ALEXXANDAR FILM REVIEWS: ‘Le 355’: the film in numbers | News
“Le 355” (Action/Crime: 2 hours, 2 minutes)
With: Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, Penélope Cruz and Bingbing Fan
Director: Simon Kinberg
Rated: PG-13 (Strong violent sequences, coarse language and suggestive material)
Film review: Essentially a producer-screenwriter, Simon Kinberg is making his second film as a director after “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” (2019). Kinberg and co-writer Theresa Rebeck craft some neat characters, but they let their story veer into unimpressive action movie tropes.
A powerful armed computer program resides with ruthless mercenaries. Freewheeling CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Chastain) teams up with British MI-6 agent Khadijah Adiyeme (Nyong’o), German agent Marie Schmidt (Kruger), Chinese intelligence agent Lin Mi Sheng (Fan) and to Graciela Rivera, and a Colombian psychologist (Cruz) to retrieve the device that contains the program.
The cast is made up of five major actresses. Everyone brings something to “The 355”. They are a group of women in a progressive plot. They’re compelling, but this clichéd narrative isn’t. It takes recurring themes seen in other action movies and applies them here in a way that doesn’t match the talent of its cast.
Rating: C+ (The 411 on the 355: it’s an unimaginative pattern.)
Play at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas
“Poupelle de Chimney Town” (Animated/Adventure: 1h40)
With: Masataka Kubota, Mana Ashida and Shinosuke Tatekawa
Director: Yusuke Hirota
Rated: PG (violence, action and thematic elements)
Movie Review: An adaptation of Akihiro Nishino’s book, “Poupelle de Chimney Town” is an energetic adventure. It is awesome animation with cute characters. While those good features do exist, the story’s disjointed chronological execution hurts.
Chimney smoke covers the sky of an industrial city and the townspeople haven’t seen the sky for centuries. Citizens think stars don’t exist. Lubicchi, a chimney sweep and a friendly trash monster named Poupelle live in the industrial city. Lubicchi and Poupelle decide to prove that stars exist beyond the smog ceiling.
A visual masterpiece exists with this animated adventure. Each scene brings new eye candy. Three types of animations exist, beautiful abstract colorful scenes of both exist when viewed from a distant perspective. The parts of the city where the main characters interact with it are more crisp and defined details.
Conversely, the characters are simpler in comparison, but this style and the others are a feast for the eyes. These are sweet pictures.
This movie is in Japanese with English subtitles, but if you’re lucky enough to see the dubbed version, the voices are very rewarding. Tony Hale, Antonio Raul Corbo and Stephen Root express their lively personalities well.
The clever characters go on an adventure to discover the stars. Along the way, the public can easily travel with this star trek. The story is inviting, even when the narrative periodically has an awkward delivery.
Grade: B- (Chimney Town enchants enough to smoke.)
“Licorice Pizza” (Romantic Drama/Comedy: 2 hours, 13 minutes)
With: Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Bradley Cooper and Sean Penn
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Rated: R (Pervasive language, sexual material, violence, drug use, underage alcohol and tobacco use)
Movie review: “Licorice Pizza” is a captivating love story. The cast is a well-known group of new and seasoned faces. They’re all part of a young couple’s adventures in a coming-of-age romance with natural comedy built in.
This couple is Alana Kane (Haim) and Gary Valentine (Hoffman). Alana is about 10 years older than Gary, who is 15 in high school and an actor. Still, that doesn’t stop them from exploring love in a 1973 San Fernando Valley.
Alana Haim plays her role with a certain nonchalance. His character dismisses Gary at first, calling him a mere child. Haim is cold and plays her part well and comically. Cooper Hoffman’s Gary is relentless in his pursuit of her. Hoffman is the son of the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, and he, like his father, lends an everyday appeal often missing from leading men.
Despite the off-putting first encounter of these characters, they form a relationship that lasts a short time but is a powerful partnership. They shouldn’t be dating but they do. The public can follow the bumpy ride. However, one has to wonder if the popularity of this movie would exist if this storyline was about a 25-year-old man chasing a high school teenager.
