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Interview with VANQUISH writer/director George Gallo

April 14, 2021


Known primarily for combining humor and action in his screenplay for 1988’s “Midnight Run” with Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin, and in the story for “Bad Boys”, which catapulted Will Smith’s career, writer/director George Gallo has directed almost as many movies as he’s written, starting with 1991’s “29th Street” a dramedy with Anthony LaPaglia and Danny Aiello. His latest is the action crime thriller “Vanquish”, the second of three movies in which he directed Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman, along with the upcoming “The Comeback Trail”, which reunites Gallo with DeNiro. Read more…

THUNDER FORCE (2021) review

April 9, 2021


written by: Ben Falcone
produced by: Ben Falcone, Melissa McCarthy, Marc Platt, and Adam Siegel
directed by: Ben Falcone
rated: PG-13 (for some action/violence, language and mild suggestive material)
runtime: 105 min.
U.S. release date: April 9, 2021 (Netlfix)


When a comedy isn’t funny, it’s hard for me to keep my external reactions in check. I find myself catching my audible sighs and maybe repositioning the way I sit more frequently, or more noticeably throwing my hands in the air. Then I’ll get a headache from how far back my eyes roll into the back of my head when the unfunny humor continues with no end in sight. At least I was sitting on my couch next to my wife as such a reaction occurred from the latest Netflix comedy and not distracting others in a dark theater. But, then again maybe I’d be doing them a favor. One of the many problems with “Thunder Force” is that no one told writer/producer/director Ben Falcone and the movie’s co-producer and co-star, Melissa McCarthy, that it’s not a funny movie. Read more…


April 8, 2021


written by: Khyentse Norbu
produced by: Max Dispesh Khatri and Rabindra Singh Beniya
directed by: Khyentse Norbu
rated: not rated
runtime: 113 min.
U.S. release date: April 9, 2021 (virtual) April 16, 2021 (Music Box Theatre, Chicago, IL)


“Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Mustache” certainly has an attention-grabber of a title and sometimes watching a film solely because of its title proves to be surprising and rewarding. Such is the case with Bhutanese writer/director Khyentse Norbu’s latest film, which presents a story in which its protagonist unexpectedly embarks on a journey that finds him questioning not just himself, but also his senses and his dreams, especially when he begins to second guess both of them. It’s a visually tantalizing film, offering an engaging and unpredictable story with rich characters and a striking sense of wonder, as well as subtle sense of humor. As it unravels at its own pace, “Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Mustache” offers much to contemplate, before and after viewing. Read more…

2021 Oscar-nominated DOCUMENTARY Shorts

April 7, 2021


While the documentary shorts are typically my favorite Oscar category, I’m not gonna lie and say any of them are pick-me-ups or feel-good viewing. Nevertheless, all five nominees are highly recommended documentaries (regardless of length) and there are a few which are quite inspiring and heartwarming. That being said, most of them are focusing on either challenging subjects or current events such as a democracy being dismantled, the repercussions of Nazi atrocities, and malnutrition that leads to the death of children. Yeah, not cheery stuff, but what this category has always succeeded at is casting a spotlight on what is happening in the world, informing viewers of true stories we would otherwise never been exposed to. These are important and powerful shorts that can enlighten and inform viewers. We’ve all been going through quite a bit within the last year of this pandemic, but it’s always helpful to see the challenges that other people and cultures are facing and that’s definitely what these five nominees offer. Read more…

2021 Oscar-nominated LIVE-ACTION Shorts

April 7, 2021


There are often similarities in the Oscar-nominated shorts, especially in the Live-Action category, but it’s uncanny how the connective thread weaves through the nominees this year. Each short seems to be touching on some kind of political or social issue and how people are seen (or not seen and sometimes are considered transparent) and treated differently than others. Ultimately, tensions between others are examined, some are resolved while others are left with the repercussions of how their snap-judgements impact someone else. None of these five nominees feel like propaganda, but rather sincere and predominately successful attempts at pointing a lens on those who live around us, often stemming from a very personal place and often resulting in escalated situations. Read more…

