Home Away Productions, Civilian Studios,

Lea Salonga, Eva Noblezada, Gustavo Gomez, Princess Punzalan, Kelsey Pribilski, Liam Booth, Dale Watson, Libby Villari

Rose Garcia (Eva Noblezada) is a young Filipina high school girl who lives with her Mother (Princess Punzalan) in a motel in Texas where she helps her mom clean the rooms. Both mother and daughter are illegal residents and in fear of an ICE visit, but despite that, Rose has a love of Country music and wants to be a Country singer. But when Mom is caught and sent away for deportation, Rose decides to stick it out and stay behind to seek her dream. But it’s a very tough life, and a few friends along the way, help her to barely survive in the Texas country dive bar scene. As she struggles to keep her head above water. This film has had a recent release in the theaters because of the lack of new films to be screened during the pandemic, and though it’s a 2019 film, it has a lot to offer.

This was a very well done and deeply touching movie that really has a lot going for it in a little movie! Eva Noblezada is a wonderful singer with a really great voice, and a Broadway and London history of live theater. She played the same role as Lea Salonga, who plays her Auntie in this film, on Broadway in the musical Miss Saigon. Lea played the lead in the original, and Eva in the revision of the play, and she has some great chops, for sure. This is her movie debut, and she is perfect in the role, and plays it extremely well. Dale Watson plays one of her idols in the local Austin, Texas country scene who recognizes her talent and tries to guide her as he can along the way. This is a sleeper film that can’t get much buzz because it is a very little film, but was really enjoyable. Now my personal ties to the Philippines I’m sure colors my viewpoint a lot, but I appreciated that though this film is about three distinct things, the first being the hardships of being an undocumented resident, the second being the struggles between a daughter and her mother, and the third being the difficulty in making it in the music business, this film never gets preachy about any of it. Especially the illegal aspect could become really a morality lesson, but it’s much more realistic and “this is how it is” without taking sides or pushing it down your throat. I appreciate this. In these difficult times, it’s a shame how people grab a viewpoint, and get very combative about how they are right and anyone who thinks differently is an idiot. This film shows how it is without coming down hard on either side. The acting is really special, and the “outside Austin” views (as well as the downtown a time or two) is very refreshing. This is not a made in the back lot kind of movie, it’s really there. Another bonus is that there is a small portion of the film that takes place in Manila, and though it’s small, it’s also very realistic of modern day Manila. All in all, this film was a very enjoyable hour and a half, and quite touching. It’s extremely authentic and very well done. This is a definite hidden gem and one that you’ll likely enjoy until the next Marvel Blockbuster shows up. This is the kind of film that takes you back to the theater gently. See it if you can.

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Warner Bros., Syncopy,

Juhan Ulfsak, Jefferson Hall, Ivo Uukkivi, Andrew Howard, John David Washington, Rich Ceraulo Ko, Jonathan Camp, Wes Chatham, Sander Rebane, Martin Donovan, Cl├ęmence Po├ęsy, Robert Pattinson Robert Pattinson

Well, the Russians are trying to start World War III, and a really mysterious agent called “The Protagonist” is recruited by the CIA types to stop them. But this is a world beyond the limits of time, as we know it, so he is able to travel forward and backward through time. Now it’s not as simple as time travel, as if you jump ahead, you will arrive after events happened, but will be moving backwards until you meet the others traveling though time the other way. This is a science fiction, spy, time travel movie that is very well constructed, but very difficult to follow.

I was anxious to see this film after all the hype about this big block buster film, the first “big” one after the pandemic, but it didn’t work for me. I was deeply disappointed by this movie, but it’s hard to put into words why. This is basically because I couldn’t follow it well enough to tell who was who, and who was going in what direction. The team divides up into two groups one going ahead and coming backward, and one going forward, and they look alike and are dressed alike, and when the film is over, all I could say was “That was exciting, but I have no idea what I just watched.” I read that this film did very well in internationally, but when we was it our theater was really empty. I mean there were like 4 of us in the whole theater. Now if you really liked Inception, then you might enjoy this one, as I wasn’t blown away by Inception either, much for the same reasons. There are a bunch of rules for the time issue, and I’m not sure any of it makes any real sense for me, so I tended to find it annoying instead of fascinating. I normally am a big fan of science fiction/time travel films, but this just didn’t cut it for me. I did not really enjoy this film, and I don’t recommend it, unless you really like films which bend the rules and have the really far out scenarios that break your mind. I guess I was more in a mood to be entertained, and this was certainly not that!

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Burek Films, Ingenious, Solstice Studios,

Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, Austin P. McKenzie, Juliene Joyner, Stephen Louis Grush, Anne Leighton, Devyn A. Tyler, Sylvia Grace Crim, Vivian Fleming-Alvarez, Samantha Beaulieu, Lucy Faust, Scheryl W Brown. Michael Papajohn

Rachel (Caren Pisorius) is having a tough day. She’s raising two kids on her own, she’s divorced and having trouble keeping her head above water, her car is in bad shape, and she’s late again. So as she’s taking the kids to school, she’s late, and a man (Russell Crowe) stops in front of her at a light, and when it turns green, he’s off in his own little world and doesn’t move. Now if Rachel is having a bad day, this man is having a hundred times worse day, so when she lays on the horn and gives him the finger, he loses it. He tries to explain that she should have been a bit more polite and owes him an apology, but she is not in a good mood, so she takes off. At this point, the man loses it and begins stalking her down to teach her a lesson. To say he is Unhinged is the biggest understatement of the year.

