Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Yesterday [2019]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  RogerEbert.com (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review
RogerEbert.com (S. O'Malley) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

Yesterday [2019] (directed by Danny Boyle story by Jack Barth and Richard Curtis screenplay by Richard Curtis) is a small-ish, independent-ish film about random British born, Indian descended Jack Malik (played Himesh Patel) a B-or-C-talented, struggling musician who had grown up in "Sussex England," (yes, perhaps "a beach town" but "in the middle of nowhere...") who had exactly one fan, Ellie Appleton (played wonderfully by Lily James) okay maybe he had two fans, there's also "Rocky" (played by Joel Fry).  Ellie's loved Jack since the 5th or 6th grade, Rocky's just sort of a bouncer/roadie who's had even less prospects than Jack and thus really, really NEEDED someone, something to "cling onto" to give his life at least some meaning (and in one of the more poignant and utterly natural scenes in the film, he literally says as much... and it makes you want to cry).

So this is the setup of the film.  Jack is a random, perhaps decent enough dude, with nice, random Indian descended parents (played wonderfully by Sanjeev Bakhsar and Meera Syal, that Jack's mom gets kinda funny -- "likes to sing" perhaps that's where Jack's gotten his "talent" ;-) -- after she's had a few glasses of wine is just priceless ;-), with exactly one person who's both his biggest fan and who absolutely loves him (and of course, he's utterly oblivious to the second part...) and ... if not for ... an utterly random event ... he would have lived and eventually died in utter anonymity.  Yet ...

... just as the entire world, utterly randomly went into a single 5-10 second power outage, Jack hits his head (his bicycle is actually hit by a bus) and when he wakes up ... and feeling sorry for himself, he strums the Beatles song "Yesterday."  To his astonishment he finds that NO ONE remembered that song.  EVERYONE including his biggest fan / "I'll love you till the day I die" Ellie thought he made it up on his own.  Nor did ANYONE know who The Beatles were.

Since he still remembers a number of the other Beatles Songs, conflicted (but honestly NO ONE knows, and EVERYONE EVEN GETS ANGRY AT HIM over his "false modesty" when he tries to tell others that the songs he was playing weren't his own), he eventually records them _as his own_ and ... rest of the story follows ;-).

It's a fun story about both anonymity and fame.  And certainly part of the film's message is that all these "Nowhere men/women/people" of Jack's "before he hit his head" life were ... arguably MORE INTERESTING than those he started to meet as he became "more and more famous." ;-)

Yes, the other reviews (above) were not spectacular, but if you like these "small-ish, independent-ish" films and actually enjoy the many, many colorful people in your lives, then you could love this film ;-).

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Spider Man: Far From Home [2019]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  RogerEbert.com (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub ()  Fr. Dennis (2 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review
RogerEbert.com (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

Spider Man: Far From Home [2019] (directed by Jon Watts, written by Chris McKenna, screenplay by Erik Sommers based on the comic book by Stan Lee [GR] [IMdb] and Steve Ditko [GR] [IMDb]) continues the current incarnation of Spider Man [MC] [IMDb] (played by Tom Holland) which remains in-sync with the larger Avengers story, notably that which played out in the last two of its installments Infinity Wars [2018] and Endgame [2019].  In those two installments, first 1/2 of all sentient life in the Universe was "disappeared" and then 5 years later, thanks to the efforts of the remaining Avengers, "returned."  Part of "the joy" of watching this Spider Man installment was the way two strange events were understood by the largely teenage characters of the story -- they called the disappearance / return of their friends and loved ones "The Blip" ;-).

Returning also are some of the other characters of the current, more teenage oriented incarnation of Spider Man, including Marisa Tomei as Peter Parker's / Spider Man's very, very cool Aunt May [MC] [IMDb].  Then both Peter Parker's love interest MJ (played by Zendaya) and BFF Ned Leeds (played by Jacob Batalon) as in previous episodes of this incarnation of Spider Man are "of color" which both makes the story much more inclusive for movie going children and teenagers of color and is reflective of American demographics today.

Indeed, I only wish that a similar sensitivity had been extended to the people portrayed at the locations in which this film took place -- the story plays out on a High School trip to Europe.  For instance, the people portrayed in a bar in Prague looked like "extras/peasants" plucked out of a 19th century rendition of a Chekhovian play rather than from one of the more fashionable centers of contemporary Europe (I'm of Czech descent, I'm "kinda sensitive" to this sort of thing...).  Then if I thought the good people of Prague were being protrayed as being stuck in the time of Amadeus or the Husars from Tolstoy's War and Peace, the portrayal of the Dutch (did they even traditionally wear "lederhosen"?) seemed even more amusing... Next time, honestly ask Mila Kunis or Tom Cruise for some help ;-).

That said, what's the story about?  Well, happily surprised / coming to terms with the repercussions of "all these people coming back" five years after "The Blip" ("Hey even though we disappeared 3 months into the school year 5 years ago, our School Administrators are forcing us to retake THE WHOLE YEAR, what's with that?" ;-), with life returning, sort-of, to normal ... Peter Parker's school is taking a week long trip to Europe.  And Peter Parker's hoping to "take a vacation" from being Spider Man as well, but ... Nick Fury [MC] [IMDb] (played AWESOMELY as always by Samuel L. Jackson) has other plans for him.  Much ensues ... ;-)

All in all it's not a bad Spider Man / Marvel Comics movie.  Certainly the film is focused on bringing back Spider Man back to being "an awkward teenager" (as, for instance, the Ant Man comics are focused on the little kid characters ...).  Still, there have been better MC movies than this one.

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