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Sunday, January 21, 2018


Settled in with the Brown family, Paddington the bear is a popular member of the community who spreads joy and marmalade wherever he goes. One fine day, he spots a pop-up book in an antique shop -- the perfect present for his beloved aunt's 100th birthday. When a thief steals the prized book, Paddington embarks on an epic quest to unmask the culprit before Aunt Lucy's big celebration.

Director: Paul King

Cast: Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Sally Hawkins, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville

Release Date: Jan 12, 2018

Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor

Runtime: 1 hr. 44 min.

Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy


The first Paddington was a surprisingly fun adaptation of the classic children’s book.  It was the rare film that actually captured the spirit of the character instead of just mining the source material for a quick buck.  Having lighting strike twice seemed like a long shot but Paul King’s lovingly made sequel continued the first film’s legacy.  It’s nearly impossible not to be charmed by the story from the start.  It’s the best kind of kid’s film, one that never panders to its audience and has a tangible heart beat.  Ben Whishaw is just a perfect in this sequel as the titular bear, making him endearing and lovable.  The returning cast members like Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins are solid throughout with Hawkins getting more to do in the second half of the film.   Hugh Grant is clearly having a ball as Phoenix Buchanan, the villain in this chapter.  Buchanan’s character is a lot more memorable than the first film’s adversary which is to the sequel’s benefit.  Add in a fun supporting turn by Bredan Gleenson and you’ve got the rare kids sequel that improves on original while never losing the spirit of the characters.        



Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper -- The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee, Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers -- and very freedom -- to help bring long-buried truths to light.

Director: Steven Spielberg

Release Date: Jan 12, 2018

Cast: Meryl Streep,Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon

Rated PG-13 for language and brief war violence

Runtime: 1 hr. 56 min.

Genres: Biography, Drama, History


The Post is a highly polished, well acted prestige film from Steven Spielberg that couldn’t feel timelier if it tired.  The film is set the in 70s but it hard not to see modern day parallels throughout.  Spielberg tries his best to keep the film self contained but its hard not to see it as a message movie.  In the hands of a lesser talent the film would have come off as more overtly preachy.  The top tier cast helps that by putting on some stellar performances.  Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are front and center for most of the film and each turns in impressive but varied performances.  Streep turn as Katharine Graham is a study in subtleness and nuance as we watch her character find her place and ultimately her resolve to lead.  Tom Hanks is a rougher around the edges but still likable and relatable even though he and Streep play fairly Waspy characters.  The supporting characters are all played by top level character actors, like Bob Odenkirk, Carrie Coon and Bradley Whitford, and they give the film a strong steady feel throughout.  While the film has all the right ingredients there’s just something about it that keeps the audience at arms length that keeps it from being a classic.  The Post is still strong enough to make for a perfect companion All The President’s Men.


Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Paddington 2 & Den of Thieves

Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for a pair of heist movies: Paddington 2 and Den of Thieves. (Find another review that makes *that* connection if you can!)

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

First on my agenda: Paddington 2.

When dear Paddington is wrongly jailed for robbery, it's up to the Browns to find the real thief.

Paddington was a lovely surprise, a "children's" movie that turned out to be so much more. If there's any surprise to the greatness of Paddington 2, it's only that it's even better than the first.

Like its predecessor, much of Paddington 2's charm can be credited to its phenomenal cast. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, and Brendan Gleeson are in top form, and Hugh Grant is an absolute delight as the film's narcissistic villain. The plot of Paddington 2 doesn't hold many twists, but it doesn't need them; its execution is so sweet and funny that predictability is easily forgiven. The movie is beautifully filmed, with a special nod to the animated pop-up book sequences, a true delight from start to finish. Stay tuned for a great musical number at the end!

Paddington 2 runs 104 minutes and is rated PG for "some action and mild rude humor."

In an increasingly ugly world, I'm grateful for the joyful beauty of Paddington.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Paddington 2 gets all nine. (Yes, I'm throwing down a nine in January. 2018, you've got your work cut out for you.)

Fangirl points: Joanna Lumley! Ben Whishaw! Peter Capaldi! Ben Miller! Richard Ayoade!

Next on the docket: Den of Thieves.

LA's top cops face off with a legendary heist crew. Many shootings and f-words ensue.

