Reviews Of What Is In Theaters Now

Posted by on in Movie Reviews
INFIDEL
Rated: R
Release Date: September 18, 2020
Director: Cyrus Nowrasteh
Stars: Jim Caviezel, Claudia Karvan, Hal Ozsan
Plot: A man is kidnapped while visiting Cairo so his wife travels there to do whatever she can to save him
 
Clint Says: Save some money and see a matinee
 
 
I can't even  begin to imagine what it would be like to be kidnapped in a foreign land, but this film does a pretty good job of conveying the fear, pain, and desperation of anyone in that situation. 
 
While the story is highly suspenseful and compelling, the film itself is a bit below average. It looks and feels like a step above a made-for-TV movie, but a step below your typical wide-release, big-screen film. The cinematography is adequate, but there are moments where it feels very "film student" in its quality. 
 
The acting also leaves something to be desired, but this isn't the actors' fault. It seems like the director didn't convey the vision properly, so the end product isn't as good as it would have been in the hands of a more accomplished leader. 
 
The good news is that those issues are pretty minor to the overall experience. If you like suspenseful thrillers this film will satisfy your cravings. It isn't anywhere near a film like ZERO DARK THIRTY or LONE SURVIVOR, but it is intense and entertaining enough to watch. 

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H IS FOR HAPPINESS
Rated: Not Rated
Release Date: September 18, 2020
Director: John Sheedy
Stars: Daisy Axon, Wesley Patton, Richard Roxburgh, Joel Jackson
Plot: A one-of-a-kind girl takes it upon herself to save her family while befriending a boy who says he is from another world
 
Clint Says: Rent this movie this weekend
 
 

This is one of the more pleasantly surprising films I've had the pleasure of seeing in quite some time. It's filled with happiness, joy, innocence, and humor. The main character's love of life and people is highly infectious. If you are like me, you will find yourself with a big, silly grin on your face every time she is on screen. 

 
One of the best aspects of this film is that the kids seem so full of joy even though they are completely surrounded by darkness. It is these opposing forces that make the story so compelling and emotional. It is beautiful to watch.
 
This is a film that will have you laughing hard one minute and crying just as hard the next. It will drag you back into your middle school days, and it will invite you to daydream about your first crush. It will make you think about forgiveness and about the beauty of being unique. 
 
This is a fantastic film for the whole family if you have kids that are a bit older. Anyone under 7 or 8 may be slightly confused by the plot and a tad scared by some of the scenes. I would suggest watching it first before showing it to the younger kids. 
 
If you are looking for something to make you happy, this film is the answer. (At least for 90 minutes). 

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THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: September 11, 2020
Director: Natalie Krinsky
Stars: Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo
Plot: A woman, suffering from a bad break up, works to create an art gallery for people to display their mementos from past relationships
 
Clint Says: Save some money and see a matinee
 

 

In a very long line of romantic comedies, this is another one. 
 
Is it good? Yes. Is it great? No. Will you walk out satisfied if you are a fan of RomComs? Probably. 
 
It follows the RomCom formula completely, so you know exactly what you are going to get even before you sit down to see it. 
 
The thing that makes this one different than the others is this story is played out by young, dating, New-York-City-dwelling, millennials. Those descriptive words either make or break the movie for you. If you read that sentence and think, "Oh, great! They sound like a lot of fun!", then you are going to love this film. If you read those words and thought, "This sounds like my idea of 110 minutes in hell.", you should go ahead and skip this one. 
 
The cast all play their roles very well, and the writing is spot on. I have spent a lot of time with this age group and watching this film made me feel like I was right there in the room with real people having real conversations. That said, I am now the old fuddy-duddy and it was very difficult for me to connect with the characters and their issues in any meaningful way. 
 
This is never going to become a classic RomCom playing on TV 30 times a week for the rest of eternity, but it is one that is worth seeing with all of your girlfriends. It'll give you some good laughs, a couple of good cries, and may even help you finally push out the last bit of that old ex that is still stuck in your head. 
 
 

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TENET
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: September 3, 2020
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh
Plot: A CIA operative joins a dark forces team to try to stop a mad man from destroying the world with a time-altering weapon
 
Clint Says: Wait for the digital release
 
 
When the first trailer was released for TENET many months ago I was so excited to see it. After all, it was directed by Christopher Nolan who has made some fantastic films, including a couple of my all-time favorites. It looked like it was going to be a smart, sci-fi, version of a James Bond flick.
 
