Mini Review - The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Peanut Butter Falcon (out Jan 30) is the tale of an aimless, troubled drifter who befriends a young man with Down syndrome who escape from a care facility. The drama is manufactured in places but it's still a story with a big heart. Grade: B.
Mini Review - A Hidden Life
A Hidden Life (out Jan 30) tells the true story of an Austrian farmer who was persecuted for refusing to pledge his allegiance to Adolf Hitler during World War II. As he’s done in the past, director Terrence Malick wants to show us how beautiful and simple the world is… but then contrast that with the complexity of humanity and the issues that we create for ourselves. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Midway
Midway (out Jan 30) is a bloated, confusing, cliché-laden World War II movie that isn’t worthy of the actual events it is trying to recreate. The characters feel like they've been lifted from a 1980s action movie and the dialogue is dreadful. Many other filmmakers have done it before when it comes to powerful WWII movies… and done it much better. Grade: C.
Mini Review - Underwater
Underwater (out Jan 23) stars Kristen Stewart as an engineer who finds herself trapped in a research station at the bottom of the ocean after it is attacked by a mysterious creature. While a few plot elements left me scratching my head, this is still a fast-paced, effective thriller. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Like a Boss
Like a Boss (out Jan 23) is a comedy about two women (Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) who argue over the direction of their struggling cosmetics company. It's about the value of life-long friends (a worthy message) but the execution is dismal. The story makes NO sense. Jennifer Coolidge is the only member of the cast who earns genuine laughs. Grade: C-.
Mini Review - Just Mercy
Just Mercy (out Jan 23) draws from the autobiography of Bryan Stevenson and tells the story of an African American lawyer who founded an organisation in the late 1980s to provide legal assistance to those denied a fair trial. The performances are very good (including stars Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx) and it's a film that offers much to reflect upon. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (out Jan 23) is centred on a cynical magazine writer (Matthew Rhys) who finds his view of the world transformed after reluctantly agreeing to interview the famed entertainer, Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks). I'm not sure it digs deep enough into Rogers but it’s hard not feel better about life while watching his calm demeanour and listening to his comforting voice. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Dolittle
Dolittle (out Jan 16) stars Robert Downey Jr in the famed role of a doctor who can talk to animals. I'm not quite sure what they were hoping for but Downey Jr's odd, mumbling persona didn't work for me. It's like he's trying to come up with a kid's version of his Sherlock Holmes character. Grade: C+.