Dear reader(s), my anticipation for Den of Thieves could not have been higher, and I want you to know from the bottom of my heart: I LOVE THIS MOVIE. It may not be the cleverest or the best from any technical standpoint, but, damn, it's everything I'd hoped it would be.

Den of Thieves wastes no time getting started with a fast and loud robbery and chase. From there, it quiets down surprisingly often, lending some time to backstory and...wait for it...planning. Like actual thinking. Yes, Den of Thieves is smarter than I expected. Understand the Smart Bar had been set very, VERY low, but still...I liked that it threw me a little curve, and in more ways than just Gerard Butler pondering his life choices. Den of Thieves weaves a tense tale, as the crafty robbers and no-rules cops attempt to out-fox each other. The bad-good guys are headed up by Butler, and his usual meathead act is quite perfect here. The bad-bad guys have Pablo Schreiber and O'Shea Jackson, Jr. turning in very nice performances with--dare I suggest it?--a fair bit of depth. Den of Thieves runs a hair too long and might have been better served by trimming some unnecessary subplot, but the movie takes a few turns I didn't expect and saves its best surprises for the finale.

Den of Thieves clocks in at 140 minutes and is rated R for "violence, language, and some sexuality/nudity."

Plopped squarely in the middle of all the pretentiousness of Awards Season, Den of Thieves is a sweary, testosterone-soaked action picture that is exactly what it means to be.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Den of Thieves gets eight.

Until next time...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of The Post & Proud Mary

Dearest Blog: Today it was off to Marquee Cinemas for The Post and Proud Mary.

It was supposed to be The Post and Paddington 2, but the schedule wants what the schedule wants.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't have seen in a trailer or remember from the news.

First up: The Post.

The press goes head-to-head with the President.

The Post is one of those Awards Season pictures that's so awardsey they don't have to put "Academy Award Winner" and "Academy Award Nominee" above the names of the stars in the trailer. You don't need any hints to get it: This is a contender.

The Post tells a timely tale of the importance of a free press, with a healthy (and no less timely) undercurrent of girl power. A quick check of Wikipedia will tell you how the story ends if you don't remember, but that doesn't make getting there any less tense. Steven Spielberg masterfully uses framing and camera angles to leave the audience feeling as the principals must have felt, as if someone were creeping up behind them the entire time. While the story is big, the movie manages to make it personal as well, as the timing of these events coincides with the Washington Post's owner fretting over taking her family's legacy public. A quick-witted and wordy script is the perfect showcase for a superb cast, headed by the incomparable Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. If The Post feels a bit preachy at times, it's only in service to its critical reminder of the ramifications of a press unable to hold the powerful to account. Without giving away THE ending to those who may not know it, I will say that the film's final stopping point sets it up as a literal prequel to All the President's Men, one of the finest films of all time, giving it even bigger shoes to fill.

The Post clocks in at 116 minutes and is rated PG13 for "language and brief war violence."

For all its pedigree, The Post feels a bit un-buzzy as awards season kicks into high gear. The blame for that likely can be laid squarely at the feet of a world that is exhausted by divisive and antagonistic politics. Trust me, dear reader(s), I'm right with anyone who just wants to tune out these days, but it's a shame if this extraordinary picture pays the price.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Post gets eight.

Fangirl points: Michael Stuhlbarg! Bruce Greenwood!

Next up: Proud Mary.

A hitwoman for a Boston organized crime family attempts to make amends for a past mistake.

A predictable but unrepentant action flick, Proud Mary has all the earmarks of those quick, cheap films TV stars make when they're on hiatus; it's basically a better-dressed and less-motorcycley Sons of Anarchy episode. Taraji P. Hensen, as glorious and gifted as any actress working today, elevates the material beyond what it deserves, but, ultimately, even she can only do so much to save something so unimaginative. The usually reliable Danny Glover is inexplicably awful, every line sounding like he's reading from a card he's only just seen for the first time. Sadly, Billy Brown remains clothed for the entire movie (spoiler alert!), and, with just a few minutes' screen time, the picture is a pitiful waste of the great Neal McDonough.

Proud Mary runs a quick 89 minutes and is rated R for violence.

Proud Mary is a by-the-numbers action flick that's redeemed mostly by the wattage of its star.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Proud Mary gets five.

Until next time...

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