Along the way, the audience encounters a wide range of people: actors, business people, media, police and movie studio executives. Big names and talented people play the secondary characters, each delivering remarkable turns.
One of the standouts is Bradley Cooper, whose character needs anger management advice. He constantly reminds people that he is Barbra Streisand’s boyfriend. Sean Penn plays a well-known older actor who is always prone to juvenile shenanigans. Harriet Sansom Harris as a soft-spoken Hollywood agent and Christine Ebersole as Lucy Doolittle, a popular television actress based on Lucille Ball.
Paul Thomas Anderson manages to maintain his large cast while keeping the focus on his main stars Haim and Hoffman. No matter how outrageous the characters are, Anderson manages to keep the focus on her young lovers.
Anderson knows how to create clever characters. Notable are films such as “Magnolia” (1999), “Boogie Nights” (1997), “Punch-Drunk Love” (2002) and “There Will Be Blood” (2007). These films rely on energetic, thought-provoking, and sometimes shocking character relationships.
“Licorice Pizza” is similar. Like his previous films, Anderson’s writing and directing are superior. Its story remains focused, stable even when supporting characters overshadow its tracks.
Grade: B+ (A young love creates a groovy movie)
“Red Rocket” (Drama: 2 hours, 10 minutes)
With: Simon Rex, Bree Elrod and Suzanna Son
Director: Sean Baker
Rated: R (profanity, nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence)
Movie Review: Art meets actual pornography in ‘Red Rocket,’ a well-made follow-up film to director Sean Baker’s acclaimed ‘The Florida Project’ (2017). It stars actor Simon Rex, a former MTV VJ and once an adult film actor. Rex and others make this movie feel too real at times, which is a welcome treat for moviegoers.
Rex plays Mikey Saber. He’s a failed porn star who returns to Texas City, his small Texas hometown. He arrives on a bus, bruised by a recent violent altercation. Saber left a troubled life in Los Angeles to find his hometown equally unwelcoming. Still, he manages to mend past relationships such as those with his ex-wife and former porn star, Lexi (Elrond), and stepmother Lil (Brenda Deiss). He also finds new relationships like his romantic interest, a teenage girl named Kaylee calling herself Strawberry (Son) who works at a local donut restaurant. However, dysfunctional habits return for Saber.
“Red Rocket” feels too real at times. That’s because Sean Baker uses real people in his movies with a few actors and a big named star, Simon Rex. Baker also uses tangible parameters for the public. The Texas scenes could very well be a coastal town in Georgia, a town in Florida, or somewhere in southern Louisiana. No matter where, Baker creates an unparalleled sense of reality.
Simon Rex is perfect for this role. He has previously acted in the adult industry. He is awarded for his frank interpretation.
In a series of pivotal scenes, an employer asks Mikey Saber about the 17-year gap on his resume. The character struggles to respond. It seems that he was in prison but he finally admits to having told the truth to the employer. He says, “I’m going to be direct with you. I’m an adult movie star. Porn. I am a porn star.
Saber doesn’t stop there. He tells people he meets at Google his handle, Mikey Saber. “It’s me,” he says with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Simon Rex portrays this satisfaction with a snappy demeanor that works for him.
Rex shows every part of his body in this movie, but he also shows that he can put on a good performance. He can act convincing, though that should be easy considering the character’s life is a bit like his own.
This photoplay has scenes that go too far to press a point. The moments are sometimes laughable, but the “Red Rocket” is solid drama even with those bits of intentional comedy. These comic scenes offer a necessary levity, a break with the hardcore reality expressed.
Sean Baker is a talented filmmaker. He creates another masterpiece. “Red Rocket” is a daring film that feels like real life in a way that most movies lack.
Grade: B+ (From Texas to Beyond…)
Adann-Kennn Alexxandar has been reviewing films for over 20 years with The Valdosta Daily Times.