FlixChatter Review: HOUSE OF GUCCI (2021)

House of Gucci is scandalous family feud set in the world of haute couture… a sensational story ripe for a cinematic adaptation. Apparently Ridley Scott has been wanting to film this since the book of the same name by Sara Gay Forden was released in 2000, which centers on the brutal murder of the heir of the Gucci fortune, Maurizio Gucci, by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani. 

The film opens with a shot of Maurizio (Adam Driver), the heir of the Gucci fortune, looking dapper in a gray wool suit and oversized Aviators sitting at a Roman cafe. He rides a bicycle on cobblestone streets to his office and about to climb up the steps … well, the story then rewinds back as to the pivotal moment where it all began. You could say Maurizio and Patrizia’s romance began with a ‘meet cute’ at a costume party … I really think it wasn’t so much Maurizio’s looks that attracted her, but her eyes lights up when he said his name… ‘it was a name that sounded so sweet…’ indeed, Gucci is synonymous with wealth, style and power. The whirlwind romance doesn’t begin immediately, but after a bit of stalking, even down to the library where Maurizio was doing his research for his law degree, he finally falls for her… hook line and sinker.

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The first act establishes the two contrasting backgrounds of the two doomed lovers. Though not exactly poor (her stepfather actually owns a pretty successful trucking business), Patrizia always dreams of living the high life. Maurizio on the other hand, who’s been a Gucci all his life, seems unfazed by it all and was set on becoming a lawyer. In fact, he’s content with working at Patrizia’s trucking company when his snobbish, former silent-actor father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) cuts him out of the family for wanting to marry someone he deems unworthy and a gold digger. There’s a scene in the car with Patrizia where Maurizio scoffs at his dad for living in the past and that his grandpa Guccio Gucci who first started the company in Florence, started out as a bellhop London’s Savoy Hotel.

It’s Maurizio’s uncle Aldo (Al Pacino) who actually courts Maurizio into the family business, preferring his favorite nephew over his ‘idiot’ son Paolo (Jared Leto) who just never measures up to his father’s standards. The two brothers own half of the Gucci shares each but they clearly have differing visions for the company. In one of the meet ups, Rodolfo insists on quality-over-quantity and adamantly refuses the lucrative globalization approach Aldo is keen on. ‘No malls’ Rodolfo says to Aldo who really just wants to milk the business for all its worth.

Scott captures the lavish lifestyle and glamour of the ultra rich family… the set pieces, clothes, etc. were meticulously designed and they’re fun to watch. At one point, Aldo throws a lavish party on the patio of his 16th Century historical palazzo overlooking Lake Como. It’s enough to get one intoxicated by the glam, glitzy, decadent life of the ultra rich… Patrizia is practically tipsy over being a part of the Gucci family.

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The first act starts out quite well-paced, with a good sense of intrigue and fun. There’s even hilarious moments such as the loud wham-bam, jack-hammer style sex scene in a cramped office… the full-on campiness is quite amusing as it transitions to an elegant wedding in a church set to George Michael’s FAITH. I don’t mind the anachronism style, though those songs got me somewhat nostalgic and took me out of the movie a bit.

The fairy-tale life of being a Gucci queen seems to be within reach for Patrizia, especially after Maurizio inherits his father’s fortune following his death. I think the film would’ve been more effective if it knows just exactly which Gucci tale it wants to tell. Screenwriters Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna starts out as focusing on the Maurizio/Patricia romance and their rise to power, which eventually tears them apart. As the film progresses, it concerns itself too much with the business side of the fashion label.

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It loses its narrative focus about midway through, thanks to its kitchen-sink storytelling approach, trying to cram as many intersecting storylines from how the cheap fake products are devaluing the Gucci brand to Paolo’s grand ambition to start his own label. The film glaringly forgets about Patrizia early in the third act during its repeated narrative detours, as it was too preoccupied with the battle between father-vs-son-vs-cousin subplot in the race to lead the company. ‘It’s time to take out the trash…’ Patrizia says at one point. If only that’d be applied to the film itself, which could use a much tighter editing scissor to trim its fat.

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The performances did keep me engaged though it’s pretty uneven. Even from its trailer, you know it’s Lady Gaga‘s movie. She totally owns it with her undeniable screen presence, there’s a gleam of madness in her eyes right from the moment she meets Maurizio and wants him all to herself. It helps that her character has the strongest arc in the film… she’s a driven woman who knows exactly what she wants and her narcissistic & overbearing personality clearly drives her husband away.

