Dallas Movie Screening

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Saturday, April 9, 2022

The USA Film Festival Announces Schedule of Events for USAFF52

The USA Film Festival Announces Schedule of Events for USAFF52 In-Theater Program April 20-24, 2022

DALLAS – The USA Film Festival announces the schedule of events for the 52nd Annual USA Film Festival, April 20 - 24, 2022. The in-theater program will be held at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas.

One of the oldest festivals in the U.S., the USA Film Festival celebrates its 52nd year. The first festival to devote itself to the American filmmaker back in 1970, today presents over 50 days of diverse programs every year.

“We are so pleased to be able to celebrate Dallas Arts Month and bring our program to the community with filmmaker guests in attendance again.” USAFF Managing Director Ann Alexander says. “And with support from our Sponsors, this year’s program will be presented as all-free-admission.”

This year, the Festival is also pleased to expand its program partnership with Juno Films to present four critically-lauded new films including the Southwest premiere of A Song for Cesar, As In Heaven, Calendar Girls and The Pact.

This year’s program highlights and guests include:

● Salute to actress Sally Struthers in conjunction with a special 50th Anniversary screening of the Sam Peckinpah classic action thriller The Getaway (1972), shot in Texas, featuring Struthers’ memorable performance, and starring Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw. An on-stage conversation with Ms. Struthers and film historian Foster Hirsch will follow the screening.

● Co-writers/directors Andres Alegria and Abel Sanchez will present A Song for Cesar, a rich documentary which portrays the previously untold story of the musicians and artists who dedicated their time, creativity and reputations to peacefully advance Cesar Chavez’s movement to gain equality and justice for America’s struggling farmworkers. The film will be followed by an on-stage conversation with Andres Alegria, Abel Sanchez, Arturo Rodriguez President of United Farm Workers, and Texas son and legendary American tejano performer Little Joe Hernandez.

● Salute to DFW journalist Bob Ray Sanders featuring a conversation and clip compilation program including clips from some of his early journalism work in the 1970s (from The KERA Collection). Fort Worth Star-Telegram Columnist Bud Kennedy will host the conversation with Sanders. The program is curated by the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, SMU Libraries. (Sample video clip may be viewed here: https://youtu.be/4vNQ3N5A3QU

● USAFF alumni Dale Dickey will attend the Festival to present A Love Song, featuring her critically-acclaimed performance. The film weaves a spare, lyrical and ultimately joyful refrain out of the wondrous and transformative act of being alone. The film stars Dickey, Wes Studi, Michelle Wilson, Benja K. Thomas, John Way, and Marty Grace Dennis, and marks the feature debut for Max Walker-Silverman.

● Omar Sosa in person! Director Soren Sorensen will present Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums, a fascinating documentary on the life and music of Cuban-born pianist and composer Omar Sosa – a multiple Grammy-nominee who has a career spanning 25 plus years as a solo artist and over 30 albums. An on-stage conversation with Sorensen and jazz pianist Omar Sosa will follow the screening. This program will be presented in partnership with Sammons Jazz and the Sammons Center for the Arts in celebration of D’JAM (Dallas Jazz Appreciation Month).

● Actor Theo Rossi and writer/director John Patton Ford will present Ford’s gripping feature debut Emily the Criminal. The film follows Emily (Aubrey Plaza) -- a woman saddled with student debt desperate for income who finds herself seduced by the quick cash and illicit thrills of black-market capitalism with an increasing interest in her mentor Youcef (Rossi).

● Director Barry Avrich and producer Mark Selby will present Oscar Peterson: Black + White, a ground-breaking “docu-concert” exploring the life and legacy of jazz icon and composer, Oscar Peterson: his sound, his stardom, and staggering virtuosity. This program will be presented in partnership with Sammons Jazz and the Sammons Center for the Arts in celebration of D’JAM (Dallas Jazz Appreciation Month).

● Writer/director Tea Lindeburg will present her accomplished feature debut As in Heaven, a hypnotic and visually arresting coming-of-age drama based on Marie Bregendahl’s 1912 novel “A Night of Death.”

● Calendar Girls Katherine Shortlidge and Donna Allio will present Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen’s life-affirming documentary Calendar Girls, a film that captures the challenges of being a woman over 60 and the delicate balance of family, home and dance.

● Double feature of short Texas documentary films including The Portal and the Park which looks back at the history and evolution of an important piece of public artwork by Robert Irwin located in Downtown Dallas. Originally known as “Portal Park Piece (Slice)” the film explores the reimagining of public land and the Irwin sculpture to serve as a “portal” into Downtown for a new generation of Dallasites when Carpenter Park reopens to the public on May 3, 2022. Texas Wines is Robert Burk’s short documentary about the history of Texas-grown wines and the industry today encompassing over 600 wineries.

● Jurors for the USAFF’s International Short Film Competition include actress/director Karen Allen, actor Jim Beaver, actress/producer/documentarian Diane Baker, artist/cinematographer Bill Butler, actor/writer/director Stephen Tobolowsky, actress Dale Dickey, actor/producer/musician Courtney Gains, manager/writer/producer/director Chris Roe, and animator/director Bill Haller.

Other highlights include: the comedy drama The Duke directed by Roger Michell, written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren; the uplifting The Phantom of the Open directed by Craig Roberts, written by Simon Farnaby and based on the book by Farnaby and Scott Murray, starring Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins, and Rhys Ifans; the tense, thrilling drama 892 directed by Abi Damaris Corbin, written by Kwame Kwei-Armah, starring John Boyega, Michael K. Williams (in his final screen role), Nicole Beharie, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, and Selenis Leyva; the delightful romantic comedy Our Almost Completely True Story directed by Don Scardino, written by Mariette Hartley and Jerry Sroka, starring Hartley, Sroka, Bernie Kopell, Tess Harper, Morgan Fairchild, John Rubinstein, Peter MacNicol, and Sam McMurray; the charming Loren & Rose directed by Russell Brown, starring Jacqueline Bisset and Kelly Blatz; Billie August’s The Pact, a sterling adaptation of Thorkild Bjørnvig's bestselling memoir “The Pact: My Friendship with Isak Dinesen;” the charming documentary The United States of Fashion Designer Elie Tahari directed by David Serero; Kigawa Tsuyoshi’s fascinating Yokosuka1953, a documentary that follows the search for Yoko Kigawa’s mother sixty-six years after they were separated in Japan (Yoko is now Barbara Mountcastle, a Fort Worth resident); and several compilation programs of short films as well as Texas-made works.

For more details and to view the full schedule of programs, visit www.usafilmfestival.com

Tickets for all programs are FREE (quantities are limited).

Tickets may be reserved in advance by calling The Festival office at 214-821-6300 beginning April 18th.

Day-of-Show Tickets will also be available at the Angelika Film Center upstairs sales desk beginning ONE HOUR prior to EACH showtime.

USA Film Festival 52 is supported in part by the City of Dallas Office of Arts & Culture, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. This project is generously funded by Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Presenting Sponsors include Sidley Austin LLP, Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, Gaedeke Group, Carol and Alan J. Bernon Family Charitable Foundation, Moody Fund for the Arts, Headington Company, Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District, Mary Fox and Laura Fox, Dallas Film & Creative Industries, and the Angelika Film Center.

