bc-ebert adv-1 05-20 | Arts & Leisure

BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

For publication: At will: May 19, 2021

SERIES REVIEW by Richard Roeper

A seven-part series available on Amazon Prime Video on Friday.

The common theme of human isolation runs through all seven episodes of the Amazon anthology series “Solos,” and the finale contains references to some of the characters from previous episodes – but each story by showrunner David Weil is a miniature film in its own right. and some are more effective than others so we will review them accordingly.

Morgan Freeman is the off-screen narrator who introduces the first six episodes before starring. He introduces each episode with a cryptic and existential question, e.g. B. “If you were to travel into the future, could you escape your past?” and “How far would you travel to find yourself?” and “Who decides who belongs in the world?” You can almost see the ghost of Rod Serling from “The Twilight Zone” in the corner, taking a cigarette and nodding in agreement.

– In “Leah”, directed by Zach Braff, Anne Hathaway turns the emotional tap on with such anger that her Oscar-winning twist on “Les Miserables” seems an understatement. Hathaway – a good actress who hits some resonant notes here – plays a brilliant physicist in her thirties who literally lives in Mommy’s basement and is surrounded by glowing and rumbling devices that make a great time machine that Leah has tried for years perfect myself. Suddenly Leah is faced with her future – and her past that gives us three Anne Hathaways interacting with each other, and unfortunately two of them are more irritating than three dimensional. The use of John Denver’s cornpone ballad “Back Home Again” at a key moment is also a major misstep. Rating: Two and a half stars.

– We get another gimmick in “Tom” where actors play against the same actor, with Anthony Mackie as a successful man with a wonderful wife and great kids who learns he’s running out of time – so he pays for a replacement, who looks just like Tom and sounds just like Tom and downloaded all of Tom’s experiences and is now doing a meet and greet with Tom. (The expanded universe “Solos” exists in the relatively near future, where there has been significant advances in science and smartphones are even fancier than today’s smartphones.) Mackie does a good double job, with the real Tom being much more urgent and emotions than its substitute, but there are too many unanswered, too many unanswered questions. The whole idea of ​​a Tom 2.0 is never concretized, so we have an incomplete plot. Rating: two stars.

– The only actress we see on “Peg” is Helen Mirren in a fancy red spacesuit, and who’s not ready for it? This is a melancholy gem about a 71-year-old woman who has always been afraid of taking risks in life and who on a whim chooses an experiment that sends individuals into the deepest reaches of space – and it is a one way trip. Now that shifts the gears. Peg sometimes converses with an invisible AI entity that sounds like a more benevolent version of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but this could well be a stage show with a woman where Mirren takes turns being charming, funny, contemplative and Desperate plays sad as Peg ponders missed opportunities and missed opportunities. Rating: three stars.

– Almost all of the stories in “Solos” feel that they could take place during an outbreak – and in the case of “Sasha” we are actually in a post-pandemic world, some two decades after a global transmission virus sent the entire planet inside . Returning to normal has long been safe, but Sasha has become paranoid and believes that the smart device installed in her house is trying to trick her into leaving. Uzo Aduba works movingly and effectively as a woman who has broken away from reality and cut communication with loved ones and is now in a panic because her only friend, the artificially intelligent voice in the house, says “he” leaves because the The program is over and it is time for her to live her life – a prospect that absolutely terrifies her. Rating: three stars.

– Constance Wu has uniquely subversive comedic timing, and she uses it very well for the wickedly funny and then amazingly tragic “Jenny” in which the title character is really and truly drunk and plays an epic tangent that starts bawdy turns funny and then turns into something so dark it’s almost unbearable – for Jenny and for us. This is arguably the best performance of Wu’s career. Rating: three and a half stars.

– My only complaint about the masterful “Nera” is that it is way too short at just under 20 minutes, as we have all the requirements for a horror classic in the tradition of “Get Out” and “Us”. Tiffany Johnson directs with precise intensity and expert timing, Stacy Osei-Kuffour delivers a razor-sharp script, and Nicole Beharie is fascinatingly good like Nera, who has used fertility treatment in the near future to get pregnant and is about to give birth to her first child. A couple of issues: A winter storm is raging outside Nera’s cabin, so she has to do it herself, and her doctor warned of the slim possibility that Nera’s child would experience radically accelerated growth and maturation – much like a linear Benjamin Button just with Survival instincts that might turn him against mom and we won’t say more than that. Nera goes from excited to scared to … something else as she processes the insane events that arise over the course of a long and stormy night. Rating: four stars.