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Adam Driver is mesmerizing as Maurizio, displaying a disquieting restlessness in a subtle yet effective performance. Despite Maurizio being underwritten, Driver manages to elevate the character and makes him more than one-dimensional. Plus he looks like a bazillion dollars in those sharp suits and the way he carries himself. There’s a hint of ruthless ambition seething underneath his calm demeanor, but there’s almost no transition from the mild-mannered, passive guy to a callous, spendthrift, power-hungry douchebag. Even the romance between him and his mistress Paola Franchi (Camille Cottin) has zero sparks and seems inconsequential despite its actual impact in the real story. Having seen how fiery Cottin is in the Call My Agent! series, this role is such a waste of her talents.

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I was hoping for something indelible when Patrizia, in a blood-red ski outfit, sits down next to Paola and delivers threatening lines like ‘I subscribe to unconventional punishment.’ Disappointingly, the whole thing goes down in an unremarkable way. Same with the ‘Father, Son and House of Gucci’ scene when Paolo asks Patrizia if she can keep a secret… it looks so deliriously juicy in the trailer, but it doesn’t have the same impact in the film.

Speaking of which, Jared Leto in a fat suit and prosthetic makeup is too busy chewing the scenery to portray someone resembling a real person. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s done a good job here portraying the much-maligned Paolo who never gets to spread his creative wings. I just think he veers way over the top in his boorish performance that the character becomes a complete caricature. I suppose Leto often goes well above and beyond the call of duty whenever he portrays a real person, though I wonder if he does it for the attention more so than a dedication to his craft.

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Interestingly enough, Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino seem to have similar approaches as the actors playing their respective sons… Irons is all sinister sneering with simmering rage like Driver, while Pacino hams it up with exaggerated hand gestures that reminds me a bit of his performance in Scent Of A Woman. Salma Hayek looks like she’s having more fun here than in Eternals in a small role as a a high-society psychic who becomes close friends with Patrizia. It’s quite ironic to see her as the least wealthy character given that Hayek’s husband actually owns the Gucci brand now.

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As for the accents–everyone adopts a quasi Italian accent to varying degrees. I guess it’s to be expected as Scott never really concerns himself with getting the accents right for his characters. I mean, Russell Crowe’s Maximus is supposed to be a Spaniard in Gladiator but he speaks with more of a British accent, same with all the characters in The Last Duel who’re all supposed to be French.

In terms of direction, I have to admit that House of Gucci doesn’t feel like a Ridley Scott movie compared to his last film released this year, The Last of Duel. I’ve mentioned the script’s lack of focus, which leads to scenes feeling disjointed as some scenes get cut short as another 90s song starts again. Despite the fabulous European locations, the cinematography by Dariusz Wolski isn’t all that remarkable… I can’t even name a single one perfect shot from this movie. Neither is the music by Harry Gregson-Williams, all I remember are the 90s songs, I bet much of the large budget goes towards song licensing.

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The style MVP is definitely costume designer Janty Yates in creating the 90s looks befitting of the fashion-centric movie. I enjoy seeing the various suits and outfits worn by the cast, especially Driver who undergoes quite a style transformation from the dweeby sweaters in his college years to the sharp bespoke suits as Maurizio gains more power and drowns in debt.

It’s a testament to this outlandish tale that I still find the movie quite immersive despite its flaws. I was absorbed in the wild, crazy ride throughout its 2 hours 37 min running time. It actually took me a few days to ‘recover’ from this story, as I watched all kinds of YouTube videos about the Gucci family following the film. It is so tragic that the once-unrivaled fashion empire that’s been created three quarter of a century ago ends up being destroyed by its own family rivalry. Truth really is stranger than fiction!

Given how sensational this story is, you’d think the film would’ve been more impactful and indelible. If it were a meticulously-tailored bespoke suit, House of Gucci seems to have all the right material to put it together. Alas, the execution (no pun intended) doesn’t quite measure up.

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Have you seen HOUSE OF GUCCI? Well, what did YOU think?

Trailer Spotlight: Christmas Dark Comedy SILENT NIGHT (2021)

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It’s almost mid November and Christmas mood is definitely in the air… in fact it’s been in the air for some time if you look at retail stores everywhere as early as late September, LOL! Well, I haven’t quite put up my holiday decorations yet but I know I will be in the mood for Christmas movie-watching soon, and this UK dark comedy definitely piqued my interest!

In true British fashion, (while the rest of the world faces impending doom), a group of old friends reunite to celebrate Christmas in the comfort of an idyllic country home.

Oh boy… it’s not exactly the most wonderful time of the year, is it? Not sure about the timing given we’re pretty much still in a pandemic. According to IMDb trivia, its star Keira Knightley said the film was finished shooting just before UK’s first Covid and they had to reshoot it in September of last year.

To be honest, I hadn’t read the premise when I clicked on the trailer… well it sure seems that way at first as we see a beautiful family doing a Zoom chat with granny and then getting ready for a Christmas dinner with friends. Though of course something seems off right away when Keira’s character said ‘Here’s to the lives that we’ve shared!’ and another says something about the ‘Queen is in a bunker somewhere filled with tins of baked beans and dog food.’ Say what?!