This is my first film back after the theaters closed for Covid-19, and it was so nice to be back inside a theater again, that maybe I’m rating this film a bit higher than I would have if it was normal times, but I really, really enjoyed this film. Everyone is so on edge these days, and though a lot of of these angry violent rage movies as carried on by a big monster in a Mack truck who attacks without any cause or reason. But we get to know Russel Crowe’s motivation very well as we get a close view into his psyche playing the character just known as “Man”. Caren also is very likeable and really plays the role of the frazzled worn out single Mom who is simply fed up as well. This is World War III, and the cast really gives us a breathtaking ride though all levels of insanity. It is extremely well acted, and the suspense is over the top. This is an absolute edge of your seat thriller that really leaves to worn out in the end, but is so right out of the headlines today that we can almost understand the frustration everyone feels. This was the first film released after the theaters reopened and it was well worth the visit to the theater. I enjoyed it immensely, mostly due to Russell Crowe, but also due to the fabulous screen play. If you’ew looking for a great film to head back out to the theater again, this one was really worth it.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Warner Bros., Intrepid Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment,

Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Selena Anduze, Robert Longstreet, Carel Struycken, Catherine Parker, James Flanagan, Met Clark, Zackary Momoh, Jocelin Donahue, Dakota Hickman

Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) is the little boy from the Shining. Dan still has the power of telepathy although he does all he can to suppress it, but a little girl is reaching out to him for help. Turns out there is a cult, called the “True Knot” who depend on those who “shine” to provide their sustenance. Like a vampire drains the blood from their victims, the True Knot kill their victims and inhale the “steam” that comes out when the victim dies. This gives them strength and pseudo eternal life as long as there are victims to harvest for their powers. Trouble is these are becoming extremely rare, and they are having a very hard time finding victims. But this child is very strong, and Dan just has to try to protect her by taking her back to the place where his troubles all started.

This is a sequel to the Shining, particularly the Jack Nicholson/Shelley Duvall version, and is set a few dozen years in the future. In fact, they go to the trouble to get look alike actors for Jack and Shelley to play the flashbacks. Of course the hotel is good, just like it was in the original. However, though I looked forward to this film since I really enjoyed the different versions of the original story, I was very disappointed in this farce of a film. It’s quite long, but mostly pretty useless. Actually, the cult addition to the story was very derivative of all the vampire stories that you’ve seen, and the group themselves were rather pitiful and not a very talented bunch. Turns out they were not very strong, nor were they dangerous, and really pretty weak. The whole thing was really annoying. Ewan McGregor was actually pretty good, and did his very best with the rather weak story he was given to work with. He was definitely the best thing in the film though. I was really let down by this film, and felt like it was not worth the investment to see it. There are other good films out there, and I definitely wish I had chosen something else. I am a horror fan, and that had a lot to do with why I chose to see this, when i don’t get to see many films anymore, but I wasn’t pleased with this one. I would definitely say to skip this one for now, and catch it for the scenic hotel scenes and Ewan’s performance later down the road when it’s free!

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Boies / Schiller Film Group, Wrigley Pictures,

Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Eliana Bateman, Peter Facinelli, Dillon Lane, Tichina Arnold, Tom Segura, Lana McKissack, Anne Winters, Matt Letscher, P.J. Byrne, Valente Rodriguez, Louisa Abernathy, Charlie McDermott, Jonny Berryman

A Nurse, Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail}, downloads a popular new app that tells you exactly when you are going to die. The other nurses are having fun looking at the 70 years or so they have left, while Quinn’s shows she only has a few days. Thinking it’s just a harmless joke app, she suddenly starts seeing mysterious hidden figures following her, and she quickly learns that the clock is ticking and as she finds other folks with time running out, she realizes that she has to figure out how to beat this thing before the clock runs out.

This is a rather unique concept for a horror film, and it is mildly horrific and suspenseful, but it’s not all that overly scary, and isn’t all that original. Just the same, it is a decent horror film and it has it’s moments. Elizabeth Lail does a really good job in the lead role, and does a decent job carrying the film. The movie obviously owes a great debt of gratitude to the Final Destination series, as they truly stole a great deal of the format and ideas from that source! Final Destination was a ground-breaking film with the format of unusual deaths and the formula for breaking the chain and trying to beat the system, but quite a few original ideas have been added to make it more interesting in Countdown. All in all it was an enjoyable film, decently suspenseful, and fun to watch, but hardly worth your hard earned bucks on the big screen. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see this in the theaters, but if you have the chance to watch this sometime on video, give it a shot. It was an enjoyable time, and isn’t bad.

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