Last Christmas Advance Movie Screening

Movie Screening Summary

Emilia Clarke (HBO’s Game of Thrones), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson star for director Paul Feig (A Simple Favor, Spy, Bridesmaids) in Last Christmas, a romantic comedy inspired by a George Michael beat, from a screenplay by Academy Award® winner Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’s Baby) and playwright Bryony Kimmings. Read more

Long Shot Movie Review

“Long Shot” is a funny look at a couple of people with almost nothing in common except a long-ago shared high school past. The romantic comedy has an R-rated bite to it, and some political overtones that make some broad commentary on current events. The two leads are experienced actors who make an unlikely romantic attraction look realistic. The movie is bolstered by the fact that it has some secondary characters who are played by excellent people and are well cast in those roles. The movie might have an R-rated exterior, but it has some nice universal notions of true love being blind.


Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a determined, if somewhat disheveled, investigative journalist. He just found out that his weekly newspaper is being taken over by a huge media conglomerate run by a right-wing billionaire bigot. He quits and sees his long-time friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). Lance has done quite well for himself, and he takes Fred out to a major party. It is an environmental fundraiser, and it is also attended by the current Secretary of State. She is Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who is a major Washington power player. She is also considering running for President. Her long-time aide Maggie (June Diane Raphael) is keeping Field’s public persona clean and bright. Fred and Charlotte have a history back in high school. She used to babysit for Fred a few times, and he was hot for her back then.

Charlotte is now still as beautiful and is also very powerful. She hears from the President (Bob Odenkirk) that he will not be running for another term. He wants to break into movies instead. So now he will endorse Charlotte as a candidate. When she meets Fred at the Washington party, she remembers that he was a sweet teenager. Fred has just quit from the job, because he does not want to support the new owner. He is looking for a new position, and she is looking for a speechwriter. That could be a match made in Heaven, or at least the smoky backrooms of the Washington establishment. He is a passionate idealist, who does not wince from dropping a few F-bombs in his articles. She is poised and practiced pragmatist and used to the idea of abandoning ideals to get the deal done. Not a chance these two might have issues with the other, right?


As she becomes a Candidate for the top job, Charlotte is pleased with the high level of energy that Fred can bring to her campaign. Her aide Maggie is not a fan, but she is biting her lip until a time that Fred’s wild personality will blow up. That point might bring Charlotte’s chances to a screeching halt, because even now – she is considered a ‘Long Shot’. Fred becomes a key part of her entourage, travelling with Charlotte to many world capitals. She and Fred are becoming very close and are become lovers. Fred lets his friend Lance know what is going on, and he encourages Fred to be true to his principles. But the real world makes Charlotte compromise many of her campaign goals. Fred is taken aback, and he sees that life in a political realm might not be to his liking.

This movie is a hard-R rating, but mostly for language. The relationship between the two main characters is not exactly believable. But Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron are very natural in these roles, and they can pull it off. The actors do a great job with some less than stellar material. There quite a few very funny lines, and the Fred Flarsky character is made out to be the biggest boob on the face of the Earth. But with Rogan’s sad puppy face, you just must love him. Also, there are some fine performances with the side characters, especially O’Shea Jackson Jr. and June Diane Raphael. These two more than carry their weight in the movie, and they have some good moments. The overall political attitude swings a little to the left, and the main policy initiative for Charlotte Field is to save the Environment. Never seen that before on the screen, huh?


“Long Shot” gets the most juice out it’s lead actors by getting them into the most natural situations. It is less than perfect when they are forced into a ‘fish out of water’ scene, such as Fred Flarsky at an International State Dinner event. There are few times when it seems to cross the line over good taste, but for the most part is fun watch. The ending veers over the line and it goes on a little too long. But if you like your character-driven comedy with a romantic flavor and a political edge, this beats any other movie by a “Long Shot”.

Second Act Movie Review

 

“Second Act” is attempting to be some things that it is not. It is sold as a Romantic Comedy, just without the romance. It is supposed to be a positive feel-good story of a woman who can make it on her own merits. Yet her credentials are made up from whole cloth and are fake, phony and non-existent. There is an encouraging message on adoption, but the lead up to the reunification of mother and adopted out daughter seem contrived. But is does have Jennifer Lopez as the charismatic engine in this ‘Little Engine That Could”, so it is able to climb that hill and make it to the top. She brings all of her energy, and there is a cast of supporting characters that gives this movie a little zest.