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Well, the Brits are known for their dark humor and what could be more wacky than a Christmas apocalypse… it’s not Santa coming down from your chimney, it’s the angel of death in the form of deadly poisonous gas. Yikes! Dark comedies are tricky, especially when you mix a hopeful, jolly time like Christmas with end-of-the-world bleakness. I read that the script was written before Covid hits, so what a twist of fate that the film ends up being released during a seemingly-endless pandemic where impending doom is not exactly that far fetched.

Not all doom and gloom though… I’m excited to see Knightley teaming up with Matthew Goode (who should be in way more movies!) … Jane Austen fans would know them as Elizabeth Bennett and George Wickham (in Pride & Prejudice and Death Comes to Pemberley miniseries, respectively). 

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There’s also Lucy Punch (love her in the series Vexed with Toby Stephens!), Annabella Wallis, Trudie Styler (yes, Sting’s wife is playing the grandma!) and Lily-Rose Depp as the only American in the ensemble cast. This is the feature-film debut for writer-director Camille Griffin, whose son Roman Griffin Davis won acclaims in JoJo Rabbit. Roman is in the film along with his two siblings, Gilby Griffin Davis & Hardy Griffin Davis

Well, the trailer promises something hilarious and heart-rending … just don’t expect the typical merry, feel-good holiday fare, though it just might make us appreciate the lives we still do have after seeing this movie!


Any thoughts on this trailer?

FlixChatter Review: ETERNALS (2021)

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I wasn’t all that familiar with Eternals as I never read the comics, but I was excited as soon as I heard that Chloe Zhao was announced as director and the casting news starting to pour in. I started reading a bit more about just what/who these super-beings actually are in preparation for the movie. The Eternals are powerful cosmic beings and they as well as their nemesis the Deviants are cosmic race that were created by Celestial Hosts. As far as the timeline within the MCU, the events in Eternals is set following the Blip, that is when half of earth population returns after Thanos wiped them out.

The movie begins on earth, in London specifically, where one of the Eternals Sersi (Gemma Chan) is on her way to an Oxford university lecture. She is running late and on her way up the stairs, she makes a quip to a Charles Darwin statue and calling him ‘Charlie.’ It’s a pretty casual and whimsical way to explain that these Eternal beings have lived for centuries, having survived multiple destructions and renewal of various planets in the multiverse. From 5000 BC Mesopotamia, moments after the atomic bomb went off in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to modern day London, the film jumped around multiple timelines to show how the Eternals are practically immortals and each has its own unique superpowers.

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It doesn’t take long before the threats that Eternals have feared for thousands of years finally show up on earth. First there’s an earthquake where Sersi used her powers that enables her to turn matters into another form, in order to save one of the students from having a huge rock-wall fall on them. That same night, Sersi, her young compatriot Sprite (Lia McHugh) and earthly-boyfriend Dane (Kit Harrington) encounter a Deviant monster, a tall, weird-looking creature that look like they escape from a BODY WORLDS exhibit. After they survive that ordeal, Dane asks Sersi the pivotal question of WHY they never helped humans when bad things happen throughout history. Well apparently they were specifically instructed by their boss Arishem the Judge not to interfere with human conflicts unless Deviants are involved.

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As if encountering Deviants weren’t weird enough, poor Sersi also has to deal with the appearance of a very-hot-looking ex-boyfriend who can fly and shoot lasers from his eyes like Superman. After a few millennia of being apart, the one who got away, aka Ikaris (Richard Madden) has also been living in England. The whole encounter between Dane and Ikaris is especially surreal given both actors were in Game of Thrones. Apparently Ikaris has been connecting with the leader of the group Ajak (Salma Hayek) and is aware the Deviants are coming, hence they need to get the old gang back together.

Most of the first act is basically just regathering of the Eternals gang… from the UK to the US to track down the super-smart Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), the super-fast Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) and the one with hypnotic powers, Druig (Barry Keoghan). Then they travel then India to find Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) who can shoot lightning bolts out of his hands. In their journey, they also find out that Thena (Angelina Jolie), who can conjure up glowing, transparent sword at will, has some mental issues. She suffers some kind of a Bipolar disorder after centuries of having her memories/identity wiped out and restored over and over, and she’s been living on an island with Gilgamesh (Don Lee) who serves as her butler/protector. Soon we learn that Thena is the key as to the Deviants’ attacks on earth and a fight ensues between the Deviants and Eternals on the island.

