Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Blu-ray review: Yesterday

© Universal Pictures
Yesterday brings the music of the Beatles home on Blu-ray
by Justin Moore

I saw Yesterday over the summer when it was released and enjoyed most of the film. The Danny Boyle directed film about a world without The Beatles was heartwarming and I couldn’t wait to explore it again on Blu-ray. Yesterday centers around Jack Malik, a struggling musician who wakes one day after a crash and learns that the Beatles were never a thing. He is the only one that knows who the Beatles are and uses that to his advantage to get popular. Himesh Patel stars as Jack who finally catches his big break after his crash. In a world of superhero movies, sequels, and remakes, it is nice for original films to come along and present an appealing story.


Yesterday had such an interesting concept that made the film intriguing to watch. One of my issues the first time I saw it and it is still a gripe of mine the second time around is that Danny Boyle creates a generic film as it moves along. The movie explored what it is like to live a life of stardom and what you must give up for it. Lily James also stars in the film as Ellie Appleton. With having her in the film and exploring their relationship, the film unfortunately falls into the cliché moments despite having a unique plot. Every single time that Jack is performing a Beatles song, I loved it. The Beatles are a band that are widely popular, and the use of their songs makes the film fun to watch.


The video presentation looks crisp and bright. The moments where Jack is performing live is stunning to look at with the large crowd. I was impressed with the presentation because it was a night concert, which could have been dark and hard to see, but it was presented clearly. All the settings that Jack visits throughout the movie capture stunning details and are colorful and warm.


The audio in Yesterday is superb. The musical moments feel grand, which works since a lot of those moments are presented in front of a large crowd. The smaller musical moments of Jack playing a guitar are clear and personal. The audio is the highlight of the film since it is a movie featuring the music of the Beatles and the Beatles deserve the best.

© Universal Pictures
Special Features
The Blu-ray release of Yesterday is packed with special features ranging from alternate endings, deleted scenes, and more. A DVD and digital copy are included in the Blu-ray release.

  • Alternate ending (3:10)
  • Deleted Scenes (23:29 Total runtime)
  • Live at Abbey Road Studios (9:50) -- Three songs that Himesh Patel sang at Abby Road Studios live.
  • Alternate Opening (4:47)
  • Gag Reel (2:04)
  • A Talented Duo (3:25) -- A look at the collaboration of director and writer.
  • Playing for Real (5:35) -- This offers an inside look at the casting choice for the film and what it was like for Himesh Patel to learn how to sing, play, and perform the Beatles songs.
  • Soul Mates (4:47) -- This special feature takes a closer look at the relationship between Jack and Ellie.
  • Ed Sheeran: From Stadium to Screen (3:09) -- A look at Ed Sheeran’s role in the film.
  • Agent of Comedy: Kate McKinnon (3:17) -- A look at Kate McKinnon’s performance in the movie.
  • A Conversation with Richard & Ed (3:22) -- The writer of Yesterday and Ed Sheeran talk about the film.
  • Audio Commentary – Director Danny Boyle and writer/producer Richard Curtis talk about the production of the film in depth.
Overall, I enjoy the premise of Yesterday and all the moments involving songs from the Beatles. You can tell that Jack really was into the Beatles and it was impressive that he was able to remember all their songs when no one else couldn’t. The film does feel a bit cliched at times, which is unfortunate, but I am able to look past that and enjoy the film for what it was.

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Movie review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

© Sony Pictures
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood proves the necessity of Mr. Rogers even now
by Jeremy Fogelman

Of course I need to start with a confession: I never liked watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as a kid. Perhaps I was already too old by the time I was even watching TV at six years old, but I do remember Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow being my jam back then. Mr. Roger’s was pleasant but often too slow and I didn’t really appreciate the show. It’s easier to appreciate what he was in retrospect, especially after last year’s emotional documentary. But did we need a Mr. Rogers biopic? Not really, and thankfully that’s not what we got.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood comes from director Marielle Heller, written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, inspired by the real life article written by Esquire writer Tom Junod in 1998 called "Can You Say ... Hero?" I recommend the article as an interesting bit of context for the movie, although I wouldn’t read it until you’ve seen the movie. Some elements are explicitly connected to the film, others are invented wholecloth.

