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How to Build a Girl

by Alan Rapp on May 8, 2020

in Home Video

  • Title: How to Build a Girl
  • IMDb: link

How to Build a Girl movie reviewAdapted from the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Caitlin Moran, How to Build a Girl introduces us to awkward and imaginative teenager Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein) who finds a way to take her writing talent and use it not only to support her struggling lower-class family, but also reinvent herself into music critic Dolly Wilde.

Along with Johanna, the family Morrigan consists of her equally socially-awkard gay brother (Laurie Kynaston), a mother (Gemma Arterton) whose attention is consumed by newborn twins, and a father (Paddy Considine) who has yet to accept he was a rocker who was never good enough to make it big.

Triggered in part by need to help her family, but also by a desire to escape her lonely life, Johanna breaks out of her comfort zone. First through a love of music, and later through ruthless criticism, Johanna is transformed into the sassy Dolly Wilde. How to Build a Girl is part coming-of-age story, part self-exploration, and part morality tale how a little power can corrupt someone so easily and completely (especially an unsuspecting teen).

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Charlie’s Angels

by Alan Rapp on May 1, 2020

in Home Video

  • Title: Charlie’s Angels
  • IMDb: link

Charlies Angels Blu-ray reviewCharlie’s Angels is a sequel (of sorts) to both the 70s television show and the movies from the early 2000s, Charlie’s Angels and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. The Townsend Agency has gone global, there are now Angels in offices all around the world (and for reasons never explored, each has a support agent all of whom use the codename of Bosley). The team the film focuses on is made up of former heiress and thief Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart) and former MI6 agent Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) who are assigned to help programmer Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott) who has uncovered some dangerous truths about her company’s new technology. After extraction, Elena’s skill set proves useful and she soon becomes one of the team.

The movie highlights some of the goofiness of the original television show in terms of disguises and planning, it also ratches up the action quite a bit. There are plots and subplots here, some making the main story more convoluted than necessary and others simply used as filler.

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Selah and The Spades

by Alan Rapp on April 16, 2020

in Home Video

  • Title: Selah and The Spades
  • IMDb: link

“They always try to break you down when you’re seventeen.”

Selah and The Spades movie reviewWritten and directed by Tayarisha Poe, Selah and The Spades offers a look at the cliques inside the private high school of Haldwell where its title character (played by Lovie Simone) reigns supreme by running the school’s drug-dealing faction known as the Spades. It’s highs are stronger than its lows, but Poe’s film has enough of each to undercut the storytelling at times leading to an uneven tale of the secret life of spoiled high school students after hours.

The film finds it strength in Simone as the out-going senior troubled by insecurities, rivals, and an overbearing mother (Gina Torres) who has her daughter’s life planned out, and Celeste O’Connor as the younger transfer student who Selah takes under her wing. While the film teases something more between them, in the end it’s hard to tell just what the two mean to each other (or if they even know). Also of note are Poe’s vision and the cinematography of Jomo Fray, both of which help frame the story as something apart from the majority of high school films. Even if the ending feels rushed and somewhat unsatisfying, enough of Selah and The Spades works to make it memorable in a year where that could be scarce.

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Star Wars – Attack of the Clones

by Alan Rapp on April 1, 2020

in Home Video

  • Title: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  • IMDb: link

There is unrest in the Galactic Senate. Several thousand solar systems have declared their intentions to leave the Republic.

This separatist movement, under the leadership of the mysterious Count Dooku, has made it difficult for the limited number of Jedi Knights to maintain peace and order in the galaxy.

Senator Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo, is returning to the Galactic Senate to vote on the critical issue of creating an ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC to assist the overwhelmed Jedi….

Star Wars - Attack of the Clones movie reviewWhen ranking the nine movies of the “Skywalker Saga” there is never a question of which film comes in last. 2002’s follow up to Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace jumps forward a decade when a Separatist movement threatens the stability of the Republic. Standing against allowing the rising tensions to turn to war, now Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman) returns to Coruscant. An attack on the Senator’s life will bring her back into contact with Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his padawan Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), and bring Anakin one step closer to his dark destiny.

Much of the film focuses on Anakin’s two primarily relationships. Though he loves and respects Obi-Wan, Anakin is bristling over not yet earning the rank of Jedi Knight. The seed of Anakin’s contempt for the Jedi Order buried in the first film continue to grow. His obsession for Padme is more simple, but there’s a darker side to it as well. Aside from such a relationship being forbidden by the Jedi, there’s also the manner Anakin peruses Padme, while assigned to protect her, through both guilt and seducing her into a relationship she knows is wrong.

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Star Wars – The Phantom Menace

by Alan Rapp on April 1, 2020

in Home Video

  • Title: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
  • IMDb: link

Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.

Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.

While the Congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict…

Star Wars - The Phantom Menace movie reviewNow that the “Skywalker Saga” is complete, it seems like a reasonable time to go back and look through the various Star Wars films. Unlike some, I come not to condemn The Phantom Menace. Despite its flaws, the film has genuinely great moments, strong new characters, and vivid new worlds all while doing more world building than any Star Wars property other than the original Star Wars. Does it measure up to Lucas’ original? No, certainly not. But it’s far from the weakest Star Wars film.

Set at the end of the Old Republic, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace introduces us to the young boy who would grow into the most terrifying creature in the galaxy. Jake Lloyd is cast as the boyish slave Anakin Skywalker. Lloyd is your average kid actor and the failures of Anakin here have more to do with the choice to make him far younger than necessary than Lloyd’s performance. We’re also introduced to Queen Padme Amidala (Queen Amidala ) of Naboo, a young ruler struggling with the occupation of her planet by the Trade Federation, and Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) who arrives on Naboo with his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).

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