The Pickle Recipe

We are introduced to Joey Miller (Dore) a broke father working as an MC or deejay in the Detroit area, specializing in weddings and Bar Mitzvah.  His daughter is about to have her Bat Mitzvah, something he’s looking forward to having a hand in deejaying, when an accident occurs; blowing up a wedding celebration.  All of his gear, his lighting and sound equipment, is destroyed beyond repair.  He finds out that it’s going to cost him $20,000 to get things rolling again, a sum a little high for him to handle.  Now entering the fun is our antagonist, the ex-wife’s new horse buying husband, Harris, who Joey now has to compete with for the love of his own flesh and blood.  With all of the money he’s losing, as well as his reputation with his daughter being on the line, Joey finds nowhere to turn for help but to his horrible uncle Morty (Paymer).  Hitting rock bottom, he decides to aid Morty who has been alienated from his eighty-five year old mother Rose’s life for being a weasel.  Rose is played by the talented Lynn Cohen from “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” “Deconstructing Harry,” “Munich” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” to name a few, and her extraordinarily priceless, unique and well guarded pickle recipe so something Mort has been trying to get his hands on for a long time.  Morty wants Joey to steal it for their own personal gain before she takes it to the grave with her as it would do no one any good if she passes without passing it along.  Question is, can Joey “obtain” this recipe for his uncle from his own grandmother?

To get close to her and getting the recipe, Joey starts working in her deli.  Rose is nearly a said and loved by all of her employees who immediately do not trust him, as they never have Morty.  Getting close to procuring the recipe but then she changes her mind, Joey gets frustrated and is about to give up when Morty doubles the reward to $40,000.  Joey digs in and gets help to get his treasure.

The attempt to pull at your heart strings feels contrived and though there are some strong performances, it simply doesn’t work.

Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

Most of the individual actors are good, especially Cohen.  The concept is charming and Rose is sweet… she’s cranky and she’s lovable at the same time, but the story is ridiculous and late night television entertainment at best.  I’m sure what was a small budget didn’t help the production value and without mass appeal and with no real audience this will fall into obscurity.  A scene teaching someone how to be Jewish was the real low point and with Morty suggesting Rose be water boarded to get the recipe, that’s hard to say but it truly was.  There is some appeal found when her recipe is trying to be duplicated but not enough to suggest this is a film you must see.  The attempt to pull at your heart strings feels contrived and though there are some strong performances, it simply doesn’t work.

american-pastoral

American Pastoral

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Phillip Roth novel of the same name, “American Pastoral” follows an American family through a personal tragedy; the ultimate reason for it and result of it being very much the focus of that generation of American youth and the young generation of today.  In the 1960’s there were protests over war and protests for the rights of African Americans that got incredibly violent but there was something else going on with many of the protestors that went deeper than the known movements.  “American Pastoral” is a very powerful film about a father, Seymour ‘Swede’ Levov (McGregor) attempting to save his daughter amidst this chaos and ultimately save her from herself.

At a very young age, Merry (Fanning) felt she was in competition with her mother Dawn (Connelly) for her father’s attention.  This assertion needed a defense and she developed a stutter that her perfect mother didn’t have but which Merry always garnered pity and sympathy.  Though very young, she was aware of self.  Merry knew what she wanted; believing that, ‘life is just a short space of time in which you are alive.’  She lived her life with this frame of mind and still quite early in her mental development she witnesses, on television, the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk who burned himself to death in Saigon.  The reason the man did this was because to protest the South Vietnamese Diem regime’s pro-Catholic policies and its banning of the Buddhist flag.  This leaves a heavy impression on Merry and she grows into an angry young woman filled with guilt for her parents’ wealth, self-condemnation for living the good life when so many others have nothing and a general hatred for all things, making it difficult for her parents to know who she truly is.  She suddenly disappears after a post office bombing that leaves one man dead.  Her parents start to fall apart as the accusations and evidence against Merry begins to grow.  They begin to change during this process and the story goes from a sweet loving family to one divided as Seymour never gives up on finding his daughter, ultimately clearing her name and helping her.  When he finds his darling child and she admits her guilt, he still refuses to give up on her, loving her through the wrong she’s done and the shame she feels toward herself for being born.