The movie is framed as though it’s an episode of the television show, with Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks at his most sincere yet) introducing us to the story of his friend Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), the Esquire writer loosely based on Tom Junod. As we cut between scenes in different cities, the movie cleverly shows us various cityscapes in model form like the credits of the show, lending a feeling of unreality to Lloyd’s journey.

Lloyd is a new father, raising his son Gavin with his wife Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson), and a writer for Esquire magazine. His typical articles are take-downs of public figures and celebrities, but that leaves him unpopular with potential interviewees. He also has a fraught relationship (or lack thereof) with his father Jerry (Chris Cooper), who abandoned Lloyd and his mother. Jerry shows up at Lloyd’s sister’s wedding, and it doesn’t go well. Lloyd is completely uninterested in Jerry’s requests for forgiveness or insistence that he’s changed after a long term relationship.

© Sony Pictures
Then Lloyd gets a writing assignment to interview Fred Rogers, and there is a concern that the grim, cynical writer will “ruin people’s childhoods”, including his wife’s. Over the course of the movie, Lloyd’s continued interview and conversations with Mr. Rogers digs deeper and deeper into the lessons that are difficult to hear. Lloyd has difficulty believing that anyone can be so nice, but the movie reveals that it is and isn’t that simple.

The lesson here is that Mr. Rogers wasn’t a saint, but someone that worked to push back on his negative emotions and temper, and tried to spread good lessons to people, mainly children. Eventually in a scene of real emotional depth that is a truly wonderful moment of acting and directing, things begin to sink in.

The movie is unafraid to get weird, delving into hallucinatory images as Lloyd’s mind tries to get a hold of itself. Here Matthew Rhys, late of The Americans, shows off his perfect hangdog emotional complication, the self-proclaimed broken man that has an arc of healing. Chris Cooper is great like he always is in these problematic older man roles, while Susan Kelechi Watson gives depth to the “supportive partner” character type. And of course, Tom Hanks is wonderful, the driver of the movie but not the star, embodying Mr. Rogers in style and feeling without aping or impersonating him.

Ultimately this is a movie uninterested in hagiography of person but romanticism of personality. The lessons of Mr. Rogers sound so treacly and childish when you’re not in the right space to hear it, but he was always so connected to empathy and effortlessly communicative. It shows a way for anyone to get better, if they try, and that’s radical enough to praise in the slew of feel bad movies we’re getting these days.

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Monday, December 23, 2019

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Friday, December 20, 2019

Blu-ray review: Blinded By the Light

© Warner Bros. Pictures
Blinded by the Light is for any fans of The Boss
by Justin Moore

Blinded by the Light was released in theaters over the summer and was met with positive reviews. I missed the movie then, but thanks to Warner Bros., the Blu-ray copy they sent me to review will allow me to finally see what people were so excited about over the summer. Blinded by the Light was directed by Gurinder Chadha, who directed the 2000 sports film Bend it Like Beckham. This is inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his love for Bruce Springsteen. The film stars Viveik Kalra as Javed, a British-Pakistani Muslim teenager whose life is changed after he discovers the music of The Boss. The movie also stars Haley Atwell as a creative writing teacher, who pushes Javed to continue writing. Javed feels out of place at his new school. He struggles in his writing class and is rejected from the school’s writing paper. He feels that he is going nowhere with his writing, but once he discovers Springsteen, everything changes. Blinded by the Light takes a deep look at the power of music. When someone discovers an artist, they start to relate to them and it's all they think about. Viveik Kalra gives a fantastic performance as someone who struggles with the fact that they may not be the best writer they can be. The beginning of the film offers a realistic look at that struggle, but the film picks up and becomes jubilant once he discovers Springsteen. He starts to feel better about life, asks a girl out, starts writing more and everything just seems to fall in place for him. Music has that power on one’s life and Blinded by the Light and Kalra capture that well.


