A disappointing reboot to the American-produced Millennium film series.
Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium book series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest) is a dark, provocative, and fully engaging world that has seduced readers alike. Larsson was planning on making a 10-book series but sadly died in late 2004 due to a heart attack, at the age of 50. This sacred trilogy was quickly turned into a Swedish-language film trilogy after Larsson’s death. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor, literally "Men who hate women") was released in February of 2009, followed by Fire (September of 2009) and Hornets’ Nest (November of 2009). The trilogy starred Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace as Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander.
A thrilling drama that focuses on tough social issues, including murder, sex, and morality. As a cinephile, the Swedish-language Millennium film series will always hold a special place in my heart. Of course, Hollywood decided to produce their own version of the classic trilogy. Director David Fincher (Fight Club and Gone Girl) helmed the picture along with actor's Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara as the respected title roles. While this entry was a solid film and faithful to the source of material, Fincher’s version failed to gain the attention at the box office. This failure left the fate of any sequels in limbo, until now. Swedish author and crime journalist David Lagercrantz decided to continue Larsson’s work and characters in writing. In 2015, Lagercrantz published The Girl in the Spider’s Web and in 2017, he published The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye.
So, Hollywood’s next attempt at keeping their American-produced series alive was to do a soft-reboot to Fincher’s work from 2011. That meant a new director and cast for our girl with the dragon tattoo. Instead of going the route of remaking Fire and Hornets’ Nest, Hollywood aimed to produce Spider’s Web first. The narrative to this Bond-style attempt became muddled and less complex than its 2011 predecessor. Actress Claire Foy took over the title role as Lisbeth Salander. Foy’s performance was the only good thing about this reboot. Foy gives her character guts, as she powers through the picture. Tough and vulnerable, Foy is a knockout for this picture. Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t stand strong and ends up folding to action required elements. Director Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe) is no match to Fincher’s keen since of craft and style. Thus, making The Girl in the Spider’s Web an incredibly disappointing picture. My advice, stick with the original Swedish trilogy because that series will always be superior to anything that Hollywood decides to produce, remake and or reboot again. As Ms. Salander once said, “that’s the way it is …”
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is rated R (Restricted). For violence, language and some sexual content/nudity.
Wow, what a movie. A Star Is Born is a powerful, moving and an authentic symphonic. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga soar in this sweep-you-off-your-feet story. A modern retelling of a timeless tale. Believe the hype, Gaga’s performance and vocals will blow you away. It stands tall as one of the very best of 2018 and receives a five-star review from me.
Oscars season has finally arrived. A Star Is Born is a crowd-pleaser and the starstruck picture of the year. Fueled by raw musical ecstasy, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will rock your world. Yes, this is the fourth remake of A Star Is Born (1937, 1954 and 1976), but these classic music notes never grow old. Cooper helms the film as the actor, director, co-writer, and co-producer. This is Cooper’s directorial debut and what a magnificent first feature it was. Gaga also takes the gold as her top-notch vocals and fierce acting will bring you to tears. Our story follows a musician (Cooper) who helps a young singer (Gaga) find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a troubling downward spiral.
As Gaga’s career rises, Cooper’s career begins to fall and lose control. Cooper plays a country music legend named Jackson Maine. Drugs and alcohol keep him on a high, as he softly sings “maybe we should let the old ways die” with his soothing guitar. Gaga plays an ambitious woman named Ally, who’s stuck in a rut with trying to get her voice heard. Ally is a waitress, a songwriter and she also performs at a local drag bar to keep her voice passionate and electrified. One night, Jackson stumbles into the drag bar and witnesses Ally’s captivating performance on the stage. From there, Jack and Ally’s story of artistic soul, love, and heartbreak follows. It’s a sweep-you-off-your-feet movie full of harmony and warmth.
Cooper is a four-time Oscar nominee (American Sniper, American Hustle, and Silver Linings Playbook), and I’m predicting he’ll take home some Oscar gold this awards season. Nominated for one Oscar (2016 Best Original Song, Til It Happens to You), Gaga's time to fully shine has finally come. Not only does she deserve to win an Oscar for Best Original Song, I believe, she also deserves to win an Oscar for Best Lead Actress. Gaga’s performance is a knockout. From the moment the camera shines on her face, to that first note, Gaga hypnotizes your world. Cooper and Gaga’s on-screen chemistry is dynamite. All of the music in the film is also done live, because Gaga convinced Cooper to do so. I believe that made a huge impact on the movie, as it was all the more powerful. It was like watching a live concert right before your very eyes. Engrossing frame by frame with pure aesthetic bliss. Read some of these beautifully written lyrics and soak it all in:
[Verse 1: Bradley Cooper]
Tell me somethin', girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more?