Then I finally got to see it. 
 
And I was thoroughly disappointed. 
 
First and foremost, the premise of the film is incredibly confusing, to the point where it was virtually impossible for the characters to properly educate us on what we needed to know in order to follow along with the story.  I was so completely confused for the first 40 minutes that by the time things started to gel a little I was too exhausted to care. 
 
Second, a large portion of the important dialogue is almost impossible to hear. For some reason Nolan thought it was a good idea to have major plot points discussed through respirator masks, over headsets while on a noisy ocean, and in several other hard-to-hear environments. Throw on top of that some heavy accents discussing PhD-level science, and it becomes nearly impossible to follow along with what is being said. 
 
The good news is that the acting is incredible. John David Washington leads a fantastic cast in giving the best performances possible on a below average script. 
 
This could have been another INCEPTION, but instead it falls short of being anything worthy of your time or money.

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MULAN
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: September 4, 2020
Director: Niki Caro
Stars: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Li Gong
Plot: A young girl becomes one of China's greatest warriors after pretending to be a man in order to replace her aging father in the war
 
Clint Says: Worth every penny, watch it with the family today
 
 
I have been waiting for this film for a long time. When Disney started making live-action remakes of their classics one of my first thoughts was, "I hope they do MULAN." 
 
You see, I have two beautiful daughters that are from China. They have spent most of their lives in the US, but we make it a point to help them connect to their heritage and culture. The original MULAN was one of the only accessible works of art that showed my daughters a powerful, but kind woman that looks like them. Now, they have a real life version to admire. 
 
We sat down, as a family, to watch this together and we all fell in love with it. 
 
It is a stunningly beautiful film filled with bright colors, breath-taking landscapes and sets, and mesmerizing motion. Every member of the cast gives a great performance adding to a well-written script. And the people in charge did a perfect job in modernizing the story without taking anything away from the rich heritage of ancient China. 
 
For those of you with small children, this film is rated PG-13. There are several intense fight scenes and Xian Lang (the witch) that could be a little much for them. You may want to screen it first before you let them hop on the couch to watch it.  But for the older crowd, these elements bring a level of excitement and suspense that brings this remake to a whole new level.
 
If you are a fan of the original MULAN you have to see this one. You'll become a fan all over again. 

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CRITICAL THINKING
Rated: Not Rated
Release Date: September 4, 2020
Director: John Leguizamo
Stars: John Leguizamo, Angel Bismark Curiel, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Corwin C. Tuggles
Plot: The true story of the first inner-city school to with the Chess National Championships
 
Clint Says: Rent this movie this weekend
 
 
It is very rare for me to like a film that is directed by and stars the same person. Typically, this means that it is a passion project for them and they refuse to change anything. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and when it is done right, the film can be extraordinary. 
 
John Leguizamo did it right. 
 
And that is doubly extraordinary in this case because he managed to make a movie that features chess exciting. (Please do not read this as a slight on chess. It is an exciting game when played at a high level, but it isn't something one would think to add to a film in order to add excitement).
 
This is an underdog drama filled with interesting and dynamic characters. It doesn't take long to care for and cheer on the protagonists. They have so many obstacles to overcome, but they refuse to be beaten.
 
Leguizamo does a masterful job in making the characters, the story, and the dialogue real but still accessible. Like a great chess match, he builds everything one step at a time, while always building on what else is going on,  and thinking three steps ahead. By the time the film gets to the final scenes you will be so invested in the characters and so engrossed in the story that, if you are like me, you won't breathe for several minutes. 
 
This is one of the best movies of the year. It may not be the biggest and it may not get a lot of attention, but I have a feeling this film might be an underdog just like the kids on the chess team. It's going to fight hard, rise to the top and be a winner. Anyone that sees this film will know they have seen something special.

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BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Director: Dean Parisot
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine
Plot: Bill and Ted have aged, but their music hasn't changed the world like they thought it would. 
 
Clint Says: Buy this digital release today
 

 

Have you ever been somewhere and ran into an old friend you haven't seen in 20 years? That is exactly the feeling you will get when you watch this movie. Right from the opening credits I had a goofy grin on my face and an air guitar in my hands. 
 
And here is the best part...It's a good movie, too!
 
It is funny, exciting, the story is compelling, and it is filled with nostalgic moments. There are tons of laugh out loud moments, and an epic quest filled with new and old characters. 
 
