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Trailer: Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television*, Season 2

Posted on January 15, 2019 at 11:20 am

I signed up for YouTube Red to see the first season of Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television*, and am really looking forward to Season 2, which starts January 30. It is smart, fresh, and very funny, with great guest stars, a lot of sharp, knowing, meta-commentary on pop culture, and a lead performance by Hansen that is so resolutely self-involved lesser-Hollywood bro it is almost impossible to believe it isn’t real.

Trailer — Spider-Man: Far From Home

Posted on January 15, 2019 at 10:03 am

The last one was called “Homecoming,” but this time your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is out of his friendly neighborhood and on a field trip to Europe with his classmates, including Zendaya as MJ. Guess who shows up — Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Also Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio. And I love that sizzle between Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Spidey, take us home!

The Upside

Posted on January 10, 2019 at 5:49 pm

B-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for suggestive content and drug use
Profanity: Some strong and crude language
Nudity/ Sex: Crude bodily function humor and non-explicit sexual situation
Alcohol/ Drugs: Marijuana, some alcohol
Violence/ Scariness: Severe medical issues, some peril, reference to serious accident
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: January 11, 2019

Copyright 2019 The Weinstein Company
First, it really happened. A wealthy French aristocrat named Philippe Pozzo di Borgo was paralyzed in a paragliding accident and hired an ex-con to be his aide. Their friendship and their adventures together inspired a French box office record-breaker called “The Intouchables.” And now there is an American remake called “The Upside,” set in New York City, starring Bryan Cranston as the man in the wheelchair and Kevin Hart as the “life auxiliary.”

Del did not want the job. He did not even know what job he was applying for. But his parole officer warned him that he would have to go back to prison if he could not show that he had been turned down by three potential employers. So, he takes the elevator to the penthouse thinking he was applying for a custodial position and barged into another candidate’s interview because he just wants to be turned down and get out of there and pick up his son from school. Instead, he ends up getting hired. Philip (Cranston) likes Del because he is so inappropriate. While the other applicants for the position spoke in low, soothing, deferential tones, Del was at home with saying whatever he was thinking.

Being at home with whatever the job required was another thing, however. Del is fine with lifting Philip into the chair and driving him around in his fancy cars. He is more than fine with his room in the penthouse, though the shower is very complicated and probably bigger than his prison cell. He is fine with Philip’s DNR orders. He is not fine with some of the more intimate aspects of the job.

It is about 15 minutes too long, and very much a studio product, burnished and focus-grouped. Philip teaches Del to appreciate opera and Del teaches Philip to appreciate Aretha Franklin. They each push the other out of their comfort zones. Del forces Philip to call his “epistolary” friend, a woman he has been corresponding with through old-school letters. Philip makes it possible for Del to resolve some of the issues of his past, including beginning to develop a relationship with his estranged son.

The three performers bring a lot of luster to a formulaic screenplay (opera/Aretha, TWO scenes high on weed, a breaking-everything-will-be-cathartic moment), especially Cranston, who brings warmth and depth to a character who is extremely patient and understanding (until he isn’t). Kidman is marvelous as Philip’s quiet and very proper executive assistant. And Hart has his best moments when he is slightly toned down, unsure, and disheveled from his usual high-energy, peppery persona, making us look forward to seeing him explore a wider variety of roles, maybe even something dramatic. If he listens to the advice Del gets from Philip, maybe that will happen.

Parents should know that this film features some strong and crude language, sexual references and graphic sexual humor and a mild situation, drug use and drug humor, and a severe medical condition.

Family discussion: What need can you find a way to fill? Who can you encourage? Why did Philip like Del?

If you like this, try: the original French version, “The Intouchables” and “Me Without You”

A Dog’s Way Home

Posted on January 10, 2019 at 5:29 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, some peril and language
Profanity: Some mild language
Nudity/ Sex: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Peril and violence, death of human and animal characters, characters with disabilities and PTSD
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: January 11, 2019

Copyright 2019 Columbia Pictures
I laughed and I cried and I said, “Aww,” and that is not a bad way to begin the year.

Bryce Dallas Howard provides the voice of Bella, a pit bull pup living under an abandoned house in Denver with a bunch of homeless cats. She is loved and happy until animal control comes and takes her mother away. The mother cat adopts Bella, who is comforted and at home until the arrival of two animal welfare volunteers, who come by to leave cat food every day. Lucas (a warmly appealing Jonah Hauer-King) is a Veterans Administration employee studying for the MCATs and living with his mother, an Army vet struggling with depression. He is instantly taken with Bella and adopts her, even though his lease does not allow dogs.

Pit bulls are not allowed in Denver. It is up to the individual animal control officer to decide which dogs are covered by the ban, and one has it in for Bella. He picks her up once and Lucas pays the fine. But if he picks her up again, she will be killed. The developer who owns the property with the abandoned homes will do anything to get Lucas and the other animal lovers to stop interfering with his permits.

