bc-ebert adv-2 06-29 | Arts & Leisure

BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

FOR PUBLICATION: BY WILL DATE: 06/29/2021

FILM REVIEW by Richard Roeper

“ZOLA” three stars Zola …….. Taylour Paige Stefani ….. Riley Keough X ……….. Colman Domingo Derrek …… Nicholas Braun

A24 presents a film by Janicza Bravo, written by Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris, based on tweets from A’Ziah “Zola” King and an article by David Kushner. Rated R (for consistently strong sexual content and language, graphic nudity, and violence, including sexual assault). Running time: 87 minutes. Opens in cinemas Tuesday.

The lewd road trip movie “Zola” is the first mainstream movie based on a tweetstorm, and while you might think this is terribly thin source material, let’s not forget that we’ve seen movies that are like on video game apps “Angry Birds” are based children’s trading card series “The Garbage Pail Kids,” the Pepsi commercials with “Uncle Drew” and the LEGO toy sets – not to mention the $ 4.5 billion “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise that was inspired by an amusement park attraction.

Compared to some other stuff, a sequence of 148 tweets is practically literature.

Inspired by a series of 2015 tweets by Detroit-based Hooters waitress and exotic dancer A’Ziah “Zola” King and a subsequent Rolling Stone article by David Kushner, “Zola” became a slippery, violent, harrowing one Road worked out. Travel adventure set like “Spring Breakers” meets “Hustlers” with a little bit of “The Florida Project”. Director Janicza Bravo and her co-writer Jeremy O. Harris have expanded and, in some cases, fictionalized the original series of tweets (which may or may not have been primarily embellishments of real adventure). The result is a raw and sometimes daunting and often darkly funny adventure filled with just enough social media references, e.g. we sometimes hear the familiar Twitter sound effect when something is posted.

Taylour Paige is a more grounded presence as Zola, our tour guide in this insane story (except for one late sequence where the POV changes abruptly and we hear an entirely different version of events).

Zola is a waitress in a chain restaurant, works as a stripper, and seems to be in control of her life and professions – until she meets Riley Keoughs Stefani, a motor-mouthed blonde who sounds like one of those junk-talking patrons on a tabloid TV Show. Stefani quickly becomes friends with Zola and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: They go on a road trip to sunny Florida and earn a small fortune by dancing in some high-end strip club for a weekend. Zola jumps in on the offer without asking any questions. But not long after she’s in the car with Stefani, a mysterious and obviously dangerous man known as X (Colman Domingo) and Stefani’s stupid, betrayed boyfriend Derrek (Nicholas Braun, from “Succession”), she realizes she is doing it should have asked questions.

X drives a high-end Mercedes SUV, but checks the group into a shabby motel in Tampa. It quickly became apparent that the women aren’t really here to dance all weekend; it’s X’s intention to pimp them up. Stefani knew about it, but Zola didn’t know – and when she tries to leave, X takes out his gun and makes it clear to him that this is not an option. Zola feels ambiguous, but she’s still on the lookout for Stefani, urging her to raise her prices to $ 500 per encounter, resulting in an intriguing sequence in which Stefani visits trick by trick, strips naked, and reveals a multitude of genitals before they come down to business.

“Zola” is a powerful reminder of the brutality and ugliness of the sex trafficking industry; Domingo is terrifyingly effective as a monster casually pimping women like he’s selling cigarettes. Director Bravo and her cameraman Ari Wegner give the film a somber docu-drama style that fits the material, and Taylour Paige and Riley Keough are excellent as a couple of hustlers over their heads.

I suspect this won’t be the last movie based on a series of tweets. There’s a lot of, um, stuff out there on Twitterverse.

Short review: “Zola” (crime comedy, R, 87 minutes). “Zola” is a slippery, violent, harrowing road trip adventure that begins when a waitress and exotic dancer from Detroit agrees on a potentially lucrative trip to Florida to see the high-end with a woman she has just met Clubs taking off. Taylour Paige and Riley Keough are excellent as a couple of hustlers over their heads. Rating: three stars.

(EDITORIAL: For editorial questions, contact Josh Peres, jperes (at) amuniversal.com.)

