Sarah Knight Adamson is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a voting member for the Critics Choice Awards for Movies.

Sarah Knight Adamson and Jessica Aymond are both Members of the Chicago Film Critics Association

Film Rating Code:

★★★★ Outstanding Film- Run, don’t walk to the nearest movie theater.

★★★½ Excellent Film- Highly recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★★ Very Good Film- Recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★½ Good Film- Wait for the DVD, the film is still worth viewing.

★★ Wait for the DVD and proceed with caution.

★½ Wait for the DVD the film has major problems in most areas.

★ Can’t recommend the film.

Incredibles 2 (PG) ★★★★

“Incredibles 2” Directed by Brad Bird. Photo Credit: Pixar Studios

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Timely Messages of Marriage Equality and Female Empowerment

Pixar’s long awaited animated sequel to the Incredibles (2004) is a laugh-out-loud summer popcorn flick that guarantees to strike a chord with all family members. Not veering too far away from the original formula pays off, as moviegoers’ family reunion with the beloved superpowered Incredible family is sweet. Who knew, a superpowered one-year-old baby named Jack-Jack could steal the show—displaying 17, yes 17 superpowers, of which, self-duplication is the most comical. Talk about up-roaring laughter? Let’s just say, Jack-Jack’s scene with a pesky raccoon could win the best scene comical animation film award, if there were such an award.

With a history of Pixar films dealing with kids’ and adults’ emotions, that’s not the case here—no dwelling on heavy emotional issues—the script is ‘munch on your popcorn fun’ with comical scenes and ultra fast pacing. Here’s what’s really great, it’s appropriate for 3-years-olds on up to grandparents—rare family entertainment for all. And if you’re wondering if you need to see the first film in order to be up to speed on the sequel; I’d say, not really, all you need to know is that all five family members have a multitude of superpowers, with baby Jack-Jack’s emerging throughout the film. Read more…

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2018, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

Won’t You Be My Neighbor (PG-13) ★★★★ Review and Radio Podcast

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Daniel Tiger/Fred Rogers with Daniel Tiger from his show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood in the film, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR, a Focus Features release.Credit: Focus Features

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? by director Morgan Neville offers an in-depth look at Fred Rogers, the man behind the PBS children’s program, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood spanning several decades. If you were lucky enough to either grow up watching the TV show or to have children that you watched the show with—you, my friend are fortunate indeed—if you’re learning about him for the first time, you’ll appreciate knowing that a kind, gentle man served as a true hero to America’s youth. Indeed the film stays with you long after the credits roll. It washes over you like Linus’ powder-blue security blanket in the Charlie Brown comic strips—it truly renders a poignant—yet enlightening story behind Fred Rogers. It’s high on my list as one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.

And how exactly did Neville manage to shape an amalgamated portrait of an atypical human being, while creating such a satisfying film? I believe part of the reason is the straightforward honesty of the key interviewees in the film especially when they are relaying first-hand stories of how Rogers’s friendship enriched their lives. Neville, actually got the idea for the film when working with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, he asked him how he handled fame, Ma said his friend Fred Rogers taught him about that, and that’s when Neville decided to dig deeper. Ma is featured in the film relaying touching stories about Rogers.

Another affecting friend and actor on the show, Francois Clemmons who performed the role of Officer Clemmons for 25 years, (the friendly neighborhood policeman), who is now openly gay, and when asked directly if he thought Rogers was, he says, “If he was, I would have known it.” There are other scenes in the film with Clemmons that will bring tears to your eyes, primarily when he speaks of Fred as his surrogate father.

