THE FRENCH DISPATCH

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

As Wes Anderson has developed and honed his signature style of filmmaking and story-telling, it has become increasingly apparent that the director has much love and respect for French cinema, art and pop-culture. Some of his musical choices, his desired cinematography, his use of colors, as well as the way he presents his character all reveal the influence that the art and culture of France has had on his films. This style proves to be absolutely perfect when it comes to his latest film, The French Dispatch. In this movie, Anderson pays tribute to the world of Journalism, but does so in the way that his fans already know and love. The result is a delightful comedy, that has wonderful visuals and artistry that honor, celebrate, and have lots of fun with the setting of France.

Inspired by the magazine The New Yorker, Anderson offers a fictionalized take on the magazine and the people that helped make that magazine special. The movie gives its audience a highly stylized and comedic glimpse into the workings of an American magazine stationed in a fictional French city. Not only does Anderson and his co-writers take us behind the scenes of the periodical, but also brings segments of the magazine to life. In three vignettes, the movie tells the stories of an eccentric artist in prison, student revolutionaries wanting to make a difference, and the adventures surrounding a food journalist's desire to partake in the delectable delights of a police commissioner's chef.

Anderson definitely has a style that audiences either love and appreciate, or simply despise and don't understand. So it should go without saying, that fans of his movies will absolutely love this film, and the others should probably just stay away. As for myself, I absolutely love this movie, and probably like it more than his last three entries. Co-writing the script Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness and Jason Schwartzman proves to be a winning formula for this wonderful movie. Ever single segment/vignette has something special to offer when it comes to quirky comedy and lovable characters. Even my least favorite segment (Revisions to a Manifesto), which involves a political protest by college students, is still entertaining and enjoyable.

The real treat for me is beholding the artistry that is Wes Anderson's visual style. Working with his usual cinematographer, Robert Yeoman, Anderson gives us segments with a rich palette of colors in addition to a lovely use of black and white footage. The production design, costumes and editing are all so immaculate that the film offers a gorgeous and fulfilling feast for the eyes.

The incredible and immense cast all perform outstandingly. It was awesome to see Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe and Frances McDormand return and shine as brightly as ever. It was also a real delight to see newcomers such as Benicio Del Toro, Lea Seydoux, Henry Winkler, Elisabeth Moss, Lyna Khoudri, Christoph Waltz, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Almaric, Stephen Park, and Saorise Ronan fit in wonderfully in Anderson's playground.

As I previously stated, The French Dispatch is a signature Wes Anderson movie that his fans and admirers is sure to eat up and enjoy deliciously. For those familiar with his style and not fans, this is definitely one to avoid. As for anyone not at all familiar with the movies of Wes Anderson, I double dog dare you to give this one a try. If absolute sold and in love with Anderson's way of presenting cinema, then I absolutely urge you to immerse yourself in his complete filmmography.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

My first introduction to the music of The Velvet Underground was in 1991 when a couple of their songs played in the background of Oliver Stone's musical biopic The Doors. Back then, I was such a huge fan of the movie that I was obsessed with the soundtrack album which contain the group's song, "Heroin." Prior to this movie, I had never ever heard of the group, but was vaguely familiar with the lead singer Lou Reed. Flash forward to this year, and up until recently I actually still was not that familiar with the group other than knowing and loving a good amount of their music. I don't know exactly why, but information and knowledge about the bands members and history never did previously fascinate me, but all I knew was that I really dug their unique sound.

Anyway, when I heard that director Todd Haynes had made a documentary about The Velvet Underground, this was the icing/cherry that attracted me to this project. As a fan of most of Haynes' previous films, I was certainly interested in how he would present the band's story. The result is a remarkable and outstanding documentary that only provides real insight into the group and its members, but presents their story in ways absolutely fitting to their style, era, and artistic background.

For anyone unfamiliar with the band, The Velvet Underground emerged from the avant garde art scene in New York during the mid-1960s. Inspired by rock and roll, beat poet, and the art scene that surrounded them, Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Angus MacLisle took the music scene by storm and developed a devoted following. With dark and gritty lyrics and imagery, as well as unorthodox musical arrangements, The Velvet Underground would eventually become an iconic and influental group. Their fate as such was definitely sealed when German singer Nico guest performed on their debut album, and had the support and respect of artist Andy Warhol.

While this film does have a lot of elements common in music documentaries, Haynes, and editors Alfonso Gonzales and Adam Kurnitz do exceptional work in presenting the archival clips and interviews in ways that capture the avant garde spirit of the scene from which the band emerge. Not only does the movie offer information about the creative forces behind the group, it offers a mesmerizing and immersive experience that feels like a genuine timecapsule. There is definitely a lot of visual stimulation to take in and I would just love to rewatch the film over and over again to capture the images I previously missed.

This is a documentary that I higly recommend, and this recommendation is not only extended to fans of The Velvet Underground, but also to the uninitiated, as well as fans of the work of Todd Haynes. The Velvet Underground is currently playing in some theaters and is available for viewing via AppleTV +.

DUNE

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

After creating an incredible sequel with Blade Runner 2049, filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has taken on the challenge of adapting one of the more sucessful, iconic, and popular novels of science fiction. Upon hearing that Dune would be Villenneuve's next project, I had little doubt that the amazing director would be up for the task. And the results are an absolutely breathtaking and captvating movie that displays wonderful world building and character introduction. However, Villeneuve and his co-writers Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth spend too much of the film's time with the introductions that they do not advance the story far enough.

For those unfamiliar with the world of Dune, the story introduces the audience to the universe in the very distant future. Emperor Shaddam IV has ordered that the House Atreides be placed in charge of the control of the desert planet Arrakis (aka Dune), the source of the most precious substance in the universe, spice. The spice is a substance that has psychoactive effects on anyone exposed to it, and can improve the vitality of one's life, but it is also valuable in that allows people to bend space for interstellar travel. Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), his family and his associates must prepare for this great undertaking.

Arrakis was previously controlled by the ruthless and violent Harkonnen family, and their leader Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgård) is only willing to step down, as this move is part of a bigger plan on the part of the Emperor to destroy the House Atreides. As Duke Leto and his people begin the necessary work for their takeover, his son Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) has been experiencing visions in his dreams of a treacherous violent future for himself and his family on the planet Arrakis.