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bc-ebert adv-3 06-17 | Arts & Leisure

BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

FOR PUBLICATION: BY WILL DATE: 06/17/2021

TV REVIEW by Richard Roeper

A 10-part series that premieres on Friday with three episodes, with new episodes premiering on Apple TV + the following Fridays.

After Justin Theroux with “The Mosquito Coast”, Apple TV + has delivered another well-filmed, well-acted and decidedly dejected mister of a series with the Rose Byrne vehicle “Physical”.

In both cases, we’re being asked to spend inordinate amounts of time with a completely unappealing, narcissistic protagonist who isn’t as compelling and interesting as the series would have us believe.

Not that Byrnes Sheila Rubin is a Bohemian rebel criminal on the run like Allie Fox of Theroux. She’s a true San Diego housewife around the early 1980s, and her inner monologue is a constant reminder of her wicked, bitter, petty worldview – and deeply ingrained self-loathing. We keep hearing Allie’s bitchy remarks about her friends, her mothers, her husband, people she has just met.

And when she doesn’t make ugly remarks about others, she berates herself for being awful and stupid and “fat” even though she is not the slightest bit overweight. She is bulimic and prone to eating and cleaning herself in a shabby motel room in the middle of the day – a secret she keeps from everyone in her life, including her forgotten husband.

Series creator Annie Weisman (“Desperate Housewives,” “Almost Family”) does an admirable job of recreating the look and sound of the early 1980s, from the sets and fashions to the use of songs like “Harden” My Heart “by Quarterflash,” Edge of Seventeen “by Stevie Nicks and” Atomic “by Blondie. (Each episode ends with a pop / rock tune that sets the table for the next show and lasts into the credits.)

With hair straight from the Jennifer Beals / “Flashdance” catalog and Californian tanned skin, Byrnes Sheila looks beautiful but feels ugly inside and out, and often retreats into her inner monologue even when trying to keep her shaky smile on while caring for her 4 -year-old daughter chatting to mothers at daycare or getting excited about her hideous, borderline creepy husband Danny (Rory Scovel), who has been fired from his apprenticeship at a mediocre college and has decided to to run for the bar Montagemann and try to write history, not just to teach, as he puts it so magnificently. (Relax, mate. You’re not preparing to challenge Ronald Reagan for the presidency.)

We were told that Danny and Sheila were hippie liberal activists in Berkeley in the 1960s and got kind of lost. But it’s hard to believe that they ever cared for anyone but themselves.

Danny hopes the campaign will regain his idealism, but seems more interested in hooking up with an adoring ex-student named Simone (Ashley Liao) and saying goodbye to alcohol and coke than making a real difference.

Sheila plays the dutiful, supportive wife at social gatherings and fundraisers. But her mind wanders while thinking ugly thoughts, often related to the physical appearance of other women – though she always directs the most scathing and hateful internal comments against herself.

Sheila is introduced to the world of aerobics at the local mall owned by pious Reagan-era developer John Breem (a misplaced Paul Sparks). She wants to get physical right away, physical, in the immortal words of Olivia Newton-John. Obsessed with the courses taught by a ruthless daredevil named Bunny (Della Saba), she eventually works with Bunny and Bunny’s surfer guy, porn-making friend Tyler (Lou Taylor Pucci), to create a series of exercise videos to turn.

We learn that Sheila comes from money and has a strained relationship with her WASP-y parents. And we see Sheila inexplicably drawn to Breem, the businessman who may be the only man in San Diego less interesting and engaging than her talkative husband.

There is an ongoing subplot about the marriage of wealthy neighbors, played by Ian Gomez and Dierdre Friel. (Let’s just say there are a kink or two in the relationship.)

With so many storylines, there’s a lot in every half-hour episode of “Physical”. But it’s not entirely clear what the series is trying to say about the early 1980s go-go and Sheila’s journey, which is so closely tied to her damaged self-image and tendency to look at most of the people she encounters judge.

Rose Byrne is an extremely personable actress who plays a character who needs help but is too shallow, too self-absorbed, and too damaged to know where to look. We feel that being Sheila is exhausting. And unfortunately it is exhausting to spend so much time with her.

