Quick Reviews: Rise and Trevor The Musical!

After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, the Antetokounmpos struggle to care for their five children. The brothers play basketball with a local team and discover their great abilities on the court.

There really isn’t a whole lot to Rise, it’s a very decent sports drama film that really doesn’t do anything new. It has a very TV movie like feel to it but luckily that doesn’t take away from the acting which is genuinely pretty decent. Rise does a decent job at telling of NBA’s Giannis Antetokounmpo who is played by Uche Agada, Agada does a solid job in the role and brings a lot of powerful moments to it which is always welcome. Writing wise there are some strong moments but at times the script puts the movie at a complete halt that does hurt the movie in the long run, if you are a fan of sports drama movies you will most likely like this one. Just don’t go in expecting anything groundbreaking.

Rise is available on Disney+

6/10 C+

After an embarrassing incident at school, Trevor, a charming 13-year-old, must summon the courage to forge his own path on a turbulent journey of self-discovery to uncover what it means to be a queer teenager.

Not much to say here Trevor The Musical is another one of those stage adaption films. It’s based on the 1994 short film Trevor, about a young boy who is a huge fan of Diana Ross and has a crush on his schoolmate Pinky Faraday. For what Trevor The Musical is it’s not bad at all, there’s some decent acting here plus Holden Hagelberger and the rest of the cast are very lovable. The major flaw that does hold this one back is mostly some of the songs, the Diana Ross songs are done quite well it’s the other songs that aren’t done very well. Hagelberger is a fun actor and dancer but his singing voice is not always great, in the more emotional moments it’s a bit better luckily. I definitely think this movie is going to appeal to kids and teens a lot more which is definitely not a bad thing, as the movie is harmless and has an overall solid message.

Trevor The Musical is available on Disney+

6/10 C+

Elvis captures the legacy of the iconic singer Elvis Presley!

The film explores the life and music of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler), seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). The story delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Central to that journey is one of the most significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge).

Baz Luhrman definitely does his thing with Elvis and it really works here, for starters let’s start with elephant in the room Austin Butler as Elvis was an incredible casting decision that led to incredible results. From the way he talked, moved and sung Butler completely transforms into Elvis to the point where it almost felt like you were watching Elvis. Butler does this at the age of 30 taking on such a huge role of being a highly regarded singer and masterfully perfecting the role is truly fantastic, the amount of styles Baz Luhrman includes is pretty insane but a very nice welcome as well, he does tend to do this with most of his films and while I do understand the argument how it can be annoying or sometimes breaks the movie. In this case it was very necessary when you make a film about Elvis you should definitely try to make something interesting and capture the spirit of his legacy. That’s what Luhrman did here, from the performances and dancing he really paints an interesting picture. There’s a lot of fast editing that makes a scene where it focuses on Elvis’s sex appeal really standout mostly due to how insane it really is, there’s plenty of more scenes like that as well! The supporting cast such as Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Helen Thomson were also pretty solid! There’s only two major flaws with the film the first one being the 2 hour and 39 minute running time, while I do get it was trying to tell as much about Elvis as possible, there is some stuff in here that was admittedly extra fluff that didn’t need to be included. But at the very least the movie does keep things entertaining and the running time does go by relatively quickly. The second flaw being mostly Tom Hanks, I’m not entirely sure if Tom Parker being used as the narrative device was very successful (Hank’s accent is very very strange). Luhrman makes sure to lay it on you of how scummy of a person Parker was and he’s pretty successful at doing that, overall Elvis is a really solid film that definitely strays far away from the usual biopic film, mostly due to just how transformative Austin Butler’s performance is and Baz Luhrman’s stylistic choices!

Elvis is currently in theaters!

8/10 B+

The Tender Bar is another misfire from George Clooney.

In 1972, 9-year-old J.R. Maguire moves into his grandfather’s dilapidated house in Long Island, N.Y. Searching for a father figure, he falls under the unconventional tutelage of his uncle Charlie, a charismatic, self-educated bartender who introduces him to a handful of the bar’s colorful regulars. As the years pass and J.R. grows into a young man, he tries to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer.

The Tender Bar is a movie where I have a hard time thinking of a lot to say about it, mostly due to how bare bones it feels. I will say that the first half of this movie was quite great, that’s mainly due to Ben Affleck bringing in a ton of charm and passion into the role. There were some genuinely nice moments with his character, Christopher Lloyd is always nice to see as well. After the first half the movie completely sinks from there, it starts to lose it’s identity and ends up having the exact same problems George Clooney’s last several movies had. Very generic writing that is surface level and doesn’t tell the viewer anything about the characters, very by the numbers biopic that really doesn’t not tell you a whole lot of information about J.R. Moehringer. Lastly there’s the writing that’s just not strong enough to bring in the viewer, plus the coming of age story aspect feels incredibly bare minimum. Overall The Tender Bar is very forgettable and doesn’t offer much outside of a very strong performance from Ben Affleck and a few moments.

The Tender Bar is available on Amazon Prime Video!

4/10 D+

Being The Ricardos is another below average biopic.