If you are a fan of the original excellent adventure, then find yourself a phone booth and transport yourself to the digital age and download this movie today. 
 
(Oh, and for all of you that were young when the first film came out, but are old now; this movie is only 80 minutes long, so you shouldn't have to use the bathroom while watching it.)

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THE NEW MUTANTS
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Director: Josh Boone
Stars: Blu Hunt, Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton
Plot: A group of young mutants try to figure out how to escape their situation and control their powers at the same time
 
Clint Says: Wait for the digital release and make someone else rent it
 

 

In theaters. 
 
We waited five months for this film to finally be released in theaters. I would have been okay waiting another five months. 
 
With the exception of the first 60 seconds of the movie, absolutely nothing happens for the first 40 minutes. It's just a bunch of moody teens moping around while hating each other and everything else. It's like a nightmare version of THE BREAKFAST CLUB. 
 
When the action finally kicks in, and just when you start to think that the film might actually have a slight chance of redeeming itself, it manages to reverse course and make the movie even more unbearable than it was for the first half. 
 
This is by far the worst film in the X-Men universe, and that is really saying something, because there have been some tremendous stinkers to hit the big screen before this one. 
 
There are going to be a ton of flicks hitting the freshly opened theaters in the next few months. Don't waste your money on this one. 
THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD
Rated: PG
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Director: Armando Iannucci
Stars: Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton
Plot: A young orphan overcomes the obstacles in his way to lead an extraordinary life
 
Clint Says: A fanciful and delightful return to the theater
 
 
In theaters.
 
This classic tale from the mind of Charles Dickens has seen its fair share of TV and film renditions. Some of them have been really good, some of them have been terrible. 
 
This one may be the best of the bunch.
 
First and foremost, I want to give credit to the director, the studio, the casting director, and anyone else involved in the casting of this film. This is, as far as I can remember, the first ever wide-release film that doesn't worry about the race of the actors or their characters. They simply hired the best people for the job. 
 
It is so great to see a black woman with a white son, parents with children of different races, and people of all races interacting with each other as true equals. I hope this is the beginning of a new trend in Hollywood.
 
As for the rest of the film, it is fun, fanciful, and entertaining for the whole family. My 10 year old daughter enjoyed it just as much as I did. It is filled with incredible visuals and delicious characters. Dev Patel is amazing, but Hugh Laurie completely steals the show. He is the best "crazy uncle we wish we had" to grace the screen in a long time. 
 
If you are in the mood for a family-friendly, visually-inspiring, character-driven film filled with whimsy and inspiration you should go on an adventure, and see this in the theater. 

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CENTIGRADE
Rated: R
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Director: Brendan Walsh
Stars: Vincent Piazza, Genesis Rodriguez
Plot: A couple, on a tour of Norway, get caught in a blizzard and trapped inside their car with no way of signaling for help
 
Clint Says: Suspenseful, but terrible characters
 
 
Streaming on all digital platforms, VOD, and some drive-in theaters.
 
One of the first rules of creating a great story is making sure the audience cares about your hero. The hero needs to be likable. The hero needs to be good. They need to be smart, or at least street smart.
 
In this film, the main characters were none of the above. 
 
From the first minute of the movie they are fighting, saying horrible things to each other, doing completely ridiculous things, and just being annoying. They are too mean to be likable and too stupid to survive, so five minutes into the movie I already didn't care what happened to them. 
 
Thankfully, just by the nature of the story, the movie is suspenseful, but I never cared about the people. It didn't matter one way or another if they made it out alive or they were found as popsicles two years later. (Yes, on some level, I wanted them to survive just out of sheer human decency, but this is a movie, so decency doesn't really count).
 
I will give it to the director, though. Making a 90-minute film, that is shot with only 2 unlikable people in a car for 99% of the movie, that is even remotely watchable is a feat unto itself. I would not say that this is a good film by any stretch of the imagination. However, if you are looking for a decent and suspenseful story where you don't care about the outcome, this one is worth a streaming rental. 

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YOU CANNOT KILL DAVID ARQUETTE
Rated: R
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Director: David Darg, Price James
Stars: David Arquette, Patricia Arquette, Courtney Cox
Plot: David Arquette attempts a return to professional wrestling nearly two decades after the sport essentially ended his acting career. 
 
Clint Says: Absolutely worth a watch
 

 

Available for streaming.
 