A year-round film festival featuring 50 days of programs The USA Film Festival is a 52-year-old Dallas-based 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the recognition and promotion of excellence in the film and video arts. Year-round events include the annual KidFilm® Festival; monthly screenings; special programs and premieres; and the USA Film Festival, held each Spring. Throughout the year, the Festival presents a variety of membership, exhibition, educational, and cultural programs designed to promote equity and equality, and to bring together audiences and artists for a “live cinema” experience.

USAFF52 is pleased to be a part of Arts Month! Dallas Arts Month is designed to build awareness and appreciation for the work of Dallas artists and organizations and foster creative learning and activity throughout the city. We encourage you to participate in the many events and programs offered by art and cultural institutions representing all disciplines. For more information, please visit www.dallasartsmonth.com

USAFF52 is proud to once again partner with the Sammons Center for the Arts and Sammons Jazz to present screenings celebrating the rich history of jazz. Dallas Jazz Appreciation Month (D’JAM) is a special month-long celebration of all things jazz, including the amazing jazz artists, past and present, legends and rising stars, who call North Texas home. Held each April as part of the national program called Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), D’JAM presents a variety of events highlighting and showcasing jazz in the greater Dallas area. The local initiative is coordinated by a volunteer collective of jazz presenters, jazz educators, and jazz supporters that includes nonprofit arts groups, universities, festivals, high schools, cultural centers, jazz clubs, and museums.

USAFF52 is pleased to partner with the archives to present the Salute to Bob Ray Sanders and other programs throughout the year. The G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU Libraries supports the communities of the Meadows School of the Arts, the University, and global moving image preservation and research. Its primary purpose is to support education and research through the study, preservation, and presentation of moving images. To this end, the Collection maintains moving images in a wide variety of formats, examples of related equipment, print materials associated with moving images, and a climate-controlled storage facility.

Juno Films is a boutique film distributor and world sales agent. Its founder Elizabeth Sheldon has over 20 years of experience in the distribution of documentary and feature films for both North American all-rights releases, international festivals and sales. Recent acquisitions include the Sundance films Calendar Girls, The Pact by Palm d’Or winning director Bille August, the critically-acclaimed A Song for Cesar and award-winning As In Heaven.

6116 N. Central Expressway, Suite 105
Dallas, Texas 75206
214-821-6300 phone
214-821-6364 fax
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Let's Talk About...AMBULANCE | Movie Therapy

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Everything Everywhere All At Once

Let's Talk About...EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE | Movie Therapy

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The Lost City

Let's Talk About...THE LOST CITY | Movie Therapy

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Let's Talk About...MASTER | Movie Therapy

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Let's Talk About...X | Movie Therapy

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Deep Water

Let's Talk About...DEEP WATER | Movie Therapy

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Turning Red

Turning Red - MOVIE REVIEW - Pixar Rules Once More

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Lucy and Desi

Lucy and Desi - MOVIE REVIEW - If You Like Docs and I Love Lucy, This is For You

(Review by Chase Lee)

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Everything Everywhere All at Once

**** (out of ****)

In one key moment late into Everything Everywhere All at Once, Evelyn Quan (Michelle Yeoh), the film’s harried and put-upon protagonist, wipes away a teardrop from the face of another character using the big toe of her foot. Well, to be clear, this is simply one version of a million different Evelyns, existing in multiple universes and currently being accessed by the version to whom we were introduced at the beginning. Still, at heart, she is the same Evelyn, and while the detail that she wipes a tear away with her big toe might be an odd one, the context makes it even stranger – that this Evelyn, like everyone in this particular universe, has evolved to grow hot-dog fingers.

A detail like this will be the ultimate test for prospective viewers: Can one accept even the possibility of a universe as absurd as one based around an evolutionary thread that has led to hot-dog fingers? The writing-and-directing pair of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, fashioned as “Daniels” onscreen, has previously proven – through their absurdist short films, a wildly popular music video, and 2016’s Swiss Army Man (not to mention Scheinert’s solo 2019 effort The Death of Dick Long) – to be quite adept at melding the absurd and the sincere, and this new film represents the pair at the peak of their conceptual and creative power. The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding in this case is the fact that a hot-dog-fingered universe makes sense within this wild and consistently creative vision.

It becomes sensible on two levels, the less important of which is a logistical one. If humans have evolved to be hot-dog-fingered, then we have also evolved to be as dexterous with our feet – hence the wiping away of the teardrop – as we in this universe have become with our hands. The far more important level is the emotional implication of the scene at hand, which cannot be talked about for too long without the risk of spoiling the details (even though it would be impossible to spoil the effect of seeing it in context). The implication can be discussed, however, since the effectiveness of the scene is tied directly to it. If humans have evolved to be dexterous with their feet, that means the hot-dog-fingered universe must, in some ways, be a good and virtuous one, where humans have still found meaning and are still finding ways of caring for other people. If that is true of every universe, then, that means we will all probably be ok. Such a truth comes as a relief to the characters and to us.

The idea that every universe in which Evelyn has existed must be good or virtuous way is merely one of many ideas in Kwan and Scheinert’s screenplay, by the way. Indeed, it might simply be the equivalent of an afterthought in comparison to the motivation of the film’s central villain, who takes on a familiar face in all of those universes and has the weight of all of them on her shoulders. To the Evelyn we know, she appears as her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), who has arrived back at this Evelyn’s laundromat with her long-term girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel) to introduce her to Evelyn’s elderly and old-fashioned father Gong Gong (James Hong). On top of needing to find a way to delay that revelation, the laundromat is being audited by the IRS for recent expenditures, and Evelyn and her pleasantly dull husband Waymond (a great Ke Huy Quan, tapping into the energy of the performances that defined his youth) are preparing for a Chinese New Year party.

That is the initial set-up of the story that unfolds for this Evelyn, whose priorities shift rapidly on the way to meet the IRS auditor (Jamie Lee Curtis, broadly funny and disdainful before the role and character deepen and find humanity in unexpected ways). Waymond’s entire personality shifts from bumbling to purposeful, and he announces himself to be an alternate version of Evelyn’s husband from a universe that has learned how to interact and communicate with the others. Because this is the universe where Evelyn has been the least productive with her expectations of herself, this Waymond believes she can be helpful in tracking down the identity of “Jobu Tabaky,” the threat that appears as familiar to this Evelyn and several hundred others (In a reflection of how this wasteful Evelyn is both the weakest and most capable of her selves, in order to access one’s persona in this world, one must weaken oneself intentionally – by eating lip balm, for instance, or by shoving a workplace trophy in a certain orifice for the duration of combat).

This presents several options for Kwan and Scheinert. Most prominently, it gives them an excuse to stage and execute a series of dynamic and hilarious combat sequences, such as when the alternate Waymond infiltrates his bumbling form to wield a fanny pack with skill or when Evelyn accesses an alternate version’s skill with a street sign to fight off assailants with a riot shield. There are a lot more scenes like this, all of them pitched perfectly between absurd and exciting, but it should be noted that the directors aren’t using them as any sort of defense mechanism against hollowness elsewhere. The film’s bombast is entirely of a piece with what the film ultimately becomes, as the villain leads Evelyn through a vast multiverse of possibility toward the emptiness that fills the core of her own view of the universe.

