Mini Review - Sweet As
Sweet As (out Jun 1) is a short, simple Aussie drama about four troubled teenagers who learn about photography on a week-long outback excursion. The film's heart is in the right place but we don't get to know the characters in enough depth. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Bank of Dave
Bank of Dave (out Jun 1) is a comedic tale loooooosely based on the true story of a British millionaire who tried to start a small, not-for-profit bank to service small investors and borrowers in Lancashire. It goes overboard in creating its feel-good narrative but Rory Kinnear does a nice job in the lead role. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid (out May 25) is good enough. I don’t think it’s any better than the 1989 animated original but in trying to judge on its own merits, this live-action version provides light entertainment for younger crowds. Daveed Diggs is MVP with his scene-stealing voice performance as Sebastian the sarcastic, frustrated crab. Songs are beautifully sung too. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Saint Omer
Saint Omer (out May 25) has an unusual structure but it's a powerful French courtroom drama about a woman charged with the killing of her 15-month-old child. A film that sticks with you. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Renfield
Renfield (out May 25) is a vampire comedy starring Nicolas Hoult, Awkwafina, and Nicolas Cage. There’s nothing flash about the storyline (the crime family stuff is meh) but the film is at its best when the three lead characters are venting about their bizarre troubles and, keeping their faces as straight as possible, bouncing jokes off each other. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Fast X
Fast X (out May 18) proves there's only so much juice you can squeeze from an orange. There's nothing left this series can offer in terms of action sequences or character development. "Without family, you've got nothing" - yawn. Jason Momoa is film's big positive with his camp, comedic, over-the-top villainous turn. Everyone else (1) has very little to do, and/or (2) takes things too seriously. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Quant
Quant (out May 18) is the latest in a growing number of documentaries about famous fashion designers. The subject this time is Mary Quant, an English woman who rose to fame in the 1960s and helped invent the miniskirt. The film provides a nice summary of her life. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Limbo
Limbo (out May 18) is an Australian drama from director Ivan Sen and is the story of a disinterested police detective (Simon Baker) investigating an unsolved murder from 20 years ago in a small mining town. It's not particularly ambitious but it's beautifully shot. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - 80 for Brady
80 for Brady (out Apr 27) stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno, and Sally Field as octogenarians from Boston who travel to the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston to cheer on the team and their beloved Tom Brady. Loooooooosely based on a true story, this is a goofy comedy that is more focused on unrealistic skits than character development. A few jokes hit the mark but I'd keep your expectations low. Grade: C+.