I thought this was a parody film when I first saw information about it. I'm not a wrestling fan, so I had no clue that David Arquette was once the WCW Heavyweight Champion of the World. I also had no clue that he was one of the most hated people in the wrestling world for the last 20 years, and that he had essentially been banned from Hollywood. 
 
The good news is that whether you knew all of that or not, you need to see this documentary. It is a brilliant work of art detailing the struggle of a man to recover the biggest things no man wants to lose, his name and his dignity.
 
Watching him struggle is painful, but also inspiring because he starts from rock bottom, he doesn't cut any corners, and he perseveres. It is a film that will inspire you to go after that thing in your life that you regret, or has kept you down. 
 
You don't have to be a fan of wrestling, you don't even have to be a fan of David Arquette to enjoy this film. It is well worth your time and money. 

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UNHINGED
Rated: R
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Director: Derrick Borte
Stars: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman
Plot: After a seemingly insignificant event, an already angry man loses control and goes after a woman with everything he’s got
 
Clint Says: Save some money and see a matinee
 
 
Opening wide in theaters. 
 
This may be the perfect movie to celebrate the return to theaters after we've all been stuck in our houses for months. At this point, most us us can understand why someone could completely lose their mind over some small thing, even if we don't agree with their actions.
 
This is also a good "return to the theater" film, because it doesn't bother with any of the fringe stuff. It gets right to the point and hammers it home. It's only 81 minutes long, and about 65 of those minutes are action-packed. 
 
The first five minutes are so intense you'll barely breathe. Unfortunately, the next 17 minutes are devoted to trying to get you to feel sympathetic for the eventual victims. In fact, the incident that kicks off a series of unfortunate events doesn't happen until 23 minutes into a movie that is only 81 minutes long!
 
The good news is that once we get to that point, it is 58 minutes of crazy until the end credits roll. 
 
Now, don't take my excitement for all of the crazy as saying this is a good movie. It's not. It's fine for what it is, but there isn't anything deep or emotional about this story. It does a great job of staying in it's lane and not taking itself too seriously, but this isn't anywhere near cinematic excellence. 
 
I must say though that this movie has one of the greatest "now is the time where I say something witty as I kill you" lines of all time. I laughed out loud for a good 10 seconds after hearing it. 
 
If you are sick and tired of being cooped up in your house and want to blow off some steam, this is a perfect film for that. If you need important things like plot, and motive, and character development, then you'll want to see something else. 
 

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WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Director: Thor Freudenthal
Stars: Charlie Plummer, Taylor Russell, Walton Goggins, Molly Parker
Plot: A teen boy suffering from schizophrenia tries to cope with high school with the help of the schools smartest person
 
Clint Says: A must-see film, one of the year’s best
 
 
Opening wide in theaters.
 
I know it's been a weird year and there haven't been nearly as many movies released as there are in a typical year, but this is one of my favorite films of the year. And I think it would still be one of my favorites if this were a normal year. 
 
This film will have you doubled over in laughter one minute and ugly crying the next. It is wonderfully told, beautifully shot, and filled with deep characters.
 
This film deals with mental illness in an interesting way. Personally, I loved it, but I know people that hated it. It is obviously just a matter of taste as to how you feel about it. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't say any more about it. You'll just have to judge it for yourself. 
 
The best aspect of this movie is how it perfectly shows the effects of mental illness on the person, but it also shows the effects on their loved ones as well. If you or someone you love is dealing with mental illness this film may help you understand how the people around you are feeling. For that reason alone this is a movie worth seeing. 
 
I'm also a sucker for first love stories and underdog stories. This movie combines both of those, so I have no choice but to love it. This isn't the kind of film that will be winning awards, but it is one that can touch your heart and move you. And, to me, that is even more important than winning a trophy. 

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CUT THROAT CITY
Rated: R
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Director: RZA
Stars: Shameik Moore, Eiza Gonzalez, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes
Plot: Three friends from New Orleans try to find a way to make money after hurricane Katrina wipes out the 9th Ward  
 
Clint Says: Save some money and see a matinee
 
 
Opening wide in theaters.
 
This is one of those movies that could have been something really special. It has all of the ingredients to be a film that stands the test of time and rise above the others in its genre. Unfortunately, those ingredients weren't mixed together in the best way. 
 
First, it is way too long. It clocks in at over two hours, but there is so much filler and down time that, if edited out, could have made this a much better 90-minute movie. Second, while most of the acting is amazing, there are a couple of characters that are either so over the top, or so one-dimensional that their mere presence detracts from the story. 
 