Onscreen, the film's official title gets revealed as Dune: Part One, and this makes absolute sense given the daunting task it is to adapt the immense novel by author Frank Herbert. However, I had hoped to see more of a complete story fleshed out and created for the big screen. Don't get me wrong, Denis Villeneuve's Dune is an amazing cinematic experience, and one that should be beheld in a theater on the biggest screen available. Everything from the practical effects work and CGI to the gorgeous cinematography by Greig Frasier and the haunting score by Hans Zimmer is tremendous. I simply feel that Villeneuve has its audience spend a little too much time immersed in this universe and not enough time advancing the story. If it was his intention to leave his audience wanting more, then he has definitely succeeded at that.

In addition to incredible visuals and sounds that create the setting, much of the film's power must also be attributed to the excellent actors in the cast. As young Paul Attreides, Timothée Chalamet performs superbly bringing to Paul the perfect sweet, wide-eyed innocence and earnestness his character should have. As his father Duke Leto, Oscar Isaac one again impresses as the strong and charismatic leader whose plans for the native people of Arrakis (the Fremen) are much more compassionate and just than his predecessors. As the grotesque and vicious Harkonnen ruler Vladimir, Stellan Skarsgård gives a villanous turn that appropriately comes across as Shakesperian in style.

As Paul's mother and Duke Leto's concubine Lady Jessica, Rebecca Ferguson gives a powerful and emotional turn as a woman endowed with special skills and powers that she imparts to her son. The movie definitely can boast an immense and impressive cast. In the supporting roles, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem all have their chance to shine in their scenes. Some of whom, I am sure we will definitely get to see more of in the next installment.

Despite my minor frustration with the movie, I feel that this new introduction to the universe of Dune is sure to please fans of the book, but will also definitely appeal to fans of science fiction cinema who can appreciate a deftly artistic entry in their beloved genre. Though probably not Villeneuve's greatest achievement in film, it is still a wonderful accomplishment nevertheless, and I expect that his next installment will proceed to further impress his audiences and fans of this first entry.

MASS

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B

Actor Fran Kranz makes his feature filmmaking debut with the drama Mass. When the film begins, it is not clear why a lady in a church is so anxious about getting the meeting room prepared for guests, nor is it clear what the meeting is about. If anyone is very tired or impatient and wants the story to be spelled out in the first few minutes, this script written and directed by Kranz may not hold their interest in the first 30 minutes or so. It may appear as if it a play, or a made for TV drama, but it is original work by the filmmaker. With enough patience, the audience learns that the guests in the meeting room are not there to discuss when the next church service is, but rather the mass shooting in a school that happened in their town in the past. This may sound like a spoiler, but first, anyone that has experienced gun violencce should know before they enter the theater and second, it is important to know that a filmmaker has approached this subject through cinema with how two couples are trying to approach and share the reality of the event that shattered lives.

Judy (Breeda Wool) is the church staff member who is preparing the areas where the meeting will be held – overly helpful to a degree. It appears as much when Kendra (Michelle N. Carter), a social worker, arrives to review the set up before the participants arrive. She receives the two couples and has them sit across a table from each other. Gail (Martha Plimpton) and Jay (Jason Isaacs), who lost their son and are meeting Richard (Reed Birney) and Linda (Ann Dowd, The Handmaid's Tale), the parents of the student who used weapons against others on campus, killing many.

All four actors give powerful performances as each main character discusses topics they felt had not been fully considered or addressed over the years. The actors each have stand out scenes that make this film as strong as it is.

This film may not have as wide an audience as the usual summer blockbusters or the ones that have a buzz during the award season time each year. It is one that has smart dialogue to have the viewer consider many points about mass shootings and minors killing others for various reasons.

Crew: Director/ screenplay/ producer: Fran Kranz

Camera: Ryan Jackson-Healy. Editor: Yang-Hua Hu. Music: Darren Morze.

PG-13 Running time: 110 minutes

MASS opens in theaters in Austin on October 22.

Source: Bleecker Street

HALLOWEEN KILLS

By Laurie Coker

Rating: C-

Jamie Lee Curtis still draws viewers and apparently, the makers of ‘Halloween Kills’ know it. They tout her as the star of the latest in the Michael Myers slasher saga and yet, she has fewer than fifteen minutes of screen time. Co-writer/director David Gordon Green, along with Danny McBride and Scott Teems deliver a gore-fest of bloodletting but do so without the originals terror factor and with an uninspiring cast of characters. Still, it is Halloween and there are, at least, some familiar names and ample creepiness, even if a storyline of any merit is missing.

Fantastic Fest 2021 Review: THE TRIP

By Liz Lopez

Rating: A+

It was a nice return to attend Fantastic Fest 2021 with both the in person and virtual screenings. It started off great with very good films to put us back in the festival mood that is unique to this one here in Austin. The one film that made me feel as I was “back” to this festival is the Norwegian film The Trip starring one of my favorite actresses, Noomi Rapace. It is one of my favorite of the dark comedy that I viewed in the theater and it was a great experience, and especially thrilled to have the actress introduce the film at the Alamo Drafthouse. This home invasion action thriller film features a couple who have marital problems and decide to take a weekend trip to the cabin in the woods. They are at their wits end and have plans to act out while they are there. To their surprise, there are unexpected visitors and soon they face greater danger and learn how to work together despite their current differences.

Television director Lars (Aksel Hennie) and his wife/actress Lisa (Noomi Rapace, Prometheus) are at the remote cabin owned by his aging father. Lars plans secure funds from her life insurance policy if she were to have an accident out there. Lars is very unaware how smart and capable Lisa is and is caught off guard while in one room. There are great scenes when they are bickering like an old married couple (and they are not old), but they can’t see the forest for the trees anymore within their marriage. It isn’t until they face the danger together that they see how good they can be as a couple, no matter how difficult the situation is and how swiftly it is descending into chaos. It was great to see Noomi Rapace in this role after having viewed her in multiple dramatic roles that are very dark.

If I dare describe any one scene, it will lead to spoilers, so it will just have to be one dark comedy best left to enjoy not knowing much. Be aware that not all the scenes of violence are for all viewers and watch the film knowing there are scenes that may not be suitable for someone who has experienced this type of trauma.

Directed by Tommy Wirkola from a screenplay co-written with Nick Ball and John Niven. The production stars Noomi Rapace, Aksel Hennie, Atle Antonsen, Christian Rubeck, Andre Eriksen, Nils Ole Oftebro, Tor Erik Gunstrøm

It is not rated, but safely can be said to be R for the violence and is 113 minutes in duration.

