The In-Between (2019)

Waiting and waiting and waiting… I have finally been able to watch the 2019 film, The In-Between, starring Jennifer Stone and Mindy Bledsoe. And I am so glad that I did.

The In-Between movie poster

Jennifer Stone has been my celebrity crush since her days on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place and I have never had a crush for this long. There is just something about this girl; so when she co-wrote and produced this indie film, I was a strong supporter of it on social media.

Following the activities of these artists on Instagram, I watched them take to the road for the filming of the movie that almost mirrors real life. Jennifer Stone plays Mads, who has type-1 diabetes. Mindy plays Junior, who has Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Both actresses struggle with these diseases in real life, so it made the writing of this road trip story very close to home and very real.

Both characters have a reason for the road trip and from the beginning, you can feel a connection between them. Although it was almost hard to follow in the beginning because I didn’t feel there was much set-up, you learn about them through their travels. It wasn’t until the end of the film when we truly understood it all and their acting shined during the conflict and argument that brought the entire film together.

The film is short, only an hour and 18 minutes, but what it lacks in time, makes up for in quality. The In-Between won quite a few awards on the film festival circuits including Best Feature at Women Texas Film Festival. With my wife only watching films by female directors, I was happy to be able to support this film, not only because of my love for Jennifer Stone but for Mindy as a female director. It was definitely worth the watch.

The Incredible Journey (1963)

Similar to the more popular, Homeward Bound (1993), The Incredible Journey is the tale of two dogs and a cat that travel over 200 miles in order to reunite with their family.

The story reads like one of Disney’s real-life adventures that they created years ago when they were into documentaries. Rex Allen narrates the journey like it is a documentary, talking about their journey and why the animals did what they did. Mixed with actors and actresses in human roles, the animals are the star of the show. Disney’s 1993 animated version used actors as voices to the animals took away from the need for the narration. Since Disney used live animals, they had to rely on narration to tell the story.

The animals consisted of a Labrador Retriever, who was considered to be the young adventurous one; an English Bull Terrier, an old male dog who was actually played by a female dog; and a Siamese cat. They got into trouble alone and together, but throughout the film, it showed a bound of love and friendship between these animals.

Less humor than the 1993 counterpart, but still a wonderful story told by Disney.

Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)

Beginning an attempt to dive into DC’s animated films, I start my quest with Justice League: The New Frontier because Superman: Doomsday was not available for free streaming on any of my million paid services. The film debuted on Cartoon Network in 2008.

I don’t know much about the Justice League per se even though we recently had a film about them but in this early film, the Justice League was born without much help from Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. In this film, we get a basic origin story of Hal Jordan and how he becomes the Green Lantern as an evil entity that they don’t know or understand tries to released pre-historic dinosaurs on the planet. It is up to the Justice League to stop it.

That is the basis of the main plot of the movie, but to incorporate others into the story there are a lot of subplots for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash that really have to point to being part of the story.

What I didn’t like about the movie is that all the “human” male characters all looked alike. It was hard to tell the difference between Hal Jordan and the Gotham PD cops. Even the women characters like Lois and Iris had similar characteristics that made it difficult to know who was who until they said their names. These characters had very small roles. It feels like they were just trying to find ways to incorporate all the DC characters into one movie.

On the other hand, what I liked about the film was that it kept moving. The film didn’t linger too much on the who, what, and why but got to the solution quickly. 75 minutes went fast. Some people complained that the film was too short but honestly, any much longer and it may have become boring.

We Are Your Friends We Are Your Friends (2015)

I think Zac Efron has lost his hype and is finally getting into some decent films that work his acting abilities. He is no longer that guy from High School Musical and this film allows him to demonstrate that he is more than just a good looking guy.

We Are Your Friends is a film about the world of amateur DJs. Zac plays Cole Carter, who drops his perfect life in order to become a DJ. His friends or entourage are helping promote him. Cole meets a once-popular DJ and the two of them form a bond outside his entourage. Played by Wes Bentley, DJ James Reed helps him turn his music from a 100% computer-generated sound to something more organic and real.

This is not the typical start from the bottom and rise to fame film. We never see Cole make it big time. What we see is Cole connecting to his music and the tragedy that he endured and bringing that into his music at a music festival. A solid film that makes you think and feel something in between the thumping beats of the music.

Night School (2018)

I started my day of movies on HBOGo today and browsed the list of movies that would be leaving HBO this month. I knew my wife would not want to watch this film, so I decided to give it a chance.

Based on the original trailers for the film at the time of release, I was on the fence about watching it. I am not a big fan of comedy like this. Kevin Hart reminds me of a black Jim Carrey. Too animated for my taste when it comes to comedy.

Night School is about a guy who wasn’t good in school and was always made fun of throughout his life. When Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) gets offered a job where he needs his GED, he takes to night classes in order to prepare for the test – still being a joke when it comes to education. Not wanted to be a joke, he keeps his classes a secret from his successful girlfriend.

Yes, Night School is over the top. Yes, the humor could be considered crude. No, it wasn’t annoying. Actually, it is quite intelligent and a fun little story.
Sometimes, you shouldn’t judge a movie by its cast…they could surprise you.

