Late Night and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios
Directed by Nisha Ganatra
I’m fairly certain that my usual theater had a poster for this and then just decided not to actually screen it so this is yet another trip to the far away theater (i.e. thirty minutes away) which honestly is usually a good sign. Not always, in fact this is the exact same story that preceded The Green Inferno, but the movies that aren’t wide enough for my local theater to get are usually have a lot more going for them; for good or ill. I hadn’t heard much about this movie and only have a vague idea of the premise, but the cast is very talented and I’m always intrigued by entertainment that’s ABOUT the making of entertainment which is always a journey in its own right. Does this glimpse into the world of late night television give us a funny and insightful look at the behind the scenes action, or will this end up being as boring as… I don’t know whichever one of those shows is the worst? Let’s find out!!
Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is the host of a late night show that has been running for over twenty years, yet despite such a phenomenal legacy and a small army of Emmy awards behind her, the new network President Caroline Morton (Amy Ryan) tells her that the show will be cancelled in a few months and that she’ll be replaced with a hip young talent that gets those pesky millennials! With basically nothing left to lose, she starts to do the one thing she has come to fear in the last ten years; actually try. I know, truly a fate worse than death. Part of her initiate to revitalize the show includes hiring someone in the writers room whose only qualification is to NOT BE A WHITE GUY, and as luck would have it Molly (Mindy Kaling) is interviewing that day and meets those very stringent qualifications! Sure, she’s never written for a comedy show ever, but why should that stop her from filling up space and shielding the show from further criticisms of being too old and too white? AH HA! It’s not as simple as that however! For you see, Molly is not JUST a blatant diversity hire! She actually has good ideas, some decent writing chops, and may just be what this crusty old talk show needs in order to genuinely appeal to today’s audience instead of whatever crap Katherine and the other writers were gonna try to fake their way into relevance! Can Molly learn to thrive in this dinosaur of a work place and find the right balance between respecting its legacy and changing it for the better? Will Katherine realize what she’s been doing wrong all this time and genuinely change for the better before losing the best thing she has in her life? Well I mean she has her husband (John Lithgow), but is he paying the bills around here!? I DON’T THINK SO!!
Dark Phoenix and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Simon Kinberg
I’ve probably been nicer than most about the X-Men franchise, going so far as to be somewhat positive about Apocalypse, and even I can’t be bothered to muster any enthusiasm for The Last Stand: Remastered. I mean I GUESS I can see why Fox would want to prove that it was the other guy’s fault and not their own, and it certainly worked well enough for Dexter Fletcher, but with this franchise being so easily overshadowed by Deadpool, the MCU, and even some of the better DC films, it’s starting to feel more Quixotic than artistically advisable. Still, I have been surprised by movies I didn’t expect much out of before, and it’s not like they have much to lose considering this franchise is more or less done whether they make this movie or not, so hey! Let’s see if Fox can pull it off one more time for old time’s sake!
It’s the radical nineties for the X-Men with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his crew of charismatic comrades more popular than ever; much like the ACTUAL nineties. Newcomers Jean Grey, Scott Summers, Ororo Munroe, and Kurt Wagner (Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, and Kodi Smit-McPhee) are fitting in well enough, Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) barely contained annoyance with all of this is about as same as usual which is greatly contrasted with Beast (Nicholas Hoult) who looks like he couldn’t be happier to be there, and Quicksilver (Even Peters) is… around. ANYWAY! The big difference in this film that I alluded to just now which I don’t BELIEVE was the case last time is that The X-Men have become household names and everyone wants to be them! No more mutant discrimination, at least not outright, and all the jerk mutants went with Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to some island somewhere to keep things nice and peaceful. Why, the only thing that could ruin this perfect existence is if one of the high profile mutants on Xavier’s team went off and started blowing stuff up, but what are the odds of THAT happening!? Yeah, so Jean Grey gets hit by some sort of cosmic ray in the beginning of the film during an astronaut rescue, and it seems to have overcharged her system to the point that she can barely control her powers as well as her emotions; the latter of which is exacerbated by some dark secrets she’s made keenly aware of and have made things rather awkward at the academy. With one big public relations nightmare that could lead to Mutant internment AGAIN, Xavier and his crew have to find out what’s happening to Jean and if there’s any way to save her from whatever it is that will either destroy her from the inside or give her enough power to destroy us all from the outside. Oh, and Jessica Chastain is in this somewhere in the background. I’m sure she can’t be up to any good though! Will Jean Grey succumb to the power she’s been granted and become the worst enemy the X-Men have ever faced? Will Xavier finally learn that despite his idealistic rhetoric that he’s made huge mistakes in the past that could bring the world closer to destruction than anything his more militant counterpart ever came up with? If this is worse than X3, does Fox get like a Lifetime Achievement award for how badly they can ruin a franchise? I mean they should have already gotten one for their Fantastic Four movies, but you know the Academy! Give it to them when convenient; not when they deserve it!
Before I Fall and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films
Directed by Ry Russo-Young
Oh look! It’s that movie that looks like that one movie that came out two decades ago! Okay, so maybe it’s not a TOTALLY original concept, but it at least looks more interesting than other YA novel adaptations like Divergent or The 5th Wave, and it does so without having to be set in the apocalypse! The trailers seem to be leaning into the central conceit of the movie, and while it still has that YA aesthetics that look more drab and cheap than anything else, there seems like there’s some more effort thrown into this one than you’d typically expect. Does this manage to rise above its peers and be one of the better examples of the genre, or are they just getting better at marketing these kinds of films to the general public? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) waking up on CUPID DAY which is NOT Valentine’s Day because these super hip and cool teenagers say so… even though it’s celebrated exactly the same way; down to the roses being handed out which I’m sure by any other name would still make this Valentine’s Day. Anyway, she’s going through her day like it was any other; hanging out with her friends Lindsay, Ally, and Elody (Halston Sage, Cynthy Wu, and Medalion Rahimi), dodging the creepy kid who’s been pining after her for years (Logan Miller) and making out with her boyfriend (Kian Lawley) who’s honestly not much of a prize considering the dude wears his baseball cap backwards AT ALL TIMES. Still, thing seem to be going fine in their lives and the four of them go to a party that night at the creepy kids place in celebration of Love Day or whatever the hell this is. Hey, say what you will about his social skills; the dude has an awesome house! The party however turns out to be less awesome because the creepy girl at school Juliet (Elena Kampouris) starts some beef with Samantha’s friend and is swiftly run out of the party by everyone there. Feeling deflated, the four of them leave the party and WHAM! They get in a car crash which… I THINK kills them? Either way, Samantha wakes up the next day… EXCEPT IT’S NOT THE NEXT DAY! She’s stuck in a time loop where she wakes up on the same morning each day and has no idea what it would take to break out of it; if that’s even an option. Can Samantha find a way to escape the purgatory that she’s found herself in? What can she learn by having to repeat the same day over and over again, and is this a wake-up call for her to become a better person? I feel like I’ve seen this in a movie before. Have they done this in a movie before?