The Trip will be available for streaming on Netflix on October 15, 2021.

Source: Netflix, Fantastic Fest

THE LAST DUEL

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Ridley Scott's newest movie tells a compelling true story that takes place in 14th century France, but certainly has some relevance in the modern world, as it deals with the repercussions of sexual assault. In this era, when men are being held more accountable for misogyny and sex crimes, The Last Duel resonates solidly, but also reflects the systemic issues and the alarmingly problematic mind set of the people of its time. The result is a riveting and troubling movie that demands its audiences to realize that crimes against women have troubled our world for many generations.

Matt Damon stars as Jean de Carrouges, a knight dedicated to fighting on behalf of the monarchy of France. While de Carrouges has endured the physical wounds, scars, and psychological trauma of his work, he manages to find some happiness in life when he marries Margueritte (Jodie Comer). Because of the politics of the time, and his troubled relationship with Count Pierre de Alençon (Ben Affleck), Jean struggles to provide his beloved wife with all that would make her completely happy. His problems get further complicated after his good friend Jacque Le Gris (Adam Driver) ends up working for Count Pierre and benefits from his employer's friendship and admiration. As both Le Gris and de Carrouges attempt to maintain amicable relations, their relationship takes a turn for the worse when Le Gris beomes attracted to Marguerite and his jealousy of his friend's marriage to her blossoms.

With beautifully bleak cinematography by Dariusz Wolski and a powerful story with solid character development, Ridley Scott's The Last Duel offers something very close to Shakespearian drama, mixed with modern relevance and some impressive battle sequences. Scott and writers Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon deliver a period piece that has great story telling, well-conceived characters and a mostly good grasp of the source material. Based on the book, The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France, the movie succeeds swimmingly as a relationship drama and reflects a time when crimes against women were not treated as seriously as they are now.

My only complaint about the movie, and this is a minor one, is the lack of consistent accents when it comes to the actors. This issue can be distracting for audiences wanting to be immersed in this era and setting. Regardless of this minor quiblle of mine, I feel that the actors perform very well with Damon, Comer, and Driver puting much heart into their roles. In addition to the leads, I have to say the Ben Affleck manages to steal scenes and shine hilariously as the decadent and unapologetically snobby Count Pierre de Alençon. It is particularly fun to see him antagonize and insult Matt Damon's character, considering that the two actors have been good friends for so long.

While not a top tier entry from Ridley Scott, The Last Duel is still a great contribution to movies and shows that even a seemngly run-of-the-mill Medieval movie can still have relevance to the problems we continue to face in our era. It is a movie I definitely recommend and encourage my readers to enjoy in their local cinema.

SURVIVE THE GAME

By Liz Lopez

Rating: C+

Directed by James Cullen Bressack and written by Ross Peacock, this action crime thriller is ambitious in its efforts to tell another story about the law enforcement efforts to pull off a drug bust. The intention is there, but the script really lacks anything new that hasn't been done in previous stories. I am not wholly trashing the film as it has a few good points, but it certainly does have some characters making some very bad choices including detective David (Bruce Willis) and his much less tenured partner, Cal (Swen Temmel). Unfortunately, in the opening scene when the drug bust is initiated, both David and Cal aren’t smart in their choice of where to position themselves and don’t seem to be the best marksmen for as many bullets are fired. David (Willis) is injured and captured, yet encourages Cal to pursue two of the dealers, romantic partners Mickey (Zack Ward) and Violet (Kate Katzman). Cal’s pursuit of the two criminals lead to private property, a remote farm owned by a former vet and recent widower, Eric (Murray).

I don’t know how much humor was intended to be interjected in this drama, but some of the criminals have some absurd behaviors. It made me wonder how Mickey’s boss that arrives with more thugs and a wounded David, Frank (Michael Sirow), would even bother to hire such dorks. Most crime leaders in other films don’t give them second chances to carry out orders.

Eric and Cal escape from Mickey and Violet and many scenes of hide and seek occur on the farm. Cal shows off his ability to take a few hired attackers down and even without a gun to not draw attention back at the house. Frank’s boss, the head of the entire operation now run by the son, Michael (Kristos Andrews) is David's old nemesis and is not happy at the way things are going. David may be wounded, but when it comes time to capture the head guy, Bruce’s character predictably takes him down.

If you are looking for some entertainment that doesn’t require a lot of thought and you don’t mind predictability in the story, then enjoy Bruce as he gives his menacing looks and usual action abilities.

Run Time: 97 minutes | Rating: R

Available in select theaters (the Galaxy in Austin), on Apple TV and Everywhere You Rent Movies on October 8th.  It will also become available on Blu-ray and DVD on October 12th.

WATCH AND SHARE THE TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT8uydi9bDQ

Source: Lionsgate

MADRES

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

When I first saw the trailer for the Welcome to the Blumhouse film Madres, I had an idea of what the story would include when Diana (Ariana Guerra, Five Feet Apart, Dumplin') discovers items from the previous residents of the home on the ranch where she and her husband Beto (Tenoch Huerta, The Forever Purge, Son of Monarchs, “Narcos: Mexico” TV Series) have moved to. The supernatural elements are there with a few of the thumps, slamming doors and creeks, but to my pleasant surprise, the film is so much more than this when Diana begins to read some historical news articles she finds. Her investigative journalism skills kick in, more so with the personal experiences during her pregnancy. Directed By Ryan Zaragoza (“All American” TV Series, Sterling), based on the script by Mario Miscione (“Dark/Web” TV Series, Discarnate) and Marcella Ochoa (Worry Dolls short, Discarnate, My Name Is Maria De Jesus), this is a well written and crafted story that includes elements of true events that occurred in 1970s Los Angeles as the basis for what is happening to pregnant women in the region where Diana and Beto now live, many who are Spanish dominant in their communication, spoken or written. This is way beyond another “La Llorona” story, although it does contain references to some cultural beliefs, it is an engaging story that should not be missed. Granted, it may not be viewing for everyone, especially people who prefer to opt out of films with “spooky things,” spirits or similar scenes. 

