April 6th - 12th Downloads
& DVDs
 
  • Little Women:

    The Louisa May Alcott novel gets yet another big-screen adaptation, the fourth since 1933 when it starred Kathryn Hepburn and Joan Bennet, which was followed by the June Allyson version in 1949, and then the Winona Ryder version in 1994.  This time the film is in the capable hands of writer/director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), who has chosen to change the ending, which will shock some devout fans, and make others applaud.  The March sisters, Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth, who came of age in the months and years immediately following the Civil War are played here by Saorise Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen.  Two Oscar winners also star - Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper, although if you are looking forward to a good dose of Streep as Aunt March, be prepared for disappointment.  She has only two scenes, and delivers the same message in each - a woman must marry well in order to provide for those around her.  This theme is woven through the screenplay, which sometimes mirrors the book, and other times wanders so far away that you may think you are in a different story altogether.  I liked this version a great deal, although its propensity for jumping around in time was somewhat jarring, as the complexities of the story became more apparent, and I often wasn't certain just where we were in terms of the characters and their challenges.  This is very much Saorise Ronan's film as she captures the character of Jo, who wants to be an author and write stories, but who is told by her editor that, while writing about women, make sure that they are married by the end ... or dead - makes no difference either way.  Jo did not feel the need for her character to marry, which was exactly the case for creator Louisa May Alcott.  The cinematography in the film is amazing, with 19th century pastoral scenes abounding, any one of which could have been a famous painting, whether it be long-dressed women and handsome young men flying kites on the beach, or long, delightful shots of fall leaves and beautiful estates.  A fine version of an excellent novel, which, after all these years, continues to hold our attention, and continues to be relevant.  Rated G.

     

  • Cats:

    Based on the stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber, I found this interpretation of the story of a bunch of London cats as just plain creepy.  The combination of real actors and Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) makes for a very odd-lot with the various cats sometimes moving like humans on two legs, and other times trying to walk like real cats on all fours, which doesn't work and is enough to make one's skin crawl.  Even the music doesn't work as four new songs were created just for the movie, meaning that there just wasn't room for much of what one might have heard on the original cast recording.  Other than "Memories," which is powerfully performed by Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson as the cat Grizabella, the music was completely forgettable. I have never seen this show on stage, and had no idea what the story was about.  Having seen the movie, I still have no idea what the story was about.  It took forever for the cats to stop prancing about the stage and get the plot moving, which I have now learned was about a competition to determine which deserving cat would be selected to go to Heaviside, the Cats' version of Heaven, and be reincarnated.  There's a villainous feline named McCavity played by Idris Elba, which is relatively creepy, but is nothing compared to Rebel Wilson's extraordinarily pudgy Jennyandots who comes out only at night to eat such things as giant cockroaches which she seems to be trying to train.  Many stage shows work on the big screen, and many do not.  This one does not.  Part of the problem is the direction, where the entire stage with all of its action is ignored while director Tom Hooper prefers to do tight close-ups on his various cat-people, leaving us to wonder what might be going on that we just can't see.  That happens far too frequently, and breaks up the flow of the story, such as it is.  The cast of kitties of all shapes and sizes also includes Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench as well as Oscar nominee Sir Ian McKellan.  Taylor Swift and James Cordon also star.  Up until this time, I had never been allergic to cats.  Now I am!  I think I just coughed up a hairball.  Rated 14A. 

  • Dolittle:

    This is one of those films that really has to be reviewed on two levels, one for adults, and one for kids, as suggested by its PG rating.  We already know, from previous films, and from stage musicals that the good Doctor, played her by Robert Downey, Jr. can talk to animals, and they can talk to him.  No music in this version though - it's played dramatically straight, as Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) is critically ill.  Dr. Dolittle, grieving the loss of his wife, is brought in to see if the animals in the palace can offer some insight as to Her Majesty's illness.  He can, and he does.  Poison has been used, and The Queen has little time left - the only antidote is on a faraway island, a major ocean voyage away, and the Good Doctor, along with a menagerie of animals, sets out to save the day, hotly pursued by Dr. Blair Mudfly (Michael Sheen) the palace physician, whom it appears, has been up to no good.  The kids will like this film because, well, the animals can talk.  Adults, on the other hand, may feel differently, because although the animals can talk, they really don't have a lot to say.  It's more fun trying to figure out the voices behind the animal characters, which includes five former Oscar-winners (Octavia Spencer, Rami Malek,  Jim Broadbent, Emma Thomson, and Marion Cotillard) and four Oscar nominees (Robert Downey, Jr. Antonio Banderas, Ralph Fiennes,  and Kumail Nanjiani).  The biggest issue here for me, and I think for most grown-ups, is the odd, whispered Welsh accent that Downey attempts to offer up in each scene.  Didn't work for me.  Rated PG. 

  • How to Fix a Drug Scandal (2020,
    four-episode-series
    ):

    his Netflix original further cements Netflix's ability to corner the market on true crime stories and create additional investigations into cases that seemed to be settled and done.  In 2013, Massachusetts State Police arrested Sonja Farak for tampering with evidence.  Farak was 35 years old and worked in the drug lab that tested narcotics that had been confiscated as parts of criminal actions.  The work that Sonja Farak was doing resulted in either the conviction or acquittal of hundreds of individuals arrested on drug charges.  What this documentary reveals is that Sonja was not only testing the drugs - she was using them on herself, and had become hopelessly addicted.  How many people went to jail because of her actions?  And how many were set free who should have been jailed?  We see repeated attempts by officials at various levels to suppress evidence on the case, and we look into who knew what, and when was it known?.  Some of the scenes are recreations, such as the Grand Jury investigation that is reconstructed from court records.  Rated 14A. On Netflix.

     

    All the Bright Places (2020):

    Based on the best-selling novel by Jennifer Niven, this Netflix original film stars Elle Fanning as Violet, a young woman who falls in love with Theodore (Justice Smith), who has a significant amount of baggage, both physically and emotionally.  A romantic drama, it also stars Luke Wilson and Keegan-Michael Key. Rated 14A.

New on CRAVE

The Dead Don't Die (2019)

A great cast in yet another zombie film, we start out with two police officers (Bill Murray and Adam Driver) in search of a missing chicken, and a series of comedic events that make this one of the best, and funniest zombie movies ever.

The Witcher (TV Series, 2019):
This Netflix original series is a sword-and-sandal thriller that follows Geralt of Rivera, a solitary monster-killer who roams the earth righting the wrongs created by monstrosities everywhere.  Henry Cavill stars as the title character, based on a novel series.  A second season has already been announced, so you can binge watch this one safely.  Rated 14A. 

 

New on AMAZON PRIME

Run the Race (2019):
This sports drama focuses on the world of high school football, and puts a good cast together was we watch two brothers, Zach and Dave Truett (Tanner Stine and Evan Hoffer) take two very different approaches to the competitive life on the gridiron.  Mario Van Peebles, Mykelti Williamson, and Francis Fisher co-star as the adults who try to bring some resolution to the brothers’ conflict. Rated 14A.

 

New on DISNEY +

The Mandalorian, Chapter 6:
This Star Wars series made for streaming, is perhaps the most true and authentic spinoff that the franchise has offered in more than 20 years.  Taking place in the days of Jawas and Ewoks, it follows the adventures of a masked bounty hunter and his baby Yoda capturee across the galaxy.  The flavour is very much that of the Empire Strikes Back era, with outstanding special effects and a superb story.  Rated PG.