Saturday, September 15, 2018

NOW SHOWING:  'A Simple Favor'

ANNA KENDRICK and BLAKE LIVELY'S new movie plays like a candy coated minefield and is a delight to watch unfold. It's humorous, treacherous, sarcastic and sexy all at once.
ANNA KENDRICK plays a deceptively innocent Internet website entrepreneur named Stephanie that's been on a hidden emotionally fall since a personal tragedy. She then meets someone who (apparently!) is the exact opposite of her in the woman, Emily, played to the hilt by the lovely but rough around the edges-feeling BLAKE LIVELY.
Once the two get to know each other a little bit more -and I stress 'a little bit' they begin a game of mental cat and mouse that soon involves the character Sean, (the husband of Emily), acted to perfection by HENRY GOLDING. The plot of this film is practically irrelevant; it plays second fiddle to the more important thing on demonstration here: that the people you think you know are more complex than you think and what's worse they have only shown you what they want you to see... because they have plans for you.
The director, PAUL FEIG, and cinematographer, JOHN SCHWARTZMAN, each did excellent jobs in graphically alluding to and revealing the true darker natures of the characters. Using solid lighting effects, muted tones, and vivid colors along with any necessary shadow play the cinematographer kept the film visually appealing. Meanwhile the director's unflashy, unpretentious style kept you concerned only with the plot -as it should be. All of this was set off by a sometimes bouncy, definitely irreverent, and without a doubt sharp script by JESSICA SHARZAR.
Having noted all of these things one of the most important qualities you'll notice about this film is the refreshing nod to real life random diversity of racial interactions. You have Muslims, Blacks, Asians, Gays and of course Whites casually interacting on a constantly changing basis. Like your modern American city you can be talking to an Egyptian at one moment, take a call from your Asian secretary the next, then get stopped by an obviously Gay gentleman looking for directions -all within 5 to 10 minutes of each other. I haven't seen a movie display so many different types of people within it's narrative so effortlessly.
Another unexpected bonus I got from this film was ANNA KENDRICK'S 'secretly horny nerd girl' appeal. Her nascent loveliness is of course well known but this film reveals a another level of her acting skills and charisma in general.
No regrets watching this movie indeed. So if you want a good 'little' film that flirts with the murder-mystery lover in you then go watch it!
George Alan Booker © 2018 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, September 1, 2018


I managed to go see the new movie, 'Searching' a couple of days ago and came away from it largely entertained but also with a nagging feeling that somehow it had let me down.
After much thinking I realized that the mood I entered the theater with -that of a thriller fan about to see a good, suspenseful or at least shock filled movie, was ruined as soon as the film began by the presentation of a short film contest winner's work. The event was hosted by the director of 'Searching' himself.
Let me elaborate. At the beginning of the film the director addresses the audience and presents to you a short film contest winner  who made a light film about Internet driven searches. The plot of this short film was about a young man who mistakenly suspected that his girl was cheating on him and seeking confirmation of this by snooping into her phone contacts and then to other information services available on the Internet. The film was comedic and for what it was, well done. But without me realizing it the damn thing had all but destroyed my reasonably high level of anticipation for the thriller, 'Searching' that immediately followed it.
So after I watched the thriller (an unoriginal who-done-it drama that may have ripped off one or many TV detective tales...) I had this feeling that it LACKED some quintesential satisfaction. That feeling I soon found out came from the comedic film presented before it. I confirmed this with another person who saw the short film and he bitterly denounced the short film as a 'stupid thing to do'. I completely agreed.
I paid my money to watch a THRILLER, that many people said was good, and got shoveled a 15 minute or less AMATEUR and genre CONTRARY movie at the start of my evening. It was one of the most stupid and selfish things I've ever seen done to a captive audience such as a movie going public. It was a blatant PLUG for some AMATEUR DIRECTOR who I and I feel others COULD CARE LESS ABOUT. In a way I was hoodwinked into buying one piece of crap movie to watch a better one. Had that awful short film been placed AFTER the real movie -the thriller I went there to see- then I may have been more receptive to it's humorous take of jealousy driven Internet / social media snooping but it wasn't. I had to swallow this bitter pill up front and now I resent it.

The name of this director (of 'Searching') I'll now remember as some sort of 'bait and switch' clown trying to be like Pixar or something without realizing how and why Pixar puts humorous or clever shorts in front of their damn HUMOROUS AND CLEVER MOVIES. They don't conflict, that's why. They don't show you a fucking Horror short film contest winner before the main Action-Adventure movie or a fucking Documentary on the Berlin Wall fall before Toy Story 5!
That's one way to get a negative review of your film, Mr. Director That Shall Not Be Mentioned. Instead of me acting like that masses of watermellon heads talking about how good the main feature was you got one explaining your self-serving, intellectual arrogancy. I'll make sure I watch your next film on a DVD I rent for a dollar if I watch any other movie you make at all.
One saving grace was the superb performance of lead actor John Cho. If you see this I'm-such-a-clever-writer / director' bullshit film then see it for how John Cho saves it.
Alan Booker