The summer movie season is in full swing. I am dog obsessed and can’t wait to have one, so am very much looking forward to “A Dog’s Journey”. There is also the cheesy 90’s-style thriller “The Intruder”, which unfortunately, didn’t get much publicity or have a press screening. But it looks fun. “Trial By Fire” is a heartbreaking, ten hanky, must-see about an innocent American – one of hundreds – murdered by the state. This injustice is so awful that Rick Perry should be prosecuted for first-degree murder. The lives of two homicidal maniacs are re-examined – Charles Manson in “Charlie Says” and Ted Bundy in “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”. Both films feature excellent portrayals by their lead actors. I am a big Keanu Reeves fan, so I also looking forward to the third in the John Wick series. Nothing better happen to his dog! But I am the most excited for both “Ma” the campy horror with Octavia Spencer and “Rocketman”, about one of my fav musicians of all-time Elton John!
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Zac Efron is eerie as serial killer Ted Bundy. This is a great film but a bit incomplete. There was very little coverage of the hideous crimes, so Bundy did not come off as the psycho that he was and I found it hard to understand how Elizabeth could have been so naive for so long.
Plot Summary: A chronicle of the crimes of Ted Bundy, (Zac Efron) from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily Collins), who refused to believe the truth about him for years.
Cast: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Angela Sarafyan, James Hetfield
Director: Joe Berlinger
Genres: Crime drama, Biography
Production Co: Ninjas Runnin’ Wild Productions, Voltage Pictures, COTA Films, Netflix
I had never heard of Buddy Bolden, so am glad that this film was made. There are countless notable African-Americans that also deserve cinematic treatment. Hopefully, this is a start.
Plot Summary: New Orleans cornet player Buddy Bolden becomes a key figure in the birth of jazz, influencing countless musicians for decades to come.
Cast: Gary Carr, Erik LaRay Harvey, Yaya DaCosta, Reno Wilson, Karimah Westbrook, JoNell Kennedy, Robert Ri’chard, Serena Reeder
Director: Dan Pritzker
Genres: Biography, Historical drama, Music
I have always loved the Lord of The Rings so it is awesome to learn about learn about his early life. The cast is stellar making this another film that is not to be missed this month.
Plot Summary: As a young student, J.R.R. Tolkien finds love, friendship and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts. Their brotherhood soon strengthens as Tolkien weathers the storm of a tumultuous courtship with Edith Bratt and the outbreak of World War I. These early life experiences later inspire the budding author to write the classic fantasy novels “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.”
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Derek Jacobi, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Tom Glynn-Carney, Craig Roberts
Director: Dome Karukoski
Genres: Biography, Historical drama
Production Co: Chernin Entertainment
Distributors: Fox Searchlight
I’m a sucker for these sort of 90’s throwback thrillers. Throw in yummy Michael Ealy, Meghan Good and longtime fav, Dennis Quaid (I don’t know how Meg Ryan gave him up!) and I’m so there.
Plot Summary: When a young married couple (Michael Ealy and Meagan Good) buys their dream house in the Napa Valley, they think they have found the perfect home to take their next steps as a family. But when the strangely attached seller (Dennis Quaid) continues to infiltrate their lives, they begin to suspect that he has hidden motivations beyond a quick sale.
Cast: Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Joseph Sikora, Dennis Quaid, Alvina August, Carolyn Anderson, Erica Cerra, Kurt Evans
Director: Deon Taylor
Production Co: Screen Gems, Hidden Empire Film Group, Primary Wave Entertainment
Distributors: Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment
The Ugly Dolls are one of my favorite gifts for kids. This is the family film of the month and will please both kids and their parents. Suck on a cannabis edible to make it even more fun if you are the adult!
Plot Summary: In the adorably different town of Uglyville, weirdness is celebrated, strangeness is special and beauty is embraced as more than meets the eye. After traveling to the other side of a mountain, Moxy and her UglyDoll friends discover Perfection — a town where more conventional dolls receive training before entering the real world to find the love of a child. Soon, the UglyDolls learn what it means to be different — ultimately realizing that they don’t have to be perfect to be amazing.
Cast: Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monae, Blake Shelton, Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias, Leehom Wang, Emma Roberts
Director: Kelly Asbury
Genres: Children , Animated , Musical comedy , Adventure
Production Co: MWM, Troublemaker Studios, STX Entertainment, Reel FX Animation Studios
Distributors: STX Films
The film that Angelica Huston put her foot in her jealous mouth over, Poms is tons of fun. I am appalled by the ageism that has surrounded this film. With the baby boomers constituting the largest segment of the community, it is important that there are films for them too!