One of the things I found most impressive about Blinded by the Light and its presentation was the use of shadows. When Javed first listens to the Boss and runs outside, the use of shadows behind him provide excellent detail and offer a nice bonus to the movie. Chadha also utilizes lyrics on the screen, which has become popular lately, but they were done in an effective way that captured the lyrics that resonated with Javed.


This is a movie where the audio needs to shine. If the audio wasn’t at least decent, we wouldn’t be able to feel Springsteen’s lyrics the same way that Javed felt about them. Luckily, Warner Bros. put a lot of effort into this release. The moments with Springsteen’s music feel grand and the pop music soundtrack sounds so clear

Special Features

  • Memoir to Movie (6:09) – Blinded by the Light was adapted from 'Greetings from Bury Park – Race, Religion, Rock n Roll' by Sarfraz Manzoor (who also co-wrote the screenplay). This special feature takes an inside look at adapting the source material as well as shooting in Luton.
  • The Most Crazy Thing (6:54) – Sarfraz Manzoor talks about his love for Bruce Springsteen, writing his memoir, and what it was like to have the film approved by Bruce Springsteen himself.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (9:19)- There are two deleted scenes provided for the film as well as one extended scene.
  • Digital Copy – A digital copy code is provided with the movie to download on Movies Anywhere.


Blinded by the Light was a very surprising film. I enjoyed how heartfelt it was. Springsteen’s music was powerful within the movie and the use of the lyrics on the screen were able to capture how Javed felt. At its core, it is a film about how an artist can change someone’s life and if anyone listens to music, they can relate to this movie. I also fell in love with Bruce Springsteen a little more with this movie!

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment generously provided Hotchka with a Blu-ray version of the film for reviewing purposes.

Blinded by the Light is available on Blu-ray/DVD from Target.com and the WBShop.com and on Digital from FandangoNow. Make any purchase through the links and help support Hotchka!

Blinded By the Light BD - TargetBlinded By the Light DVD - Target

Blinded By the Light - FandangoNowBlinded By the Light BD - WBShop

Blinded By the Light soundtrack available from Target.com.

Blinded By the Light CD - Target

Greetings from Bury Park – Race, Religion, Rock n Roll by Sarfraz Manzoor available from BN.com.

Greetings from Bury Park - B&N

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Movie review: The Report

© Amazon Studios
I don’t care for political movies, but I liked The Report
by Justin Moore

I’m not one for political movies. I mostly ignore politics, which is hard nowadays since it is all over social media. Whenever there is a new political movie, I often skip it, but I wanted to check out The Report solely because of Adam Driver. Driver has three films coming out in the span of a month. His two films in December (Marriage Story and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) are a perfect way to cap off the year.

Adam Driver stars as Daniel Jones, an FBI agent who is tasked with investigating the CIA’s use of torture on suspected terrorists. After the 9/11 attacks, the CIA adopted new interrogation techniques. With not paying too much attention to politics, I was not too familiar with this report and investigation, so I went into the movie with an open mind.

The movie presented the argument of why the report needed to be made and why it should be destroyed. Throughout the film, many people were trying to convince Daniel Jones that his report should be destroyed since the CIA was trying to stop future attacks by interrogating suspected terrorists. On Daniel Jones side, he believes that no human should be interrogating people the way the CIA was. By having both arguments present, it makes the report more urgent and the film more gripping.

Adam Driver has shown throughout the years that he is a talented actor. He can balance comedic and dramatic roles. He is very believable in his role and truly is invested in his character. The report Jones is writing up is a very long document, which requires hours and hours of hard work, and Driver easily convinces the audience that Jones was motivated to finish the report.

I was surprised with the large cast that is in this movie. The cast includes Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Corey Stoll, Michael C. Hall, and Maura Tierney. Everyone has an important role in the film, big or small, and makes the report feel important all the way till the last few minutes when Senator John McCain read the report.

Scott Z. Burns hasn’t directed a movie since 2006 but has spent most of career writing films that are directed by Steven Soderbergh, who also serves as the producer for The Report. He keeps the movie feeling quick and rarely slows down. As someone who isn’t into politics, I appreciated the quick pace for the film since I always remained interested.

