10/27 Movie Trip
Paul McGuire Grimes, creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies, breaks down a couple new movies for us.
BLUE BEETLE (4K, Blu-Ray, DVD on October 31)
Xolo Maridueña is best known for playing Miguel on Cobra Kai, and now he’s tackling the title role of Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle. Jaime has recently graduated and has moved back home with his family in Palmera City. He’s excited for his first job at KORD Industries, but the first day is about as disastrous as it could get after he’s given an ancient blue beetle scarab to protect. Behind the scenes, CEO Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) is building a one-man army corps and this scarab is the magical item to making it happen. The scarab sees Jaime has the one and only host latching onto him gifting him with incredible powers and a metallic suit with pinchers.
-Starring: Xolo Maridueña, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez, Bruna Marquezine, Adriana Barraza, and Harvey Guillén.
-Director Ángel Manuel Soto and writer Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer know the weight of making DC’s first Latino superhero film, and their efforts pay off tremendously. Blue Beetle feels like the beginning of a fresh and bright future for DC if they follow this model as an example.
-Soto knows how to capture the humor in the family dynamic and uses that throughout as the Reyes family is a big part of Blue Beetle’s story. Adriana Barraza is a scene-stealer as Nana. The family element and the humor is what makes the film stand out from some of DC’s other movies recently.
– Blue Beetle also falls victim to standard origin story tropes that feel very familiar by this point. Jaime has that wide-eyed energetic vibe like Peter Parker Spider-Man as he goes up against the power-hungry CEO of a tech company, and there are plenty of mishaps and collateral damage as Jaime gets used to his Blue Beetle suit that feels inspired by Iron Man.
-Xolo Maridueña is dream casting as Jaime You can feel the excitement he has for the character, and that translates with that youthful, charming presence on screen. Maridueña should have a big career ahead of him if DC continues to use this character.
-The filmmakers and cast trusts these characters and knows the audience is looking for something new and exciting. This was originally meant to be an HBO Max-exclusive film, and I’m glad it was given a theatrical release is giving it better visibility as representation on screen is important.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (in theaters)
Martin Scorsese has been making movies for over sixty years. It’s a testament to his vision as a director and storyteller to continue to make vital films that resonate. His latest, Killers of the Flower Moon, is based on a heartbreaking true story. Scorsese not only directed the film but co-wrote with Eric Roth (Munich and Dune) basing their screenplay on David Grann’s book of the same name. They invite you into the community of Osage Indigenous people in Oklahoma. It’s a county that has become one of the wealthiest in America due to the oil springs. Lily Gladstone gives one of the best performances I’ve seen all year as Mollie Burkhart, a fiercely independent woman who is close to her family. Her life changes when Ernest Burkhart arrives in town looking to literally cash in on the wealth. His uncle, William Hale, is thought of as a white patriarch and protector to the Indian community in Osage. The love story between Mollie and Ernest blossoms at a time when she’s seeing every one of her family members killed under mysterious conditions.
-Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow
–Killers of the Flower Moon is no easy watch under Martin Scorsese’s eye as he tries to tell this story as honestly and authentically as possible.
-For a movie that’s three and a half hours, Scorsese gives it an apt pace in order to tell this story and introduce the audience to this Osage community before violence and carnage become the focal point. We, the audience, sit in on marriages, funerals, and other ceremonies celebrating the unique culture and way of life for the residents of Osage. We need to stay here and share this story as it’s been long forgotten.
– It’s a big story that still feels quite intimate focusing in on Mollie’s family and the plague of murders happening around her and her eventual illness from diabetes. Lily Gladstone is a revelation as she speaks volumes with her eyes as Mollie navigates the horrors around her. Gladstone carries herself with such strength and vulnerability going toe to toe with DiCaprio and De Niro every step of the way.
-Leonardo DiCaprio’s Ernest Burkhart feels like your quintessential Scorsese character, and DiCaprio wisely rides the duality of him being so morally complicated. It’s a performance of restraint that we haven’t seen from DiCaprio in some time.
-Robert De Niro has given some of the greatest performances of his career under Martin Scorsese in their fifty-year working relationship and friendship. There’s no missing a step in De Niro’s finely calibrated portrayal of William King Hale. There’s a stillness and calculation to the character who is always plotting out his next step.
–Killers of the Flower Moon has all the themes Scorsese has wrestled with over the years like culture, identity, religion, and the evil within us. Even the murders here happen like the mob hits we associate with Scorsese.
-This may be set in the early 1920s but its timely nature of powerful white men who invade a community only to destroy it feels important and timely. There’s a blunt realism at hand in the language and violence that’s too jarring to ignore.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
THE BURIAL (Prime Video)
Having Jamie Foxx star as a hotshot attorney who has never lost a case is inspired casting and one that should get people to watch The Burial. It’s inspired by a true story set in Florida in 1995. It stars Tommy Lee Jones as Jeremiah O’Keefe a proud husband, father, and grandfather to a large family who runs a family funeral home. It’s been passed down from one generation to the next. He’d like to keep that going, but he’s in severe debt and needs to make some severe changes. He gets the idea to sell off some of his businesses to Ray Loewen (Bill Camp) who runs a corporation of funeral homes and is incredibly wealthy. The deal goes sour with Jeremiah suing Ray over the contract. Jeremiah’s legal team includes his longtime attorney Mike (Alan Ruck) and the young and inexperienced, Hal. It’s a massive case, and it’s Hal’s idea to bring in the big guns and hire Jamie Foxx’s character, Willie Gary. Willie is a personal injury lawyer whose big personality gets him massive settlements, and he’s been featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The film also stars Jurnee Smollett as Mame Downs, the lawyer Ray hires in order to go head to head with Willie Gary.
-Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Jamie Foxx, Mamoudou Athie, Jurnee Smollett, Alan Ruck, Bill Camp
-I’m not sure how close this follows the original case or if it was dramatized for movie purposes as its certainly filled with your standard bombshells and twists during the testimonies.
-It plays out like a John Grisham story as many of his legal thrillers have been filled with racial themes. Betts uses this story as a reflection of the role race and systemic racism has in so many business and legal cases whether its blatant or not.
-While the case starts off between two men who run funeral homes, it’s quite clear early on how race plays a factor into hiring Willie Gary and Mame Downs and the widespread affects it has had in the business dealings with Ray Loewen.
-Director Maggie Betts is using this as a reminder that the truth will be exposed no matter the coverup or how innocent people try to act.
-The film plays out as your typical courtroom saga. It’s a potboiler full of high-octane personalities and fits well within that framework. The film takes on huge concepts and breaks them down into digestible bites in a familiar setting.
-A winning cast with every actor delivering what they do best. Jamie Foxx is pitch perfect in this role that plays into all of his strengths as an actor. There’s a softer side of Tommy Lee Jones on display when we’ve seen him play plenty of smug lawyers in the past. Keep your eye out for Mamadou Athie who is a big star on the rise. He has all the charm and earnest appeal as a young lawyer who isn’t taken seriously due to his age or race, but he’s the key player in turning this case around.
–The Burial is a crowd pleasure turning over all the right cards to make it land. You may know the ending, but the specifics are quite revealing.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS