With pundits talking about politics on television, and friends, acquaintances and your Great Aunt Sally touting their presidential primary thoughts on social media, maybe all of us deserve a little break from this busy election year.
Why not catch a movie?
A trip to the movies provides cool air-conditioning and a comfy chair for a two-hour escape, but which films should you see?
Well, here are my takes (or “votes”) on seven new movies that arrive in theatres on April 29.
“Green Room” – When a nearly-broke punk rock band decides to play a gig in a secluded warehouse for a large group of Neo Nazis, what could possibly go wrong? The group actually gets through their set unscathed, but the paper-thing veil of figurative safety disappears soon after with terrifying and gruesome results. Anton Yelchin (“Star Trek”) is one of the bandmates, and Patrick Stewart (of “Star Trek” fame as well) plays the lead antagonist directing this deadly cat and mouse game that will make you sing Peter, Paul and Mary songs to yourself for comfort. A smart, intense and gory thriller. (4/5 stars)
“Keanu” – Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (Key & Peele) star in a hilarious, outrageous and sometimes violent comedy about some drug dealers who steal Rell’s (Peele) kitten, Keanu, but he will do anything to get him back and recruits his best friend, Clarence (Key), to help. These two suburban guys do their best gangster impressions, and their balancing act between a world of pleasantries and a world of crime generates lots of laugh-out-loud moments. It also does not hurt that Keanu is “the cutest little kitten that you’ve ever seen”. (4/5 stars)
“The Meddler” – A widow (Susan Sarandon) moves from New York City to Los Angeles to be near her daughter (Rose Byrne), but her constant meddling into her grown child’s life causes friction, so Marnie (Sarandon) targets her unfiltered advice on everyone else. Even though Marnie’s behavior is difficult, she is likable, as Sarandon delivers a warm and sympathetic performance during her character’s journey of self-discovery. J.K. Simmons and Jerrod Carmichael co-star. (3.5/5 stars) Link to the full review
“Mother’s Day” – In a tired and overused formula better suited for a TV movie, director Garry Marshall shoehorns roughly 87 stories and 870 actors into a 1 hour 58 minute comedy about the joy and also work of motherhood leading up to a grand crescendo on Mother’s Day. Predictably, Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts deliver the best performances, but all of the individual narratives unfortunately feel terribly predictable. I started looking at my watch after 35 minutes, and that is never a good sign. There is an audience for film, because I know my mom would walk out of the theatre with a smile. Like mother, not like son. (2/5 stars)
“Papa: Hemingway in Cuba” – Director Bob Yari’s movie is allegedly the first filmed in Cuba since 1959 and is based upon journalist Deene Bart Petitclerc’s (Giovanni Ribisi) experiences on meeting Ernest Hemingway (Adrian Sparks) during the late 1950s. The gorgeous shots of the Havana skyline and neighborhoods and insight into the mind and behavior of this legendary novelist feel like wondrous cinematic discoveries for the audience. Unfortunately, the film starts to fall into soap opera themes, as Hemingway begins to display terrible dysfunction. The movie has a lot to offer but is not quite a cinematic page-turner. (3/5 stars) Link to the full review
“Ratchet & Clank” – Ratchet, a modest mechanic living on a desert planet, joins the Galactic Rangers to help maintain order in the galaxy and brings along his trusted robot, Clank. This animated feature – based upon a video game – takes us on a creative and fun ride to stop Drek (Paul Giamatti) from doing very bad things. I did not know the video game at all, but the movie moves at a good pace and hits its target audience: boys familiar with “Ratchet & Clank”. The movie either pays tribute to or rips off “Blade Runner”, “Battlestar Galactica”, “Star Wars”, “Star Trek”, “The 5th Element”, and “Guardians of the Galaxy”, so I don’t know if I should be impressed or annoyed. (3/5 stars)
“Sing Street” – An unpopular high school kid who tries to date a pretty girl is a timeless tale told in movies for decades, but writer/director John Carney (“Once”, “Begin Again”) takes us back to – specifically – 1985 Dublin in an endearing take that wins our hearts and touches our musical funny bones. In some highly entertaining early sequences – reminiscent of “The Commitments” (1991) – Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) looks for friends to form a band, and they promptly jump into the world of making modern-rock videos. In between original and classic 80s numbers, the movie also spends thoughtful moments on teen challenges, family and first love. Jack Reynor and Lucy Boynton are particularly effective as Cosmo’s older brother and love interest, respectively. (4.5/5 stars) Link to the full review