Yeoh’s performance is tremendous, exploring as many avenues of emotional complexity as Evelyn explores literal avenues of lives lived or in progress, and even gets a chance to be playful, such as in a few scenes highlight the physical skillfulness for which she became popular overseas and Stateside. It’s truly great work from one of the best actresses in the world. Hsu, meanwhile, essays a character just as complex in her development before we even get to the part where she plays the villain of the story – which, of course, is only a reflection of what is truly going on within the character’s head, a detail tied to a few of the surprises that shouldn’t be mentioned here.

Everything Everywhere All at Once is a film rife with as many ideas of the philosophical and existential variety (the final battle is, beneath the literal nature of it, between the perceptions of the universe as a meaningless construct and as a place where people live and thrive and think and feel, all of which should give it meaning) as of the visual and the conceptual (the film’s best visual effect reminds of the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey in more ways than one and fully pays off, too). It is a film as bursting with creativity as it is achingly, intimately human, and oh, man – we didn’t even get to the part with a talkative raccoon puppeteering a chef from under his toque blanche.

Review by Joel Copling

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A group of filmmakers – played by Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi, Owen Campbell, Jenna Ortega, Mia Goth, and Martin Henderson – go to a remote farm to film an adult movie in writer/director Ti West’s film “X.” This is one that will perhaps play better with little prior knowledge of the plot. Unfortunately for us, the film’s theatrical trailer spoils many plot details. If you haven’t had the misfortune of seeing the trailer already and don’t want anything spoiled, my best advice is to go see this without reading any reviews – including this one.

For those left reading, it’s no surprise that West’s film turns out to be a slasher movie. Horror fans going into this with the knowledge that it was written and directed by Ti West will not be surprised by this fact. West has made a name for himself in the horror genre with films like “The House of the Devil” and “The Innkeepers.”

His most recent theatrical output has left a lot to be desired. “The Sacrament” and “In a Valley of Violence” were both a chore to get through. To be honest, I can’t remember much of anything from my viewing of “In a Valley of Violence.” “X” is definitely better than both of those films although it doesn’t reach the heights of “The House of the Devil,” which I still think is West’s best film, thus far.

As with “The House of the Devil,” “X” spends a good portion of time on the build-up. West develops his characters, who are an interesting bunch, enough to suit the plot and the film’s themes but not enough for you to really care about any of them. In addition to the filmmakers, there is the old couple who owns the farm – both unaware that the folks renting from them are filming a porno. The arrival of the young filmmakers causes an awakening of sorts in the old woman living there. She longs for her youthful days, spying on them and growing envious as they flaunt their bodies.

West throws suggestions that he’s going to subvert genre expectations. The filmmakers get in an argument about not being able to change the plot halfway through the movie, mentioning the bait and switch of “Psycho.” One of the characters also mentions that he plans to edit the movie in the style of the French New Wave, suggesting that West’s movie itself might be more experimental than most slasher features. Ultimately, nothing much is done with this. The biggest piece of subversion is that the killer is an old woman who has become obsessed with Mia Goth’s character. I’ve read that Goth also plays the old woman which makes the dynamic between the two characters even more interesting, creating something of a commentary on not wasting your youth.

From a tonal perspective, the film is almost entirely serious. It presents itself as a grimy 70s era film, taking place in 1979 at the onset of home video, which these entrepreneurs hope to cash in on. However, West also includes some jokes, causing conflicting tonalities as the film progresses. This includes visual gags and other more obvious attempts at humor. Perhaps some of this is just my audiences’ reactions to the scenes.

“X” is a little bit of Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” mixed with his follow-up film “Eaten Alive” with some porno elements thrown into a blender. As a whole, the movie didn’t totally work for me. It’s not a horrible film by any means, I just expected a stronger second half. For those looking for nudity and gore, there’s plenty of that. If you want some suspense or actual terror in your horror features – you’d better look somewhere else.

(Review by Bret Oswald)

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All the Old Knives

Director: Janus Metz Pederson

Studio: Amazon Studios

All the Old Knives is just another Knives Out movie reference!

The title and the atmosphere of this film reminded me of the film Knives Out with James Bond actor Daniel Craig starring in it. All the Old Knives is based on the novel of the same name written by Olen Steinhauer, who also serves as the film’s screenwriter. Danish filmmaker Janus Metz Pederson sets foot in the big Hollywood movie-directing world as he is going to solve the mystery by putting the pieces of the puzzle together. The film features the cast of Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne, and Jonathan Pryce.

All the Old Knives focuses on two CIA agents and ex-lovers Henry and Celia meet over dinner to reminisce on their time together at Vienna, discussing the incident and the disastrous hijacking of Royal Jordanian Flight 127, which ended in the deaths of all who are on board. That failure haunts the CIA to this day as Henry seeks to close the chapter on this investigation. Over a sumptuous dinner, Henry and Celia soon realize that one of them is not going to survive by the time their dinner is over.

Actors Chris Pine (Star Trek, Wonder Woman) and Thandiwe Newton (HBO’s Westworld, Crash) both received their main onscreen roles as Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, the duo of CIA colleagues and former lovers who are meet each other for the first time in years at the restaurant close to the sea to exclaim about the Royal Jordanian Flight 127 shooting incident. Pine and Newton’s appearances are necessary in this drama-thriller film, gathering the elements and surprises towards audiences like any other spy movies, but they both got some serious, dramatized acting based on their facial expressions and emotions they provided just to keep this film as suspenseful as ever. To my surprise for the character’s reference, Chris Pine’s character name sounded exactly like mine, but with a few letters being added.

Under Janus Metz Pederson’s solo direction, he manages to keep the tone and the atmosphere of this flowing film, taking movie-making advice from the James Bond films, Knives Out, and that classic Get Smart sitcom, created and produced by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. What’s highly understandable is that this film may be his first motion picture he has ever directed, but even though whether or not this film will be a hit, it never discouraged him from continuing his job as a Hollywood film director.

The story seems very dark, sad, unemotional, and gritty along with the sluggish pacing, which doesn’t seem very helping to accommodate the actors’ screen time, the scene edits, the story arcs, and the climaxes. Though there are small scenes that feature comedy offered by the main actors, all of the good comedy parts have been cut out due to save time, focus on romantic chemistry between Pine and Newton, and making the story accurate from the book. My grievance on this film is that the director and the crew spent too much time rushing and dragging in some scenes, including the dinner climax, in order to craft a simple spy film with no flaws and mistakes. Even the ending is sad and cheezy, but it’s nothing memorable to find a decent ending for that twist.

And then, we have actor Laurence Fishburne, who skipped out on his The Matrix Resurrections reprising-role opportunity, appearing in the film as the supportive CIA leader Vick Wallinger while Oscar-nominee Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) who has his supporting role as Bill with some unique Gary Oldman-impressions being displayed right there in this film.

With only 100 minutes to watch, All the Old Knives is just average in my honest opinion. It was slow and sadder throughout the film, with some scary moments that will affect you and your children. There’s a lot of suspense, the pacing issues, and the lack of colors flying all over the film, which gives me the creeps. The actors Chris Pine and Thandwie Newton, however, really did a terrific job as they’re the only ones who keep the story afloat and make this film entertaining entirely.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Director: Jeff Fowler

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 slowly improves its speed and power.