One thing for sure, Eternals looks and feels different from the rest of the MCU… for better for worse. Let me start with the good: the visuals are gorgeous to look at, filled with stunning landscapes shot during magic-hour (Zhao’s trademark). DP Ben Davis definitely shares her visual sensibilities and the production design team all create some mystical and ethereal look that sets itself apart.

Much has been said about the diverse cast which is the most inclusive so far from both Marvel and Disney… including a gay character in a happy marriage (complete with the first gay kiss), the first deaf superhero portrayed by a deaf actress, as well as multiple superheroes of Asian origins. In fact, there’s even an extended Bollywood song and dance scene that introduces us to the scene-stealing performance of Harish Patel as Karun, Kingo’s assistant/manager who ends up accompanying his boss as Kingo wants to make a documentary of the whole Eternals reunion. Who knew that my favorite character ends up being the one with no superpowers, but Patel is so adorable and endearing as he becomes the comic relief of the group. I suppose that’s not a good sign when a tertiary character ends up being far more memorable than the leads, which brings me to…

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The not-so-good … well, I find the whole Eternals journey to be pretty devoid of thrills and suspense. Plagued with too many flashbacks that makes for a stagnant pacing that never finds its rhythm. Even when the biggest twist is revealed in the third act, it didn’t have as big an impact as I expected. The entire celestial beings seem really concerned with humanity, especially Sersi who has maintained connections with humans for centuries while living on earth. The thing is, I just don’t feel their love as the film shows them constantly bicker and fight amongst each other whenever they’re not fighting the Deviants. The humans are barely featured in the movie and when they are, it’s treated almost like an afterthought, or in the case of Dane, it’s only a ‘teaser’ to what’s to come with his character who’s described as the Black Knight in the comics.

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Despite the amazingly-diverse cast, I’m really underwhelmed by most of them. Richard Madden in particular, is devoid of charm as the Superman-like Ikaris (there are even DC references that would likely amuse or irritate comic-book fans). I’ve enjoyed Madden’s work in other projects, but here he is as wooden as a marble statue of Michelangelo’s David, which makes it impossible for me to care about Ikaris’ journey nor his centuries-spanning romance with Sersi. The first ‘love scene’ in the MCU sadly lacks any real heat that it makes the chaste kiss between Captain America and Peggy looks scorching. It’s just so awkwardly-staged and the cheesy dialog between them makes it even worse.

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Gemma Chan wowed me in Crazy Rich Asians, but despite some heartfelt moments, she didn’t fare that much better compared to Madden. Brian Tyree Henry is a reliable actor and as the first LGBTQ character in the MCU, he’s got a few memorable moments, but it’s not exactly his best work. Pakistani-American Kumail Nanjiani is inspired casting as a Bollywood star and he got super jacked to portray the first South Asian superhero. I think his physique got way more attention even though he didn’t get to do much acting-wise in the movie other than delivering a few amusing one-liners. 

I think out of the entire Eternals, Lauren Ridloff is the one who appeals to me the most, so I’m glad she got quite a bit to do in the movie. The two more veteran actors, Jolie and Hayek, don’t really get much screen time and their characters just aren’t that interesting. In fact, I find Jolie’s Thena quite aggravating and I remember just spacing out during all her fight scenes with both the Eternals and Deviants.

At the end of the day, I just wasn’t as engaged as I simply didn’t care for any of these characters. Despite being portrayed as saviors of humanity who care about us mere mortals, the filmmakers seem to forget to give us a reason to care for any of them. I mean, it’s not the first time Marvel gave us a film filled with a bunch of superheroes. After watching this, I gained even more appreciation for the Russo brothers for their astounding work in The Avengers movies, especially Endgame which takes a large group of seemingly-unrelatable super beings and make me care for their journey. But to be fair, many of the Avengers had the benefit of being introduced separately in their own films. Perhaps is we were suddenly watching The Avengers before we see the standalone Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk and Thor movies, the movie might not be as effective.

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As with any heroic tale, it also helps to have a formidable villain and the Deviants just didn’t seem all that menacing despite their grotesque appearance. Arishem, who actually decides whether a planet’s civilization should live or die, is supposed to be this ominous, powerful being, but it’s hard to take him seriously when he looks like a child’s toy made of of LEGOs. For the most part, what we get to see are equally-powerful creatures fight each other in low-stakes battles that feel overblown and pointless. The philosophical themes it grapples with, particularly its ‘woke’ message of challenging the status quo and one’s purpose in life, seem timely for today’s audience. That is when it isn’t buried under its overlong CGI-laden action scenes. The score by Ramin Djawadi was good when I listened to it before I saw the film, but now I can’t even tell you what it sounds like in the movie.