 

Maya (Jennifer Lopez) is a 40-year old with a job in a big box retail store in Queens. She has been building up the local store for many years, yet she is passed up for a Manager position. She is feeling down, and her boyfriend Trey (Milo Ventimiglia) attempts to cheer her up. But they have a major fight over getting married and having kids. She is not ready for that, so soon she is staying at her best friend and co-worker’s house. Joan (Leah Remini) has sympathy for Maya, but she gets her son to give Maya a professional Social Media makeover. Maya becomes Maria, who has graduated from Wharton Business School, served in the Peace Corp, and climb Kilimanjaro. Maya (as Maria) gets a very lucrative job offer from a Wall Street business that is into skin care products.

 

 

 

Maria (actually Maya) really impresses the owner and founder of the company, Anderson Clarke (Treat Williams). She has less of an impact on his daughter Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens). Maya BS’s her way into a corporate position and finds herself in a showdown with another group inside the company. There are two groups that will attempt to make a fully organic skin care product, and the other group will take an existing product and make it eco-friendlier. Maya has only a few folks with her side, including Hildy (Annaleigh Ashford). They face off against a group led by Ron (Freddie Stroma). Ron is running circles around Maya, and Hildy also dumps Maya to work instead with Ron. There are some social events for the company that end in disaster because Anderson believes that Maya has done all the things that are listed on the (fake) resume.

 

But a dark secret that Maya has from her past caused her breakup with Trey, because she could not bear to tell him the truth. That youthful mistake that created Maya’s hidden secret comes back to her in a big and substantial way.  Maya develops a much closer relationship with Zoe because of this past incident. But Maya still attempts to keep up the fake facade that got her this new position and all the luxuries that come with it. But will her moments of dishonesty lead Maya to some unfortunate circumstances? Is her trouble with the past really over, or is it just now starting again?

 

 

“Second Act” is a big underachiever, in that it starts up with too many ideas that never get fully developed. The writing has some pretty funny lines, but the overall idea is dreadful. Don’t like your current job? Then make up all sorts of wild things about your professional past to make you look like a Real Pro. I’m sure you won’t get caught. Jennifer Lopez never did! But hand it to Lopez, because she takes the old rusty Chevy Chevette of a story and makes it purr like a Corvette.

 

There are a handful of really funny lines, most delivered by Leah Remini (as her best friend Joan). Vanessa Hudgens has a nice performance as person who has more in common with Maya than she knows. Milo Ventimiglia is seen a short time and retuns at the end, so not much is there for him. All the other actors are respectable, but nobody stands out.

 

Only because Jennifer Lopez stars in this movie, “Second Act” deserves a second look.

 

Crazy-Rich-Asians-movie-screening

Crazy Rich Asians Advance Movie Screening

Movie Screening Summary

Jon M. Chu (“Now You See Me 2”) directed the contemporary romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” based on the acclaimed worldwide bestseller by Kevin Kwan.

The story follows New Yorker Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick’s family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. Not only is he the scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families, but also one of its most sought-after bachelors. Being on Nick’s arm puts a target on Rachel’s back, with jealous socialites and, worse, Nick’s own disapproving mother (Michelle Yeoh) taking aim.

It soon becomes clear that the only thing crazier than love is family, in this funny and romantic story sure to ring true for audiences everywhere.

“Crazy Rich Asians” features an international cast of stars, led by Constance Wu (“Fresh Off the Boat”), Gemma Chan (“Humans”), Lisa Lu (“2012”), and Awkwafina (“Ocean’s 8,” “Neighbors 2”), with Ken Jeong (the “Hangover” films”) and Michelle Yeoh (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”). The large starring ensemble also includes Henry Golding, making his feature film debut, Sonoya Mizuno (“La La Land”), Chris Pang (“Marco Polo”), Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”), comedian Ronny Chieng (“The Daily Show”), Remy Hii (“Marco Polo”), and Nico Santos (“Superstore”).

Color Force’s Nina Jacobson (“The Hunger Games” films) and Brad Simpson (“World War Z”), and Ivanhoe Pictures’ John Penotti (“Hell or High Water”) produced the film, with executive producers Tim Coddington, Kevin Kwan, Robert Friedland, and Sidney Kimmel. The screenplay is by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, based on the novel Crazy Rich Asians, by Kwan.

The creative filmmaking team included director of photography Vanja Černjul (“Marco Polo”), production designer Nelson Coates (“Fifty Shades Darker”), costume designer Mary Vogt (“Kong: Skull Island”) and editor Myron Kerstein (“Going in Style”). The music was composed by Brian Tyler (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”).

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Phoenix, Arizona

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Movie Screening Date: Monday August 13th
Location: Harkins Scottsdale 101
Movie Screening Time: 7:00pm
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Tucson, Arizona

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Location: Century El Con
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Las Vegas, Nevada

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Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Movie Screening Date: Monday August 13th
Location: Regal Winrock
Movie Screening Time: 7:00pm
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