Is there somethin' else you're searchin' for?
[Refrain: Bradley Cooper]
In all the good times
I find myself longing for change
And in the bad times, I fear myself
[Verse 2: Lady Gaga]
Tell me something, boy
Aren't you tired tryin' to fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain't it hard keepin' it so hardcore?
[Refrain: Lady Gaga]
In all the good times
I find myself longing for change
And, in the bad times, I fear myself
[Chorus: Lady Gaga]
I'm off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I'll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface where they can't hurt us
We're far from the shallow now
The original score and soundtrack will also blow you away. We get beautiful numbers like Maybe It's Time, Shallow, Music to My Eyes, Always Remember Us This Way, Look What I Found, and I'll Never Love Again. With its fierce musical numbers, deft direction, and a harmonizing love story, A Star Is Born is a remake done right. There are some tales that defy all odds and can be retold again and again. What a wonder this film is and will become in years’ time. With its world premiere at the 75th Venice International Film Festival and a current worldwide gross of $342 million, A Star Is Born will continue to blossom throughout this holiday season. A superior film full of flawed individuals, who sing with stardust from above. Audiences everywhere will fall in love with Jack and Ally one note at a time. Goodnight, La Vie en rose.
A Star Is Born is rated R (Restricted). For language throughout, some sexuality/nudity and substance abuse.
The movie event of the year. First Man is an exhilarating experience, full of wonder as we watch the personal struggle it took on Neil Armstrong to become the first man on the Moon. This film receives a five-star review from me.
Director Damien Chazelle's (La La Land and Whiplash) dizzying spectacle will leave you in awe. Ryan Gosling also helms a quiet, yet raw performance as Neil Armstrong. While Claire Foy is a complete knockout. This is a film you don't want to miss, it was unforgettable. Now, let's first address the so-called American flag controversy. In short, there is none. While we never see Armstrong actually plant the flag, that's because we (as an audience) have seen that image and video a thousand times. The controversy arose on social media and caught on like wildfire from there. Florida Senator Marco Rubio described the omission as "total lunacy," before he had seen the film. Maybe, stop tweeting silly statements Senator Rubio and start doing your job for the sake of the American people?
Chazelle responded to the controversy with a statement, saying: "I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments [...] that I chose not to focus upon. To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America's mission to the Moon." Plus, Chazelle scatters images and shots of American flags all throughout the film, end of story. Now, back to this incredible movie. Chazelle switches gears from his music-based films and zeroes in on a biographical drama that helped shape the way we look at space. If you believe the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing was all a conspiracy, then I cannot help you here. Kudos to Stanley Kubrick.
Our story follows Astronaut Neil Armstrong (an emotionally strong Gosling) and his years with NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) from 1961 to 1969. It's a riveting story as we witness NASA's bloodthirsty attempt to land the first person ever on the Moon. We see at first-hand the sacrifice Armstrong had to make in order to take on one of our nation's most dangerous missions. Chazelle doesn't hold back with the technicality and filmmaking pizzazz, he straps you right into center view. The camera moving and guiding all over the place, at times, like a roller coaster. This gives the audience a feel for what these astronauts go through. With Chazelle's near-perfect execution and razor-sharp acting from both Gosling and Foy, First Man is an Oscar-worthy contender.
Foy is a powerhouse, as she taps into Janet Armstrong's mind and what Mrs. Armstrong might have been thinking during her husband's life or death space mission. Actors Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, and Corey Stoll also help fill in the cracks with strong supporting roles. First Man is based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen and had its world premiere at the 75th Venice Film Festival. Chazelle also focuses the story on Armstrong's personal struggle with losing his daughter to cancer at a young age. We see this trauma hit Armstrong head-on, while Gosling makes it poignant on screen. You'll be in awe with this movie. First Man shows us the sheer fear and wonder of space. I project this film to receive some Oscars for its memorizing special effects and it even has a shot at grabbing a Best Picture nomination. The first Moon landing was a pivotal moment in human history. In doing so, First Man guides its audience through a monumental journey. That's what made this movie so memorable.
First Man is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language.