This year, we’re heading back to the world of Sonic the Hedgehog series, thanks to the team behind the first Sonic the Hedgehog film. Must heavily advise, if you folks haven’t seen the first film yet, then you need to watch that first before heading over to this one because this film is going to be very interesting to see when new, anticipating characters come to life. As the director Jeff Fowler is returning onstage to helm this sequel, the cast from the first film returns as well, consisting Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, and Jim Carrey.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 picks up where the first film left off, centering on Sonic, an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog, whose ultimate goal is to be a hero of his town. Though the problem is his best friend and father-figure Tom Wachowski, who plans to take a vacation with his wife Maddie, tells him that he is not ready to fight crime as he needs to be patient and learn the responsibility of how he can handle things smoothly as he is growing up.

Actor Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) reprises his role as Sonic, an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog who can run at supersonic speeds. As he is continuously fighting crime against evil, he wishes to use his powers to be a hero and save lives but is deemed too immature and reckless. James Marsden (X-Men film series) and Tika Sumpter (Ride Along films) also reprise their roles as Tom, Sonic’s best friend, and Maddie, whom they are taking a trip to Hawaii to attend Rachel’s wedding. Like the first film, Schwartz, Mardsen, and Sumpter are superb in the sequel as they want to make this film as entertaining as ever, but with newer adventures along the way. They seem comically hilarious and sounded like they were actually getting along pretty well under the complete guidance from Jeff Fowler, but Schwartz really stole the hearts and spotlight out of all the returning cast which makes me wonder if the current Sonic voice actor Roger Craig Smith would approve of his performance in this sequel. Who knows, based on my analysis, he’ll probably get a good laugh out of that while expressing his approval and endorsement towards Schwartz on his voice acting job.

On the other side, the great Jim Carrey (The Mask, How The Grinch Stole Christmas!) returns in the sequel, reprising his role as Dr. “Eggman” Robotnik, a mad scientist who, after returning to Earth, bends on revenge on Sonic the Hedgehog by teaming up with Knuckles (voiced by newcomer Idris Elba), an anthropomorphic red echidna with a super-strength ability, to find the Master Emerald and defeat Sonic once and for all. Carrey is no stranger to any films or television shows as he is like no other actor who can play (or voice) comically as Dr. Eggman respectively just like what he did in the first film. His performance can be filled with comedy, but he’s being very crucial and consequential in his part. Admittedly, Carrey never fails and disappoints his fans. Based on what he does in each of his scenes and timeframes, he is a vital part about this film.

The story and the designs from the newly-revealed Tails and Knuckles are exquisite, but the pacing and the screenwriting duties handled by Pat Casey, Josh Miller, and John Whittington are the main big issues in the film. If you ever go back to watch the first film, that is where the real conflict started in some scenes from that film, this is where the director and screenwriters don’t take the high road when it comes to handling the storytelling work, the lazy screenwriting, and the CGI usages for an ordinary feature film that is meant for children and families of all ages.

However, after his experience with directing the first film, what Jeff Fowler does smoothly and steadily is to make all the characters being more realistic in their portrayal of said personas, mostly on the Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles’ character. His commitment on exploring the personas and the character developments of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles really shows how much these characters mean to him as he graciously showed honor, compassion, and devotion to go great lengths of studying their character developments based on the earlier video games and media, especially when the messages and the importances of a loving family and friendship are the essences of the film’s dynamics. To add to that perspective, the visuals, the references, and the inside jokes are very comical and completely spot on.

Also appearing in the film are Natasha Rothwell as Maddie’s sister Rachel who is getting married, Adam Pally as Tom’s friend and Green Hills deputy sheriff Wade, Lee Majdoub as Dr. Robotnik’s assistant Agent Stone, and newcomer Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds) as Rachel’s fiancé-turned-secret-agent Randall. In addition to the cast, experienced voice actress Colleen O'Shaughnessey, who is the current voice of Tails in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, receives her opportunity to voice Tails again in this feature film, marking her the only cast member from the Sonic video game series to ever reprise her role in the film.

Leaning up to at least two hours for that time slot, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a greater sequel that improves its flaws and damage. With Fowler’s somewhat-improved direction, Schwartz, Marsden, Sumpter, and Carrey really outdone themselves, bringing a truckload of goofier moments that will leave the audience to burst their bubble. I enjoyed Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and I think this sequel is a must for everyone, especially for Sonic fans out there. This sequel delivers the goods in every single department for balancing out the various devices, the characters’ antics, and the circumstances beyond the casts and crews’ control that can make a great, seducing cinematic pudding that can make me want to go back in time to play some Sonic video games. And lastly, please stick around for the after-credits scenes as this one leaves a cliffhanger for the next Sonic the Hedgehog film and the sudden about-to-be-revealed new character you’re familiarized with from the past games you played at home (or at the arcade).


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Director: Daniel Espinosa

Studio: Sony/Columbia Pictures

Morbius falls short on a superhero film.

You know the real term for a science-fiction film is just “science” being the center of attention. In rare times, the world gets to see how characters got their superpowers with a logical explanation being shown in this anticipating, superhero film. Morbius serves as another of Sony's own cinematic adventures after 2018’s Venom, following the footsteps of Marvel cinematic Universe. Director Daniel Espinosa is standing right in front to helm his first-time superhero film the Spider-Man and Venom fans will never forget, featuring the Oscar winner Jared Leto in his titular role.

Morbius centers entirely on Dr. Michael Morbius, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who, after suffering from a rare blood disease, finds the most dangerous cure in order to medically cure him after years of searching. Though, the biggest conflict about this cure is that it turns him into a living-fighting monster with a strong form of transgenic vampirism, which lead to become a vicious vampire with unique super-like abilities.

Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) receives his meatier-protagonist role as Dr. Michael Morbius, a scientist who searches for the cure for his rare blood disease, while Matt Smith receives his villainy role as Michael Morbius’ brother-turned-enemy Milo who plans to use Michael’s dangerous cure to cure himself as well. The Michael Morbius character is actually an anti-hero in the film, harboring a similar personality like Tom Hardy in Venom respectively. Leto really did a good job in the film, though the problem is that his role itself is not very well written based on the screenwriting duty from Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. They pushed the character too hard with no character development being studied. On the other hand, Matt Smith is the one who had the most fun with his role as he looks like he is having the time of his life.

Director Daniel Espinosa is calling all the shots in this movie. He encourages Jared Leto to take the role whether he plays a hero or a villain and advises Leto to just go with the flow. For his direction, the story starts off nicely and well-done, but later on, it becomes increasingly dry and empty as Espinosa has a bigger fish to fry on the focused Morbius character as he is able to amp his commitments in his direction, his ways of guiding Jared Leto, and both the CGI and the visual effects departments. However, he does a great job on showcasing who Morbius is and what his powers are going to be, reminding me of that 2005 film Batman Begins. According to both Espinosa and Leto, they knew that Morbius is another interesting character to be presented properly. Unfortunately, Sony again has surpassed themselves since they squandered so many opportunities with the Venom films.