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I know there’ll be endless articles in the coming weeks dissecting just what could possibly go wrong with Eternals when you’ve got an Oscar-winning directo who also had a hand in writing the script along with Patrick Burleigh and Ryan Firpo. I remember reading how her pitch was apparently the best Kevin Feige has ever heard, and the Marvel Studios honcho has always got good instinct since he first oversaw MCU franchise in 2007. He has trusted filmmakers with less-than stellar experience handling films with such a sprawling, ambitious scope, but that just goes to show that what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate to the final product, which applies to directors as well as stars. It also means that good representation alone does not automatically begets a good movie

Now, I wouldn’t say Eternals is a bad movie per-se, it’s just an immensely underwhelming one. I suppose after 25 films, the MCU is allowed to have one bad apple. I never thought it would be THIS one however, but I’m curious where Phase Four will go from here. I can’t help wondering if Eternals might have worked better as a Disney+ series given the complexity of the multiverse and the world of Celestials, but as it stands now, it’s far from being marvelous.

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So, what do you think of ETERNALS’ final trailer? 

Five new Netflix movies to watch in November

As we enter into Novemberrrrr … with temps dipping into the 30s (Fahrenheit), I know I’m looking forward to staying in more until the rest of the year. Thankfully streaming services have a ton of new content… I know I’m anticipating WHEEL OF TIME series that’ll hit Amazon Prime on Nov. 19. Well, with Netflix, there’s never a shortage of content that sometimes it actually takes time to figure out just what to watch. So here are five movies I’m looking forward to this month (you’re welcome!) 😀

The Harder They Fall

Nov 3 (tonight!)

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When an outlaw discovers his enemy is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western.

I’ve been wanting to blog about this but somehow I thought it’s coming out later this year. Well, it’s out tonight, and I can’t wait to watch! I’m not the biggest Western fan but with Idris Elba as a cowboy? Heck yeah!! He obviously can rock a Cowboy get-up, as he’s the only redeeming factor of The Dark Tower, ahah.

The ensemble cast here is amazing: Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, Zazie Beetz, Jonathan Majors, love it! The trailer promises something cool and stylish unconventional Western.

Passing

November 10

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“Passing” follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities.

I’ve been wanting to see this Rebecca Hall‘s directorial debut for some time as I read that she was inspired by her own family history. The term “passing” refers to the practice of members of minority or oppressed races, religions, ethnic groups, etc., pretending to be white (or otherwise members of the majority culture) to escape prejudice. Hall’s own mother, opera singer Maria Ewing and grandfather who were both biracial and had ‘passed’ themselves off as white so she wanted to explore that history that she never really had access to. I LOVE this evocative trailer and anything with Tessa Thompson is great in my book!

Red Notice

November 12

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An Interpol agent tracks the world’s most wanted art thief.

Ok I have to admit there’s really not much to recommend this one other than to just ‘check one’s brain at the door’ and enjoy the ride! None of these actors are known for their dramatic acting skills but they are fun to watch. I read on IMDb Trivia that Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot are each getting $20 million payday for their roles, dayum!! With a $200 million budget, it’s apparently Netflix’s biggest budget yet for a feature film. Man, frivolous fun sure is expensive, no wonder Reynolds can happily retire after this1

tick, tick…BOOM!

November 19

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On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City.

Lin Manuel Miranda is one busy guy and he continues to stretch his creative muscles. This amusingly-titled movie is his directorial debut which stars another Tony award winner, Andrew Garfield. I love that Garfield has grown to be even more of a versatile actor since I first saw him in Boy A in 2007. I remember seeing him up close at Comic-Con back in 2011 when he introduced himself as Spider-man, standing mere inches from me. He’s obviously SO much more than a pretty face. As for the subject matter, I wasn’t too fond of RENT when I saw it on stage years ago, so I’m mostly curious to see the film for Garfield’s performance.

Bruised

November 24

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A disgraced MMA fighter finds redemption in the cage and the courage to face her demons when the son she had given up as an infant unexpectedly reenters her life.

Speaking of Ryan Reynolds, well I read on IMDb that his wife Blake Lively was going to star in it under Nick Cassavetes’ direction. I haven’t seen anything with Halle Berry as the lead in ages, I think the last movie I saw her in was John Wick 3. This one is also happens to be her directorial debut. Apparently Berry is a huge UFC fan and two of the actors in this film are actually real MMA fighters!


What do you think of this Novemner lineup? Which one are you looking forward to the most?

This Just In! HOUSE OF GUCCI trailer 2

Ok, I rarely post a movie trailers more than once, but I’ve been quite obsessed with the first trailer of HOUSE OF GUCCI that dropped last July. I think that first trailer shows just how a well-made preview can REALLY make a huge impact. I had forgotten the movie is even coming out this year, but as soon as I saw the trailer, it jumped to my most-anticipated holiday movie!!

I’ve mentioned in the previous trailer post about the plot… but here it is again:

Spanning three decades of love, betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately murder, we see what a name means, what it’s worth, and how far a family will go for control.