In 1952, Hollywood power couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz face personal and professional obstacles that threaten their careers, their relationship, and their hit television show.

Being The Ricardos is what happens when a movie that is a very very below average gets constantly pushed to get spotlight. I was already dreading to watch Being The Ricardos after I heard how it’s a biopic that does nothing interesting, sadly that’s how I would sum up this movie. While Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem aren’t bad at all, they are not giving some of the best performances of the year that the movie and many sites are leading you to believe. Nicole Kidman was heavily miscast as Lucille Ball and it’s very easy to tell just by watching her performance for at least 10 minutes, the best performance was J.K. Simmons who gave this movie some sort of character. The writing felt like a huge drag, Sorkin’s writing this time around felt way too cluttered with so many ideas being thrown into the movie and proceeding to see what sticks. There’s a few interesting bits such as the camerawork which feels like it’s being filmed in a dressing room type of feel and it works actually pretty well considering the topic of the movie. What ultimately kills this movie is the 2 hours and 5 minute running time like a lot of biopics it over stays it’s welcome and goes on for far too long, it also starts to fall in typical biopic movie cliches and does absolutely nothing new. I really don’t know what else to say here, which is very concerning seeing how this might be a best picture nomination at the Oscars, in a year that I felt was a very strong year for film. The fact a below average biopic that has nothing to say and feels incredibly lifeless is being celebrated over Pig, The Green Knight, Nine Days and a few others is very sad. Give this one a skip.

Being The Ricardos is available on Amazon Prime Video!

4/10 D+

King Richard is an inspiring film about making your vision a reality!

Armed with a clear vision and a brazen, 78-page plan, Richard Williams is determined to write his two daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Training on tennis courts in Compton, Calif., Richard shapes the girls’ unyielding commitment and keen intuition. Together, the Williams family defies seemingly insurmountable odds and the prevailing expectations laid before them.

King Richard is a biopic of Serena Williams and Venus Williams father Richard Williams, it shows how determined Richard was to make his vision a reality wanting Serena and Venus to succeed. Will Smith does a fantastic job as Richard Williams, he captures his soul and his mannerisms as well. It’s easily the best performance Will Smith has done in quite awhile it really brings the type of performance that I and so many other people have wanted to see from in quite some time. Will Smith not only captures Richard’s mannerisms but he also captures how much Richard wanted his vision to come true, how much he really wanted to reach that goal. The rest of the cast were quite fantastic Jon Bernthal, Demi Singleton, Saniyya Sidney and Aunjanue Ellis all do a really strong job in their roles! The writing is much better than expected, there are some incredibly powerful moments (such as the kitchen scene) that really drag you into the mind of Richard Williams. It makes you understand how much it means to him, which makes the build up for the end all the more powerful. Overall King Richard can feel like a formulaic biopic at times however those moments aren’t enough to stop it from being a really interesting film that goes beyond from being just a biopic film. It’s a film that showcases how someone was determined to make their vision a reality and would never give up until it did come true!!

King Richard is in theaters and on HBO Max!

8/10 B+

The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain is a beautiful biopic filled with cats!

Louis Wain was many things during his incredible life: artist, inventor, entrepreneur and caretaker. After adopting a stray kitten, he went on to paint the extraordinary images of cats that made him world famous.

The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain is another example of showing how Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the best actors working today, he does such a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of Louis Wain in so many different ways. For starters Cumberbatch does a great job of matching Wain’s mannerisms, it’s quite impressive to see and I’m really glad Cumberbatch was chosen for the role. The acting all around is quite fantastic, Claire Foy does a very solid job (even if she isn’t in most of the film), the filming combined with the score is quite beautiful. There’s certain scenes where the film itself does feel like a painting with a lot of bright colors that pop out really nicely, the film itself is also really wholesome at times and you just can’t help but smile. There’s also a lot of heartbreaking moments that I actually did cry during, which is to be expected when making a film about Louis Wain. The truth is Louis Wain did not have the best life like some other artists did and the film does a fantastic job of showing that perfectly. The cats are also present and yes are as cute as you would expect, it is very interesting to see how a simple drawings or paintings could turn into someone’s career and make a ton of people feel a tremendous amount of joy inside. Overall The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain is a beautiful film that I highly recommend!

The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain is available on Amazon Prime Video!

9/10 A

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye Turns Jessica Chastain into Tammy Faye!

An intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye is interesting and sort of surprising, right from the beginning it gives this bizarre style to it that I had no idea what to make of it. There are very standard biopic bits during the first half that aren’t too exciting but not anything really bad, Jessica Chastain gives one of her best performances here and is more than likely going to get nominated when the award shows start. And as she should she becomes Tammy Faye, she nails every single thing about her from how she acted and spoke to her style of singing. Speaking of which the songs were very great, despite Christian music certainly not being my type of music I still found myself singing along and have actually listened to a few of the songs since I saw the film. Andrew Garfield is also pretty great as well, while he isn’t as good as Jessica Chastain he still delivers a fantastic performance and was very believable as Jim Bakker. There are moments when he even becomes Jim Bakker it gets pretty scary, Cherry Jones who plays Rachel LaValley deserves to be talked about more for her performance. She’s hilarious, she gives this sarcastic yet loving performance that really makes you smile. The major flaw with The Eyes Of Tammy Faye is skimming over certain subjects. Especially with her connection to the LGBT community sure it’s shown in the film a few times and it does show she genuinely cares about the community, however it doesn’t feel like it’s discussed very much. I would have also loved to see the film dive a bit deeper on the shadiness of televangelist, but for what the movie did talk about it did a solid job. The writing definitely improves as it goes on, it starts out good enough but just very strange for the sake of feeling strange, but as the movie reaches its 30 minute mark it improves quite well. Overall The Eyes Of Tammy Faye is quite great, it does feel like a very standard biopic at times but there is a lot to like about this one, I recommend watching this one solely because of the performances!