(EDITORIAL: For editorial questions, contact Josh Peres, jperes (at) amuniversal.com.)

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bc-ebert adv-2 06-1 | Arts & Leisure

BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

FOR PUBLICATION: BY WILL DATE: 06/01/2021

FILM REVIEW by Richard Roeper

“SPIRIT UNTAMED” Three Stars Lucky ……… Isabela Merced Aunt Cora ….. Julianne Moore Jim ……….. Jake Gyllenhaal Hendricks ….. Walton Goggins Pru ……….. Marsai Martin Abigail ……. Mckenna Grace

Universal is presenting a film by Elaine Bogan, written by Aury Wallington and Kristin Hahn. Rated PG (for some adventure action). Running time: 88 minutes. Opens Thursday in local theaters.

The animation universe “Spirit” includes the movie “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” from 2002 and the Netflix series “Spirit Riding Free”, which debuted in 2017 – while the new DreamWorks theatrical release “Spirit Untamed” is a spin-off / a sequel to those previous chapters, it works well as a standalone, good, old-fashioned western with a trio of 12 year old girls as heroes, and that’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

“Spirit Untamed” restarts the pilot of the Netflix series and expands the story into a full-length adventure full of crazy action sequences (partly comedic, partly harrowing), infectious melodies and the obligatory heartfelt moments of love and loss and friendship and family.

Isabela Merced gives a winning vocal performance as Lucky Prescott, a brave and rebellious adolescent who has joined since childhood on the East Coast under the care of her Aunt Cora (Julianne Moore) and her mother Milagro (Eiza Gonzalez), a famous stunt rider died in a tragic accident. After Lucky’s annoying antics have thwarted her grandfather’s political campaign, it is decided that Aunt Cora will take Lucky on a train to Lucky’s little hometown Miradero, where they will spend the summer with Lucky’s father Jim (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is no I haven’t seen his daughter since she was 2 years old and he was too sad to take care of her.

On the train ride, Lucky first came into contact with Spirit, the leader of a pack of wild horses that ran alongside the train. While Lucky does death-defying stunt work that only an animated girl can pull off, the horses also draw the attention of Hendricks (Walton Goggins), a cunning and evil horse fighter who plans to catch the entire herd and bring them to himself drive off workhorses who will spend the rest of their lives working hard until it literally kills them. Oooh, that Hendricks, he’s the worst!

When Cora and Lucky arrive at Miradero, Lucky quickly befriends the smart and practical Pru (Marsai Martin) and the goofy and sweet Abigail (Mckenna Grace), who teach her to ride and encourage her to bond with her spirit, by feeding him apples, lots and lots of apples. The girls are great together; there is no made-up rivalry or jealousy or misunderstanding. They connect instantly and stand by each other throughout the story.

Things are not going so smoothly on the home front. Jim looks like a traditional western hero, but in reality he’s a bit of a hoarder and an eccentric, and he’s spectacularly ill-equipped to suddenly become a father of Lucky – mostly because he’s plagued with guilt for being Lucky sent away. He also has a strict rule for Lucky: No riding horses. That killed her mother and Jim doesn’t want to put his daughter in danger. Of course, more than anything else in this world, Lucky wants to establish a connection with Spirit until the great stallion allows her to ride through the great expanse with him.

After Hendricks and his henchmen capture Spirit and the herd and force them onto a train for auction, the story grows more fantastic when Lucky and Pru and Abigail go on a rescue mission where they must perform heroics that test them the limits of most comic book superheroes. As the action gets wilder and crazier, we’re actually a little less involved in the story. Yes, this is an animated fable, but when the youthful heroes suddenly have almost overwhelming abilities, the emotional commitment drops.

Still, director Elaine Bogan created a compelling adventure story, and songs like “You Belong (Tu Lugar)”, “Join Up” and “Better With You” are beautifully rendered. So many animated films are multilayered endeavors filled with jokes only adults can understand, but Spirit Untamed is pure and unbridled family fun, pardon the pun. The animation is crisp and light, the speech is crackling, and the story of Spirit and the girl who became his best friend is heartfelt.

