Actor/Director Edward Norton brings a dazzling new take on film noire to theaters in “Motherless Brooklyn.”
Also, big action in theaters with Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator: Dark Date” and in home video with the latest entry in the Fast and Furious series.
It’s Viewing the Videos.
IN HOME VIDEO/STREAMING
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” combines the sharp-edged, fast-paced comedy of Judd Apatow with the non-stop high intensity signature action of the Fast and Furious saga.
It’s an excellent movie. Not just good for an action movie, but good enough to stand by itself.
Hobbs and Shaw, (Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham), last seen in “The Fate of the Furious,” are forced to work together to track to down a virus that threatens all mankind.
The trademark of the Fast and Furious movies is action sequences that are, well, fast and furious. They’re extraordinarily well executed and no expense is spared. It’s funny too.
Art of Racing in the Rain
‘The Art of Racing in the Rain” is a predictable package of emotional moments and plot developments.
But it’s so well done and has such a good attitude about itself, that audiences depart satisfied.
Denny Swift (good name for a an aspiring race driver) meets up with a dog. We can hear the dog’s thoughts.
The movie has larger lessons about life: what to focus on, when to take chances and what the art of racing in the rain can teach us about life.
Milo Ventimiglia from NBC’s “This Is Us,” is Denny. He combines the perfect aw-shucks demeanor with a drive to succeed but also does the right thing in his relationship with his wife, Eve (Amanda Seyfried).
This is a tearjerker, but you’ll be glad you watched.
“The Kitchen” might have been better as a comedy, since it’s not a very good drama.
The story had potential either way. Three mob wives find the going tough after their husbands are sent to prison. The remaining members of the crew have promised to financially support the women while their husbands are in prison, but don’t supply enough money.
The three women, a wrecking crew of talent, Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss, take over their husbands’ protection racket in the Hell’s Kitchen section of 1978 Brooklyn.
Interesting characters in richly textured setting, and it’s still a bad movie.
This is a very unusual movie. It’s a movie that’s rarely made any more, featuring a complex story with great actors, based on a best-selling novel.
This seems like it should be a Netflix movie, but here it is, a full-fledged theatrical release.
It’s similar in theme and presentation to “Chinatown,” but set in the 1950s.
It’s story of revenge, political corruption, family secrets and orphans.
At two hours and 24 minutes, it’s a long commitment, but it pays off through excellent acting, complex, multi-layered characters and a plot with plenty of twists and turns. It’s set against a spectacular canvas of New York in the ’50s, of big cars, men in hats and rain-soaked streets highlighted by rising clouds of steam.
Star Edward Norton, who also directed and wrote the script based on the novel by Jonathan Lethem, spent 20 years bring the project to the screen, and we should thank him for it.
Norton’s character of Lionel has Tourette’s syndrome, which causes uncontrolled outbursts but also gives him photographic memory, which serves him well in his role as an operative to his mentor, private eye Frank Mina (Bruce Willis)
The two met in an orphanage when Lionel was 6 and Frank took Lionel under his wing. Shortly after we met them, Frank is shot.
Lionel starts looking for the killer and uncovers a sordid tale of political corruption and unrestrained power exercised by Moses Randolph (Alex Baldwin). Randolph is a barely disguised version of Robert Moses, who some say destroyed neighborhoods in New York City in the 1950s, building freeways and uprooting minority neighborhoods with little regard for the rights of those displaced.
Randolph is clearly crooked, but it falls to the mentally challenged Lionel to figure things out.
Lionel, with his physical ticks, could have been just a case of an actor showing off, but director Norton has controlled actor Norton and made Lionel someone who struggles through life trying to make things right.
It has the trappings of a classic film noire, only shot in color and apparently on film, giving the picture a rich feel. As a director, Norton has combined with cinematographer Dick Pope (“The Illusionist” and “Topsy-Turvy”) to create one striking visual composition after another.