Beto has been hired to manage the agricultural workers in the Golden Valley community and Diana is a journalist who plans to write a book while she is pregnant and setting roots in the small community. Anita (Elpidia Carrillo, “Mayans M.C.” TV Series, Songbird, Predator) runs a store in town that has a good stock of cultural and spiritual items and meets the new couple in town. As friendly and welcoming as Anita tries to be, Diana is Mexican American with limited Spanish speaking skills and obviously was not raised with the long-term knowledge that Beto and Anita have. There is a scene that shows Diana is even reluctant to have Anita say a prayer for them and her soon to be born baby.

Another theme that comes up in this story set in the 1970s is the use of pesticides in the fields that caused health problems in agricultural workers. It is obvious in this story that the landowner and/or his minion are all for using/spraying pesticides with no regard for anyone’s health. Rallying for social causes was highly discouraged by life threatening means.  

There are some beautiful aerial shots of the region with the agricultural and rich landscape, as well as great shots of the field workers and the environment they are working in – beautiful as it may appear on screen, but potentially deadly, if not disabling. The cinematography by Felipe Vara de Rey and the direction by Ryan Zaragoza make this visually inviting.  

The cast includes Joseph Garcia, (Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Bless Me, Ultima, Prison Break), Robert Larriviere, (“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Nashville” TV Series) and Kerry Cahill (“The Walking Dead,” TV Series, Free State of Jones) among the many others.

Welcome to the Blumhouse is a set of eight films released on Amazon since October 2020 and Madres will be available worldwide on Amazon Prime Video October 8th.  

Fantastic Fest 2021 Review: LAMB

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Anyone who has seen the trailer of this film should already know that they are in for a rather bizarre and unusual movie going into Lamb. Having seen the trailer and intrigued with what it offers, I simply could not resist the opportunity to experience the movie. After all, this is Fantastic Fest, a film festival widely known for its strange offerings and incredible delights. After watching this movie, I can honestly say that there is nothing quite like this film this year, but at the same time, I feel that the filmmakers are hoping that this draw alone will help sell this film. While I was intrigued and bewildered by Lamb, I honestly feel that audiences deserve a clearer message than what they will get from this unconventional movie.

Noomi Rapace and star as married couple Maria and Ingvar. This Icelandic couple live a humble life as sheep ranchers who work hard on their land to subsist within their simple life. As satisfying as their work is, Maria and Ingvar have their marital struggles, and have also had to deal with the untimely death of their only child. Their simple lives are drastically changed when one of their sheep gives birth to an abnormal child that Maria and Ingvar bring into their home to offer it the extra care it needs. While this seems normal at first, it becomes apparent that this lamb is becoming a replacement for the child they tragically lost. Things get even more complicated when Ingvar's troubled brother Petur (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) makes an unexpected visit to their home.

Written and directed Valdimar Jóhannsson, who co-wrote the film with Sjón, Lamb is definitely a remarkable experience in that it often bewilders, disturbs, and absolutely boggles the mind. To his credit, Jóhannsson has created a darkly atmospheric and gorgeous looking movie that is utterly unforgettable. However, the filmmakers spend so much of the audience's time confusing and confounding them that when the movie concludes, it is definitely hard to decipher what the entire story means. The movie obviously deals with the tragedy of loss and the hope that a life and relationship can be salvaged, but the strange horrific aspects of the movie never clearly expresses the motivations of the filmmakers.

The trio of actors in the film perform exceptionally, particularly Noomi Rapace who is extraordinary as Maria. I was also impressed with the performance of Björn Hlynur Haraldsson who gives a remarkable turn as Petur. Also great is Björn Hlynur Haraldsson who stars as Maria's more stoic husband Ingvar.

I would definitely recommend Lamb as a mere curiosity piece, because one simply needs to see it to believe it. Cinematically and aesthetically, there is much to appreciate and praise, but the writing and story still leaves much to be desired. If it was the goal of the filmmakers to baffle their audiences, then they have succeeded winningly.

VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Following the events of the first movie, journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) continues to struggle living with his symbiotic extraterrestrial Venom, whose nature is much more violent and predatory than he wants to be. Loosely based on the Marvel Comics story arc, Maximum Carnage, this new installment in Sony's franchise matches Brock and Venom against the psychopathic killer Cletus Kasady who, in the movie, acquires a symbiote of his own--the hyperviolent and more destructive creature known as Carnage. While the film offers a rather amusing and entertaining dark comedy, the filmmakers struggle with pairing Brock and Venom's personal struggles with the murderous and vindictive whims of their antagonists.

In attempting to make a film that is highly entertaining and humorous, writers Kelly Marcel, Tom Hardy and director Andy Serkis deliver a movie that mostly succeeds when it comes to the humor, but fails when it comes to the developement of its villains and their intended impact on the story. The result is a completely uneven and tonally confused movie that often comes across as rushed and incomplete. This should frustrate and infuriate comic fans of the Maximum Carnage story arc. The bulk of this very short movie is spent on the problematic relationship between Brock and Venom that Kasady/Carnage aspect of it gets absolutely slighted and disserviced.

While I did enjoy the humor and laughed often, I kept wanting more from the villains in the story and was disappointed that their roles where treated so badly. The casting of Woody Harrelson as Kasady is definitely an inspired one, considering that he is so good at portraying off-kilter characters, but the poor writing and development of his character never allows him to truly shine. This is same problem with Kasady's love interest and partner-in-crime Frances Barrison/Shriek who also comes across as frustrating caricature that does little to enrich the film.

Tom Hardy is the only actor who gets to have fun and really show some range. And I do appreciate that much effort has been put into his character and his relationship with Venom. I simply feel that the filmmakers had the room to do much more with the story and could have made a more meaty movie with plenty of material from the comics from which they could have drawn. At the end of the day, I still had fun with this movie, but can still acknowledge that the overall product is a failure to fully realize what could have been a much better and more satisfying film.

NO TIME TO DIE

by Renee' C.

Rating: 4 (Out of 5 Reels)

James Bond (Daniel Craig) has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology (IMDB).

Even though the last couple of Bond films were disappointing I found myself wanting to see this one because the trailer made it look interesting. Especially, the introduction of a female Bond character. This installment was more even keel overall. Sure, there is action and fight scenes but they are much more subdued than in the previous film. It is overall more cerebral than in the past which I found refreshing. Just shy of three hours makes it too long for my liking but overall, I did enjoy watching this film.

This film is well made as most Bond films are and the characters compliment the story line and are well acted. Another big plus is the addition of two bad ass ethnic female characters which add to the depth of this film. If you are a fan of the Bond films you must see this film.