Joanne Rogers, his wife is a ray of sunshine, having met in college; they married, had two sons and remained together 52 years until his death in 2003. She has plenty to say about the accomplished life of her long-time husband; she serves as the cornerstone of the film. Read more…

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2018, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

Ocean’s 8 (PG-13) ★★★

“Ocean’s 8” Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

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Female Glam-Caper Steals the Spotlight

Ocean’s 8, the female answer to the three previous Oceans’ heist movies, (Ocean’s Eleven 2001, Ocean’s Twelve 2004, and Ocean’s Thirteen 2007) is exquisitely cast with (Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway as the leads) and has the perfect heist setting—the lavish Met Gala (New York City’s annual Metropolitan Art Museum’s fundraiser for their Costume Institute). While the film could be seen as mostly aimed toward fashionistas, the setting of the iconic New York art gallery offers visually more than solely fashion—a whole lot more. The detailed planning of the heist is typically the centerpiece of “heists” films—mainly the locale—with all the magnificent art pieces, along with jewels utilizing the Met as the location, is nothing less than brilliant. And yes, The Thomas Crown Affair did cross my mind during the viewing.

Sandra Bullock, “Ocean’s 8” Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Creating a heist film in which jewels, beautiful artwork, or antiquities’ are the target sets a visual symbol exceedingly more interesting than stacks of cash. Not to disappoint, the film takes a surprising twist near the end that garners an ultra sparkly on-screen image—so bright you may need sunglasses. Ocean’s 8 is unapologetically a ‘glam-caper’ at heart, along with enjoyable eye candy for fans of New York City by Danish cinematographer Eigil Bryld—providing a smart, glitzy, comical film to savor and enjoy—the clothes alone are worth the price of admission.

“Ocean’s 8” Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

In the director’s chair is Gary Ross of one of my favorite top five films, Pleasantville (1998), he also has screenplay credit along with Olivia Milch, story by Ross, based upon characters created by George Clayton Johnson and Jack Golden Russell. The premise is simple, a team of females, plot to steal a massive diamond necklace (that weighs six pounds) valued at $150 million, to be worn by actress Daphne Kluger, played by Anne Hathaway during the Met Gala then split the take. Speaking of Anne Hathaway, she’s basically playing an actress playing an actress as referenced in Tropic Thunder (2009), Robert Downy Jr.’s, character, “A dude playing a dude disguised as a dude,” she is hysterical in the role of an insecure, narcissistic, clueless, yet gorgeous actress. I loved her performance!

Anne Hathaway “Ocean’s 8” Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

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Posted in Movies 2018, Reviews

RBG (PG) ★★★★

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Petite but Mighty Force

Upon the conclusion of RBG, a joyous smile stretched across my face, as the feeling of pure elation was my first reaction—yes, 84-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s biographical film presents an insightful and personal view of an accomplished legendary woman—one who paved the way for women’s equality. Surely a crowd-pleasing, historical film with undercurrents of celebration showcasing Ginsburg’s strategic plans over decades in combating sexism for all.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg upon College graduation from Cornell University. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen provide a documentary that ventures well beyond the standard Wikipedia page, they spotlight a brilliant, progressive women who graduated from Harvard Law School with only nine other women in a class of over 500 men. To convolute her law school situation, she also juggled a 14-month-old baby and a husband enduring chemo treatments for cancer, Marty Ginsburg. From the beginning, even while attending Harvard, she fought sexism—the Dean of Harvard Law boldly asked she and her female law students—”How do you justify taking a seat that could be taken by a man?” I cringed at the conclusion of that line, and others in the audience gasped.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband Marty Ginsburg. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

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Posted in Movies 2018, Reviews

Adrift (PG-13) ★★★

Shailene Woodley’s  Star Sails to New Heights 

Shailene Woodley’s breakout role as the spunky oldest daughter of George Clooney in The Descendants (2011) has proven her acting abilities aren’t a one-off—in fact she’s been sailing along quite nicely in Hollywood, with blockbuster films under her belt such as The Fault of Our Stars (2014) and the award-winning TV series Big Little Lies. In the ultra physically challenging role of Adrift her performance now clearly ranks her among her fellow A-list actors. Here she plays Tami Oldham in the harrowing true story of she and her fiancé, Richard Sharp’s (Sam Claflin) journey from Tahiti to San Diego aboard a 44-ft yacht, their dilemma—Hurricane Raymond, which garnered 40-ft. waves and 140 knot winds with only a few weeks into their voyage. The trailers tell us Richard is severely injured with a broken leg and ribs—(I’m not giving out any spoilers here), thus promoting Tami from skipper to captain for their survival—and, to carry the bulk of the film.

