Archive for Music & Performing Arts

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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2 Wolves Films, Strings of Films,

Josh Duhamel, Maria Bello, Laura Dern, Lucas Till, Kherington Payne, Tom Everett Scott, Jae Head, Sharlene Taulé

Very young, but popular N.Y.C. DJ Alex (Josh Duhamel) is on top of the world, but doesn’t realize how good he has it. Living with his single mom, Annie (Laura Dern) who has substance abuse problem herself, so Alex has the run of his life. But when an accidental overdose puts him in the hospital, his mother figures she can’t take care of him anymore, and has the court send him to live with his estranged father that he has never known in rural, very small town. He’s forced by the court to have a one hour weekly meeting with a local psychiatrist/parole officer. Alex doesn’t fit in very well, but finds he is a bit of a star to the local kids, and finds a way to fit in by assisting their school dance team with their music. In the meantime, he has to learn how to deal with his demons, and those that are out to get him while learning to fit in a whole new world much different that what he’s used to.

I found that this was a pretty decent film, and had the feel of a lot of the popular hip hop dance movies out there, crossed with the cheerleader movies, but with a mostly male point of view which made it quite a bit different. There are really good performances in this film. Josh Duhamel is very good as the troubled boy learning to be a better version on himself. Lucas Till is also very good knowing that he has his own demons, but trying to help in a most unusual way. Laura Dern is a good actress, but unfortunately doesn’t have much to do in this movie. That’s a shame, but she adds a lot to the part she is in. Perhaps the weakest part of the movie is that it is obvious where it is going, and there just aren’t many surprises, but it was still an interesting film to watch. The characters were well developed, the messages were loud and clear, and it was a chance to root for a stunning change in Alex’s life as he really deserved it. This film is rated R, honestly because of the drug use and one scene that was rather explicit, but was a good film for late teens and young adults who will identify with the characters in this story and will probably enjoy it very much. With the excellent cast, it’s worth giving it a whirl.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Black Label Media, Gilbert Films, Impostor Pictures,

Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, Meagen Fay, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno, Jessica Rothe, Tom Everett, Josh Pence

Mia (Emma Stone) is a wannabe Hollywood actress, but stuck working as a barista in the studio commissary. She is frustrated, but full of ambition. Meanwhile, she keeps running into jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and tempers flare until sparks begin to fly. But each is filled with ambition and drive, and their paths are certainly separate from each other, so they have to face many difficult choices along their way for a relationship that seems to be doomed from the beginning. This is certainly a musical, but it’s filled with nostalgia for Hollywood yesterday, and old fashioned falling in love.

This film will ever be remembered as the film that Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced as the Best Picture winner at the Oscars in 2017 when it actually lost. This was a classic screw-up of massive proportions. But was this film the Best Picture, really? La La Land is a paradox of ups and downs, goods and bads. On the good side, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were absolutely great in their roles. They nailed the style and motif of the film perfectly. They both pulled off some really amazing skills that blew everyone away. For example, the plan was to use a pianist to play the piano with Ryan only pretending to do it. But he took lessons constantly that allowed him to play the music himself and perform the songs effortlessly. Even John Legend was impressed. Emma has a huge audition scene which she also performed herself, flipping between acting and singing without any the usual prerecorded track. The cast was very impressed. The cinematography is very well done. The look and feel of Hollywood is colorful and beautiful and show many of the sites and locations that mean so much to those of us who live here in LA. The story is very nostalgic, but that’s what we are really looking for. It pays homage to the Hollywood of yore and does it very well. It’s a simple boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl story, told with music. Now for the bads. The music is highly forgettable. When was the last time you heard a huge hit song from the new musical LA LA Land on the radio? It’s really simplistic and seems to mostly just fill in time. That part could have been done very much better. The story is rather simplistic. The drama seems really contrived and not really very believable. But the negatives don’t really destroy the experience, and it was very popular with the Foreign Press! For those who have had the acting or musician bug, it’s right up your alley, but not everyone is going to love this. I did not think it was best picture by any means, but it is good enough for a high recommendation. It is a great opportunity, like watching and old movie on AMC, to kick off your shoes, lie back, and enjoy a couple hours of pure unadulterated nostalgia. Finally a word about the ending. This may catch some folks by surprise, but there is an epilogue to the film that is a performance art sort of piece showing the “what ifs” of what life could have been. This film is about wishes and dreams, more than about love and romance, and it’s an interesting way to send us off think about that. The final ending is stunning. Wait for it.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Hartbeat Productions, Universal Pictures,

Kevin Hart

This film is a recorded stand-up performance by Kevin Hart in front of 50,000 screaming fans at Philideplhia’s Lincoln Financial Field, an outdoor arena. Kevin is from Philly and so it’s a homecoming for him. This film broke records as the first time a stand-up comedian filled an NFL stadium to capacity. It was an amazing night!

There is a little wrap-around story of Kevin as a James Bond style super spy that features a lot of cameo appearances. But essentially this film is really just a stand up show, but certainly a very funny one. Kevin is very funny, and his tales of current events and human nature really rock the house. Everyone appeared to have a really good time, and I don’t think this performance was any less than the classics by Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy. If you enjoy stand-up comedy and Kevin Hart, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this film. It was an incredible show.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 


 

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Warner Bros., Iron Horse Entertainment (II),

Adam Rodriguez, Gabriel Iglesias, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith, Kevin Nash, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Strahan, Channing Tatum, Donald Glover, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Andie MacDowell

Mike (Channing Tatum) has broken ties to the strip club where he worked and started his furniture business and is following his dream of the first movie in this sequel. But the business is failing and he has only one employee and he’s not able to pay for health care for him, and his having trouble paying him at all. So when he gets a call telling him that Dallas is gone, he heads off to pay his respects when he finds out that the old gang, minus Dallas are headed up north for the convention and competition. Mike has the itch to get back in the game, but once again as a short timer only in if for the bucks, and the kicks. So this road picture is the road trip to the convention and the hi-jinks of the gang of misfits on the way.

Of the first Magic Mike, I said “It is not a very good film”. Well if that was said of the first one, this sequel without McConnaughy is 10 times worse. This could definitely win an award, but that would be the award for the “Most Pointless Movie Ever Made”. It was truly awful and really did have no point at all. I think this was a blatant rip-off for the gals in love with Tatum and their desire to watch him running around without his shirt, as there is nothing else worth seeing here. It certainly misses McConnaghy’s Dallas character. Without him, the movie just seems to flounder. There is no plot going on here, and it’s about a bad as if it were a parody version on Magic Mike that just isn’t funny and doesn’t seem to be in on the joke. I really disliked this film, and I think the box office staying power of this movie lasted about 8 hours. There was a good reason why nobody saw this that wasn’t trying to do a “girls night out” to a theater that serves alcohol. In the words of Mad TV’s “Men on Film”……..”Hated It.”

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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