Perhaps the thing that takes this movie from what it should be to one that is average at best is the directing. There are several scenes that make the story so confusing that even if you are paying very close attention to every detail you will still miss what is happening. I know I am far from the smartest guy in the room, but I do know film, and this one took three of us to talk through it after we saw it in order to figure out what actually happened. 
 
This is not the first time RZA has directed a feature film, so he should know better. Nearly everyone that sees this is going to walk out of the theater confused. So, if you are in that group, don't feel bad. Even the experts couldn't figure this one out. 
 
Aside from these issues the rest of the film is very compelling. I would love to see this story reworked the right way. It would be an incredible film that would probably win a lot of awards. 

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN
Rated: PG
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Director: Thea Sharrock
Stars: Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie, Ariana Greenblatt
Plot: A world-famous gorilla with artistic capabilities finds a way to escape the circus 
 
Clint Says: Great acting, and great idea, but too slow for the young kids, and too dull for the older kids
 
 
Streaming exclusively on Disney+.
 
I would watch paint dry if it starred Bryan Cranston, Sam Rockwell, and Angelina Jolie. How do I know? Because I just did it. 
 
This is loosely based on the true story of a gorilla that loved to paint. 
 
I wish I could say that this is a really exciting, funny, and fun film, but the reality is, both my 8 and 10 year old daughters (who love animals), walked out while we were watching this because they got bored. 
 
I don't blame them. 
 
While the acting is amazing, and there are several funny moments, overall this is a slow-moving, not-very-exciting film. Most of the story takes place via animals talking to each other from cage to cage. That can only go on so long before it gets old. 
 
If you already have Disney+ and your kids are asking to see it, you might as well stream it. But I wouldn't start a subscription just to see this film. 

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THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY
Rated: R
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Director: Giuseppe Capotondi
Stars: Elizabeth Debicki, Claes Bang, Donald Sutherland, Mick Jagger
Plot: An art collector hires an art critic to obtain, by any means necessary, a painting from a reclusive artist 
 
Clint Says: Interesting watch once you get past the first 30 minutes
 
 
Opening in select theaters.
 
Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland in an art-heist film? Yes, please! 
 
Here's the good news, Donald Sutherland plays one of his best characters ever in this film, Mick Jagger is fantastic in his role as a polite art collector with no scruples, and the story has several compelling twists and turns that keep it interesting. 
 
The bad news is that it takes a good 30 minutes to get anywhere of substance.  And the ending, while exciting, feels really rushed and incomplete. 
 
Everything in between is great. It's intriguing and suspenseful, and the drama unfolds in ways that give the story and characters several more layers. 
 
No, this isn't going to be one of the great art-heist films, but it is one that is worth streaming once. 

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AMERICAN STREET KID
Rated: Unrated
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Director: Michael Leoni
Stars: Michael Leoni
Plot: A film maker befriends several homeless teens and discovers why they rarely make it off of the streets alive 
 
Clint Says: This is not easy to watch, but it is a must-see film
 
 
 
Available on most streaming services.
 
We've all seen teens living on the street. We've all ignored them. 
 
If you watch this documentary, you will never ignore them again. You will never look at them the same way ever again. This will change you.
 
This is one of the most moving and powerful documentaries I have ever seen. It is brutal and heartbreaking, but it is also inspiring and filled with hope. 
 
You will find yourself  cheering for these kids and hoping they will find the key to get them off of the streets and into a life free of drugs and violence. Unfortunately, the key to their escape is also the thing that keeps pulling them back to the streets. 
 
One of the things that makes this documentary so emotional and personal is that director Michael Leoni gets deeply involved in the lives of these kids. Some may say that he gets too involved, but you'll need to see the whole documentary to draw your own conclusion. Personally, I think the guy is a hero. 
 
Not only is this film emotional, but it is also well done. The stories are told in a compelling way. It never feels like the story bogs down or gets lost. The story is always moving forward and the suspense is always building. 
 
Now, here is the best part of this film. You can help homeless teens simply by watching this documentary! Every ticket sold will help the organization created by Leoni to get these kids into loving homes, stable employment, and needed education and rehabilitation programs. 
 
This is the epitome of what the power of film can do when it is put to good use. 