Like the Venom films, the visual effects and the CGI are great and all from the very start but ended up being lazy in the second half of the film, most notably the climax battle between Michael and Milo. The action sequences, however, are awesome and pretty much contributive enough to provide some decent amusement towards viewers. My main reason someone is interested in this action-packed film is to understand how everything connects, given all the easter eggs and references from the trailers. Hard to say, don't ever expect too much from those trailers, because by the time you watch this film, you will be extremely disappointed. Even the ending is not worth the effort to understand anything on my honesty level, letting the after-credits scenes do all the work, which you need to stick around for that as they provide some small cliffhangers for the next Moribus film [possibly] and some future Marvel films, connecting the dots to MCU.

Also starring in the film is actress Adria Adjona who aids on Jared Leto’s side as Michael Morbius’ girlfriend Martine. She’s amazing at her job as she guides Michael Moribus on telling what needs to be done and to understand what is right for him and what choices he has. The next supporting actor appearing is Jared Harris (Mad Men) who walks into the scene as Nicholas, a mentor and father figure for Morbius and Milo who runs a medical facility that looks after people with incurable diseases. And lastly, we have actors Al Madrigal (The Way Back) and Tyrese Gibson (Fast & Furious films) running around the set as Alberto Rodriguez and Simon Stroud, the two FBI agents who are hunting for Dr. Michael Morbius.

In a surprising ironic twist actor Michael Keaton stands and delivers in this film, reprising his role as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture from MCU’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Despite some small screen time, his performance is just the anticipation for the inevitable for anybody who has seen the MCU’s Spider-Man films to see what his future plans will be in future films. This similar stint also happened to actor J.K. Simmons appeared as J. Jonah Jameson in both Sam Raimi’s trilogy and the MCU after making a cameo appearance in Spider-Man: Far From Home before getting his role extended in No Way Home.

Although Morbius is not a bad movie nor a good movie, it just kind of sits in the “mixed-average” section. Though I must admit, it’s a fun movie thanks to the performances from Jared Leto himself and so did the actors. It falls short on everything into place as if this is another Venom movie which is what Espinosa wants to do in his whole career when it comes to crafting a subtle comic-book movie just like the MCU films. I do respect the director’s ambition on making a simple superhero film as he does have some good tastes in them. Running up to at least 104 minutes, I must caution you to think about this film before you decide to watch it.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Everything Everywhere All At Once

Director: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinart

Studio: A24

All the pieces of Everything Everywhere All At Once are all put together in one place!

A24 is known for making Oscar-winning and nominated films. This film held its world premiere at this year’s SXSW festival happening in Austin, TX, marking this film as a huge cultural celebration of Asian cinema for Asian filmmakers, animators, and families. The directing duo Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinart, along with the film’s producers Anthony and Joe Russo, teamed up to craft this wondrous drama feature film that will certainly blow the audiences and celebrities away, featuring the main stars of Michelle Yoeh, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan.

A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once focuses on a female Chinese laundromat owner Evelyn Wang who struggles to pay her taxes. However, she soon comes across a sudden realization when her husband Waymond informs her that she is an existent in many universes, where she alone can save the world and herself by exploring other universes that ties directly with the lives she could have led in her own destiny.

Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) is the main entree of the film as Evelyn Wang, a Chinese immigrant who owns the laundromat and is experiencing difficulty filing her taxes. She is absolutely magnificent, given the fact that she always showcases her wide range of talents and her moves, from her martial art skills to her superb comical timing to her best ability to engender endless depths of rich human tenderness scattered across the screen from either a glance or reaction. Actress Stephanie Hsu (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) additionally stands by her side as Evelyn’s daughter Joy Wang whose alter-ego is revealed to be Jobu Tupaki in Evelyn’s different universes. Their performances are outstanding as the steady chemistry between Yeoh and Hsu are exquisite, forming a strong mother-daughter relationship as part of the film’s themes, dynamics, and emotional messages. They are also extremely hilarious, providing some wacky colors and confetti flying all over the scenes, including some funnier action sequences, while trying to fit the bill of being an action-drama film.

But the show stealer out of the main two actors right there none other than Ke Huy Quan (The Goonies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) who supportingly plays as Waymong, Evelyn’s husband who is reveals that she’s existent in multiverse as if she’s a non-player avatar (or character) in a virtual game. He’s the Jackie Chan of all traits, going hardcore from learning martial arts lessons for fight scenes to becoming Jackie Chan when he knows how to get up and fight to save his wife and his family. He looks like he is born to play a husband and a father to a child as the chemistry between Yeoh and Quan as Evelyn and Waymond flows steadily in both the real world and the multi-worlds. As they travel back and forth throughout the multiverses and the film as a whole, their relationship grows stronger and stronger.

This film marks the second motion picture for both Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinart (or simply called the duo “Daniels”) as film directors after making their directorial debut on Swiss Army Man, which features the stars of Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and also serve as screenwriters for this film as well. The story is well put together going from the opening scene where life is a happy family before reaching the dissatisfied and depressing colors where the family becomes unhappy and dysfunctional. The main themes in the film are stress, trauma, and destiny as Waymond. The “Daniels” express their excitement with a little caring concern with the characters as these characters learn how the family should “grow up” and then learn how their relationships, the future, and their ways of dealing with trauma affect their loved ones entirely. The fight sequences provided by choreographed by Andy and Brian Le have a balletic beauty in them in order to find the right structural components for a wuxia-theme film as the beautiful cinematography is placed into wide shots allowing the whole bodies to fill the frame slowly and surely. Not to mention, there’s graphic nudity and graphic exposures shown in the film to provide a laugh-to-death comedy in the background that surprises the whole audience. And last but not least, the Russo brothers, Anthony and Joe, known for directing Avengers: Endgame, also serve as producers of the film.

There are a plethora of references from several wuxia and martial films, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and that drives this plot line. Even Pixar’s Ratatouille adds a lot of comedy for this conception of emphasizing the drama and the humor in it, thanks to the humorous screenwriting of Daniels and editor Paul Rogers who puts a pacing effort to craft such a fine script connecting the dots to the multiverse. Even some time-traveling flashback sequences, including Michelle Yeoh’s own Crazy Rich Asians premiere experience, contains some easy-to-miss nostalgic references right there based on one’s real life situation. This is where the intensity of the climax builds and so does the fighting sequences.

Also starring in the film are legendary actor James Hong (Kung Fu Panda) who plays Evelyn’s father Gong Gong Wang, Jenny Slate (Parks and Recreation) as customer Big Nose, Harry Shum Jr. (Glee) as Chad, and Jamie Lee Curtis (1978’s Halloween) as Deridre, an IRS inspector who Evelyn struggles to pay off her taxes. Their acting is spontaneous and filled with genius comedy and laugh-out-loud moments that make other people’s hearts pound like crazy when situations arise.

With the fancier colors, dramatic acting, and much humorous dialogue all in one place, A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once is an amazing film, clocking up to 140 minutes. It’s a game changer to many multiverse stories most filmmakers like to tell. Thanks to Daniels’ direction, Michelle Yeoh really brings the acting house down and so does the cast really made this film possible to get some action, laughs, and emotions we all desperately needed. This film is a must, no joke. Though, be warned there’s some flashy, photogenic images that might affect photosensitive viewers, especially for children as we get to the flashback scenes and sequences shown in the film. But they are filled with comedy and heartwarming moments that will make the audience understand what this whole family situation will be. You really should watch this if you have the chance. I think this film and some of their acting would be Oscar worthy for next year’s ceremony.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Director: Mariama Diallo

Studio: Amazon Studios

Master is a new kind of horror and thriller film!