And carry she does—as Robert Redford in All is Lost (2015) and director Ang Lee’s Life of Pie (2012) both sea-storm films of survival, Woodley is solo in her fight against nature; her strength, determination, and skill depend on it. Amazingly she appears natural in the role as if she does have experience in and around a large sailing yacht; I’m not convinced a crash sailing course could actually teach the agility and finesse she credibly displays. The good news here, as opposed to the above films, is the human companion feature—ok, hang on, the tiger as portrayed in Life of Pi just might qualify as a companion; although Redford is clearly solo. As viewers, we do hear dual human dialogue (of which needed to be a bit more in-depth), offering a sigh of relief, as we witness the power of love and resilience of the duo in action. Read more…

Posted in Movies 2018, Reviews

Deadpool 2 (R) ★★★

“Deadpool 2” Stars Ryan Reynolds. Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

To begin, I’m strongly advising you see Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, before attempting to view Deadpool 2. The original highly successful R rated film is the first of it’s kind in the comic book genre to present a snarky, foul-mouthed anti-hero of sorts with a cynical attitude. Reynolds hit the jackpot with this role, and fans just can’t get enough. So how do you follow up an R-rated comic book film that grossed more than any other R-rated comic book film in history with over $750 million (US) in box-office receipts, and one that came in second of all time, behind The Passion of the Christ? This is a tough question; thankfully, Deadpool 2 doesn’t veer too far from the original, nor does it try to ‘out do’ the original.

Reynolds stepped up to the plate to safeguard his ‘breakout’ character—yes, he has screenplay writing credits. If you’re a fan of the snarky, one-liner, potty-mouthed, red latex bodysuit, invincible guy—then you’ll most likely be entertained by Deadpool 2, as I was—it’s outrageous adult ‘raunchy fun,’ but also darker than the original. The screenplay written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Reynolds is directed by David Leitch of John Wick (2014) and Atomic Blonde (2017).

An obvious fact, but one that needs to be stated, is that Deadpool 2 is the meta-Deadpool, a movie about the first movie’s wild success, and focuses on the likely hurdles that a sequel presents. In fact, it’s so mindful of the situation it blatantly proclaims, “Sequels are unimaginative cash-grabs.” near the opening.

“Deadpool 2” Stars Ryan Reynolds. Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Creative license soars to new heights in Deadpool 2, the opening credits are child-like crayon drawings that introduce the film, they’re all a farce; as in the director card stating: ‘Directed by the guy who killed the dog in John Wick’ as the funniest. Eccentric in tone, the sequences feel as though they’ve been spread out on to a desktop and patched together like a quilt; these random storylines could easily be interchangeable. However, that’s precisely why the film stands out. Writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds want their comic book character to have above all uniqueness, Deadpool is filled with over-the-top non-conformance.
The entire film references other comic book films, and pop culture mentions, typically by making fun of them in some way; Green Lantern, joke in the credits, Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice’s silly mommy moment, Hawkeye’s lack of powers, Josh Brolin’s Thanos’s two-timing as a character in Avengers: Infinity of War less than three weeks ago, at one point Wade simply calls Brolin’s (Cable), “Thanos,” Logan’s gags you’ll need to see for yourself. Look for chatter of Disney’s Frozen movie soundtrack, and let’s not forget Canadian Ryan Reynolds ode to fellow Canadian star singer Céline Dion. Read more…

Posted in Movies 2018, Reviews

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