Movie Reviews

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Waning Days of Summer Movie Recap

by Sandra Olmsted

Sandra Olmsted

Sandra Olmsted

As summer begins to fade, and the days grow shorter, we may all regret the summer adventures we did or didn’t have. Fortunately, a good summer movie can take us on a wild, even scary, ride, or dramatically provoke thought about serious issues or provide escape through laughter, although comedies have been few and far between this summer.

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‘Dunkirk’: A Grim, Heroic, Surrealistic Spectacular

Fionn Whitehead as Tommy, a British private, awaits evacuation on the beach at Dunkirk.

Fionn Whitehead as Tommy, a British private, awaits evacuation on the beach at Dunkirk.

by Sandra Olmsted

Using a nonlinear style where time folds back and forth on itself, Dunkirk writer/director Christopher Nolan creates a subtle surrealism that embraces cinematic language brilliantly.

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The Big Sick: The Rom-Com Hit of the Summer

by Sandra Olmsted

Stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan star the hot summer hit The Big Sick.

Stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan star the hot summer hit The Big Sick.

The Big Sick may just be the little film that can rock the box office amidst the blockbusters of summer, just like Ghost did in 1990. Although the dinner scenes are very similar to those in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this culture clash comedy has plenty of its own charm, pathos, wit, and twists, making The Big Sick the surprise of the summer.

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Wish Upon: Beat The Heat With Thrills

by Sandra Olmsted

Teenaged Clare (Joey King) struggles with a mysterious wish-granting box in the horror film Wish Upon.

Teenaged Clare (Joey King) struggles with a mysterious wish-granting box in the horror film Wish Upon.

In Wish Upon, teenaged Clare (Joey King) struggles with being a high schooler who isn’t the richest, most popular, or best dressed. Despite a devastating childhood event and the embarrassment of the her father being the local garbage picker and scrap merchant, she’s a good kid who’s going to bloom later. Clare also has two best friends, Meredith (Sydney Park) and June (Shannon Purser), a boy who secretly likes her, Ryan (Ki Hong Lee) and a beloved dog, Max. She also has her father, Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe), a surrogate mom, Mrs. Deluca, (Sherilyn Fenn), and her deceased mom’s wealthy Uncle August (Victor Sutton). She should be thankful, but she still longs not to be bullied by the very popular Darcie (Josephine Langford), and for the attention of Paul (Mitchell Slaggert) who dates Darcie’s best friend, Lola (Daniela Barbosa).

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Movie Review

The Hero: Elder Angst

Sam Elliott Excells in Lead Role

Laura Prepon and Sam Elliott in The Hero

Laura Prepon and Sam Elliott in The Hero

While I have railed against teen angst many times, I now find a new type of angst has been discovered by Hollywood. Let’s call it elder angst, and let’s be clear that I don’t find it any more appealing than teen angst. While teen angst is about the future and heightened emotions that teens feel, elder angst is about the regret for the roads taken or not taken or the promise not fulfilled.

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Roles for Women Though Bette Davis’ Eyes

Bette Davis and those Eyes

Bette Davis and those Eyes

by Sandra Olmsted

   When I teach film, I show Going’ Hollywood in the ‘30s because it laments the passing of the Golden Age of Hollywood for the lack of women stars and the lack of the really good roles for women. There’s truth to that observation and maybe, just maybe, good roles for women are coming back. By good roles, I mean complex leading roles portraying not just good girls but also bad girls because bad girls made many a Golden Age movie star.
   Playing the bad girl or rather very strong and complex characters made the talented actress Bette Davis a big star. Three recent films have roles for women that Bette Davis might have wanted.
   In The Mummy, Sofia Boutella’s role as the antagonist Ahmanet is the type of role Bette Davis would wanted to play although Davis would have insisted that Ahmanet’s motivation for her anger and the actions which cause her to be entombed as a form of eternal punishment had been further developed. The script did give Boutella a solid structure for her character’s motivation.
   Although once anointed to be the next and firs female pharaoh, Ahmanet’s throne is stolen when her father’s new wife delivers a male heir. Ahmanet kills her half brother and stepmother to maintain her path to the throne and is punished for it by eternal damnation and imprisonment. Before getting judgmental, remember dynastic monarchies the world over are littered with bodies for similar and lessor reasons.

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