Reviews Of What Is In Theaters Now

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THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
Rated: R
Release Date: February 26, 2021
Director: Lee Daniels
Stars: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund
Plot: An undercover drug agent gets too close to Billie Holiday during a sting operation
 
Clint Says: Wait for the streaming price to come down
 

 


(Streaming exclusively on Hulu)
 
If you are unaware of Billie Holiday, I highly encourage you to do some research into her life and legacy. She is nothing short of a national treasure, but she also had to deal with many demons in her life. Many of those demons were forced on her by some of the terrible people that surrounded her, some of the demons were self-inflicted. 
 
This film centers around one of her most powerful songs and how the U.S. Government went after her to try to stop her from singing it. If you have never heard "Strange Fruit," you should give it a listen. It makes perfect sense why this was a black anthem, and why the 1940s Government wanted to get rid of it and Miss Holiday.
 
Based on all of this, one would think this would be a very dynamic and suspenseful film. Unfortunately, it is nearly the opposite. It is slow, drawn out, and flat. That doesn't mean the film is all bad. It has several incredible moments. But overall, it lacks intensity. 
 
Andra Day does a nice job playing Miss Holiday, and her voice is simply stunning, but the script she has to work with doesn't lend itself to a compelling character arc. It's really too bad, because this story could have been something special. 
 
This is a good movie, but not one worth paying premium pricing to see. Wait until it is available to stream for free. You'll be happy with your choice once you see it. 

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THE FATHER
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: February 26, 2021
Director: Florian Zeller
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Olivia Williams
Plot: An aging man tries to keep things in order, but his mind is confusing reality with things he thinks are real
 
Clint Says: See this in theaters if you can
 
 
(Limited theatrical run)
 
If you have ever watched a loved one struggle with dementia, you know how heartbreaking it is to see them lose their grip on reality. It is a brutal disease that takes the greatest among us and whittles them down to the equivalent of an unteachable child. Yet, you can see in their eyes that, somehow, they know there is a forgotten world in which they still live. 
 
Portraying dementia on screen to this point has been a very difficult task. Some films have done a decent job of it, most haven't. This film nails it. And not only does it nail it, it puts you into the mind of the afflicted. You will walk out of the theater after this film thanking your lucky stars that you don't really feel the way you have felt for the last two hours. 
 
Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman give unforgettable performances even though it must have been an extremely difficult exhausting process to film this every day. It is difficult to watch as the breakdown of one person leads to the breakdown of another, but it is also beautiful to watch as the broken learn to mend and lift each other up. 
 
This is not a happy tale. It is not a film that ends with a tidy bow. It gets more and more messy as it progresses, and it becomes more tragic and heartbreaking as the truth is slowly revealed. Just like with dementia, there are no happy endings here. 
 
While this isn't an entertaining film, it is one that I highly recommend. It is not easy to watch, but it will give you a better understanding of what dementia patients experience. Beyond that it is also a masterful job of storytelling and acting that is well worth seeing. 

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CRISIS
Rated: R
Release Date: February 26, 2021
Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Stars: Armie Hammer, Gary Oldman, Evangeline Lilly
Plot: People's lives are controlled in different ways by opioids
 
Clint Says: Wait for the digital release
 

 

(Limited theatrical run)
 
Opioids are a dangerous thing. They are highly addictive and they are highly coveted. Because of that they have become big business, both legal and illegal. Crisis tells the story of the effect that opioids have on different people in different ways. One is a scientist asked to manipulate his numbers so a new opioid can hit the legal market, one is an undercover cop trying to stop the rampant spread of illegal sales, and one is a grieving mother who had no idea her son was close enough to the drug world to die because of it. 
 
All three stories are compelling and tragic on their own. In fact, this might have been better if it was rewritten as three different movies. The problem occurs when two of their stories intersect, but not the third. It doesn't make any sense. A lot of movies and books like to do the "crossing paths" storytelling, but if it is used, all of the paths need to cross, not just a couple of them. It is a powerful film that is almost really good. Unfortunately, the whole thing feels disjointed. 
 
Gary Oldman is fantastic in his role, which is all for naught, because his storyline should have been completely removed from the final version of the movie. It feels odd to say he was the best actor, but the movie would have been better without him, but it is true. 
 
Evangeline Lilly does a great job in her role moving through the stages of grief and loss. And Armie Hammer plays the gritty, undercover cop just like you would expect a gritty, undercover cop to be played. The good news with him is that his character is the only one that brings complex issues to the story, making his character much more interesting. 
 
I would like to tell you that this is a crime/mystery movie, or a drama, or a revenge flick, but I can't, because it is all of those things and yet, nine of those things. What I can say for certain is that it is an okay flick. It's not terrible, it's not great. Just wait for it to come out on a digital platform and watch it then. 
 

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I CARE A LOT
Rated: R
Release Date: February 19, 2021
Director: J Blakeson
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez
Plot: A woman has a successful career scamming old people out of their money until she scams the wrong person
 
Clint Says: Stream this as soon as you can
 
 
(Streaming on Netflix)
 
This is one of the stranger movies I've seen in quite some time. In fact, it is so different from your typical story that I watched it twice in two days just to be sure I saw what I thought I saw. And the second time around I confirmed my suspicions. This is a film that you will enjoy immensely and then feel like you need a shower when it is done. 
 
This is a rare film in which there is no protagonist. You have nobody to root for. Every single person is terrible in some way. Yet it is fascinating to watch these people tear into each other with precision and poise. 
 
Rosamund Pike delivers a spine-tingling performance, and the rest of the cast fills the remaining dark voids with their own takes on evil and cruelty. It is truly something to behold. 
 
My only knock on this film is the main character's motivation for staying in the game. Once she realizes how high the stakes are, all that she has to lose, and what little she has to gain from moving forward instead of giving up makes no sense. It doesn't ring true. However, if you can get over that small speed bump, the rest of the film is a wild ride.
 
This is a fast-paced, exciting, suspenseful flick that will have you wondering why you are even watching it. You'll love almost every minute of it and then hate yourself for feeling that way when it is over. It's a film that puts you in a no-win situation, but you should see it anyway. 

Posted by on in Movie Reviews
FLORA AND ULYSSES
Rated: PG
Release Date: February 19, 2021
Director: Lena Khan
Stars: Matilda Lawler, Alyson Hannigan, Ben Schwartz, Dani Pudi
Plot: A young girl saves a squirrel's life only to find out the squirrel has superpowers
 
Clint Says: Stream this with the whole family this week
 

 

(Streaming on Disney+)
 
If you are looking for a cute, fun, and funny movie to watch with the whole family this weekend, look no further than Flora and Ulysses. This is an adorable tale that will keep you smiling and laughing the whole time. 
 
Matilda Lawler (Flora) is a delight to watch. She does a great job of moving the story forward in a compelling and entertaining way. She also has great chemistry with the rest of the cast. The other characters are all interesting and unique, even if a couple of them are a bit hokey. 
 
While this isn't a big-budget Disney film, it isn't some cheesy, thrown-together-on-a-shoestring-budget flick either. It's a solid, middle-of-the-pack movie that looks and feels slightly better than "made for TV."
 
If you have children under 10, they are going to get a kick out of this movie. Tweens and teens, not so much. This story is a bit below their grade level. But it is interesting and cute enough to keep the parents engaged and entertained. So get ready to have a night of fun in your own living room.