Review: Won't You Be My Neighbor?
If there’s a film that our country needs more than ever right now it’s Won't You Be My Neighbor?, the powerful documentary film about Mister Rogers. He was an incredible person who showed the world how love and kindness always prevail.
“Love is at the root of everything - all learning, all parenting, all relationships. Love or the lack of it. And what we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become.” Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is the best documentary of 2018. The doc takes an honest look at Mister Fred Rogers' life and legacy during his time on WQED. Mister Rogers was a Children's television pioneer, a puppeteer, a Presbyterian minister and a registered Republican (with morals). He was a radical, who fought for the arts and for education to be available to children everywhere, no matter the circumstance. He believed a neighborhood was suppose to be a safe haven for children growing up. Through his gentleness, Mister Rogers helped transform our country and the world. His message still resonates today. Mister Rogers was also a creative genius who inspired generations of children through his compassion and limitless imagination on the television. His show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, aired from 1968 – 2001 on WQED in Pittsburgh, PA.
Director Morgan Neville (Best Of Enemies) takes us on a journey from the start of Fred Rogers' career, 1968, until his death in 2003. Neville takes his time with the camera, letting the story unfold beautifully before our very eyes. You’ll be in tears by the end of this doc, I know I was. Neville also takes us behind-the-scenes of Mister Rogers’ daily life and in-between the outtakes of his famous television show. Here, we explore the life, lessons and legacy of a gifted man, who was also a selfless human being. Fred Rogers was soft-spoken, yet he expressed profound ideas. He wasn't afraid to talk about hard subjects with children and even explored different ways to think about them. Something, no other children’s show dared to do at the time. He was a sweet-tempted individual all throughout his life and his career. On set, Mister Rogers was also an idealist day in and day out.
“From the time you were very little, you've had people who have smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving. So, on this extra special day, let's take some time to think of those extra special people. Some of them may be right here, some may be far away. Some may even be in heaven. No matter where they are, deep down you know they've always wanted what was best for you. They've always cared about you beyond measure and have encouraged you to be true to the best within you. Let's just take a minute of silence to think about those people now.”
It’s an invitation waiting to be opened. To travel to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe or to talk with Daniel Striped Tiger. Mister Rogers knew the best way to teach children in-person and on-air. He provoked strong ideas and even spoke to the US Senate Subcommittee on Communications to keep funding open for PBS in 1969. He was a man on a mission, that mission was to share love with others and then for them to spread that love they just learned. This documentary is one of my favorite movies of 2018. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? offers us hope for our country, befriending all who choose to watch this intimate documentary of a good-hearted person – sneakers and all.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For some thematic elements and language.
Review: The Rider
The Rider is a beautiful movie, full of life and inspiration. Oh my, what a ride.
The Rider is a fact-based tale that’s executed perfectly through the hands of writer-director Chloé Zhao (Songs My Brothers Taught Me). Ms. Zhao is one of many women leading in the director’s chair this year. The film stars a South Dakota cowboy and now breakout actor Brady Jandreau as a once rising star of the rodeo circuit warned that his competition days are over after a tragic riding accident. Zhao based the scripted around Jandreau’s real life head injury from a bullriding competition. The story follows Brady’s day-to-day life after the accident along with his father Tim (Tim Jandreau) and younger sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau), who has autism. His family also lives in financial poverty on the back plains of South Dakota.
Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. Brady has to search for his new identity as a means to keep on living. This is a film that deserves to be seen. Through grit and grace, we see Brady’s character evolve throughout the film. A grand character study on the forgotten people in the heartland of America. Ms. Zhao’s committed craft on the film’s narrative blossom’s throughout. She knows how to take risks, just like Brady. As we, the audience, sit there in theaters socially observant, we witness a young man constantly being knocked down and getting right back up. Brady’s sense of struggle is raw and powerful. The Rider is a slice-of-life drama that’s making a name for itself in 2018. The docu-style realism is a sense of wonder, as we watch this majestic beast of a film gallop through the grasslands.
