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Top End Wedding

by Alan Rapp on February 20, 2020

in Home Video

  • Title: Top End Wedding
  • IMDb: link

Top End Wedding movie reviewDirector Wayne Blair‘s Top End Wedding may be a tad formulaic, but it’s not without its charms. The Australian film stars Miranda Tapsell and Gwilym Lee as a couple in a rush to get married only to discover the mother of the bride (Ursula Yovich) has gone missing with less than 10 days until the ceremony. As the happy couple head off on a road trip in search of the missing matriarch, which showcases both the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship, the ceremony is left in the hands of the heart-broken father of the bride (Huw Higginson), bridesmaids, and the bride’s workaholic boss (Kerry Fox).

The script by Miranda Tapsell and Joshua Tyler plays on some predictable romcom cliches, although it also dedicates substantial time to building the relationship of the core characters making the hijinx a bit easier to swallow. The likability of the two stars and the beautiful shots of Northern Australia certainly don’t hurt either. There may be few surprises, but the journey that touches on generations of relationships is smarter than many romantic comedies.

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The Two Popes

by Alan Rapp on December 24, 2019

in Home Video

  • Title: The Two Popes
  • IMDb: link

The Two Popes movie reviewNow stop me if you’ve heard this one, two Popes walk into the Vatican… Director Fernando Meirelles and screenwriter Anthony McCarten offer this amusing tale of the relationship that develops between two men with opposing views of Catholicism in the world. It just so happens that both of those men would become Pope. Opening with Pope Benedict XVI’s (Anthony Hopkins) election over a reluctant Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the film moves forward seven years during a tumultous time for the Catholic Church where Benedict will look at his formal rival as the best hope for the church.

With the simple set-up, McCarten sets the stage and allows Hopkins and Pryce to play off of each other offering insights into both men struggling to find common ground. Pryce gets the better deal with the more layered Jorge who, thanks to Benedict’s prodding, would go on to become Pope Francis. Hopkins gets stuck with the more straightforward Benedict, but the set-up offers him challenges in attempting to convince a man whose views of the church he disagrees with to take a job he doesn’t desire.

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The Farewell

by Alan Rapp on December 19, 2019

in Home Video

  • Title: The Farewell
  • IMDb: link

The Farewell movie reviewBased on a true story, writer/director Lulu Wang‘s film showcases a major cultural difference between China and America in dealing with life-threatening illness. When the oldest member of the family (Shuzhen Zhao) is diagnosed with cancer in China, the family chooses not to reveal her condition. Instead, the family orchestrates a wedding as an excuse to bring the full family back to China. However, the gathering’s true purpose is to say farewell.

There’s a philosophical question at the base of the film that Wang refuses to loose herself in. While showcasing a very different view of medicine and death (even the doctors in China help the family to hide the old woman’s condition), Wang doesn’t attempt to argue one method is better than the other. Instead, the movie focuses on how Nai Nai’s (Zhao) condition, and the decision to hide her prognosis from her, effects the entire family – primarily her granddaughter Billi (Awkwafina) from America who isn’t brought over with her parents because her family fears her ability to keep the secret (but who comes anyway to spend time with the grandmother she loves).

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Mike Wallace is Here

by Alan Rapp on December 17, 2019

in Home Video

  • Title: Mike Wallace is Here
  • IMDb: link

Mike Wallace Is Here DVD reviewIncluding interviews and clips, Mike Wallace is Here examines the career of media personality turned newsman and one of the driving forces behind 60 Minutes. Offering details about Mike Wallace‘s personal life and his stature in the news community given his previous job as an actor and a pitch man Parliament cigarettes, director Avi Belkin offers several interesting tidbits to keep the viewer’s interest. Honestly, I had no idea so much of the old school “real” journalists looked down on Wallace and niche he helped create.

Much of the documentary focuses on Wallace’s interview style that began with Night Beat and continued as a staple of 60 Minutes giving him a legendary status for never letting a subject off the hook. Using the large amount of archive footage available including interviews with Wallace and several of his peers, Belkin arguably blends together as complete a picture of the man and his legacy as any documentary who had access to a living subject which both entertains and informs. The film is available on DVD and several streaming platforms.

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Marriage Story

by Alan Rapp on December 6, 2019

in Home Video

  • Title: Marriage Story
  • IMDb: link

Marriage Story movie reviewOffering as much commentary on divorce at large as its effect on his two main characters in Marriage Story, writer/director Noah Baumbach explores the dissolving marriage of theater director Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) and actress Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) who struggle through change in humorous and heartbreaking ways. While their separation is mutually understood from the opening scene, a particularly good use of narration that allows us to get a sense of both characters, Charlie seems less able to deal with the changing realities of the family dynamic while Nicole relocates from New York to Los Angeles with their son Henry (Azhy Robertson) for work on a television pilot and begins to take the lead in the divorce by hiring a ball-busting attorney (Laura Dern).

There is still affection between the pair, but there is also hurt, resentment, and anger which only increases as the divorce becomes more litigious. Providing some of the film’s more humorous scenes, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta both appear at times as Charlie’s lawyers taking on Dern’s character in court (proving the old adage that the only ones who win in divorce proceedings are the lawyers).

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