Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a clever parody of the music biopic genre.

The unexaggerated true story about the greatest musician of our time. From a conventional upbringing where playing the accordion was a sin, “Weird Al” Yankovic rebels and makes his dream of changing the words to world-renowned songs come true. An instant success and sex symbol, Al lives an excessive lifestyle and pursues an infamous romance that nearly destroys him.

I’ve thought about Weird: The Al Yankovic Story for a couple weeks now, quite honestly the more I thought about it the more I loved it. Which it helps since I already loved it when I first watched it. Anyway Weird is a biopic on the famous comedic and parody songwriter Weird Al, a music biopic on Weird Al was inevitable the music biopic genre is one that has grown quite rapidly over the last couple of years with films like Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman, Respect and even this year’s Elvis and Dance With Somebody (which is releasing in a couple weeks at the time this was written). The only question was how were they going to approach a music biopic about Weird Al? Luckily what they went with was a very clever decision and actually compliments Weird Al as a person and his career, for starters the cast here is truly brilliant. Daniel Radcliffe at this point in his career has been very diverse when it comes to selecting roles in each genre but his portrayal of Weird Al might just be one of his absolute best, he truly captures the mannerisms and singing voice that Weird Al has and truly turns this up to eleven, it also helps that Al Yankovic is one of the writers of the film so that only adds to Radcliffe’s performance, there’s tons of songs that Radcliffe truly nails but the one that truly stands out is “Like A Surgeon” there’s so much entertainment in that scene alone that makes the film a whole lot of fun and sums up Weird Al and his style quite well. Radcliffe gives one of those performances where the actor or actress in questions completely transforms into who they are portraying. Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna is truly mind blowing talk about a performance that completely nails every scene she’s in, she captures everything from the looks, to the voice and the energy it’s all there. She’s such a delight every time she’s on screen and really works well with Daniel Radcliffe, the two really compliment each other incredibly well and keeps the movie at a very strong pace. The cameo performances are a lot of fun such as Conan O’Brien as Andy Warhol, Jorma Taccone as Pee-wee Herman and Nina West (who is actually a drag queen) as Divine. Jack Black as Wolfman Jack is also a very fun performance. But now we are getting into what I hinted at earlier how they were going to approach this movie, easy make it a parody of the music biopic subgenre and go absolute bananas with it. Which given that like I mentioned earlier that Weird Al is one of the writers this was always going to be a very creative parody. It’s one of those parody type films that actually really works and is actually one of those cases where the parody is better than some of the films it’s parodying, it’s very cleverly written with tons of jokes, the performances are truly top notch and actually compliment the film, there’s a huge amount of entertainment value that really makes the film standout on it’s own. There’s even some genuine heartfelt scenes between Al and the people around him, overall Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a a blast of fun. It succeeds as a parody and completely matches the style of Weird Al Yannkovic, if you are fan of Weird Al please be sure to check this one out!

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is available on Roku.

10/10 A+

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 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

Alex Wheatle (2020)

Alex Wheatle (Sheyi Cole), from a young boy through his early adult years. Having spent his childhood in a mostly white institutional care home with no love or family, he finally finds not only a sense of community for the first time in Brixton, but his identity and ability to grow his passion for music and DJ’ing. When he is thrown in prison during the Brixton Uprising of 1981, he confronts his past and sees a path to healing.

Alex Wheatle is the fourth of the five part series of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe Series…and it’s hands down the weakest. The story itself is interesting and it’s based off of a true story, the problem is the movie itself really isn’t as powerful as the other movies in the series. The acting from Sheyi Cole is really strong and everyone else in the film does a fantastic job as well. Which ultimately does help Alex Wheatle stand, one of the major issues is the fact the film is way too short. It has a runtime of 66 minutes which is barely enough time to really do anything really special, especially if you are going for a topic like the true story of Alex Wheatle. Lovers Rock got away with using s small runtime of 70 minutes mostly do to it’s story being more expansive, it wasn’t about a particular person. So it could really expand on anything it wanted, plus a shorter runtime definitely helped that movie out. Here the shorter runtime just doesn’t work for Alex Wheatle, while yes it is a very decent movie that I still recommend watching it is just nowhere near as good as the previous three movies in the series.

6/10 C+

Stardust (2020)

Stardust will chronicle the young David Bowie’s first visit to the US in 1971 – a trip that inspired the invention of his iconic alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

Stardust is honestly one of the worst things I’ve ever seen and that is no exaggeration. First off it’s worth noting that David Bowie and his family didn’t allow this movie to use his music. When David Bowie sadly passed away, his family said NOT to release this movie. But they went ahead and did that anyway, what do I even say about this movie? The acting is dreadful there isn’t one scene that has a good performance. The writing feels like a first draft that wasn’t even completed, it’s a gigantic mess of a movie that truly feels like nobody gave a crap while making it. If you thought Bohemian Rhapsody was a bad Biopic of a famous singer Stardust makes Bohemian Rhapsody look like a masterpiece. The direction is horrid it really shows nobody had any idea what they were doing with this movie, luckily Stardust has seemed to fall into the cracks and got almost no attention after it’s release. Which I’m glad but my point is this should had never been released especially when the family of a person you are making a movie about flat out tells you “don’t release this movie” it’s a dreadful mess that I recommend avoiding at all costs.

Disgrace To Cinema F

A Call To Spy (2020)

In the beginning of WWII, with Britain becoming desperate, Churchill orders his new spy agency – SOE – to recruit and train women as spies.

A Call To Spy is about a fascinating World War II story that should have been told in film awhile ago at least now it has been told and it was a pretty good way of telling it. The cast does a really great job in their roles the standouts being Sarah Megan Thomas, Stans Katic and Radhika Apte all three really gave it their all in these roles and the results are impressive. The writing is really solid as well it feels very natural as it should, I say this because a lot of World War II movies as of late have not had very natural writing which is a huge problem, because after all World War II actually happened. So it’s refreshing to see one have a natural feel to it after awhile, the only real main criticism I have with this movie is that I don’t think it needed to be 123 minutes long, at some points it does feel like the movie drags on a bit. But otherwise A Call To Spy is a very solid film, I really hope this is beginning of telling more World War II stories that are barely ever talked about. I recommend giving this one a go definitely one of the better releases (at the time this was written.)

7/10 B