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A&E >  Entertainment

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What’s new for home viewing on Video on Demand and Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime and other streaming services.
A&E >  Movies

Movie review: ‘Mack & Rita’ an age-swap comedy that lacks soul

Who doesn’t love Diane Keaton? Or frankly, want to be Diane Keaton? The Oscar-winning star has had a film and television career spanning six decades, she’s a fashion icon, and she’s done it all in her own singularly unique and quirky way. It’s not surprising then, that in the fantastical and fluffy comedy “Mack & Rita,” written by Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh, directed by Katie Aselton, a struggling young writer wishes to be as cool and confident as Keaton herself, or someone like her, as in, older. Rendered literal, that wish results in a tale that could be described as “Freaky Friday” meets “Old.” It’s a cute concept, but one that turns out to be a lemon once you start kicking the tires.

A&E >  Movies

‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ review: A slasher with some surprisingly sharp satire

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 11, 2022

It's telling that the official synopsis for "Bodies Bodies Bodies" - a darkly comic slasher film centering on a party game that turns deadly - does not, as you might expect, use the word "friends" to describe the participants: eight (mostly insufferably) young and (mostly insufferably) hot soon-to-be victims. Rather, they are a "group" of rich 20-somethings who have gathered under the threat of an imminent hurricane at a remote, mansion-like estate to drink, take drugs and pursue the murder-mystery-style role-playing game of the title, in which players must identify an unknown "killer" (who chooses his or her "targets" by tapping them on the back).To be sure, there are several par-for-the-course couplings here: Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) is with Bee (Maria Bakalova); David (Pete Davidson) is with Emma (Chase Sui Wonders); Alice (Rachel Sennott) is with Greg (Lee Pace, a 40-ish outlier in this cast of kids). And then there are Jordan (Myha'la Herrold) and Max (Conner O'Malley), the latter of whom almost doesn't count as a cast member because he shows up only at the very end to deliver the great laugh line: "What happened?" It's great because the scenery and the ensemble cast are drenched with blood, and, well, it's kind of hard to explain.Jordan also gets off a good line early in the proceedings: "Be careful," she whispers conspiratorially to Bee, one of two newcomers, along with Greg, in this otherwise loosely knit assembly of frenemies. She's warning Bee about Sophie, a recovering addict with whom several people in the group seem to have fraught histories.In general, the dialogue (by Sarah DeLappe and Kristen Roupenian) is sharp, is appropriately satirical and does not go easy on the film's ridicule-worthy protagonists, one of whom, naturally, has a podcast that no one listens to. Another is a self-absorbed actress, and David - whose father owns the house they're about to trash - lays into a party guest for using the criminally overused buzzword "gaslighting." Of her own content creation, another character declaims, defensively, "It's creative nonfiction, which is a valid response in an attention economy."Touché, I guess?Dutch director Halina Reijn ("Instinct") choreographs all this obsessive self-regard and catfighting as skillfully as one can under the circumstances, which quickly include a storm-induced blackout, lit by smartphone flashlights and the occasional bolt of lightning, after the storm hits and the first fake murder gives way to what appears to be a real one, followed by an Agatha Christie-esque winnowing of the flock. It's intentionally chaotic and, now and again, surprisingly funny.There's also a third-act twist, and it's not a bad one. Rather than allow these characters to elicit our concern as casualties of a stalker/psychopath, they're portrayed as fatalities of something far more pernicious: their own stupidity.- - -Two and one-half stars. Rated R. At theaters. Contains violence, bloody images, drug use, sexual references and pervasive crude language. 94 minutes.Rating guide: Four stars masterpiece, three stars very good, two stars OK, one star poor, no stars waste of time.
A&E >  Movies