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye is available in theaters!

7/10 B

Respect highlights Jennifer Hudson’s talent but unfortunately misses it’s mark in a lot of areas.

Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career — from a child singing in her father’s church choir to her international superstardom — it’s the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.

Respect is one of those films that should have been much stronger than it ended up being, let’s get the obvious out of the way Jennifer Hudson does an incredible job in her role as Aretha Franklin, she captures the spirit of Franklin and gives such a fantastic performance with all the songs. There’s other great bits here and there but it ultimately comes down to Hudson’s performance, while everything else isn’t bad it should have been so much stronger. The first hour of the movie is rough, it definitely has it’s moments but for the most part the writing really does not help at all. What Respect mostly struggles with is innovation and soul, there just seems to be not a whole of inspiration certain scenes. It’s like everyone settled with Respect being a standard biopic and nothing more. The performances are all well done thanks to Jennifer Hudson who brings as much energy and power to the songs due to her talent, I couldn’t help but feel that if the movie had more innovation that some of the performances would have been even stronger. Lastly there’s the running time which should not have been 2 hours and 35 minutes, they could have easily cut out a bunch of scenes and nothing would have really changed, overall Respect is not a bad movie at all. It has a ton of great moments plus Jennifer Hudson, but I do wish it was a much better movie.

Respect is now available on all VOD Platforms!

6/10 C+

The United States Vs Billie Holiday (2021) Movie Review!

Follows Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair.

The United States Vs Billie Holiday is the most frustrating movie so far this year, this is truly a movie that could have been really great but so much is holding it back from being good. It goes without saying but Andra Day gives an incredible performance, she captures the charisma and star power that Billie Holiday had really well. Andra Day has so much control and combine that with her very powerful singing voice, you truly got yourself a fantastic role. Speaking of which I also really liked the music, the songs are all very well song and truly have a beautiful feel to them. It’s just such a shame the rest of the movie has to be very below average, none of the other roles stood out at all, the writing was way too safe and felt like a nothing special about it biopic and Lee Daniel’s direction was all over the place. The writing feels like it’s trying to do more than be a biopic and completely fails at it. As I said earlier the direction was a mess, at times the direction has it’s moments but those are far and few in between. It’s frustrating because there are a few really strong moments where it shows that the movie does shine and does bring in some powerful scenes. The problem is those scenes are overshadowed by a majority of the movie that just doesn’t seem to know what it wants. It’s a shame because Billie Holiday’s life is very interesting and I just wish the movie did a far better job. I wouldn’t go as far to say that the movie is bad, it’s just one that is incredibly below average.

5/10 C

Netflix Original Movie Catchup: The Dig and Finding Ohana (2021)

An archaeologist embarks on the historically important excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1938.

The Dig is pretty great, I really did not know much about the movie before watching! It’s a straightforward movie that’s about an important excavation, the acting all around was very solid Carey Mulligan being the standout who really shows her talent here and does a pretty great job. The cinematography combined with the setting of the film gives it a beautiful look and captures the feeling of going out on a important excavation, the direction from Simon Stone is also quite great. Stone captures quite a lot in each scene and manages to make them unique in their own way, I do feel the pacing does drag towards the final act and could have been 10 minutes shorter. But that doesn’t take away how beautiful and quite great The Dig is! A very solid Netflix Original and I can’t wait to see what Simon Stone does next!!

7/10 B

A summer in rural O‘ahu takes an exciting turn for two Brooklyn-raised siblings when a journal pointing to long-lost treasure sets them on an epic adventure with new friends, and leads them to reconnect with their Hawaiian heritage.

I don’t quite understand why Finding Ohana was 123 minutes long but oh well, the movie itself is a very serviceable family movie. It feels a lot like The Goonies, ET and a few others, the acting is decent enough that gets the job done for the most part. The problem is the jokes, the pacing and the writing, the jokes very rarely hit a lot of it is the type of humor that just isn’t funny. The pacing really becomes a problem towards the middle of the film, it comes to a full stop and feels like it goes on and on. The writing is just not good, tons of cliche characters, way too predictable and feels like a chore to sit through. Which is a shame because somewhere in this movie there is a decent family movie but it’s crowded by way too many flaws that ultimately make this movie a clone of other family movies. It’s nothing particularly bad but it’s one of those Netflix originals that will be quickly forgotten about.

5/10 C