“JOE BELL”

2 STARS

There’s a soul-baring and detrimental dialogue exchange in Joe Bell between a husband and wife played by Mark Wahlberg and Connie Britton that epitomizes the chief flaw of the movie itself. Wahlberg’s title character is asked whether he’s doing his cross-country walk for awareness or forgiveness. …


“JUNGLE CRUISE”

3 STARS

Seeing the throwback characteristics of Jaume Collet-Serra’s Jungle Cruise, folks are quickly applying the “swashbuckler” label, calling upon the good juju of Michael Curtiz, George Lucas, Stephen Sommers, and Gore Verbinski that came before him. That understandable descriptor fits a bit like a slightly oversized hat. The chapeau…


A man stares in disbelief on a beach.

“OLD”

2 STARS

There was a phrase I used in my review of Glass two-and-a-half years ago about the vibe of M. Night Shyamlan’s movies that is necessary for me to painfully regurgitate for his hotly-anticipated new film Old. I said there was a “portending promise for something greater.” Even while…


A man holds a stuffed animal and pleads with his wife.

“LONG STORY SHORT”

4 STARS

Rafe Spall’s Teddy shares a lovely line to his best girl Leanne, played by Zahra Newman, towards the beginning of Long Story Short. He says “I love you more than I did yesterday and not as much as I will tomorrow.” I adore that line. It speaks with…


James peers through the shadowed foilage at a threat.

“EDGE OF THE WORLD”

3 STARS

In a 2016 interview with the politically-minded website Dirty Movies, esteemed British filmmaker and two-time Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach doubled-down on comments he made with BBC News earlier that year about the “fake nostalgia” of history being broadcast in TV and film that “puts your brain to…


Regan shows a map to her mother on the trail.

“A QUIET PLACE PART II”

4 STARS

Treading down the homemade sound-muffling sandy paths of eastern New York again for A Quiet Place Part II roused a chin-rubbing line of inquiry for this very writer. Now that we’re into a second film of this creature feature scenario, can John Krasinski’s movie still get away with…


“CRUELLA”

3 STARS

Strutting through much of Cruella as the true villainess of the picture, Emma Thompson’s callously evil Baroness declares at one point that “gorgeous and vicious” is her “favorite combination” of character traits. That great line and pairing is also a fitting description for the movie and its turbulent…


Usnavi stans on a chair and sings in an alleyway.

“IN THE HEIGHTS”

5 STARS

LESSON #1: VERBALIZE YOUR GOALS — There is a certain peremptory call-and-response urged early on by the storytelling protagonist of In the Heights. In speaking to curious kids with rapt attention, he pronounces, “Say it so it doesn’t disappear!” when sharing the name of their neighborhood, Washington Heights…


Gunner and Jo look back down a path is surprise.

“THE WATER MAN”

4 STARS

In the final scene of David Oyelowo’s directorial debut The Water Man, a teenage son looks to his father and asks him a purposeful question: “Would you want a short life with someone you love or a long life without that someone?” The teenager asking isn’t clueless anymore…


Emma and Charlie smile towards family nearby

“HERE TODAY”

4 STARS

There’s a very pleasing moment, one of many in Here Today, right around the middle where Billy Crystal’s decorated comedy writer character Charlie Berns is sharing a sidebar with a fledgling new talent named Darrell, played by Andrew Durand in his film debut. In a scene that could…

EveryMovieHasaLesson

Don Shanahan of “Every Movie Has a Lesson” is a middle school educator who writes film reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.

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