Master is a brutal psychological thriller in which Regina Hall plays the role of Gail Bishop, the newly appointed dean of students, or master, at a prestigious Massachusetts institution called Ancaster. While Gail is moving into her new home, she experiences some minor supernatural events that affect her new role on campus. Meanwhile, Jasmine Moore, a new freshman in Ancaster, makes her way to the campus and her dorm with a mixture of fear, confidence, and worry that flows around her conscience and her well-being.

Regina Hall (Scary Movie series) portrays her role as Gail Bishop, a newly-appointed professor or simply called the “master” of this institution, while Zoe Renee comes into the screen as Ancaster freshman Jasmine Moore. At the same time, they both have experienced something that threatens their role-playing game and their well-being when getting fitted on campus and that is racism and fear, which are the main themes of the film. As much as she enjoys acting, Hall is what makes this film very subtle to see as she delivers a terrific performance based on her experience with her role in Scary Movie series and so does Renee right there.

This feature film serves as Mariama Diallo’s directorial debut as her main goal is to exclaim an interesting narrative filled with impactful social commentary dealing with racism and white supremacy with a plethora of terrifying, supernatural elements surrounded by a horror-intense music score from Robert Aiki Aubrey Love and some dark, creepy cinematography. Diallo also provides some clear references from Jordan Peele’s Get Out as the real precision lies throughout the film when it comes to exploring horror films that involve African American people setting foot in the white people’s personal spaces.

The story starts out nicely in the first half but as the film heads to the climax scenes, they end up being empty and emotionless as fear and racism draw the attention of what’s going to happen to both characters of Gail Bishop and Jasmine Moore. Though, in the end, Hall and Renee later make good chemistry in the second half of the film as they both know how to help each other and find their voice for the film’s entirety. Even the ending is a wonderful (though somewhat confused) conclusion to demonstrate the cultural and behavioral differences towards each race. Nevertheless, the script-writing offers an a strong point-of-view, allowing the audience to understand how discrimination affects the main characters who have been doing all suffering just to satisfy the forced plot lines down the line.

Also appearing in the film are Amber Gray as Liv Bechnam, Ella Hunt as Cressida, Talia Ryder as Amelia, Talia Balsam as Diandra, and Bruce Altman as Brian. They both seem pretty great, but admittedly, their decent acting could have been much better explored and studied, which results in the lack of focus and lack of character development on them.

Lining up for at least 90 minutes, Master is just mixed and average, but it’s not a great film to be honest. Though, Regina Hall manages to shine the light in front of the cast and crew as a lead actor. Some acting coming from other actors do need work though, even for Zoe Renee. This is a movie where you chose this, but ended up regretting that decision after you saw it but didn’t like it entirely. It’s not an awful movie, but stands closer to being awful. Master may be a horror film, but the director knows that the scariest, supernatural elements are mixed in the form of the persistent social realities that inspired this film to be a horror film.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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The Outfit

Director: Graham Moore

Studio: Focus Features

The Outfit is looking sharp for that tight thriller game!

If you want something cheap, why not pick this film for your spring break outing. It’s the price of admission for your own personal outing. This film has The Godfather vibes all over in the film. To answer that question, this is not a kids’ movie as this film is mainly targeted for older teens and younger adults. But whatever the case, you better put on your energy pills because director Graham Moore is taking you for a thrill of a lifetime with The Outfit, featuring the Oscar winner Mark Rylance.

The Outfit focuses on an English master tailor, Leonard, who runs a small, high-end tailor shop in Chicago along with his protégé, Mabel. Though the only problem is that the shop is discovered to be the only shop where people came in to afford his clothes and that is a local gangster named Roy Boyle along with his gangster family who show up late one evening. With that, Leonard is forced to outwit the enemies to make it through the lasting evening.

Oscar winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) stars as Leonard, an English tailor whose loyal customers mainly consist of a family of gangsters, while Simon Russell Beale receives his meatier role as Roy, the leader of the gangster family with a side of understanding mindset. As an actor, Rylance astonishingly escalates his acting chops and skills in this film. He has the perfect demeanor to portray this character and he often uses classy English-British established acts and traits to engage with the audience and critics. Actor Dylan O’Brien (Maze Runner films), who portrays Roy's son Richie, is very serious when playing a criminal-gangster role, expressing his disdain to match his character trait.

Graham Moore makes his sensational directorial debut and also serves as a co-writer alongside Jonathan McClain. To those who don’t know Moore, he is an Oscar-winning screenwriter for his 2014 film The Imitation Game, which features Benedict Cumberbatch. As the director of this film, he really rocks in his job as a fine film director, taking many influences from directors Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Cappola, and Quentin Tarantino and adding some key elements from them. Even though this is his first time directing a movie, he’s going to give everything he has got as if he wants to play his cards right without losing.

The film is heavily shot in just one location, which is a brilliant, smart move in order to keep the production costs down as these experiences gave the audience the opportunity to study the characters developing their own unique persona, let their tensions build up rapidly, and keep everything in order. The costume designs and the production designs viciously sets the tone and mood for the era and elegance of the high-end Englandian shop despite the Chicago setting. They both feel like these two are very special for whatever time periods lapsed in London or anywhere in England. Since the main setting is all in one place, the set dressings serve as major assistants to the film and are completely top-notch for the film’s structure and integrity. The music score from Alexandre Desplat keeps the ongoing pace of the film, showing the companion piece to Leonard's action wits as he tries to defeat and outsmart the criminal gangs. Of course, the abundant cinematography offered from Dick Pope also sweeps in through the shop and holds the precision when the tendency rises from above.

Also featured in the film are Zoey Deutch, Johnny Flynn, and Nikki Amuka-Bird. Zoey Deutch (Netflix's Set It Up) plays as Leonard’s assistant Mable in the film and she seems very confident in her role as she knows what she wants to do and how she is going to reach the top. Johnny Flynn (Emma) is Roy's nephew and another evil henchman who is not afraid to let his fear get in the way as well as showing his true colors and intentions. Actress Nikki Amuka-Bird (Old) is given the role as Violet, in which her name refers to the term “violence,” and she brings a bold, meatier performance to the film. This goes to show, any sexy-hot actress appearing in action and crime films always leads the audience to ponder what it was like for her to show her own true personality.

Please don't let these minor issues get you in the way when you’re planning on seeing this film. The Outfit is a great movie, lining up through 105 minutes. The director is enjoying his job on crafting this interesting crime movie that will blow you away, but the main event is the cast, which is top-notch when it comes to acting and making action sequences. The actors are what makes the plot line fairly go down easily. When you throw in some great acting tips with the characters you care about, you will certainly become attached to them. This film is going to be flown under anyone’s radar, but it goes great for your spring break movie trip down the road.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Turning Red

Director: Domee Shi

Studio: Disney

Turning Red is a remarkable Pixar classic offered from Domee Shi.