Short review: “Spirit Untamed” (Animated Adventure, PG, 88 minutes). A rebellious 12-year-old teams up with her new friends to rescue a Mustang that she is friends with. As a spin-off of the Netflix series, it works fine as a standalone, good, old-fashioned western, and that’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Rating: three stars.

(EDITORIAL: For editorial questions, contact Josh Peres, jperes (at) amuniversal.com.)

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DISTRIBUTED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

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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.)

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bc-ebert adv-2 04-29 | Arts & Leisure

BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

For publication: At will: 04/29/2021

FILM EVALUATION BY Richard Roeper

“PERCY VS. GOLIATH” Three stars Percy Schmeiser …… Christopher Walken Rebecca Salcau ……. Christina Ricci Jackson Weber ……. Zach Braff

Saban Films and Paramount Pictures present a film by Clark Johnson. Written by Garfield Lindsay Miller and Hilary Pryor. Rated PG-13 (for some thematic elements). Running time: 99 minutes. Opens in cinemas on April 30th and on request.

On a few occasions in the reserved charmer “Percy vs. Goliath” it sounds like someone is referring to Christopher Walken as a “scene stealer”, which can hardly be considered imprecise given Walken’s fantastically colorful career and his penchant for setting the classic walking turns on many a line.

“We’re watching you, scene stealer!” says a creepy guy in a van who rolls past Walken and then speeds off.

Oh wait a minute. It is not a “scene stealer”, but a SEED stealer. They call Walken’s Percy Schmeiser a “Seed Stealer,” which is about the worst that can be said about a farmer and which can lead to lawsuits and financial ruin, as well as shame and scandal.

“Percy vs. Goliath” is based on a true story and is firmly anchored in the realm of “Erin Brockovich”. It’s the fictional story of an old-fashioned Canadian farmer who has worked in family country for 50 years – like his father and his father’s father and his father’s father did before him – but he sees his life turned upside down, when he is sued by the giant Monsanto Co. for allegedly using their patented, pesticide-resistant seeds without compensation. Percy says these seeds must have been blown onto his land from nearby farms, as seeds have for millennia; Monsanto says it doesn’t matter how the seeds got there, and we’re going to court (after court after court).

With just one inexperienced on-site attorney named Jackson Weaver (Zach Braff) by his side against a string of high-priced lawyers led by the smug Rick Aarons (Martin Donovan, the eminent character actor who often plays the rigid bad guy), Percy is on the doorstep A huge battle for promotion that we already figured out with the title of this film. However, at the urging of ambitious and idealistic anti-GMO activist Rebecca Salcau (Christina Ricci), Percy becomes a reluctant but sincere advocate of smallholder farmers around the world, giving a worldwide speech that takes him all the way to India for his faithful and loving Ms. (Roberta Maxwell) sorting through the hundreds of letters and small donations sent from supporters around the world.

Even so, Monsanto wins time and again as Percy incurs huge legal costs and is forced to turn over all of his beloved seeds, which he has grown with care and innovation from year to year and from harvest to harvest. His attorney and grown son (Luke Kirby) and even Rebecca eventually urge Percy to give up and cut his losses, but it wouldn’t be a great movie if Percy just surrendered to Goliath, would it?

“Percy vs. Goliath” doesn’t have the visceral impact of the aforementioned “Erin Brokovich” or the newer (and equally good) “Dark Waters”. In these films, hubris and business neglect resulted in shocking illnesses and gruesome deaths. Not for a moment would I minimize the devastation a family farmer would suffer if he lost everything, but the mostly faceless Monsanto doesn’t seem as intentionally malicious as robotic greedy. Still, this is a rousing and inspiring story, highlighted by a performance by Christopher Walken that is remarkably devoid of flashy tics or mannerisms and is a reminder that Walken is a great actor first, then a lovable caricature.

Minireview: “Percy vs. Goliath” (Biographical Drama, PG-13, 99 minutes). An old-fashioned farmer accused by Monsanto of using his patented seeds for no payment is fighting the giant company in court and in public. This is a compelling and inspiring story highlighted by a performance by Christopher Walken that is remarkably devoid of flashy tics or mannerisms. Rating: three stars.