Late Night (2019)

Mindy Kaling brings us the story of Late Night television as writer, producer, and co-star of the movie Late Night. The film stars Emma Thompson, a popular TV host who hires a new writer after being called out for not having any women on staff. Molly Patel (Kaling) is hired as a minority hiring and put on the writing staff even though she had no experience in the industry.

While this is happening, the network is planning on replacing Thompson’s character, Katherine Newbury, with a younger and more in-tune with today’s world male TV host. Newbury goes to extremes to make herself relevant again with the help of Patel.

Mindy does a great job with the script for this film. The jokes and social satire with what is happening in the world were tasteful while remaining funny. Thompson’s proper British attitude played while with the American humor. It was a nice blend between the two worlds.

The film was quite enjoyable and I am glad that I took the time to watch.

Greta (2018)

When a movie is based on the stalking of Chloë Grace Moretz, how can one not want to watch it. Since Kick-Ass, I have been following Chloe’s films and have watched her grow up on the screen. It is almost like I am stalking Chloe via her movies.

Greta is a suspense thriller that is all that…much suspense and the thrill of Chloe trying to shake her stalker. The film begins with Chloe’s character, Frances McCullen, whose kindness finds her returning a purse left on the train to an older lady. The nice lady invites her into the house and thanks her with something to drink.The two of them strike up a friendship, mostly because Frances had recently lost her mother.

Greta, played by Isabelle Huppert, comes on a bit too strong and when Frances tries to separate herself from Greta, it turned obsessive. Greta stalks Frances to the point that she fears for her life.

Neil Jordan, who won the Academy Award for the film The Crying Game, directed this brutal film that makes you fear for Frances’ life too. The obsession just does start and stop, but it restarts, stops, starts again, and finally comes to an end…or does it?

The film is wonderful and enjoyable which has everything you could want in a stalker film.

Boogie Nights (1997)

From the first time I saw Boogie Nights, I fell in love with this flick. It isn’t just about the sex, my love for this is about the characters and players in this Paul Thomas Anderson film.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams, who is a high-school dropout in the late 70’s who wants to make a name for himself. He meets Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), a adult movie filmmaker and auditions for him. When Horner sees Eddie’s large manhood and stamina, everyone wants a piece of little Eddie, who changes his name to Dirk Diggler.

The film focuses on the rise and fall of Dirk Diggler, and also the industry. Some of the most interesting moments take a look behind the scenes with the Horner and the produces as the industry is moving from film (expensive) to video tapes and amateur actors. It is discussed and portrayed in a very truthful way.

Each of the characters are troubled and broken, much like the stars of porn films of the 70’s and 80’s. Drugs, sex, money… And I don’t think there is a bad performance from this all-star cast including Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Heather Graham.

I can not find a thing wrong with this film and is considered one of my favorite films of all time.

Cruel Intentions (1999)

The A-list came out of this film, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon and Selma Blair are all pawns in this game of love and betrayal.

Cruel Intentions is the modern day tale of Choderlos de Laclos novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and it really is the movie the catapulted the stardom of it’s actors. Each of the main characters went of to be famous in their own right.

Directed by Roger Kumble, Step siblings at a prestigious a private school make a wager with each other to see if Sebastian (Phillippe) could take the virginity of the new headmaster’s daughter (Witherspoon). Winner takes all, but when he falls for his victim the stakes become even higher.

All of the cast were magnificent and this movie has become a classic for the 90′s generation. It also contains the most famous lesbian kiss of all time which won the MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss, that year, for the lesbian lip lock between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair.

Watching again in 2019, the movie holds up well with time. Its hard to tell the film wasn’t made today. Plus, it was nice to a very beautiful Ryan Phillippe so young. He definitely could turn me straight.

American Pastoral (2016)

Not a movie I would have sought out to watch, but I am glad I took a chance on this film. American Pastoral is Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut and it is definitely worth the watch.

Seymour “Swede” Levov (McGregor) is the small town’s high school all-star, Mr. Popularity, a legend among his people. His wife Dawn (Jennifer Connelly) was a former beauty queen. Together this perfect couple gives birth to a girl, who grows up less than perfect. As she gets older, she bucks to system, wants to protest the war, and is against everything and everyone. When she blows up the post office and kills a beloved townsman, she runs from the law and the family. Swede doesn’t give up on his search for his daughter because he is convinced that she had been brainwashed.

The film covers a time period where people were protesting the Vietnam war, also the Newark and black equality. Young people, like Swede’s daughter, Merry (Dakota Fanning) took to violence as a way of protesting the government. They didn’t care about their actions and who they hurt along the way. Each of the parents handled their daughter in different ways. While I wasn’t around during these times, I can imagine that this was true to the times.

McGregor captured each of the three main characters brilliantly. The story, the emotion, the connections, are everything you can hope for in a dramatic film like this. The film is based off the novel of the same name, written by Philip Roth. While the film is not a critic’s favorite, I really disagree. When you connect, you live the film and I was there with them. Wonderful shot and told story.