Turning Red is the third Pixar film to not be issued a theatrical release after Soul and Luca. This film is like Kung Fu Panda and The Incredible Hulk mashed up together, but is way cuter and more child-like in that manner. As the studio engages in cultural-diversity lectures, Domee Shi receives her big break by helming another original film from Pixar Animation Studios that will certainly blow the fans and audiences away. Actresses Rosalie Chang and Sandra Oh received their main, mightier roles in the film.

Turning Red focuses on 13-year-old teenage girl named Mei Lee who is torn between being her mother and the chaos of her youth as she wants to have freedom to do whatever she wants rather than following her family roots. However, there is one small problem: whenever she gets too excited or stressed about something, she turns into a big red panda and goes back to her own human form when she feels calm. With this situation, she must figure out a way to get herself back into her own human self for good.

Actress Rosalie Chang, in her film debut, voices Mei Lee, a young teenage girl who happens to transform herself into a big red panda whenever excitement or stressfulness foams over her, while Sandra Oh voices Mei Lee’s overprotective mother Ming who forbids her to talk to some boys and attend the concert.

Turning Red serves as a first-time feature film for Pixar director Domee Shi, leading her to become the second woman to direct a Pixar film (after Brenda Chapman for Brave) and the first woman of color to do so. As you may have known, she directed her own Pixar short Bao, becoming the first woman to direct a Pixar short, leading her to receive an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. The short film was released in front of Incredibles 2.

Shi’s direction, the story, and the animation chores are superb thanks to Shi herself, writer Julia Cho, producer Lindsey Collins, and the team of animators. Shi crafts the story by utilizing her own experiences as she grows up, bringing the references and images based on her own youthhood and personal trauma when she has while following her own family roots and her Canadian roots at the same time. The references from Pixar’s Bao is an easy foresight, adding her integrity and confidence to build up her artistic ways of storytelling and building climaxes along the way. This is what the real definition of what Pixar filmmaking has to be done in the shape of any visionary storyteller like Andrew Stanton, Dan Scanlon, and Pete Docter, with the latter two serving as executive producers of the film. In addition, the music duties coming from Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther), Billie Eilish, and her brother Finneas O’Connell adds a nice, enduring sparkle for engaging family customs and the representation of Asian people around the film.

In the film, the aspects of family dynamics, one’s own freedom of choice, and the use of Asian culture take the center stage, since the main family characters' devotion to religious ritual are put into place. For that case, in the second half of the film, it’s mainly about Mei Lee who wants to go to the boys band concert, against her mother’s wishes, instead of the annual family ritual that coincides the same day as the concert. It pretty much seems that Mei only wanted to do something new for once in her life though she refused to break the family tradition entirely. Family traditions are just one important thing Mei’s mother has mainly focused on but soon realizes her devotion of passing down the tradition is the threat to Mei Lee’s well-being, freedom, and her own right to do whatever she wants. The chemistry between Mei and her mother really hammers down the mother-daughter dysfunctional relationship and constantly finds new ways of weaving the tableau to make this family-feature film as dynamic as the previous Pixar films.

The rest of the voice cast did a great job as well. The film includes Ava Morse, Hyein Park, and Maitreyi Ramakrishman as Mei’s friends, Orion Lee as Mei’s father Jin, Wai Ching Ho as Mei’s grandmother, Tristan Allerick Chen as Mei’s bully Tyler, and James Hong as Mr. Gao. The boys from the 4 Town band are also voiced by Jordan Fisher, Finneas O’Connell, Josh Levi, Topher Ngo, and Grayson Villanueva. However, for some strange reason, Pixar mainstay John Ratzenberger hasn’t had a cameo in the film.

Pixar’s Turning Red is a wonderful animated film, clocking in 100 minutes. Director Domee Shi and the voice cast are what makes the story filled with tears and strong heartwarming lessons and I can’t wait to hear more stories coming from women at Pixar. Though, it’s very sad that this film didn’t get a theatrical release, but it’s worth the wait, even though we have COVID-19 disturbance and dilemma to deal with. Hopefully, the main goal for the future of Pixar is to release a film theatrically once the world is getting increasingly better. But for now, enjoy this piece of work as the film is up on Disney+.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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The Adam Project

Director: Shawn Levy

Studio: Netflix

The Adam Project is a scientific project that requires extra push.

You are very familiar with the 80s sci-fi classics like E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Back to the Future. This film makes the audiences remember their time in the 80s where science fiction films became a landmark thanks to the usages of technology and CGI. Shawn Levy wants to relive the classical 80s era by making a science-fiction film, packed with action-adventure pieces to the puzzle, featuring the stars of Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell.

The Adam Project focuses on time-traveling pilot Adam Reed who crashlands in the year 2022 and is forced to team with his younger, pre-teen self on his ultimate goal of saving the future.

Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds stars as Adam Reed, a futuristic fighter pilot who’s stolen a time jet in order to leap back in time and save the woman he loves, while child actor Walker Scobell (in his acting debut) portrays Adam Reed’s younger self. Reynolds is a neat actor and is no stranger to science fiction films and action-adventure films. He is destined to be his own unique way of acting, even being hilarious at any time, but on the inside, he is filled with emotion at heart. Walker Scobell, on the other hand, is an amazing show stealer who serves as the future Adam Reed’s conscience and mentor of his past.

This film marks Ryan Reynolds’ another collaboration with director Shawn Levy after Free Guy. The story flows very gently as this film gathers lots of nostalgic moments that unravels the sci-fi magic of the ‘80s while packing some epic-adventure feels and heartfelt moral lessons that needed to be taken accountability for it while studying the grasps of science-fiction films and stories. Even the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell is really filled with heartwarming tenderness. What can be exciting is that Levy additionally installed some impressive action sequences, including the fight scenes, which are made simple yet beautifully effective to give the film and its climax some bonus points. Though parts of the story and the editing really need much more work.

The main themes of this film are not just time traveling, but also family issues that affect one’s own past. In this case, Adam’s relationship with his father, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo (Marvel’s The Avengers). That’s the main reason why the director wants to focus on filming the reconciling of Adam’s own past as it is about saving the future, a neat touch that elevates this the message of time-traveling and gives both the film and the character development of future and younger Adam Reed a tremendous amount of depth.

The film also includes Jennifer Garner (ABC’s Alias) as Adam Reed’s mother Ellie, Oscar-nominated star Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich, Capote) as Maya Sorien, Zoe Saldaña (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Laura, and Alex Mallari Jr. as Christos.

The Adam Project is ok, but it’s certainly a thoughtful, gritty mash-up of all the 80s’ type movies that needs a little push to it. Basically, it’s like E.T., Back to the Future, and The Last Starfighter being fairly mixed together with some wonderful performances from a cast that clearly loves science fiction films to work on. Above all, Ryan Reynolds is top notch for the Adam Reed character and so is Walker Scobell who clearly matches his kiddie punch, even with a great acting debut performance. While not as great as the classic 80s sci-fi films, The Adam Project is just a rehash to the family sci-fi flicks from the 1970s and 1980s, packed full of Steven Spielberg-like consistency. The film is up on Netflix.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Lucy and Desi

Director: Amy Poehler

Studio: Amazon Studios

Review: Lucy and Desi!!