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DESERT ONE
Rated: Unrated
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Director: Barbara Kopple
Stars: Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale
Plot: President Carter works with the military to devise a plan to rescue the hostages in Iran in 1979, but things don’t go according to plan
 
Clint Says: A fascinating documentary that brings humanity into a nearly impossible military operation
 
 
Streaming online via some independent theaters.
 
If you are old enough to remember the American hostages being held in Iran for over 400 days this is a documentary that you will want to see. 
 
During the final year of the Carter presidency, he worked with members of the military to orchestrate a rescue mission that they all knew was going to be all but impossible to accomplish. Unfortunately, their fears were realized when the mission turned into a horrific disaster. 
 
This informative, emotional, and cathartic documentary let's the people involved tell their stories in a way that covers the entire ordeal from every angle. It is fascinating because they were able to get interviews with the military members that were part of the operation, President Carter, Vice President Mondale, several of the hostages, and even some of the Iranian hostage takers and those that came into contact with the US military in Iranian soil. So, whether you agree with them or not, this documentary allows you to understand the motives behind the actions of all of the players. 
 
While this isn't a documentary that I would consider to be award-worthy or above average when it comes to editing and creativity, this is a very compelling work that covers the operation in the most comprehensive way possible. 
 
If you are a history lover you should put this on your watch list. 

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TESLA
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Director: Michael Almereyda
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Eve Hewson, Kyle MacLachlan, Jim Gaffigan
Plot: During the time when electricity was lighting up the world, Nikola Tesla was an innovator without peer. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a good salesman. 
 
Clint Says: Interesting idea, terrible execution
 
 
Available on demand and in select theaters.
 
There have been several films made over the last few years about the Tesla/Edison/Morgan/Westinghouse electricity rivalry. I have a theory on this. A few years ago the Tesla car became exceedingly popular in the Los Angeles area. I'm guessing that just about every screenwriter in town Googled "Tesla" looking for the car and then stumbled across the story of these men and their competition. They all wrote screenplays and tried to sell them to every studio in town. And it seems like every studio bought one. 
 
In the long line of these films, TESLA is another one. 
 
And not a very good one, either.
 
This film suffers deeply from the "nobody to tell them 'no' issue." Essentially, this means that any film that is written, produced, and directed by the same person is very rarely any good. It is a passion project for them, they want to have tight control over everything, and they refuse to listen to people that could potentially make their project better because it doesn't fit into their vision.  
 
In this case, that person is Michael Almereyda. His vision was to create a version of this story set in the 1800's, but told via flashback and on-screen narrator, and incorporating current day technology into story in an anachronous way. For example, in one scene we see Thomas Edison pop the top on a bottle of Coke, reach into his pocket, and pull out his smart phone. Yes, I know, it makes zero sense. 
 
The only good decisions Almereyda made were with the cast. Ethan Hawke is fantastic in a bad movie. And the cast that surrounds him is stellar. Jim Gaffigan, the well-known comedian, proves that his acting skills go far beyond comedy with his great portrayal of Westinghouse. I would love to see this same cast get together and perform a better script. 

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ENTER THE FORBIDDEN CITY
Rated: Unrated
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Director: Mei Hu
Stars: Jinghan Ma, Ziwen Wang, Dalong Fu, Yili Ma
Plot: An opera troupe from southern China is invited to the Forbidden City to perform for the Emperor’s 80th birthday celebration
 
Clint Says: Beautiful images and artistry, but not the cinema most Americans know
 
 
Available on Blu-Ray and some streaming services. 
 
I am a huge fan of Chinese cinema. If you've never experienced a true Chinese film, it is an acquired taste...a lot like British humor. But once you get it, chances are you'll love it. 
 
This film is a perfect example of Chinese cinema. It is filled with incredible visuals and beautiful artistry and choreography. The costumes are spectacular, and the filming locations are second to none.
 
The story is based on the true story of a performing troupe going to the Forbidden City and eventually becoming the Peking Opera. Because the story is based in Chinese culture and history, there are certain things that are just assumed by the film makers that may get lost in translation, or it assumes you already know certain facts relevant to the story or characters and leaves those facts out. So, if you don't know the story or the players it is going to take you a while to figure out what is happening. 
 
While the acting, editing, and story composition may not be at the level most Americans are used to when it comes to wide-release films, this is very typical and acceptable for Chinese cinema. If you can set aside what you are used to seeing and focus on enjoying this for what it is, I think you will have a new appreciation for foreign film. 
 
If you are a fan of fashion, dance, ancient culture, and beautiful scenery and imagery give this film a chance. You may really love it.