Critica de Cine: DUNE

Por Liz Lopez

Rating: A -

Hay fanáticos del libro de Dune de la década sesenta y de la película del cineasta David Lynch de la década ochenta, pero también hay novatos en el mundo de la ciencia ficción ambientado en un futuro muy lejano. La nueva adaptación cinematográfica del libro, dirigida por Denis Villeneuve a partir de un guión que escribió con Eric Roth y Jon Spaihts, "Dune" tiene suficiente para ser independiente y crear nuevos fanáticos con el elenco masivo y la cinematografía fantástica de Greig Fraser y el diseñador de producción. Patrice Vermette. Si un novato de ciencia ficción en Dune no ha leído el libro ni ha visto la película anterior (especialmente durante algún tiempo de inactividad debido a demoras de COVID), Villeneuve y el editor Joe Walker brindan una excelente experiencia cinematográfica que hará que parte de la audiencia esté lista para ver la película más de una vez, especialmente si se crea una película de seguimiento. Esta película me capturó con la mención de los actores Oscar Isaac y Javier Bardem (entre otros) como parte del selecto elenco de la interpretación de los personajes del autor Herbert.

El enorme elenco de personajes de Villeneuve interpretados por diversos actores de diversas edades (y los mayores todavía lucen bien), incluyen a Timothée Chalamet como Paul Atreides, hijo del noble Duque Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) y la concubina Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson, de las cintas Mission: Impossible). Paul es joven y poco a poco está aprendiendo sobre su herencia y todo lo que es o será su destino. Zendaya interpreta a Chani (que Paul ve en sus visiones o sueños). En la novela de Herbert, tiene a un ecologista Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) que es un personaje fuerte e intimidante que llama la atención desde el principio y un barón obeso (Stellan Skarsgård). Ah, y no puedo olvidar mencionar a Josh Brolin y Jason Momoa listos para enfrentarse a los malos.

Para los fanáticos de lo sobrenatural, Lady Jessica (Ferguson) es parte de un culto de hechiceras dirigido por la Reverenda Madre (Charlotte Rampling), la Bene Gesserit. No diré más y les permitiré experimentar las escenas tal como se presentan en la película.

La cinematografía de Dune por Greig Fraser hace que un desierto árido se vea hermoso y acogedor, pero con el estruendo de algo debajo, el público pronto se entera de que hay "pasos" especiales a seguir para mantenerse con vida en el planeta Arrakis, también conocido como Dune. Hay pueblos indígenas, los Fremen y enormes naves espaciales, así como escenas del codiciado mineral del planeta "Spice".

Es una experiencia cinematográfica que se puede ver mejor en los cines (en los EE. UU.), pero también estará disponible en HBO Max. Los invito a experimentar Dune por todo lo que es.

Duración: 2 horas 35 minutos

Fuente: Warner

Critica de cine del 2021 Austin Film Festival: THE FRENCH DISPATCH

Por Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

Desde el principio, The French Dispatch es, obviamente, una película de Wes Anderson. Los fanáticos de la revista New Yorker Magazine sin duda verán cómo la película de Anderson es un tributo a la publicación. En la cinta, The French Dispatch es un suplemento especial de un periódico ficticio de Kansas en la ciudad imaginaria de Ennui-Sur-Blasé. El propietario y editor es Arthur Howitzer Jr (Bill Murray). Las historias son sobre expatriados estadounidenses en Francia y se cuentan de una manera muy divertida, con una miríada de actores conocidos a la cabeza que hacen todo lo posible para que la audiencia se una a la forma en que Wes Anderson cuenta una historia de manera tan inteligente (Bottle Rocket y Rushmore). La película me pareció muy entretenida y de hecho quiero volver a verla para capturar todo lo que parece estar pasando en esta ciudad francesa.

JKL Berensen (Tilda Swinton) es una crítica de arte que escribe sobre el asesino convicto Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio Del Toro) y el guardia de la prisión Simone (Léa Seydoux), que es su modelo y musa desnuda. El marchante de arte es interpretado por Adrien Brody. Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand) escribe sobre el grupo estudiantil revolucionario y joven líder Zeffirelli (Timothée Chalamet) con quien tiene un amorillo. Y, sin embargo, el está involucrado con una motociclista francesa (Lyna Khoudri). El escritor gastronómico Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright) cuenta su historia a través de una entrevista televisiva a un presentador de un programa de entrevistas (Liev Schreiber). Su plan de entrevistar (durante la cena) a un jefe de policía, el teniente Nescafier (Stephen Park), se ve interrumpido por el secuestro de un niño.

Entre las tres historias principales de los periodistas están Owen Wilson andando en bicicleta por la ciudad, Edward Norton es un jefe de policía y Saoirse Ronan es una criminal (y estas son solo algunas). Anderson también incluye secuencias animadas en su narración. El director de fotografía Robert Yeoman tiene imágenes en blanco y negro y en color que mantienen las historias en marcha.

Cuando la revista cierra, es fácil sentir algo de tristeza, especialmente para aquellos de nosotros que hemos sentido la pérdida de trabajos y de la comunidad a la que estamos acostumbrados en un mundo de publicaciones impresas.

“The French Dispatch” se estrenó en Competición en el Festival de Cine de Cannes de 2021. Apareció como película de la noche de apertura en el Festival de Cine de Austin. La película estará en cines el viernes 22 de octubre.

Fuente: Searchlight Pictures

Film News: THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN

Film News: THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN

HBO Max Acquires Morgan Freeman & Lori McCreary’s THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN For Streaming Starting November 19 “Flat-out brilliant.” -Josh Kupecki, Austin Chronicle “Frankie Faison could earn an Oscar nom…the entire cast breathes life into characters...

Film Trailer: THE DRUMMER

Film Trailer: THE DRUMMER

THE OFFICIAL TRAILER HAS BEEN RELEASED FOR THE UPCOMING FEATURE FILM “THE DRUMMER” STARRING DANNY GLOVER, PREMA CRUZ AND SAM UNDERWOOD RELEASING ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS ON NOVEMBER 9TH IN HONOR OF VETERANS DAY Directed by ERIC WERTHMAN Produced by by...

Film News: AT THE READY Now Available On Demand

Film News: AT THE READY Now Available On Demand

By Liz Lopez Rating: A The documentary At the Ready has been in the festival circuit starting with Sundance Film Festival 2021 and went to three other festivals before screening at the Cine las Americas International Film Festival here in Austin followed by the...

