Archives for the month of: August, 2018

Did you see Mamma Mia and hate it? Don’t see this. Did you see Mamma Mia and sort of like it? For sure see this, it’s better. If you loved Mamma Mia in its original flavor, you will go bananas for this.

Donna (Meryl Streep) has died, unexplainedly, but probably because Meryl didn’t have a lot of time to spend on this movie. And also so people can look sad. Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has restored the hotel, and it’s lovely, but Sky (Dominic Cooper) is in New York and might want to stay there because career or bagels or something. It storms like crazy the night before the grand opening OH NO.

Running along with this is flashbacks of Donna’s (Lily James) earlier life, where–in utter defiance of probability–she manages not to know which of Sam (Jeremy Irvine), Bill (Josh Dylan), or Harry (Hugh Skinner) is Sophie’s father and does not seem like an irresponsible tramp. This is partly because Lily James’s smile is slightly infectious and also because all of them are crazy hot and catch her at reasonable emotional states for jumping into bed with people. Richard Curtis has managed this well. They’re pretty good young Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, and Colin Firth, respectively, although I could ask for slightly more differentiation between the non-blondes.

BUT. The best part is her young Christine Baranski (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Julie Walters (Alexa Davies). They’re hilarious and adorable and good matches, but still have their own personalities. They dress horribly and give slightly bad advice (as they will again when they are older) but are so cheekily supportive it’s hard to be angry. Also the constant gags with the youth of the flashbacks and the age of the original cast are wonderful.MV5BMjEwMTM3OTI1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDk5NTY0NTM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_.jpg

ALSO CHER.

This movie knew exactly who would see it, and catered to that mercilessly, but it was also so gleeful. I could not stop smiling. I look forward to drinking a bottle and a half of rosé and singing along to it in the future.

Stray observations:

  • Andy Garcia jumped on this bandwagon and if you think about it for a split second it’s extremely obvious why but the payoff is so good.
  • Wait for the credits sequence. It’s way better than the first one.
  • We get “Waterloo” AND “Fernando” and I could not be happier.

Director: Ol Parker
Rating: PG-13
Length: 114 minutes
Score: 5/5 and also unrateable

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You know what I love about the Mission: Impossible movies? I love the lack of lady-nonsense. Possibly I should resent that they don’t even attempt to pass the Bechdel Test, but I only tolerate the string of disposable beauties in Bond movies out of habit, and I’m glad I don’t have to do that here. It’s great that he’s married and can’t see her, that Julia (Michelle Monaghan) is essentially the dog from John Wick, except living. Could there be ladies without lady-nonsense? Rogue Nation suggested that the answer might be yes–Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) was tough and not especially interested in Ethan–but here we get mired in sentiment and silliness.

MV5BMTk3NDY5MTU0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDI3MDE1NTM@._V1_UY268_CR0,0,182,268_AL_The rest is pretty great, though. The Syndicate from previouslies has metastasized into The Apostles, and they’re looking for nukes. Ethan (Tom Cruise, as you know) accidentally sort of loses track of the nukes. So he and a CIA agent called Walker (Henry Cavill, whose accent is admirable) have to halo-jump into Paris and blah de bloo de blah it’s a M:I movie and there are shenanigans and hijinks galore.

There’s a pointlessly goofy super-villain(-spy?), the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), who only wears white and seductively sips martinis and is probably the worst part of this movie. There are Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames, who are great, because they’re always great and they see no reason not to be great here. Alec Baldwin isn’t even phoning it in. There are chases and gadgets and it may not make much sense but it is mostly loads of fun.

Except when it isn’t, and, bear with me here, but I don’t like my M:I movies with gravity except of the literal kind that makes Tom Cruise fall out of and off things. Sure, Ethan has the occasional feeling, that’s good. Ving Rhames makes the occasional speech, which is fine because it’s Ving Rhames. And, yes, the stakes are usually very, very high. But they are usually cartoonishly high, and here it’s a little too grounded and serious.

Also the lady-nonsense.

Stray observations:

  • Motorcycle chase? Amazing.
  • Jump? Incredible.
  • Rooftop chase? Tom Cruise, he cray.

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Rating: PG-13
Length: 147 minutes
Score: 3/5

Okay, Pixar, okay. We get it. You have figured out how optimally to tug at our heartstrings.

MV5BYjQ5NjM0Y2YtNjZkNC00ZDhkLWJjMWItN2QyNzFkMDE3ZjAxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODIxMzk5NjA@._V1_UY268_CR3,0,182,268_AL_Coco is a solid installment in the series of Pixar-unexpected-weeping features. Fortunately it is also clever and adorable.

A boy, Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), grows up in a family in which music has been banned, because his great-great-grandfather left to go be a great musician and never came back. They make shoes instead. His great-grandmother, the eponymous Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía), is extremely old and her memory is going. Jaime Camil (Rogelio from “Jane the Virgin”) is his mild-mannered dad!

Now, Miguel, inevitably, loves music. He idolizes the late singer and guitarist Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), and, on the Day of the Dead, attempts to steal his guitar to compete in a talent show. Because his family has destroyed his own guitar. And because he’s oddly okay with grave-robbing.

Well, it’s the Day of the Dead, so the division between the worlds of the dead and the living is permeable, and Miguel accidentally ends up in the world of the dead. His street dog also comes. He runs into most of his dead relatives, as well as a good-for-nothing skeleton called Héctor (Gael García Bernal). Héctor is in danger of being forgotten–his photo is not displayed by his family and his soul is not given ofrendas, and he is desperately trying to cross over and provide somebody, at least, with a photograph. He and Miguel make a deal to help each other. Shenanigans, as they say, ensue.

The world of the dead is brilliantly and hilariously drawn, particularly the bureaucracy that dictates whether or not the souls can visit their families and the customs officers who comment on the quality of the ofrendas. It is also desperately–desperately–sad. We see the fate of a soul who has been entirely forgotten, and it is heartbreaking.

The animation is gorgeous, the songs are good, and somehow a world full of skeletons is only moderately disconcerting. Oh, and the Frida Kahlo gags are great.

Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Rating: PG
Length: 105 minutes
Score: 4/5