A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Marielle Heller
I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever actually sat through an entire episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and if I had it was WAY too long ago for me to remember, so while the guy has always been a presence in my life simply by way of cultural osmosis, I never really got to experience him the way that many other people did. The impact was always felt, especially when PBS and public television were still things before the rise of YouTube and streaming services, but what made the show work so well and what made Mr. Rogers such an enigmatic figure for many generations? Well I guess if I wanted to know the answer to those questions then there wouldn’t be a better time to do it then this brand new biopic, right? Well actually the documentary from last year would probably be the best bet which I still need to see at some point, but this movie is a decent runner up! Does it
You’ll be forgiven for thinking that this movie is mostly about Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), but ACTUALLY the movie is primarily focused with Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys); a writer for Esquire Magazine who’s been assigned to cover Mr. Rogers for a piece about heroes right at the time he’s dealing with some serious issues in his personal life. You see, Lloyd has spent the better part of his life avoiding his father Jerry (Chris Cooper) who did some really awful stuff in the past that Lloyd has had no reason to forgive, and yet his sister (Tammy Blanchard) gives him an opening back into their lives at her wedding which eventually leads to Lloyd’s wife Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) wanting to make inroads with his as well; a movie that utterly baffles Lloyd and puts a serious strain on their relationship which was already under a great deal of stress as they just had a baby. All this is swirling around in his head which isn’t helping his lack of enthusiasm for writing a puff piece about a children’s entertainer, and yet something about Fred Rogers intrigues Lloyd; particularly the utter sincerity with which he approaches everything and everyone around him which is either a genuine extension of himself or possibly a mask for something much darker than anyone would have assumed from such a sweet man they see on television. Is there truly something there for Lloyd to uncover behind the kind face and the red sweaters? Will these interviews with such a noble seeming man perhaps give him some perspective on his own issues and how he’s been handling them up to this point? Most importantly of all, do we get any juicy behind the scene details on the set of the show!? Probably not, but we can always dream, right?
Live by Night and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Ben Affleck
Look, we’ve ALL had a rough year, but let’s a take a moment to remember the less fortunate among us. Ben Affleck somehow managed to be in a WORSE super hero movie than Daredevil; a movie made EVEN WORSE when compared to the brilliantly done Netflix series. Not only that, but he’s roped himself into what SHOULD have been a sure bet franchise (how could they fuck up with characters like BATMAN!?) for the next decade or so which is probably gonna be longer than the current administration, provided he doesn’t change the rules and have to start calling him King or Führer. I kid of course, but for someone who clawed his way back from obscurity the way Ben Affleck did, it’s kinda disheartening to watch him get stuck in the middle of that mess. Oh well, at least he gets to make his own movies while Warner Bros tries to get its shit together. Does this gangster flick that is MUCH more in the Affleck wheelhouse the kind of film we need right now, or is this the huge let down we all deserve? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows affable rogue Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) who’s some bank robbing punk in Boston that plays by his own rules and answers to no one! Not even the two major mobs in the city, the Irish led by Albert White (Robert Glenister) and the Italians led by Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone), can seem to tame this wild beast! Well… there is ONE person who’s thumb he’s under, and that’s his lady love Emma Gould (Sienna Miller) who JUST SO HAPPENS to also be one of Albert White’s mistresses. Needless to say that shit goes down with Albert, and Joe is left for dead as is Emma who the movie ASSURES us is dead despite not bothering to show it (hm…) which means this movie is about one thing. REVENGA!! As soon as Joe is out of jail, he goes straight to Maso to work for him (giving up on his play by his own rules principals) to see if he can deliver Robert White on a silver platter. Maso agrees, but in return Joe has to run his operation all the way in Florida for the foreseeable future which is where the majority of this movie takes place as the Boston stuff is pretty much an extended set up for the rest of the movie. While there, he has to wrestle with the Cubans, the Klan, and religious nuts just to name a few in his hopes of keeping Maso happy enough to eventually deliver on his promise of dragging Albert White back out into the open. During his stay in Florida, he’ll come across many friends like Dion Bartolo (Chris Messina) and Graciela Corrales (Zoe Saldana), as well as just as many enemies like scumbag klansman (but I repeat myself) RD Pruitt (Matthew Maher) or the really annoying preacher girl Loretta Figgis (Elle Fanning) who came to Jesus SUPER hard after getting off heroin. Will Joe eventually get the REVENGA he’s so desperate for? Will any of that even matter now that he’s building up this new life for himself? Is this AT LEAST more cohesive than Batman v Superman?