Lucy and Desi is a documentary film that explores the rising star of Lucille Ball on her television career in I Love Lucy as well as her relationship with Desi Arnaz while taping her show. This documentary also explains how Ball’s career and her relationship with Desi from the groundbreaking television show has created a huge impact to many fans, celebrities, and audiences that will forever change Hollywood, cementing her legacy during her lifetime and after her time of death in 1989.

Lucy and Desi is Amy Poehler’s directorial debut on a documentary feature film. To those who don’t know Amy Poehler, she is an actress, known for her portrayal as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation. She also worked on Saturday Night Live and did the voice of Joy from Pixar’s Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter. If you had hardly noticed, there was another film called Being the Ricardos, which was released last year and featured Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz. And to add to that comment, that film officially received some nominations for this upcoming Oscar ceremony, which honors the films being released in 2021.

Poehler is not calling out the shots; she and writer Mark Monroe utilized several stock and archive footage on Lucille Ball, her career in I Love Lucy, and her history, including her questionable role as a Communist. Poehler had the ambition of creating this magical piece of work as actress Lucille Ball was one of her influences on why she wanted to become an actress. She and her team, including some interviews from celebrities, always pour so much effort and difficult tasks on editing major clips and interviews as well as shooting some present-day scenes in Lucille's hometown at Jamestown, NY.

All the ingredients, pieces, and dynamics are in place, but some of the clips and archive footage of Lucille Ball’s interesting turn of events have been cut off to save time as the director has been balancing the attention between Ball’s life and career and the interviewees exclaiming how Lucille Ball had shine the light in both Hollywood and the television world. Nevertheless, it’s something people want to see more of Ball as a fun-filled actress without engaging into politics and Hollywood scandals flowing around the area. Politics are something lots of people have stresses and fears about.

Several stars and some legendary figures voiced their opinions on the interviews about Ball’s career and her enduring legacy. These interviews include Carol Burnett, Norman Lear, Bette Midler, and Lucy and Desi’s children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. The living family members of the cast and crew who worked on I Love Lucy also made their appearance as interviewing guests. Filmmakers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer also served as executive producers for the film.

Rounding up to almost 103 minutes at length, Lucy and Desi is a great documentary, maybe making this film better to watch than Being the Ricardos. I know it’s just a documentary film but it’s very remarkable to see and to refresh the memories of Lucille Ball from her early start to her major success as a actress and a female activist towards many people who knew about her in her lifetime and her life-long fans and colleagues who idolized her throughout their life. This film is a must and it’s something that needs to be cherished from time to time. Poehler and her wise-cracking team know how to revamp the modern legacy of Lucille Ball. You really should see it if you can on Amazon Prime Video.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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The Batman

Director: Matt Reeves

Studio: Warner Bros.

Riddle me this with Matt Reeves’ The Batman!

Just to be clear, this new Batman film serves as a reboot of the iterating Batman film series and is not part of the DC Extended Universe lineup as director Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson want to give the Bruce Wayne/Batman persona a refreshing take. Thereby, most of the actors have been recast. As many of you have known, the Batman character has appeared in plethora of films portrayed (or voiced) by different actors for many years, but at least we get to see what the origins of this Gotham City hero as Reeves takes you along for the ride in the Batmobile, featuring the stars of Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz respectively.

The Batman takes place in Bruce Wayne’s early adult years as Batman whose main plan is to pursue and capture the Riddler, a notorious serial killer who is targeting the Gotham City citizens, while unraveling the corruption that ties directly to his own family during the investigation.

English actor Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga films, Tenet) receives his main superhero role as Bruce Wayne/Batman, an eccentric-reclusive billionaire who protects the citizens at Gotham City at all cost while actress Zoë Kravitz (The Divergent films, X-Men: First Class) reprises her role as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. To those who don’t know Pattinson, he was portrayed as Edward Cullen in the The Twilight Saga films as well as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He also appeared in Christopher Nolan-directed film Tenet, co-starring with John David Washington. And as for Zoë Kravitz, this isn’t her first time playing Catwoman as she has previously voiced Catwoman in the animated film The Lego Batman Movie, a spin-off of The Lego Movie.

As an actor, Pattinson really nailed down the Batman role nicely and emotionally as he sounded like he needed to build up his Batman shape with his acting skills and the previous Batman films and television series as his major influences on how can portray Batman perfectly, even Ben Affleck would agree with him regardless of his performance. He also demonstrates the power of how family emotional roots can be as he slowly discovers what his true past endears. On the flip side, Zoë Kravitz really steals the show as Catwoman who meets and allies Batman. She is very stunning, sexy, and an amazing actress in the film as she tries her best to be the best Catwoman, the best sidekick/hero, and the best supporting actress to the main protagonist by learning the action tricks up her sleeve. She seems like she is willing to do whatever it takes to earn the Catwoman role so bad. Both of these two actors are really outstanding and they look like they’re almost a cute couple on the inside too. To that affair, Pattinson may or may not be the best Batman, but he’s an excellent Batman at all costs.

The film is directed by Matt Reeves who got himself into his big breakout directing role in The Batman. Before this happens, Reeves did one of the biggest busts with his career rendition of two recent Rise of the Planet of the Apes sequels, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes. Under his direction, the story and the settings are dark, depressing, gritty, and gloomy as he is looking back at the previous Batman films and television series to find the right movie-chemical ingredient for the film’s subtle plot and Robert Pattinson’s Batman character. It seems though Reeves is going to do something different today as if he’s making a comeback on returning to the film director’s chair, something he has done before. From my instinct on movies, it looks like he is treating this film as another science-fiction gig based on his resume.

The cast, the visual effects team, and the rest of the crew really have themselves a tremendous job. This is the kind of film Matt Reeves really wants to amp up the Batman persona when he is able to amp up the visuals as well, thanks to his visual effects artists and workers who are involved in this film. The CGI is great and not overly blown by the tones and depths of any superhero movie. Even the lovely-yet-intense music from Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Up) takes a new approach from Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, and Danny Elfman.

Also involved in The Batman are actors Jeffery Wright (The James Bond films, The Hunger Games films) as Batman’s friend and Gotham City police officer James Gordon, John Turturro (The Big Lebowski) as Gotham City crime lord Carmine Falcone, Peter Sarsgaard (Shattered Glass) as Gotham City district attorney Gil Colson, and Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) as Batman’s butler and mentor Alfred Pennyworth. We have actor Paul Dano (12 Years of Slave) as the main villain called the Riddler, a serial killer who is targeting the citizens in Gotham City and living his life of crime against the city and the innocent people. And lastly, we have Colin Farrell (The Lobster, Daredevil) as Oswald Cobberpot/Penguin, a crime lord and Catwoman’s boss.

I’m no stranger to movies, but I think The Batman is a great film, though be warned that this movie runs about three hours, the same time-consuming stint happened to Avengers: Endgame, and it’s not meant for kids under the age of 10. Admittedly, Matt Reeves really shows the definition of confidence, not the definition of incompetence when he puts his energy and genius-ness to this anticipating DC Comics film and so does Robert Pattinson, who really saved the day by not just acting, but by just being himself entirely which lead me to say that this new Batman film is “The Bob Iger of DC Comics movies.” Before I finish here, the ending leaves a cliffhanger on what Batman’s next big crime-fighting adventure will be in the future sequels.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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