*MOVIE RECAP: MY NAME IS EMILY

Embarrassed to admit that until recently, I had never heard about this movie — And of all the films that I watched during the lockdown, My Name is Emily was one of the most enjoyable movie-watching experiences.

There are so many small independent films out there just waiting to be seen — and I am always on the lookout for under-seen films like this one. Not all independent movies are good — there are plenty of hits and misses out there. However, My Name is Emily is definitely not one of those misses. Interestingly enough, this film was made possible through a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Sadly, the director, Simon Fitzmaurice, passed away shortly after the film was released. He directed this film from a wheelchair in a quadriplegic state, paralyzed by motor-neuron disease. He knew he was dying when he made it, which added a unique sensitivity to it when I watched it.

My Name is Emily is essentially a coming of age story. Emily (Evanna Lynch) is a loner and viewed as an outcast in school. She lives with foster parents after her father, Robert (Michael Smiley), was committed to a mental facility and has given away his parental rights to Emily’s custody. She mourns her dead mother deeply and flirts with the idea of suicide. The flashback scenes with Emily’s mother (Deidre Mullins) are very touching.

Emily recruits her schoolmate Arden (George Webster) to run away with her and head out on the road to breakout Emily’s father from a mental facility. The road trip through the gorgeous Irish landscape is visually stunning. The dialogue and the characters are well written.

Evanna Lynch has come a long way since her Harry Potter days. She has a strong presence on screen and projects a unique and natural sensibility by entirely owning this character.

Death and grieving is a huge part of this movie. I have a profound appreciation for films that attempt to deal with real human emotions like grief. My Name is Emily is a lovely and heartwarming Irish Indie film that deals with some heavy emotional content and manages to reach some high marks. It was a delight to watch.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

MY NAME IS EMILY (2015)

*MOVIE RECAP: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

One of the strange benefits of this lockdown is that I finally have time to catch up with a bunch of movies that I missed in theaters and didn’t have time to watch once they became available to stream.

It’s really nice not having to do anything but work on my screenwriting and catch up on movies and TV shows.

Having said that, All The Money In The World has been on my “To Watch List” for over two years….. I can’t believe it took me this long to watch it.

I am a huge fan and admirer of Ridley Scott as a filmmaker — He has made some of the most fascinating and brilliant films of the last 45 years. And I always get excited whenever I see his name involved in a project.

About a month away from this movie’s release date, Ridley Scott announced that he would recast Kevin Spacey’s role and reshoot all of his scenes entirely with Christopher Plummer as his replacement. It was a bold but necessary move by Scott.

Christopher Plummer is formidable in all his scenes, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. You have to pay close attention to notice any signs of adjustments to the original Spacey scenes.

Plummer plays the infamous J. Paul Getty, founder of the Getty Oil Company. From around the 1950s through his eventual death in 1976, Getty was considered to be the wealthiest man in the world.

This film is set in 1973 and centered around the kidnapping of Getty’s teenage grandson in Italy and the initial $17 million ransom demanded by the kidnappers.

Getty refuses to pay the kidnappers, insisting that if he paid for the ransom, then his other 14 grandkids could also be kidnapped and held for ransom. The kid’s mother, Gail (Michelle Williams), who at the time of the kidnapping is already divorced from John Paul Getty Jr. (Andrew Buchan). Gail is trying to raise the ransom money on her own — and the only thing J. Paul Getty can offer as help is to appoint his personal fixer Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), to negotiate with the kidnappers.

Based on the 1995 book by John PearsonPainfully Rich: the Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty. And even though the film is based on actual events, many liberties are being taken here, especially on a shootout scene between the mobsters involved in the kidnapping and the Italian police, which never took place.

There are a couple of scenes that further exemplify how blatantly cheap J. Paul Getty was, but one particular scene stands out, which showed how he had a payphone installed in his mansion for visitors to make phone calls, while his butler is ready to provide loose change in case someone needs coins to make a call.

All the Money in the World is an entertaining film, with outstanding performances by Plummer and Williams, whose combative relationship is at the very center of this story. I am curious whether there will be a director’s cut available at some point — I would love to watch it.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

All the Money in the World (2017).

*MOVIE RECAP: DARK PHOENIX

The complete dismantling of the X-Men series finally came full circle with this mess of a movie.

Dark Phoenix was the last movie made by FOX in the X-Men film series before handing over the entire MARVEL universe to Disney. Hopefully, for the better.