– Equally powerful is the “Stuart” finale in which we finally meet the man who served as our narrator / tour guide: Morgan Freemans Stuart, who is in the terminal stages of dementia and seems destined to live his days in a memoryless fog until a young man named Otto (Dan Stevens) shows up with black market memory implants that could send anything – EVERYTHING – back to Stuart. We keep guessing Otto’s true motives until the end. What happens after that is brutal and beautiful at the same time. Rating: four stars.

(EDITOR: If you have editorial questions, contact Josh Peres, jperes (at) amuniversal.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2021 CHICAGO SUNNDAY

DISTRIBUTED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

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bc-ebert adv-1 05-13 | Arts & Leisure

BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

FOR PUBLICATION: AT WILL DATE: 05/13/2021

FILM EVALUATION BY Richard Roeper

“SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF THE SAW” Two stars Zeke ………… Chris Rock Marcus ………. Samuel L. Jackson William …….. Max Minghella Capt. Garza ….. Marisol Nichols

Lionsgate is presenting a film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger. Rated R (for sequences of gruesome bloody violence and torture, ubiquitous language, some sexual cues, and brief drug use). Running time: 93 minutes. Opens in theaters Thursday.

Oh, right there is your killer.

We’re not that deep into the sloppy and bloody torture porn crime trial “Spiral: From the Book of Saw” when a certain character is doing a certain thing that seems unimportant to everyone else in the room, but an obvious “tell” is. For the audience we have our killer. There is no other reason for this character to do this one thing.

Not that figuring out who the unit is always spoils a movie. After all, there are only a small handful of suspects in most crime fiction, and even if we narrowed it down to one or two candidates early on, if we watch a well-crafted story we can still enjoy the trip. Unfortunately, the ninth installment in the “Saw” franchise doesn’t meet these standards. Despite the usual depraved creativity of the psychotic mastermind who carried out a string of murders, a few darkly hilarious moments, and a top-notch cast under the direction of Chris Rock, “Spiral” lives up to its name. It morphs down into a ridiculous, seedy horror story that’s more about berating audiences than providing a compelling reason for this long-running franchise to chug on and leave a trail of blood.

This is Darren Lynn Bousman’s fourth “Saw” movie, and he knows exactly how to stage those infamous scenes where an invisible, creepy-sounding monster kidnaps a target and straps them into an insanely intricate device and a “game.” “in which the victim has to choose between such amusing consequences as serious injuries, killing someone else or just the devil with it and the death of a gruesome death. Within the first 10 minutes, “Spiral” actually identifies itself as a combo record from three genres:

– It’s definitely a “Saw” movie with an opening scene that dares us to look at the screen when we see a man trapped in a device on a subway track that is giving him the Choice is to cut his own tongue or train one to turn him into human lasagna.

– It’s also a Chris Rock comedy vehicle. The first time Rocks Detective Zeke Banks hits the screen, he delivers a fun, nervous riff on “Forrest Gump,” which sounds like something straight out of a stand-up special.

– And it’s a cop film riddled with clichés, as the next scene shows, in which the undercover cop Zeke the riot of his boss, Capt. Angie Garza (Marisol Nichols), who reads yelling at him not to be a team player and they can’t have that anymore – and the city is about to boil over during this heatwave – and the whole thing is such an obvious homage / rip off of the original ” Beverly Hills Cop “” We halfway expect Rock and Nichols to turn to the camera and bow when it’s over.

As for the alleged conspiracy in “Spiral,” someone kidnaps, tortures, and kills police officers – all from Zeke’s district – in the twisted style of the late and unacclaimed Jigsaw, who was killed by a bunch of films before, but has one Series inspired by students and imitators. The killer continues to send file drives with video clues and terrible “souvenirs” such as severed fingers and limbs to Zeke, who has teamed up with rookie detective William Schenk (Max Minghella) against his wishes, also because no one else will work with them Zeke after dropping off a dirty cop a dozen years ago. Zeke’s only true ally is his father, Marcus (Samuel L. Jackson), the legendary former police chief. (Director Bousman seems to have a thing for Pulp Fiction, given the cast of Jackson, a visual reference to Jules and Vincent, and Rock’s character named Ezekiel, as in Ezekiel 25:17. The Way of the Righteous Man is harassed from all sides … “).

