Bill And Ted Face The Music Is The Movie 2020 has needed

It had been rumored for years that beloved time traveling musicians Bill & Ted would be getting their just return and it was announced on Alex Winter’s (Bill) Twitter account in February of 2019 that Bill & Ted would make their most excellent return in Bill & Ted Face The Music.

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been one of the most dark and disappointing years in recent memory. For us movie fans it has also been hard as our beloved theaters have been dark for months. That is of course a first world problem but that is also just one of the plethora of normalcies in our lives that has gone away. With all this darkness we all need a bright spot here and there. Well the movie industry has provided just what we need; pure fun.

Bill & Ted have a destiny to fulfill in writing the song that would unite the world and 29 years after their Bogus Journey they have yet to fulfill their destiny. They now need the help of their princess wives and two bodacious daughters to accomplish their mission which now includes keeping the universe and time from folding in on itself.

Bill & Ted Face The Music Is just as fun as their adventures 30 years ago. The advancement of the on screen career of Keanu Reeves and the off screen success of Alex Winter really made me question whether or not this could be pulled off. I was more than pleasantly surprised and my prize was many hearty barrel laughs from a hilarious couples counseling scene to the reunion with their great band mate and friend, Death played by the great William Sadler.

The fact that so many originals were able to make their way back to San Dimas, California for this awesome adventure makes it that much more great. One of the other great aspects of this movie is that it was made not knowing the world would need to have fun when it did.

The world is in turmoil and what everyone could use is a great escape no matter how short and there is no question just as 31 years ago we unexpectedly get it from Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan take us by surprise. This is without a doubt the movie the year 2020 needed and didn’t know it was going to.

Don’t take Bill & Ted serious just like we never did but sit back and enjoy them for who they are, the most excellent friends that just want the world to be happy. There is one thing missing from Face The Music and that is the legendary George Carlin, while he does make a brief digital cameo, having a real life Rufus would have been the cap on another excellent adventure. None the less it doesn’t lessen the fun, it just makes us more nostalgic for what we once had that we no longer do. So grab the family and grab the popcorn as William Sadler told me and just enjoy the film and have fun and take 90 minutes away from the chaos of our current existence.

Review: Buffaloed

Buffalo, NY, isn’t exactly the center of excitement in the country, but here, we possess culture and way of life that we are extremely fond of and proud to have. When you meet someone from Buffalo, they make no bones about the fact that this is and always will be home. We love our heartbreaking sports team and are proud of the fact that we can handle arctic-like winter weather that cripples most of the country if they ever experienced it. So when a movie is filmed here and especially based here, the filmmakers better get it right because we are all watching.

Many movies are filmed here, especially lately, but most are small and unheard of for the most part. The latest effort has gotten some national love and exposure, Buffaloed staring young starlet Zoey Deutch is the latest to go under the microscope of Buffalonians to see whether it does our way of life justice or if it’s just a mockery.

Buffaloed was written by Brian Sacca, who went to high school at Buffalo’s prestigious Nichols School, so he definitely has ties to the area and enough knowledge to be able to tell a story where our lifestyle and city is another character to the story. The only thing left to see is if the director and actors understand what is on the page and whether or not it’s funny or a farce.

The story of Buffaloed focuses on Peg Dahl, who, from a young age, is embarrassed by her home and wants nothing more than to make enough money to get out of Buffalo. While Peg is whip-smart and can out-hustle anyone, she eventually gets aught running one too many hustles. Thanks to an inept attorney find herself doing three years in prison instead of plea dealing herself down.

Upon return, she needs to find a way to replenish her nest egg and quickly and is soon introduced to the terrible world of debt collecting. The underground world of debt collecting she discovers is a good way for someone like her to make her hustling skills help her build up her bank. The trouble is she sees the dirty side just as much as the beneficial side at the same time.

Peg decides opening her own debt collection service is the best way to bring in that paper she so richly desires. The trouble is in such a cutthroat world; this immediately makes enemies and attracts law enforcement to look at her closely.

Zoey Deutch clearly did not take this part lightly and did her Buffalo research, including having the dialect down just right for the part. The film without question takes its shots at Buffalo as all films based here generally do, but it is done lovingly, and in a way, those native to the area will find humorous and charming. While many may not find the greatness in its homage to the Nickel City, we natives will see the love and importance in it, which, in the end, is all that matters.

Review: The Way Back

The personal struggles that Ben Affleck has been through with alcohol addiction have been well documented and don’t need rehashing here. With that said, it is impossible not to give an overview of his latest film without mentioning and noticing the similarities to his character and his struggles.

There’s no doubt that Affleck is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and has been for over 20 years. His career also had a shallow period that saw some truly awful films and just as low personal moments. Then Affleck got behind the camera, and his career was revitalized, and he even went on to direct the Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards, Argo.

Life seemed to be going well for Ben as he lived an almost idyllic life with his gorgeous wife, Jennifer Garner, and had three beautiful children. Then after several outstanding and successful years, the wheels started to come off, and everyone seemed to be watching. The party boy image he had worked so hard to shed seemed to come back, and his personal life started to unravel a bit. After many attempts to make it work, his marriage came to an end in 2018. Despite this, the work continued to flow, and it hadn’t hit the low levels of films like Gili and Jersey Girl.

