Archive for Drama

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.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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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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Calamity Films, Feigco Entertainment, Perfect World Pictures,

Madison Ingoldsby, Emma Thompson, Boris Isakovic, Lucy Miller, Emilia Clarke, Maxim Baldry, Margaret Clunie, John-Luke Roberts, Michelle Yeoh, Bilal Zafar, Patti LuPone, Lydia Leonard, Henry Golding, Michael Addo, Peter Mygind

Last Christmas is a brand new holiday film about a family who moved to London from Yugoslavia and especially the daughter Kate (Emilia Clarke) who is struggling. Kate has a job as an elf in a Christmas all-year-long store run by Santa (Michelle Yeoh) who is very eccentric person for sure. Kate is struggling with life and making lots of bad choices, but when she meets the very handsome Tom, (Henry Golding) he helps her find meaning in her life. But Tom is very quirky as well, and though he is a big help to her, he is not very consistent. This is a lovely Christmas story filled with lots of heart and a great deal of values and good feelings.

This film is hard to categorize, as it is many different things. Most of all, it is very heartwarming, but this is not like a Hallmark Christmas movie, as it is a LOT deeper than that. There is serious drama, and side splitting humor, mixed in with a charming romantic tale as well. Kate’s family is hysterical, and has a wealth of back story to fill in the richness of the story. Emma Thompson is absolutely astounding in her performance and deserves the award for best supporting actress for sure. It is an awesome character she brings to life. Emilia Clark, as well, is absolutely fantastic in her role, and she brings a great deal of professionalism as Kate. She really steals the show. And thought Henry Golding is not in every scene, he certainly carries himself very well in every scene he is in. The casting in this story is exceptional, as each role is played to the hilt by the perfect actor for each role. From Kate’s sister, to her poor father, to those who try to help Kate when she is at rock bottom, everyone helps move this film forward and each role adds a lot of depth to the story. I went to see this film without a lot of expectations, and I was really blown away. Yes, there is a bit of a Shamalayan twist too, but there is also a lot of George Michael music, and all in all this is a movie that I think most everyone could enjoy. Filmed on location in London, the city itself is a star character as well. This filim is firing on all cyylinders and is a MUST SEE for this Christmas season. Go ahead and pass up some of the others if you must, but head out to see this one. I really, really enjoyed it, 100%. I loved this movie.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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BRON Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, DC Comics,

Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, Leigh Gill, Josh Pais, Rocco Luna, Marc Maron, Sondra James, Murphy Guyer, Douglas Hodge

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a very poor man, living in a run down tenement in Gotham City with his aged mother Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy). He makes a few bucks any way he can, working as a clown trying to sell product or to entertain children. But Arthur’s dream is to be a standup comedian. His idol is Murray Franklin (Robert DeNiro) who is the late night talk show host on Gotham TV. But things are not easy for Arthur, and things keep going from bad to worse. His social worker (Arthur definitely has mental issues) is taken away during budget cuts, and when Arthur loses his job, there is not much left to live for. An odd turn of events makes Arthur take on his alternate ego of “Joker” and things looks very bleak for his future.

This is a stunning film. It is not at all pretty, and is very caustic and violent at every turn. It will turn your stomach as you realize the crap a poor man in Gotham has to go through just to survive, and this is the background story of the arch-enemy of Batman, The Joker. We see what made him turn into the deranged villain he was, and we also learn a lot of what we though was true was actually not what happened at all. This film was extremely coarse, but very, very well done. I was stunned at the performance Joaquin turned in here, and I think he’s looking at a great number of awards this season! This has to be nominated as the best performance by a lead actor. It’s really that good. The film is excellent, and has some excellent performances, but Joaquin steals the show and is extremely outstanding. I was deeply moved by this film, and I personally think it was an amazing experience to see this movie that is simply based on one character out of the batman series. This really helped me to understand Joker, and I will certainly not soon forget it. I didn’t expect much when I went to see this film, but I was really touched. I recommend this to anyone who can handle the extreme violence and the very sad things that happened to this poor fellow. I will never think of Jack Nicholson again when I think of Joker. Joaquin was THAT GOOD!

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Big Beach Films, Depth of Field, Kindred Spirit,

Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Aoi Mizuhara, Shuzhen Zhao, Gil Perez-Abraham, Jim Liu, Han Chen, Diane Dehn, Ines Laimins, Yongbo Jiang, Hong Lu, X Mayo, Becca Khalil

This is a story of a young Chinese lady, Billi (Awkafina) who is struggling to survive in New York City on her own. Billi is close enough to her parents, but trying to survive on her own without their help. She is still close to her Grandmother in China, and keeps in touch with her as her dreams fall by the wayside one by one. When her Grandmother is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, the family uses the excuse of Billi’s cousin’s (who lives in Japan) snap wedding to make a trip home to China for one last visit to her Grandmother. Her parents don’t want Billi to go because of her hard times with the finances, but Billi goes anyway. The family has decided to lie to Grandmother and not tell her about the cancer. The journey brings a lot of pain and joy to the entire family as they all are together for this side celebration while trying to hide the sadness of the fact that this may be last time they ever see Grandmother again.

This film was really wonderfully done. It is a touching story that is very, very Chinese. This is really a Chinese story, and the culture and customs are really interesting for an American guy like me to see. Sometimes life is really different. This film was advertised as a Comedy, but one look at the trailer lets you know that this is going to be a very heart touching dramatic piece for sure. I was right. Although some of it is really funny at times, it still really tugs the heart strings a LOT. I remember the laughs and jokes we had at my own Dad’s funeral a year ago, while feeling the sorrow at losing a parent, but remembering as well the good times and fun we had. This is the same way, as the family is really happy to get together, and see each other, and it’s too bad it’s a such a sad occasion that brings them together. It was also interesting to note that this is a biographical story loosely based on Writer and Director Lulu Wang’s real life story of a visit to China to visit her Grandmother under similar conditions where they used a mostly fake wedding as an excuse to go home to visit her Grandmother who they determined not to tell about her cancer in a similar fashion. Also, it was very, very difficult to get this movie even made, as Lulu found American producers would not touch it because it was too Chinese with all Chinese characters, and a LOT of the dialog is in Chinese and subtitled, while Chinese producers would not make it either because it was too American. I think after the success of “Crazy Rich Asians” it was finally able to be made. (This is merely my opinion, and probably wrong as obviously this movie took a long time to come to fruition, but it is a good thought). At any rate, it was an extremely moving movie, and very much worth the cost of a movie ticket to see this excellent story. I really enjoyed this film, and I would highly recommend it, as likely it is one of those films that is hard to find and is a hidden gem that may be way off your radar. If you can get a chance to see this film, I can really highly recommend it. I want to also mention that this was a great vehicle for Awkwafina. This is really her movie, as it should be, and she and Grandmother really carry the movie without only a little help from the rest of the cast. Not that they were not good, as well, but Awkafina really knocked this one out of the park. She was really funny in “Crazy Rich Asians” and that led to a hosting role on “Saturday Night Live which she also nailed, but his is a very serious and very somber role which shows her amazing acting ability and she really nailed it. I suspected she was a really good actress, but this one really shows she is no shallow actress only capable of playing a silly fool character. The really gave 100% to this role and she was awesome. I hope she is give the recognition she certainly deserves from this movie, as it so well well written, directed, produced, and performed that I consider it a must see. Enjoy it. I really did!

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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