One by one, police officers from the same district are mugged and usually knocked unconscious before waking up and finding themselves in elaborate devices that must have taken months to build (imagine the testing process alone). The invisible Jigsaw wannabe reminds them of their corrupt behaviors and then explains exactly how they will die – unless they take action that “only” leads to mutilation or paralysis, but enables them to live. Meanwhile, Zeke tries to piece together Jigsaw’s puzzle, which often leads him on a wild goose hunt before Zeke finds out, usually too late to make any difference. We know we’re nearing one final confrontation where Zeke will see each other face-to-face, or at least face-to-face, with this latest jigsaw knockoff, and we know the ending will almost certainly leave the door still open another “Saw” movie – and this prospect is just tired.

Minireview: “Spirale: From the Book of the Saw” (Horror, R, 93 minutes). Despite the usual corrupted creativity, a few darkly hilarious moments, and a top-notch cast led by Chris Rock, this latest installment of torture porn, “Saw,” ultimately turns into a ridiculous, shabby horror story. Rating: two stars.

(EDITOR: If you have editorial questions, contact Josh Peres, jperes (at) amuniversal.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2021 CHICAGO SUNNDAY

DISTRIBUTED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106; 816-581-7500

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bc-ebert adv-1 04-27 | Arts & Leisure

BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

FOR PUBLICATION: AT WILL DATE: 04/27/2021

FILM EVALUATION BY Richard Roeper

“GOOD FOUR DAYS” Three Stars Deb ……. Glenn Close Molly ….. Mila Kunis

Vertical Entertainment presents a film by Rodrigo Garcia. Written by Rodrigo Garcia and Eli Saslow. Rated R (for drug content, language, and brief sexuality). Running time: 99 minutes. Opens in cinemas April 30th.

The recovering 30-year-old addict speaks in a high school classroom about the horrors of substance abuse, how she slept on the street last week, and how just getting high can help her forget the chaos that appeals to her has caused her life – and then a girl in a denim jacket looks at her so judgmental that 15-year-olds look at you, and the student says, “Then just don’t do it.”

“Excuse me?” says the recovering addict.

“Sorry, I would never let myself go that far,” says the girl.

And then the woman in front of the class begins with a shame no one in this room will ever forget, and neither will we.

We’ve seen Mila Kunis on screens big and small for about 20 years, from “That ’70s Show” to dramas like “Black Swan” to comedies like “Ted” and the “Bad Moms” films, but her performance Als Woman who led herself and loved ones in the formulaic but resonant story of drug recovery through hell, “Four Good Days” is the best job she did. It’s not just the physical change, although it’s amazing to see Kunis with blotchy skin, doll hair, and missing teeth, looking as emaciated as if she were a little kid wearing the clothes of her older siblings. It’s the absolutely convincing mannerisms and tics, the way her eyes move when she lies again, the looks of deep sadness and despair than she realizes when she doesn’t turn things around – when she doesn’t FINALLY turn things around – it is not long for this life.

“Four Good Days” is staged with no-frills efficiency by Rodrigo Garcia and is based on a Washington Post story of the experiences of a real mother and her grown-up daughter. It is reminiscent of current films like “Beautiful Boy” and “Ben Is” Zurück, “in which the lost offspring return to their parents, who have reached their limits with lying and stealing and arrests and rehabs and relapses and themselves have vowed not to help anymore – but then they will help again. ” because that’s her child.

Kunis is Molly, who has been addicted to heroin, methadone, crack and others for 10 years and has been detoxified 14 times. Glenn Close is heartbreakingly good as her mother Deb, who reluctantly agrees to help Molly one last time. If Molly can get through three days of detox and then four days at home without getting high, she will be given an injection of naltrexone, which will remove drug cravings and highs for a full month. During these four long days we meet Molly’s ex-husband (Joshua Leonard) and the two children, who are almost strangers to her. Deb’s second husband (Stephen Root); her biological father (Sam Hennings) and her estranged sister (Carla Gallo).

All of them, and no doubt many others, were heavily influenced by Molly’s illness. Some of them have given up.

Not everyone. The mother-daughter dynamic in “Four Good Days” is powerful and sustained and devastating and maybe the thing that is helping Molly save her life.

Minireview: “Four good days” (Drama, R, 99 minutes). A mother (Glenn Close) approaches her limit with her daughter who uses heroin and agrees to help her one last time in this formulaic but resonant story of drug recovery. Mila Kunis’ appearance as an addict who took herself and her loved ones through hell is the best job she’s done. Rating: three stars.

(EDITOR: If you have editorial questions, please contact Sue Roush, sroush (at) amuniversal.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2021 CHICAGO SUNNDAY

DISTRIBUTED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106; 816-581-7500

Contact the reseller of this article, Universal Uclick, for information on copyright information.