Ewan McGregor gives a stirring performance and captivates the audience in his directorial debut. Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

Ewan McGregor gives a stirring performance and captivates the audience in his directorial debut.  What little you see of Fanning is compelling and she, as well as her characters chilling beliefs, leaves an impression on you that is hard to shake.  Outside of the unnecessary narration and how the story begins, which is a conversation at a reunion, the movie is powerful and haunting.  This will be considered for nominations this year as it speaks to past civil unrest and what we’re still going through in present day.    

Why Him? Official Red Band Trailer

Over the holidays, Ned (Bryan Cranston), an overprotective but loving dad and his family visit his daughter at Stanford, where he meets his biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend, Laird (James Franco). A rivalry develops, and Ned’s panic level goes through the roof when he finds himself lost in this glamorous high-tech world and learns that Laird is about to pop the question.

Get Out Official Trailer

In Universal Pictures’ Get Out, a speculative thriller from Blumhouse (producers of The Visit, Insidious series and The Gift) and the mind of Jordan Peele, when a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend’s family estate, he becomes ensnared in a more sinister real reason for the invitation.

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya, Sicario) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams, Girls), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy (Catherine Keener, Captain Phillips) and Dean (Bradley Whitford, The Cabin in the Woods).

At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield) is a young teenager living in Florida, with a deep admiration and affection for his grandfather Abe Portman (Terence Stamp). Abe would tell Jake many wild stories about a far-off school that Abe used to attend. The horrible death of Abe gives Jake and his father Frank Portman (Chris O’Dowd) the idea to visit the Isle of Wales to see where Abe grew up.

On the Isle, Jake wanders into a large mansion and it changes from broken down to tip-top shape. Jake has gone from 2016 back to 1943. It is the work of Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), who is the loving but strict leader of the Home for Peculiar Children.

Jake meets all of the children, but he develops a crush on Emma (Ella Purnell) who is one of the students. Jake finds out the Nazis would bomb that building that night, but Miss Peregrine has the ability to turn back time for 24 hours to create a safe ‘time loop’ for the children.

There is an evil man named Mr. Baron (Samuel L. Jackson) who is a shape-shifter and can appear to be anyone. He leads a group of crazy people who will attack the Peculiar Children and eat their … eyeballs. Baron is also the cause behind the Hollows, invisible monsters that has earlier killed Jake’s grandfather.

Many of the Peculiar Children have unusual abilities. Emma can float and can control air, there is one who is pyrokinetic, another who is an invisible boy. There is one who can control and maintain plants, and another who has bees that live in his stomach, and a boy who dreams many future events. There is a young girl who is an amazingly strong child, and one who can control and direct the newly dead.

The story twist and turns back and forth between 1943 and 2016, and from the Isle of Wight to Florida and back again and also to London. There is a sunken ocean liner that is lifted with the forced air from Emma. There is another hidden Home in London that gets attacked by Baron and the evil crew. Miss Avocet (Judi Dench) has to run away and the Peculiar Children help her before Baron can kill her.

Jake has never found any special Peculiar ability that he might have. Except for the fact that he can see the Hollows, who remain invisible to everyone else. Miss Peregrine knows that Jake will be very helpful in the fight against the Hollows and against Mr. Baron. She will be able to use his special talents to keep the other Children safe.

So that is the direction of this new movie that NOT aimed for small children. There are some scary situations, along with many that are just down right odd. Yet, for a Tim Burton movie, it seems subdued and not as wild as many of his earlier ones. There is a bit of the darkness along with a crazy-quilt of characters. Just not as many as you might have expected in a Burton production.

Eva Green did a beautiful job in the role, and Samuel L. Jackson was very over-the-top as the big villain. Asa Butterfield was fair, but mostly bland, and there was not chemistry at all between him and co-star Ella Purnell. Judi Dench has a short role but is fun to watch, Terence Stamp has just the right look as the Peculiar grandfather.

This movie is available with 3-D, but except for a handful of scenes it does not lend itself to any great viewing. The production qualities were very clear and impressive. However the overly large cast and the odd shifting between time periods and places made the story very hard to follow.

By all means, leave your kids at home to go see this latest Tim Burton movie, especially if you have a taste for the Peculiar.