I was surprised with how much I liked The Report. If I scrolled through my favorite films of recent years, there wouldn’t be a political thriller in there. The Report won’t crack my top ten of the year, but I am glad I sat down and watched it. And hey, I learned things about the CIA and FBI!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Movie review: Honey Boy

© Amazon Studios
Honey Boy is the most daring film of 2019
by Justin Moore

Shia LaBeouf has enjoyed a lengthy career since his days on the Disney Channel show Even Stevens in the early 2000s to his most recent summer movie, The Peanut Butter Falcon. I think Shia LaBeouf is an underrated actor and most of his recent films have great performances from him. His newest film, Honey Boy, which he also writes, is probably his best performance ever and a daring film as well.

Honey Boy is inspired by Shia LaBeouf’s upbringings with his father and his childhood fame. Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges both play Otis, who is essentially LaBeouf and Shia LaBeouf plays his own dad, whose real name is Jefferey, but goes by James in the film. There aren’t many movies that have an actor play their father in a film. Straight Outta Compton had O’Shea Jackson Jr. play his father in the movie. It is a unique approach that can bring authenticity to the role. Shia LaBeouf witnessed first-hand how his father treated him, so he is able to bring a realistic performance to the movie.

LaBeouf easily could have written his father as a disgusting human, but he decided to mix what he loved about his father and what he hated. LaBeouf has described his father as a “tough as nails kind of person” but he loved his father and his father loved him. He brought heartwarming moments to the role of his father, but also presented moments that made LaBeouf’s life so hard. We get to see the effects his father had on him as an adult, played by Lucas Hedges. Both Jupe and Hedges give such a surreal performance as the same character, who is struggling to connect with his father. Lucas Hedges picks his roles wisely and only appears in films when it is award season. Besides appearing in Honey Boy this year, he will also be starring in Waves later this year. With films like Lady Bird, Manchester by the Sea, and Boy Erased, Hedges is proving to be strong presence in Hollywood.

At times this movie is heartwarming when you are witnessing Otis interacting with his father and how he is helping him, but as the movie progresses we witness a harsher side to Otis’ father. The film quickly becomes a devastating, heartbreaking film that shows how a father can affect your life for the good or bad. The film started off with an older Otis as he was filming a movie, and during breaks drank alcohol and was constantly putting himself and others in harm. As the movie jumps back and forth between an older and younger Otis, we get to witness why he acts the way he does.

Honey Boy is a film that is daring but paid off in the end. The idea of this movie first threw me off, but it ended up being a powerful film with strong performances. A lot of people don’t like to talk about their childhood if they had one similar to LaBeouf’s but I thought it was brave of him to write a screenplay that put all of his hard upbringings on the screen for everyone to witness. At times he can make this film relatable with how his father is treating him, which makes the film realistic, even if Otis is a childhood star.

Honey Boy trailer
© Amazon Studios

Movie review: Waves

© A24
Waves comes crashing in and leaves me wrecked
by Justin Moore

Trey Edwards Shults has only directed three films since directing Krisha back in 2015. His follow up to Krisha, It Comes at Night, was a polarizing horror film that was met with mixed reviews. His latest film Waves is by far his best film. The film stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Sterling K. Brown, Taylor Russell, and Lucas Hedges and centers on a suburban family as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the wake of a loss.

Shults is an impressive director. His directing style always feels like it is in a constant motion. Early on in the movie, Shults shows off his directing style by moving the camera in a circle to showcase the characters and their surroundings. He often resorts to that style, but it always remains unique. Even when the characters are still, the camera is always moving.

This is a simple film about family, love, loss, and forgiveness. For the first 30 minutes or so, I didn’t see what the draw to this movie was. It seemed to have no focus or structure but as the film progressed, I understood the core of the film. The family consists of four members and the younger son and daughter get most of the screen time. Kelvin Harrison Jr., who shined in Luce earlier this year, stars as Tyler, a popular high school senior on the wrestling team. He often parties with his friends. After hurting his shoulder during wrestling, he becomes addicted to painkillers. This is where the film takes a turn and becomes devastating. The film's theme of loss and love hit hard. There are so many heartbreaking moments within the second act of the film as we see Tyler become more distant from his family and more aggressive with his girlfriend. The film focused a lot on Tyler and I thought the movie was going to stay focused on him but the third act of the movie focuses on his younger sister Emily.