Plot Summary: Martha is an introverted woman who moves to a retirement community that has shuffleboard, golf, bowling and other activities. Hoping to be left alone, she meets Sheryl, a fun-loving neighbor who insists that they become best pals. After coming out of her shell, Martha and her new friend decide to form a cheerleading squad with their fellow residents. As the two women hold auditions, they soon learn that it’s never too late to follow your dreams, even when the odds are stacked against you.
Cast: Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Celia Weston, Alisha Boe, Charlie Tahan, Rhea Perlman, Phyllis Somerville, Pam Grier
Director: Zara Hayes
Production Co: Rose Pictures, Sierra/Affinity, STX Entertainment, Entertainment One, Les Films Séville
Distributors: STX Films
This film is the riveting story of the women, who murdered Sharon Tate and other Hollywood citizens in the late 60’s. I have always wondered how people get caught up in these wacky, usually abusive and sometimes murderous cults. A friend of mine has been advocating for one of these women/murderers, Leslie Van Houten for years. But it was hard for me to emphasize with her after seeing and investigating her role in the brutal LoBianco murders.
Plot Summary: Years after the shocking murders that made the name Charles Manson synonymous with pure evil, the three women who killed for him — Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins — remain under the spell of the infamous cult leader. Confined to an isolated cellblock, the trio seem destined to live out the rest of their lives under the delusion that their crimes were part of a cosmic plan, until an empathetic graduate student attempts to rehabilitate them.
Cast: Matt Smith, Hannah Murray, Suki Waterhouse, Annabeth Gish, Chace Crawford, Merritt Wever, Sosie Bacon, Bridger Zadina
Director: Mary Harron
Production Co: IFC Films, Epic Level Entertainment
Trial By A Fire
After seeing this movie, I am calling for the indictment of Governor Rick Perry for first-degree murder. The story of the execution of the innocent Cameron Todd Willingham angered me and left me weeping in the screening room. I can’t imagine anything sadder than losing three children in an accidental house fire, trying to save them and not being able to, then being falsely accused and given the death penalty for their deaths! Imagine how horrible that would be. This film had me questioning my Faith and also re-committing to helping the falsely accused.
Plot Summary: Cameron Todd Willingham, a poor, uneducated heavy metal devotee who has a violent streak and a criminal record, is convicted of arson-related triple homicide in 1992. During his 12 years on death row, Elizabeth Gilbert, an improbable ally, uncovers questionable methods and illogical conclusions in his case and battles with the state to expose suppressed evidence that could save him.
Cast: Jack O’Connell, Laura Dern, Emily Meade, Jeff Perry, Jade Pettyjohn, Chris Coy, McKinley Belcher III, Jason Douglas
Director: Edward Zwick
A Dog’s Journey
Aww. I love dogs and cats so much that “A Dog’s Purpose”, the first in this series had me crying throughout. But I still can’t wait to see the second. I will update this when I do.
Plot Summary: Bailey is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his boy, Ethan and Ethan’s wife Hannah. He even has a new playmate: Ethan and Hannah’s baby granddaughter, CJ. The problem is that CJ’s mom, Gloria, decides to take CJ away. As Bailey’s soul prepares to leave this life for a new one, he makes a promise to Ethan to find CJ and protect her at any cost. Thus begins Bailey’s adventure through many lives filled with love, friendship, and devotion.
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Henry Lau, Kathryn Prescott, Abby Ryder Fortson, Ian Chen
Director: Gail Mancuso
Genres: Comedy drama, Fantasy
Production Co: Alibaba Pictures Group, Reliance Entertainment, Walden Media, Amblin Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Pariah
Distributors: Universal Pictures
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
I’ll see anything with my crush Keanu Reeves in it. Add some kick-ass action to that mix and this is going to be loads of cinematic fun!
Plot Summary: After gunning down a member of the High Table — the shadowy international assassin’s guild — legendary hit man John Wick finds himself stripped of the organization’s protective services. Now stuck with a $14 million bounty on his head, Wick must fight his way through the streets of New York as he becomes the target of the world’s most ruthless killers.