Latest

Giveaway: NOBODY

Giveaway: NOBODY

Sources: Universal Pictures, Fandango

TVR, in association with Universal Pictures and Fandango, are giving away Fandango Gift Cards to go see the new action flick Nobody, starring Bob Odenkirk.

Sometimes the man you don’t notice is the most dangerous of all.

Emmy winner Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul, The Post, Nebraska) stars as Hutch Mansell, an underestimated and overlooked dad and husband, taking life’s indignities on the chin and never pushing back. A nobody.  

When two thieves break into his suburban home one night, Hutch declines to defend himself or his family, hoping to prevent serious violence. His teenage son, Blake (Gage Munroe, The Shack), is disappointed in him and his wife, Becca (Connie Nielsen, Wonder Woman), seems to pull only further away.

The aftermath of the incident strikes a match to Hutch’s long-simmering rage, triggering dormant instincts and propelling him on a brutal path that will surface dark secrets and lethal skills. In a barrage of fists, gunfire and squealing tires, Hutch must save his family from a dangerous adversary (famed Russian actor Aleksey Serebryakov, Amazon’s McMafia)—and ensure that he will never be underestimated as a nobody again.

Nobody is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry), from a script by Derek Kolstad, the narrative architect of the John Wick franchise, and co-stars legendary Emmy winner Christopher Lloyd as Hutch’s father and multi-hyphenate musician-actor RZA as Hutch’s brother, whose own hidden talents aid Hutch in his quest for vengeance. 

To enter for a chance to win, send an email to trueviewreviews2@gmail.com. Winners will be randomly selected startiing Friday, March 26, 2021.

Official Hashtag:

#NobodyMovie

Facebook:

facebook.com/nobodymovie

Twitter:

twitter.com/NobodyMovie

Instagram:

instagram.com/nobodymovie

THE FRENCH DISPATCH

THE FRENCH DISPATCH

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

As Wes Anderson has developed and honed his signature style of filmmaking and story-telling, it has become increasingly apparent that the director has much love and respect for French cinema, art and pop-culture. Some of his musical choices, his desired cinematography, his use of colors, as well as the way he presents his character all reveal the influence that the art and culture of France has had on his films. This style proves to be absolutely perfect when it comes to his latest film, The French Dispatch. In this movie, Anderson pays tribute to the world of Journalism, but does so in the way that his fans already know and love. The result is a delightful comedy, that has wonderful visuals and artistry that honor, celebrate, and have lots of fun with the setting of France.

Inspired by the magazine The New Yorker, Anderson offers a fictionalized take on the magazine and the people that helped make that magazine special. The movie gives its audience a highly stylized and comedic glimpse into the workings of an American magazine stationed in a fictional French city. Not only does Anderson and his co-writers take us behind the scenes of the periodical, but also brings segments of the magazine to life. In three vignettes, the movie tells the stories of an eccentric artist in prison, student revolutionaries wanting to make a difference, and the adventures surrounding a food journalist’s desire to partake in the delectable delights of a police commissioner’s chef.

Anderson definitely has a style that audiences either love and appreciate, or simply despise and don’t understand. So it should go without saying, that fans of his movies will absolutely love this film, and the others should probably just stay away. As for myself, I absolutely love this movie, and probably like it more than his last three entries. Co-writing the script Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness and Jason Schwartzman proves to be a winning formula for this wonderful movie. Ever single segment/vignette has something special to offer when it comes to quirky comedy and lovable characters. Even my least favorite segment (Revisions to a Manifesto), which involves a political protest by college students, is still entertaining and enjoyable.

The real treat for me is beholding the artistry that is Wes Anderson’s visual style. Working with his usual cinematographer, Robert Yeoman, Anderson gives us segments with a rich palette of colors in addition to a lovely use of black and white footage. The production design, costumes and editing are all so immaculate that the film offers a gorgeous and fulfilling feast for the eyes.

The incredible and immense cast all perform outstandingly. It was awesome to see Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe and Frances McDormand return and shine as brightly as ever. It was also a real delight to see newcomers such as Benicio Del Toro, Lea Seydoux, Henry Winkler, Elisabeth Moss, Lyna Khoudri, Christoph Waltz, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Almaric, Stephen Park, and Saorise Ronan fit in wonderfully in Anderson’s playground.

As I previously stated, The French Dispatch is a signature Wes Anderson movie that his fans and admirers is sure to eat up and enjoy deliciously. For those familiar with his style and not fans, this is definitely one to avoid. As for anyone not at all familiar with the movies of Wes Anderson, I double dog dare you to give this one a try. If absolute sold and in love with Anderson’s way of presenting cinema, then I absolutely urge you to immerse yourself in his complete filmmography.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

My first introduction to the music of The Velvet Underground was in 1991 when a couple of their songs played in the background of Oliver Stone’s musical biopic The Doors. Back then, I was such a huge fan of the movie that I was obsessed with the soundtrack album which contain the group’s song, “Heroin.” Prior to this movie, I had never ever heard of the group, but was vaguely familiar with the lead singer Lou Reed. Flash forward to this year, and up until recently I actually still was not that familiar with the group other than knowing and loving a good amount of their music. I don’t know exactly why, but information and knowledge about the bands members and history never did previously fascinate me, but all I knew was that I really dug their unique sound.

Anyway, when I heard that director Todd Haynes had made a documentary about The Velvet Underground, this was the icing/cherry that attracted me to this project. As a fan of most of Haynes’ previous films, I was certainly interested in how he would present the band’s story. The result is a remarkable and outstanding documentary that only provides real insight into the group and its members, but presents their story in ways absolutely fitting to their style, era, and artistic background.

For anyone unfamiliar with the band, The Velvet Underground emerged from the avant garde art scene in New York during the mid-1960s. Inspired by rock and roll, beat poet, and the art scene that surrounded them, Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Angus MacLisle took the music scene by storm and developed a devoted following. With dark and gritty lyrics and imagery, as well as unorthodox musical arrangements, The Velvet Underground would eventually become an iconic and influental group. Their fate as such was definitely sealed when German singer Nico guest performed on their debut album, and had the support and respect of artist Andy Warhol.

While this film does have a lot of elements common in music documentaries, Haynes, and editors Alfonso Gonzales and Adam Kurnitz do exceptional work in presenting the archival clips and interviews in ways that capture the avant garde spirit of the scene from which the band emerge. Not only does the movie offer information about the creative forces behind the group, it offers a mesmerizing and immersive experience that feels like a genuine timecapsule. There is definitely a lot of visual stimulation to take in and I would just love to rewatch the film over and over again to capture the images I previously missed.

This is a documentary that I higly recommend, and this recommendation is not only extended to fans of The Velvet Underground, but also to the uninitiated, as well as fans of the work of Todd Haynes. The Velvet Underground is currently playing in some theaters and is available for viewing via AppleTV +.

DUNE

DUNE

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

After creating an incredible sequel with Blade Runner 2049, filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has taken on the challenge of adapting one of the more sucessful, iconic, and popular novels of science fiction. Upon hearing that Dune would be Villenneuve’s next project, I had little doubt that the amazing director would be up for the task. And the results are an absolutely breathtaking and captvating movie that displays wonderful world building and character introduction. However, Villeneuve and his co-writers Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth spend too much of the film’s time with the introductions that they do not advance the story far enough.

For those unfamiliar with the world of Dune, the story introduces the audience to the universe in the very distant future. Emperor Shaddam IV has ordered that the House Atreides be placed in charge of the control of the desert planet Arrakis (aka Dune), the source of the most precious substance in the universe, spice. The spice is a substance that has psychoactive effects on anyone exposed to it, and can improve the vitality of one’s life, but it is also valuable in that allows people to bend space for interstellar travel. Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), his family and his associates must prepare for this great undertaking.

Arrakis was previously controlled by the ruthless and violent Harkonnen family, and their leader Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgård) is only willing to step down, as this move is part of a bigger plan on the part of the Emperor to destroy the House Atreides. As Duke Leto and his people begin the necessary work for their takeover, his son Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) has been experiencing visions in his dreams of a treacherous violent future for himself and his family on the planet Arrakis.

Onscreen, the film’s official title gets revealed as Dune: Part One, and this makes absolute sense given the daunting task it is to adapt the immense novel by author Frank Herbert. However, I had hoped to see more of a complete story fleshed out and created for the big screen. Don’t get me wrong, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is an amazing cinematic experience, and one that should be beheld in a theater on the biggest screen available. Everything from the practical effects work and CGI to the gorgeous cinematography by Greig Frasier and the haunting score by Hans Zimmer is tremendous. I simply feel that Villeneuve has its audience spend a little too much time immersed in this universe and not enough time advancing the story. If it was his intention to leave his audience wanting more, then he has definitely succeeded at that.

In addition to incredible visuals and sounds that create the setting, much of the film’s power must also be attributed to the excellent actors in the cast. As young Paul Attreides, Timothée Chalamet performs superbly bringing to Paul the perfect sweet, wide-eyed innocence and earnestness his character should have. As his father Duke Leto, Oscar Isaac one again impresses as the strong and charismatic leader whose plans for the native people of Arrakis (the Fremen) are much more compassionate and just than his predecessors. As the grotesque and vicious Harkonnen ruler Vladimir, Stellan Skarsgård gives a villanous turn that appropriately comes across as Shakesperian in style.

As Paul’s mother and Duke Leto’s concubine Lady Jessica, Rebecca Ferguson gives a powerful and emotional turn as a woman endowed with special skills and powers that she imparts to her son. The movie definitely can boast an immense and impressive cast. In the supporting roles, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem all have their chance to shine in their scenes. Some of whom, I am sure we will definitely get to see more of in the next installment.

Despite my minor frustration with the movie, I feel that this new introduction to the universe of Dune is sure to please fans of the book, but will also definitely appeal to fans of science fiction cinema who can appreciate a deftly artistic entry in their beloved genre. Though probably not Villeneuve’s greatest achievement in film, it is still a wonderful accomplishment nevertheless, and I expect that his next installment will proceed to further impress his audiences and fans of this first entry.

THE FRENCH DISPATCH

THE FRENCH DISPATCH

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

As Wes Anderson has developed and honed his signature style of filmmaking and story-telling, it has become increasingly apparent that the director has much love and respect for French cinema, art and pop-culture. Some of his musical choices, his desired cinematography, his use of colors, as well as the way he presents his character all reveal the influence that the art and culture of France has had on his films. This style proves to be absolutely perfect when it comes to his latest film, The French Dispatch. In this movie, Anderson pays tribute to the world of Journalism, but does so in the way that his fans already know and love. The result is a delightful comedy, that has wonderful visuals and artistry that honor, celebrate, and have lots of fun with the setting of France.

Inspired by the magazine The New Yorker, Anderson offers a fictionalized take on the magazine and the people that helped make that magazine special. The movie gives its audience a highly stylized and comedic glimpse into the workings of an American magazine stationed in a fictional French city. Not only does Anderson and his co-writers take us behind the scenes of the periodical, but also brings segments of the magazine to life. In three vignettes, the movie tells the stories of an eccentric artist in prison, student revolutionaries wanting to make a difference, and the adventures surrounding a food journalist’s desire to partake in the delectable delights of a police commissioner’s chef.

Anderson definitely has a style that audiences either love and appreciate, or simply despise and don’t understand. So it should go without saying, that fans of his movies will absolutely love this film, and the others should probably just stay away. As for myself, I absolutely love this movie, and probably like it more than his last three entries. Co-writing the script Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness and Jason Schwartzman proves to be a winning formula for this wonderful movie. Ever single segment/vignette has something special to offer when it comes to quirky comedy and lovable characters. Even my least favorite segment (Revisions to a Manifesto), which involves a political protest by college students, is still entertaining and enjoyable.

The real treat for me is beholding the artistry that is Wes Anderson’s visual style. Working with his usual cinematographer, Robert Yeoman, Anderson gives us segments with a rich palette of colors in addition to a lovely use of black and white footage. The production design, costumes and editing are all so immaculate that the film offers a gorgeous and fulfilling feast for the eyes.

The incredible and immense cast all perform outstandingly. It was awesome to see Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe and Frances McDormand return and shine as brightly as ever. It was also a real delight to see newcomers such as Benicio Del Toro, Lea Seydoux, Henry Winkler, Elisabeth Moss, Lyna Khoudri, Christoph Waltz, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Almaric, Stephen Park, and Saorise Ronan fit in wonderfully in Anderson’s playground.