I came to this movie completely open-minded and ignoring all the bad reviews I saw online, and for once, the online trolls were right. Glad I didn’t spend any of my hard-earned dollars on this disaster of a movie in the theaters.

X-Men First Class (2010) and X-Men Days of Future Past (2013) were fucking fantastic — Love those two movies—X-Men Apocalypse (2015j, was not up to the standard set by the previous two installments. Still, it was an enjoyable and entertaining movie.

The first 15 minutes of Dark Phoenix were promising. The car crash sequence was nicely shot — I was all in, but then, the script falls apart. The whole thing is 114 minutes too long.

Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) accidentally absorbing this cosmic energy and gaining ” Phoenix Power” was far-fetched and ridiculous. Turner’s Jean Grey came off as dry and lacking any excitement. She was pretty good in X-Men Apocalypse, so I suspect the screenplay is the culprit here. Famke Janssen’s portrayal of Dr. Grey provided the blueprint on how this character should be approached.

The rest of the supporting cast was uninspiring. Storm now has a British accent? Cyclops was forgettable. Jessica Chastain, who is always great in everything she does, seemed uninterested in playing this dual character. Jennifer Lawrence (Raven) also seemed disinterested.

Michael Fassbender (Magneto) and James McAvoy (Charles Xavier) are pure magic together. Their storyline is super compelling. Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) was great. The climactic action sequences at the end of the movie were pretty impressive. Everything else was poorly conceived.

We go from X-Men First Class set in 1962, and then we come to Dark phoenix set in 1992, and both Magneto and Professor Xavier look like they have not aged at all. It feels like filmmakers do not give a damn about simple little things that we fans take seriously.

Both Days of Future Past and Apocalypse attempted to reset the convoluted X-Men timeline. However, there were still a bunch of holes and discrepancies — Now Disney is in the unique position to fix the series or start over with a complete reboot of the series. Maybe James Mangold (Logan, 2017) should be seriously considered to take the reigns of future X-Men movies.

All in all, Dark Phoenix is worth watching at least once. The final scene between Magneto and Professor Xavier was a sweet send-off to twenty years of X-Men movies.

Two out of Five popcorn Bags 🍿🍿

Dark Phoenix (2019j.

* TRILOGY RECAP: UNBREAKABLE-SPLIT-GLASS

It took me a few years to finally catch up with this complete trilogy, and it took a global pandemic to allow me the time to watch them all in order.

The Unbreakable Trilogy, also known as the Eastrail 177 Trilogy — Comprises of Unbreakable (2000), Split (2016), and Glass (2019). All of them written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

I had lots of fun binging through these three films. I love the groundbreaking premise these films push forward and the deconstruction of the Superheroe comic book movie. Superheroes are real; They are all out there—they have always been out there, and any one of us could potentially be one.

M. Night Shyamalan broke into the movie industry with the Sixth Sense (1999), a Well-made Horror-thriller — I still remember the joy I felt when I walked out of the movie theater; I saw it at the newly opened Ballston Regal movie theater in Arlington, Virginia, all the way back in ’99.

M. Night followed the success of Sixth Sense with Unbreakable. I remember that I went on a date with a girl who wanted to see it badly on its opening weekend. She was a huge horror fan and loved watching anything that sounded scary or might potentially be scary. I guess she figured, since it was the same Sixth Sense writer-director, it might be along the same line as 6th Sense. We had no idea what exactly we were walking into, and it was definitely not marketed as a superhero movie. My date walked out of the theater perplexed; she did not like it.

I, on the other hand, loved it—the whole idea of what if superheroes could exist in real life was fascinating. The unique concept that we live amongst superhuman beings and how discovering their existence would change the way we perceive ourselves. It was a more realistic take on how superheroes could be like in the real world; Working regular jobs, living an everyday life without really knowing their powers and weaknesses. David Dunn (Bruce Willis), never remembering being sick, never realizing that his only weakness is water. The choice of having Dunn wear an oversized poncho that resembles a superhero cape was genius. The dialogue was very deliberate, and the scenes are shot kind of like a comic book. It was an excellent movie-going experience, and we were teased for more films, but it took M. Night 19 years to complete his trilogy.

When SPLIT came out, I had no idea that it was connected to Unbreakable. The Marketing once again omitted to mention any connection to David Dunn or Mr. Glass. It wasn’t until I heard the online chatter regarding its relationship to unbreakable that it piqued my interest. Sadly, I could not see it in the theaters. I was going through a rough patch in my life, and I could not afford to spend money or time to go to the movies. I eventually saw that it was streaming on HBO, so I set up my DVR and recorded it to watch it sometime in the future, which I finally did during this lockdown — I only wished that I had seen it on the big screen when it came out.

