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Archives for : Focus Features

Movie Review: “Let Him Go” – A Powerful Portrayal of a Grandparent’s Love

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner are heartbroken grandparents ready to do whatever is needed to protect their grandson.

Focus Features new drama, “Let Him Go” opens with retired sheriff George Blackledge (Costner) and his wife Margaret (Lane) at their ranch in Montana spending time with their son James (Ryan Bruce), his wife Lorna (Kayli Carter), and their baby boy. Later that day, James has a fatal accident while riding a wild horse.

Years later, Lorna remarries. Her son, Jimmy, is now a toddler. On her wedding day, she seems uncomfortable around her new husband, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain). It isn’t until Margaret sees Donnie hit Lorna and Jimmy that she recognizes the problem. When she discovers they have mysteriously taken off to go stay with Donnie’s family; Margaret and George leave their Montana ranch, and set off to rescue their only grandchild from the dangerous Weboy family.

Based on Larry Watson’s novel, the film is directed and written by Thomas Bezucha (“The Family Stone”, “Monte Carlo”). Bezucha has a way of writing compelling family dynamics. Every character has depth. The relationships between the Blackledge family isn’t picture perfect. Margaret and George have a loving and respectable marriage, but they don’t always see eye to eye. And Margaret’s relationship with Lorna is a bit rocky, as Margaret can be overbearing.

The Weboy family is a special, terrifying case; led by their vicious and abusive mother, Blanche (Lesley Manville). She controls her sons and any other man in her life. What these men lack in brains, they make up for in strength and violence. They are an odd and horrifying bunch.

“Let Him Go” is a tense journey, but the scenic drive to their destination is beautiful and adds a brief unexpected tranquility. From the tragic beginning, you’re hooked till the very end. It’s unbearable to think about the pain parents must feel after the loss of a child, but to know their is still a piece of him in their grandchild makes their mission heroic and cathartic.

The film is heavy and there is some graphic violence, but it’s a fantastic story with incredible performances. Lane and Costner are a duo that deserve a longer screen time together than they had in “Man of Steel”. The two feed off each other so naturally. And Lesley Manville is an intimidating scene stealer. You dread her character, but you anxiously await her next appearance.

“Let Him Go” is not exactly groundbreaking, but it is an engaging script and exquisitely shot. The performances alone are enough for me to recommend this watch, but there’s also thrilling action and a powerful story. It’s the perfect movie to watch with the whole family.

Rating: 4.25/5

“Let Him Go” opens in theaters November 6, 2020.

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Movie Review: “Come Play”

This week I review “Come Play”, based on the 2017 short film. The story follows Oliver (Azhy Robertson), a young boy who feels isolated from everyone. He seeks comfort in his cellphone and tablet, and it is there that he mysteriously comes across Larry – a disturbing creature who wants to be his friend.

Watch my full review, followed by previews of “Holidate” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” in the video below.

“Come Play” opens in theaters October 30, 2020,

“Holidate” is available on Netflix October 28, 2020.

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is available on Amazon Prime October 23, 2020.

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Movie Review: “Antebellum” and “Kajillionaire”

This week’s movie review features two very different films: Antebellum is a high profile mystery, thriller with a disturbing twist; Kajillionaire is a low key dark comedy that relies on quirky characters and dysfunctional family dynamic as a foundation for the story. Both films boast some highly respected actors and developing writers/directors. Which one should you go see?

“Antebellum” is available On Demand September 18, 2020.

“Kajillionaire” opens in select theaters September 25, 2020.

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Movie Review: “Irresistible” and “Relic”

This week I’ve got reviews of a couple hot new films for you to see. “Irresistible” is a sharp satire of political campaigning from Jon Stewart, and “Relic”, tells a haunting story that will hit close to home for many viewers.

“Irresistible” is available On Demand June 26.

“Relic” is available On Demand July 10.

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Movie Review: “The High Note” & “The Vast of Night”

I’ve got a couple of new film reviews for ya! First is “The High Note”, another mentor/mentee film that makes the most of its’ cast and should hit the right note with its’ audience.

Then there is the new Amazon Studios movie, “The Vast of Night”, which plays as a wonderful homage to “The Twilight Zone”. This film will satisfy that sci-fi itch with suspense, mystery, wonder and nostalgia.

“The High Note” is available on various On Demand platforms May 29.

“The Vast of Night” is available on Amazon Prime May 29.

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Movie Review: “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is a Powerful and Raw Character Study

It’s a tough film to swallow, but it’s an unforgettable watch.

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” follows Autumn (Sidney Flanigan), a teenage girl from Pennsylvania, who unexpectedly finds herself pregnant. We aren’t sure who knocked her up, but we are sure she does not want to go through with the pregnancy. Unable to tell her mother or her mother’s ass of a boyfriend, she confides in her best friend/ cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder). From there, the two head to New York on what is supposed to be a mission to take care of Autumn’s situation; but ends up being a journey of discovery and a difficult life lesson.

There is a lot to admire with director/writer Eliza Hittman’s (Beach Rats) third film. For starters, the support from all the women in the movie. They are shown as comforting and caring characters. Autumn’s mom is a bit clueless; but she does love her daughter, and shows a tender side in the brief moments we see her. The female workers at both the clinics Autumn visits, are understanding, non-judgmental, and genuinely try to help the lost young lady. But it’s the bond between Autumn and Skylar that shows a true example of a selfless and giving friendship. Both actresses do a wonderful job in the film, but it’s Flanigan who shines in her debut performance by playing her character with such grace and honesty.

However, the men in this movie are not painted in the same light. They are shown as dismissive, threatening, or perverted. When the girls come across Jasper (Theodore Pellerin) on their bus ride to the city, he appears eager but harmless. Clearly interested in Skylar, she reluctantly gives him her cell number which ends up being a resourceful tool. But as you’d imagine, he’s not as innocent as he seems.

Hittman’s raw and painfully realistic dialogue is what’s so captivating. All of Autumns conversations are incredibly natural. And the emotions hit hard when she’s at her final destination in Brooklyn answering a questionnaire given by the counselor there. She must answer a series of questions relating to her sexual history with the responses of either “never, rarely, sometimes, or always.” Hittman’s screenplay is harrowing and thought-provoking.

There are some burning questions that are left up to interpretation; and the film does drag a bit in the second act, but those are my only qualms.

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is not an easy watch, especially during our current ordeal; but it is well worth your time.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is available to rent On Demand on April 3 through any of these platforms…Amazon, Apple, Comcast, DirecTV, Vudu, Google/YouTube, Charter, Verizon, Microsoft, Dish, Fandango, Sony, Cox, Altice, Vubiquity, AMC On Demand, Redbox 

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Movie Review: “The Hunt”, “The Invisible Man”, & “Emma”

In this time of Pandemic, diversions help keep us sane. Now, more than ever, we need the cinema. But we need a new cinema, a safe cinema, a Shelter-at-Home cinema; and so streaming comes of age. Watch my review of “The Hunt” and recommendations of two other new films available for home viewing now: “The Invisible Man” and “Emma”. Will anyone trade some popcorn for this fine half-roll of paper towels? Anyone?

“The Hunt”, “The Invisible Man”, & “Emma” are available on Amazon, Apple, YouTube, and other various On Demand platforms at a starting price of $19.99.

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