As I previously stated, The French Dispatch is a signature Wes Anderson movie that his fans and admirers is sure to eat up and enjoy deliciously. For those familiar with his style and not fans, this is definitely one to avoid. As for anyone not at all familiar with the movies of Wes Anderson, I double dog dare you to give this one a try. If absolute sold and in love with Anderson’s way of presenting cinema, then I absolutely urge you to immerse yourself in his complete filmmography.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

My first introduction to the music of The Velvet Underground was in 1991 when a couple of their songs played in the background of Oliver Stone’s musical biopic The Doors. Back then, I was such a huge fan of the movie that I was obsessed with the soundtrack album which contain the group’s song, “Heroin.” Prior to this movie, I had never ever heard of the group, but was vaguely familiar with the lead singer Lou Reed. Flash forward to this year, and up until recently I actually still was not that familiar with the group other than knowing and loving a good amount of their music. I don’t know exactly why, but information and knowledge about the bands members and history never did previously fascinate me, but all I knew was that I really dug their unique sound.

Anyway, when I heard that director Todd Haynes had made a documentary about The Velvet Underground, this was the icing/cherry that attracted me to this project. As a fan of most of Haynes’ previous films, I was certainly interested in how he would present the band’s story. The result is a remarkable and outstanding documentary that only provides real insight into the group and its members, but presents their story in ways absolutely fitting to their style, era, and artistic background.

For anyone unfamiliar with the band, The Velvet Underground emerged from the avant garde art scene in New York during the mid-1960s. Inspired by rock and roll, beat poet, and the art scene that surrounded them, Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Angus MacLisle took the music scene by storm and developed a devoted following. With dark and gritty lyrics and imagery, as well as unorthodox musical arrangements, The Velvet Underground would eventually become an iconic and influental group. Their fate as such was definitely sealed when German singer Nico guest performed on their debut album, and had the support and respect of artist Andy Warhol.

While this film does have a lot of elements common in music documentaries, Haynes, and editors Alfonso Gonzales and Adam Kurnitz do exceptional work in presenting the archival clips and interviews in ways that capture the avant garde spirit of the scene from which the band emerge. Not only does the movie offer information about the creative forces behind the group, it offers a mesmerizing and immersive experience that feels like a genuine timecapsule. There is definitely a lot of visual stimulation to take in and I would just love to rewatch the film over and over again to capture the images I previously missed.

This is a documentary that I higly recommend, and this recommendation is not only extended to fans of The Velvet Underground, but also to the uninitiated, as well as fans of the work of Todd Haynes. The Velvet Underground is currently playing in some theaters and is available for viewing via AppleTV +.

DUNE

DUNE

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

After creating an incredible sequel with Blade Runner 2049, filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has taken on the challenge of adapting one of the more sucessful, iconic, and popular novels of science fiction. Upon hearing that Dune would be Villenneuve’s next project, I had little doubt that the amazing director would be up for the task. And the results are an absolutely breathtaking and captvating movie that displays wonderful world building and character introduction. However, Villeneuve and his co-writers Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth spend too much of the film’s time with the introductions that they do not advance the story far enough.

For those unfamiliar with the world of Dune, the story introduces the audience to the universe in the very distant future. Emperor Shaddam IV has ordered that the House Atreides be placed in charge of the control of the desert planet Arrakis (aka Dune), the source of the most precious substance in the universe, spice. The spice is a substance that has psychoactive effects on anyone exposed to it, and can improve the vitality of one’s life, but it is also valuable in that allows people to bend space for interstellar travel. Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), his family and his associates must prepare for this great undertaking.

Arrakis was previously controlled by the ruthless and violent Harkonnen family, and their leader Vladimir (Stellan Skarsgård) is only willing to step down, as this move is part of a bigger plan on the part of the Emperor to destroy the House Atreides. As Duke Leto and his people begin the necessary work for their takeover, his son Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) has been experiencing visions in his dreams of a treacherous violent future for himself and his family on the planet Arrakis.

Onscreen, the film’s official title gets revealed as Dune: Part One, and this makes absolute sense given the daunting task it is to adapt the immense novel by author Frank Herbert. However, I had hoped to see more of a complete story fleshed out and created for the big screen. Don’t get me wrong, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is an amazing cinematic experience, and one that should be beheld in a theater on the biggest screen available. Everything from the practical effects work and CGI to the gorgeous cinematography by Greig Frasier and the haunting score by Hans Zimmer is tremendous. I simply feel that Villeneuve has its audience spend a little too much time immersed in this universe and not enough time advancing the story. If it was his intention to leave his audience wanting more, then he has definitely succeeded at that.

In addition to incredible visuals and sounds that create the setting, much of the film’s power must also be attributed to the excellent actors in the cast. As young Paul Attreides, Timothée Chalamet performs superbly bringing to Paul the perfect sweet, wide-eyed innocence and earnestness his character should have. As his father Duke Leto, Oscar Isaac one again impresses as the strong and charismatic leader whose plans for the native people of Arrakis (the Fremen) are much more compassionate and just than his predecessors. As the grotesque and vicious Harkonnen ruler Vladimir, Stellan Skarsgård gives a villanous turn that appropriately comes across as Shakesperian in style.

As Paul’s mother and Duke Leto’s concubine Lady Jessica, Rebecca Ferguson gives a powerful and emotional turn as a woman endowed with special skills and powers that she imparts to her son. The movie definitely can boast an immense and impressive cast. In the supporting roles, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem all have their chance to shine in their scenes. Some of whom, I am sure we will definitely get to see more of in the next installment.

Despite my minor frustration with the movie, I feel that this new introduction to the universe of Dune is sure to please fans of the book, but will also definitely appeal to fans of science fiction cinema who can appreciate a deftly artistic entry in their beloved genre. Though probably not Villeneuve’s greatest achievement in film, it is still a wonderful accomplishment nevertheless, and I expect that his next installment will proceed to further impress his audiences and fans of this first entry.

“The Old Ways” Now on DIGITAL, BLU-RAY AND DVD

“The Old Ways” Now on DIGITAL, BLU-RAY AND DVD

By Liz Lopez Rating: B+ In October 2020, the Sitges Film Festival was host to the World Premiere of “The Old Ways” and now this film is now available to the public to view via Digital, Blu-ray and DVD this week. The special features on the DVD/Blu-ray include BTS...

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