Jame McAvoy is out of this world with this performance — He is terrific here, playing all those characters. However, I kept wondering where things were heading….waiting for the Unbreakable characters to show up. Still, I was patient, knowing full well how M. Night hits you with those unexpected mind-blowing twists like he did in some of my other M.Night personal favorite films: SIGNS (2002), THE VILLAGE (2004), and THE VISIT (2015).

Anya Taylor-Joy was amazing here playing Casey — we get to see how she begins to develop a type of Stockholm Syndrome connection with Kevin. All in all, SPLIT is a solid stand-alone sequel.

Right after I finish streaming SPLIT, I streamed GLASS.…. You have to watch GLASS with a clear understanding of the first two movies as reference points. I was excited to see Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson back together, but they barely get any screen time. David Dunn did almost nothing, somewhat relegated in the background. Its been 15 years since the events of Unbreakable, and it is reflected in the movie. Bruce Willis’s character is visibly older.

Sarah Paulson was an excellent addition to the cast; she was subtle and effective in all of her scenes. Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey, and It was cool to have Joseph Dunn back played by the same actor now all grown up (Spencer Treat Clark). He is now more of an Alfred type of character, assisting his father on crime-fighting vigilante escapades while keeping his true identity a secret.

I was not expecting to be as disappointed with how the story unfolded as I was. I had some issues with the mental facility where all three extremely dangerous prisoners are being kept. It seems to be a minimum-security facility and guarded by blatantly incompetent staff members….. The whole thing seemed far-fetched.

And what about the typical and expected M. Night movie twist?…. Well, it is an underwhelming twist; A shadow organization that has existed for thousands of years. They identify and track down superhumans while suppressing the truth from the public. What is the grand plan from this secret society?…. Maybe this concept could be explored further and potentially become a setup for future films within this universe.

After 19 years of waiting for the conclusion of this trilogy, I was expecting something epic, but it left me a bit underwhelmed. I was under the impression that Glass was going to be M. Night’s crowning achievement. Nevertheless, I still found these three films to be remarkable filmmaking achievements. I consider myself a fan of M Night Shyamalan filmmaker; he has proven to be a director, not afraid to try different things. With his last few projects, he seems to be returning to his origins as a filmmaker.

As a complete Trilogy: Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

*Movie Recap: On Chesil Beach

Here is another film that left me perplexed…. in a good way.

On Chesil Beach is a love story but not a traditional love story. It follows a young couple freshly married on their wedding trip to a hotel by the beach. They both seem nervous and anxious around each other, which we assume is because they have never been intimate before. Their story is told through flashbacks to their earlier lives before they met.

Florence (Saoirse Ronan) comes from an affluential family. Edward (Billy Howle) comes from a working-class family. She is a musician, and he is an aspiring historian who wants to write a book about historical figures who have been ignored or not given enough attention and not enough praise for their contributions. They both seem full of ambition and hope for their future — a typical characteristic of idealistic young people. However, at the hotel, amid their wedding night, is when everything falls apart for this young couple.

On Chesil Beach is based on a novella of the same name by Ian McEwan, who also wrote the screenplay. The book was a big deal when it first came out, and it was shortlisted for the booker prize. I was working as a bookseller for Barnes & Noble when the book was released in 2007, and I remember how popular it was back then. The book was much shorter than the usual Ian McEwan novel, still, it was a well-received book and sold great.

On Chesil Beach (2017)

Directed by Dominic Cooke, who makes his feature film directorial debut, and manages to create a thought-provoking, moving adaptation. Most notably, in the tone of the movie, capturing the awkward situation in the hotel room. Their difficulty with intimacy, the silent moments. The visual language expressing repressed feelings and emotions held within them. The terrible looking food they have to eat, the suitcases on the bed. All those little details were great. The unpleasant hotel room sex scene was well done; it was executed thoughtfully and not comical.

The film moves from the 1960s to the 70s, and concludes in 2007, it is never easy to move through time periods with the same actors using makeup and prosthetics, but all the time shifts worked well for me. The film vaguely alludes that her father abused Florence. It leaves the audience wondering whether she was sexually assaulted or there was some form of abuse, but we never really get those answers.

Tragedy and regret are what essentially is at the heart of this film—the meaning of love, and how decisions made in an instant can last a lifetime. On Chesil Beach is an ambitious adaptation that follows the source material faithfully, except for its ending, which is a perfect example of why I love cinema.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