Saturday, June 18

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande Review


Directed by: Sophie Hyde
Written By: Katy Brand
Starring: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack
1h 37m

Sophie Hyde and Katy Brand shine a bright light on the sexual struggles many women face in their lifetime and frankly, it's about damn time. 

In GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE, Nancy Stokes (played by Emma Thompson) books sex worker Leo Grande (played by Daryl McCormack) to help her achieve the sexual adventures she never got to experience in her life, including her first orgasm. 

But what starts off as a shaky sexual encounter quickly turns into a bond of friendship based on trust, respect and acceptance - the real qualities to guaranteeing any satisfying sex. 

This film has so many good elements to start with - a sensitive female centered story well-written and directed by women; amazing actors Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack; and the guts to put it all out there.

But what makes this film stand out is the flow and presentation. You can feel the anxious and tense moments palpitating through the screen thanks to the majority of the film being shot in one location - the hotel room. There's no escape from baring it all - literally. 

Additionally, the dialog isn't just touch and cheek foreplay between the main characters. There are real conversations and discussions around sex workers rights, growing up as a female in the nuclear family dynamics of the 50s, the regrets and disappointments of motherhood, and disciplining of young girls for embracing their bodies. 

One of the best moments actually happens to be the one scene that is outside the hotel room. Without giving too much away, Nancy encounters her past, apologizes and makes amends with it. What results next is a well-rounded, heroes journey ending for Nancy. 

If I had seen this a theater, I would have stood up and applauded her.

These are the types of stories we should be screaming from the rooftops for all girls and women to hear. Be real, be honest, be open, and most of all - encourage women to join ranks with all women so we become a strong force of humanity to reckon with.


GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE is available to stream now on HULU.

Theresa's Rating
4.0 out of 5.0

Saturday, June 4

Crimes of the Future Review


Crimes of the Future

Dir: David Cronenberg

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, and Scott Speedman

1h 47m


The cinematic work of director David Cronenberg can horrify as much as it can intrigue, sometimes separately but often at the same time, pulling viewers through an array of imagery and emotions during the journey. Cronenberg is one of few directors to defy genre expectations with nearly every film composed. The straightforward definition for the auteur’s work would be horror, and with the festering wounds, gruesome body metamorphosis, and exploding heads, it wouldn’t be a wrong classification. However, underneath the horror is a filmmaker using the genre to explore deeper themes surrounding sex, violence, humanity, and evolution in physical and psychological ways. 


“Crimes of the Future” is an interesting film, a balancing act of the provocative imagery and thought-provoking themes that have defined David Cronenberg’s career. At its core, the film explores the question, “what are we growing into?” The examination of the human condition because of the forces pulling, pushing, and sometimes plunging into the bodies and minds of humans has always been on Cronenberg’s mind. In “Crimes of the Future,” people continue to evolve and mutate more curious, corrupted, and complicated. Using a subtle touch, Cronenberg curates a film with simple questions that yield complex answers. 


Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) is a celebrity performance artist who, with surgical assistance from his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux), performs public showcases to display the metamorphosis of his internal organs. Saul rests within a mechanical structure that looks wrapped in pink flesh during one performance art exhibition. Caprice utilizes a pulsing controller with flashing lights to conduct the surgery; Saul’s reaction during the procedure is one of pleasure, an ecstasy in every facial expression. 


The distant future in “Crimes of the Future” is a wasteland. The world is depleted of resources, decay is rampant in every structure, and violence lingers in the dark corners of the streets. Humanity wanders the city, medicated with foreign substances and conducting self-gratifying acts of disfigurement to cope with the reality they are responsible for creating. Cronenberg maintains a frightening look at the future world here, never shying from the negative progression no matter how dark they become. It’s reflective of the characters in the film, all of whom have grown to survive the devastated and devolved world.  


Saul’s evolution, with an immunity to disease and infection that allows his open wounds accessible entrance and exit, promotes the growth of organs that place him in varying degrees of discomfort and distress. This internal transformation intrigues an investigator, an amusing take from Kristen Stewart, who works for the National Organ Registry. From this point, the film finds a familiar path with Cronenberg’s past works, “Videodrome” and “Scanners” being the most prominent examples, but not as aggressive or sensationalized. “Crimes of the Future” finds a subtler approach that lingers and haunts rather than becomes a full-tilt horror show. 