2021 Oscar-nominated ANIMATED Shorts

April 7, 2021


It’s Oscar season, even though it doesn’t feel like it and that typically means there are Shorts that need your attention. Those who traditionally partake in Oscar pools will want to catch all of them in select theaters (this year, it’s a very select few, thanks to COVID) or On Demand via ShortsTV. If you’ve been paying attention over the years, these are the nominees I’m most curious about and ones I get the most exciting about each year after viewing them leading up to the telecast. While I usually recommend them, I must say I was a little disappointed in the Animated Shorts this year. Of the five nominees, only one is the real standout and it would ludicrous if it didn’t go home with a golden boy. The other four were fine, but just didn’t really rise to an Oscar level. Here’s my rundown, from worst to best… Read more…

SHIVA BABY (2020) review

March 31, 2021


written by: Emma Seligman
produced by: Kieran Altmann, Katie Schiller & Lizzie Shapiro
directed by: Emma Seligman
rated: not rated
runtime: 77 min.
U.S. release date: March 15, 2020 (SXSW) & April 2, 2021 (Music Box Theatre, Chicago, IL)


The things you overhear or witness at a funeral service when you try to be a wallflower can often wind up being just as baffling and unexpected as the conversations you inevitably have with other attendees, especially the ones you’d rather not run into anywhere. The surface talk about anyone other than the deceased is understandable as are the obligatory condolences, but those banal questions about whether or not you’re seeing anyone (that is, if you’re single) or what you’re doing for work, can feel as if your own life is slowly draining. These reminders and observations came to mind while watching writer/director Emma Seligman’s relatable and tender comedy “Shiva Baby”, which portrays the claustrophobic awkwardness of attending a social gathering commemorating the recently deceased. Read more…

GODZILLA VS. KONG (2021) review

March 31, 2021


written by: Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein (screenplay) & Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields (story)
produced by: Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Brian Rogers, Mary Parent, Alex Garcia & Eric McLeod
directed by: Adam Wingard
rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language)
runtime: 113 min.
U.S. release date: March 31, 2021


The last time Godzilla and King Kong duked it out was in 1963’s “Kong vs. Godzilla”, now we have “Godzilla vs. Kong” and while the destructive kaiju has first billing here, the story is primarily Kong-centric this time around and it makes sense since the big ape is the closest to conveying genuine emotions in this movie and that’s included his human costars. Yes, it’s become common to take jabs at the flesh-and-blood characters in these recent MonsterVerse movies, but they really aren’t why these movies are made nor are they the main draw of these giant-sized blockbuster spectacles. You don’t check out these movies to see a geologist/cartographer and an anthropological linquist team-up against an egotistical CEO of a tech organization, you’re here to see monsters smash and those are indeed the best moments here. Read more…

NOBODY (2021) review

March 27, 2021


written by: Derek Kolstad
produced by: Kelly McCormick, David Leitch, Braden Aftergood, Bob Odenkirk & Marc Provissiero
directed by: Iilya Naishuller
rated: R (for strong violence and bloody images, language throughout and brief drug use)
runtime: 92 min.
U.S. release date: March 26, 2021 (theaters) 


Word-of-mouth will describe the action thriller “Nobody” as something along the lines of a “John Wick” movie. That’s fair enough since this movie has another middle-aged guy going up against a league of bad guys, leaving them seriously injured, maimed, or dead. Considering “Nobody” comes from the mind of screenwriter Derek Kolstad, whose responsible for that Keanu Reeves franchise, such an assessment isn’t far off at all. But, it differs in that the lead is Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), someone typically not associated with the action genre and winds up initially subverting what we’re used to in the one-man-army subgenre. The actor succeeds in delivering an uncanny performance here, while director Illya Naishuller (“Hardcore Henry”) fully embraces the oddity of it all, combining comedy with hyper kinetic violence. Read more…

Interview with SENIOR MOMENT director Giorgio Serafini

March 22, 2021


Today William Shatner boldly goes where he has never gone before, by turning 90 years old. It’s hard to believe it, but then again it does feel like the prolific larger-than-life Canadian actor, writer, producer, director, and singer, has graced various stages, television shows and movies forever. On some projects, like his Priceline advertisements or his role as Grand Pear on the animated television series “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, all we hear is his inimitable voice. Apparently, working with Shatner is like magic, which is what I gathered when I spoke with Giorgio Serafini last week. He directed Shatner for his latest movie, “Senior Moment”, a romantic comedy which will be released in theaters and on VOD as of March 26th. Read more…