There are scenes with an actor and each side of the frame with seemingly empty space between them that contributes to the unsettled mood that Lionel must deal with.
There are beautiful shots of the fog-shrouded Brooklyn Bridge and occasions where Lionel’s face appears after he steps out of the darkness into a pool of light.
Movies like this are seldom made any more, so we should say thanks to Norton for spending 20 years to bring the version to the screen.
Four Palm Trees.
This is highly unusual very funny dark comedy set during World War II.
A 10-year-old Hitler youth boy struggles with life and is helped with an imaginary friend, a ridiculous version of Adolph.
Some people feel there’s nothing funny about Hitler. This movie provides a tough satirical look at World War II Germany, but in the end, it doesn’t forget the overwhelming tragedy of war.
Not only does writer/director Taika Waititi make a sharp turn from his last movie, the superhero mega pic “Thor Ragnorak,” he plays Hitler, with touch that is humorous, but doesn’t overlook the fact Hitler was a stain on mankind.
The boy, Jojo, is played to perfection by Roman Griffin Davis. He’s drafted into the Hitler Youth movement, but he’s not really cut out for it. (What ten-year old is?) On a training weekend, he runs away when he’s asked to kill a rabbit. That’s where the name Jojo Rabbit comes from. And when he runs away, he encounters his imaginary friend Hitler, who pops up throughout the story to give him life lessons, including, oddly, “Be the rabbit.”
He needs the help too, when he discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their home. Jojo is confused, when the young girl appears normal, missing the horns he has been told Jewish people have. (It’s World War II, remember.)
Young Davis is amazing as Jojo, whose world is collapsing as the Allies close in on his town. Another gifted young actor, Archie Yates is Jojo’s friend Yorki, who is actually conscripted into the German Army and disappears for a time, only to return as bombs begin to destroy Jojo’s small town.
There are moments that tug at your heart and then make you gasp with emotion.
The cast is filled out with uniformly top-notch people like Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson.
This is a different movie. Not quirky odd, but different in ways that are unexpected and provocative. Four Palm Trees
Terminator: Dark Fate
There’s a feeling of satisfaction with the return to Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Terminator in “Terminator: Dark Fate,” the sixth movie in the series.
They’re joined by a younger terminator Grace (Mackenzie Davis) and different version of Sarah Connor known at Dani (Natalia Reyes).
Although it’s the sixth film in the series, it’s a sequel to the first two with James Cameron (who directed the first two) back as a producer. They just kind of skip over the middle ones.
Good thing he’s back, because the intervening movies didn’t measure up to the first two or this one.
There’s a lot of people being sent back in time to prevent things from happening.
The writers worked on movies like “Batman Begins, “Captain Philips” and “The Hunger Games,” so the illogical is believable, or at least understandable.
For an action movie with a complicated plot about going back and forth in time, things are relatively easy to follow, thanks to those writers.
There’s an appropriate amount of humor and stilted dialogue (for the terminators) but basically there’s almost nonstop actions, with occasional pauses to allow the audience to breath and for some exposition.
This is much better than the average noisy action picture, made better with the re-teaming of Hamilton and Schwarzenegger. It’s more than just a collection of suburb action sequences, although that is the main reason to see “Terminator: Dark Fate.”
Four Stars. You can wait to stream it, but it’s worth seeing on a big screen.
FROM THE VAULT
Edward Norton (“Motherless Brooklyn”) received an Academy Award nomination for his movie debut in 1996’s “Primal Fear.” He played an altar boy accused of murdering a Catholic Archbishop. He almost stole the picture from another pretty good actor, Richard Gere.
HOW WE RATE THE FILMS
. Home videos are simply rated recommended or not recommended.
New Releases are rated as follows:
Five Palm Trees: Must see
Four Palm Trees: Worth seeing on the big screen
Three Palm Trees: Recommended for home viewing or on the big screen
Two Palm Trees: OK if you’re not paying
One Palm Tree: Skip it. Save your money and your time.