The film remains emotional once Emily is the center of the movie, but it manages to add some lovely moments. She connects with Luke, played by Lucas Hedges, who is one of Tyler’s teammates. As Emily is dealing with shame and rage from her brother’s actions, she lets Luke into her life, and together they enjoy themselves amidst a time that is hard for her. Taylor Russell was fantastic in her role. The moments where she is thinking about her brother’s actions are heavy and believable, so when Luke makes her happy, the smile on Emily’s face says a lot.

Waves is an emotional rollercoaster. At times I felt pure joy as Emily and Luke were building a genuine connection but I also felt completely wrecked by watching Tyler’s storyline. At the end of the film, I just sat there and watched the credits roll and thought about what I just saw. 2019 has offered plenty of great films, most coming within the last month or so, and Waves is one of the best.

Waves trailer
© A24

Crisis on Infinite Earths Parts 1-3

© The CW
It’s here!
by Brandon Coulson

Part 1

Crisis started with a lot of fan service but done in a pretty interesting way. To establish just how widespread the destruction was we got a quick series of scenes on multiple Earths all about to be destroyed. Robert Wuhl’s Knox character from the 1989 Batman, DC Universe’s Titans, even original Robin Burt Ward all made quick cameos and as far as we know were wiped out by the wave of antimatter destroying the multiverse.

Even Super nerd Will Wheaton makes a cameo as an end of the world nut job. The pace of the first episode of the crossover was almost exhausting the way it ping-ponged from character to character, desperate to set up so many threads and give those in the audience unfamiliar with any one of the five main shows some semblance of understanding. The main takeaway is just about everyone who watches this is going to be lost at some point about something, so you just gotta go with the flow.

© The CW
There were some clumsy and frustrating fakeouts early on in the destruction of Argo and the supposed death of Superman and Lois Lane. While the scene of them shooting their son off in a rocket both mirrored Superman's origins, even some of Marlon Brando’s dialogue, as well as Alexander Luthor’s from the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” comics the crossover is based on. Later having Clark and Lois teleported away at the last minute with their son lost seemed unnecessary in an already overstuffed special. Even more pointless was the journey to the alternate future to save the child and give us another look at old Ollie for pretty much no reason. Frankly, aside from the gray hair he looks just like the main Oliver and it brought things to a screeching halt. Yes, it did fix a plot hole in having a future Oliver even though he is supposed to be dead but really, who cares?

There were some very sweet moments as well though, from the heart-to-heart with Kara to Mia getting her own Green Arrow suit, the heart was there. The fights with the Antimonitor’s blue meanies however was the worst kind of CG mess while those poor actors kicked and punched into nothingness.

Part 1 does end on quite a surprise though as the Monitor is shown to not know everything. After saying Ollie would die well into the final confrontation, he ends up dying saving billions from Kara’s Earth. Poor Stephen Amell did his best here but we all know his looks were always his strongest skill way ahead of his acting, and the death scene just felt awkward. What it did do was establish that anything can happen and The Monitor’s omnipotence is no longer a thing. This all brought us to…

© The CW
Part 2

Now Part 2 was both incredibly satisfying and an incredible gut punch. With the team mourning Oliver’s death, things went into some very unexpected directions, good and bad.

The whole thing about promising the Legends no more crossovers made me sad as it meant half of the legends were absent from the crossover. I don’t know if this was budget or scheduling, or perhaps to not address the big changes from last season's end. However they did cheat and grab Mick from another Earth with a Waverider equipped with a Captain Cold AI. Pretty brilliant and very enjoyable.

The sequence with baby Jonathan crying, continually interrupting the Monitor, was very cute as he gets traded from person to person ending up with Mick. The whole paragon thing seemed a bit forced to me, especially seeing as all but one ended up being from established CW series, but it did provide room for plenty of fake outs.