The visuals, along with the vivid scenery are a feast for your eyes. I also had the privilege of watching this masterpiece in Billings, MT. It seemed like a fitting movie, given my location. My hopes are that, someday, The Rider will go down as a classic, modern-day Western. Ms. Zhao’s heartbreaking beauty is one of the best films of the year. The film receives all 5 stars from me. As Brady and his horse pass through the grasslands, we are struck with awe. It's a cinematic experience you don’t want to miss. This heavy-handed cowboy movie is one for the ages. And if you’re ever in Billings, MT. I highly recommend stopping by the Art House Cinema & Pub. It’s a non-profit, independent movie theater located in the heart of downtown Billings. You can enjoy a cold beer and some delicious popcorn at the bar right next to the big screen. You won’t be disappointed. It was a marvelous experience.
The Rider is rated R (Restricted). For language and drug use. – Oh, MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) you'll never learn ...
Quick Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp
A breath of fresh air, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a lighter and brighter Marvel platter. Actor’s Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly continue their streak together of irresistible charm.
Since we were left with the alluring fate of the Avengers back in April, it was nice to see a brighter superhero film come along and distract our brains for a while. Ant-Man and the Wasp follows the events resulting in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man (a terrific Paul Rudd) is under house arrest for the aftermath of Civil War and the events that happened in Germany. Hope van Dyne AKA the Wasp (a fierce Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (a wise Michael Douglas) are also on the run because of Scott’s irresponsible decisions. As discussed, this sequel takes place before the events of last April’s Infinity War and zeroes in on Scott’s personal struggle as both a father and superhero.
As usual, there’s always a new mission to keep the plot rolling. These crucial events deal with Hope’s mom (Michelle Pfeiffer) and a new, mysterious villain known as Ghost (a knockout performance by Hannah John-Kamen). Ant-Man and the Wasp knows how to constructively balance humor and heart throughout the latest adventure. At times, giving us some of the best chemistry between Rudd and Lilly and, in others, poking fun at their own sci-fi jargon. While we are not as emotionally invested in this MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) flick, nevertheless, it was a real joy to watch it unfold on the big screen. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a $100 million (plus) superhero tentpole full of charm and blockbuster fun. A refreshing break as we get ready for next year’s Captain Marvel and Avengers 4.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For come sci-fi action violence.
Quick Review: Ocean's 8
The plot and theme are all too familiar, but these eight leading ladies (Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson and Awkwafina) are too hard to resist.
Slick and charming, Ocean’s 8 rolls into 2018 with style and glamour. And with just enough cast chemistry to keep the script going, it inevitably becomes an exciting caper. The film begins with the release of Debbie Ocean (played by a knockout Bullock) from prison. Debbie is the estranged sister of legendary and late-conman Danny Ocean (Actor George Clooney, who’s too busy being a dad right now). Keeping the family con-legacy going, Debbie puts together a team of powerful women to pull off a heist extravaganza. Their goal is New York City's annual Met Gala, and a necklace worth in excess of 150 million dollars. The necklace is being worn by diva celebrity, Daphne Kluger (a fabulous Hathaway).
Debbie pulls together the crew which includes actor’s Blanchett, Bonham Carter, Kaling, Rhianna, Paulson and Awkwafina. All six of these female actors embody their own unique characteristics into their on-screen portrayal. This is probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed watching this movie. Yes, the movie is a bit formulaic and, at times, feels like an unnecessary rehash. I get that. But overall, it’s still a light and fun caper flick that keeps the Ocean’s franchise alive and beating. In the end, resisting these star’s glowing spirits is simply impossible. Ocean’s 8 is a natural crowd pleaser supported by a strong all-women cast. I approve. Side-note, if you are ever driving through Billings, MT. I highly recommend stopping at The Amusement Park Drive-In Theatre. This is where I got to experience Ocean’s 8 on a big outdoors screen and on a beautiful summer night. "You would've loved it." — Miss Ocean.
Ocean's 8 is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For language, drug use, and some suggestive content.
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