Archive for August, 2018|Monthly archive page

‘Puzzle’ is unique for what it isn’t

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2018 at 19:52


‘Puzzle’ is a unique film in many ways.  First, the film is about a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast. Second, the protagonist is a house wife, Agnes, played delightfully by Kelly Macdonald. Third, it features a Irrfan Khan, an India actor who is renowned throughout the subcontinent and elsewhere, who plays the puzzle obsessed inventor, Robert. And the film doesn’t make an issue about him being from Asia. He just is.

What are they thinking having an Asia man making puzzles with a White women from a suburbs of New York City and not having a big racial dust up! 

The film is about Agnes discovering who she is after twenty years of marriage to Louie, played with restraint by Dan Denman. And the writer and director shows restraint by not making Louie a complete loser, asshole, abuser. He’s a traditional man who has limited choices and vision while his wife is talented and charming. Circumstances lead Agnes to realize she has a less than satisfying marriage and the plot goes from there. 

The actors do great job with the limited challenges they have. McDonald shows the transformation in Agnes in subtle and some less than subtle ways. Robert also goes through a transformation of sorts. It is Louie who is stuck in a rut, though even he bends to winds of fortune. 

Rating: Matinee  ‘Puzzle’ is pleasant film with some low impact surprises. However, nothing about the filming, the music, the editing, or the production is ground breaking. 

Tex Shelters 

Mission Impossible: Fallout Asks the Question, Who Needs Bond?

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2018 at 22:23

Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise, is your everyman-spy, action hero. While he is impossibly lucky and athletic, there is an approachable quality to Cruise. I am not the biggest Cruise fan, but his ability to be a regular guy while fighting villains is remarkable. Even his love interests are down to earth and approachable unlike the impossibly glamorous women in Bond films. 


Rebecca Ferguson plays the latest love interest and action heroine Ilsa Faust, and Michelle Monaghan (probably happy to forget her role in Pixels) plays hunt’s ex-wife, Dr. Julia Meade-Hunt. She is a humanitarian and world saver in her own right. Monaghan’s role is a small reprise from earlier films and Ferguson has a major, if at times poorly written, role that is also a return for her. Both are good actresses and their characters hold their own though MI: 6 is clearly focused on Ethan Hunt and the male villains.

The first half an hour of Fallout was the most implausible and much of film is predictable. There were few surprises, exciting action scenes and some good, villainous behavior. Again, we don’t know whom to trust except Hunt, Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Vinge Rames). While there is no scene that reaches the action level of the Dubai skyscraper climb (MI: 4) for tension and originality, the helicopter stunts were spectacular in their own right even if I have seen helicopter stunts before. 

Don’t see the film for the plot. It’s pretty stupid and just another excuse for action. Again, we have a thumb drive, arms dealing, and nuclear material. Isn’t there another way to threaten the world? Then we have the “White Widow”, a super criminal, weapons dealer played like a vapid super model by the Queen’s sister (Princess Margaret in The Crown), Vanessa Kirby. Kirby is the one thing Bond definitely would have had in his film, except he would have had sex with her. IMF Agent Ethan Hunt might not have qualms about throwing people out of helicopters who get in his way, but having an affair is beneath him. 

Henry Cavill playing August Walker is quite a sight. I have not seen Cavill as Superman, so I had no idea what a physical specimen he is. And he uses his physicality well while punching Hunt and other’s that get in his way to make the world suffer for some reason I don’t remember because the plot was so stupid. And the way Cavill shoots that machine gun? Hot! And his mustache! 


Mission Impossible: Fallout  is an action-packed cliche fest that doesn’t break any grounds with the plot but has action scenes worthy of a summer block-buster. 

Rating: Matinee. There are better films around, but for the price, there is more action per dollar and minute in MI: 6 that we soon forget how insipid the plot is. 

Tex Shelters

Eighth Grade: An Endearing Look at the Oft Hated Time

In Uncategorized on August 3, 2018 at 21:09


from: https://www.slashfilm.com/eighth-grade-trailer/

Sometimes we need others to mirror our qualities to us. Luckily, Kayla, played with natural realism by Elsie Fisher, has a dad Mark Day played by Josh Hamilton, to remind her how ‘cool’ she is. Kayla has a video channel where she shares life advice. We quickly learn that her advice is as much for herself as it is other kids her age. And we see scenes where she takes, and fails to take, the advice she doles out. 

Kayla is a regular kid. There is nothing remarkable about her. She has the insecurities, fears, faults, and problems most kids that age have. Sure, she’s a white kid in a mainly economically secure situation, but not all kids grow up questioning their sexual preferrence (she clearly likes boys), or have to deal with gangs, or drug addled parents. And before you get started, my favorite film of 2016 was Moonlight. It was naturalistic in the same way Eighth Grade is. 

Eighth Grade shows how middle school is a struggle for everyone, and how the kids who act cool, are faking it. Kayla’s attempts to be cool, i.e. not genuine, fall flat and she eventually learns from the failure with the popular kids. 

What is also endearing about Eighth Grade is that Kayla, unlike Lady Bird, is not stereotypically attractive. So her insecurities around boys holds more weight than some films. She’s also not misshappen, a genius, popular, she doesn’t find a dead body, she doesn’t see a creepy clown. She’s a decent girl with a good heart whom we sympathize with. 

Eighth Grade is well crafted and has the perfect scope for a film. And it didn’t take them twelve years to make! Amazing it could be so much better than that other film that took so long. 

Rating: Pay Full Price!
If only director and writer Bo Burnham had thrown in a younger brother with brain tumor, a mentally unstable parent, or more bullying, I could have rated it higher. Go see it.

Tex Shelters