The story is based on a book of the same name by Sara Gay Forden, she has covered the Italian fashion industry from Milan for more than 15 years. Her book centers on the brutal 1995 murder of Maurizio Gucci (Driver), the grandson of the Gucci company founder, by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani.

Given my crushing for Adam Driver, I’m obviously giddy that I’ll be seeing him in another new movie this year… What inspired casting to have the Midwestern-raised actor as Italian royalty, after playing a French knight in The Last Duel, no less. Hey, why not? He looks as perfectly natural riding a horse as he is driving a Lamborghini Countach. Adam can play anything, in any accent, he’s just THAT good.

But even from these trailers, it’s clear this is a Lady Gaga film… her presence is magnetic and undeniable even amongst a throng of mostly-male ensemble cast. I’ve loved her performance in A Star Is Born, but she looks like she’s really having a good time here and it shows. Will there be another Best Actress Oscar nomination coming her way? My gut says yes, I think she’d be competing with Kristen Stewart for her portrayal as Lady Diana in SPENCER.

Glad to see Jack Huston in a small supporting role as well, He’s a terrific actor who’s kind of underrated, so I’m always happy to see him pop up every now and again.

This movie arrives just in time for THANKSGIVING on November 24, it’ll be the perfect movie to watch with your whole family (the more dysfunctional the better, ha!) I’m waiting with bated breath for the press screening, I’d even take a half day off if it’s during the day!!

The ensemble cast is amazing! In the supporting roles we’ve got Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, and Salma Hayek. I’m also excited to see Camille Cottin (one of my faves in Call My Agent!), I sure hope this one will be a hit for Ridley Scott, as The Last Duel ends up being a box office dud. For sure this looks like a far more entertaining and fun movie to watch in the more stylish, colorful world of the 80s instead of the morose, titanium-gray Medieval times!

Now, back to Adam… I cannot wait to see him trade those silver armor with luxurious, nicely-cut suits and those fabulous oversized aviator specs. He looks like a million bucks as Maurizio Gucci!!

Whoever cuts these trailers ought to get some awards, I’ve watched the first one countless times and this one is just as great. LOVE the use of another iconic 80s song, this time EurythmicsSweet Dreams (Are Made of This) which perfectly captures the glamor, madness, power and the sweet sound of GUCCI, of course it’s all fun and games until someone decides to ‘take out the trash.’

House of Gucci will be released on November 24.


What do you think of the second trailer? 

This Just In! Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN Full Trailer!

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Thursday morning, a tweet from The Batman and Matt Reeves‘ Twitter accounts got the internet in a frenzy! It’s not even the trailer itself, just the TEASER to the actual trailer arriving in time for 2021 #DCFanDome event.

There is no official synopsis available, but from what I’ve heard online, the film will be a nearly 3-hour long detective noir story. I absolutely LOVE the sound of that! I certainly do NOT need to see another scene of Bruce Wayne’s parents getting shot after the opera! Based on the first teaser that circulated over a year ago (gosh, has it been THAT long?!)

In any case, behold it’s first full trailer:


Woo wee!!! I was already excited from the teaser, now I’m even more hyped for this! I really like the set up of Riddler in the diner with his face not shown, definitely adds mystery and suspense as he’s testing Batman’s detective skills as he wrecks havoc on Gotham City. The look of the world is appropriately soiled and grimy, which is what I feel Gotham ought to look like. I feel like perhaps Reeves’ set up has a good balance between the hyper-realistic approach of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the more fantastical, outlandish-ness of the comics.

The aesthetics are phenomenal… dayum, DP Greig Fraser has been in a ton of huge projects lately, having just shot DUNE and now this. THIS has got to be my fave shot of the trailer:

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So many great moments revealed so far, but the highlight is definitely the part when Penguin thought he killed Batman and his Batmobile emerges from the fire… the upside-down Batman walking towards the camera as the title forms on screen is just SO cool! Pure geek-gasm stuff!

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I think the casting is just terrific. Zoe Kravitz seems to be born to play Catwoman, she not only looks the part but has the seductive quality. Paul Dano is a terrific actor and I am curious to see what he’d do with the role. Given the noir detective story, Riddler is definitely the suitable villain. I’m also keen in seeing Colin Farrell as the Penguin, what inspired casting and boy he’s totally unrecognizable in the role. Lastly, Robert Pattinson looks really promising as the less sure-footed superhero we’ve seen before, in that he’s still coming into his own as the caped crusader with raw, unbridled emotion he could hardly control.

In anticipation of the trailer, Reeves shared the two posters on Twitter (click to see a larger version):

I like the moody, mysterious vibe of these posters, and the Riddler one looks downright creepy! If this film would be at least on par with his fantastic ‘Apes’ trilogy, then we are in good hands. In Matt Reeves I trust.

