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Cinema Dispatch: Booksmart

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Booksmart and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing and Annapurna Pictures

Directed by Olivia Wilde

I probably should keep tabs on some of the more interesting films being made, particularly those by studios other than Disney, because this one flew COMPLETELY under my radar and I’ve only just now started hearing about it despite getting rave reviews and being directed by an actor I actually like!  I watched every season of house, yet I didn’t know that Thirteen had directed a movie!?  I mean at least it means that I can go into a movie with few preconceptions on what it will be, but it also means that unless it comes to the big local theater I’m likely to miss it; particularly this year where I can barely keep up with the big releases, let alone the smaller stuff.  Thankfully this one is getting enough buzz that even my regular theater has screenings of it, but will it manage to live up to the hype or will I once again have to be rather nonplussed about a critical darling?  Let’s find out!!

Molly and Amy (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) are the best of friends who are about to graduate from high school as the Valedictorian and Salutatorian and have big plans for the future which include both of them going to Standford, graduating first in their classes, and probably being President and Vice President one day.  Who knows!?  THE SKY’S THE LIMIT!  Sure, being such bookworms and ONLY focusing on getting good grades and doing activities that will look good on a college resume has left them as something of outsiders (which I found a bit odd considering the top kids in MY class at least were the popular ones as well, but whatever), and as their last day of high school approaches, they come to realize that MAYBE all that studying left them with no real life experience to carry with them to college and that they should break loose on the night before graduation by going to Nick’s party (Mason Gooding) where all the popular kids are having fun!  Well okay, it’s MOSTLY Molly saying this, but Amy wants to be supportive and hesitantly agrees to go along with this and might even talk to the cute girl she’s had a crush on for some time (Victoria Ruesga).  Sadly, no one bothered to give them the address before this huge revelation since… well they’ve never gone to one of their parties before so why would they now, and this means that they have to find someone who knows where it is and get the information out of them by whatever means necessary!  Can Molly and Amy find the party of their dreams and survive whatever wacky hijinks are waiting for them out in the real world?  Will this experience challenge their friendship like never before; possibly revealing longstanding issues that they’ve never allowed to bubble to the surface?  Is it just me, or do movies like this make you realize how much you wasted your own high school years?  And college years?

And most of your twenties?  Okay, maybe it’s just me.

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“Wow… Tonight, we really ARE young!  Thanks fun.!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by David Yates

There are a lot of ways that you can mess up a sequel, but the most disappointing is when the film doesn’t just IGNORE the problems of the first film but actively builds off of them as if they were what we came there to see in the first place.  It happened to The last Exorcism (no one cared about the Satanic Cult!), it happened with… well basically EVERY Hellraiser movie (the Cenobites shouldn’t be the main characters!), and it looks like that’s what’s happening with this film; a sequel to a film I enjoyed the heck out of but ended on… that note, and that’s the direction we’re going with.  Sigh… I don’t know, maybe there’ll still be enough of the first movie’s cast to keep this form being utterly sunk by the presence of… that guy, but then again I can’t imagine how good the judgement of anyone involved with this could be if this is the guy they want to star in their lynchpin movie to an entire Harry Potter universe.  Does this manage to eke out a bit of fun despite being in such poor taste right out the gate, or is it time for someone else to take a crack at the Wizarding World before the original creators cause even MORE damage to the franchise?  Let’s find out!!

After the events of the last film, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has been under in a magical US detention center and the Ministry of Magic in… I guess the UK (did they ever establish if the ministry in the books was just London, the United Kingdom, or something equivalent to the European Union?) has decided to move him back to London so he can stand trial.  Of course they have a very convoluted and whimsical way of transporting this suspected murderer and terrorist which means that he ends up escaping and fleeing to France to I guess gather power and execute the next step in his overly convoluted scheme.  If only there was someone powerful enough to hunt him down and bring him to justice!  Sadly there isn’t, but Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is still bumming around England after the first movie, so I guess he’ll have to do!  He’s been having trouble with his work since the Ministry put a travel ban on him after the events in New York (for reasons I guess?) and his brother Theseus (Callum Turner) is trying to help him within his power as an Auror, but Newt’s not much for shady deals and compromises, so he rejects any offer that they give him to… I think join the Ministry or something.  Anyway, all this bureaucratic nonsense won’t keep Newt from starring in this movie, especially since Dumbledore (Jude Law) is giving him Main Character Tips and explicitly wants him to fix everything!  I think the plan is that if Newt could somehow get to France then he can find Credence (Ezra Miller) from the first movie who by the way is still alive and important for some reason, and only Newt can do this because… reasons.  Oh, but Newt needs more than just saving the world from tyranny as a motivation!  Maybe if we could throw in some of the characters from the previous movies, we could get this ball rolling.  Oh look!  Jacob and Queenie (Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol) are back together and he knows about magic again, but Tina (Katherine Waterston) is in France to try and find Credence for the US Ministry, and now Newt’s super into her which is something I really didn’t get from the first movie, but whatever.  Newt heads to France to find Tina and I guess Credence, Queenie fights with Jacob and tries to find Tina, and Jacob goes with Newt to find Queenie.  There are also subplots involving Newt’s ex-girlfriend and Theseus’s current fiancée Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), Dumbledore being under strict watch by… someone at the Ministry, Credence and his new buddy Nagini (Claudia Kim) who gets maybe three lines trying to find his birth mother, and probably a few other things that just whizzed past me as I was watching this.  Can Newt find Tina and Queenie and Credence and Grendlewald and maybe a few Fantastic Beasts before the running time threatens to suck up every remaining moment of my life!?  Why the heck did they get Jude Law to play Dumbledore just to lock him in a castle for two hours!?  WHO THE HECK THOUGHT ANY OF THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!?

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“ACCIO A SCREENWRITER AND SIX BOTTLES OF WHISKY!”

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