‘Fall’ review: Sweaty palms and a bad screenplay at 2,000 feet

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 11, 2022

If sweaty palms were the sole measure of a film's greatness, then the thriller "Fall," which centers on two young women stranded atop a rickety, decommissioned, 2,000-foot-tall TV tower in the middle of nowhere - on a platform not much wider than a cafe table for two - may be some kind of masterpiece. And while the dialogue is pretty spartan, including many iterations of "Are you OK?" and "It's OK," punctuated by periodic swearwords, the cinematography is suitably, almost sweepingly acrophobic.Maybe that's the wrong word. Acrophobia is the irrational fear of heights, and the terror deliberately instilled in the audience over the course of an hour and 45 minutes or so by director Scott Mann ("Final Score"), reuniting with his frequent co-screenwriter Jonathan Frank, makes perfect sense. Who in their right mind would climb such a thing?Well, Hunter (Virginia Gardner) would. She's a professional daredevil who goes by the nickname Danger D on social media, where she has monetized her amateur drone videos and selfies, shot under hair-raising circumstances, into a career of sorts. For her latest misadventure, Hunter recruits her best friend Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) as a way of helping Becky overcome her devastation at the death of Becky's husband in a mountain climbing accident one year ago. (The film opens with this tragic prologue, so Becky's trauma - magnified by the idiocy of Hunter's plan - feels vividly appropriate.)Hunter and Becky are supposed to be expert climbers, tuned into their surroundings with the heightened awareness of true athletes. But as they're mounting this death trap, they seem not to notice all the rusted, rattling rivets that are about to come loose from the ladder they're ascending - and that in one instance do come lose, tumbling past Becky's head. Miguel López Ximénez de Olaso (the cinematographer known professionally as MacGregor) certainly does pay attention to those details, in a way that makes "Fall" feel like a hyper-coaster of a movie: It ratchets up the tension to an almost unbearable degree, before releasing it in a torrent of nausea and nerves.Lots of people pay good money to endure the kinds of thrill rides that make them wish they were back on solid ground. "Fall" does the same thing, but with the added benefit of being entirely vicarious. Just keep telling yourself: "It's only a stupid movie."- - -Two stars. Rated PG-13. At theaters. Contains bloody images, intense peril and strong language. 107 minutes.Rating guide: Four stars masterpiece, three stars very good, two stars OK, one star poor, no stars waste of time.
A&E >  Movies

Movie review: Aubrey Plaza is stellar in so-so crime thriller ‘Emily the Criminal’

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 11, 2022

A kind of gravitational pull emanates from Aubrey Plaza as the title character in "Emily the Criminal," a passably diverting crime thriller where, in place of a moral center, Plaza delivers a performance that is entertainingly blackhearted. (Well, perhaps not entirely black, but certainly a lovely shade of charcoal gray.)As a 30-something art school graduate trying to pay off $70,000 in college loans by working for a Los Angeles catering company who discovers the lucrative world of credit card fraud - and, if only briefly, a hint of romance - Plaza draws and holds our focus. That she does so without sliding into the easy deadpan she is so often pigeonholed into, thanks to her droll turn on "Parks and Recreation," is a nice surprise.Plaza, sporting a plausible New Jersey accent to establish her character's Newark roots and toughness, plays Emily, a talented and underemployed artist with skills beyond the canvas and a criminal record for DUI and unspecified aggravated assault. When she stumbles onto a way to make a quick $200 working as a dummy shopper - using a stolen credit card to purchase, say, a flat-screen TV that will later be sold on the street - she proves to be a quick study in the ways of deception.Her mentor in the field is Youcef (Theo Rossi), a Lebanese immigrant who's a perverse manifestation of the American Dream (Hollywood version): Make a buck however you can, until you can go legit with your ill-gotten gains. Youcef, who wants to buy and run an apartment building, takes Emily under his wing and teaches her the tricks of his illicit trade. They're a simpatico pair, and soon have more than a business relationship.But there are a couple of rules: Never conduct business at your home, and don't try to scam the same store twice in one week. Emily eventually breaks both of them, which leads to trouble with Youcef's cousin and business partner (Jonathan Avigdori), who is less warm and fuzzy than Youcef.This is where Emily reveals herself to possess an untapped reservoir of badassery - compressed into diamond-hardness by the weight of life's unfairness. One scene in which Emily interviews for an unpaid internship with the dismissive and condescending head of an ad agency (Gina Gershon) shows Emily to be far from a pushover. As she later explains to Youcef, confiding in him that the aggravated assault charge had been filed by a former toxic boyfriend: It's not that Emily went too far with him, but that she didn't go far enough to stand up for herself. If she had really scared the guy, he never would have pressed charges.In the film's third act, Plaza is kind of fun to watch, but also a little scary.When Youcef takes Emily to meet his mother (Sheila Korsi) and the older woman asks Emily what she wants to do with her life, Emily says she doesn't still know. You'll figure it out, Mom reassures her. "Emily the teacher? Emily the mother? Emily the something."Aubrey Plaza has already figured that last part out. "Emily the Criminal" may not be much of a role model, but its star is something else.- - -Three stars. Rated R. At theaters. Contains strong language, some violence and brief drug use. 97 minutes.Rating guide: Four stars masterpiece, three stars very good, two stars OK, one star poor, no stars waste of time.
A&E >  Seven

