January 21, 2022 Arts & Culture, Podcast, Short Segment
The latest movie from Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi and a fairytale starring Pierce Brosnan? They're both reviewed in this week's review roundup from Russ Simmons.Listen
January 14, 2022 Arts & Culture, Podcast, Short Segment
Freeze Frame: “Scream” (R), “Drive My Car” (Unrated), “Belle” (PG), “The 355” (R), “The Tender Bar” (R)
A diverse lineup of movies fills theaters this week. Russ helps sort through the selections that range from a tongue-in-cheek slasher flick to a thoughtful Japanese arthouse entry.Listen
December 31, 2021 Arts & Culture, Podcast, Short Segment
"Licorice Pizza," a departure for filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson ("Boogie Nights"), "The Tragedy of Macbeth," a departure for Joel Coen and "Red Rocket," a departure of taste are all new for review this week.Listen
December 24, 2021 Arts & Culture, Podcast, Short Segment
Freeze Frame: “The Matrix Resurrections” (R), “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story” (PG), “Don’t Look Up” (R), “A Journal for Jordan” (PG), “Even Mice Belong in Heaven” (Not rated)
Check out Russ' 2-minute review segment for the lowdown on "The Matrix Resurrections," "American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story," "Don't Look Up," "A Journal for Jordan," "Even Mice Belong in Heaven."Listen
December 17, 2021 Arts & Culture, Podcast, Short Segment
Freeze Frame: “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (PG-13), “Nightmare Alley” (R), “Sing 2” (PG), “Swan Song” (R), “The King’s Man” (R), “The Lost Daughter: (R)
Russ covers new movie options available in theaters or streaming: "Spider-Man: No Way Home," "Nightmare Alley," "Sing 2," "Swan Song," "The King's Man," and "The Lost Daughter."Listen
December 10, 2021 Arts & Culture, Podcast, Short Segment
Freeze Frame: “West Side Story” (PG-13), “Being the Ricardos” (R), “The Unforgivable” (R), “National Champions” (R)
Check out Russ' two-minute review segment for the scoop on the new movies "West Side Story," "Being the Ricardos," "The Unforgivable" and "National Champions."Listen
December 3, 2021 Arts & Culture, Podcast, Short Segment
Freeze Frame: “The Power of the Dog” (R), “The Hand of God” (R), “C’Mon, C’Mon” (R), “Below the Fold” (Not rated)
The gothic arthouse western "The Power of the Dog" is one of those movies that causes critics to flip and general audiences to shrug. Benedict Cumberbatch leads an accomplished cast in director Jane Campion's adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel that tells the tragic tale of a despicable cowboy who makes life miserable for everyone on a 1920s Montana cattle ranch. What makes him tick and will he get his comeuppance? This dark character study is beautifully crafted and skillfully acted. It’s all a bit too ambiguous for its own good. Still, "The Power of the Dog" has a quiet power.
“The lavishly filmed coming of age movie "The Hand of God" is Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's gauzy look back at the joy and tragedy of his early teenage years in Napoli. This autobiographical tale is understandably self-indulgent, but it has a wistful nature that may resonate with some viewers.
Joaquin Phoenix and young Woody Norman are utterly believable in Mike Mills' low key but smart comic drama "C'Mon, C'Mon," the tale of a single man and his troubled nephew who bicker and bond when they are thrown together by circumstance. Its approach comes off as a bit preachy and at times, the movie can be as annoying as fingernails on the chalkboard. In other words, it's like real life. Expect some love for these actors at awards time.
Kansas City-based filmmaker Clayton Scott offers his locally lensed movie debut, “Below the Fold,” available on Amazon Prime and VOD. It’s fictional mystery thriller inspired by real life murders in the Skidmore, Missouri area. Davis DeRock and Sarah McGuire star as reporters who dig up new evidence in a decade-old cold case. While it doesn’t break any new ground, “Below the Fold” shows plenty of potential from a promising new talent.Listen
November 26, 2021 Arts & Culture, Podcast, Short Segment
Infidelity, scandal, intrigue, murder. These are the topics of many a soap opera. They also emerge in the true story “House of Gucci,” currently available in theaters only. Lady Gaga gives a wily performance as the ambitious and cunning wife of fashion house heir Maurizio Gucci, played by Adam Driver. Director Ridley Scott has put together an all-star cast that also includes Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons and Salma Hayek to tell this story of the unscrupulous behavior by members of the famous family. Sometimes the dialogue and performances…especially by Leto…seem awfully campy, and Driver’s character and his actions are very murky. Plus, the film never establishes a consistent tone. “The House of Gucci” is certainly entertaining but is never quite as gripping as it should have been.
“Encanto” is the latest animated fantasy from the folks at Disney and it’s also currently available in theaters only. “Encanto” lives up to its name. It’s a charming musical extravaganza that takes place in the mountains of Columbia, focusing on the enchanted Madrigal family that lives in a magical casita. Each family member imbued with a special supernatural gift. All members, that is, except for one. Young Mirabel Madrigal struggles to understand why she is the one who has been left out. Unlike most Disney fairytales, “Encanto” has no villains, but the characters are still faced with considerable personal obstacles to overcome. The animation is stunning, and the soundtrack is full of catchy tunes written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. “Encanto” is a Thanksgiving weekend gift that all members of the family can be thankful for.Listen
November 19, 2021 Arts & Culture, Podcast, Short Segment
Freeze Frame: “King Richard” (PG-13), “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” (PG), “tick…tick…BOOM!” (PG-13), “Bruised” (R)
Time for Will Smith to dust off his shelf and make room for an Oscar. In “King Richard,” he gives a riveting performance as the obsessive and galvanizing Richard Williams, the driving force behind the tennis domination of his daughters Venus and Serena Williams. This wildly entertaining biopic transcends the conventions of the inspiring sports movie genre, thanks to a terrific cast and heartfelt execution. "King Richard" serves up an ace.
Who ya gonna call? How about Kansas City's Paul Rudd for "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," a reboot of the classic movie franchise? Fans of the original movies will feel a twinge of nostalgia watching the brainy granddaughter of one of the original Ghostbusters attempt to save the world from an impending invasion of malevolent spirits. While the formula may be a bit too familiar, there is ample humor and some clever twists to compensate. The finale takes a cringeworthy turn, but "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is still serves up the spirits.
Lin-Manuel Miranda of "Hamilton" fame makes his movie directorial debut with a sharp and entertaining adaptation of the Broadway musical, "tick...tick...BOOM!" It's the autobiographical story of the late Jonathan Larson, the composer of the smash hit, "Rent." Andrew Garfield plays Larson, experiencing emotional crisis and writer’s block before the ripe old age of 30. It's a well-crafted and well sung celebration of the demanding creative process.
Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with "Bruised" the story of a washed-up MMA fighter attempting redemption. Her strong performance makes up for some filmmaking missteps and stale dialogue. The movie's no knockout, but Halle is.Listen