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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Cindy Prascik's Review of The Courier

Greetings, movie fans!

As COVID_19 Rules kept me confined to my own four walls on the High Holy Day of Gary Oldman's birthday last Saturday, I celebrated by watching the only Gary project I hadn't seen already, The Courier. I must say, his birthday deserved better.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailer.

A London courier finds herself at the center of a plot to assassinate a valuable witness.

Gary Oldman is no stranger to taking sketchy projects for the paycheck; this is a well-documented fact. With an Academy Award under his belt (if you think it's ever NOT going to be mentioned, you're mistaken), I am equally impressed and disappointed that he still doesn't mind tackling a script that leaves me wondering how it ever got past his agent. The Courier is so very bad from the outset, I kinda wonder how it got past *anyone's* agent.

The Courier lays its groundwork broadly, through news clippings shown over the opening credits. Following is such a by-the-numbers outing that it's not only easy to guess every twist and turn, but I caught myself saying dialogue out loud before the characters did. (The beauty of home viewing, I guess?) Though the stakes are high, there's nary a hint of tension; it's that predictable. The film is as violent as you might expect, with plenty of up-close beatings and kills for your viewing "pleasure." Transitions among three primary locations — New York City, London, and Washington, DC — are choppy and awkward, and the acting can only be described as Shatner-esque. Gary gets a fair bit of screen time, though not nearly enough to make it worth enduring the rest. Two weird things that worked my nerves worse than the rest: the young woman who had her handbag on her arm at all times, even though she was mostly just walking around her house, and the guy who appeared to be channeling (poorly) Stansfield, Gary's character in 1994's The Professional.

The Courier clocks in at 99 minutes that feel like 99 years.  It is rated R for "strong violence, including bloody images, and language throughout."

Hollywood has already been trending towards the quicker release of bigger and better films for home viewing, and the current health crisis is only hastening that trend. Let's hope it will soon let movies like The Courier be mercifully lost in the shuffle.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, the courier gets one, for my Gary.

Until next time, stay well movie fans!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Cindy Prascik's Review of Spenser Confidential

Well, hey there. Remember me? It's been awhile. As yet another weekend has gone by without time for a visit to my poor, neglected local cinema, I decided to give the Netflix original Spenser Confidential a try, just so I'd have something for you — yes, YOU, dearest reader(s) - to read about.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailer.

Upon his release from prison, a disgraced ex-cop steps right into a mystery that threatens not only his freedom, but his life.

Spenser Confidential is hardly gritty realism, but it's not quite as comical as I expected, either. Neither keeps it from being an entertaining ride, but sometimes it feels a bit tonally unsettled.

Mark Wahlberg is perfectly capable in the lead, as well he should be; this is basically the same not-as-dumb-as-he-looks tough guy he's played dozens of times before. No surprises, no complaints. Winston Duke is a treat as his more subdued sidekick, and the movie is, of course, better for having the brilliant Alan Arkin.

Spenser Confidential kicks off to the strains of Boston's Foreplay/Longtime, in what may be the most effective use of a dinosaur rock classic in a film since Kingsman's Freebird church massacre. Following are some fisticuffs, a chase scene or two, the standard troubled love affair, and a decent number of excuses for Wahlberg and Duke to appear shirtless. The movie gets funnier as it goes along, building to a ridiculous climax that starts out a little like a poor man's Fast & Furious. Ultimately, Spenser Confidential is the film equivalent of comfort food: it's pretty basic and not at all challenging, but you won't mind because it's exactly what you want and expect.

Spenser Confidential clocks in at 111 minutes and is rated R for "violence, language throughout, and sexual content."

If you're tired of worrying about everything going on in the real world right now, Netflix' Spenser Confidential is a great escape. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Spenser Confidential gets six.

Until next time...let's hope there is a next time.

Saturday, March 14, 2020


Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don't know where they are -- or how they got there. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport. But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.

Director: Craig Zobel

Cast: Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Hilary Swank, Ethan Suplee, Sturgill Simpson

Release Date: March 13, 2020

Action, Horror, Thriller

Rated R for strong bloody violence, and language throughout.

Runtime: 1 h 29 min


The Hunt is every bit as stupid as it looks and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s over the top Twitter political comment fight come to gruesome life is goofy and ham handed.  A bit of subtleness would have made this film just a tad bit more meaningful but as it’s an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon come to life.  In the first few minutes you sense every strand of it’s Grindhouse origin, it owes a lot to the 80s splatterfest Turkey Shoot.  Taken in that context, it’s a fun lark with a goofy but fun script.  Craig Zobel and his cast all have their tongue firmly in cheek so it’s never overly serious which lets all the blood and gore play as funny.  The cast, especially at the beginning, is made of a round table of familiar faces from TV but don’t get to attached to anyone because only a few are long for this brisk film’s runtime.  At it’s center is Betty Gilpin who carries the whole film with her wonderful turn which will remind people of Samara Weaving in last years Ready or Not and Sharni Vinson in Your Next.  It’s a fun performance that makes you look past the fact that her character is a murder machine in a Victoria Secret body.  It’s nothing new for Gilpin whose mastered that type of dichotomy in Netflix’s GLOW but here she can just go all out and have fun.  There’s no subtlety to this film and you’ll probably enjoy it more than you’d willingly admit.


Sunday, March 8, 2020


Two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, go on an journey to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him.

Director: Dan Scanlon

Cast: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer

Release Date: February 29 2020

Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Rated PG for action/peril and some mild thematic elements

Runtime: 1h 42min


Onward is a fine addition to the Pixar catalogue even if it’s not quite a classic.  Dan Scanlon does some solid work with a fun bit of world building using all types of D&D creatures.  It makes for a fun journey through this gentrified mystical world.  Most scenes are full of gags and jokes making it a rich and vibrant world.  At its center are Tom Holland and Chris Pratt who both are perfectly suited for their roles.  They work well together and really give the film its heart which drives the whole thing.  Julie Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer have a fun buddy comedy side story going which makes the film even more enjoyable.  The story itself is fairly basic even though there is a healthy bit of heart in it.  While there is plenty to appreciate all around, the film is kind of forgettable.  Pixar films are usually so memorable when one doesn’t quite leave a lasting impression you are left wondering why it didn’t work as well as it should have.  That’s not to say that Onward is a total misfire, because it’s not, but just that it didn’t quite reach the level of Pixar’s prestigious back catalogue. 

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