arendelle since we last saw Elsa (Idina Menzel). That is until Elsa starts hearing a voice. She tries to go about but her day, but she feels the voice is calling out to her. For what? She doesn’t know, but she feels the voice is calling her to the Enchanted Forest. When Elsa decides to answer the call, she sets off on an epic adventure into the unknown with Anna (Kristen Bell), Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and Sven to find out why she is being called and how she can help.
Frozen 2 is a stunning animated movie that will make you laugh but is much darker than the first movie. (Due to how much darker Frozen 2 is from the first some kids may find it a little scary.) The Characters of Kristoff and Olaf are standouts and are given some of the best songs and lines in the movie. Is Frozen 2 better than the first movie? Unfortunately, no. It’s hard to make sequels that are better than the original, and Frozen 2 falls short of the first in both the story and songs. Is it still a good movie? Yes, and still worth seeing on the big screen. I give Frozen 2 an A-. Frozen 2 opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019 (R.Barry)
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil picks up 5 years after the events of the first movie, Maleficent. We find Aurora (Elle Fanning) Queen of the Moors and still madly in love with Prince Phillip of Ulstead (Harris Dickinson). When Prince Phillip finally asks Aurora for her hand in marriage it becomes time for both families to finally meet. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is still feared throughout the land, but Prince Phillips’s mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), isn’t scared and has her own devious intentions.
Family relationships are tested on both sides, and we finally find out who Maleficent really is. Filled to the brim with action Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is funnier, darker, more violent, and far better than the first movie. Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer both give great performances, and provide tons of one-liners and deadpan humor. The animation and cinematography are beautiful and worth seeing on the big screen. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is rated PG, but really stretches the rating to the max so it might not be suitable for some ages. I give Maleficent: Mistress of Evil a B. Grab the popcorn and see it in theaters on 10/18/19. (R. Barry)
We all knew about the Joker, but we all didn’t KNOW the Joker. Until now. Joaquin Phoenix gives a commanding performance, possibly his best performance to date, as Arthur Fleck the man who would later become the Joker. Arthur Fleck is an unhappy man. He suffers from mental illness and uncontrollable fits of laughter. He works as a clown for hire in Gotham City, and lives with and takes care of his mom, Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy). When hospital funding is cut Arthur loses access to his therapist and his medication. Arthur does have dreams though and aspires to become a standup comedian, but Gotham City is a cruel place and one subway ride changes the direction of his life.
Directed by Todd Philips Joker gives us a look into the mind, and making, of the man who would become Batman’s greatest nemesis. Joker also stars Robert De Niro (Murray Franklin), Zazie Beetz (Sophie Dumond), and Brett Cullen (Thomas Wayne). It is a fantastic movie and a true representation of the Joker character. It is rated R due to violence, language, and brief sexual and disturbing images. Not for children. I give it an A+. A must-see if you are a DC Comics fan. Joker opens in theaters on 10/4/2019. (R. Barry)