As they started looking for the paragons, Luthor went on a Superman massacre. These two storylines led us to the two most anticipated cameos of the crossover by far. As we got to Gotham and that old animated series theme started up I got goosebumps. The man who has been Batman’s voice for almost thirty years finally got to be the Bat in the flesh. Kevin Conroy and his assistant, a very ripped Luke Fox, got face time with Kate and Kara. Oh boy, these showrunners are gonna get some hate mail as Conroy’s Batman ends up being a bitter and murderous version. But it was so fun seeing him take that character he’s played so long to such a dark place … and then die on screen! Jesus, I did not see that coming!

Luthor’s trip gave us a dead hero as well as we got a brief glimpse of one version of Superman he murdered, just to give us an homage to the nineties "Death of Superman" comics. But the big payoff was his next victim in Smallville, Kansas as Tom Welling returned! The scene and Tom specifically played things kind of odd and aloof, almost awkwardly so. But the reveal that he no longer is affected by Kryptonite because he gave up his powers to have a family, such a nice button on that story and seeing Erica Durance back with Tom just gave me a smile.

Of course we eventually got to see Brandon Routh back in the red and blue and again, just fantastic both in fan service and letting Routh just go for it, even interacting with his Legends character. Using the classic Superman theme during Routh’s scenes also gave things that extra air of gravitas.

My only real gripe with Part 2 is the immediate journey to use a Lazarus pit to resurrect Oliver felt like it completely undercut the death. More on that in a bit but seeing as it gave reason to bring Constantine in, one of my favorites, I’ll allow it. All that and a tease of Lyla with the Anti-Monitor and we got to…

© The CW
Part 3

So lets be honest, that Birds of Prey cameo, that’s for like the four people who watched that series right? Cause I am a DC super nerd and never had one iota of interest in that series.

But Part 3 has to be my favorite of the three episodes so far, just ever so slightly over Part 2 and miles ahead of Part 1. We meet Ryan Choi who is a paragon as well as heavily rumored to be the new Atom as Brandon Routh has announced he’s leaving the CW. Cisco was back to his old self, both as Vibe thanks to the Monitor as well as the amount of shade he was throwing at the Anti’s moniker and Pariah’s suit.

The most shocking cameo of the crossover came from the journey to purgatory for Oliver’s soul as on Earth 666 we met Lucifer, yeah, like the Fox to Netflix series! Unexpected, crazy and kinda perfect. Following that the actual finding and reminding Oliver who he is happened way too easy and then suddenly the Spectre showed up seemingly to make Oliver the new Spectre. For those who don’t know, The Spectre is God’s Spirit of Vengeance and an incredibly powerful character in the comics. I’m betting Oliver as The Spectre is what brings back everyone who was killed in Crisis.

Speaking of killed, that brings us to the Flash and his big sacrifice. Not so fast Barry cause other Barry has some thoughts on that. Yes, the big showdown this episode was at a treadmill powered by John Wesley Shipp’s Flash. After a bunch of exposition and rolling Black Lightning into the mix, Earth 1’s Barry is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice, until Shipp steals his speed and his place. I gotta say I knew they wouldn’t kill the primary Barry but this whole swapping out of Flashes felt kind of cheap to me. What redeemed it was having Shipp disintegrate in the iconic crisis manner and even tossing a flashback to his series.

The banter and heart-to-heart moments really made this part special. Kate and Kara had a very nice moment, their friendship is being built up as a new cornerstone to the CWverse or whatever they will call it once Arrow is gone. Also I really liked Black Lightning and Barry’s conversation on loss and moving forward. All while the multiverse was getting wiped out.

Yeah, Marvel had a cliffhanger with half the universe being wiped out, but DC left us with all of existence save a handful of heroes whisked off to the Vanishing Point ready to make one last stand against the Anti-Monitor... in a  month! Of course one last twist came as Routh’s Superman had one more loss as he gets swapped with Lex Luthor officially taking the one and only non-CW character out of the final battle. One little Easter egg was that Luthor shows up, not with the Book of Destiny but “The Count of Monte Cristo”. A book about a man who is wrongly imprisoned and escapes to wreak vengeance on those who did him wrong. Surely just how Luthor sees himself. Cryer has absolutely killed it as Luthor, so seeing him go on to the final showdown should be quite entertaining.