Lucas brings Bella to New Mexico to stay with friends so she will be safe while he moves to a new apartment outside of the Denver city limits. But Bella does not understand. She remembers that Lucas taught her how to go home, and so she runs away and begins a 400 mile adventure that will take more than two years.

Bella has encounters with humans and animals along the way, some kind, some predatory. She makes some friends and has the opportunity to find new loving homes but she wants to be with Lucas.

Having Bella as our narrator adds some charm to the movie because her understanding may be limited in some respects, but she never loses sight of the essentials. The individual encounters introduce us to a range of human characters, some worth a movie of their own, like the disabled vets who are able to experience joy and purpose through Bella (especially when they have to hide her from the doctor in charge of the VA hospital in one of the film’s best scenes). She saves one man’s life and becomes the last friend of a homeless man (Edward James Olmos). And she mothers “big kitten,” an orphan mountain lion who will someday return the favor. The footage here is heartwarming and genuinely astonishing, especially after they meet again when the majestic cat is fully grown.

This is a nice way to start the year, a story of love and loyalty, canine and human.

Parents should know that this film features humans and animals in peril, injured and killed, animal hit by a car, animal killed by hunters, character dies and the body is discovered by children, and characters who struggle with PTSD and depression.

Family discussion: What did Bella understand better than the humans did? Why did Bella make such a difference for the veterans?

If you like this, try: “The Incredible Journey” and “A Dog’s Purpose”

Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards 2019

Posted on January 10, 2019 at 4:00 pm

I am proud to be a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists and proud of our 2019 awards.

These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration.

Best Film


ROMA
 


Best Director 


Alfonso Cuaron

ROMA


Best Screenplay, Original


THE FAVOURITE

Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara 



Best Screenplay, Adapted 


CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty

Best Documentary 


WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

Morgan Neville

Best Animated Film


SPIDER-MAN INTO SPIDER-VERSE

Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsay, Rodney Rothman 


Best Actress


Olivia Colman

THE FAVOURITE



Best Actress in a Supporting Role 


Regina King

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Best Actor


Ethan Hawke

FIRST REFORMED

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Richard E Grant

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? 



Best Ensemble Cast

BLACK PANTHER

Sarah Finn, Casting Director

Best Cinematography


ROMA

Alfonso Cuaron

Best Editing


ROMA

Alfonso Cuaron, Adam Gough 



Best Non-English-Language Film


ROMA

Alfonso Cuaron

Mexico

EDA FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS

These awards honor WOMEN only.

Best Woman Director


Marielle Heller

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? 



Best Woman Screenwriter


Deborah Davis

THE FAVOURITE

Best Animated Female

Elastagirl

Holly Hunter

INCREDIBLES 2

Best Breakthrough Performance


Thomasin McKenzie

LEAVE NO TRACE

Outstanding Achievement by A Woman in The Film Industry


Rachel Morrison

For paving the road for women cinematographers with her Oscar nomination for MUDBOUND and scoring as DP on BLACK PANTHER.

EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

Actress Defying Age and Ageism 


Viola Davis – WIDOWS



Bravest Performance


Olivia Colman – THE FAVOURITE 



Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent


Jennifer Lawrence – RED SPARROW

Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Lead and The Love Interest Award


MISSION IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT – Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson

Remake or Sequel That Shouldn’t Have Been Made


OVERBOARD

AWFJ Hall of Shame Award

ALL ALLEGED ABUSERS: Including Weinstein, Moonves, CK, Spacey, Rush, Franco, Singer, Rose, Lauer et al.

ABOUT THE ALLIANCE OF WOMEN FILM JOURNALISTS: AWFJ, a not-for-profit corporation, is an international association of professional female movie critics, reporters and feature writers working in print, broadcast and online media, dedicated to raising the volume on women’s voices in the film community by broadening opportunities for women who write about film and supporting films by and about women – both in front of and behind the cameras – through intra-group promotional activities, outreach programs and by presenting EDA awards in recognition of outstanding accomplishments (the best and worst) by and about women in the movies. More information about AWFJ, including the membership list, can be accessed at www.awfj.org or sending inquiries to awfjinc@gmail.com.

ABOUT THE EDA AWARDS: The AWFJ presents EDA Awards to honor women’s achievements in front of and behind the cameras. In addition to the annual end of the year awards, AWFJ presents EDA Awards for Best Female-Directed Films at select film festivals, including IDFA, Whistler Film Festival, DOXA. Edinburgh Film Festival. St. Louis International Film Festival and others. The EDAs are named in honor of AWFJ founder Jennifer Merin’s mother, Eda Reiss Merin, a stage, film and screen actress whose career spanned more than 60 years. A dedicated foot soldier in the industry, Eda was one of the founders of AFTRA and a long-standing member of AMPAS.