Cronenberg deftly handles the composition of characters throughout the film, imbuing them with feelings that evoke odd compassion for their journey, one that feels doomed from their introduction. Mortensen and Seydoux have lovely chemistry, specifically during the strangest moments in the film. Both actors commit entirely to the character motivations throughout; their performances hold the film together. 


“Crimes of the Future” may not evoke the same horror sensations of David Cronenberg’s past, but that doesn’t keep it from being any less affecting. It should be noted that the film opens with a shocking death scene involving a child; it’s a bleak and startling way, warning to open a movie. Still, it’s not often that you encounter a film as challenging as this on the big screen. While some elements don’t connect in meaningful ways, in the hands of David Cronenberg, the experience is nonetheless intriguing. 


Monte’s Rating

3.75 out of 5.00


Friday, May 27

Top Gun: Maverick Review


Top Gun: Maverick


Dir: Joseph Kosinski

Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Bashir Salahuddin, Charles Parnell, Lewis Pullman, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis, and Ed Harris

2h 11m

 

In the opening of director Joseph Kosinski’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” a sequel to the beloved 1986 film, the iconic theme plays over scenes of a fighter jet prepping for takeoff. And as the engines explode and the jet booms into the sky, Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone” pumps through the speakers. In these first few minutes of the film, without a single line of dialog spoken, it’s clear that “Top Gun: Maverick” targets the cinematic nostalgia of the late 1980s. 

 

Tom Cruise returns as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, upgraded from Lieutenant to Captain but still arrogantly brazen with the higher-ups looking to ground him once and for all. Times are changing, drones are making the top aviators obsolete, and Maverick realizes that his time in the sky might be coming to an end. Stationed at a test facility in the Mojave Desert, Maverick defies orders from an Admiral (Ed Harris) and pushes an advanced jet to Mach 10 speed. Things don’t end well. The Admiral, in response to Maverick’s final plea against droned pilots, tells him, “The future is coming, and you aren’t in it.” 

 

“Top Gun: Maverick” is a sequel, but it feels more like a reboot. From a story perspective, the framework is similar, in some ways identical, to the original film. Scenes feel pulled from the 1986 movie, updated with new faces, and reintroduced for modern times. Tom Cruise chases a jet on a motorcycle, shirtless sports are played in the sand, and one character swaggers and taunts other pilots in the Top Gun program with smirking, blond-haired similarities of a past character. It’s lazy storytelling, but something in the charming tone, purposefully old school style and action-packed pacing hides the faulty parts. 

 

Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), whose late father Nick “Goose” Bradshaw was Mavericks wingman from the original film, is recruited to an elite squad of pilots to fly a top-secret mission with parameters that seem impossible for an average pilot. After being saved from court-martial by Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), Maverick is ordered back to the Top Gun academy to teach and prepare the pilots for the mission. 

 

The addition of Rooster offers a nice conflict to the story, and Teller is more than capable of holding his own against Cruise. While Rooster’s story plays just a small piece in the film, it helps connect the dots between Maverick’s unresolved emotions from the past and the resistance he exhibits moving into the future. The death of Goose and the failure Maverick feels in being a father figure to Rooster are quickly examined but do a decent enough job of introducing internal conflict that requires resolve

 

The more superficial conflict is examined through the lens of zooming jets in combat in the sky. The action is exceptional throughout the film, with most scenes featuring the actual actors twisting, turning, and being placed in situations with the immense forces exerted on their bodies. It’s exciting filmmaking to watch, adding another element to blur the lines between the special visual effects and reality, a trait is has become a calling card for any Tom Cruise fronted adventure

 

“Top Gun: Maverick,” with its purposeful nostalgic callbacks and familiar storytelling design, is a delightful movie. Watch it on a giant screen and prepare yourself for a popcorn movie of the highest cinematic gratification of recent years.  

 

Monte’s Rating

4.00 out of 5.00