So with the first three of five down what do we think so far? Cheesy? Yes. Was it mostly fan service? You Betcha! Were the limits of a TV budget painfully on display? Whoa boy, they certainly were! But was it fun? Let me say as a lifelong comic fan I was and am giddy to see such a ridiculous and iconic story brought to life.  My biggest hope is coming out of the Crisis and let's be honest, when everyone save three or four characters gets brought back to life, that the CW uses this the same way DC did - to clean up continuity. Fold these worlds together, make things simpler, aside from that let’s go full steam ahead, January can’t come soon enough!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Movie review: Marriage Story

© Netflix

Marriage Story breaks and warms the heart in a story about people losing each other
by Jeremy Fogelman

A lot of movies have an autobiographical vibe to them, sometimes subtle or subconscious, sometimes obvious and intentional like Lulu Wang’s The Farewell. Obviously all of Woody Allen’s movies are that sort of nonsense, but I think that usually adding more of a layer between fiction and reality often works better. And the emotions can still be truth.

Marriage Story comes from director/writer Noah Baumbach, inspired by his own separation from Jennifer Jason Leigh a few years ago. Here we follow a couple at the end of their marriage as they try to figure out how to handle the new trauma of divorce. Scarlett Johansson plays Nicole the wife, an actor who was known for a hit college movie when she was younger and is now mainly working in the theater in New York City where they leave. Her frequent collaborator and director is Charlie (Adam Driver), the husband, who has his own issues.

Although the two start off thinking that they’ll handle it all easily and without lawyers, things change when Nicole moves back to Los Angeles with their son Henry to accept a new, exciting acting opportunity and where all of her family lives. Although Charlie often visits, and gets along with his soon to be ex for the most part, he gets served papers from Nicole in an awkward, amusing scene, as Nicole has decided to get a lawyer after all.

This is Nora (Laura Dern), and she presents a more potentially acrimonious and destructive side that gets mirrored when Charlie considers a lawyer of his own, first the equally harsh Jay (Ray Liotta) but then later the milder, less intense Bert (Alan Alda). As the two battle back and forth in ways small and large, old pains and arguments arise and things get inevitably worse. There’s an underlying theme and questions of LA vs NY, a fight of exaggeration and the secrets only someone who was truly close could say.

© Netflix
The couple isn’t simply hateful and angry, they still have something there between them, even if it isn’t romance any longer. Neither is a cliché or caricature, both seem like real people, caught up in the drama of the divorce but mainly wanting not to lose their son entirely. The movie builds and builds until it explodes, but it feels so real.

This a movie built on naturalistic dialogue with a hint of romanticism, impeccably acted by two attractive people fallen out of love with each other. Adam Driver plays his role as a man trying to balance precariously without falling over, always with a hint or patina of fear below his actions. I’ve been a fan of the dude for a while, and he’s someone who’s always had a great sense of his own physicality and how to channel emotion through it.

Scarlett Johansson continues her year of great performances (after Avengers: Endgame and Jojo Rabbit) with a wholly different role but one with significant emotional depth. Her loyalty to Woody Allen is really the only thing that I can possibly say against her favor, because she’s such an underrated talent, dramatically and comedically.

The movie skips along with an excellent pace despite being over two hours; this is easily my favorite of Noah Baumbach’s movies (I sometimes have found them a bit pretentious at times), but this feels the least cruel, cold, or hipster. This is a movie where you can’t help but root for two people that are fighting each other because they have no other idea what to do.

This is that time of year where there’s an awful lot of good movies coming our, and Marriage Story is definitely a good one to see. It may hurt at first, but it won’t leave you that way. 

Marriage Story has a run time of 2 hours 16 minutes and has is rated R for language throughout and sexual references. Click on the image below to view the trailer.

Marriage Story trailer

Monday, December 2, 2019

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It's Cyber Monday! Hotchka has several merchant affiliates with special deals today. Visit our Shop Page and click on any of our affiliate logos to be redirected to their site. Any purchase made at those sites through our links will help support Hotchka and Can I Be Fierce For a Minute!

We appreciate your support!