Things seemed to come to a head while filming his latest movie, The Way Back, the story of divorcée and former high school basketball star Jack Cunningham. A man who had infinite potential and let it all slip away and has wound up working construction and spending his downtime in his local bar and always filled with booze.

As the story unfolds, we discover it was the loss of a son that lead Jack to find his way into a bottle and out of a marriage. Soon Jack gets a call from his old high school to take over coaching the basketball team. After much reluctance, he agrees and finds himself just going through the motions until he can no longer tolerate losing and begins to demand from his players what he once demanded from himself as a young player.

Jack soon finds himself committed to the team and has a group of boys committed to him as well. The booze begins to slow down, and the distraction proves beneficial for Jack until a person from his past brings all the horrors of the tragedy of losing his son to the forefront, and it’s unknown whether Jack can recover from the shock to his system or not.

Affleck’s natural approach and even low key tone he brings to the character of Jack makes this one of Affleck’s best acting performances in his career. With that said, I have never really found Affleck to be a strong actor, but this role proves why he has had such a long career.

It is also worth noting that Affleck broke his sobriety during the filming of this film and that without the intervention of his ex-wife Jennifer Garner the film may have never been finished. It’s easy to see why Affleck is so good in the film because he knows this character’s relationship with alcohol better than most. The performance doesn’t just FEEL authentic, and it IS authentic.

As someone who is an alcoholic himself, maybe I find myself biased in this review, or perhaps it’s just a subject matter I relate to and have seen myself in specific settings similar to Jack. I often look at certain celebrities who struggle with addiction and think about how, if they can make it in a town like Hollywood without tripping up, then I can do it too. Those thoughts do help, but it was recently pointed out to me that Affleck should be looked at in that way just as much because he has had his fair share of falls and relapses, and that makes him even easier to identify with on a personal level. I find that very accurate, and yet I dare say, inspiring.

Regardless of whether that’s true or not that I enjoyed the film and its performances just because I relate to it or not should deter anyone from seeing this film and from watching Affleck find a small amount of redemption.

Amazon Prime Can Get You In The Mood For The Oscars

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A few days ago I wrote a post about how Netflix can get you prepared for award season and more specifically the Oscars. Well now I’m going to do the same for those with a subscription to Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime has its differentces than Netflix, while it still offers free content, it also allows you to rent and purchase digital movies so there is an extensive library far beyond what Netflix offers you if you are willing to spend a few extra dollars. For the purposes of this post I will focus on what is free for Prime members.

The Big Sick

First and foremost is a movie that is ACTUALLY nominated this year and not one that just gets you in the mood for the awards like all the rest on this list are meant to do. The Big Sick is nominated for best original screenplay and is based on the true story of star Kumail Nanjiani and his now wife Emily Gordon and the unusual way that they fell in love and how he fell in love with her family and them with him before their true romance ever blossomed. Kumail comes from a traditional Pakistani family who is regularly trying to set him up to get married when he meets Emily a girl who is anything but what his family wants for him. After a break-up over this very subject, Emily mysteriously falls ill and into a coma. Kumail is called and finds himself caring for her and having to contact her family. When her family releases him of any responsibility he still continues to be around and show support. It’s an extremely well told and heartwarming story of such an unlikely romance and is definitely worth a view.

Moonstruck

Now on to the past winners that are available and worth a watch or re-watch if you have already seen them. Moonstruck was a career defining moment for Cher who had been acting here and there, but was still considered just a singer who wanted to act. Moonstruck proved that she in fact CAN act and rode Moonstruck all the way to a best actress win at the Academy Awards. While remembered for her outfit at the Oscars and the fact that she got the win, what is forgotten is that it won two other major awards that night for Olympia Dukakis and write John Patrick Shanley. It is a masterful romantic comedy that also features a young Nicolas Cage in one of his best movies. Funny and heartfelt it is a movie that has really stood the test of time.

Lawrence Of Arabia

Back when Hollywood was still making big sweeping epics, Lawrence of Arabia was no exception and is amongst the best of those large stories and wonderful scenery. With a widescreen that showcased the beauty of the film and its landscape. Winner of seven Academy Awards including best picture, it is also known for the fact that its star Peter O’Toole was once again not a winner for best actor, something that would follow him his whole career until he received and honorary Oscar that he reluctantly accepted. It is the true story of T.E. Lawrence who united warring Arab tribes in World War I. It is a great film and great watch…if you have three and a half hours to spare.

Room

Brie Larson gave a powerhouse performance as a young girl kidnapped and held captive for over 5 years where she has a child in captivity and is forced to raise him in a single room shack until they manage to escape. She and her son are then forced to learn to enter society, he for the first time outside the room and her trying to find some semblance of her life again. Brie Larson swept every award category she was nominated in that year and deservedly so and the film introduced the world to Jacob Tremblay who gives a marvelous performance of his own. Heart-wrenching and even different to watch at times, if you enjoy first rate acting then you will no doubt appreciate Room.