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

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DISTRIBUTED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

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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

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bc-ebert adv-2 02-3 | Arts & Leisure

BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

For publication: At will: 02/03/2021

FILM EVALUATION BY Richard Roeper

“BLISS” Three stars Greg ……. Owen Wilson Isabel ….. Salma Hayek

Amazon Studios presents a film by Mike Cahill. Rated R (for drug content, language, sexual material, and violence). Running time: 103 minutes. Available on February 5th on Amazon Prime Video.

“I have a picture in my head of a place. I don’t know if it’s real.” – Owen Wilson’s Greg in “Bliss”.

On the metaphysical journey “Bliss” comes a time when you almost expect Agent Smith from “The Matrix” to look for Mr. Anderson, or perhaps McCabe from “Vanilla Sky”, to find our hero on a rooftop and say the word Tell him, “Home entertainment mortality – that can’t be the future, can it?” because we’re deep in the rabbit hole, constantly trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not real in this trippy and fun mind-bender from writer and director Mike Cahill.

You can’t help but think of “The Matrix” and “Vanilla Sky” (or its predecessor, the 1997 Spanish film “Abre Los Ojos”) and even “The Fisher King” as this Amazon Prime Video feature in reality the world begins and then takes us on a fantastic journey on which we are pretty sure – well, almost certain, well, maybe not quite sure – which universe is authentic and which only exists in imagination.

Owen Wilson reminds us that he can do so much more than play the supernaturally laid-back aging hippie guy with an impressively multi-faceted accomplishment than Greg, a middle-aged divorced father who is some sort of executive in a large company, but his spends days ignoring calls, dodging meetings, and making elaborate drawings depicting an idyllic home that looks positive … heavenly. Almost too good to be true. It’s not entirely clear how long this has been going on, but if Greg thinks he’s fooling his coworkers, he’s dead wrong – and when he tells the big boss that he wants to see him, it looks like it to Greg the end of the way out.

Things go sideways in a big way during this meeting with the boss, and at this early point in time, “Bliss” looks like some gritty, grounded thriller about a man who breaks down in the style of “Falling Down”. Greg finds himself on the street connecting with an exotic, strange and seemingly awkward woman named Isabel (Salma Hayek in a grandiose theatrical performance) who bears an uncanny resemblance to one of Greg’s sketches. How can that be? Isabel tells Greg it’s proof that they live in a manufactured world, and nothing they see – none of the people, none of the buildings, nothing at all – is actually there. It’s all part of a great experiment and only Greg and Isabel can see through it!

“Do you see all these people out there?” Isabel says to Greg. “You are not real.” That sounds crazy, of course, but then Isabel teaches Greg some mind-boggling tricks such as: B. How to light a candle from around the room by simply pointing at it and wishing it be so.

Nesta Cooper does strong work as Greg’s daughter Emily, who is about to graduate from high school and understandably worried about her father. But while Emily’s existence seems to provide evidence that Isabel’s claims are insults from a madwoman, Isabel Greg’s mind revolves around your explanations of why Emily is not real are only part of the illusion. Greg was never married and has no children. He never worked in this company. All of these elements are simply part of the SIMS material.

It’s all insane – until there’s a surprise revelation that suggests that Isabel might not be that crazy after all, and that the Shangri-La that Greg imagined in his drawings might actually be the real world. “Bliss” is a strikingly impressive visual feast as we move between the bleak and oppressively gray world where Greg and Isabel are two strange characters who live under a viaduct and the colorful and futuristic nirvana where they are like adults , switch back and forth. up Homecoming Queen and King of a futuristic, progressive community where virtual reality mixes with reality.

“I’m a little disoriented,” says Greg at one point and it’s the understatement of his life. Until the end, we can feel Greg’s sadness when his world seems to collapse, his amusement when he thinks he has found a new and spectacularly beautiful reality, and his heartbreaking confusion when he has to choose between two worlds – a choice it does couldn’t really be done.

Minireview: “Bliss” (Science Fiction Drama, R, 103 minutes). We’re constantly trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not in this trippy and fun mind-bender. Owen Wilson plays a newly fired executive who is convinced by a seemingly awkward woman (Salma Hayek) that they live in a manufactured world. Rating: three stars.

(EDITOR: For editorial questions, 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 item, Universal Uclick, for information on copyright information.