The next chapter in the saga of John Wick is compelling, smart and a surprisingly good follow up to the first film. Everyone knew that after the success of the sleeper hit found in the original John Wick that its sequel would be bigger but how could it be better. I am not in the camp that this film is better or worse. It is strikingly good for different reasons than the first.
The only thing that didn’t work for me was the horrendously high body count for a guy who wants to walk away from the assassin’s life. However, he is pulled right back in. No spoiler alert need, who doesn’t know that?
This film is equally as stylish as the first film and it gives us more to the legend of The Continental. John Wick fans will not be disappointed. He even has a formidable opponent.
The food: Duck is eaten by one of the central characters. So if this is an night out order Duck Confit, duck sliders or at home try your hand at making duck fat fries. Click to See the recipe or duck confit sliders. (click to see recipe)
We also find out that when John Wick wants a stiff drink, Blanton’s bourbon whiskey is his thing.
Hidden Figures is the most pleasant surprise in film and that may be for me because I am a history buff. Moreover, Hollywood shedding light on how African American women were instrumental in a history not commonly known attached to one of America’s biggest feats is what makes this movie worth seeing. Based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, confidently I will say the history will knock your socks off more than the actual movie. Being privy to this knowledge elevates gratitude for the film being made. These top notch actresses give enhance the film with layered performances. As for the movie, it is entertaining but the story is so remarkable or unique that one might question the validity. Then when you find out it is true then you become disturbed because facts like this truly feel like they are hidden whether they were meant to be or not. After the film, I just had to verify the facts. I found a great article on NPR. Click Here and Popular Mechanics has a great and telling behind the scenes truth telling of this story. Click Here.
In Black and White are the Real Groundbreaking Genius Women of NASA.
Taraji P Henson tones it down in her performance which is actually quite refreshing to see her take on a more understated role. Janelle Monae, is probably one to look out for as musician turned actress with some actual acting chops and stunning beauty to match. Octavia Spencer just knows how to quietly bring it with power and emotion. Other recognizable cast include Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst. And the guy who portrays John Glenn is Glenn Powell, gees he is good looking. But more than a pretty face, despite much of the film there was a gimicky line coming from his lips. However, near the end of the film he exemplifies some depth at the right moment. The kind of acting with subtle looks that say it all. Powell is 7 years younger then Chris Evans, think replacement Captain America when Chris Evans wants to retire. Powell and Costner are the two standout male performers. Yet. they never steal the film from the leading ladies. Hear a little bit More of my thoughts at the film and foodie review below.
Every time I think of this movie I want to whistle and you will know why when you see. There is a song called City of Stars which is one of the best songs in the movie and among a lot of catch tunes. But music is not all that La La land has going for it. It has a smart script and enchanting lead actors with great chemistry. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are extremely endearing. Although there are few notable celebs in this film as well, it’s like when you are in love and nobody else seems to be in the room but the two of you. That’s Gosling and Stone. The film is bright, romantic and nostalgic. It pokes fun at Hollywood while loving it. It is a look at the both the film and music industry. Check out the Film and Foodie Review.
Hell or Highwater is one of the best films of 2016. It is filled with suspense, action and great acting performances especially by Jeff Bridge and Chris Pines stretches himself as actor with this role as strong dramatic lead.
Watch the Film and Foodie Review:
Arrival is a smart alien invasion story, sophisticated in story telling and full of suspense. Among the engaging cast of characters featured are Adam Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. Amy Adams brings a wide range of emotion to the screen from subtle to overt. She is the lead character, a professor of languages needed to crack learning how to understand and communicate with the aliens. Spoiler Alert! Liken this film to The Sixth Sense with unexpected twist. With that said it is best not to say to much about this film but rather simply give a thumbs up to see it.
A Side Note: About a half hour into the film, I believe we meet the aliens. The look of the creature was an interesting choice. It seems to blend a least three animals together. That’s all I kept think when I was looking at it. I was torn on whether I liked the alien depiction because it wasn’t the typical alien or if it looked too much earth based animals.
Here a little bit more about what CrystalJfilmdiva has to say about the film and the out of this world foodie picks:
At the request of a fan of film and foodie, curious about what I would suggest for the foodie portion, I am reviewing Mr. Church . Let me admit, Mr. Church is a movie that I never wanted to see because with as many stories that there are to tell about the Black experience, the one that Hollywood loves to green light are the ones where African Americans deeply love the White people they serve. With that said, I do have to say this film has a little bit more to offer because of the writer, Susan Mc Martin’s deep love and appreciation of the person that Mr. Church is based on. She wants him personified with dignity and layered with intelligence and class. She want viewers to know how he enriched her family’s life.
Mr. Church is an African American man who is the cook for a a White woman and her young daughter. In the opening credits to the film, we are informed that this is based on a real friendship. And the more you watch, it is evident that story is filled with truths and love. It feels like a love letter, not in the romantic sense but a story of deep love and regard for a person would impact the writer’s life. Eddie Murphy gives a quiet performance. He restrains any impulses to be comedic. And in doing so, I believe as an actor he is giving real homage to who the character of who Mr. Church is. There is an air of mystery to Mr. Church that keeps you guessing throughout the film.
This is slow moving film. It is a bit of simple story of friendship and family can be the same thing.