Monster

Charlize Theron proved that her acting ability goes beyond being just a pretty face when she went behind a lot of makeup to make sure her beauty wasn’t a distraction when she played the infamous female serial killer Aileen Wuornos. As a lesbian prostitute living on the streets when she is raped by a “John” she turns to killing him and robbing him and it soon becomes a habit and a way to keep money coming in. She is soon turned in by her young lover Selby played by Christina Ricci. This is once again a difficult movie to watch at times and is very gut-wrenching but leaves you conflicted on Wuornos’ guilt and even a bit sympathetic considering the life she led up until the point of capture.

Fences

Denzel Washington gives a commanding performance as Troy Maxson a blue-collar father who works hard provides for his family and gives himself the reward of liquor when he sees fit. A tough father who has a contentious relationship with his son to say the least. Unable to have any sympathy or compassion for how his son feels because of the life he had as a young man and the life he still has while working hard and taking care of his mentally disabled brother and never getting over the fact that his dream of being a professional baseball player never came to fruition. Without a doubt one Denzel’s best performances he took a controversial loss on Oscar night to Casey Affleck who many did not find worthy because of past allegations of sexual harassment. The movie did however give Viola Davis her first Oscar win in the best supporting actress category, an honor that had been long over due. Directed by Denzel based on the play it features a boat load of dialogue that is expertly delivered at every turn.

There are some more recommendations of many past award winning movies to get you in the mood for Oscar night.

Review: Molly’s Game

Aaron Sorkin has without a doubt been one of, if not the best screenwriter in the last 25 years. From his debut with A few Good Men to his hit show The West Wing to his Oscar-winning script for The Social Network. His dialogue driven work has lent life to stories that otherwise may not have seemed as exciting for example once again The Social Network and Moneyball. Those are two stories that while interesting don’t necessarily lend themselves to a compelling movie.

For his latest effort Sorkin not only goes behind the words but he goes behind the camera for his directorial debut. There is no doubt Sorkin has taken notes and learned a lot from some of the top-notch directors that have brought his words to life such as David Fincher, Rob Reiner, Bennet Miller and Mike Nichols. Those are some pretty good auteurs to learn the craft from and Sorkin didn’t miss anything they showed. Molly’s Game is much more of a cinema-friendly story than some of the others but Sorkin has made it beyond compelling. After the success of the underground poker film Rounders, which levitated the poker world and game to the heights it knows today, Hollywood has tried and failed to capture that world again. Enter Molly Bloom and Aaron Sorkin.

Molly Bloom was Olympic level mogul skier who after injury found herself thrust into the money hungry world of Los Angeles where her career ambitions took a left turn when she took an assistant job to a high-end realtor who also happened to play in a high stakes poker game with some of Los Angeles’ elite millionaires. After diligently learning their world and making friends with the games regular players which included an A-list Hollywood actor who, although not named in the movie has since been identified in her book as Toby McGuire as well as his longtime friend Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio she eventually starts her own game with these elite players. Determined to keep her game legal and make enough money to get her degree and the life she initially set out for herself, the greed and glam of L.A. took over as well as the vices that come with it. Battling substance abuse which snuck up on her as well as the idea that she was slightly untouched she loses the L.A. game. This leads Molly to take her knowledge and skills to New York City where the clientele is less than savory and soon includes members of the Russian mafia. Molly finds herself on trial for multiple offenses that include fraud as well as money laundering all of which add up to a possible 20 plus years in prison. Her new unlikely high priced attorney Charles Jaffey are soon building a defense as Molly reveals all aspects of her business for Jaffey.

The film is driven and I mean driven by the two stellar performances of two time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain and Golden Globe winner Idris Elba. When working with an Aaron Sorkin script you need actors that can deliver not only a massive amount of dialogue but can deliver it razor sharp. Think of Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War, Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs and recent first time Oscar nominee Allison Janney in The West Wing, maybe the greatest master of his words. Without actors of this skill and caliber, these films fall flat. Elba and Chastain master his words just as well as anyone. The quick pace he demands is maybe as difficult as any stunt Tom Cruise does in any Mission Impossible film. Chastain delivers to a point where I can’t picture a Sorkin film NOT including her in some aspect.

Jessica Chastain in MOLLY’S GAME

To discuss Sorkin’s directing abilities he shows he can hang with most directors working in Hollywood. While he didn’t bring much new to the table as Fincher did with The Social Network, for instance, he paces the film and moves the story along in a way that leads to zero dullness and keeps the viewer captivated from beginning to end. He clearly knows how to work with great actors as well as get the best out of them. In light of today’s Oscar nomination announcement, it comes as no surprise that he is once again nominated for his unparalleled writing ability. The surprise is that Chastain is left out as a best actress nominee, something that hasn’t happened to an actor speaking working words in a film since 1995’s The American President and has only happened twice out of his eight feature film scripts. To say it’s a snub is an understatement, but such is the way of the Academy. In no way is Molly’s Game a film to be missed or should I say experienced.

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