Hayden Cinema launches comedy night

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 12, 2022

With the demand for stand-up comedy on a steady rise, Hayden Cinema is officially bringing live comedy to the big screen – that is, to a stage just in front of the big screen.
A&E >  Entertainment

Game On: Remembering David Warner and the importance of good voice acting

Veteran actor David Warner passed away on Monday at the age of 80 – BBC reported that he died of a “cancer-related illness.” Beginning in 1962, his acting career spanned 56 years. His roles are too numerous to list, but standouts include Spicer Lovejoy in “Titanic,” Keith Jennings in “The Omen,” and Ed Dillinger, Sark and Master Control Program in “Tron.” He also played a plethora of characters in “Star Trek” from 1989-2000.
A&E >  Entertainment

Stream On Demand:

What’s new for home viewing on Video on Demand and Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime and other streaming services.
A&E >  Movies

Movie review: ‘Fire of Love’ doc is a portrait of a lava-obsessed Romeo and Juliet

You think your love life is hot? For French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, their shared passion burned with the heat of a planet on fire. Director Sara Dosa’s documentary “Fire of Love” assembles explosive footage from the Krafft archives to tell the fevered story of a science-minded Romeo and Juliet, so dedicated to each other and their work that they died together, victims of a pyroclastic flow during a 1991 eruption of Mount Unzen in Japan.
A&E >  Movies

Movie review: ‘DC League of Super-Pets’ a family-friendly spin on superhero lore

UPDATED: Thu., July 28, 2022

The DC Comics Cinematic Universe has mostly taken a dark, gritty approach to blockbuster comic book movies. But perhaps there’s another way to explore the world of the Justice League that’s a bit more warm, cuddly and friendly? That’s the thesis presented by the animated movie “DC League of Super-Pets,” which combines several elements that have already proven successful to create a ...
A&E >  Movies

Movie review: B.J. Novak’s directorial debut ‘Vengeance’ a smart social satire

UPDATED: Thu., July 28, 2022

B.J. Novak opens his debut feature “Vengeance,” which he wrote, directed and stars in, with a scene of acidic social commentary that lays the tone for the smart satire of contemporary media culture that ensues. In a scene that targets the mating rituals of the urban-dwelling modern American cad, interspersed into the opening credits with an almost jarring violence, Ben (Novak), a writer for ...
A&E >  Entertainment

Game On: Now free-to-play, Fall Guys is still a knockout game

Some might remember that I wrote about “Fall Guys” once before, when the game was first released near the onset of the pandemic and amassed huge popularity in a short time-frame. It was the perfect game at the perfect moment – bright and cheerful to lift people’s spirits, fun to watch on streaming services and extremely replayable.
A&E >  Movies

Movie review: French comedy ‘My Donkey, My Lover & I’ a delightful tale of self-discovery

UPDATED: Thu., July 21, 2022

Laure Calamy shines at the center of Caroline Vignal’s charming French comedy “My Donkey, My Lover & I,” in a performance that earned her a Cesar Award for best actress in 2021. The original French title of the film is “Antoinette dans les Cevennes,” or “Antoinette in the Cevennes,” a reference to the film’s inspiration, the 1879 book by Robert Louis Stevenson, “Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.”

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