Archive for September, 2018|Monthly archive page

Do yourself an easy solid and see “A Simple Favor” 

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2018 at 22:04


A Simple Favor is a compelling, humorous, small town family drama set in Connecticut “an hour-and-a-half” from New York. Stephanie Smothers, played by Anna Kendrick, is a ‘nice’ mother who lost her husband. She gets through her days taking caring of her son and producing her vlog, “Tips for Mothers.” She picks up her son everyday and meets fellow mother, Emily Nelson (Blake Lively). They become best friends, or some kind of friends. 

That’s the set up. We learn about what happened to their friendship through Stephanie’s vlog and during the film. And it gets complicated. That’s all I am going to say about the plot, other than there are several entertaining plot twists and some that surprise. Unlike the overrated Gone Girl, this film actually surprises instead of giving us one big plot twist and a weak ending. 

The ending to A Simple Favor isn’t shocking like Psycho or Fight Club. However, we don’t know until the last minute of the film what’s going to happen; the twists are credible and not out of character. 

Speaking of character, the two leads, Stephanie and Emily are revealed throughout and Stephanie has some real growth. Blake Lively does well as the mysterious Emily (bestie!) and Henry Golding makes for a passable husband, Sean Townsend. The star here is Anna Kendrick. She’s charming, smart, adorable, and believable when things get rough. 

Speaking of moms: my mother “forgot everything” else in the world while seeing A Simple Favor. The film is that engrossing. It’s a nice film that isn’t as scary or compelling as The Gift but much better than Nocturnal Animals. 

Rating: Matinee. A Simple Favor is dramatic and surprises. It’s not a summer blockbuster nor Oscar bait, just a fun film to watch. For all its surprises, the ending is a bit ham-fisted, but the film still worth watching. P.S.: The music if fun and foreshadows the humor of the film. I genuinely laughed a few times while watching.  

Tex Shelters

The Miseducation of Cameron Post only scratches the surface 

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2018 at 00:05


The ‘Miseducation of Cameron’ (MCP) tackles gay conversion therapy head on in a sometimes funny, often deadly serious, manner. 

Homophobia is more pernicious and covert than the movie presents. We don’t learn about what brought characters to “God’s Promise”, but we do learn how they feel about it in the film. Their stories come across as genuine. 

The goal of counselors at the camp is to convert the teens into being straight and stop thoughts of “same sex attraction.” One outrageous example is when Cameron, clearly a teenage girl, says, “Call me Cam.” Councilor Dr. Lydia Marsh, played deliciously by Jennifer Ehle, says to Cam’s request, “No, Cameron is already gender ambiguous enough.”  Reverend Rick, a “former gay” played by John Gallagher Jr., is the more passive of the two heads of God’s Promise. They are both excellent. 

The actors playing the residents of God’s Promise are adequate with a flat affect most of the time. Sure, they are troubled by their circumstances, but a wider range of emotion would have been more realistic.

Due to constraints of a film’s approximate two hour run time, we don’t get enough of a backstory that I assume we would get in the novel. We don’t know the real motives of Cameron’s family sending her to a gay conversion camp, God’s Promise, other than she was caught fooling around with her girlfriend. Her girlfriend wasn’t sent to a camp, why Cameron? Treating Cam’s appearance at the camp as a given without motive weakens the story. 

What I do appreciate is that Cameron’s main problem in the film is how people react to her normal urges, not that she is somehow damaged. The problems are with the camp and the world’s homophobia, not the campers and their sexuality.  

The music, the edits, and the angles are by the book. Kudos to the location scouts, however. The camp was near perfect. 

The ambiguous ending to film doesn’t impress. It could have gone deeper to address the issues at the camp but decided to end without writing a resolution. It’s become the trend in writing, and it doesn’t make a film more amazing that filmmakers don’t know how to end it.  

Rating: Matinee

It’s a good film, but not spectacular. It’s too self aware and by the numbers, but still worth a view. 

Tex Shelters

Search and you will find ‘Searching’ a drama well worth watching

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2018 at 23:16

from nbcnews.com

Searching starts off as a banal mystery of an abducted child. But instead of turning into a revenge drama with David Kim (John Cho) going all Bourne on people with his special set of skills he goes into full computer tech mode and finds clues on his daughters computer, her phone and elsewhere. Sounds boring, right? I thought the same thing and I was SO wrong. 

Cho plays the grieving father with the right amount of grief, anger, and determination that not once feels false. Debra Messing, who I am no fan of, does a decent job as the head investigator on the case. No doubt her time on Law and Order, SVU helped her manage the role. The daughter is daughter-like and empathetic and mom, who died near the beginning of the film but appears in flashbacks, is realistic in her role. Bonus points for not making one of the family members White or near White. That would have just been stupid. 

About halfway through the film, I thought that I was an episode of Another 48 Hours, but then two twists amp up the pleasure in the third act to make it work as a well crafted and contained drama. I knew something more must be coming as the film moves toward the end. It gives you a false ending, but I was surprised by what it was. There were many other false leads in the film and directions the movie could have taken. The one it took worked due to the script and Cho’s acting. Props to the man once best known for a trip to White Castle. Also kudos are deserved for writer Aneesh Chaganty on his first feature length directorial credit. As I oft repeat, writing can make or break a film. The film won’t win any awards for sound, editing, or costuming, but the script and Cho both deserve nods. 

One thing I found disturbing about the way the film was shot was the constant advertising for technology companies during the film. Then again, technology wasn’t always seen in the best light. 

Rating: Pay Full Price
It’s not the Rashomon or Seventh Seal of crime dramas, but it could fit on the shelf with Pincher’s Seven though it is less graphic and not so overtly clever.

Tex Shelters