Updated 11/10 – behold these two amazing new posters that just got released!! LOVE that Catwoman is featured in one of the posters too!

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The Batman is scheduled to be released in theatres on March 4, 2022.… I can hardly wait!!


What do you think of THE BATMAN trailer? 

TWIN CITIES FILM FEST unveils 2021 lineup + my recommendations

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BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH HEADLINES OPENER THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN; KENNETH BRANAGH’S FESTIVAL HIT BELFAST NAMED 2021 CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION


October is always a special time of year for me. No, not because it’s Halloween season, but because Twin Cities Film Fest is upon us!

TCFF returns this year with a hybrid program showcasing a wide-ranging catalog of acclaimed studio award contenders, memorable shorts, thought-provoking documentaries and exhilarating independent feature films. The 2021 program will showcase Minnesota-connected productions, BIPOC voices, female filmmakers and includes a special “Changemaker Series” spotlight on projects that address mental wellness.

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More than 100 movies set to screen and stream in a hybrid format that will run Oct. 21-30. The festival’s in-person program will return to the Showplace ICON Theaters at The Shops at West End, with some 45 screenings set to take place at the St. Louis Park venue. More than 50 films will simultaneously debut online via the TCFF STREAMS platform at twincitiesfilmfest.org. 2021 marks the 12th anniversary for the nationally recognized non-profit, celebrating independent stories and diverse voices through film arts.

Amazon Studios’ The Electrical Life of Louis Wain starring Benedict Cumberbatch is set to open the festival on Oct. 21st, telling the story of the Victorian-era artist whose widely published drawings of anthropomorphized cats transformed them from mysterious to irresistible. Director Will Sharpe’s masterful visuals and creative use of color convey Louis’s complicated mind, immeasurable talent and consuming love and loss.

This year’s closing night gala will celebrate Belfast, Kenneth Branagh’s drama featuring Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds and newcomer Jude Hill. The film, which takes place during The Troubles, sectarian conflict between Protestants and Catholics in 1969 Ireland, is a page from Branagh’s own life and his most personal film to date. The film received the coveted people’s choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival, instantly catapulting it into the Oscar conversation.

Other notable entries:

Jesse Moss’s documentary Mayor Pete, which follows Secretary Pete Buttigieg during his 2020 run for president and has been chosen as TCFF’s official 2021 Centerpiece. C’mon C’mon, Mike Mills’s black-and-white production built around a heartfelt performance from Joaquin Phoenix and a notable debut from newcomer Woody Norman; The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson’s newest project featuring an all-star cast including Bill Murray, Timothée Chalamet and Tilda Swinton; Encounter, a sci-fi thriller directed by Michael Pearce and starring Riz Ahmed; The Humans, directed by Stephen Karam in his directorial debut, and based on his one-act play of the same name starring Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun and June Squibb; and Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, directed by Emily Kunstler & Sarah Kunstler and written by Jeffery Robinson.

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TCFF STREAMS, the festival’s proprietary online platform at TwinCitiesFilmFest.org, will feature premieres of award-winning narratives, documentaries and shorts curated from all across the country in the HER Series (films by/for/about women), MN-Connected Series, EMPOWER Series (focused on BIPOC voices) and the OUT Series (LGBTQ community). Twin Cities Film Fest utilizes the power of film to spotlight a Social Cause each year through its Changemaker Series. In 2021, the focus will be on ‘mental wellness.’ The films in the series will bring attention to our collective emotional, psychological and social well-being.


MY TCFF 2021 RECOMMENDATIONS

I LOVE this year’s lineup! Out of the STUDIO FILMS, I highly anticipate Kenneth Branagh’s BELFAST. Not only does it look really heartfelt and intriguing, and the fact that it’s a personal true story from Branagh’s childhood makes me curious about it even more. At the other end of the spectrum is THE FRENCH DISPATCH, which is described as a love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional twentieth century French city. It’s been a while since I saw a Wes Anderson film, and this one just looks really, really good!

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In addition to those, I’m going to choose 10 INDIE FILMS (7 features, 3 docs) that aren’t already mentioned above. I always like to pick out some lesser-known films and highlight those directed by women, I think off-the-beaten path films are why we go to film festivals for!

A Fire Within (doc)

A FIRE WITHIN chronicles the incredible true story of three Ethiopian women who immigrate to the U.S. after surviving torture in their home country, only to discover that the man responsible for their torture is living in America…and working at the same Atlanta hotel as one of the women.

A Hero

Rahim is in prison because of a debt he was unable to repay. During a two-day leave, he tries to convince his creditor to withdraw his complaint against the payment of part of the sum. But things don’t go as planned.