The Foodie: Grits take center stage among the stews, and cakes that Mr. Church whips up. I will differ to a recipe from the now closed Baltimore based and Black owned Darker Than Blue restaurant. It was a top notch upscale restaurant with mostly soul food. Watch this video of the chef preparing Catfish and Grits:
The critic rises to her feet teary eyed as she says, “Bravo!, Bravo!” Hacksaw Ridge is a great true story made into a splendid film. It is the story of Desmond Doss, a Seven Day Adventist who refuses to bear arms in battle of Okinawa. He was a conscientious objector, he refused to kill or carry a weapon. He opted to serve his country as medic. While in service as a medic he would go into battlefield saving 75 men. With each person he set out to save, he spoke to the Lord. The quote for ages shall be, “Lord, let me get one more.”
Mel Gibson is the director. The cinematography is beautiful. The story is well executed. You are allowed to know the characters in a way that allows you to care about what happens. You see character arcs not only in the leading man but in a few of the supporting characters. Andrew Garfield convincingly provides a wide array of emotions. Despite Garfield Oscar worthy performance. He is not carrying this film alone. The acting is top notch. You connect with the characters whether they are the nice guys are not. It is really good to see Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington and Vince Vaughn in these roles.The stand out newbie is Luke Bracey, kind of the tough shell character. The leading lady to Andrew Garfield is Teresa Palmer. She actually played the romantic lead to Luke Bracey in the remake of Point Break. The hugely talented cast helps to flesh out a heart-warming movie.
Hacksaw Ridge has powerful messages of conviction, patriotism and courage which touch the soul.
Check out the Film and Foodie Review Video
The Foodie picks: After being flustered by the raw emotion of the film, I drew a blank about what to pair. I can see clearly now, the rain has gone. Okay, so Doss is a southern guy from Virginia. I am a New York gal with Virginian parents so I know a thing or two about southern cooking. What kind of heroes welcome home dinner would our southern gentleman like to come home to. While in theaters go to a Southern style cooking restaurant. Think cornbread, fried chicken and mashed potato comfort food. Let’s get a little more elegant for watching this movie with friends at home. When on DVD then opt for southern cuisine finger foods like baby back ribs, macaroni & cheese balls, deep fried pickle chips and happy ending of peach cobbler. Then raise a glass to the soldiers with a blue martini but if you are conscientious objector to drinking then don’t.
Before I get into the film, for a change I want to talk about the star power behind the leading man in Dr. Strange. There is a rising star in Benedict Cumberbatch, often called the “internet’s boyfriend.” He does silly video gags on the internet. He reads audiobooks of classics. I suggest you find his narration of Casanova on You Tube. Then there is his work in the acclaimed PBS Version of Sherlock Holmes which stars Cumberbatch and in England he has body of work that has made him a bonafide star there for years. America was teased with him in the 2nd installment of the Star Trek reboot, Into the Darkness by his portrayal as the notorious Khan. Most notably was his Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Alan Turing in the Imitation Game. Yet, with all this work under his belt nothing will propel his star to general public like Dr. Strange. It is not because this is his best work but it is the right work to be attached to doing. Marvel movies are remarkable success stories. And lately, the less popular comics like Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr. Strange are having outstanding box office success.
Despite strong box office, add my voice to the choir of folks saying Dr. Strange is not the strongest script. It could have been punched up a tad more. Writers were added to inject some humor in the film; however, good ole fashioned intensely dramatic verbal content lacked. How unfortunate when there is such stellar talent on board such as MacAdams, Ejiofor, Swinton and Madsen. Not of one of them disappoint yet there are not stretched to vibrant performances. The saving grace for Dr. Strange is where the script lacks, the visuals astound and will not disappoint the Dr. Strange Comic book fans in be the trippy film desired to match the books.
Spoiler: My only spoiler comment is about the villains which usually disappoint us in Marvel movies. Dr. Strange should get some slack if you consider that you have ultimately two main villians, three if you wait for the post credits. Mads Milkkelson is who we see in the trailers but on some level he is simply a guide to Dr. Strange’s ultimate showdown with the more significant villain of Dormamu. And once you see the film, you will be hip to what is now becoming a classic line from the end of the film.
See more commentary about the film and listen to the foodie pairing.
Deepwater Horizon is a true story filled with the greed of the oil business and how it leads to tragedy. Yet in the midst of tragedy there are heroic true stories. It features Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich. And the trio all put in fine performances. I was especially drawn to John Malkovich performance. Honestly, it was lost on me until this moment that father and daughter were in this film, Kate Hudson and stepdad Kurt Russell. Kate has a quiet supporting role. Find out a bit more about this film by watching the review below.
Don’t believe the critical bad hype about “The Accountant”, go with the audience reaction which is very positive. Although, the movie is evidently flawed in some areas like contrived coincidence. The second plot point twist toward the ending is way too verbally expository rather than executed ins . Despite these two factors. I would lean to what is positive more than what is negative.
For those excited about the pairing of JK Simmons and Ben Affleck together in this film, you really will not get to see them play opposite each other. If you don’t know, these will play opposite each other Ben Affleck’s version of Batman and JK Simmons will play Commissioner Gordan. As for Anna Kendrick, she is likeable. I was concerned about the age difference but Affleck looks rather young in this film contrary to the mature slightly grey look he has been celebrating in other films.
Watch the Non-Spoiler Film and Foodie review: