Film reviews by Vince Leo, author of the review site Qwipster.net, covering the latest blockbusters, independent films, foreign cinema, and VOD.
Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) | Dean Parisot
The story involves the Bill (Alex Winter) & Ted (Keanu Reeves), now married with one child each, suffering a mid-life crisis, realizing that they never united humankind through their music as foretold. In fact, contrary to the end montage of Bogus Journey depicting their success, Face the Music shows the duo jaded after a career where they are more laughing-stock than the most popular band on Earth. The pressure to fulfill their destiny finds their marriage on the rocks, seeking couples therapy, but one where both couples are involved simultaneously; the duo's inability to separate their codependency is one of the issues. Someone from the future tells them they need to write the song within the next 77 minutes to achieve global peace and harmony, or the universe will come apart in a cataclysmic event called the Unraveling. Their plan: use the phone booth time machine to travel forward in time to steal the song from their future selves. Dean Parisot directs this third entry in the Bill & Ted series.
The One and Only Ivan (2020) | Thea Sharrock
The story centers around Ivan, a silverback gorilla who lives in a cage as the star of a struggling animal show at a suburban shopping center called the Big Top Mall & Video Arcade at Exit 8. Ivan’s main schtick is to roar and look intimidating, but behind the scenes, he is a thoughtful and sensitive soul. Other talented animals under the care of beleaguered ringleader Mack include a baseball-playing chicken, a sassy poodle, a bunny, a seal, a parrot, and an elderly elephant named Stella, plus a stray mutt called Bob.
Ivan befriends the young daughter of the mall cleaner who hands him supplies to draw, and it becomes something he takes an interest in doing, which has Mack seeing dollar signs to save his floundering circus attraction. An adorable baby elephant named Ruby arrives to become the latest attraction, under the tutelage and loving guidance of Stella. The drawing and painting, plus Ruby’s arrival, trigger Ivan’s memories of his childhood of freedom in the wild with his family, and Stella doesn’t want Ruby to live a sheltered life as she has had. Ivan plans to break free and deliver Ruby to a life of freedom.
Featuring Bryan Cranston, Ariana Greenblatt, Ramon Rodriguez, Owain Arthur as live actors. Voice work by Sam Rockwell, Danny DeVito, Brooklynn Prince, Angelina Jolie, Chaka Khan, Ron Funches, Helen Mirren.
Queen & Slim (2019) | Melina Matsoukas
In this potent and socially relevant dramatic thriller, Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) is a jaded criminal defense attorney and Slim a devoutly Christian retail clerk Slim (Daniel Kaluuya). They're on a Tinder date in a Cleveland diner. On the way to drop off Queen, Slim gets pulled over by a pushy cop (Sturgill Simpson), then things escalate into an intense altercation that results in Slim killing the cop in self-defense. From then on, the two become fugitives, relying on whatever help they can on the down-low to avoid being caught and find their way to Cuba. Lena Waithe scripts from an idea by James Frey. Melina Matsoukas directs.
Bad Boys for Life (2020) | Adil and Bilall
In this third entry in the long-gestating franchise, Mike Lowery (Will Smith) gets gunned down by up-and-coming Miami crime kingpin Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio) who pops a few rounds into the cop at the direction of his ruthless mother Isabel (Kate del Castillo), getting revenge on all of those cops and lawyers who took down her drug-lord husband years before. Due to Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) making a pact with God to hang up the "bad boys" life if Mike pulls through, he refuses to join forces with his longtime partner on exacting revenge on Armando. To help supplement the cover, loose-cannon Mike teams up with the by-the-book 'AMMO' division of the force, a group of young guns with high-tech weapons. Of course, when tragedy strikes once again, Marcus gets off of his recliner for one more chance at the guts and glory of the "bad boys."
Onward (2020) | Dan Scanlon
In this Pixar film, two teenage elf brothers in a town called New Mushroomton go on a quest that requires them to tap into the long-forgotten magic in the world to have one more day with the father who passed away before his youngest was born. The father left behind a gift for them to have when they both reached the age of sixteen, a wizard's staff and an ultra-rare Phoenix Gem they can use to bring him back to life, but only for one day. The spell is cast, but the process gets interrupted halfway, leaving only dad's animated legs to get to know. If they want to talk to him or give him so much as a hug, they'll have to find another Phoenix Gem before the spell runs out. Voice work by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. Directed by Dan Scanlon.
Parasite (2019) | Bong Joon-ho
Song Kang-ho plays Kim Ki-taek, the father in the poor family that has no breadwinners due to the lack of good-paying jobs (the latest gig finds them folding pizza boxes). Poverty has become so pervasive that the family works overtime to find ways to not spend money, hijacking wifi from neighbors and resorting to forgery to gain credentials from schools they couldn't even dream to be able to afford. They even leave the window open as the bug exterminator draws near to get "free fumigation", inundating their basement apartment (and boxes meant to carry pizzas) with unhealthy chemicals. Things take a turn for the better when Ki-taek's son, Ki-woo, gets a temporary job replacing a good friend as the tutor for Da-hye, a teenage daughter of a well-to-do family. In their palatial home, Ki-woo woos the young woman who develops a crush on him, just like she did the prior tutor, and convinces the naive mother that he has the skills necessary for the job. When Ki-woo learns that the young son in the rich family, Da-song, needs an art tutor, he brings in his sister for the job, pretending to be Ki-woo's old college friend, then his dad, then his mother. But their taste of the high life makes it a place they want to stay for good.
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All kinds of movies reviewed, and cleanly! Everything from Blockbusters to foreign films.