Americanish*

Welcome to America: Where dreams come true…ish. A break from the traditional romantic comedy, Americanish highlights different layers of womanhood as they intersect with cultural and societal expectations. Americanish invites viewers into the home and lives of three marriage-aged women as they navigate the often turbulent waters of romance, culture, career, and family.

Broken Diamonds

After his father suddenly dies, Scott’s (Ben Platt) plans are put in jeopardy as he discovers his sister Cindy (Lola Kirke) is living in a halfway house for the mentally ill. Despite her wild and unpredictable behavior, Scott puts his life on hold to take her in. BROKEN DIAMONDS poignantly follows these characters as they come to understand the effects of shared childhood trauma on each of their mental health, culminating in life-altering realizations for them both.

Everything In The End*

Grieving from the recent death of his mother, Paulo has travelled from Portugal to Iceland, a trip they were supposed to do together. While there, news the world has been waiting for finally arrives. Earth will cease to exist in a matter of days. With only these last few days left and unable to get home he finds himself stranded in a small village where he spends his days wandering a delicate foreign land and encountering the people he will spend his final days with.

Land of My Father (doc)

A Korean farmer protests the Japanese government in Tokyo over its claims of the disputed island territory of Dokdo after he finds out his father was abducted and enslaved in a coal mine during the Japanese occupation of Korea. A Korean woman who lived on Dokdo with her father struggles to keep his legacy alive after the Korean government mysteriously erased their history of being pioneering residents.

Playing With Beethoven*

Dedicated classical piano student Josh (Aric Floyd), who rarely leaves the practice room, falls under the spell of a free-spirited beauty, Charlotte (Naomi Druskic). On the day before a life-changing competition, Josh goes against his better judgement, and the wishes of his stern teacher Victor Zabov (Patrick Gorman), and joins Charlotte for a night of music and adventure. Along the way, he meets Charlotte’s sister Bryn (Shannon Elizabeth), who is suspicious of Charlotte’s motives. To further complicate matters, Josh’s estranged father, Ted (Kadeem Hardison), shows up in town hoping to reconcile. Josh’s experiences on the journey teach him that life, like music, is all about taking risks.

The R-Word* (doc)

Filmmaker Amanda Lukoff has grown up advocating for her sister Gabrielle, especially whenever she hears the word retard(ed). The r-word is everywhere – in TV, movies, music, social media, and throughout our public and private communities. The R-Word is a purposeful look into the long-reaching history and lasting implications of the word retard(ed) and current attitudes and perceptions about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Sold Out

John Callahan has one dream — to make a living playing his music. Despite his best efforts and undeniable talent, he’s a down-on-his-luck construction worker who’s drowning in responsibilities. But one night, playing a dive bar in Minneapolis, he meets Kat Revere, a legendary music scout. Kat is edgy, beautiful and a star-maker. Kat sees potential in John and makes him an offer he can’t refuse, to take him under her wing and on the road with her. As they travel across the Midwest, they share their stories of heartbreak, write gut-wrenching songs, fight like hell, and find themselves in the middle of some wild adventures, all while falling hard for each other.

Waikiki

Escaping her abusive ex-boyfriend, KEA, a part-time Hawaiian teacher, hula dancer, and bar hostess temporarily lives out of her van to piece her life back together. One night after a violent beating, she speeds off into the night only to slam into WO, a mysterious homeless man crossing the street. Unwilling to leave him to die, she takes him into her van and life. Their developing friendship and illusions of safety are soon shattered when her van is towed. Her desperation triggers past trauma, driving her towards insanity.


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Tickets are already on-sale at www.twincitiesfilmfest.org. Ticket prices range from $9 online to $12 in-person. Opening/Centerpiece/Closing films will all be $20 with a handful of films available to view at no cost. A ‘Streaming Pass’ is available for $50 and a ‘Hybrid Pass’ for $150.

The passes are such an incredible deal!! Get it soon so you can order your tickets right away. Trust me, it’s SO worth it!!

COVID 2021 UPDATE

TCFF 2021 will be following health guidelines as put forth by the State and CDC. All TCFF employees/volunteers will be vaccinated. All guests/audience members are asked to wear a mask during any in person experiences (in the theater and TCFF lounge) regardless of vaccination status. TCFF wants to ensure and prioritize safety for all attendees and use film arts as a way to continue bringing our community together.

WEAR YOUR PARTY HATS!

There will be a Festival Lounge this year. The lounge is located only a few steps from the main doors of the ICON THEATERS on West End Blvd. Lounge will be open to all filmgoers to relaxation and networking. Regular hours will be 6:30pm-11pm (hours may vary).


To learn more about TCFF, events, film submissions or to donate, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org


So yeah, TCFF 2021. BRING. IT ON!