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Tobias Segal
Director: Chad Stahelski
Genres: Action, Thriller
Production Co: Lionsgate, Thunder Road Pictures, Les Films Séville, Entertainment One
Distributors: Lionsgate Films, Summit Entertainment
The Sun Is Also A Star
The current situation in this country has my thoughts and prayers with immigrants at all times. This movie is a beautiful tribute to these Americans.
Plot Summary: College-bound romantic Daniel Bae and Jamaica-born pragmatist Natasha Kingsley meet — and fall for each other — over one magical day amidst the fervor and flurry of New York City. Sparks immediately fly between these two strangers, who might never have met had fate not given them a little push. With just hours left on the clock in what looks to be her last day in the U.S., Natasha is fighting against her family’s deportation just as fiercely as she’s fighting her growing feelings for Daniel.
Cast: Yara Shahidi, Anais Lee, Charles Melton, John Leguizamo, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Miriam A. Hyman, Jordan Williams, Jake Choi
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Genres: Drama, Romance
Production Co: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros. Pictures, Alloy Entertainment
Hopefully, this will be the film to restore Will Smiths’s career.
Plot Summary: Young Aladdin embarks on a magical adventure after finding a lamp that releases a wisecracking genie.
Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar
Director: Guy Ritchie
Genres: Children, Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy
Production Co: Rideback, Walt Disney Pictures, Lin Pictures, Marc Platt Productions
Distributors: Walt Disney
I’ve had the great fortune of working with Olivia Wilde, early in her career, and I adored her dog, Paco. I even got to go to her house for a party once. So her directorial debut is top of my list this month.
Plot Summary: Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high school peers. But on the eve of graduation, the best friends suddenly realize that they may have missed out on the special moments of their teenage years. Determined to make up for lost time, the girls decide to cram four years of not-to-be missed fun into one night — a chaotic adventure that no amount of book smarts could prepare them for.
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Victoria Ruesga, Mason Gooding
Director: Olivia Wilde
Production Co: Annapurna Pictures, Gloria Sanchez Productions, Entertainment One
Distributors: Annapurna Pictures
Plot Summary: A couple’s prayers are seemingly answered when an object crash-lands to Earth carrying a life-form that looks like a baby boy. As the years pass and the alien grows older, it starts to use its mysterious powers in sinister and destructive ways.
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt L. Jones, Meredith Hagner, Jennifer Holland, Becky Wahlstrom, Steve Agee
Director: David Yarovesky
Genres: Thriller, Science fiction, Horror
Production Co: Screen Gems, Cliffbrook Films
Distributors: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Screen Gems
Plot Summary: The life and work of fashion designer Halston.
Cast: Liza Minnelli, Marisa Berenson, Joel Schumacher, Naeem Khan, Pat Cleveland, Karen Bjornson
Director: Frédéric Tcheng
Production Co: CNN Films
I love every film coming out of Blumhouse. Even when their films suck like ” “, you still want to watch them again. Octavia Spencer as a serial killer is going to be delicious horror fun.
Plot Summary: A lonely middle-aged woman befriends some teenagers and decides to let them party in the basement of her home. But there are some house rules: One of the kids has to stay sober, don’t curse, and never go upstairs. They must also refer to her as Ma. But as Ma’s hospitality starts to curdle into obsession, what began as a teenage dream turns into a terrorizing nightmare, and Ma’s place goes from the best place in town to the worst place on Earth.
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown, Tanyell Waivers
Director: Tate Taylor
Genres: Thriller, Horror
Production Co: Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions
Distributors: Universal Pictures
Not quite a straight bio pic, Rocketman is more a celebration of the wonder that is Elton John set to music.
Plot Summary: The epic musical story of Elton John, his breakthrough years and his transformation from shy piano prodigy to international superstar. Set to his most beloved songs, witness how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop history.
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Gemma Jones, Bryce Dallas Howard, Stephen Graham, Steven Mackintosh, Tom Bennett
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Genres: Drama, Biography, Musical
Production Co: Endurance Media, Paramount Pictures, Rocket Pictures, Marv Films
Distributors: Paramount Pictures
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Because it was always the bussed in bullying ghetto kids that liked Godzilla and Mothra films when I was a kid, I only became a Godzilla fan later in life. I binged the films as an adult and I particularly loved the 2014 movie with Bryan Cranston.
Plot Summary: Members of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species-thought to be mere myths-rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds
Director: Michael Dougherty
Genres: Action, Science fiction, Adventure
Production Co: Disruption Entertainment, Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Pictures, Toho Company Ltd., Legendary Entertainment
Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures