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.

Without a Paddle (2004)

This a cast like this, it was hard to say no to watching this film today on HBOGo. The three leads Seth Green, Dax Shepherd, and Matthew Lillard took on the task of going on a treasure hunt to honor their deceased friend, who they found out had tracked down the legend and treasure of D.B. Cooper.

Back when this came out, I would not have picked this up with a 10-foot pole because I thought it would have been too slapstick for me. While there was a bit of that crude humor, it wasn’t over the top like I had anticipated. I still didn’t like that they had the typical macho male jokes on homosexuality. I think the film could have had more sophistication to leave those types of jokes out. It just was not necessary and could have gotten a perfect score if it wasn’t for that.

The film is pretty short, running for about 100 minutes, but the film felt a lot longer. Just when you think they find their way out of the woods, more hijinx happens.
If you haven’t seen Without A Paddle, it is worth a watch.

Holes (2003)

I should not have watched this film since I was planning on going through the Disney catalog on the new Disney+, but instead I picked this film on HBO because it said it was going away. Probably going to Disney+.

Holes is based on the 1998 novel of the same name starring Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, and a young Shia LaBeouf. Shia was just coming off of the success of the Disney Channel television series, Even Stevens. The story in Holes is divided into two parts: The kids who are on a juvenile detention camp. The other part is the legend of Katherine “Kissin’ Kate” Barlow and is shown via flashbacks based on what the kids are doing or finding. The kids at the detention camp are digging holes looking for “treasures” in the dried-up lake where the legend took place.

This award-winning young adult novel was released in 1998 and it was no wonder Disney picked it up and it was a great vehicle for LeBeouf. It’s a family film that adults can enjoy, probably even more than the kids. Its a wonderful film that would make Walt Disney proud.

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.

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.

The Lobster (2015)

You’re an odd little duck, you lobster. Yorgos Lanthimos deliveries another weird story that you are not sure if you love it or hate it. It’s probably one or the other.

The Lobster won Best Original Screenplay for Lanthimos about a alternate world where there are no single people. David (Colin Farrell) becomes single when his wife leaves him for another man. He is taken away to a hotel where he has 45 days to find himself a partner or he will be turned into an animal of his choice. The first act of the film is his time in the hotel with many odd characters. The second act is where David escapes the hotel and joins some loners in the woods. These characters are all about not having relationships. But the loners are hunted by the guests of the hotel.

In between the lifeless characters and the absurdity of what the characters go through, you have a dark comedy that is friggin’ hysterical for the first part of the film. The second act tends to go downhill a bit. If the story would have 100% circled around this hotel, it would have been a brilliant film. The second act connection with new characters is a little bit out there and confusing. Things don’t make a lot of sense until two days later and you say, okay I get it.

Lanthimos is not one for directing a normal straight up film. Even his film The Favourite, that won best picture and best director, contains characters that are a bit unhinged. This is what he does and he does it in a way that makes you question what you just watched. The Lobster, I liked but it is a film where you will either love it or hate it.