Now Available: July 17, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

While on a spring break trip to Mexico, Olivia (Lucy Hale) and her friends join a mysterious stranger for a game of truth or dare. As is prone to happen when you play a game of truth or dare with a stranger in a creepy abandoned mansion with a stranger, things get a little weird. When they get back, Olivia and her friends begin to realize that the game isn’t over. One by one, the participants must choose to tell uncomfortable truths or to participate in increasingly deadly dares. The only rule in Jeff Wadlow’s Truth or Dare? Participate or die.

There has been a lot of good and unexpected horror that has come out over the past few years. Truth or Dare exists to remind us that the mediocre teen horror genre is still going strong. There’s not an original thought in the film, borrowing liberally from several superior films (the most obvious well from which they draw is 2000’s Final Destination). There’s no underlying sense of dread at all, just a handful of poorly executed jump scares. The filmmakers make an odd choice to have people under control of the game take on the look of what the film calls a “demonic Snap Chat filter” that has the effect of making otherwise tense situations just look pretty silly.

Thankfully, the cast doesn’t realize that they’re in an uninspired, run of the mill movie. Lucy Hale is really good as Olivia. Her relationship with Markie (Violett Beane) is the anchor of the film. Both actresses give their friendship a strong sense of history. Hayden Szeto is great as Brad, a young closeted gay man who on the surface has the most to lose by being forced to tell the truth. The ending of the film, which I won’t spoil here, is another strong point. It goes somewhere that’s quite unexpected and follows through on some of the ideas that the film tries (often clumsily) to examine.

Truth or Dare is a rote teen horror film with little to nothing new to offer the genre. Despite solid performances and a surprisingly satisfying ending, I’d suggest watching one of the many films it’s copying.

Also available this week:

Isle of Dogs- Our own Aaron White gave Wes Anderson’s second foray into stop-motion animation 4.5 stars here. If you’re an Anderson fan, and why wouldn’t you be, it’s a must-see.

Rampage- Aaron enjoyed this early summer popcorn flick starring The Rock and a CGI gorilla.  Read his review here.

You Were Never Really Here- This dark but artful examination of suffering isn’t easy to watch, but worth it says Aaron, here.

Disobedience- Don says: Sebastián Lelio’s followup to the Oscar winning foreign film Fantastic Women is worth a watch for it’s challenging religious themes and its underlying message about marriage.

I Feel Pretty- Jeremy says:This mostly laugh-less comedy that tries half-heartedly to have a positive message about self-image might appeal to those who haven’t yet tired of Amy Schumer.

Super Troopers 2- Jeremy says: If you’re a fan of the original, you’d probably better check this one out right meow. If you’re not, the second installment isn’t likely to win you over.


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: July 10, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

Late on July 18, 1969, a vehicle driven by Senator Ted Kennedy swerved off of a bridge, landing on its roof in Poucha Pond on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. While Senator Kennedy was able to get out of the vehicle and safely make it to shore, his passenger, the 28 year old Mary Jo Kopechne, died in the vehicle. Kennedy fled the scene of the accident and didn’t report it for over 9 hours. Due to conflicting accounts over the years by Kennedy and his associates who were were with him both in the hours before and after the accident, as well as coroner reports that indicated Kopechne died of suffocation, not drowning, have led to much speculation over the past 49 years about what actually happened that night. Did the accident happen as described by its only survivor? If so, why did he wait so long to report it? Were Kennedy’s actions properly dealt with or was this a case where the influence wielded by one of the United States’ most powerful families allowed justice to be undermined?

John Curran’s Chappaquiddick efforts to retell this murky story in a way that focuses on established facts to show the social and political ramifications of the incident while responsibly filling in some of the holes in the official version of the story. Jason Clarke leads an impressive cast as Kennedy, proving to be more than up to the task of transforming himself into the “Lion of the Senate.” Most everyone has a generic Kennedy impression somewhere in their repertoire, but Clarke surpasses mere imitation by playing the character as a man weighed down by his perceived responsibility to be who his father expects him to be as the only surviving Kennedy son following the assassination of his brother Robert just a month prior to the incident. His brother John’s shadow also looms large in the film, as much of the background noise is of televisions and radios tuned in to hear about Apollo 11’s journey to the moon, an endeavor fiercely supported by the late president that occurred on the same weekend as the accident. Ed Helms gives a rare but capable dramatic performance as Joseph Gargan, the cousin to Kennedy who became the estranged from the family as a result of the incident. Gargan is the conscience of the film and most of the blanks filled in on the story are consistent with the real life Gargan’s recollections of the incident in the 1988 book Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up by Leo Demore. Jim Gaffigan gives a surprisingly balanced performance as Kennedy family friend and Massachusetts District Attorney Paul F. Markham, a man burdened by his loyalty to the Kennedy’s as he goes about the icky business of effectively spinning the death of a young woman in a way that would salvage a promising political career. Curran’s direction and the screenplay are tight, giving the film an even pace and the feel of a thriller. I’m always impressed when a director is able to make a well-known event feel like anything could happen, and Curran is able to accomplish that here. It’s a well balanced film that avoids promoting salacious conspiracy theories but doesn’t paint a flattering picture of the senator either. 

Overall Chappaquiddick is an impressive film buoyed by a dynamite lead performance by Clarke. It’s definitely worth the price of a Redbox. It’s probably even still worth it if you forget to return it for a day or two.

Also available this week:

A Quiet Place: Patrick and Aaron discussed this film with special guest Patrick Willems on Episode 104 of the podcast and Aaron wrote a review here.

The Leisure Seeker

Lean on Pete

211

Future World

Sweet Country


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: July 3, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

It’s 1982 and Lebanon is embroiled in civil war. Former US Diplomat Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is compelled to return to the city where his wife was murdered ten years earlier to negotiate the return of a kidnapped former colleague. Racing against the timeline of the abductors, Skiles must attempt to meet their demands while navigating around multiple obstacles in the form of the State Department and the CIA.

Brad Anderson’s Beirut is a tense thriller that’s elevated by what may be my favorite film role in Jon Hamm’s career. For the most part, I’ve found Hamm’s dramatic film roles to be pretty bland, but as any Mad Men fan could tell you, playing a highly functional alcoholic with the keen ability to tell people what it is they want to hear is right in his wheelhouse, in fact it might be his wheelhouse. Rosamund Pike is, of course, great, and a little under utilized, as CIA officer and Skiles’ handler Sandy Crowder. When the story threatens to get bogged down with one too many complications, Hamm and Pike never let it become anything less than interesting. The cinematography is occasionally too dark, but for the most part it’s perfect in its dirty, gritty aesthetic. The story is intriguing, although occasionally it threatens to spin too tangled a web. Setting the story against the backdrop of an actual historical war is a nice touch that gives even the calmer moments a sense of urgency. 

Overall, while it doesn’t do anything to really separate itself in the genre, strong performances make the film worth checking out. Beirut is a pretty solid choice for a quiet Sunday night on the sofa.

Also available this week:

Blockers: You can read my review of this fun twist on the teen sex comedy here.

7 Days in Entebbe

Borg vs. McEnroe

Finding Your Feet

Journey’s End

Ismael’s Ghosts

Another Wolf Cop

The Female Mind

The Cured


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: June 26, 2018

Welcome to our newest feature, Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and Melinda Moore-Gayle (Taraji P. Henson) is a living embodiment of that statement. After spending 18 years supporting her deadbeat inventor husband only to see him hit it big after they split, she’s out to get the life she was promised at any cost. But is her assessment of the situation coming from reality or a damaged and skewed perception? These are the questions one is left to ponder in Tyler Perry’s Acrimony.

Since this is Feelin’ Film, I’ll start with the positive. Acrimony doesn’t telegraph where it’s going. What I mean by that is that with about 20 minutes left I said aloud to myself, “Hmm, how is this going to end?” I watch 300-400 movies a year. It’s not very often that I don’t know where a film is headed. Whenever it happens, it’s always a pleasant surprise. I’ll give Perry kudos for that. Furthermore, Henson is absolutely great in the film. I’ve been a fan of hers since she was a supporting character on CBS’s great Person of Interest and I’m ecstatic that her performances in shows like Fox’s Empire and movies like Hidden Figures have resulted in her being given more prominent roles. She absolutely deserves better than this. None of the rest of the cast makes any sort of an impression at all. They might as well not even exist. On top of that, the pacing is awful, which exacerbates its bloated 2 hour run-time. It continually breaks rule number one of storytelling, repeatedly telling us how bad Melinda’s temper is when they could’ve simply spent time showing the audience the lengths of her fury.  In the end, I think that Perry has some good ideas for his Fatal Attraction-esque tale of a damaged relationship leading to betrayal and rage, but he falls well short in the execution. A movie that kept me guessing throughout with a standout lead performance really shouldn’t leave me feeling both bored and relieved that it’s over. But here we are.

Also available this week:

The Endless: Aaron was a big fan of this one when he reviewed it here back in April and FF had the chance to spend some time with the film’s creators in an interview here.

Antarctica: In The Footsteps of the Emperor (a documentary by the director of March of the Penguins).

Gemini

In Darkness


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: June 19, 2018

Welcome to our newest feature, Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

Taking place in the year 67 a.d., Paul, Apostle of Christ follows famed author and physician Luke (Jim Caviezel) as he interviews Paul (James Faulkner), the apostle responsible for writing roughly half of the Biblical New Testament, and interacts with the persecuted church of Rome lead by Aquilla (John Lynch) and his wife Priscilla (Joanne Whalley). Will he be able to use his pen to record the last words of the church father or will his presence attract the ire of Mauritias (Oliver Martinez), the Roman jailer tasked with keeping tabs on Nero’s prized prisoner?

I tend to be one of the faith-based film genre’s biggest critics. For the most part, besides their obvious deficits in terms of production quality, I find that they generally brashly wear their message on their sleeve…and their chest and their hat and their pants with the subtlety of the advertising on a NASCAR driver. While this film doesn’t completely avoid that pitfall, I found that it largely overcomes that with grounded performances lead by the always solid Caviezel and quieter, more contemplative musings on what it means to defend your faith. Filmed in Malta, it looks great and director Andrew Hyatt does a great job from the word go of allowing the audience to sense the danger in which these early Christ followers lived. Whether you’re a person of faith or not, Paul, Apostle of Christ shows a piece of history that is both fascinating and has significance for the world we live in today. It’s not merely good for the genre, it’s just pretty good in general.

Also available this week:

Pacific Rim: Uprising: See Aaron’s original review of this sequel here and hear the guys chat about it on the podcast here (if you’re like me and want to rewatch the original first, they talked about that one here).

The Death of Stalin 

Unsane

Midnight Sun


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.